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Fire Lizards

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    This is a very touchy topic on PernM*s, so I'm going to cover it. Almost all newbies on a PernM* want a fire lizard, and there's no real reason why they shouldn't have one... but patience is a factor.

  1. What fire lizards are  They're miniature versions of the dragons ICly, only with less of an Impression bond and less fussy about who they Impress to. OOCly they're puppets, and if you Impress one, you can control it yourself.

  2. Wanting one  They are extremely coveted things and people tend to get very impatient to Impress one. Do not pester people to give you one though. Anybody with an egg quite possibly has plans for it. You should be able to get your own lizard through contest or open hatching.

  3. The colours  Golds and greens are the girls and are usually coded to go proddy and lay eggs once they're old enough; bronzes, blues and browns are the boys and are coded to be able to 'mate' with the females.

  4. Tips on Impressing  When at an open hatching, pose to the personality of the individual hatchling. The person running the hatching will have put some thought into each one and will want to Impress them to somebody who will play that lizard well. 

  5. Common hatching rules  If there are rules anywhere around at an open hatching, for heaven's sakes, read and follow them!

  6. After Impression  You can change the name to whatever you want, but please, leave the desc alone. Somebody worked hard on that. If you didn't like the desc, you shouldn't have tried for the lizard.

  7. Commands  Read the helpfiles on what your firelizard can and can't do on the game. The important thing you'll want to master is how to between from one area to another. Lizards can also talk to each other.

  8. Communicating  Lizards can also 'talk' to each other. They don't speak in words though and although you will be able to see what any lizard says via your own, ICly, your character wouldn't know how other lizards felt, just her own.

  9. RPing  Don't RP them to the exclusion of your character, but they can enhance RP wonderfully. Refer to the books (especially the Harper Hall Trilogy) for examples.

What are they?

   'Stomachs with wings' is the quick answer. More specifically, fire lizards look like miniature dragons with the same fire-breathing and teleporting abilities. The original colonists on Pern genetically tinkered with the fire lizards (their technology was better back then) to create the very first clutches of dragons. Unlike the more intelligent dragons, fire lizards don't talk although they do convey emotions and images to the one who Impresses them. Fire lizards can be Impressed when they hatch, although if there is no human around to feed them, they simply go wild and will live quite happily like that. They have the same colours as dragons, but are less fussy in their Impressors: no matter what age or gender, any human with food can Impress a lizard. They are little more than pets, although they can be trained to carry messages and the occasional small item.

    OOCly, they're puppets. Upon Impressing a lizard, you give it a code and then you can control its movements and see what it sees. People often send a fire lizard to events that they want to watch without getting involved in the RP. This has the added advantage of being able to between the fire lizard there and back, which saves time on travelling. It is not a tool for spying though. Just as with your character, you can't send your fire lizards  into a private room. They have their uses, but for most people it's the sentimental value that attracts, partly because they're so quintessentially Pernese and partly because they're just cute. Whatever your feelings about them, they're generally abundant, and I don't know of a single person who's spent any significant amount of time actively playing on a PernM* without Impressing one in due course.

"I want" doesn't get

   To the best of my knowledge, most, if not all, fire lizards on any game come from the females (golds and greens) already Impressed to a character—the exceptions being if there is a lottery which players can enter to win 'instant' lizards. The female lizards are coded to go proddy (in heat) every now and then. When that happens, if the player wishes, they can mate and lay eggs. The player then chooses who gets which egg. Inevitably, players with females get pestered by people who want a fire lizard. Many of them get rather irritated by this after the umpteenth time and will blacklist any character who asks them for an egg.

    Don't think that you'll be able to trade for an egg either. There are very few people who will give out a fire lizard egg in return for a few marks (or even a fortune in marks), some prettily desced object or an adorable little puppy. If there is somebody who wants to trade an egg for something else, they'll most likely post to a mailer and say so. So if you want to keep alert for opportunities to Impress, subscribe to the fire lizard mailer on the game (assuming there is one, I should imagine that there would be).

    The traditional ways to get a fire lizard are either to be there at an open (public) hatching, to enter a contest set by the owner of the clutching female or to be gifted one. I've frequently come across the opinion that fire lizards Impressed at open hatchings are 'earned', since you Impress them by virtue of your roleplay. Personally, I was most touched by the fire lizards that were gifted to me by friends. But the point I want to make is that they aren't so rare that anybody should be judged less worthy for winning one in a contest—or in a lottery if there is one on the game. Patience is the key. Most people will acquire at least one fire lizard in their first two months on the game (assuming that they're reasonably active). If you're unlucky, you may have to wait longer, if you're very lucky, you could impress on your first night. It's almost essentially random, so try not to stress over it too much. If it helps, remind yourself that it's only a puppet. Or just count on patience. It may take a good while, but I very much doubt that you'll have to wait as much as six months before Impressing on one character or another. Most likely, it will seem that you spent ages waiting and then you were overloaded with the critters.

Judging by the colour of their hide

   Don't be fussy about colour. Obviously the most desired colours are gold and green, because they're the ones that can lay eggs—golds being the most coveted of all since they generally lay more eggs than greens, they are ICly the most intelligent and most of the prominent fire lizards in the books were gold. Besides which they're rare. A gold egg is only laid by a bronze-gold pairing. There can only be one gold egg per clutch, and there is never a guarantee that there will be any, no matter what colour the parents. Bronzes come next after the females, being the most prominent male colour and able to sire a gold egg should they fly a gold. Blues tend to be overlooked, since they can't even fly a gold fire lizard (although they're perfect mates for a green) and were hardly ever mentioned in the books, with the exception of Menolly's blue Uncle—and he got picked on by all her other fire lizards too. It may be noted that there is a substantial cult of blue worshippers on many PernM*s, simply because the colour gets looked down on all too often.

    Technically though, it really doesn't matter what colour you get. Fire lizards are included in the game to enhance the RP and contribute to that 'Pern' feeling. Most games don't have a significant limit for how many lizards you have, so you should eventually be able to get the full set as it were, if that's what you want. Players with females will desc up her entire clutch and often put a lot of effort into it, creating hatchlings with wonderful personalities. It's those that make the lizards fun to play, not what colour they are. And, ironically, this is where the blue lizards tend to come into their own. Maybe it's just me, but in most of the open hatchings that I've seen, the blues have the best personalities. I have no idea why this should be—possibly it's due to the fact that there are less stereotypes about blues compared to most of the other colours.

To catch a fire lizard

    Well, since gifting and winning a lizard is going to be largely down to chance, the only help I can give you with Impressing a lizard is for open hatchings. In this case, a player will announce that they are hatching their fire lizards eggs to the M* at large, and anybody willing can come and try for one. Occasionally they may require you to enter a contest to attend the hatching in order to cut down on numbers—I've seen up to forty people at a hatching. Now, imagine all of them posing at once... Scary, isn't it?

    ICly, fire lizards Impressed to the first person to grab them and/or give them food. This is not feasible on a game because when you have forty people posing along the lines of Foofoo gives meat to the hatchling it's a little difficult to decide who should Impress the critter. So you're asked to do a little more than that. You have to be creative, IC and you have to pose to the hatchling. Most hatchlings will come with some sort of personality or theme (often OOC) attached, and the hatcher will Impress it to the character who they feel is responding best to that theme/personality. Sometimes, people who just pose that they're offering meat to the hatchling will get kicked out. The hatcher has enough poses to wade through without having to read ones written by people who won't make the effort.

    So say Bart Simpson Hatchling looks back at the broken shards of his shell. I didn't do it. He scuttles hastily away from the scene of the crime, before cocking his head jauntily at the crowd. OK, quit yapping and get with the food. The master-eater awaits. How to reply? Well, Foofoo chuckles at the Bart. "Hey, don't have a herdbeast. Eat my short s..." she breaks off as she gets jostled by an overexcited child and casually knocks him back aside--I'm offering here!--then resumes her sentence, "my short strips of wherry." She's posed to the theme, she's kept it IC and she's appealed to the personality. Also, she's made it quite obvious which one she's posing to, if there's more than one hatchling wobbling about. If she can keep that up for the rest of the hatchling's poses, she stands a good chance of Impressing him.

    If there are two hatchlings out at one time, I wouldn't advise you to try for both of them. It is more likely to reduce than increase your chances. Hatchers like to give their lizards to people who genuinely seem to want that lizard. Stick to one and concentrate your poses on that one so it's clear which you're posing to. And don't pose being right in front of the hatchling either. You sometimes get fifteen people all apparently right under the tiny nose of a creature that will fit into your hand. Wave the meat in the hatchling's line of sight, waft the scent so that it goes right past the creature's nose—there are plenty of ways of managing it, and of course, if the hatcher wants you to Impress, then they'll bring the lizard to you. If the theme is OOC, you can usually get away with poses that aren't strictly canon, although I'd try to keep it as IC as possible anyway. If the theme is IC, or there isn't a theme so much as differing personalities, then keep your poses IC too. Finally, if you don't know the theme, don't worry. Pose to the personality of the hatchling and be creative. You've only to get the hatcher's attention (in a good way), after all.

What fire lizards are  Wanting one  The colours  Tips on Impressing  Common hatching rules  After Impression  Commands  Communicating  RPing

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Read the rules!

   When at a hatching, look at the room to see if there are any OOC rules anywhere. You'll usually find that there are, and if so, read them! The rules are there for a reason, and in most cases, people who break them will be kicked out, no questions asked. Typical rules are:

One pose per hatchling pose: When the hatchling you want poses, pose back to it. Then do not pose again until it does. This cuts down on spam for the hatchers.
Do not touch the hatchlings: Have you read Dragonsinger when Kimi hatches in Sebell's hands and Impresses to him even as he tries to give her to Robinton (chapter 7)? And Grall found and Impressed F'nor long before he thought to offer her food (Dragonquest, chapter 4). From that it can be inferred that a baby lizard will Impress any human that it comes into contact with immediately after hatching. Therefore, if Foofoo picks up Bart Simpson Hatchling and strokes him she's effectively, in all ICness, forced him to Impress her. Except the hatcher obviously won't allow that OOCly. If you're lucky, you'll just get a reprimand or be ignored. Most likely, you'll get kicked out. Also hatchers have been known to pose the mother attacking whoever touched a hatchling. You powerplayed first after all. No matter how cute and pitiful the hatchling is, stick to offering food until you get the message that you've Impressed it.
Offer meat only: This is often but not always requested. It just depends on how canon the hatcher is, or how much they want to cut down on people thinking that creative poses means offering apple pie. There are plenty of Pernese meats anyway: wherry, herdbeast, meatroll, packtail, spiderclaw—take your pick. Or just offer general meat or fish. If they don't specify meat only, you should still stick to Pernese foods—apples don't grow on Pern, last I heard.
Do not sing to the hatchlings: This is something that is quite simply overdone. It seems like an original idea to a newbie to have rhyming poses or to sing at the hatchlings, but trust me, it's done time and again. There wouldn't be anything wrong with this if it was only done well, but it's much more common to have somebody quoting bad poetry than good—and it's often got nothing to do with the hatchling's personality anyway. If this isn't mentioned in the rules and you think you could do it and it would suit this particular hatchling, then go ahead. Otherwise, no. Stick to prose, it's less likely to irritate the hatcher.
Do not think loving thoughts at the hatchlings: This cliché comes from Kylara's advice to Meron when she brings a clutch to hatch at Nabol Hold. Now it can be argued that the books never said that loving thoughts actually did help to Impress the lizards, but to my mind, the main reason for this rule is because, like posing that you offer meat, it doesn't offer much room for creativity. The other argument is that until they Impress, the hatchlings don't know what you are thinking and don't care. All they want is to get food into their empty stomachs. Stands to reason, doesn't it?
The hatcher's decision is final: Not everybody at a hatching is going to Impress. Often, less than a fifth of those trying will be successful. Which leaves a lot of other people, most of whom probably followed the rules and posed beautifully, without a hatchling at the end. Inevitably, there will be complaints that so and so shouldn't have Impressed. Maybe Foofoo broke one of the rules; maybe she has too many lizards already and it's unfair; maybe she's best friends with Goober the hatcher and if Goober was only going to give them to his friends, why did he bother having an open hatching? Whether or not they say so beforehand, the hatcher's decision is always final. No matter how valid you feel your complaint to be, I wouldn't bother pestering them with it. Hatchers are too used to getting flames for giving eggs to 'undeserving' people, and will probably only react by making a note never to Impress one of their lizards to you. Besides which, it'll do no good. Once the fire lizard has been Impressed, the only way to change that is to recycle the lizard (i.e. get rid of it permanently), and then nobody gains anything. Oh, maybe the wizards technically could do some code-tinkering and Impress it to somebody else, but the wizards have better things to do than settle petty disputes over a fire lizard. Plus if they did one, they'd be asked to do a thousand more, so it's not going to happen. Not even if both parties are willing and asking for the transfer.

Congratulations! It's a...

   So, sooner or later, you'll be holding a colour-coded bundle of joy in your arms. Name it whatever you want, but try and make sure that no other fire lizard has that name. I doubt there'll be a rule against you naming your lizard Snookums, even if there is one already, but it avoids confusion if each lizard has a unique name, not to mention ill-will on the part of owner of the original Snookums. It may also be a good idea to check that there isn't a player with that name either. See the section on names under Creating a Character for more info.

    Do not change the desc, even if you don't like it, without checking with the hatcher first. Why? Because the hatcher may well have gone to a lot of trouble over that desc and it's quite hurtful if somebody then throws all that work out the window in favour of their own visualisation of their new friend. Editing the desc is probably fine: correcting spellings, grammar and such. Maybe change the odd word if it doesn't actually make sense, but the best rule is: if you don't like the desc, don't try for the hatchling (assuming you Impress at an open hatching). Sometimes the desc used will be a generic one to save the hatcher thinking one up. In that case, you should be able to change it all you like.

Oh no, not more commands...

   Part of the fun of Impressing a lizard is learning all those exciting new commands it comes with! And just when you were getting the hang of the basic M* commands too. What joy, eh? Since they vary from game to game, I won't presume to say what those commands are, but I can tell you what your new friend can probably do once you figure them out. It can learn a place and go between to it. It can come back to you via between, even if you're in a strange place. When it's in a separate room from you, it'll automatically send back all the text going on in that room—obviously this can get rather spammy. Fortunately, you should be able to either turn it off, so to speak, or simply send it elsewhere. It can travel normally like you do and look at things the same way, just precede the command with the code you gave it. The same for posing, although their 'speech' is different and can take a while to get the hang of.

    Technically, a lizard can't talk out loud. It sends telepathic images which can only be seen by other fire lizards in the room (and the Impressee of the fire lizard, although they'll be the person writing out the message anyway). This means that if you have two or more fire lizards in a room and somebody else has their lizard project something, all your fire lizards will send you that message in turn. Again, spam. This is why fire lizards don't talk half as much as you might think, plus the fact that it's less hassle doing a straightforward pose. Occasionally, you might find that somebody includes the projection in the lizard's pose, to save on spam. This means that non-fire lizard owners can see it, but it's not as if it's likely to be any big secret anyway.

If I could talk to the animals...

   There are, inevitably, conventions of fire lizard conversation. The main one is that fire lizards aren't exactly conversationalists. Oh, they chatter like crazy, but it's nowhere near as structured as a conversation. Never have Snookums project <<Hello everybody, my name is Snookums. It's a pleasure to meet you.>> Fire lizards aren't much for formalities. It's much more likely that Snookums looks around the crowded room with alert interest, wings excitedly fanning open and shut and tongue flickering in time with his eager chitters. If he projects anything, it's going to be more along the lines of <<Many people. Fun?>>

    The other thing to remember is that your character cannot hear lizards themselves except for the ones that they have Impressed, and they do not hear words from their lizards. Remember how surprised David Catarel was when the first dragon, Polenth, told him his name (Dragonsdawn, chapter 16)? His fire lizards had never spoken to him like that, so he hadn't thought that the dragons would be able to. Going back to Snookums in the crowded room, his owner would probably pick up on their lizard's excitement: Foofoo laughs at Snookums. "Behave you, we can play later," she murmurs affectionately to the little creature. "And stop tangling your wings in my hair, people are starting to stare." She's responding to his emotions and her own situation, but not replying to the words used in the projection. This is because there are no words, merely images and emotions. In this case, he may have imaged many people and conveyed a feeling of hopeful anticipation that there would be entertainment. For simplicity's sake though, you can just type <<Many people. Fun?>> in the projection.

    Meanwhile, if Goober is in that room with his own lizard, his player will have seen what Snookums imaged. Goober's lizard will have seen it. Goober the character will only have seen what Snookums was doing physically. He shouldn't pose Goober also laughs at Snookums, "Yes there are a lot of people here tonight. It might be fun, who knows?" Even if his own lizard passes along some of the images to him, he's unlikely to be able to pinpoint Snookums' thoughts that accurately. He can pose his own lizard answering though. <<Silly people. Boring.>> Goober's lizard probably sent out an air of disapproval along with the image of the crowd, adding a feeling of tedium which Snookums would have understood as the above message. Foofoo wouldn't really get more than a glimmer of it though, if that.

    Anyway, every person has their own preferences for fire lizard talk. I usually just skip it altogether. You'll find your own way of RPing your lizard as you go.

But how do I RP something that doesn't speak??

   Actually, in my opinion, half the charm of the lizards is that they don't speak. Instead you have to get more creative. And seeing as they have colour-changing eyes, a long and mobile neck, wings and a tail, there's a lot to get creative with. For examples of things to do with your little bundle of appendages, you don't need to look any further than the books: Anne McCaffrey used some wonderful instances that helped bring the fire lizards to life. Read the Harper Hall Trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums) in particular, that should give you a fair idea of typical lizard behaviour. Again, the singing fire lizards are a cliché. Remember that Menolly's sang because she did it all the time, and not all of them sang perfectly on key. 

    Try and continue the personality that the lizard had on hatching. Apart from that pleasing the hatcher if they see the lizard in the future and remember it, it gives you something to build from. Develop it as much as you want: just as with your character, the more you play and develop it, the more fun you'll get out of it. Keep it IC though. Colour-wise, their intelligence and size goes (in descending order): gold, bronze, brown, blue, green. They're roughly as intelligent and whimsical as smart cats, with golds being very intuitive and on the mark while greens are scatterbrained and unreliable. Naturally, it's up to you how you play your own.

    If you want to use the eye colours to convey their emotions, in Dragonsinger (chapter 7), there is a passage explaining what all the different colours mean, although this is often contradicted by other instances throughout the books. As a general rule of thumb: red is upset, blue/green is contented and various shades of purples, yellows and oranges denote some degree of worry or anxiety. And hide and eye colour both go grey when the creature is grief-stricken or in shock. Read Moreta and take note of Tamianth's colour when Moreta comes to mend her wing and later to check on her (chapters 11 and 12). What goes for dragons, usually goes for lizards too, with a few significant exceptions.

What fire lizards are  Wanting one  The colours  Tips on Impressing  Common hatching rules  After Impression  Commands  Communicating  RPing

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