HOW TO CREATE A PERSONA FOR DRAGONRIDERS

This page gives a step-by-step outline how to fill out the Persona portion of your join form. It also contains a few dos and don'ts of what you can and can not claim your persona to be according to the rules of our club.

Before you start...

Filling out the Persona Form

Please fill out the form in full sentences and from the third person point of view (i.e., talking about your persona as though he/she were someone else). Look at some of the existing persona sheets on the site to get an idea of our standards how persona sheets should look like.

That said, let's walk through the join form and the information it asks for. There are basically six things you need to come up with to create a persona for DragonRiders:

Persona Name

For the perfect Pern fanfiction name, pick something Pernish. Pernish? I hear you mutter. Well, here are a few suggestions how to make sure your name fits into the framework of Pern:

It is tradition on Pern to combine existing names into a new one for a child. This tradition was started by Sean and Sorka during the First Pass when they chose the name Ezremil in honor of Ezra Keroon and Emily Boll, two of the founders of the Pern colony, and Ju Benden commented: "We ought to use more such truly Pernese-style names." (see the short story: The Fort of Red Hanrahan by Anne McCaffrey). This tradition has been handed down until the Ninth Pass where it is especially evident in the Weyrs. Weyr folk will often name their children by combining the parents' names. Examples would be Felessan (son of F'lar and Lessa), Fallarnon (son of F'lon and Larna) or Famanoran (son of F'lon and Manora).

Remember that male dragonrider names are always shortened. For example, if your persona had been named Kemil, once he Impresses, the Weyr would honor him by shortening it to K'mil. This tradition was started by the dragons shortening their riders' names for brevity during Threadfall communication. Female rider names may be shortened to one syllable, but without using the apostrophe. (see the short story: The Second Weyr by Anne McCaffrey)

So, even if you do not choose to make your persona a dragonrider, you may want to keep that in mind in case you offer them up for Search later. It appears to be Weyr tradition to choose long names for boys that could be easily shortened. Just look at Fallarnon and Famanoran, the pre-Impression names of F'lar and F'nor. If you choose a name for a male candidate, you might want to pick a slightly longer one that can be easily shortened into a few possible honorifics. That way you get a choice again when he Impresses; you'll never know what names are going to be on the Reserved Names list by then!

A good name will be easy to memorize, hard to confuse, and already give the reader a hint at the gender of the persona. The most critical part of the name for determining the gender is the ending. In Western societies, names ending in -a often belong to females. Indeed, the vast majority (almost three quarters) of Anne McCaffrey's female characters in the Ninth Pass have names ending in -a, but none of her male characters have. Male names often end with consonants, the most popular endings for non-rider male names in Anne McCaffrey's Ninth Pass books being -an, -on, and -el followed by -er and -or.

Where can you get ideas for names? Misspellings of earth names or names from outside the English-speaking world are often good places to start. With very little adjustment, you can have a unique name that stands out. Combining different elements from earth names can provide you with some interesting results. ( And this is probably the most "Pernese" way to come up with names as explained above.) Scanning the phonebook for surnames, or even going online to look at some random name generators can give you lots of ideas for naming your persona.

We have the following rules regarding names:

How do you check whether a name is already in use? To make sure your name is not identical to a name used by either Anne McCaffrey or by another Club member, please check the names you choose against the Reserved Names list. You may also want to type your chosen name into one of the big search engines and see what comes up. If you find a lot of sites, chances are high that your name is either a common earth name or maybe even a word in a foreign language.

Persona Age

When you decide on an age, keep in mind that your persona will age rather slowly (about one Pernese Turn for every three real life years), so choose the age-range you want to be writing in wisely as your persona will be stuck with it for a while. This means if you're planning on making your persona a Wingleader sometime in the future, don't start writing him as a candidate! If you want a Master, don't start with an apprentice! It will take you decades of writing until he's old enough for the job. Create an older, more experienced persona instead. You don't have to start with a candidate if what you want is a dragonrider in a Fighting Wing. Just create a dragonrider persona. That way you don't have to wait for Impression and weyrling training to pass.

Stick with believable age/rank combinations. While exceptions are possible, they would be rare and require Council approval. We have the following guidelines regarding persona ages:

Gender

Pern is a feudalistic and agrarian society. We do not restrict female personas from Impressing a dragon or practicing a Craft. However, if you want to make life miserable for your persona with hidebound attitudes, you can assume that some Holds will make a clear distinctions between the roles of males and females and what is proper for each gender.

If you wish to write for a female Master, please keep in mind when considering her age that females attaining Mastery were a rare occasion during earlier Turns of the Pass. Older Masters likely would be male.

If you want a dragonrider persona, males can Impress/ride any color but gold, whereas females would be limited to female dragons only (usually green, as golds are rare and require a special application). Again, please keep in mind that females usually did not stand for Impression other than gold during the earlier Turns of the Pass, so older female greenriders would be rare.

This might also be a good place to point out that gay relationships, both male and female homosexuals, are considered perfectly normal on Pern (though prejudice might exist in the Holds). There is a higher concentration of homosexuality in the Weyrs due to green riders being both male and female as the dragon chooses, however it is not uncommon out of the Weyrs either.

Position/Occupation

What do you wish your persona to be on Pern? You can be an apprentice or journeyman to a numerous array of Crafts, a dragonrider, a plain farmer or minor cot holder, a guard, a sailor, or any number of ideas that come to your mind. What we're looking for here is a short description of your persona's status in Pern's society, including Craft (if any) and Rank associations. Examples what to put into this field would be:
Blue Rider, Weyrling, Apprentice Smith, Journeywoman Harper, Kitchen Worker, Hold Child, etc.

Regarding Candidates:
1. If there is a clutch on the Hatching Sands, new members may join with a Candidate who will be eligible to Impress a dragon should any eggs remain unclaimed. Application to Impress and color choice must be approved by Council. (Please note that gold and bronze will not be available to new members.) You may also join with a non-Impressing Candidate. Please include any pre-Search rank/position on your join form.

2. You are welcome to join the club with a candidate character even if there are no eggs on the sands at the Weyr of your choice. However, if there is no clutch, then there is no active 'candidate class' as such; your character would have to have been Searched for a previous class, failed to Impress, and opted to stay at the Weyr. This means that, first, your character needs to have a job at the Weyr until the next hatching occurs - kitchen worker, practicing a craft, whatever your character is suited to.

You also need to remember that in our club, Pern time moves much slower than Real World time - three weeks in the real world to every week in our Pern. That means you may be at the Weyr for months, real time, before the next clutch is laid and your character has a chance to Impress.

Regarding Weyrlings:
If you want your persona to be a weyrling, please check the Ierne Island Weyrling Classes or Thread's End Weyrling Classes for openings. If there are weyrling positions available, you are welcome to apply at any time. If all the positions are filled, but at least one of them is an NPC/free (marked with n), you may apply to replace that NPC/free with your own persona.

Regarding Dragonriders:
If you want a persona who already has an adult dragon, you may do so, provided that your persona is at least 16 and has a dragon at least one Turn old.

Regarding Rank:
Please keep in mind, if you're just starting out as a member of the Club, you won't be able to get a high ranking persona right away, but you'll have to start small like everyone else did. If you are a first-time joiner, please do not put down Wingleader, Master, Lord Holder etc as your rank. These positions are allocated by Council in a club-wide call for applications from active members. Please join with a non-ranking/non-premium persona and watch the newsletter on the mailing list for details how to apply for a ranker or premium persona. Once you have been released from mentoring for three months, you can apply for a ranker.

Ranking and premium positions are allocated by Council to established members. High ranking positions might require a club-wide call for applications, and unsolicited applications will likely be denied. Council ALWAYS will go over that sheet and the idea behind the character before they okay it. If you're a current member and indeed creating a persona for a high ranking spot, you have to be doubly thorough and careful coming up with a unique but believable character. Ranker applications often follow their own set of rules, depending on the personalities of existing rankers and how much competition exists for the spot.

A few tips from the more experienced fanfiction writers: You might want to avoid creating a persona type that is around a lot already so your persona doesn't fade into the done-to-death crowd. Some persona types are very popular, such as female green riders, Harpercraft apprentices and Healercraft journeyfolk. To get more people interested in your persona, it can be helpful to steer clear of such overused character types and decide to do something else. What you pick in the end will also depend on how much you wish to co-post with other people. For example, healers are often asked for when people get injured, which happens a lot at the Weyr.

Residence

Where does your persona live? Please choose one of the locations listed as your persona's primary residence. If you wish to run a small cotholding then pick the major Hold your cothold would be beholden to. If you wish to have a trader or holdless persona, pick the location that is within your persona's main range of operation.

Which location you choose might depend on what type of character you want to create. Dragonriders must reside at one of the Weyrs, of course. The only exceptions are Watchrider positions at the Holds and Halls, and these must be applied for as premium positions. Please check whether the position you want is available before applying. Dolphineers would be found at the Dolphincraft Hall. With many other persona types, you have more choice. If your persona is an apprentice, it would make the most sense if your persona's residence has a Master of that Craft under whose supervision your apprentice can study.

One thing to keep in mind: If you like writing by yourself with lots of freedom to describe your persona's daily life and surroundings, you might want to choose a quiet location with few other writers. If you depend heavily on co-posters writing with you, you might want to choose one of the more populated areas with stricter schedules regulating your persona's life and interaction with others.

Physical Description

Try to make your character's looks unique, but stick with the physically possible and Pern canon. This means, no orange eyes, green or purple hair, no pointed ears, no humans capable of breathing under water and so on. To avoid overdoing a popular cliché, it helps to check a few persona charts to see if anything already occurs with a high frequency. If many personas have red hair, make one that doesn't. (Actually, the fiery redhead with the sparkling green eyes and the fiery temper is probably the most overused persona cliché in Pern fanfiction and at high risk to gather snickers rather than interest.)

Consider giving your persona a unique identifying mark. Maybe your persona has an extremely long and pointy nose? A missing finger? A long scar running all the way down her leg? Dragonriders seldom come without battle scars. Does your persona have a typical hairstyle? Be careful with extremely long hair on dragonriders. Can you imagine how much of a pain it would be to stuff all that hair underneath the riding helmet? Also be aware that most Pernese men don't grow much facial hair. A beard would be something you wouldn't see every day.

People aren't running around naked (well, usually they're not *g*). Does your persona have a unique style of clothing? What are your persona's favorite colors to wear? Does she have a piece of jewelry that she is never seen without? A favorite weapon, telling everyone not to meddle with your tough guy? If someone would observe your persona in a crowd of people, would there be anything that would draw attention? Does she move gracefully like a dancer? Is he often seen smiling, or frowning?

Looks aren't everything. What does your persona's voice sound like? This is an important piece of information for harpers, but also nice to know for other persona types. Does he or she speak with an accent that could tell other people immediately which part of Pern they're from? In a loud, commanding voice or with a timid whisper? If your persona is a healer, how do his or her hands feel like on a patient?

These little things help set your persona description apart from most others as many writers only describe the standard hair-eye-skin color/height/weight scheme of their personas, but tend to forget about the other little things that make people different.

Personality

The persona chart is just the first place where you give an outline of your persona's personality. The main part of introducing your persona to the readers and fleshing out his or her personality will happen in the posts you write. Personas sometimes tend to change their personality over time once you start writing. Don't be afraid to update your persona chart if that happens, otherwise co-posters looking up your persona's description might get confused!

Try to be consistent in your persona's personality description. Avoid contradictions as they will make your persona unbelievable. For example, an extremely shy persona who is always the life of the party doesn't really ring true. Someone with an honest personality shouldn't turn a chronic liar in the next sentence. If your thoughtful, laid-back persona frequently turns impulsive and violent, this will only serve to confuse your readers.

One thing to avoid like the pest is creating an all-too-perfect character. No one is stunningly good-looking, marvelously talented, brilliantly intelligent, Herculean strong, and angelically good. We beg you, we'll love your persona all the better for his or her flaws. This does not mean that your persona can not excel at one thing or another. Perfect people are not only implausible, but also boring (for the writer as well as the reader). That wonderful and gorgeous persona who is good at everything and liked by everyone isn't going to win fans. The most well-liked and popular characters are usually those who are less than perfect, always in trouble and who can only improve - and those will give you many more story ideas than Miss Perfect and Superdude as well!

As with the looks, there are a few personality types that have been overused in Pern fandom. These include:

You'll see those around a lot. If you want to create a unique persona, you might want to try something different.

Life Story

We beg you, please sit down and create a life story for your persona. Too many times in the past, we have seen personas appear that have no back story, they have lost their parents to Thread, are holdless, or have amnesia. This can get very tiring but also doesn't give you much to work with when you start posting about your persona.

Regarding your persona's birthplace:
Your persona can be a transfer from one of Anne McCaffrey's locations or one of our club locations that have been around long enough. If that's the case, check the founding dates of the various club locations to make sure your persona wasn't born in a place before it existed! Most people in the Club claim to have come from the North (as in the Northern Continent), however there are some places in the South that have been around long enough for you to claim a persona being born there.

Regarding your persona's parents:
Keep in mind, if you choose dragonriders for parents, or even just one dragonrider for a parent, the fact is your persona wouldn't have seen much of them during childhood. Your persona would have been raised by a foster mother (if born to a green or gold rider) or not had much contact with your father due to the very heavy and constant responsibilities dragonriders have caring for their dragons and fighting Thread. Weyr-bred children tend to be tough and very well adjusted as the lower caverns as a whole tend to raise them.

If you choose to have 'rankers' as parents, Council will have to okay your persona sheet. Not only that, but you will have to ask permission each and every time you wish to write for them in your posts in the future. You may mention rankers that logically fit into your persona's life story, e.g. your persona's previous Weyrlingmaster, Wingleader, or Master he or she studied under, but please keep in mind that you cannot use such rankers in posts without Council approval.

Your persona's life story should logically match the personality description. If your persona is extremely shy, is there a reason for it? If she is extremely cheery or gloomy, is that a reaction to something that happened to her in the past? If he has a large, visible scar, how did he get it? Try to keep it short though and don't tell too much. That way it's easy to add to it later if you think up interesting fragments of your persona's past while writing stories.

As with the character descriptions, there are a few things that have been done to death in persona life stories and a few others that don't seem to make sense in a world like Pern. These include:

(Inspired by:A DragonLover's Guide to Pern Fandom by April Masters)

In the end, your character's life story doesn't matter all that much. What people will read are your posts, showing your character acting in accordance to his or her personality in present day Pern time. People will look at your persona chart to find out what your character looks and acts like so they can refer to it when they co-post with you.

The only time your persona's life story really matters is when you apply for a ranking position with that persona! It takes a special personality and life history, not to mention experience and training, to become a Weyrleader, Craftmaster or Lady Holder or to Impress that precious queen hatching from the golden egg. Rankers and leaders are the elite on Pern. Your persona description and life story should reflect what is so special about your character that allowed him or her to achieve this rank and be part of the elite.

Dragon Information

Only fill this out if you would like your persona to be a dragonrider. Leave this area blank for any other type of persona, including a candidate. If your persona is a wherhandler or partnered to a dolphin, he or she cannot have a dragon at the same time.

Dragon name

All dragon's names end in -th. No exceptions.

Dragon Colour

Please note: We follow traditional canon on dragon colors: Women can only Impress female dragons. Men can Impress all colors except gold. Traditional dragon colours stand - blue, green, brown, bronze and gold - there are no genetic 'sports' such as Ruth in the Club.

Attention new members:
Please do not ask for bronze if you are a first-time joiner. (You'll find that gold is not even listed as an option.) Gold or bronze dragons are awarded by Council to members who have already proven themselves as part of the membership of the Club. Bronze dragons are allocated to deserving members by Council according to the guidelines for premium positions. Please choose a different color if you are a first-time joiner. If you are interested in a gold dragon, please join with a non-ranking persona and watch for Council's calls for ranker applications for details how to apply. Gold dragons are distributed through club-wide calls for applications on the mailing list only.

Dragon Age

Please make sure your dragon wasn't hatched at a Weyr before its existence. Check the founding dates of our Club Weyrs and the Thread's End Weyr Clutch Chart or Ierne Island Weyr Clutch Chart for clutch information. Also keep in mind that dragons older than the Pass (e.g. older than 37 Turns) will have either hatched at Benden as that was the only Weyr in existence or have come forward in time with the Oldtimers. You may want to clarify in your persona's life story if your dragonrider is an Oldtimer.

We have a few guidelines for minimum dragon ages if your rider is a transfer or ranker:

Sire/Dam

If your persona is a transfer from another Weyr, simply list "transfer".

Not a transfer? Check the Thread's End Weyr Clutch Chart or Ierne Island Weyr Clutch Chart for a sire and dam to match your dragon's age, then list those names on your join form. If this is left blank, the Webbies will assign sire/dam information.

Age of Rider at Impression

This is your persona's age minus your dragon's age. The resulting age should be within the age range 15 to 26.

Dragon Physical description

Give us an idea of your dragon's appearance. Is the dragon unusually big or small? What color shade is the hide? Any identifying scars? Would someone from the ground be able to tell the dragon apart from others by the silhouette and the way he moves when he flies?

Dragon Personality

Does the dragon's personality match the rider's, or do they rather complement each other? Does your dragon have any special talents, like being a good Search dragon? A quick and maneuverable flier? Is your dragon talkative or rather quiet, and what does his voice sound like? Are there any favorite ways how he or she likes to spend time when the riders are occupied with a long and boring Wingmeeting? If it's a dragoness, does she prefer certain colors of males over others?

Dolphin Information

Only fill this out if your persona is a Journeyman Dolphineer; Apprentice Dolphineers are not yet partnered. If your persona is a dragonrider or wherhandler, he or she cannot be partnered to a dolphin at the same time.

Dolphin Name

Pern's dolphins have their own traditions and culture. They have a tendency to recycle names used by their ancestors, with slight changes over the centuries. The trend goes to simple names, thus making it easy for the dolphins to pronounce in Speech. If you want to name a dolphin, you might want to check the names of those in Anne's books again and try to come up with something very similar, though not identical. You cannot use a name ending in -th, as that ending is reserved for dragons only.

Dolphin Age

Your persona's dolphin partner must be at least 5 Turns old. A younger dolphin would still count as a calf and unlikely to be partnered up with a human dolphineer. If your dolphin is male, you might even consider making him at least 10 Turns old, as males mature slower than females. While exceptions to this rule are possible with Council approval, keep in mind that orphaned dolphins would be brought up by the whole pod (which usually consists of females and their calves who are all related to each other), and not by a human. Adult male dolphins either form small groups of two or three or are solitary and will be the best candidates to partner with a human in a long-term relationship.

Dolphin Physical Description

Before describing your dolphins size etc., you may want to do some research on dolphin biology to make sure you're not going overboard. See the Dolphin Information in the Craft corner for more background information on dolphin biology and behavior. Does your dolphin have identifying marks, like spots or scars? Is he very articulate when trying human speech or rather sloppy so that your dolphineer has to translate for others?

Dolphin Personality

Pernese dolphins are much more intelligent than the ones we know on Earth, so give them a bit of personality. Are there any favorite games he likes to play? Favorite fish he likes to eat?

Pet Information

Only fill this out if your persona has pets. If your persona is not partnered with a dragon, dolphin, or wher, he or she may have up to two pets; otherwise, he or she may have only one pet.

Before giving your persona as many pets as possible, remember that most Pernese, and especially dragonriders, have busy lives and little time to care for pets. Animals are more likely to be used as a working force, like draft beasts and herding canines. People might not be very much inclined to keep an animal around without having an advantage from doing so.

Pet Name

This can be pretty much anything, including common words, as long as they do not yet appear on the Reserved Names list and the name does not end in -th. (That ending is reserved for dragons only.) If your persona has a watchwher, you may consider using the naming conventions introduced in Dragon's Kin by Anne and Todd McCaffrey, combining part of the name of the wherhandler or the wher's home Hold with the ending -sk.

Please note: The only pet names that will be entered into the Reserved Names list automatically are firelizards and whers. You may request for other pet names to be entered as well, but you'll have to let the Webbies know.

Pet Species

Regarding firelizards:
If choosing a pet for your persona, be aware that almost everyone has a firelizard. There's nothing really special about them any more, at least not in DragonRiders. On Pern, they are a precious commodity reserved for rich, high ranking people who can afford to buy an egg and those few lucky ones who found a clutch on the beach. If your character has a firelizard, remember that the greens and blues are not very intelligent and rarely trainable. They might even fly away and go wild.

Regarding whers:
Although watchwhers hardly count as "pets", this would be the place on the join form where to enter them if you want your persona to be a wherhandler. However, wherhandlers count as premium personas and as such are not available to first-time joiners and will require Council approval. If your persona is a wherhandler, he or she cannot be partnered to a dragon or dolphin at the same time.

Firelizard colour

Bronze and gold firelizards are allocated to deserving members by Council according to the guidelines for premium positions. Please choose a different color if you are a first-time joiner.

Pet Description and Personality

Give us a short description of your persona's pet and its personality. If you chose another pet species as the ones listed on the form, please indicate this in your pet's description.

That's it, folks! Probably way more information than you needed. Now put your persona description together and submit your join form. If it's not perfect, don't worry. We'll gladly help you to get it there. What on Pern are you waiting for? :-)


Last updated on 09-Apr-12.

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The Dragonriders of Pern® is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.