Editor's Note: This faq was originally written prior to skill locks, which means it was written some time around October or November 1999. Some of this stuff is a little dated, but you might still find something useful here.
So you're wondering how in the heck you're supposed to pvp as a tamer huh? You've got the incredible power of the dragonkin behind you but how exactly do you use it? Well friend (let's be friends. I like friends), I'll try to illuminate you on the subject a bit.
First of all you gotta know what your skills are and how to use them. Taming isn't the only thing at your disposal (I hope to god...). Chances are you're at least a somewhat decent mage and may have some fighting skills too. I recommend highly that you pvp a few times without pets first to get the hang of what your character alone can offer you. Someday you'll most likely find yourself in a situation where you either have no pet with you, it's been killed, or has otherwise been separated from you. Knowing what your other strengths are and how to use them will be important then. The skill set I recommend is Taming/Lore/Eval/Magery/Resist/Meditation/Wrestling (once locks are in). I feel that this allows for the best possible use of the 700 points. It gives you a powerful mage which is always good for pvp plus magery is important in keeping your pets healed. Other tamers like to use a weapon skill. I suppose this could work if you dropped eval and wrestling but when you have a pet a fighting skill is kind of a waste of time whereas magery is always important.
What you don't have a dragon yet? Well ok. Let's talk about lower level tamer pvp. This may surprise you but the average gm mage is almost helpless against a newly tamed grizzly bear. There's nothing like seeing a character that's got 700 hours of macroing behind it fleeing for it's life while Yogi gives chase. At this level think of your pets as fire and forget weapons. All guard me is helpful to an extent but really I'd only use it against monsters. When someone attacks you or vice versa just have your pack of bears or wolves attack. Then forget about them. While it may be sad to see a loyal friend potentially get killed they are far easier to replace than your life. So send them on their way and ignore them. Hopefully their attacks will disrupt your opponent enough that he will be helpless to your magery or melee. Very few people can take 3 grizzlies or polar bears beating on them at once while an adept mage is ebolting them too. And when you kill them be sure to laugh. Pks like to pick on low level tamers, thinking they are harmless, and also to get back at the higher level tamer that killed them last night with 3 dragons. Show them you aren't as helpless as you appear. Dire Wolves and frenzied Ostards are also particularly effective. Use grizzly tactics with both. Lots of tamers will recommend the frenzied against mages due to it's extremely high dexterity and good damage. Personally, I could consider the big bad bird lizard to be too fragile and valuable to risk in pvp and would only use it in the most dire of situations. Even though you should try to avoid such a conflict in the first place... If you can't do the stronger bears or wolves, just use whatever you have on hand. Even a pack of timbers can do significant damage.
Time to take a look at the various commands pets will follow. All Follow Me and All Stay are the most helpful to me. All Follow Me is obvious. All Stay is good mostly for keeping your pets from running off and getting killed but it also has a use for dragons which I'll discuss later. All Guard Me I still say is mostly good for monsters. When it comes to pvp'ing I like to be more deliberate in my actions. If you're pvp'ing some guy and a monster attacks you, it's really gonna bite if your pets all change targets. All Guard - some people like to cross guard their pets. This means that the pets are guarding the owner and their fuzzy friends as well. I have never tried this but I hear it wreaks havoc with fire breathers (dragons, drakes, mares, etc.) and will probably end up with them kicking the snot out of each other while you desperately attempt to calm them down. I don't know how well it would work with lower pets but since a lower level pet is expendable why bother guarding it? I think [pet name] Kill is fairly self explanatory... All Follow is important! Learn it! Fire breathing pets are slower a lagging australian when it comes to giving chase. Luckily for you there is this wonderful command. Say All Follow and target the person you want to die, then use [pet name] Kill. (Note: I say All Follow here but using [pet name] Follow is the preferred way to do it. All Follow will only make one pet follow and it's difficult to determine which pet that will be. Again this is true with All Guard. It's better to use the pet's you want to guard name than it is to say All.) In addition to this, if the pet you are using is a firebreather, it will drop out of follow mode after doing it's breath attack, therefore requiring the command to be reissued. This cost me a battle once and I felt like kicking my own ass for not remembering.
I think this wouldn't be a very complete guide if I didn't take a paragraph to mention pet training. It's a little known fact that pets progress in skill just as players do. The easiest way to prove this is to get a fresh dragon from Destard. Chances are it can't get into Wind (72 magery req). Take the dragon somewhere safe and summon elementals for it to dispell. After about an hour of this take the dragon back to Wind and have him walk over the telepad. He should be able to enter now. Melee can be trained as well. There's a huge difference between a trained and untrained frenzied ostard that will make itself apparent after about 2 hours of toad taming and killing. Pets begin at random levels of skill. Some dragons can cast ebolt in their natural state while others struggle with lightning. There is also randomness in their stats. Through testing as a gm on a private shard I've seen about 100 points of shift in a dragon's intelligence and strength. About a 30 point shift in dexterity. This is very significant. I also must note that while str influences the dragon's firebreath attack, firebreath damage doesn't seem to raise with training. The damage done by the firebreath is still a good indication of how powerful the dragon's melee is in his wild state. Ideally taming a dragon that does 41 damage in a firebreath is best. Melee is best trained against other high level monsters such as other dragons, drakes, ogre lords, blood elementals, and anything else a player could gm off of. For a long time no one has been sure whether or not pets actually gain strength and other stats. I can say that I'm almost completely sure that they do. Sparring sheep on my townie I noticed that even though I had no damage to the fuzzy creatures, they were no longer at full health. This would indicate strength gain.
A master tamer now huh? Congratulations. Now you have the choice of using the pets you've wanted all along. But what should you use? A dragon? A drake? A wyrm? A mare? I'll try to explain the strong points of each in pvp.
Drakes - By far the weakest of the high level pets. A drake can be defeated in melee by a gm warrior and a healer. Mages can tear them apart. To use a drake effectively you almost have to treat it like a lower level pet. Use [drake name] Follow and try to forget about him till the fight is over. Keep yourself healed and cure him if he gets poisoned but if he gets below half, forget him. He's sacrificed himself for you. If you aren't the aggressor in the fight try to gate him out if you'd prefer to keep him. I never recommend drakes for pvp. They are far better suited to killing tames and weak monsters. If you're order/chaos using a pack of drakes in town is feasible but why bother when you can have the stronger dragon for less taming? Firebreath damage: 19 -21
Dragons - The ultimate monster in just about every fantasy game and book ever created, the dragon on UO is a powerful friend indeed. Trained, they can Flamestrike and have unbelievable melee damage. Combined with the follow command they are a force to be reckoned with which no lone non tamer could beat. Unfortunately they are slow without being told to Follow and it is this major difference that ends up costing them the most when compared to a wyrm in pvp. I like to think of dragons as artillery. Firebreathing from afar and doing a load of damage while at it. This property is helpful in sieging a house or protecting an objective. Have the dragon attack a target and then tell him to stay. He'll stay back but should continue to take pot shots and the target. Helpful for those lamers that like to hide in houses...
Wyrms - My absolute favorite pvp creature. Wyrms are incredibly fast. There is no need for the follow command which saves you some time in targeting. Their melee is ungodly and if trained they are truly terrifying. My best wyrm has been known to triple flamestrike and do 55 damage a shot per melee. Unfortunately this power comes at a price since a wyrm is a gm Mass curser. This spell is very dangerous and effects both trained dragons and wyrms. If you or a blue is in the proximity of the mass curse, your loyal wyrm will go absolutely nuts. When someone auto defends from this attack the wyrm sees it as aggression and will tear the person to shreds. Many tamers have fallen to their own pets or gotten murder counts because of this. It's something that must be kept in mind if you plan on using any high magery pet. I learned to keep my distance from my wyrms after getting mass cursed once. It was a terrifying experience which I survived and learned from. The other down point of the wyrm is it's lack of firebreath. Breath has been sacrificed for it's high starting magery and powerful melee. This isn't such a bad thing as there are some defects in firebreath I'll discuss later.
Mares - A nightmare is a beautiful creature and a powerful one at that. It has more hitpoints than a dragon or wyrm but does less damage and has laughable magery. I really prefer the mare as a mount more than an active pvp tool. It's ultra high dex almost insures you won't fatigue and I'd hate to sacrifice my mobility by dismounting and having it attack. Speed is important. I'd take speed over the damage the mare can do. But if you absolutely must use your mare for pvp for cripe's sake keep it healed and cured. Again don't forget the importance of [pet name] Follow. Firebreath damage: 24-26
Editor's note: At one point in time, nightmares had more health than dragons or wyrms. This is no longer the case. Weakest to strongest would be: drake, nightmare, with dragons and wyrms tied but with individual strengths.
Paralyze - Using this tactic, the only spell you will be casting (after reflect breaker) is paralyze. The idea is to keep the target from escaping your slow moving friend. Use this against a single opponent. Especially if the target is a "connect fiend".
The Best Offense is a Good Defense - Just keep casting defensive spells on yourself and your pet. Heal, Cure, Reactive armor and spell reflect are good choices. Stay under your pet as best you can. This will allow you to use vet (if you have it), make you harder to target and make you untouchable to meleers.
Defense?! What for?! - In the third method be as aggressive as possible. Mana dump, melee attack (if you have it), and keep the pet on whomever it is you want to die. Use this or the paralyze method if you've surprised the enemy.
Sit Back and Watch - Hide and let the pet do all the work, healing, curing, and retargeting when the situation calls for it. I use a variation of this at server fights when I know there's no way I'm going to lose.
Some notes on firebreathers: Firebreathers have been known to auto attack reds and poisoning monsters. This means putting that valuable dragon in town for a long period of time is probably not a good idea. If someone marches a tamed scorpion into town you might find your dragon guard whacked and possibly yourself too. If you plan on being a red, a firebreather probably isn't the best choice of pet since it may end up killing you. Wyrms don't have this trait and are therefore the superior pet for murdering. Also firebreath damage is hp dependent. As firebreathers get hurt their firebreath is diminished. Keep your firebreathers healed if you want them to stay effective! Standing under your fire breathers is a good tactic. It keeps meleers at bay and makes you more difficult to target.
HP and Follow - Follow speed is dictated by how full the hp of a pet is. Lower hp = slower pet. You should be keeping the hp of firebreathers up anyway to keep their breath strong but it might be a good idea to heal wyrms too so they don't get slow. A slow wyrm is a dead wyrm. Especially in pvp where people tend to love ev'ing or mana dumping pets.
Multiple dragons/wyrms - This is generally frowned upon at server fights (where I do most of my pvp). Anytime I see a tamer with more than 2 high level pets, he's got about 10 seconds to live before my wyrm, Tempest, tears him apart. A tamer that needs 3 dragons and 3 wyrms to pvp is one sad pvp in my opinion. No one appreciates it and it ruins the fun. Even in regular hours it's pretty lame to kill a person in this manner. I'd say morally no one should use more than two at a time while I never use more than one. The hard part of pvp'ing with multiple pets is keeping track of them all. They tend to get separated from you and poisoned and such. Management is key. Don't let your pets get too far away from you. Keep their health open and look for gradual drops indicating poison (you can't be eval'ing them constantly to get that little poison bar). Heal as needed and meditate. Here is probably where All Guard Me is most effective in pvp.
Multiple Opponents - That pack of gm mages giving you guff again huh? A good tamer can easily take multiple opponents as long as he's prepared for the experience. Equipment is key. You want to be completely defensive. Spell reflect items and potions will help you here. If you find yourself being overwhelmed or your pets health drops below half, it's time to withdrawal. Chances are you'll find them individually some day and be able to give them a little vengeance. I don't like to fight more than three people at a time but I also don't follow my own advice in most cases. Server fight pvp is relaxed so I'm often not as prepared as I should be.
Close Quarters - Avoid it like the plague! Places like Wind and Deceit are full of rocks and other crap our slow witted friends can't find their way around. After losing my favorite wyrm to a gang of mages that took advantage of his poor pathfinding, I won't fight in such a place again.
I know you're asking yourself "when the hell is this guy going to shut up?" by now so I believe I'll make my closing. Tamers can be an unbelievable force in pvp. They just have to know what they're doing, have a good connection, and be prepared for the encounter. Knowing your pets strengths and weaknesses as well as your own are key to being successful. But don't forget, taming isn't about kicking "sUm dEwd's A$$". I am merely giving instruction on how to deal with it when the situation arises. Good luck to all.
Last Hope - Napa Valley shard