Dragon Anatomy

Dragons are carnivorous, oviparous, warm-blooded animals engineered from Pern's native firelizards. Like all of Pern's land fauna, they have six limbs – four legs and two wings. A dragon's forefeet are five-taloned, with four 'fingers' and an opposable thumb that gives them a surprising amount of dexterity; their hindfeet have three strong talons. Their blood, referred to as ichor, is copper-based and green in color. Dragons have a roughly equine body-shape, with shorter forelegs that give them a slightly lopsided gait on the ground. Their wedge-shaped heads sport backswept, hornlike headknobs, which anecdotally have some correlation with telepathic - common superstition holds that the longer the headknobs, the more mentally sensitive the dragon.

Dragon eyes are faceted like an insect's and reflect light in varying colors depending on the mood of the dragon. The faster the colors shift or swirl, the more excited or agitated the dragon. Typical dragon eye-colors and what they indicate are as follows:

  • Blue and Green: Contentment, happiness, excitement
  • Yellow: Fear, worry
  • Orange: Agitation, aggression, hunger
  • Red: Hunger, anger, aggression
  • Purple: Mating lust
  • Grey: Extreme fear or pain; grey eyes indicate a dire situation
  • Rainbow: Impression

Like firelizards, dragons can breathe fire by chewing a phosphine-bearing rock called firestone, which reacts with an acid in a specialized second stomach to produce a volatile gas that can be exhaled at will and ignites upon contact with air. Dragons cannot digest firestone, and chewed residue must be regurgitated.

Dragon hide is smooth, suedelike, and surprisingly delicate; when overexposed to cold or dry weather, it can crack easily. Riders remedy this through regular oiling. Young dragons require complete daily oiling during their stages of most rapid growth, while adult dragons require spot-checks as necessary in any place dragons complain of itchiness. Originally, dragons came in five colors: gold, bronze, brown, blue, and green. With the rediscovery of AIVAS and the ensuing experimentation with genetic tinkering, Pern's dragons now come in a veritable rainbow.

Dragon Behavior


Dragons are capable of limited teleportation by use of an extradimensional space known as between. This ability is one they share with firelizards; a dragon can jump to any place it has seen or has been given a clear mental picture of. Between is airless and freezing cold, and periodic exposure without adequate precaution can crack both human and dragon skin. Most jumps between take roughly eight seconds, though jumps of very long distances, such as from Pern to the Green Star, may take longer.


Like their firelizard ancestors, Dragons are innately telepathic. Unlike firelizards, dragons are capable of communicating fluently with humans. All dragons are hatched instinctively speaking human language in addition to their ability to send emotions and images in mind-to-mind communication. It is unknown whether this ability is innate, or whether dragons pick it up in the shell from the minds of the dragons and humans around them. Dragons speak readily to their riders and other dragons, but not all dragons are comfortable with speaking to humans other than their rider. All dragons are capable of mindspeech with any human other than their rider (often referred to as 'bespeaking'), but many avoid speaking to strange humans only in the case of emergencies.

In the case of gold and red dragons, telepathy comes with a unique ability known as Command, which allows a dragon to compel the dragons around them to follow simple orders. Command works by color first - gold dragons can Command reds, but reds cannot command golds - and seniority second - a junior queen cannot compel her senior to do anything, but a senior can easily compel her juniors.


Dragons mature between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four months, depending on the color and sex of the dragon. When a female dragon reaches maturity, she falls into a deep sleep that can last anywhere from a few hours (for greens) to a few days (for a gold). The female wakes ravenously hungry, fills her belly, and then takes to the sky, calling any males in the vicinity to chase her for a Flight. This pattern repeats periodically each time a female is ready to breed, and may be accompanied by changes in behavior (referred to as "proddiness") and a deepening or intensifying of hide color, often described as "glowing."

Flights are a contest of agility, speed, and endurance in varying combinations depending on the individual dragon; a female will usually play to her own strengths and seek out a partner who can keep up with her. While some dragons have favored partners that they choose every time they Rise, many are less devoted and select whichever chaser impressed them the most in that particular Flight. Dragons mate in the air. With clutching females, it is commonly believed that the higher the pair at consummation (and thus the farther they have to fall), the larger the clutch, and experienced goldriders generally coax their dragons to only drink the blood of their post-sleep kills, in order to prevent them from being weighed down.

Several weeks after mating, a clutching female will lay eggs, which generally take another two months to mature. All-told, from Flight to Hatching, the dragon reproductive cycle takes roughly a full season.


Unlike whers and firelizards, dragons were genetically engineered to be completely helpless without a human partner. Where their smaller cousins can easily go wild without a suitable human, a dragon must be connected to a human mind, or they will go between. To this end, dragon Hatchings are group affairs, with as many likely minds as possible gathered together in front of the eggs to allow hatchlings the best chance at life. Most young dragons are born instinctively knowing what to seek out and scan the minds of the assembled Candidates to find one who is compatible with them. When a dragon chooses a partner, they will call out to them, their eyes will flash rainbow, and they'll link mentally in an intense process known as Impression. Impression is a difficult process to describe, but many riders describe it as finding a second half that they hadn't known they were missing.

While it is theoretically possible for dragons who don't have a clear picture of their desired partner to be persuaded to take a less-likely one through proximity and physical contact (a process known as force-Impression), the risk of incurring the wrath of a large animal capable of killing you tends to put a damper on Candidates' attempts to grab hatchlings and redirect their attention onto themselves.

Dragons are born already knowing their own names, which always end with a -th. Many new riders will elide their names, by removing letters and replacing them with an apostrophe: for instance, young rider Kenedric may elide his name to K'dric. Traditionally, elided names are for men, although any rider of a fighting dragon may choose to take the option. Queenriders do not elide their names.


In general, a dragon with a bondmate will not harm a human. Dragon hatchlings before Impression, on the other hand, are famously dangerous: hatchlings will fight themselves and sometimes aggressively attack humans in their frantic press to find a human partner. Outside of Hatchings, though, it is prohibitively rare to hear of a dragon committing direct violence against a human. Accidents occasionally happen, usually with regards to a dragon protecting its rider or a clutching female protecting her eggs, but it is safe to assume that no dragon has ever knowingly gone after a human with intent to cause them bodily harm. With the resource war, Pern's Weyrs tested that nonviolence to its limits; dragons cannot knowingly commit harm to humans, but they can flame crops or buildings, and they can attack whers or other dragons. The most dubiously-moral of the dragons (or those with the most dubiously-moral riders) might even be able to make a disconnect between the actions of, say, lifting up a human to a high height and releasing them from the inevitable fact that a human who falls too far dies. Such dragons are rarities, though, and most will still balk at that kind of direct aggression toward humans.

Dragon Colors

Bear in mind that the stereotypes listed for each entry are precisely that - stereotypes. They reflect societal expectations of traditional Pernese, not the realities of dragonkind. In practice, a green is just as likely as a bronze to be a strong military leader, and a blue is just as likely as a gold to have strong parental feelings towards any hatchlings they sire - and this will be reflected in dragons written for Hatchings. However, the social hierarchies of the Weyr have resulted in the widespread belief in a draconic “caste system” based on color, with every color having an assigned role. The belief that metallic dragons were born to rule benefits the metallicriders, so as long as they remain in power, it is routinely taught to weyrbrats and Candidates alike.



Gender: Female
Flights: Flies once every two turns or so, always fertile.
A gold Flight that does not result in eggs is considered a bad omen. Clutches 7-20 eggs.
Size: 55-65 feet
Impresses: Females exclusively
Stereotype: Regal, motherly, wise
Golds remain the undisputed queens of the Weyr. They have a genetic intolerance of firestone, meaning they will never be called to combat. They instead possess the power of Command, being able to compel any dragon to obey a simple order - for instance, “stop” or “come to me.” As they are the most reliable clutchers, they are also considered the “mothers” of the draconic species. Even with the introduction of sport colors and clutching greens, the vast majority of dragons in a weyr are still born of a gold. Golds can be identified even before hatching because their eggshells have a very distinctive golden sheen. They are stereotyped as queens in every respect: arrogant and demanding, but also wise, regal, and maternal. A gold and her rider will be expected to hold power and use it wisely. It is highly undesirable for a single Weyr to have too many golds; the more queens, the more likely they’ll begin fighting for dominance, and a senior may even kill a junior who Rises at the wrong time. As a result, gold transfers between Weyrs are quite common.



Gender: Male
Flights: Chases any color, never fertile.
Yellows are highly attuned to the desires of their rider, and will fly only in response to strong emotional stimuli.
Size: 50-60 feet
Impresses: All genders equally
Stereotype: Unlucky, timid, sensitive
A yellow dragon is an ill omen for any Pernese. Woe betide the yellowriders, because right out of the egg their dragons are seen to have “stolen” something from the Weyr that clutched them. Just like golds, a yellow’s egg will show a very distinctive golden sheen - in fact, a yellow egg is indistinguishable from a gold egg. The difference being that yellows are male, chromatic, and infertile, chasing only in response to strong desire from their rider. Even worse, adult yellows are large enough to catch a queen… not that one would ever be permitted to do so without facing consequences for the “botched” Flight. Yellows are stereotyped as timid creatures unsuited to leadership, and despite being larger than bronzes, rarely usurp their traditional positions as wingleaders.



Gender: Male
Flights: Chases gold or violet, always fertile.
Bronzes are almost exclusively the mates of golds and tend to produce larger clutches.
Size: 45-55 feet
Impresses: Males exclusively
Stereotype: Proud, strong, hotheaded
The bronze and the gold are the classic, traditional leaders of Pern. For generations, it was always the bronze-gold pair that ruled the Weyr: the goldrider was Weyrwoman, handling all the domestic affairs, and the bronzerider was Weyrleader, handling the military and tactical leadership. The arrival of new colors has shaken this fantasy to its core, but it still holds a great deal of weight in the minds of more conservative Pernese. In a crisis, many people will instinctively look to a bronze. It is true that bronzes are the most fertile of the male colors, routinely siring large and healthy clutches. As might be expected, they are stereotyped as leaders, but more of the brash and hotheaded heroic type. Note that it’s highly undesirable for a single Weyr to have too many bronzes; once the numbers become disproportionate, males will become territorial and hostile to one another, and may even maul one another in aerial duels during goldflights. As a result, bronze transfers between Weyrs are quite common.



Gender: Female
Fertility: Flies rarely, never fertile.
Reds are highly attuned to the desires of their rider, and will fly only in response to strong emotional stimuli.
Size: 40-50 feet
Impresses: Mild preference for females
Stereotype: Noble, stern, charismatic
Unlike their yellow brothers, whom reds otherwise share many characteristics with, red dragons are well-loved. Reds, like golds, have the power of Command: the first red and her rider, Telan and Honyath of Ista Weyr, saved their entire weyrling clutch by successfully Commanding them between and back to escape an earthquake that caved in their barracks. Unlike golds, however, reds are completely infertile and can chew firestone with no difficulty. Despite their infertility, reds are often fondly considered to be “little queens”: more like a female counterpart to bronzes, they’re well-suited to Wingleadership even if they can’t become Weyrleaders. It helps that they fill a vital social need. Even among conservative Weyrs there are women with aspirations other than Impressing gold, and reds give them a socially acceptable option for achieving rank without threatening the supremacy of gold and bronze.



Gender: Male
Fertility: Chases all females, mostly fertile.
Brown-sired clutches tend to be on the smaller side. Higher incidence of sport colors, lower incidence of gold and bronze.
Size: 35-45 feet
Impresses: Mild preference for males
Stereotype: Laid-back, stubborn, reliable
The next largest male color after bronzes, browns are the solid, middle-of-the-pack workhorses of the Weyr. Browns are large enough and sturdy enough to fly for hours on end without faltering, but also slightly smaller and more agile than their enormous metallic cousins. As such, they are often found as wingseconds, flanking a bronze leader to watch their back and bolster the wing’s defenses. Browns tend to be stereotyped as good, reliable second-in-commands who may rarely achieve leadership in their own right. It is possible for a brown to catch a gold and sire a clutch, but more often they are encouraged to consort with violets.



Gender: Female
Fertility: Flies once a year or so, mostly fertile.
Clutching violets have about a fifty-fifty chance of producing a clutch. Clutches 4-12 eggs. Higher incidence of sport colors, lower incidence of gold and bronze.
Size: 30-40 feet
Impresses: All genders equally
Stereotype: Gentle, loving, dreamy
Violets are the second smallest female color, and the most commonly fertile after golds. Violets can chew firestone, but it suppresses their clutching ability, and they are very commonly encouraged to decline it and fly with the queen’s wing instead. Violets are notably not considered to be of “queen” rank, insofar as that means anything; a violet does not possess the power of Command as golds and reds do. However, they are still considered highly valuable. Violets can clutch small numbers of eggs, but rarely throw metallic eggs and don’t provoke aggression from golds when they Rise. This is incredibly useful, as violets don't lead to the kind of runaway population problems that an excess of golds can. Violets tend to be stereotyped as sweet and gentle creatures, and despite the well-documented evidence that they Impress without regard for gender, male violetriders may find themselves the target of some unfortunate assumptions about their personal lives and sexual preferences.



Gender: Male
Fertility: Chases violet or green, rarely fertile.
Blues rarely produce a clutch. When they do, the clutch tends to be small, and almost exclusively chromatics/sports.
Size: 25-35 feet
Impresses: All genders equally
Stereotype: Loyal, intuitive, kind
Blues are the smallest male color, and also one of the two commonest: it is expected that blue and green dragons together will make up the significant majority of the Weyr’s population at any given time. During the days Threadfall, it was the blues and the greens that were the only colors small enough to dodge Thread, and provided critical protection on their larger brethren's flanks. They have less stamina than browns and bronzes, however, and can only fly for a few hours at a time before needing to rest. Nowadays, blues are in a curious position: still barred from many leadership positions out of tradition, though the stamina to last a full Threadfall is no longer a relevant requirement.



Gender: Female
Fertility: Flies a few times a year, firestone-linked fertility.
Clutching greens are comparable to violets, with a fifty-fifty chance of producing 4-9 eggs, almost exclusively chromatics/sports.
Size: 20-30 feet
Impresses: All genders equally
Stereotype: Flirty, daring, fun-loving
Greens are the smallest female color, and also the commonest color in the Weyr: this results in the unfair assumption at times that greens are expendable and not particularly worthwhile. This is untrue. Every greenrider in the weyr is quietly aware that without their flame protecting the flanks of the browns, reds, and bronzes, the larger dragons would have been killed off within a single Pass. No dragon - save for a grey - can match a green in the air for agility and precision of flame. It is also true that greenriders are unfairly barred from most positions of power. Greens fly frequently, and can rarely clutch if they do not chew firestone, but it is exceptionally rare that a Weyrleader will approve a greenrider’s request to decline firestone.



Gender: Sexless, variable gender identity
Fertility: None.
Greys have no functioning sex organs, although occasionally one may go through the motions of Rising or Chasing with a beloved weyrmate.
Size: 15-25 feet
Impresses: All genders equally
Stereotype: Intellectual, aloof, observant
Greys are a curious color, and rarely seen. They are so small, and so weak at hatching, that it’s not uncommon for them to simply fail to ever break shell. A wise Candidate will never bet on the little “dud” eggs to hatch. Greys are sexless, though they may identify as any gender - some may even have no particular gender identity at all, or take their cues from their rider’s mind. As greys are smaller even than greens, and so rarely clutched successfully, they are rarely expected to pursue firestone or combat training. The Weyr needs couriers, Searchriders, ambassadors, teachers, and other pursuits for which the greys are considered better-suited.



Red-gold chimera
Brown-green chimera
Blue-brown chimera

Gender: Variable
Fertility: Variable
Size: Variable
Impresses: All genders equally
Stereotype: None
Chimeras are an unusual new development, and still poorly understood by dragonhealers. (For game purposes, we understand that real-life somatic mosaicism is much more complicated - but we want these guys to be easily understood by all players!) All chimeras are a mix of two colors, and have markings of both colors on their body. In size, gender, and fertility, they may take after either of their base colors. In general, Pernese practice is to name the primary color (the one they most resemble) first. So for instance, a mid-sized male dragon that was brown with green markings would be a brown-green, whereas a small female dragon that was green with brown markings would be a green-brown.

It is possible for a chimera to have one metallic color in the mix, but the resulting dragon will have some traits from both colors: a gold-green for instance may be smaller, or lack Command, or have firestone-linked fertility. Double metallic seems to be a lethal mutation, as the only known bronze-gold had massive internal trauma and died shortly after hatching.

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