News - Theme

Our theme is, ultimately, an exploration into how an egalitarian and technologically advanced society that can travel stars became the repressive, gender biased feudal society seen in Ms. McCaffrey’s first books. We do this by exploring natural and man-made crisis that might lead to both the rapid loss of knowledge and a more rigid, inflexible society and political system using one of the periods of greater upheaval in that societal history, the beginning of a pass. So as not to interact with any of the current Pern books, either those penned by Ms. McCaffrey or those by her son, we have chosen to work in the time period just prior to and the beginnings of the 4th pass of the Red Star. We are treating the books of both authors as canon in our game and integrating their stories into our history to help
give us background in which to play and attempt to answer the general theme questions.

As a general history, Pern was settled just over seven hundred and fifty years ago. The knowledge of the crossing, of the people’s Earth origins has now dwindled past legend and myth and into the realm of lost forever as people have focused on simply surviving. There have been both a human and a dragon plague in the past and more recently an ecological disaster. The Weyrs have tended to keep the best records, followed by the Crafts with the Holds being the worst offenders when it comes to preserving truth and history. The 'dawn sisters' have now been officially named, but forgotten for what they actually are. The language is undergoing linguistic changes and shifts to simpler terminology for many items, along with certain areas picking up regional dialects despite the best efforts of those involved with the harper craft.

Only the northern continent is inhabited. Some fishermen and traders as well as archivists are familiar with the southern continent and those weyr leaders who keep up with their own records are aware of the existence of the western isles but neither continent is currently common knowledge among the general population.


All of the northern continent weyrs have now been settled and they operate generally independently. The number of dragons in each weyr should have been on the rise for the past decade but has not. Clutches are still spaced farther apart in time than expected and the leaders are getting worried. Most weyrs now have two or three breeding queens. Each weyr tends to search only within its own territory, unless they have a great need and then they may ask the weyrs closest geographically for spare candidates. There were both human and dragon plagues just before the last pass, as well as outbreaks of various human plagues over the past centuries and each winter brings a flu-like illness which reduces the population. Recently in history, a combination of drought and crop failure has led to a skewed age distribution of riders such that there are a larger number of riders between the ages of 20-40 and relatively few older than that. For every one rider there is on average 20 non-riders at a weyr. With the constant need for both candidates for eggs and support stuff for the riders, every rider, regardless of natural inclination, is expected to try to provide the weyr with at least one heir before their death.


The single central training center for all technical studies and school studies has long ago fallen by the wayside. Most Pernese now receive a basic education in their homes from their parents, or foster parents as well as the traveling journeymen harpers. Harpers teach classes through music, as oral traditions have been easier to keep going than written ones. Most major crafts have just been set up in a basic format, although the pendulum has swung far to the other side in decentralizing the training to local area master/journeymen/apprentice rings over the past several hundred years.

However, as over time the loss of knowledge has fermented the move towards one or two large central halls for each craft with journeymen and masters posted. All the major crafts have their primary Crafthall set up by this point, though for some crafts, such as beastcraft, most of the craftsmen are spread throughout the holds, halls and weyrs where their skills are needed and much of the daily training still goes on away from the hall in small groups of master-journeymen-apprentice. Promotions are now given only at the main Crafthall, even for those who have been studying afield. They occur at the recommendation of the supervising upper rank and then are approved after review by qualified masters.

While there are still some inconsistencies, this has led to a more consistent level of knowledge for those within the same rank for each craft. However, some Crafts remaining nearly completely separate and as autonomous as a Hold and all training occurs at their main Crafthall. These are usually the crafts that must be at a specific location to occur, such as the Miners, or those that require in-depth, long training periods such as the Healers and Harpers. With the increase in centralized, craft specific training, cross craft cooperation is slowly starting to wane and some few astute persons worry this could be detrimental to all of Pern. Crafters don't mind search, but they have restricted those able to stand to only apprentices in order not to lose further craft knowledge as once you become a journeymen you start learning the real 'secrets' from your master.


Holds are central places for folks to live. Power over land has been consolidated into the hands of a few. Major Holds have Lord and Lady Holders, with their titles generally passed down through a family lineage and support populations in the thousands. There are generally a 3-6 Minor Holds for each Major Hold, run by Holders which are usually determined by family lineage, though they may still be appointed by the Lord (or rarely Lady) Holder or even rarely elected by their own dependents. These minor holds support populations of up to 1000.

Beyond that there are a large number of smaller unnamed 'cotholds' which are generally smaller clusters of buildings with three or four different family units with population of a couple hundred at most. Most holders learn what their parents learned and survive in the same way over the generations.

Occasionally, a gifted child will become a crafter, or on rare occasion someone will be searched. Though search is becoming more common it is also becoming more resented among holders especially during periods of low population and seen as stealing away the young strong workers, or females which are more valued for the assets they would bring in marriages and childbearing.

Living Conditions and Quality of Life

The population of Pern overall is not huge. Infant mortality is high and life expectancy has dropped for many into the low 60, even before the recent drought. A notable exception is for riders, with access to better care and food, can live up to 100, although due to illness few do. Illness has been the largest source of keeping the population in check, followed by accidents. Most children are not raised exclusively by their parents. The foster system is well under way for the upper class. For small, lower class holders those inclined towards child serve as nannies for a group of children while the parents are at work, although fostering is not completely unheard of even at this level. Children are a precious resource and are NEVER abandoned. While your parent(s) may die, with the fostering system and the constant need of weyrs there is no real 'orphan' and indeed many children will think of their fosterer as their mom/dad rather than their true biological one. Riders' children are always fostered. There is generally a strong work ethic on Pern. Abuse of children is not tolerated.

Tithes of food and goods are sent to the Weyr by the Major and Minor Holds in its territory on an annual basis. As most crafts have crafters posted at the weyr, their daily labor for routine maintenance and such is considered the Craft's tithe. Any special commissions or projects they haggle for payment or trade privately. Marks have been developed as the main monetary value but are mostly used between Major Holds, and Weyrs. Most goods and services are exchanged by barter for another good or service. Few people earn a "wage" in the traditional sense, their work being exchanged for room and board at their particular place of residence.

At High Reaches Weyr most people work sunup to sunset, with a two hour break at mid-day. There is a shift of folks who work the night keeping the hearths going and the glows refreshed. However, with the expensive of keeping a large area lighted at night, most tasks and chores are accomplished within daylight hours. This has not changed even as the coming pass looms ever closer and brings a certain amount of change into everyone’s life.

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