Wow, today’s release is a New breed from Lurhstaap with a long description!
DuoDragons are based on the CFF 1.1 genome. They are a long-lived, fully carnivorous, fully amphibious breed which has a number of edits, both to the brain and to other aspects of the genome, which should make the experience of raising them significantly different than a typical Norn! Requires Draconian and Gargoyle sprites. Can swim and fly with the use of the Swimming and Flying Agents, but if they get hungry, they will lose this ability and begin to walk – remind them to eat critter (or bug, animal egg, or pest)! They do well in Artemia Sea, Hydro Nornterrarium, a well-stocked Deep Abyss, and other aquatic metarooms. They also do well in Primordia, Veridia, Biodome, and other land rooms with enough headroom to give them lots of sky to fly in. Aggressive and tough but not usually murderous (except the occasional unusually-mean individual.) Derives no benefit from Norn Homes; will seek other Norns for comfort instead.
Many of you who’ve been hanging around Creatures Caves for the last few years are aware of the Dragon project I’ve been working on. Recently, I reached a point with the old CFF 1.1 Dragons where I’m finally content with them. There are still ways they could be improved, no doubt, and I’m definitely open to suggestions, but I think the time has come to close the book on this version of the genome. Although it’s a big job, I am in the process of converting over to Dragoler’s most recently-released version of the TWB base genome. Given that, I thought I should formally release the final edition of the CFF 1.1 Dragon Norns.
Note that I view the Dragon genome as a base genome of its own, in a way, given the extensive edits that have been made for it, and I intend to make and release variants in the future, including a remake of the original Abyss Dragon concept that started this whole silly project. But for now, here’s the “basic” version.
I have dubbed them “DuoDragons” because, though the Dragon genome has quite a few alterations from where I started (CFF Bloom Norn was the base originally, if I remember right), the thing that really makes them different from every other genome out there right now is their brain edits. And foremost among those brain edits is a pair of new tracts which, long story short, connect the Combination lobe to itself. Hence, I have taken to calling this the “duotract” edit. More on that later. For now, let me introduce you to the more ‘conventional’ traits of this breed.
This release of the DuoDragons were built, as I noted, on the CFF 1.1 geno. They are fully amphibious and can both swim and fly. Important: DuoDragons are obligate carnivores! While they can derive some small amount of sustenance from ‘food’-type objects, they require animal flesh to be healthy. There are four object classes that serve as good food for DuoDragons, listed in order of preference: critters, bugs, animal eggs, and pests. They generally prefer critters and bugs, at least when they first hatch, but it’s not unusual for individuals to develop a taste for animal eggs later in life. A few become fixated on unhealthy/non-nutritive foods, such as seeds or food. These can sometimes be retrained, but if not, they are at risk for starvation unless injected with chemical 196 (hereafter referred to as glycolipoprotein). You must supply instinct-friendly, edible critters and bugs. (These will tend to automatically supply animal eggs, but watch out, they may extinct their food by eating all the eggs! Use relatively prolific agents. Balloon Pigeons, Zander Fish, and Goldfishies are favorites, as are Shrimpton and Bug’s butterflies.)
NOTE: I do not suggest using the CRC to command DuoDragons (or any other genome using the duotract edit or the related tritract edit); they tend to get “stuck” and unable to return to normal functioning, instead forever repeating the last command given to them. Their attention will shift around as normal but they often lose the ability to make decisions. Or, rather, earlier editions of this genome did, and I suspect it’s still true. (I’ve been too afraid to do it and make a puppet out of some poor Norn. Let me know if you try it!)
DuoDragons are a very long-lived breed. I mean very long-lived. Their maximum possible lifespan is 17 hours and 33 minutes. Precisely. Not all of them will live that long, but if you’ve got the world set up well enough,
Note that their shivering receptor is a little borked. I never did find just the right setting for this. They shiver when they’re not actually cold. Just ignore it if you can’t get it warm enough for them to cut it out. They’re actually pretty temperature-resistant in both directions. I’ve only seen them actually complain about being hot after a.) really pigging out on Fire Ants or Fireling butterflies, or b.) hanging out directly underneath a Heatlamp for a long period of time.
DuoDragons like portals and doors. They will tend to favor them over toys. They do indulge in the occasional bout of door/portal spamming, but for the most part, they use them fairly intelligently (that is, they don’t waste too much time flashing back and forth. Most of the time.)
They also like to hit things. Like any predator, they have sharp claws! Some individuals are more violent than others, but they’re very tough, so murders among them are pretty rare. Still, it does happen sometimes, and it’s definitely not safe to keep them with more fragile breeds! They can be peaceful (it really varies from individual to individual) but if someone decides to get slap-happy, less-armored breeds will be killed quickly. They are less likely to hit someone they like, like most Norns, but this isn’t to be counted on.
Unlike most Norns, they have no interest in Norn Homes and derive no benefit from being in proximity to them. Instead, their sense of “home” is all about where other Norns are. The instinct related to this doesn’t kick in until Adolescence, though, which (probably in combination with the brain edits, because non-brainedit testers didn’t exhibit this pattern nearly as strongly) leads to the DuoDragons exhibiting a distinctive life cycle.
Babies and children love to explore, eat, and play. They may wander off alone, but it’s not uncommon for them to form what I call roaming pairs or trios. The same two or three will stay relatively close to each other (within earshot in the same metaroom) throughout most or all of their early lives. Thus, they have a chance to learn from their own experience that being near other Norns relieves their homesickness as well as their loneliness.
However, when they hit Adolescence, the instinct kicks on and they begin to actively seek out their own kind more. By Youth, they are starting to form semi-settled groups I call “colonies”, and the first matings may occur. If not, eggs start to appear in early Adulthood in breeding individuals. Adulthood is very, very long for them, covering most of their lifespan. They spend a few hours at the end Old, then die shortly after reaching their final life-stage. Like the dragons they are designed after, they have long, healthy lives, remaining in their prime for ages, and do not become decrepit until just before death.
Colonies consist of five to ten Norns, typically. Their membership is semi-stable, as is their location; they tend to form in a given metaroom in a given spot, with some Norns spending most or all of their lives after Adolescence in that general area, while others may wander in and out (often leaving and returning) or arrive, stay for an hour or a few (or several), and then leave to go somewhere else without returning anytime soon, if at all. Eventually, colonies tend to disperse, with their members forming new colonies elsewhere, but they tend to persist for several hours, or even RL days. When eggs are laid, the young repeat this cycle. Sometimes they return to their birth colony, sometimes they settle in a new one, but usually they wander from one to another and through the colony-free “wildernesses” like their parents did until they reach the settling-down age, at which point the whole thing repeats again. This ‘life cycle’ has been very interesting to observe.
In my testing groups on slower computers, semi-monogamous behavior was often observed. I suspect this may be partly due to having to limit myself to relatively small testing groups. On my newer, better laptop that I have now, running groups of close to thirty individuals at peak population, I am now observing semi-monogamy less often (though it does sometimes occur with individuals, especially if they run off together when young and never bother to find a colony to settle down with later.)
Instead, there has often been a pattern of reproductive “alpha” males and females. Though not necessarily socially dominant or popular, these individuals, for whatever reason, do the bulk of the reproducing. (This becomes especially clear if you use Advanced Protective Tub’s wonderful name-inheritance feature. Set them to inherit a first or last name from one of their parents, and then watch how certain names dominate while others disappear.)
They are less susceptible to crowding than normal, but do experience it, which encourages them not to just clump together like glue and stay in the same place forever. This is why the colonies tend to form, then see members come and go for a while but the grouping itself stays in the same place and roughly the same size for hours on end until finally, for some reason, it actually disperses. It’s also why young dragons in the roaming stage don’t tend to cluster up too close to their roaming partner(s) unless feeling acutely homesick.
As noted, they are fully carnivorous. Their digestion utilizes a two-stage reaction using two unknownases, 196 (which I have dubbed glycolipoprotein – aka Sugarfatprotein) and 197 (glycolipid – aka Sugarfat. Yes, I know, I am horribly misusing these words. They work. :p) When they eat a critter, bug, animal egg, or pest, they get reduction in all three forms of hunger plus a spike of glycolipoprotein. This is quickly reacted into Protein and Glycolipid, which in turn is reacted away into Starch and Fat.
However, not all of the Glycolipoprotein is used to produce food. Some of it reacts with the newly-generated Fat to form another unknownase, 236, which I have dubbed Motase. Motase is so-named because it is the key to production of Swimmerase and Flyerase, the chemicals that the Swimming and Flying Agents use to determine which Creatures should swim or fly, respectively. Motase reacts with Protein to form Swimmerase and with Starch to form Flyerase.
This system means that DuoDragons must keep themselves appropriately fed to swim or fly. If levels of Fat, Starch, and/or Protein drop too much, they will stop being able to fly or swim, as their Swimmerase and Flyerase reserves drop below the detection threshold for the agents. You will notice them walking sometimes as a result even if you have the flight/swim agents. This isn’t necessarily a problem per se. Most of the time, most individuals will eat before they get critical. Sometimes they’ll let themselves get pretty hungry. But most of them won’t actually let themselves starve unless they get stuck in a place where they can’t find or can’t reach suitable prey.
IMPORTANT: Don’t expose them to instinct-unfriendly animal agents! It’s not a big deal if they get turned off pests or animal eggs, but letting them spend too much time around critter and bug agents that can’t be eaten (that is, which don’t have an eat script and thus don’t send the Ate an Animal stim), they will become confused. This leads to a significantly higher rate of maladaptive eating patterns and early starvation.
I am aware that Geat_Masta has become a controversial figure in the community. However, I cannot honestly discuss the duotract edit without giving him full credit for its existence.
When I first began working on the Dragon genome, years ago now, I coincidentally became intrigued by brain edits at the same time. GM happens to know a lot about the C3/DS brainfile. In fact, there were some edits he wanted to try, but he was unable to use Genetics Kit (or, IIRC, any of the other options) on his machine, at least at that time. So I said I was willing to implement them if he’d tell me what to do.
Many, many patient explanations and many, many pages of detailed, precise instructions later, we worked our way through a number of different versions of his ideas. Some ideas had interesting results; some just resulted in severely damaged Norns. But we persisted. Yes, I’m the one who did the work of implementation, but I would have had nothing to implement if GM didn’t share his ideas with me. So, now that I have decided to officially release this publically, I think it would be wrong not to acknowledge that this genome is very much a collaborative effort. All the non-brain work is mine, but almost all the brain work is, ultimately, his. I am grateful for the time he invested to help me, and for his willingness to share his ideas.
In brief, the duotract edit allows neurons in the Combination lobe to form dendrites between each other. A neuron cannot link to itself. To tell you the truth, I’m still not sure exactly what this edit does in concrete terms. All I can do is observe the results. (Which I’m still doing. There are still so many hours of observation and study left to do… and even then I won’t fully understand what I’m looking at. I have some small inkling of what it’s like to be a real neuroscientist now.)
As I recall, in brief, the effect this theoretically has is as follows. The base Combination lobe allows the Creatures to learn linkages between things like drives, actions, and objects to form concepts. For example, Hungry –> Eat —> Food. The Duotract edit, hypothetically, allows the brain to form connections between these learned concepts. In short, to learn about what it has learned, in some way.
What I hoped was that this would give the Creatures some very limited, rudimentary self-awareness or at least some kind of subjective sense (the word “qualia” got used a lot, especially early on.) At very least, I hoped to see unusual behaviors and a different gameplay experience. I can’t say for sure whether they have any subjective sense or self-awareness, however rudimentary – but they’re definitely unusual!
A number of other changes I’ve made to the genome are at least partly responsible for their many differences, of course. But I have run a number of tests with the tracts muted or not, and there is a clear difference in their behavior. Or so I think, anyhow. People who have tested them have seemed to notice this as well, but I look forward to the community’s reactions. (I am always aware that I could be imagining things.)
Other brain changes include the addition of another new tract that encourages them to push those they like, and a tract that allows them to change their opinion of other Creatures based on Boredom. This means that they will like other Creatures better if their boredom goes down enough in their presence, and will dislike them more if their boredom goes up too much in their presence.
Finally, as CFFs they are susceptible to chemical 130, but I have added an additional drug to their repertoire – chemical 233. It also induces a hallucinosis, albeit one that’s not quite the same as that induced by 130. Additionally increases their hunger for fat and starch (they get the munchies!) Get them high and observe their hallucinations by having the CRC and the HealthBar active at the same time.
When they are hallucinating, you will notice that the two agents disagree. The CRC will report what the Norn believes it is doing, but the HealthBar will say “self” instead of whatever the Norn thinks it’s looking at, or <nothing> (focus) if it’s imagining it’s taking an action it’s not really taking. For example, CRC might say “eat critter” while HealthBar says “eat self”; this Norn is hallucinating a nonexisting critter. Or CRC might say “approach door” while the Norn is lying or standing still, or retreating, and at the same time, HealthBar says “<nothing> door”. The door is really there, but the Norn is not approaching. (Yes, hallucinations are weird. I’m still not 100% sure what’s going on when it says <nothing> (focus).)
DuoDragons can wolf pretty well as a rule, but they’re most interesting when observed, I think, even if not necessarily hand-raised.
I could go on and on about my Dragons – I’ve been working on them for years, off and on – but I think I’ve written enough. I’m on Discord and CreaturesCaves, so feel free to get ahold of me if you have questions or comments. 🙂
The attached file contains the egg agent and my critterpreyscent.cos file which is what allows them to detect their prey. They are set up for CA 19 as prey scent, not CA 0, so the other prey scent agent may not work well for them.