View Full Version : Dragonriders of Pern Campaign (Needs Help)

2007-03-01, 03:56 AM
Anyone else read the Dragonriders of Pern books by Anne McCaffrey? I want to make a campaign based off of that and I've created some nifty rules for governing various things, but I'm stuck on three things:

1. A level system. Holders are essentially limited to thier profession. Also there's not a lot of action potential there. Crafters are limited to just three ranks. Dragonriders have more ranks but the advancement is often arbitrary and determined by the dragons. I'm considering giving up and just making it skill-based, but I don't know how.

2. Challenges. There are many major challenges in the plot that the players will have to deal with (time is 9th pass Pern after, theoretically, N'ton takes over Fort Weyr and a significant time before the reactivation of AIVAS.) While each of the major plot events is something a player would have to deal with (theft of Ramoth's egg, the exploration of the South Continent, the Aivas years, the abominators, the other abominators, that mega-hurricane thing, and the fireball flood) there are very few consistent bad guys. The obvious one is Thread, but there's only so much Threadfall one player is gonna take, since it's all patterned, although it will be fun to see him deal with it when it goes out of sequence. Another is the abominators, but they keep getting massively spanked whenever they try anything really ambitious. Certainly tracking down various abominators or explorations of the south can be gone into in much more detail than what is given in the stories, but it would help to have random encounters that don't involve large angry felines.

3. Dragons. Seperate player or NPC? It needs to be something not under the direct control of the rider.

That's about it, I'll take whatever help you can give. If anyone is interested in the rest I'll post the character creation system and custom rules as an edit.

2007-03-01, 09:26 AM
I don't think that Pern would be very well represented by D&D.

I'd personally go with GURPS; while I may be prejudiced (since I really like the system), I think it would capture that world the best.

1. Crafters get better with their craft skills; the ranks (master, journeyman, apprentice) are earned as they progress in the skills that are appropriate to their class.

2. Holders have hold appropriate skills and advantages.

3. Dragonriders have an Ally: Dragon, as well as Patron: Weyr, and possibly Social Status, reputation, etc. Build a template.

4. The dragons themselves can be built with the Psi rules (limited telepathy, Telekinetic, and teleport powers).

Glooble Glistencrist
2007-03-01, 11:44 PM
I agree - d20 is not your friend here. But if you persist, I would think about making Dragonrider a Prestige class or maybe a base class. Of course you'd have to do new stats for that dragons - they're not that much like D & D dragons. If you end up making any stuff, post it here. I'd like to see it.

2007-03-02, 12:54 AM
I agree - d20 is not your friend here. But if you persist, I would think about making Dragonrider a Prestige class or maybe a base class. Of course you'd have to do new stats for that dragons - they're not that much like D & D dragons. If you end up making any stuff, post it here. I'd like to see it.

Ayup, d20 isn't my friend - It's my 12th grade english teacher, who I am stuck with once again due to my crippleing ignorance of the alternatives.

As exists now there's nearly everything decided on but the three problems mentioned above.

Character creation is fairly esoteric. Based on a formula that I haven't quite come up with each player will have a percent chance per "search" that a dragonrider singles them out for the possibility of impression. Impression itself will match dragon to gender/alignment, assuming that they make it.

An incoming character will choose whether to enter the craft or the hold. To this effect they will need to choose a profession and skills to match. Since I have a relatively small group (3) I *hope* that one will enter the holdings and work his way up to at least a powerful steward for a major hold, or else a Lord's heir in one of those holds you don't hear much about, like Nerat or Half-Circle, that one will end up in the crafts (preferably harper, as that's easiest to create adventures for (harpers being for all intents and purposes nonmagical bards from DnD), although in a pinch you could do it with the smiths or mechanics.), and one as a solid dragonrider, although I will certainly not force them into any such descisions.

Dragonrider, as indicated, is a special kind of class, barring a really good percent roll on one of their parts that allows them to grow up in the weyr. If selected for impression on search, there will be a 1d8 roll (wieghted due to regional issues by moving the role + or - 1 towards the nearest weyr.) to determine exactly which weyr is on search. Dragonriders end up as a 1 level PrC (at the moment - actually, I'm getting an inkling of an idea as I type this to how to level the groups - I'll get back to you on that)

Dragons are loosely statted, with the obvious adjustments being made (colors, intellience, description, going between, fire breathing for all 5 colors after phosphine rock is fed to them, telepathy with their rider, their rider's loved ones, and Lessa and Brekke (and limited Robinton), and time travel. After F'lessan's "incident" in the river basin outside Honshu, they may have telekinesis as well.) The precise mechanics will only be really important in threadfall.

Thread I'm not sure about. Aerial combat rules will be involved.

Combat will be loosely run. I'm thinking about the vitality/wound system for that.

Ranks are the easiest part, all I have to do is develop a skill level at which each rank is assigned with some other requirements. True craft MASTERY (i.e., being the master instead of a master) will require something truly special.

The world itself is also easy. I have the maps, but they'll be mostly irrelevant as I have most of it memorized anyhow.

I've thought up some interesting things for them to do, so that part is better now.

Dragons will be almost certainly NPC, so that part should be alright now too.

I'll post again with the actual mechanics, hopefully sometime over the weekend. The emphasis will obvioulsy be on roleplaying rather than bumping baddies and dungeon crawling. Thanks for the assists.

2007-03-02, 09:28 PM
The Bronze, Browns, and Blues match to gender (never mentioned, but there's no exceptions). The Gold dragons match to gender (again).

The greens swing either way.

As for the above...
1) I'd honestly consider a Dragonrider to be more of a template than anything else (a progressive template, mind, based on time - as the dragon grows into maturity). Dump most magic (spells, spell-like, or Su abilities - except, perhaps, class abilities that are complete non-actions or permanently active - Divine Grace, Aura of Courage, Ki Strike, Diamond Body, and the like; or anything relating to the dragons themselves - Between, telepathy, et cetera) as they don't fit the genre. I would, though, advise that the party either be entirely dragonriders, or entirely not; don't do it randomly. It will be rather difficult to balance the spotlight otherwise while still keeping NPCs in character. Also, don't forget the dragon lizards (possibly a feat which you can take more than once - they probably model well as Pseudodragons with teleporation and lower Intelligence, maybe 3 or 4, and a much, much better range on the telepathy).

2) Dragons deal with most combat challenges quite handily. YOU DO NOT ATTACK A DRAGON RIDER WITH LETHAL FORCE - it's basically suicide, either by Thread when you aren't defended, by the dragon itself when forty tons of claw, fang, and scale teleports in right next to you to defend the Rider, or afterwards when every Dragon on the planet wants you dead (and with the constant telepathic connection, they know who did it!). With a non-dragonrider party, combat is as normal, with the lack of magical support - various animals (and you can make up your own), bandits, soldiers, whatever. Also, of course, puzzle and social challenges of various stripes.

3) Definately not a separate player. They'll either be left outside for in-hold stuff (by necessity of size) or they'll dominate at most outside stuff (by sheer impressiveness). If you go with my suggestion for 1, letting the player control the dragon is mostly a non-issue; with the constant telepathy, dragon suicide on rider death, and very common rider suicide on dragon death, there's reason enough to have them under the direct control of the player in most cases - except, of course, for when it would be out of character; most dragons have several personality traits in common.

2007-03-02, 09:52 PM
actually, I think there's a system already developed for this. i'm not sure, but i think it's mostly conducted over play-by-email.
(and all dragonriders are men, except for gold riders, and a few really odd exceptions, at least that's the way I read it.)

2007-03-03, 03:47 AM
(and all dragonriders are men, except for gold riders, and a few really odd exceptions, at least that's the way I read it.)


All dragonriders are men except queen riders at the beginning of the 9th Pass. By the end there are quite a few female green riders. Also, there was a significant percentage of female green riders originally (I think the original 18 may have had more women than men, I'm not sure) and they begin to diminish in the 2nd pass/interval (see Dragonseye) and the weyrleaders are sorry to see them go.

Named female green riders in the 5 main books:

Mirrim, Tai, and that girl that delivers the message to Tagetarl in Skies of Pern but whose name I can't recall. Two of them appear only in Skies of Pern, but there's a steadily altering ratio throughout the series - especially once the more pragmatic and progressive F'lar takes control of the Weyr situation from T'ron and realizes that in many cases girls who were not allowed to impress make better candidates than some of the boys who were.

So that was just 3, but there are many others used as "extras" in All the Weyrs of Pern and Skies of Pern.

However, there's an entire weyrling barracks full of them, in equal size to the boys, at Telgar Weyr in Dragonseye. All of them are named, although the only main character is Deborrah.

2007-03-03, 04:28 AM
I'd have to say that a Pern campaign setting wouldn't be a good idea, at least if you're planning on any sort of combat. If dragons are involved in serious combat then something has gone horribly, horribly wrong, and if you avoid involving dragons, then there's no point to the setting.

On the other hand, if you decided to throw them into an alternate science-fiction setting...

Any idea if interstellar teleportation would be survivable?

2007-03-03, 09:07 AM
hmm. I must not have read enough of the books. I guess I completely missed those ones. I'm going to have to search those out and learn more.

but I think if you search 'dragonriders of pern RPG' on your favorite search engine, you might come up with something. let me go take a quick look.
yeah, I found this (http://ladyimmortal.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=177) site and I also found this (http://www.arolosweyr.co.uk/) one. it might be handy to yoink rules from there.