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Author Topic: Info Weyr Life Overview  (Read 862 times)

Offline Southern Records

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Weyr Life Overview
« on: June 12, 2017, 04:23:51 PM »
An Overview of Weyr Life

On Pern, Weyrs are the counterpoint to Holds. While primarily occupied by dragon riders, they also house a large structure of support staff that are necessary for keeping the Weyr functioning, including Crafters and skilled or general laborers. Whereas the Holdfolk made up the largest fraction of Pernese people, Weyrs typically have fewer populations and are seen as military installations rather than civilian settlements. While not all those living in a Weyr are considered military personnel, they are held to much the same standards as the Riders, just as civilians living on a base would be.

Weyrfolk are just as diverse as Holdfolk—and can include dragon riders; Crafters assigned to a Weyr; general laborers or farmers; skilled laborers with a trade not organized into a Hall; and wherhandlers. Many may hail from Holder or Crafter backgrounds before moving to the Weyr. They typically have a more liberal worldview than Holders, particularly in terms of family ties, sex, and childrearing, and are more accepting of those who fall outside heteronormative sexualities and gender roles. Bloodlines matter very little to Weyrfolk, since ranks and important positions are earned through merit rather than the circumstances of birth.

Pre-Southern Winds Weyrs & the 9th Pass
For thousands of years, Weyr life remained largely cyclical but unchanged. Those who lived in these settlements continued to train new riders, drill for Threadfall, practice both Craft and non-Craft trades, and seek out Candidates likely to Impress to dragons. Agriculture and trade were largely left to the Holds, with the Weyrs extracting a regular tithe of goods and food from those they worked to protect. During Intervals, this largely became a difficult and much more politically-charged system, since many Holders often doubted Thread would return at all and questioned why they should give resources up to the Weyrs. When the next Pass inevitably came, however, Weyrs were often inundated with a flood of goods from their constituent Holds. And regardless of the Weyrs' status as the only real "military" on the face of Pern, they did not wage war and largely collaborated with one another to ensure best practices and healthy dragon bloodlines.

While largely empty and much less populated during Intervals, Weyrs were still built with Threadfall in mind just as Holds were. Carved out of dead volcanic craters on both the Northern and Southern Continents, the bulk of weyr life took place underground and in interior tunnel systems, with riders living in weyrs open to the outside so their dragons could freely come and go.

Things looked grim at the start of the 9th Pass, with only a few Weyrs still populated by riders and dragons. Through the efforts of Benden Weyrleaders F'lar and Lessa, however, the population surged through careful dragon breeding, increased Searches, and Lessa and Ramoth going Between times to seek help from dragon riders of the past:  though it should be noted that this practice was subsequently forbidden and then forgotten after the events of the Catastrophe.

Though many of the details of AIVAS' rediscovery and the Overkill Initiative have been forgotten, most people on Pern are aware in some sense that the dragon riders had a direct hand in just how bad the Pass became. How they feel about that fact largely depends on their background. Weyrfolk, for their part, typically see it as an unintended consequence of a hopeful project rather than the direct fault or negligence of the riders themselves.

In contrast with the Holds, life in the Weyrs of Pern during the 9th Pass was fairly stable. Death was a constant presence, but it was due to Threadfall and related injuries rather than starvation, illness, or crime. As such, even though all the Weyrs but Fort ultimately fell or were abandoned as vast tracts of land became more and more difficult to defend, the riders and Weyrfolk experienced a much more structured existence under the guidance of military law. Tragedy might have been an ever-present companion, but their quality of life remained far better than that of the Holders.

Weyrfolk at Southern Winds
The population of Pern having been decimated, everyone regardless of background—Holder, Crafter, and Weyrfolk—now lives crammed together in Southern Winds Weyr:  which is much more upsetting to the Holders than Weyrfolk and like-minded Crafters. This is unfamiliar for all, since the survivors were still divided between Fort Weyr and Hold up until three turns ago. As such, the political and ideological differences between the disparate factions serves to widen the increasing divide between Weyr and Hold ways of life.

As far as most Weyrfolk are concerned, not much has changed from their lives at Fort Weyr to Southern Winds. The biggest difference they will note is the lack of space, with so many more Holders and Crafters crammed into the Weyr, and the general undercurrent of unhappiness that those individuals have for what they see as tyrannical Weyrleadership. That fact alone largely seems laughable to Weyrfolk, even to those non-riders, since as they see it, many of the Holders' problems are self-created.

Weyrfolk have always been more open-minded and accepting than Holders, but their reactions to Holders complaints are just as diverse as they are. Some will empathize with their issues, while others will may outright tell them they don't know how good they have it. If anything, particularly traditional Holders are not winning themselves many friends by sneering at Weyrfolk way of life: clan-like, blurred family structures; the communal raising of children; and the polyamorous and often queer relationships among dragonriders and non-rider weyrfolk alike. In response to these things, many Holders are becoming even more insular.

While technically speaking, all non-Riders and non-Crafters are Weyrfolk while living in the Weyr, there is a definite divide between those who hail from Fort Weyr and Fort Hold, and that division is only growing -- particularly since the more disenfranchised Holders, such as drudges or former victims of the criminal element, see the Weyr as their chance for a better life.

Craft Hall Relations
While many of the Crafters suffered alongside the Holders at Fort, not all of them did. A small population of Crafters, particularly those from Weyrfolk backgrounds, clung to that way of life instead, and thus were not as exposed to the hardships of the Pass. The Healer and Harper Hall in particular have always been relatively well off and taken care of by the Weyr. They did not experience the nasty side of survival at Fort Hold that a lot of the Holders and Crafters did unless they were a Healer or Harper stationed there, and even they they were able to retreat to the relative safety of the Weyr.

Additional Reading:
+ Factions of SWW

Walks of Life in the Weyr
Weyrfolk are just as diverse as Holders and Crafters in terms of what they may do for a living. Some possible jobs for Weyrfolk are listed below, and may be periodically updated.

Spoiler for Job Descriptions:
Creche Workers - Since riders often do not have time to raise their children themselves, especially during a Pass, Weyrs developed a Creche system to rear children as a community. Though many may volunteer their time there, and Harpers teach all children in the Weyr, there's always a group of workers who devote their time solely to the children of the Weyr. These Creche Workers are usually the nurturing sort who love children -- sometimes even having many of their own, fostering others', or adopting orphans -- and tend to their needs around the clock. While not a "skilled" labor force, they are valued for their contributions to the future of Pern.

Construction Workers & Miners - Unlike those who belong to Mine Hall, these people don’t have much specialized knowledge. They’re little more than glorified diggers and hard laborers who work to build out Weyr tunnels and keep them clear of tunnel snakes and spinners. In contrast with such workers who work in a Hold, however, those at the Weyr typically know at least how to recognize firestone, its quality, and how to work with it safely. A Craft-trained Miner will always oversee their work, but this expansion of duties became necessary during the Pass to ensure all Weyrs were running at their best.

Dragon Riders - The very reason for a Weyr's existence, more than half of the population in such a given settlement is made of those bonded to dragons. Their primary duty is always to protect the rest of Pern from Threadfall, but there are a number of sub-jobs Riders may also take up depending on experience and dragon color. They are organized in a military fashion, and thus are the 'soldiers' of the Weyr.

Spoiler for Rider Duties:
Weyrleadership - This group includes the Weyrleader and Weyrseconds, Weyrwomen, and to a lesser degree the Wingleaders at a given Weyr. The highest ranking "officers" among dragon riders, their responsibilities largely include administrative duties, disciplinary actions, and organizing the fighting Wings, as well as overseeing the other subgroups of riders.

Weyrlingmasters - While not part of the Weyr's fighting wings, the Weyrlingmaster and his Assistants are some of the most important riders in the Weyr, as they are responsible for training the next generation of riders once they've Impressed. These individuals are usually older riders with lots of experience, and must be vetted in terms of their teaching and management abilities. Though it is not required, they are often Search Riders or former Search Riders.

Candidate Masters - Likewise not part of the fighting Wings, the Candidate Master and their Assistants -- if they have any -- are responsible for training and managing rider hopefuls who have yet to Impress. Their job is to make sure that all Candidates are suitable rider material, weed out those who are too lazy or undisciplined, and keep track of which Search Riders have Searched which Candidates. They often work closely with the Weyrlingmasters.

Fighting Wings - The "enlisted" segment of dragon riders, the fighting Wings make up most of the rider population in a given Weyr. They are those who fly Threadfall shifts during the Pass and train or complete other duties together during Intervals. Wings can range from anywhere between 10 to 100 individuals, depending on who leads them and what their responsibilities are. Barring those traditionally led by Weyrleaders, 'Seconds, or Weyrwomen, the fighting Wings are typically led by a Wingleader and one or two Wingseconds. Riders in these groups are called Wingriders -- the basic rank of each rider that has graduated Weyrlinghood and has not been demoted due to a disciplinary matter.

Search Riders - While all dragons have enhanced empathetic ability -- which is what allows them to telepathically bond with riders in the first place -- some Blue dragons are gifted with a particularly strong capability that makes them suitable Search Dragons. These individuals are able to pick out those who would make good Candidates for Impression, and those with this rank are well-respected since they ensure the future of all riders. Most commonly, these riders are members of fighting Wings and Search only as an extra duty, but there are exceptions to these rules. During the Pass, these riders were also often tasked with running messages to other Weyrs or Holds while on Search duty.
 
Watch Riders - Like Search Riders, these individuals are usually Wingriders that are assigned or volunteer to take on extra responsibilities. Stationed as lookouts at the top of a Weyr's Bowl, their job was to watch for rogue Threadfall, tithe trains, and visitors to the Weyr. Currently, since there are no other settlements and Southern Winds is experiencing an Interval, Watch Dragon shifts have fallen out of use.

Weyrlings - For the two turns while their dragons mature, young riders balance their time between training and supporting older riders. This includes completing chores and other tasks such as bagging firestone for Threadfall, running messages in the Weyr, and (once their dragons can fly) providing an "elevator service" for those needing to go places inside the Weyr that cannot be accessed on foot. Once their dragons are mature, they will graduate weyrlinghood and join one of the Weyr's fighting wings.

Candidates - Candidates are those who have accepted a Search but have yet to Impress to a dragon. Their daily life is made up of a mixture of training, both physical and mental, and chores to aid the other support staff or even riders in the Weyr. During this time, they are also encouraged to pick up a trade, and many will discover they have particular talents even if they can't advance in a Craft. For those who don't Impress, it's not uncommon for them to remain in the Weyr working their particular talent or trade, or even become apprentices if they aren't too old to join a Craft.
Farmers - By and large, the Weyr farmers are just simple folk who know how to tend crops, till land, and maybe care for some of the herdbeasts that provide the Weyr with food. For most of them, their knowledge does not extend any higher than that; however, there are those among them from the fallen Beast- and Farmcraft Halls that organize the others and work to preserve Pern’s agricultural practices. Previously in Pern's history, Weyrs grew very little food themselves, instead relying on tithes from the Holds they protected. During the 9th, however, with Holds struggling to feed even their own people, the Weyrs took on a more active role in growing their own supplies. As such, since their populations were fewer, they usually had a better range and supply of food goods than many of the crippled Holds.

Harpers - During the Pass, the Weyrs only "sponsored" two Crafts -- of which Harper was one. Their protection and patronage meant that many trained in this Craft lived or worked in the Weyrs, and thus fared better than those stuck in the overcrowded, crime-ridden Holds. Their installment at the Weyrs means that most Weyr records, histories, and knowledge are better preserved than those from the Holds; additionally, as an added side effect, those who grew up in a Weyr -- especially in a Creche -- are typically better educated than those from a Hold, and more likely to know how to read and write:  even if they are a member of the unskilled labor force.

Healers - The Healer Hall was the second of only two Crafts officially "sponsored" by the Weyrs during the Pass. As such, most of those with Healer training that live in a Weyr are actually Craft-trained, either in treating humans or dragonkin. Riders may be taught basic first aid, and how to recognize injuries or sicknesses in their bondmates, but it takes a Healers' touch to treat serious Threadscore or dangerous illnesses. As such, many of those trained in Healercraft either lived or trained in a Weyr.

General Laborers & Upkeep - Unlike in a Hold, a Weyr does not have drudges. The lowest rung of Weyr society is instead simply lumped together into unskilled laborers and those tasked with upkeep; but rather than being poorly treated, or even bordering on indentured servitude, they are instead still valued and respected members of the Weyr. Many of them, while not having a formally recognized Craft or trade, fill in niche roles that are still deemed instrumental to the running of the Weyr. They just have less training than those traditionally considered “skilled”.

Kitchen Staff - While most may largely specialize in one type of cooking or food work over another, those employed in feeding the Weyr are lumped into one group. They answer directly to the Headwoman, who usually rules the kitchens with an iron fist. Unlike in the Hold, it is actually the Senior Weyrwoman who manages rationing and inventory, but the Weyr Headwoman reports directly to her and carries out her orders.

Skilled Tradespeople - Oftentimes, these people are those whose Crafthall fell during the Pass or who never had a truly organized Hall:  such as Foresters, Brewers and Vinters, and Glass-smiths. However, it can also include those who, while having learned a trade, did not learn it through sanctioned Crafthall methods and were never formally apprenticed. As such, they come from a wide range of backgrounds, industries, and skillsets.

Tanners & Seamstresses - While not officially associated with the Weaver Hall, there are many people in the Weyr who tend to the daily duties of mending bedfurs, clothes, riding leathers, and even sometimes riding straps or saddles. While most riders still make their own straps to properly fit their dragon, they often do not have time in the day-to-day -- especially during a Pass -- to tan, cut, and prepare hide for leatherworking. As such, those who are adept with shear, loom, needle, and leather are highly valued in the Weyr.

Family Units & Childrearing in the Weyr
Unlike in the more traditonally-minded Holds, marriage is almost unheard of in the Weyr. Instead, due to the nature of life there -- particularly for dragon riders -- Weyrfolk instead have a tradition known as weyrmateship. In this way, a couple may declare that they are weyrmates with one another:  devoted, loving, spouses in all senses save in terms of legal Pernese marriage. They may be monogamous, raise children together, and grow old together, and that devotion to one another is respected by others in the Weyr. But there is no ceremony associated with this phenomenon, and only rarely any kind of physical symbol meant to represent the union.

This tradition has arisen in large part due to the nature of a dragon rider's life. With dragons that may Rise or Chase for Flights, it's not uncommon for riders to have sexual relations, or even children, with those they are not actively in relationships with:  especially since there is no taboo on casual sex or children out of wedlock as there is in the Holds. So, at base, the understanding of weyrmateship is "spouses outside of Flights"; what a rider may do during a Flight is considered outside of that relationship, and is thus not a reflection of their sexual or romantic preferences.

Due to the social structure and responsibilities of riders, the traditional nuclear family present in the Holds is also largely absent from the Weyr. The children of riders are only rarely raised by their actual dragon-riding parents; they may be raised by a non-rider weyrmate, fostered out to non-riders, formally adopted, or raised in the Creche. In a sense, the entire Weyr raises children to adulthood. So while in most cases they may know who at least one of their parents is, attachments tend to be somewhat more nebulous -- which is another thing that Holders often look down on Weyrfolk for, since even non-rider Weyr residents typically pick up the same traditions as their dragon-riding counterparts.

Crime in the Weyr
Despite the dangers and frequent fatalities of nigh-constant Threadfall, life in Pern's Weyrs during the 9th Pass was drastically better than that in the Holds. Lower populations and a more monitored rationing system made for less food shortages. Official sponsorship of the Healer and Harper Halls made for better health and education. All in all, those who grew up in the Weyrs saw a drastically different side of humanity during the horrors of the Pass than the Holders did -- primarily because things were far less cutthroat, and instead more cooperative to ensure survival.

In particular, crime was almost completely unheard of in the Weyrs. Excessive drunkenness is not tolerated in riders, nor is any use of substances of other kinds -- as this can endanger dragons, fellow riders, and even a rider's own life. With no taboos on casual sex, there was no need for whoring. Strict rationing and cooperative systems meant there was no drive for underhanded dealings for food, medicine, or other goods. Gambling has ever been an acceptable pastime for off-duty riders as well, so illegal bookkeeping was also simply unnecessary.

As such, the Weyr never instituted a Peacekeeping system and does not recognize their authority. Dragon riders are disciplined by their superiors. Weyrfolk are disciplined by theirs, up to and including the Steward and Headwoman. And with harsh punishments for stepping out of line -- including lashes, hard labor, and even exile for serious enough crimes -- there were few who would risk such things. Most wouldn't even see the point. For this reason, it may often be difficult for those native to Weyrs to understand just how bad the Holds were, and may even have something of a rosy outlook or be completely unaware of the seedy underbelly to Pernese life.


Credited to SirAlahn for use on SWW, credited to SanctifiedSavage for use on SWW, credited to Inki for use on SWW, credited to Aster for use on SWW
« Last Edit: September 05, 2018, 01:57:38 PM by Southern Records »
This is the admin account for Southern Winds Weyr. All records, notes, and items of import come from here.

If you have questions, shoot us a PM @ Southern Records!

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