Newbie's Guide to Pern


Humanity escaped to the stars, and ended up getting involved in a war between two other alien races. Following that war, they needed planets to colonize. They went into the Saggitarian Sector of space, and found a habitable planet. The third world around Rukbat, Pern, was quickly surveyed and deemed an appropriate place to colonize. No one paid much attention to a satellite orbiting Pern, as it didn't appear to have any real effect on the planet below.

However, they were wrong. Very wrong. The satellite which they labeled "The Red Star" had a progressive orbit that would bring it closer to the planet for 50 consecutive years, then pulled it out of range for the next two hundred. Once in a while, there was twice as long between what became labeled as each "Pass". The doubled "Interval" was four hundred years long.

When Pern was in a Pass, matter from the satellite that had gathered around it from passing through an Oort Cloud would "rain" down on to the planet in silver strings soon named “Thread” When it was examined, it was found to contain spores that would consume any carbon-based material on contact.. Metal and stone stopped the spores, and leather and hide could delay its effects. The colonists' dreams of a carefree life on an idyllic planet were shattered.

They looked around for the answer. A small reptilian creature that they called "fire-lizards" would chew a coal-like rock and emit flame, charring the Thread into an inert ashen mess that would then float harmlessly to the floor of the planet. The other ability that fire-lizards possessed was that of “Betweening.” They could teleport from one place to another by disappearing into a pocket of void similar to the theoretical space between alternate universes. Because that space was “Between here and there”, they gave it that moniker. They befriended these creatures, learning more about them, including their penchant to stick to one owner, much like a newly hatched duckling imprints herself on the first thing she sees. They labeled this behavior “Impression”, and began to enjoy the company and help of the small creatures. However, the little creatures were too small and not sentient enough to fight for their new friends.

At first, the early Pernese cannibalized their resources to make sleds and flamethrowers to float above the land and use HNO3 (later bastardized into “Agenothree”) to char the Thread from the skies. However, that turned out to only be effective for a short period of time.


Geneticists worked with the DNA of the little fire-lizards to come up with a long-term, environmentally friendly solution. They worked tirelessly with technology given to some of their number by one of the alien races and the lead scientist, Kitti Ping, designed dragons. Large enough to carry a human on its back, sentient enough to know its role, and brave enough to complete it, the dragons were made. When they “Impressed” to a rider for the duration of that rider's life, together, rider and dragon joined with their fellows and became the planet's defense against the silver enemy.


The dragonriders developed their own culture and methods out of necessity. Every dragon hatched other than the egg-bearing golds learned to fly and flame, chewing the phosphine-bearing rock called “Firestone.” They sequestered themselves away from the rest of the society in cavern-based dwellings called “Weyrs (WEERS)”. The primary bearing dragons, the golds and bronzes, became the leaders of their Weyrs, deriving the obvious name of “Weyrleader” and “Weyrwoman.” Leadership was determined by the gold dragon. The first gold dragon to rise to mate was considered the Senior Queen, her rider the “Senior Weyrwoman” and her mate became the Weyrleader. Because of the changing needs of the Weyr, the queen's choices could change, and that could change the tenor of the Weyr overnight. However, on the whole it kept the Weyr in a healthy rhythm, and kept the most dragons in the sky.

For more information on dragon sizes and their specific roles in the Weyr and fighting Thread, please see Dragon Size Cheat Sheet

Hold, Hall and Weyr

Soon after the dragons were Impressed to their riders, another disaster struck. Their landing site on the southern continent was covered in hot lava from the nearby volcano and all of the colonists were forced to flee. They had some warning so were able to prioritize what needed to go. However, it wasn't enough time to take everything, nor was it enough to uproot the permanent structures they'd built there.

They fled to the colder, less hospitable northern continent. Thinking about their lack of resources and Thread, they made several decisions. They built homes and other kinds of buildings out of stone (since the metal on the planet wasn't very plentiful) and they developed a compact-like charter to delineate a new system of government and new roles in their suddenly agrarian society.


Holds would grow the foods and other resources needed by the Pernese, like the horse-like runners and the livestock to eat and use for clothes, hides to write on and other necessary items. There would be major Holds which would oversee smaller holds in a feudal system.

Those with specialized skills would consolidate into separate Halls of Crafters, led by Masters in their field and trained through the old Apprentice system. These Crafters would try to find ways for people to utilize their knowledge without the technology that had been stripped away. They would send Journeymen to Holds and Weyrs to practice and promote their craft.

The Weyrs would continue to protect the world from Thread. To this end, they would accept tithes from the Holds and Halls – the raw materials coming from the Holds and the finished products being made by those Crafters in that Hold or a nearby Hall.


Over time, each of the three groups became more set in their roles and began to pull against the restraints of the Charter. Holders complained about tithing to Weyrs (especially during a long Interval), Crafters tried to find ways to keep their processes and methods from their fellow crafters, and Riders lorded their positions over crafters and holders, knowing that the presence of their dragons made repercussions limited if they even happened at all.

Disagreements were dealt with inside their respective Holds, Halls and Weyrs, keeping the autonomy of each, unless the offense was so grievous that it affected everyone. When this happened, the offense would come before the Conclave. This was a consensus-based group containing the CraftMaster of each craft, the Weyrleader and Senior Weyrwoman of each Weyr, and the Lord Holder of each of the major holds. The Masterharper would preside over and facilitate the discussion.

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