Game Development: Common Knowledge Site

This page is my original writing for Divided Skies MUSH, where I as the lorekeeper was tasked with creating a guide for players so they would understand what they would reasonably know or not know and be able to role-play within this Dragonriders of Pern setting as chosen by the game staff.  While the game itself didn’t remain open for very long, I found the research project stimulating and am still very proud of the work I did for it.  The page references other pages I wrote for the game that I’ve included as separate posts and linked in.

Also known as ‘what would you know’ about events that happened in Pern’s past. Bear in mind, we as readers know Pern’s history based on what we’ve read in the Canon and Reading List and in the Chronology, but our characters won’t know all this stuff, even with the advent of AIVAS. And even with AIVAS, the whole GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) thing is still evident. It can’t suddenly give us all clues about stuff it was never programmed with. So, here’s what we have. Just bear in mind that it’s important to keep OOC knowledge from IC. If something is not listed here and you’re unsure if your character would know about it ICly, please assume they don’t know until you’ve contacted a member of staff and had it clarified one way or the other.

AIVAS

  • The rediscovery of AIVAS is what led to a technological revolution on Pern, and it’s known far and wide that it actually spoke with some intelligence for a couple of turns after its discovery. However, since the attacks of the Abominators turns ago, the main terminal only speaks in gibberish, and one of the primary duties of the Technician’s and Computerer’s Halls is to try and figure out what it’s saying and what it actually means. Some of the words are simply unknown to Pernese due to lingual shifts, others are other Terran and alien languages entirely… not that a Pernese person without proper access to the databases could piece together which is which. OOCly, for the sake of dignity, AIVAS does not break out into silly songs or start spewing Earth language swear-words.
  • It’s common knowledge for anyone going to Landing or who has heard of its current state will know that it’s guarded day and night, particularly the main AIVAS chambers, and that the watchrider for Landing is also charged with monitoring for intruders. The other dumb terminals don’t have vocal units and pretty much act like a non-editable Wikipedia, a database of information which can be retrieved. Time on these is monitored, and logs will track who does what and access is limited to a list of authorized names. Sensitive information is locked down with various access codes within the system itself, and only certain master crafters have the correct passwords to access it. Some data is completely irretrievable, mostly military material, as it was locked away at the order of Admiral Benden before the evacuation, and no one on Pern has the hacking skills to override the layers of security to get at it.
  • While it is known that the Ancients created dragons from firelizards, it’s not known how. There are some records involving the first 17 dragons and their riders, but again, they end with the volcano, so AIVAS never knew that dragons could go between or fight Threadfall or about the creation of any of the Weyrs. The dragon-breeding project files are full of jargon that goes well over the heads of any trained crafters, and it’s just one small project amongst many.

Ancient Times

  • The original Charter of the Pern colony is available to view, protected by glass and other Ancient contrivances, at Fort Hold. Portions of the Charter are taught as part of the Teaching Ballads, getting more and more complex, as part of a child’s natural harper-based learning, along with their reading and their sums.
  • Events in Dragonsdawn aren’t known in full detail even by folks who have access to AIVAS or its terminals. The last details of any kind known by AIVAS end with the volcano erupting at Landing and then pick up again when AIVAS is discovered by Masterharper Robinton et al. Thus, AIVAS does not know of any events of Pern’s history and couldn’t, say, reveal the truth about Moreta’s famous Ride to the modern Pernese.
  • The fate of Sallah Telgar and many of the Ancients until 11 AL is known to AIVAS and it’s also known that she’s a direct ancestress to the Telgar Lord Holder and his family.

Misconceptions

  • Benden’s first Weyrwoman Torene is thought to be Ruathan-bred.
  • Benden Hold is thought to have been founded by relatives of Admiral Paul Benden. Benden Weyr is thought to have been named while he was still alive.
  • Ruatha is considered by modern Pernese to be the second Hold founded despite Robinton writing a kids’ song saying otherwise when he himself was a child.
  • It is believed that no one ever came to Pern after the initial colony ships and no one ever left once they got here.
  • Telgar and High Reaches Weyrs are thought to have been founded later in the First Pass, not at the same time as Benden Weyr.

Moreta’s Time

  • Moreta is thought to be Ruathan-bred and could hear all dragons (this is a smudging of history between the Moreta of Fort Weyr who had the famous Ride and Moreta the daughter of Alessan and Nerilka [named for the first Moreta], who would have had to have Impressed at Benden Weyr).
  • The Ballad of Moreta’s Ride refers to Moreta being the ‘only’ healthy dragonrider at Fort, and that she and her queen Orlith flew all over Pern to deliver medicines, not just the ill-fated ride through Keroon’s minor cotholds. These medicines were created from a seed found in the rainforests of Ista and Nerat (Dragonsinger incorrectly refers to ‘the rainforests of Nabol’). It is not known to anyone outside of Fort Weyr even in the 6th Pass that Masterharper Tirone deliberately changed Leri’s Holth to Orlith ‘as is proper’ and that Leri died with Orlith on the day that Oklina Impressed Hannath. Other dragonriders were said in the ballad to have died doing medicine deliveries. There is no in-character explanation as to why Tirone altered the details about the cure or why riders other than Moreta died delivering the cure. Most likely the song simply changed over the centuries since it was written. Out of character, we know this is simply one of the many continuity errors in the Pern series.
  • It’s not known any longer that Waterhole (Last) Hold was the last place Moreta and Holth were ever seen alive.

Not Common Knowledge

  • There are secret Ancient rooms in Benden Weyr.
  • Ancient caches of information are lost in rooms crushed or hidden by a landslide at Fort Weyr.
  • The references to the ‘College’ that evolved into Harper Hall have been forgotten by history.
  • It is not general knowledge that Benden Weyr sent a bunch of riders to the Southern Continent into the past for 10 turns in the first turn of the 9th Pass, nor that the experiment wasn’t a huge success and ended early.
  • It is not publicly known that Camo is the son of Robinton and Silvina. All of those who would know have either died or are now conveniently off-camera.
  • No one other than a few book characters ever found out that it was Piemur who stole the firelizard egg that hatched Farli from Lord Meron of Nabol, and they didn’t tell anyone.
  • It is commonly assumed that a repentant Southern Weyr rider returned the gold egg stolen from Benden Weyr in The White Dragon, and not Lord Jaxom of Ruatha and Ruth.

Everything Else

  • All of the Southern Continent is grubbed against Threadfall, and the project to grub the Northern Continent is expected to take a couple of lifetimes to complete.
  • The names of many Lord Holders are known through meticulous keeping of genealogy Records, such as the Moreta-era Lord Tolocamp of Fort, Lord Alessan and Lady Nerilka of Ruatha, but many names aren’t recorded in some places where the most deaths were from the plague, such as the Istan Bloodline that was wiped out then.
  • Many seemingly illegible Records were scanned by AIVAS, and it revealed a great deal of Pernese history… but only for those records that were still extant. Most areas threw away old Records that could no longer be salvaged, or they were lost in accidents or any number of reasons why they weren’t presented to AIVAS to be scanned. No Hold, Hall, or Weyr has a complete history available to them. The best-kept Records were of course Harper Hall’s, but the ultimate frustration with those assuming AIVAS could recreate any faded Record is that a Record had to still exist and that the extant Records have to mention stuff beyond how much tithe appeared in a Weyr or the daily mundane entries that most areas would have kept. Not many people wrote historical Records, mostly bookkeeping sorts of things.
  • All people who lived in any Hold, Hall, and Weyr would know the names of all of the Weyrleaders and Weyrwomen of Pern, the names of their dragons, and the names of any prominent bronzeriders/wingleaders in their local Weyr. Any given person who lived in a Hold, Hall, or Weyr would also be harper trained enough to know how to read, how to do basic sums, and about their rights under the Pernese Charter as part of their Teaching Ballads about honoring their Lord and beholden Weyr, unless they had a severe learning disability of some kind. This includes anyone born or raised in any hole-in-the-wall cotholds out in the boonies, which would have a harper journeyman stop by at least once a sevenday to tutor the children and teach them the appropriate ballads. This teaching also includes a basic geography of Pern, including the locations of all the Weyrs, major Holds, and minor Holds. Also, finding these areas on the map doesn’t mean someone actually knows how to get there on foot or by runner. Most hole-in-the-wall cotholds aren’t mentioned on most maps, so it’s okay not to know where they are or what they’re like.
  • As older characters are dying out, such as Masterharper Robinton, living history is slowly being lost. People may remember the old aunties talking about Fax and his conquering 7 Holds, or about the time there was only one Weyr on Pern. It is not known that Robinton was at Ruatha Hold the day that Jaxom was born and F’lar killed Fax, or that Lessa jumped back in time to Ruatha twice. Everyone does know about Lessa’s famous jump between times to bring the Oldtimers forward.
  • It’s common knowledge that F’nor and brown Canth of Benden Weyr tried to jump to the Red Star with nearly fatal results and that former queenrider Brekke called them back with the cry ‘Don’t leave me alone’, especially in light of the song Menolly wrote about the matter.
  • Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock would have heard any song written by Menolly, most of the ones by Robinton, but will not know most of Domick’s unless they were harper-trained at the Hall itself a couple of decades ago at least, more than 5 decades ago if one is discussing Petiron’s compositions.
  • There is an official biography of Masterharper Robinton in the Archives at Harper Hall and copies have circulated around Pern. The biography includes facts such as his dates of birth and death, the fact that he was married briefly to Kasia and that she died of a fever, the names of his parents and their ranks and roles on Pern, the name of his bronze firelizard Zair, and that Zair died with him. It also mentions his public postings across Pern as he rose through the ranks, including his tenures at Benden Hold, High Reaches Hold, and Tillek Hold especially. The biography includes warm anecdotes from his successor Sebell and Master Menolly, remarks from a number of his friends and comments from a vast number of leading personages across Pern, including the famous Benden Weyrleaders F’lar and Lessa. Surprisingly, there are also transcribed comments from Mnementh, Ramoth, Ruth, and AIVAS from before it went mostly offline.
  • Proddy dragons and firelizards can affect their riders/owners; however, they cannot change someone’s personality overnight. A rising queen or green will make their rider become more irritable and prone to poor behavior (more common for greens than golds – Lessa and Brekke weren’t even aware their queens were rising until the dragons woke up), but you won’t see a prudish rider or firelizard owner suddenly turn into a vixen. Ever since the queen fight between Brekke’s Wirenth and Kylara’s Prideth, and the stabbing of F’nor by a Fort greenrider, the Weyrs have been extra-cautious about repeatedly training their riders to ensure near-mating dragons are not taken out of the Weyrs. A rising dragon also affects people around them, particularly the rising of a queen. The Weyr’s population tends to get more sensual, and most adults find a partner for the evening or get very drunk afterwards, leading to rumors among non-Weyrfolk of orgies or other deviant behavior.
  • Firelizards have become rare again, both in the Northern and Southern Continents, much how they were when they were first rediscovered during the events of Dragonquest and Dragonsong. Still, Nabol Hold boasts the greatest number of firelizards of any Northern Hold, and most of these are known to be offspring from green clutches. The fewer number of clutches found, either wild or from Impressed queens and greens, are mostly saved and given as presents or bargaining chips to higher-ranked crafters and Holders. Open hatchings of firelizards are pretty much nonexistent these days. Most Pernese are generally instructed to turn over the location or any eggs salvaged from a clutch to their local Holder or Craftmaster to be divvied up to worthies.
  • The fates of any of Anne’s characters who would theoretically still be alive in this time should presumably be known ICly by everyone… but for the sake of respecting her ownership of those characters, we won’t be creating end stories for them, letting them fade into the background so our characters are the ones of importance on Pern now.

There will be more bits of information added to this list as Artemis wades through re-reading the books.