The Rodent Corner
A Scientific Look at Dragons
As a biochemistry major and a future physician, I have a strong interest
in science and medicine. Recently, in conjunction with the other Farside
scientists Hotshot, Adso, Eldritch, and Reflection, I concluded a long
research project funded by a grant from the following groups/individuals:
The Midgaard Parents/Teachers Association, Farside MUDical School, The
Dragon Antidefamation League, The Sultan of New Thalos, and lastly the
Immortals' Association for Mob Assessment and Naturalist Association for
Scientific Study (IAMANASS).
The first direction of my study was a characterization of dragons at the
molecular level. Mitochondrial DNA fingerprinting studies ironically showed
a high degree of similarity with llamas. The tendency of llamas to spit may
be closely related to the deadly breath weapons of dragons. I concluded
that dragons and llamas shared an evolutionary ancestor roughly 12.6
million years ago. I reach this figure by potassium-argon dating of fossils
that in many ways resemble the skeletal structures of both dragons and
llamas. I thus conclude that similarities between dragons and dinosaurs,
dragons and reptiles, dragons and bats, and dragons and insects is strictly
an evolutionary coincidence. The Dragon Genome Project predicts that the
entire dragon genome will be sequenced within the next two decades.
Dragons have undergone a radical degree of evolution. While the skeletons
of ancestral wingless dragons have only four limbs, the dragons of today
have developed a third pair of limbs which are now the wings, very
analogous to those of a bat. Dragons have a six chambered heart, with a
circulatory system that has three circuits: to the lungs and to the
brain/body (like all other vertebrates), and a third completely devoted to
the breath glands in the windpipe. They have a very powerful diaphragm,
which allows their breath to be projected large distances.
The most striking innovations of a dragon's physiology are the breath
glands. There are five of them: gas, acid, frost, lightning, and fire. The
acid, frost, and fire glands are located in the back of the nose, to allow
better control of these single target weapons. The acid gland has a thick
mucoid layer to protect against the concentrated phosphoric acid which is
the active component of acid breath. Frost breath is produced by an
enzymatic pathway which diverts heat energy from the gland by cooling
inhaled nitrogen gas to a liquid. The frost breath projected is a
combination of liquid nitrogen and frozen water. Fire breath originates in
the fire gland by the combustion of flammable petroleum products which are
a staple of the dragon's diet. Gas breath is very similar to fire breath,
except for two distinctions. One is its projection through the mouth, which
generally will hit anything and everything in the immediate vicinity.
Unlike fire breath, gas does not combust until AFTER it has been exhaled,
making it far more deadly as the target is hit by the gas as it explodes.
Finally, lightning breath is generated by metallic anions in the teeth of
the dragon. Static is generated in the teeth and stored in tissues of the
lightning gland which function similarly to electronic capacitors.
Dragons are highly intelligent animals. They have a large cerebral
cortex, capable of reason and problem solving. Dragons can routinely be
taught sign language and are particularly adept at abstract mathematical
concepts. One research assistant, Rerun, reported the construction and use
of primitive tools, but this observation has not been confirmed. Although
dragons are not born live, but rather as eggs, this is an evolutionary
necessity, as the poorly controlled breath of a fetal dragon could do
irreparable internal damage to the mother. Dragons tend to mate for life,
with a low rate of divorce.
Much further work must be devoted to many aspects of dragon anatomy,
physiology, and behavior. Alas, a lack of proper funding may be the
limiting factor of this important research, but perhaps our latest research
publication in the reputable journal Farside Mobile Research Communications
may spark an interest in our work.
Answers from Arundel
Zaphod, Meniel, and Menion have all earned enchants for sending me their
questions for this issue of the Gazette. Any questions concerning
Farside can be sent to me, Arundel, at firstname.lastname@example.org put
"Newbies Ask" as the subject. You will receive a fast personal reply, and
a version of what I sent you personally will be published here if the
questions have not been answered recently. Any publishable questions will
also earn you an enchant, which raises your hitroll and damrolls by one
That is, IF you can find me on Farside...heheh.
Menion/Meniel: Are pets really a good investment?
Yes, they are, if you use them right. What you can use them for is
called "tanking," or taking all the damage for you. What you should do
is order the pet to attack the mob: <order kitten kill midget>. This way,
the KITTEN takes all the hits, not you...unless the mob casts an
area-effect spell, in which case you will still take some damage. Of
course, putting a kitten up against the midget will result in a dead
kitten, but that's ok...by the time the midget starts hitting YOU,
he'll be covered in blood or, hopefully, in awful condition. Then it's
just a matter of finishing him off, if you can.
The problem with pets is that they can steal your xp. If YOU attack, YOU
take all the damage...but if your pet strikes the killing blow, then you
get NO xp. That's why it's better to let the pet tank on a kill you
couldn't handle by yourself and consider the money well spent.
Getting rid of a pet is easy...<order pet trip self> will set the pet on
itself, and it will eventually die.
Meniel: When you have a pet and go to recall, do you lose your pet?
I just lost my cute kitten.
Your first problem is getting attached to your pet. Don't. Refer to the
above to see why. Now, there's no reason to lose your pet. What you
should do is <order kitten recall>, and the kitten (or whatever it is)
will go back before you. Then you go back, and (CHARMED) A kitten is
waiting for you. Remember, if you set recall elsewhere and then order
your pet to recall, it will recall to wherever ITS recall is set...so if
you set recall, <order (pet) recall set> as well.
Zaphod: Where do newbies go to kill mobs that don't kill them too fast?
Most newbies cut their teeth in the Circus, Dwarven Daycare, or the
Training Village. These areas provide wide ranges of mobs that you can
fight up to about level 8 or so...and then you can go to Gangland, which
will carry you past level 10. Be sure to con EVERYTHING before you
fight...and if there's something bigger in the room with you, it's
usually not a good idea to attack. Bigger mobs LOVE to jump in.
Zaphod: Which skills should I train first?
Try to train the skills which seem most applicable. For warriors, parry,
dodge, and second attack are crucial fighting skills...magic users,
however, should usually practice one offensive spell, one defensive, and
then start saving all their practices up until they have trained their
wisdom to the max possible. If you have a particularly weak character
(strengthwise) you may want to train your strength up to a reasonable
level, like 15 or 16, so you will be able to carry the equipment you will
One thing you DON'T want to do is waste practices on "useless" spells
like create food or continual light, or useless skills like bash.
Lights and food can be bought, and if, in the future, you find
yourself with lots of practices, well, THEN you can learn these.
For bash, you have to be holding a shield...and if you're holding a
shield instead of a nice weapon with plusses to hit/dam, then,
well...Hmm, I'd better not say what I was going to say. I'd probably end
up jailed for all eternity. I have about 40 practices I haven't used
yet, and I STILL don't have bash...Me, a Hero.
Zaphod: What does a hero do? (What is a hero?)
First of all, a hero is a character who has attained level 51. Right now
there are two types of heros...pre- and post-change heros. The pre-change
heros were able to practice ANY skills from other classes upon heroing.
The post-change heros now can learn skills outside their class as they
reach a level twice the level of the skill that they want to learn. For
example, a 12 Cleric gets sanctuary...at 24 Hero, the post-change heros
can practice this wonderful spell, which halves all incoming damage.
What do heros do? Well...that depends on the hero. Some, like me, have
basically given up fighting and just like to hang around harassing
newbies like you. Others continue on with their new skills, gaining ever
higher levels and greater powers, as well as phenomenal amounts of hit
points. We also get two very useful channels, the Hero Channel, which
only heros and imms can read, and the info channel, which tells us any
time someone dies or raises a level. We often cooperate on Corpse
Retrievals (CRs), chatting over the hero channel where we are and what
we're doing, and usually we're looking for your corpse at about the time
you're starting to decide whether you think you can get to it yourself or
you would really rather get some help on it.
Heros also provide entertainment. Some heros spend the time it takes to
organize a quest (Hmmm...why haven't I run one yet? *bonk Arundel*) and
provide Farside with a wonderful break from the tedium of kill, kill,
kill. We also complain about each and every change that comes along,
just to annoy Snikt. This amuses the other imms to no end, even if they
don't THINK they're amused... ;-)
My Dear Lord Elrond
My Dear Lord Elrond,
In accordance with your command to scout the lands of our world,
I send you this, my first, report of another people.
For the last month I have lived among our distant cousins, the
Valley Elves. These elves are truly a backward people; instead of the
fine dwellings of our High-elven design, they prefer to live under the
sun and stars, like beasts.
Speaking of animals my lord, this valley is blessed with an
abundance of game. Great herds of Farsidean antelope wander the lush
meadows in and around the hidden valley. In herds beyond counting, they
lazily graze on clover and delicate blossoms of flowering grasses.
Master, these creatures know no fear. They often let a stranger
approach to within feet before becoming startled, but once spooked, or
injured, they lead the hunter on a merry chase indeed! They are worth the
chase though my liege . Their flesh melts on the palate like fresh
Stennegian butter on a warm summer's eve. These antelope are not overly
hard to kill either my lord, I have seen them brought down by even the
most inexperienced hunters.
Unfortunately, antelope are not the only wild creatures of this
valley. (Aside, of course, from our uncouth kin) When the sun dips below
the rim of the green canyon, other, more dangerous creatures stir from
their hillside lairs and prowl the sylvan glades.
The night stillness is often broken by the cries of wolves to
their goddess, Luna. Worse yet, this primordial call stirs something
within the coshees (elven dogs little more than wolves) and they howl in
answer to their cousins. When there is a full moon, this valley sounds
more like some hellish pit of the abyss than the abode of elven kind.
To their credit, however, the four-legged guardians of the valley
keep out more dangerous beasts, such as orc bands and goblin tribes. The
elves here even cuddle and revere the murderous beasts, so who am I to
judge what is evil? They only kill outsiders; personally I think a well
armed warrior could easily handle the creatures as long as the numerical
disadvantage wasn't too great.
As for the elves themselves, they come in three varieties. The peasantry
(They prefer yeoman), the warriors, and the leaders.
Male and female elves can be found going about their business
around the valley as well as in the valley proper. They are always armed
with a long sword from their elven forges. If left alone, these citizens
prefer to melt away into the forest and let the warrior class deal with
strangers, but if provoked they will fight, although a trained warrior
would make short work of them, I suspect.
The warrior class is generally referred to as scouts. These
trained killers garb themselves in magic boots that muffle their
footsteps and cloaks that cause them to blend into their surroundings.
They also wear coats made of fine links of chain, though adequate, they
are far inferior to the equipment made in Rivendale.
When the scouts spot an intruder, no questions are asked; they
attack with the intent not to subdue, but to slay. I was forced to
injure several upon my arrival before they realized that their wild ways
were no match for a the discipline of a high elf.
The leaders here bear the title of elder. There are usually
three or four in office at any one time and they dwell in the valley's
only structure. Their chambers are on its upper floor and is well
guarded. Even I dare not approach them without an invitation. I have
seen their work and I suspect they practice the magical arts associated
with clerics. This would probably mean sanctuary and other protective
spells, as well as the flames of death that clerics can call forth from
It do wonder what they consider so important that they would
guard it so fiercely. I almost bet that a daring band of adventurers
could haul away magic weapons and rings from their sanctuary. Perhaps
even the key to some secret treasure trove.
The valley itself is well hidden sire. As far as I can tell,
there are only two entrances. Once overlooking the valley from the
Midgaardian Plains, the other a rope bridge on the valley's northern end,
near the house of the elders. There are many false entrances, however,
that appear to lead down into the valley, but in truth, only lead to a
slow death from starvation trapped at the bottom of some pit. The unwary
or slow of wit seldom make it past the natural barriers to face the
Recently, rumors have been floating around the valley like leaves
in the autumn wind of another valley to the northwest of this one. The
name Talemon is whispered in dark corners; my lord, they fear this name
as much as we fear the name of the dark lord in Mordor.
It is rumored that Talemon is a mage of considerable power that
dwells near a hermit's abode in a small valley. This mage is rumored to
have mastered the dark incantations necessary to change demi-humans into
fearsome beasts known as Pyrohydras. This dark ritual makes them into a
VERY large, very aggressive killing machine that devours all in its path.
It is also said that this mage can summon Guardian Daemons to
watch over any riches he may have. I find this to be dubious, but as of
the writing of this letter, a scouting party of 12 warriors is still
missing. Surely if Talemon has such power, he would have invaded and
conquered this valley.... unless.... he is content to work is dark arts
on the occasional, overly curious intruder.
I hope you find this report of some
small value my lord. My intentions
are to leave this place soon and venture into the mountains east of the
great prairies. I have little doubt that I shall encounter humans there,
and where they are concerned, nothing can be taken for granted.
Thy Loyal Servant,
Compiled by Ambrosia
* There are a *Lot* of names to be added to the list. Send birthdays
as well as your character name to Ambrosia via a note in Farside or
(preferably) internet e-mail at Ambrosia@escape.com
* News *
Crom and Jean were given level 60 and Theo was given lvl 59. Congrats!
Eldritch and Darkyn left beyond their lives as mortals to ascend to the
ranks of the Gods. Congratulations, guys, and welcome!
Kor finally heroed, and would like to thank (in no particular order)
Lysander, Ynnad, Tarzan, Durdyn, Flute, Durdyn, and Deathstar for
helping him get there. Congrats, Kor!
Ynnad (Danny backwards?) heroed as well, and wants to thank Draeger,
Snikt, Tarsas, Linnet, Strac, Kor, PathosIII, PathosI, Evel, Samson, and
most importantly Marik and Paladine. Congrats, Ynnad!
Darii was welcomed into the ranks of Immortality during the night of the
reshaping of Farside. Congrats Darii!
The world of Farside hath changed. Throw away your old maps and start