Character Creation Guide

Character creation at Ista Reforged is relatively painless. All you have to do is fill out our official persona sheet with your character's information and submit it to the BoD for review. If any changes need to be made, we'll send you some quick notes, and all you have to do is make your changes and re-submit. Here, we've put together a helpful guide with some basic hints and tips for persona-creation to help make first-time persona approval a snap. If you've played a Pern game before, much of this will be old hat to you, but you should read through it anyway – there are a few small things that may be different from other clubs you've played with, and there are some important cultural peculiarities that you should be familiar with in order to help your character come across as an authentic part of our setting.

Basic Tips

1. No pun names, or names that are blatantly from Earth, or names from other fictional worlds. Yes, it's possible that someone on Pern could be named “Sue” because it's a simple name… but we're still not going to approve it because it breaks immersion. If you can't think up a nice fantasy name, there are a hundred name generators out there that can help. Or we can help! We love names! Don't hesitate to ask!

2. Male dragonrider names at Ista Reforged will follow canon naming conventions. That means all male dragonriders elide their names upon Impression, and no female dragonriders do. When a young dragonrider elides his name, it's usually a simple process: Leave the first letter, then remove the first vowel (possibly more depending on the name), replace that vowel with an apostrophe, then leave as much of the rest of the name as makes sense. You can also “squish” a name, removing extra letters if necessary. The final product follows a very basic pattern – consonant (or two letters that make one consonant sound, such as th, sh, br, etc.), followed immediately by the apostrophe, then the rest of the name. Important Note: There will never be more than two letters left in front of the apostrophe, and if there are two, it's only because the two letters together create one consonant sound! Other clubs may do this differently, but Ista Reforged has chosen to keep names within our club as close to canon as possible.

Examples:
Darveld elided his name to D'veld. He could have chosen D'rveld, but D'veld is less awkward to say.
Raffaran elided his name to R'fan. He could have chosen R'ran or R'fran, but those were awkward, and while R'faran was a perfectly good name, he just liked R'fan better.

3. If you're creating a candidate, consider what his final elided dragonrider name will be before you decide on his name! He may only be a candidate for a short time, game-wise, but once he Impresses he'll likely be wearing his dragonrider name for turns to come! Don't wait until Hatching Day to realize that you hate all the options you've given yourself for his dragonrider name.

4. While we're on the subject of names, remember that a weyrbred boy was brought into this world with the expectation that he would probably be a dragonrider someday – his parents would absolutely have considered possible honorifics when they named him! Boys from outside the Weyr, on the other hand, do sometimes have names that are a little trickier to elide.

5. Not every “leadership” hopeful is a bronzerider's son. Not every herder works with runners or even herdbeasts (remember, we have caprines, ovines, porcines, and more on our Pern!). Not every “fun” person is a harper. Not every young woman rebels against the marriage her parents have carefully arranged for her. Sometimes it's okay to be a walking stereotype, but most characters shouldn't be.

6. On the subject of stereoypes: Pern is an agrarian society with an aversion to invasive surgery, a reliance upon physical labor, and a parasitic flesh-devouring organism that falls from the sky. Sometimes parents die, but children on Pern are often raised by a village, so to speak. The chances of your orphan being left to fend completely for him/herself are fairly low, but not impossible. Likewise, runaways are rare – especially with the Pass just starting! Holdbred Pernese are justifiably nervous about being far from shelter these days! If you choose to write a tormented orphan or runaway, ask yourself why you feel the need to have such a background. If you can't show us how this has a real impact on your character's personality, and why it should matter to the rest of the game, we would prefer that you reconsider.

7. No pun dragon names, either, please. No names blatantly borrowed from other sources. You know the drill.

8. Give your dragon a real personality! Your persona will have to interact with him/her on a daily basis, so you may as well make it interesting to write!

Things To Keep In Mind If You're Writing A…

Native Istan

Congratulations, your character is an Istan! What does that mean for you?

Well, obviously not all Istans think alike any more than you and I might think alike just because we were born in the same state/country/planet/whatever. However, we can tell you the sort of things they have likely grown up hearing, and why so many Istans feel so uncomfortable sharing their Weyr with their new neighbors.

Istans face the danger of the sea on all sides. There's nowhere to run from it, nowhere to hide from it – it provides Istans with food and trade, but also with significant danger. Unlike the mainland ports, which still have significant influence from the culture of their inland neighbors, Ista doesn't have that – everyone on Ista Island is an islander by default, and islanders have a culture all their own. Sailors are more common than farmers. Are there farmers and herders? Of course (in fact, the Lord Holder gives farm and beastholds good incentives for staying productive, because he wants Ista to be as self-sufficient as possible), but most of the important holdings are ports, and it often seems that everyone on the island has a little bit of sailor in them somewhere. There are grim realities to life at sea, or life at home waiting for a husband or father who's at sea – it isn't uncommon to lose a relative or two during the stormy season. Storms are common – bad winds, heavy rain, heavy surf. For at least part of the turn, hurricanes are a real danger, and every decade or so a truly terrible one blows through and causes a lot of damage and loss of life. The dragonriders fly 'Fall in some of the harshest weather, and Istan riders are adept at dealing with heavy and unexpected changes in wind and air current. For that reason, strength in dragons of all colors is particular prized and crops up often in the Istan bloodlines. Often, their 'Falls are shorter than other Weyrs fly due to part of the 'Fall being over the sea, but they're often more intense, and they deeply resent it when other Weyrs don't recognize this fact. Istans have had to learn to adapt to the harshness of the beautiful world around them – and not only have they survived, but they have thrived. They are incredibly proud of how self-sufficient they are. And that is where things get complicated.

Istan pride is probably justified. They work hard every day, they face down danger from the planet itself, they take care of themselves and ask for very little from the rest of the world – what they have to import, they make up for in export, after all. They've been raised to be so proud, however, that it absolutely kills them to have to ask for outside help. And… when you're that proud of yourself and your home, it's not really that much of a stretch to believe that other people… just aren't quite as good as you are. “Oh, of course people from outside can be perfectly smart people, or perfectly nice people (maybe), but they're probably soft out there, right? It's not their fault. They're just not made of the same stuff as us Istans. After all, they're always trying to send their injured down here to recuperate, so they sure seem awfully squishy. And they must not be as keen on helping their own as we are about helping our own, either. We don't send try to our injured to someone else! Nope, Istans just have a stronger sense of community obviously! Better values!”

…See how something as simple as a little pride can get out of hand very easily? Of course different Istans will feel different ways, and to different degrees, but generally-speaking most Istans will have been raised with that general attitude around them. Keep that in mind when writing an Istan. Just because they don't want outside help doesn't mean they're horrible people who hate all strangers! (Then again, some probably are!)

When writing an Istan dragonrider, there are a couple of other things to be generally aware of, too. In that same vein of self-sufficiency, our Ista Weyr has historically taken great pride in producing its own riders, too. The Weyr does not believe in keeping a ridiculous number of boys on hand for clutches when a solid body of good weyrborn lads has always been enough in the past. Ista DOES Search, but they don't do it constantly or indiscriminately. The majority of Istan dragonriders will be weyrbred; this is particularly true the further you go back into the Interval. Clutches were smaller then, so there was less need to Search then… so the older your Istan dragonrider is, the greater the chance of him being weyrbred. When they Search, they absolutely do not ever Search outside their own protectorate (and often — but not always — stick to the Island itself, much to the dismay of many a Neratian boy). Hold and craftbred boys aren't really discriminated against, but they will definitely be like the “new guy in school” for a while as all these weyrbred boys who grew up together learn to adjust to their presence. (At least they're Istan too, even if not weyrbred, right?) When it comes to candidates, they don't typically take transfers without a very good reason, either. Why should they? They have what they need, and any boy who would abandon his home or the Weyr who initially Searched him probably doesn't have any sense of commitment anyway, to the Istan way of thinking. They want strong, loyal riders, not pretentious pansies who have to run off when they get upset about something!

The tendency to keep themselves as candidate-supplied as possible also contributes to a strong sense of community within the Weyr. They're all an extended family, in a way, and many of the riders have grown up together. Not everyone knows everyone else personally because there are just too many of them, but just like in a small town, everyone knows the important people, and people usually can at least recognize a fellow Istan in a vague sort of “oh I've seen you around before” kind of way. Unfortunately, this also makes it easier for them to feel threatened by the presence of the new transfer riders – these new people are automatically not family! They're strangers! No wonder the Istans feel uneasy.

On a more light-hearted note, this also means that Hatchings at Ista are a particularly exciting time for the weyrfolk as they settle down to boast and make bets on whose child is going to Impress this time, and who's going to come out the best. Dragonriders may not raise their own children, but they take as much pride in their bloodline as they do in anything else – it's something they contribute to their Weyr, part of their duty to keeping it self-sufficient – and the day a man's son walks off the Sands with his very own dragon is a special day indeed. He may barely know the boy, but it's still the day he can say that he gave Ista a new dragonrider!

Outsider

If your character is a rider transferred in to Ista to help rebuild the Wings after that disasterous first fall, then he or she can come from any of the other canon northern Weyrs: Fort, High Reaches, Igen, Telgar, or Benden. There's only one really important question you need to ask yourself when writing your transfer rider: why was he/she transferred? Of course we know the bigger reason — because Ista is in dire need of the help – but why was your character in particular sent to Ista?

Basically, you have two options:

Your rider volunteered to go. This is the harder option to justify. Remember, despite what we play in fandom, canon dragonriders very rarely transferred. Why should they want to leave the Weyr where they Impressed? It isn't like our modern day, when people have to move for job or monetary reasons. Every Weyr offers roughly the same benefits as far as food, shelter, and lifestyle go. The inside of one Weyr isn't really much different than any other in terms of scenery, and as for scenery outside the Weyr… well, they can travel wherever they want nearly instantly, so why go through all the paperwork, and trouble, to pack up and move just to take in new sights? More importantly, what reason could be important enough to make a rider want to abandon his brothers-in-arms now, at the beginning of the Pass when they're in the most danger? He's trained with his wingmates for turns now, this is the big moment… why leave them?

Please note, we're not saying you can't have a character who's a voluntary transfer. On the contrary, we'd love to see some! You're just going to have to put some thought into it to make it work. Maybe your rider is the type to take on such a sacrifice – one who's willing to put Pern first, to make the hard choice to put himself wherever he's needed most, even if it's not where he wants to be. Maybe your rider, for whatever reason, hates his wingmates? Maybe he's an opportunist who can see the bright side in a decimated Weyr – lots of chances to advance? It's up to you! Impress us with your character-writing creativity.

Your rider was transferred whether he/she liked it or not. This is probably going to be the more common option. What you need to keep in mind here, though, is that it's the beginning of the Pass. Every rider is needed. And while the other Weyrleaders acknowledge the fact that Ista must have riders and must protect its territory, they also are very aware that they need to keep themselves strong, too. If they must send riders to Ista, they likely aren't going to send their best. There will be a few good apples in the bunch, maybe even a couple of seasoned, competent riders from Weyrleaders who have more to spare and feel guilty otherwise, but they're probably not going to send their proverbial all-star team. It's a good opportunity for them to get rid of the troublemakers, isn't it?

You have a lot of possibilities here, especially when playing with Istans who don't particularly care for the outsiders. Your character's whole life was just changed. They were uprooted from their home, forced to go to some Weyr that can't even fly 'Fall without losing half the Weyr (from an outsiders' perspective, anyway!), and this terrible reception is the thanks they get?

See? Have fun with it.

Bronzerider

First, ask yourself: why does this particular character have to ride bronze? Do you just like having shiny rank? That in and of itself isn't really a good reason. Are you hoping he'll make a good fairytale boyfriend for a goldrider? That's not really a very good reason, either. Does he just feel “bronzy” to you? Well… that's a slightly better reason, maybe, but ask yourself why he feels that way to you. You don't really think that every candidate who shows leadership potential, or certain character traits, gets that shiny bronze, do you? Did you think that all those riders who Impress other colors were just somehow “unworthy”? Remember that there is no “bronze” personality. Bronzeriders do tend to share certain qualities, but often it feels as if most of the bronzeriders in fandom are the same two men re-written over and over again. Remember that, while bronzeriders tend to have leadership ability, that doesn't mean that they are all good leaders! Some of them, for whatever reason, never develop those skills properly. Some of them just never really had it in the first place (surprise – maybe some dragons choose riders for reasons that aren't readily apparent and have nothing to do with the rider's actual capability). And even those riders who do have it may have vastly different leadership styles. Some are charismatic, some prefer to intimidate, some micro-manage every little thing, and some allow their 'seconds and riders to have more say and responsibility.

Playing a bronzerider at Ista Reforged can be a serious responsibility, because this is a game in which any bronzerider has the potential to be promoted or demoted for IC reasons. Any bronzerider has the potential to become Weyrleader, and to put whomever he deems fit in power. For this reason, when you write a bronzerider, you need to put some serious thought into what sort of leader he would be. What's his style? Who does he like? Who does he not like? What does he believe is best for the Weyr? (Or alternately, what does he believe is best for himself? Remember, not every person is selfless or has a strong sense of duty! Even bronzeriders can be out for themselves. Maybe they don't mean anyone any harm, but feel entitled to the perks of the position once they earn it! Is that really so wrong?) What is he good at? Is he a strong fighter, a strong tactician? Is he mediocre at both of those things? Does he quite frankly suck at his job? We love flawed characters, especially leaders! It keeps things interesting, don't you think?

Because anyone has the potential to become leader, players of bronzeriders also need to keep this in mind when they play with other bronzeriders. That guy he pissed off today could be in power tomorrow and ready to demote him! That young bronzerider he helped out might want to help him out in return! On the other hand… that risky alliance could pay off! Do keep all this in mind when you play, but please don't just “play it safe” unless that's the sort of character you're playing (which is risky in its own way too, because fence-sitters garner a fair amount of criticism, too!). We want you to be true to your character, not what you OOCly think is the right course of action. The goal is to get a diverse enough set of bronzeriders that, come senior queen flight, the entire Weyr is really on edge because literally anything could happen the next day when the new leader takes power!

OOCly, you need to be absolutely honest with yourself before you write a bronzerider. Do you have the time to commit to this? Are you going to play him? We don't have rank requirements here, but we – and the people you play with – will be terribly disappointed if your bronzerider turns out to be a useless dud. We understand that real life concerns do come up, and that's okay, but if you know for a fact you aren't going to have much time to play, please consider holding off on that bronzerider until you have more time. If something long-term and unexpected comes up and your bronzerider has rank, do the right thing – plot something out where your bronzerider has to step down for a while. An injury maybe? A fight with the Weyrleader that led to a demotion?

Speaking of promotions and demotions… this is probably the most important concern for someone playing a bronzerider, and I can't stress this enough: you, as a writer, must be okay with your rider being promoted and demoted. We're striving for what's IC realistic here, not necessarily what makes sense OOCly. If a rider who hates your rider becomes Weyrleader, your wingleader might just lose his job. You must be okay with that. Don't worry – in six months, someone else might be Weyrleader. YOU might be Weyrleader. Things can and will change. It's not a reflection on you as a writer, it's a reflection of what would realistically happen if that particular person were in charge. It's supposed to promote actual politics within the game, as well as plot opportunity, so treat it that way. In real life we don't always get what we want, or even what we deserve, and it should be the same for our characters. How does your rider feel? Is he angry? Resigned? Does he think his replacement is a fink, or does he congratulate him on a promotion well-earned? If he kept his job, is he wary of his new co-leaders? If he got passed up for promotion again, how does he handle that?

Use it. And above all, do not throw fits about it. This is your warning – when you write a bronzerider at this club, he'll get whatever the Weyrleader feels he deserves (not necessarily what the BoD thinks you've earned or not earned), and you don't get to argue about it OOCly. Argue ICly all you want. :)

Woman

Women on our Pern aren't horrifically oppressed, but it's important to remember that our alternate 9th Pass Pern is still an agrarian society with somewhat medieval-ish values. Generally-speaking, women are considered physically weaker than men, more passive, more nurturing, and so on and so forth. And this isn't just something men believe and women roll their eyes at – most women have been raised believing this, and while some will think outside the box, most will not.

Don't worry! Women are perfectly welcome to be riders or crafters at Ista reforged! Girls can be, and are, Searched, and it's not considered freakish for a girl to Impress a fighting dragon. However, it's not what you'd call typical, either, and the thing that fandom often forgets is that not just any girl is going to decide to go against the grain and put herself out there to do a job that is traditionally considered the doman of men.

Consider our modern day. We're more liberated than 9th Pass Pern in many ways, and there's nothing officially keeping a woman from becoming a police officer or a firefighter or a soldier, but these professions are still overwhelmingly dominated by men. Why? Because even though our mouths say “women can do anything”, society is still using play kitchen sets and television shows to whisper “marry, have kids, be a teacher or a nurse” in the back of our heads. Have you ever seen a lady in scrubs and caught yourself automatically assuming “nurse” and not “doctor”? Same concept. It's not intentionally malicious. It's just something we as a society still struggle with. In addition, many of the more physical male-dominated professions still very much have a “boy's club” mentality that makes it hard for women to get in, and if they do get in, they often struggle for acceptance, or to be taken seriously by the people they serve and protect.

Female dragonriders on our Pern face similar obstacles. When writing a female rider or candidate, you want to keep in mind that the majority of girls on Pern wouldn't choose this particular path – so why did your girl choose it? Has she seriously considered what it entails? If it has, does she think she can hack it even though she may be getting subtle pressure from well-meaning parents who would prefer she pick another profession?

Your lady rider or candidate doesn't have to be butch, or weird, or even rebellious. Many women of many personality types can choose this path, and have different reasons for doing so. We just want to make sure you give this some thought to things like this when you write her so that she can be a more fleshed-out character in the end.

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