Member No.: 2
Joined: 26-December 07
Compiled from Wikipedia
Here is our little slice of Pernese Knowledge for you. I didn't write this, and I don't claim it as my own, but I will say that some things within the original text were contradictory to what we at Iayla are using as cannon and have been modified to fit our Pern. Thanks guys.
Planetary system data
In the novels, Pern was colonized by settlers originally from Earth but lived in a technocratic society recovering from a war with the Nathis who wanted to return to an agrarian society with a low level of technology. The name originates in the tales as an acronym: Parallels Earth, Resources Negligible (i.e., insufficient to support interstellar commercial investment). Shortly after the colony was established, the settlers discovered that their chosen planet was subject to periodic attack from space by the destructive Thread, a space borne spore that destroys organic substances on contact. Unable to retreat from the peril, the settlers developed methods of combating the Thread. A small indigenous life form, the Firelizard, was discovered with remarkable adaptations against Thread: flight, teleportation, limited telepathy, and the ability to chew a phosphine bearing rock and generate bursts of flame. Pernese scientists genetically "upgraded" these into full-sized flame-breathing telepathic dragons, who were able to sear the Thread before it could fall to the ground. Dragonriders became a vitally important and highly respected profession, especially after a mass migration to the northern continent, where they lived in Weyrs, and as time progressed, the settlers forgot their Terran origins.
Planetary system data
Pern is the third of five planets in the Rukbat system (located in the stellar local of Alpha Sagittarius, or the Knee of the Archer). Rukbat is a class G (yellow) star. Pern has two moons, Belior and Timor (in order of distance). The Rukbat system also contains two asteroid belts and an Oort cloud. The Oort cloud and a rogue "sixth" planet, the Red Star (a Sedna-class inner Oort cloud object), plays a major role in the series, as it is the source of Thread.
Pern bears three continents, four major oceans, and a large number of islands. The largest continent, the Southern, is noted for large areas of grassland and jungle, as well as high tectonic and volcanic activity (probably due to the two moons, although this increases with the coming of the Red Star). The Northern Continent, in contrast, is relatively infertile composed primarily of 'shield' bedrock and is the most tectonically stable landmass on the planet. Not much is known of the small Far Western Continent, as it has never been explored; its existence is known only from orbital satellite surveys and maritime expeditions.
Pern is noted for its high incidence of cave systems, particularly in the Northern Continent. This feature heavily influenced the development of human society on the planet, as humans forced to take shelter in these caves eventually developed an intricate culture associated with cave-dwelling in a feudal society at a medieval to Renaissance level of technology.
Pern is relatively lacking in most major metals. Nonetheless, sufficient deposits of petroleum and metals exist to supply a high-technology agrarian society, though not a high-technology industrial one.
Although Pern has four major oceans, the only ocean of major concern to most inhabitants of Pern is the Southern, which separates the Northern and Southern Continents. Few expeditions have explored the Western and Eastern Oceans to either side of the main continents, and the Ring Sea is known only from satellite observations from earlier times.
The Southern Ocean is noted for its volatile weather and strong currents, which present a challenge for mariners.
Firestone is a phosphine bearing rock found on Pern. When chewed by the Pernese dragons, they are able to produce phosphorus gases, which then ignite and are used, primarily, for burning Thread out of the air. It exists in two varieties. One variant is highly unstable in nature, often prone to releasing their deadly and potentially explosive gases on contact with even the slightest bit of moisture. This type of firestone is extremely dangerous to mine, store and use. The other variant is relatively stable, and require the rocks to be somewhat "digested" in the dragons second stomach's acid before the phosphine gases are released. This was the variety initially discovered on the beaches of the Southern Continent in Dragonsdawn and used in all Pern novels following Dragon's Fire in Pern's chronology.
Firestone is believed to render female dragons sterile, thus requiring queen dragons to use flamethrowers when fighting Thread. This side effect would be beneficial, however, with regard to green dragons (which are also female)—being rather promiscuous, green dragons would cause Pern to quickly become overpopulated with small dragons unsuitable for Thread-fighting duty were it not for the sterility believed to be caused by chewing firestone. Green dragons are actually sterile by design, as is the queens' inability to properly utilize firestone. Kitti Ping Yung bred the ability out of the Queens and sterility into the greens. Over time, this knowledge was lost, and the myth above became widely accepted.
The plants best-known to humans residing on Pern are those that are useful. There are several types of plants which are edible to humans, including the redfruit tree, which produces a red, plum-like fruit, and the klah tree, whose bark is infused like coffee into a stimulant beverage reminiscent of chocolate, coffee and cinnamon. Native medicinal plants include dragon's tongue, which produces a gel similar to aloe; the Needlethorn, whose hollow thorns can be used as hypodermic needles; Numbweed, a strong analgesic plant that is made into a cream after boiling it in large pots for 3 days that numbs small wounds completely, and dulls larger wounds; and Fellis, which produces a juice used as a soporific drug.
Pern is host to a number of invertebrate species, including the insect-like trundlebugs, rollers (analogous to a woodlouse), VTOLS (a kind of fly), springs (a kind of parasite), and spider-like creatures called spinners. There is also a type of worm or millipede called a grub, which was genetically engineered by the settlers to consume Thread. It serves the important purpose of protecting fields and crops by tunneling underground, eating any Thread that has reached the ground and burrowed. However it has only flourished in the Southern Continent and its existence was forgotten by most of the inhabitants of the North for many years. The only people who knew about the grubs had been eradicating them whenever they appeared in the North; an error in records interpretation led them to believe they were parasitical instead of beneficial. After the error was corrected, the grubs were encouraged to flourish—indeed it was noted that areas sown with the grubs prospered better due to the grubs aerating the soil and preventing Thread from destroying the crops or potential infestations forcing the burning of the field.
Native Pernese vertebrates have a body-structure with six limbs. Flying creatures, such as the fire-lizards and wherries (carnivorous creatures not dissimilar to large birds), have two wings and four legs. Ground-bound creatures like most tunnelsnakes have six legs, which may include specialized digging feet or hunting claws. Some tunnelsnakes are aquatic or semi-aquatic, and have one or more set of fins or flippers in place of legs. Wherries are edible, and have been domesticated for food; some tunnelsnakes are edible, but they are primarily considered a pest animal in Weyrs and Holds.
The native dragonet was genetically engineered using advanced high-tech Eridani techniques, such as a metasynth enhancement, by settlers into the much larger and more intelligent dragons. Other experiments resulted in the enhanced fire-lizards and the watch-wher, a stunted, photophobic cousin of the dragon. Fire-lizards proved compatible with the original dragonets, but of dominant genetics, and dragonets eventually bred out of existence. Whers are used in mining and as guards of Holds, and were long thought to be a mistake made by Wind Blossom, the Eridani geneticist who was credited with (or blamed for) developing them.
It should be noted that in our timeline whers do NOT fly and Thread doesn't fall at night. There may be a late evening Threadfall on occasion but no night Falls. Also noted that the whers are more intelligent than most Pernese give them credit for. For more information concerning Iayla's view of whers see "Whers on Iayla" in our D.R.o.P. forum. which should be up... sometime.
A wide variety of fish-like creatures dwell in Pernese seas, many of which are edible to humans, including the oily-fleshed packtail, the prized redfin, and the easily-preserved whitefish.
Most of the plants introduced by Pernese colonists are providers of food, fiber or medicine. Most grains, vegetable crops, and fruit trees were imported to Pern, as were a wide variety of herbs and fiber plants such as flax. Notably, the Pernese lack cocoa and coffee plants as they could not handle the transfer to Pernese soil.
The original Pernese settlers brought a wide variety of animals (transported in coldsleep or as ovum and sperm to be bred in the revived birthing stock) and plants with them when they originally settled the planet. However, due to both the disastrous threadfall and the natural Pernese landscape, some animals never adapted at all. Deer and other forest-dwelling animals did not fare well in Pern's warm, tropical climate. Other animals required "genetic adaptation" but survived in some form or another. One type of genetic adaptation needed was the altering of the digestive processes of animals like cows to allow them to digest the boron-heavy grass successfully and without ill-effects.
The Pernese circa the Ninth Pass of the Red Star tend to categorize animals by use more than by species. Herdbeasts are animals kept in large numbers for meat or leather, and include bovines, ovines and caprines (which became the standard Pernese terms for cows, sheep and goats). Milchbeasts are the same species as herdbeasts, but kept for milk. Draybeasts are donkeys, oxen or draft horses. Runners are a particular breed of horse developed by the Pernese, a riding/racing beast vaguely analogous to the Anglo-Arabian. Burdenbeasts may be donkeys or llamas.
Cats and dogs, called felines and canines, are kept for pest control or, in the case of dogs, as herd or guard animals. The felines and canines have adapted to fit the colder climates of Pern, having developed thicker, shaggier coats. A variety of large felines were engineered by a renegade settler for the purpose of being an intelligent helper, but they turned on the settler and went wild on the Southern Continent.
A genetically altered breed of dolphins, sometimes called shipfish, accompanied humans to Pern. These dolphins had greatly increased intelligence, including a degree of telepathic ability, and had developed means of verbally communicating with humans because of the genetic metasynth enhancement. Unlike many of the other animals that accompanied humans, dolphins took to their new home well. They were trained to come to the sound of Dolphin Bells and help troubled sailors in the oceans. Unfortunately, contact between dolphins and humans soon deteriorated, and for much of Pernese history they were not known to the human population.
For More information see the information on Farlight Hold's DolphinHall.
The Pern of the Ninth Pass is a highly structured society, consisting of four different groups of people, Weyrfolk, Holders, Crafters, and those without a permanent home, the Holdless and Traders. The Weyr, Hold and Hall are all separate from one another and the leaders of each are equal in rank. But in the same way, they are interdependent, and no one group could exist without the other two. Individual Weyrs, Holds, and Halls are autonomous, but generally maintain good relations with one another.
The Weyrs are the home of the dragonriders of Pern. They are expansive structures, often situated in a cave-riddled extinct volcano, or along a mountain face, where there is enough space for both the dragons, their riders, and the people of the "lower caverns", the staff which maintain the Weyr. Due to the unsuitable terrain of Weyr locations (volcanoes, cliff faces), Weyrfolk are generally unable to grow food. They depend on tithes of goods from the holds in order to survive, and in exchange, the Dragonriders have pledged to protect those holds from Threadfall.
Dragonrider social structure is loosely based of a militaristic society, with the dragons as the core. The Senior Weyrwoman (also referred to simply as the Weyrwoman) is the woman who rides the Head Gold dragon of the Weyr and is the most important woman in any Weyr, almost certainly one of the most important positions on Pern, as it is her Queen dragon that sustains the Weyrs dragon population and holds order amongst the dragons. The Weyrwoman is in charge of keeping draconic comfort and overseeing the Headwoman in her charge of the Lower Caverns. The Weyrwoman also acts as liaison between the Weyr and Holds.
The Weyrleader is the rider of the bronze that catches the Senior Queen in her mating Flights. He is in charge of the Fighting Wings of dragons and keeping disciplinary functions in order. It is his job to make sure that the Wingleaders keep on top of their wings, and that the Weyrlingmasters keep up their training.
Wingleaders are in charge of a dragon wing. The smallest unit for fighting Thread. It is usually the size between 11 and 33 dragons strong. A Wingleader is generally a bronzerider and has a Wingsecond and a Wingthird. The wingsecond is usually a brown dragon, though it isn't unduly uncommon to see a blue as a Wingsecond, and the Wingthird is often a blue or green. Women riders are often preferred for the Wingthird position, as it is this rank that connects the most with the other riders. That and male greenriders tend to be rather how shall we say... disorganized.
Weyrlingmasters are in charge of the Weyrlings, the newly Impressed dragonriders form the last hatching. They have the duty to protect and guide the new pairs into full fledged riders.
The Headwoman is the highest ranking position for a nonrider in the Weyr. They are in charge of all domestic duties (overseen by the Weyrwoman) and are often the keepers of all the gossip and knowledge of who's doing what in the Lower Caverns.
The majority of people on Pern live in Holds. There are three sizes of Hold: Major, Minor, and Cothold. Major Holds are ruled by a Lord and Lady Holder, and their family. The remainder of the residents are staff and workers who run the hold, and professional crafters; all told, they usually number around one thousand. The Headwoman is in charge of the inner hold, and looks after all of the workings inside, while the Steward runs the outdoor parts of the hold. Major Holds tithe a portion of their produce to the nearest Weyr in return for protection from Thread.
Minor Holds are always beholden to a Major Hold, and tithe to them in return for protection from Thread and other dangers. They are run by a person who bears the title of Holder, and are home to smaller numbers of people than Major Holds.
Cotholds are small, family-run holds, and usually all those who live there are family or close friends. 'Family' on Pern generally means an extended family of several generations and branches, as opposed to the nuclear-family common in Western societies on our own world.
Each hold is responsible for the discipline of its wrongdoers. Most times the Lord Holder will make the wrongdoer pay restitution and service to the wronged party. The next severest punishment is incarceration. Death penalty can also be used in response to heinous crimes. One of the greatest punishments is to be named holdless. This is where a person is stripped of all rank and status and thrown out of the hold. The altogether most severe punishment is exile, usually to the island archipelago known as the Eastern Ring Islands. The reason this is the most severe punishment is because the holdless have nowhere to go during Threadfall and have no other human contact.
The Crafthalls are the home to craftsmen; those Pernese skilled in a particular industry. The Crafts of Pern are: Harper, Smith, Healer, Miner, Weaver, Farmer, Fisher, Tanner, Baker, Vintner, and Herder. For example, the Harpercraft is responsible for the arts (specifically music) and teaching young children the Teaching Ballads, which provide them with basic knowledge. When a child is ten or twelve, they can be sent to be an apprentice at a Crafthall if they show a flair for that particular craft. The Crafthalls train the crafters and send them out all over Pern to provide their skills to even the remotest hold. Note that it is not necessary for someone to be (for example) a trained farmcrafter in order to grow food; holders have a wide variety of skills, but it is the crafters who are the experts.
The most recent craft, Starsmith (astronomy) was created during the Ninth Pass when Wansor, a Master of the Smithcraft, began his research into local celestial bodies. His work was influential to the major events of the Pass.
The crafts all use the same hierarchy. Everyone in each craft begins as an apprentice, usually from age 12 to 18, then becomes a journeyman (18 to 30), and then, with a great deal of hard work and dedication, possibly a Master (30+). Not everyone makes it to Master status, and some leave before even Journeyman. Such a step from apprentice to journeyman is called 'walking the tables', based on the custom that apprentices and journeymen eat at different tables at a crafthall. The craft rank of and hold they are beholden to are indicated by complicated knots which are worn on the shoulder.
The crafthalls are located near or in the Major Holds. For example, the Harper Hall and Healer Hall of the Northern Continent are both located in Fort Hold. At least some crafts have local crafthalls at other Major Holds; for example, there is a small Weavercraft Hall at High Reaches Hold, as well as a branch of the Healer Hall in South Telgar Hold.
The leaders of the Halls are called Mastercrafters, for example, the Masterharper is the head of the entire Harper Hall, and is not to be confused with a Master Harper, of which there may be several.
These are the people who take tradeable goods to less well off holds, and those people who often cannot reach a Gather. It is these isolated holders that need the traders and their trains of goods to keep them equipped with flamethrowers and farming equipment from the Crafthalls. Traders usually visit those holds that have few or no marks and so take produce instead. It is very rare that a trader will carry perishable goods that can be found somewhere else such as grain or culled animals. The only way this will happen is if the good in question is local and/or exotic and will be highly valued by those with more marks in the larger holds.
Another way the traders serve the rest of Pern is by allowing Craft Journeymen or Masters to travel with them so that these talented men and women do not have to take the long and sometimes dangerous journey by themselves.
Pern's currency is known as the Mark. Marks are circulated in the form of coins made of wood, apparently as a fiat currency (though, due to Thread, wood has traditionally been a scare resource during most of Pern's history), whose value is set by a meeting of the political and economic leaders of the planet, apparently as a command economy. The coins occur in the denominations 1⁄32, 1⁄16, 1⁄8, ¼, ½, 1, 2, 5, and 10 marks, with a few 100-mark coins for very large transactions.
All the coins are the same size, denominations being indicated by a stamped number. If the number has a line above it, then it represents a unit fraction (that is, 32 with a line above would be 1⁄32), whereas a line below the number indicates an integer. The ½ and 2 mark coins are the only ones that could be potentially confused.
Every craft produces its own marks, and the supply is kept constant, new marks only being produced to replace old ones.
One mark can buy you 16 loaves of bread, a plain leather belt, 192 bubbly pies, a plain shirt, a small knife, an apprentice made pipe, Two sacks of Cromcoal, a whetstone, 1/8 of a bovine herdbeast.