Animal Taming
Common Misconceptions about the Taming Profession, by Jean-Luc of Pacific

I am Jean-Luc Atien, a Ranger in training. In my search to complete my skills I had the fortune to come under the sphere of influence of Padwa, a Ranger of considerable ability. In the lands of the Pacific shard of the Gem of Immortality, those in training marvel at the legends of the great Rangers. When those Rangers gather, they speak of Padwa.

Thus it was to my surprise and delight when the forest sprites brought word that my mentor wished to dine withme, and bade me to meet him at the Inn that very night. Which Inn was not mine to know, as Padwa's skill with the creatures of forest and dungeon didst not necessarily translate as well to humankind. Despite the early start of my search, I was running late. I strolled into the Pirate's Plunder in the city of Buccaneer's Den and realized my search was over. Few, if any, people keep a hell hound as a close companion and I presumed that the only table in the house with one beneath it marked my teacher's spot. Besides, it was the only table left that was still standing and in one piece.

The hell hound took my scent as I sat down, and recognizing me as friend, allowed me to stay. I scratched in her favorite place behind the ears, and waited while Padwa finished explaining his dissatisfaction with the service he had been receiving. He caught sight of me, and the energy of his anger seemed to channel into pleasure, as the swat on my back that accompanied his bellow of greeting knocked me dizzy as the finest Skarian wine.

"Good ta see ya laddie!" Padwa shouted as he helped me back into my chair. "Eat, eat! Tell me of yer travels after ye ha' a full belly!" Padwa grabbed a cooked leg of mutton and sitting down, began to dine. I was grateful that Padwa wanted me to wait until after the meal to talk about myself so that he could tell me of his own travels. Strange forces were about in Britannia, and Padwa had been to a new landmass that I had heard about. Ilshenar by name, the lands were fertile ground for a Ranger with a will to explore. I was regaled with tales of new creatures, new dangers, deserted cities and battles fought. The light faded, and the night was no longer young. Stuffed with food and wine, I was a tad surprised when Padwa suddenly ended his tales and
asked after my training.

I explained that I could tell much about any creature I laid eyes on, and my ability to heal animals was as good as anyone. But I had some questions about things I had heard, rumors actually, and I needed to know if they were true. Padwa filled his pipe, leaned back in his chair propped his feet on the table. "Aye" he said, "'tis about time you were askin' these things. Ha' ye been tamin' dragonkin yet?" "Trying to" I admitted. My best efforts so far had been dismal at best. "Hmm. I thought I detected a scent of sulfur strong for even auld Sasha here" he nodded, scratching the hell hound's ear. "Well, I suppose you went there first thing when you realized you could speak to one and it would hear ye. Am I right?" He was and I told him so. Padwa chuckled. "Patience was ne'er yer strong suit was it lad? No matter. A dragon will join ye when 'tis time for a joinin', and that's no lie. Tis the way of dragonkin. Always it was, always it will be."

"Even for a Glorious Lord?" Padwa's bellow of laughter sent waitstaff running and the bartender hunkering down beneath the bar for cover. "Ah, thankee lad! I ha' nae heard that one for a while! Listen lad. The bravest knight and darkest scoundrel in the land matter not to the animals. If they be yours, they be yours. You'll have no better control, no easier time taming them as a Glorious Lord than you would as a Dread Lord. Animals look beyond fame and karma to a place in yer soul that I canna' explain. The only difference in taming is that many creatures will attack a murderer on sight. Keep yer aura blue and it will ne'er be a problem for ye." "So fame and karma have no effect on difficulty to tame or control?" I asked. Padwa blew a large cloud of smoke. "None whatsoever. This dragon you wanted. Why did you spend so
much time on it?"

"It was a red one." I said, as if that would explain it all. "And…?" Padwa asked. "Padwa, it was red! Everyone I talk to knows that red dragons obey better, they are better all around than brown ones!" Padwa looked bemused. "Oh really? Well I didn't know that laddie. As last I knew, dragonkin was dragonkin. Color has no sway. But what do I know?" "So a dragon's color doesn't matter?" "No lad, color matters not one bit. Dragonkin will travel with ye until they don't want to, they will obey ye until they don't want to. Color is only important if ye want them to match the furniture. Since you've been "colored" on the subject, so to speak, I'll tell ye now that the color of a nightmare has no bearing on its value either. A pure black is nae better than a blue. Oh, and the length of the mane doesn't matter either. Blue longmanes and pure blacks are few and far between, of that there's nae doubt. But they are no better than them that you see right regular nowadays, and never were."

"How long does it take to train one then so that it will be able to make you invisible and protect you in combat, or resurrect you if you've been killed?" I asked. Padwa looked at me sternly, and then sighed. "Tis my fault lad. I've nae met ye as oft as I should ha', and ye ha' been talkin' to too many people that dinna ken what it means to be a Ranger. Worse than that, ye ha been listenin' to what any Ranger knows is false legends." He went on. "Jean-Luc, no matter how much training you give yer pets, the spellcasters will nae' do two things. One is cast a spell of invisibility on ye, and the other is resurrect ye when things go awful bad. I've seen my
mare cast invisibility on herself, and something like that can lead ta' an interesting situation in a crowd of ophidians, I'll tell ye that fer free. But no spellcaster will give ye a cure, or a heal, or restore your life. Sorry to burst yer bubble my friend, but best to know now and spare the disappointment later on, eh?"

Crestfallen, I realized my store of knowledge was not as vast as I had hoped. It was time for me to take the role of student again, for I was no master, and it seemed I was not even close. "How well can pets be trained then?" I asked. "Ah, now there's a good subject to learn from" Padwa answered. "There was a time, years back, when animals could gain strength and speed to areas that seemed supernatural. Horses could match up agin' monsters they would ha' had no business fighting. It was a time when Rangers were few and our magics were strong." Padwa seemed to look beyond me into the mists of the past. "But that time is gone now. Now, you can train your pets, but they will ne'er be like they were before. Seek the knowledge that's available, and ye will learn those limits. Had high hopes fer that grizzly of yours did ye?" "You've heard about him?" I asked, somewhat stunned. Padwa roared his laugh again, setting off yet another round of people scurrying for defensive positions. "Heard that he's killed a deamon with ye, and that he's as mean as a hungry balron! He's well named then!" I reddened. While I had named the bear after Padwa for its' orneriness, I had never considered the possibility that he would have heard about the bear and my adventures together. "I meant no disrespect," I mumbled in apology. "And there's none taken!" Padwa leaned over the table and asked in a conspiratorial tone, "How do ye think my nightmare got HIS name?" he laughed softly and gave me a friendly pat on the arm. "What else have ye' been hearing?" "Well," I said, "I've been told that if one of my pets goes wild then all the training I've given it will be lost." Padwa looked thoughtful. "No, that's not correct. While it is true that a dragon tamed in Wind will not have the magery to get back in once you leave, if you train your companion's skills, they stay trained. Before you ask, if you give your pet to someone else, it's skills will stay the same also. Trained is trained."

"Speaking of training," I asked, "Can loyalty be improved with training?" "Ye best be trained to feed your friends in a timely manner, if that's what ye mean lad." Padwa answered. "Loyalty is best served from a filled belly. Keep them fed, and they will be loyal. Training your pet will only mean facing a stronger, faster opponent if it goes feral on ye."

"Will my pets fight differently with training?" Padwa pondered that one for a moment. "Well, that's a tough one to answer. If you mean different as in "better", aye, that will improve. But if ye mean different as in will yer dragon run off a tad and set an ambush, or have better tactical abilities, the answer is nay. Take a frenzied ostard fer example. If you gets up on a ledge a bit away from an access point, well that frenzied will just sit there an' let ye talk it right in to comin' with ye as a friend. Get on that ledge to escape a silver serpent, and ye best have another plan right quick, cause that snake will find that access point, and you with it. Tamed or not, the frenzied will never learn to just walk over and up the hill, while serpents have the smarts to do that naturally."

"Should I have waited in training my Animal Lore until I mastered my ability to tame creatures? I have heard that lower Lore speeds up your skill in taming." Padwa shook his head sadly. "Ah, now there's a good one. No doubt some hard-workin' lad or lassie with no knowledge of what they were taming mastered taming in a relatively short amount of time. Someone else followed their advice, and imitated their work ethic, and lo and behold! They mastered taming too! Such is the price of false information lad. How well you can tame is based only, and I do mean only, on what and how much you tame. If ye want no more Animal Lore skill than the ability to point at a creature and say 'That is a whatever', then that's yer choice and no one else's. You'll gain no faster or slower. I suspect that them that started that little tale tell it to those that want to be Grandmasters in a day or three."

"I've noticed that when I want to transfer an animal to a customer, I don't always succeed. When I reach Grandmaster status, will I stop failing?" Padwa shook his head. "I know I will still fail from time to time. Honestly, with 100% skill in Animal Lore and Animal Taming, you skill stand a small chance of failure when telling a tame to go with another, even if that person has top-notch skills in taming and lore!"

"One last question. If I tame a creature, then free it, would I be able to come back later and grow in skill if I tame it again? A lot of people seem to think that is possible." "Ah, that's a good one! While it may be possible for the very new Ranger-in-training to gain in that fashion, it will not happen once ye get more than 30% of your training done. Many folks make the mistake between gaining skill even though they fail to tame the animal, and gaining skill off an animal that has been tamed by someone else, with being able to gain skill from and animal that they tamed once before." "Say you and I were out working on skills. You tame a bull, and free it. Maybe you gain, maybe you didn't. Then I tame the bull, and free it. Maybe I gained, maybe I didn't. Ye can now tame and release that bull 'til the end of days and ye won't gain one more speck of skill. Thus it is, and thus it were meant to be lad."

All my questions answered, we traded stories of our adventures, and I sought more about the new lands that Padwa had visited. The sunrise found out tongues tired. I walked with Padwa out to his mount, only to find it was not the mare I was accustomed to seeing him on. I was confronted by a gold, green and red… something that looked akin to a large letter "S" that someone had turned on the side and attached 4 legs to. "It's called a ki-rin by the natives of Ilshenar" Padwa said. I looked at him dubiously. "I shall have to take your word for it." He laughed. "If you're taming dragons, you'll soon be ready to tame one of these. Send word through the forest sprites, and we will go get one together." The thought of taming with my mentor at my side brightened my spirits immensely. My skills were not getting better as fast as I would have wished. But the lessons from Padwa would certainly stop me from wasting time
chasing false claims.

A blue oval opened, and Padwa mounted his strange ride and moved toward it. "Give my best to Mordanna" he said, and with a flash, he and Sasha were gone. I thought of all the lessons I had been given over the course of the evening, and was shocked at all that I hadn't learned prior to this time. Many things that I thought were truths turned out to be nothing more than rumors.

"HEY!!!" an angry voice behind me shouted out. "Who's going to pay for all this food, and the damages to my Inn?!?!?!"

Stuck with the bill again. And to think that was a lesson I thought I had already learned.