Rambling About My Dragon Norns

Possible notes toward the readme.txt for the next release of my dragon Norns...

First and foremost, the most important thing that people who are used to keeping more 'normal' strains of Norn need to know is this. These Norns are predators.

This means several things. Firstly, although they are excellent at caring for themselves in general, they have some special needs and problems that normal Norns lack. Specifically, they are very poor at navigating, much moreso than normal Norns, despite their lack of obsession with buttons and lifts. This is because most Norns rely a lot on food smells to navigate, but my various dragon Norns are carnivores, and unfortunately, critters and bugs do not emit a scent of their own. They don't even seem to emit the protein scent given off by fruit.

The result is that these Norns will often appear to be much stupider than they really are if you try to put them in situations that require them to be good at navigating by scent. For example, they will fail the conventional IQ test every single time - and not merely because they will die a brief four minutes after hatching if not fed. They can navigate just fine when it comes to tracking down fellow Norns, but if they manage to get themselves too far out of sight of food, they may become lost and starve to death because they cannot smell their way back to it, unlike other Norns.

Additionally, although they are able to derive some small amount of nourishment from the usual 'food', 'fruit', and 'seed' classes, they are designed to be primarily carnivorous. Critters, bugs, and even those pests and beasts which are edible will provide much more nourishment and will be sought out by most dragon Norns exclusively. 'Food' class items are an important secondary category and will be commonly browsed on, but fruit and seeds will typically be ignored most of the time by most individuals. (With that said, I have noted several dragon Norn testers that, over the course of their lives, developed a fondness for fruit or seeds, some of them even liking one of those things in preference to meat despite getting minimal nourishment from them - they'd just eat a whole bunch of seeds or fruits to make up for it. The long lifespan of a dragon Norn allows for more personality development than might otherwise be true in a species with such strong instincts.)

In short, if you put one of these Norns in a barren metaroom and expect it to find its way to another, better-stocked metaroom, it will die, through no fault of its own. It'd be like taking an ordinary Norn and turning off all the genes that allow it to smell things, then putting it through the IQ test. It's not merely a guaranteed failure, it's unfair because the parameters of the test require the Norn to be able to do something based on information it just doesn't and can't have. Also, you can pretty much never keep these guys in an unmodified world. You will need to add at least a few additional critter and bug agents in order to keep your dragon Norns properly fed, especially if you're going to keep more than a few of them.

However! With all of that said, you will find dragon Norns to be very hardy and tough if you provide them with an adequate environment. The Norn Terrarium comes close, as it has a number of critters normally, though the Flooded Norn Terrarium is better, with its fish and crabs and swimming pig things. All you need to do is add Shrimptons so they'll have a bug and the Hydro Norn Terrarium is a perfect habitat.

Although they are attracted to pests as a source of food, and are not particularly harmed by geddonnase, stingers are not an ideal meal. Using Stinger Honey is a good way to make stinger hives a more viable food source to balance out the pain they cause.

Dragon Norns are aggressive beasts. They are not actively murderous, usually, but they are heavy-handed with each other; just the evening of my typing this document I witnessed a newly hatched baby advance on her father and proceed to beat him soundly about the head and shoulders! (Literally! She swam up in the water to his head to attack him rather than hitting at his lower body.) They do have an instinct that inhibits them from hitting each other, but it doesn't work well, to be honest - they quickly learn that hitting other Norns is just as fun as hitting anything else, in terms of how the actual hitting feels. However - aside from personal feuds that develop due to social disputes and disagreements - Dragon Norns are not usually Norn aggressive to a dangerous degree. If they are struck themselves, their bodies produce Grendel Nitrate, which makes it easier for them to strike out in return even if they like the Norn that hit them.

I did this so they'd be more able to defend themselves against Grendels who seemed friendly at first only to lash out later, and Grendels encountered by Norns who were in a good mood at the time (since a Norn in a good mood is apt to view any freshly met creatures as new friends until forced to think otherwise - by which point it may be too late when dealing with the more vicious and powerful grendel breeds). But it's interacted with other Dragon traits to produce a peculiar side effect. In brief, Dragon Norns take being hit by other Norns in stride, and they also take it even less seriously the older they get. Babies, children, and adolescents are more emotional and may engage in dramatic battles and arguments, but once they hit Youth and especially the long, long Adulthood, the more fond they tend to become of the other Norns in their social group in spite of any moderate hitting that may go on. Norns who dislike each other tend to do so on the basis of other disagreements or extremely intense combat; a few slaps here and there isn't even enough to register on their scale of like/dislike. It's almost as if they learn to regard hitting as just another way to interact with each other - not always a fun way, but not necessarily a bad way, either.

However, when it comes to Grendels and Ettins, Dragon Norns are not to be considered safe. The tougher Grendel breeds are OK to keep with these Norns - they may fight each other, and might even become very vicious, but I have found that, one on one, they are usually not strong enough to kill each other. (Do not allow groups to gang up on individuals, though, or you'll end up with a dead Norn or Grendel.) These Norns have neuroemitters as well as stimuli and instincts which prime them to feel a host of negative emotions in the presence of both other species. Ettins make them feel angry, bored, and crowded, whereas Grendels make them feel angry and crowded but not bored. They usually do not act like Hardman Norns, though, because they lack the artificial and constant flood of Anger that Hardmans suffer from. They will usually not go out of their way to track down Ettins and Grendels, and can even coexist with them peacefully if there is only one non-Norn in the group, plus the Ettin/Grendel behaves itself and gives the Norns their space. How individual Dragon Norns react to an Ettin or Grendel depends on the Norn's personality, but they have the capacity to learn to be truly savage killers of non-Norns.

Beyond that, Dragon Norns are great at taking care of themselves. If you provide them with a sufficiently food-rich environment, they will feed themselves without needing to be told to, and will usually eat only what they need without gorging themselves. They will usually rest when they need to and sleep when they need to without being prompted. Even as totally unattended wolflings (I count them as wolflings rather than ferals because they require a slightly modified environment to even have a chance to survive due to their carnivory) they are capable of surviving up to 12 hours or even more - the oldest known Dragon Norn tester was over 14 hours old at time of death. In short, all you need to do is set up an appropriate environment with the correct temperature ranges and a sustainable population of edible critters and bugs. Then put the Gen1 eggs in there and leave them alone. They will hatch and see to themselves without needing your help.

Which is not to say that they aren't any fun to nurture. Their very long lifespan, the vast majority of which is spent in the Adult life stage, allows them to learn much more than a typical four-hour Norn ever can. By the time a typical Norn is starting to develop noticeable learned personality traits, it is very old and about to die, whereas a dragon at five or six hours of age still has at least another five or six hours to look forward to. This makes hand-raising and light-feral runs of these Norns very rewarding indeed. It's great fun to begin with a group of four or six genetically identical Gen1 Dragons, hatch them, and observe how similar they are as babies - then watch their individuality slowly develop over the next few hours. By the time they are six hours old, most Dragons have a noticeable and distinct set of learned personality or character traits. For example, some learn to be highly social, remaining close to their family, while others learn to enjoy wandering. Some spend most of their time on the ground while others are constantly flying. Some develop a great fondness for eating bugs or pests exclusively, while others learn to like and seek out fruits or seeds - sometimes even in preference to  meat, despite receiving very little objective nutrition or drive satisfaction from eating such things. It's a textbook example of how "nature" (genes) and "nurture" (life experiences/learning) come together to create the total personality.


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