Cultures of the Weyrs of Pern

Bonus XP Entry IV

Benden Weyr

Benden Weyr is defined by a long and proud military tradition similar to that of the United States Marine Corps (USMC).

This was exemplified when Benden Weyr sent all of Alpha Wing, led by Wingleader G’law of bronze Volkath, to help fight Thread in High Reaches territory.

“With due respect, sir, we came to fight.  We refuse to accept your sloppy seconds. Alpha Wing!” “Hooah!”

They fight for honor and for esprit de corps.

With over 200 dragons and several bronzes, there are enough dragons that they can form real factions and rivalries.

These 200+ dragons allow Benden to field two fully-staffed Flights plus a reserve Wing.

This is why their dragonriders aren’t as afraid of Threadfall, and why pound-for-pound they’re not as capable combat riders as ones from understaffed Weyrs like Telgar and Ista.

Benden Weyr is run like a well-organized military base because of the number of people who are constantly coming and going. They really don’t have a choice.
Air traffic control is a strict necessity here, not just a tradition like at Ista Weyr.

Because of the large number of dragonriders and support staff who call Benden Weyr home, people naturally break into cliques and friend groups.

Leadership seems very distant; N’lan once commented that he suspected that Weyrwoman Shanira probably barely knew his name, and he is a respected brown rider – but not a Wingleader or Wingsecond.

Benden treats its weyrfolk with detached professional respect, in keeping with their strong military tradition.

Benden generally has cordial relations with the Holds and Halls, again befitting their honorable military tradition.

Benden honors tradition, but only to a point.  Former Weyrleader G’faen of bronze Jerosith wanted to continue ancient traditions even in the face of changing times (end of a Long Interval), and was replaced at the will of the Weyr in Spring of 1,255 by R’mar of Bronze Kaideth because R’mar wanted the Weyr to serve Hold and Hall to justify their ongoing high cost.  R’mar had to adapt quickly when it was announced that Pern was entering the Fourth Pass.

In Benden territory, it is a great honor to be chosen to Stand the Sands. Candidates who fail to Impress could return home, but many choose not to – and instead become the next generation of weyrfolk.

Fort Weyr

Fort Weyr was the first Weyr, and therefore places great stock in its ancient history and traditions. In fact, Fort Weyr’s traditions are the default for all other Weyrs because they inherited their first dragonriders – and their traditions – from Fort.

If Benden Weyr is the USMC, then Fort Weyr is the United States Army. They have a little less esprit de corps and more of a sense of being highly-trained professionals doing their job. While Benden Weyr fights for honor, Fort Weyr fights for duty.

K’brin has spent little time at Fort Weyr, but one can assume that some aspects will be similar at Benden Weyr due to necessity.

Fort Weyr is large enough to field two fully-staffed Flights, which means that their dragonriders aren’t as afraid of Threadfall. It also means that air traffic control is a necessity, and that cliques and friend groups can form.

Also like at Benden Weyr, leadership will be somewhat distant from the rank and file out of necessity.

Because of Fort Weyr’s professional military manor, it is safe to assume that – yet again like Benden – it treats its weyrfolk and support staff with respect, although mingling between the two groups may be more common due to less formality (speculation on K’brin’s part).

Fort Weyr is known for its good relations with the Holds and Halls in its territory, some of the most respected (Healer Hall) and influential (Harper Hall) in all of Pern.

Being chosen to Stand the Sands is a great honor there, and candidates are given the choice to remain at Fort Weyr or return home (like Tumar) if they fail to Impress.

Tattoos, sometimes large and elaborate, are common forms of self-expression here.

High Reaches Weyr

High Reaches is the only Weyr that we haven’t seen in the Steel and Flame campaign, but we do know some details.

It is reported as being very traditional, and its territory is especially hard to cover.

K’brin has been told that High Reaches Weyr flies more night missions than any other Weyr except Telgar.

Through M’din’s reactions, we know that High Reaches Weyr doesn’t believe in recruiting Candidates by force (M’din referred to this as “stealing children”) and they obviously believe in seducing Hold and Lower Cavern women instead of just taking what they want.

Weyrleader J’lared had sent a letter with M’din praising his honor, loyalty, and steadfastness – so we know that he values these traits highly.

And High Reaches Weyr is known for being rabidly loyal to him. J’lared was also surprisingly charismatic and approachable despite the fact that he was built like The Rock, reinforcing the fact that High Reaches Weyr is definitely not controlled through fear.

M’din has been excited about visiting Holds, particularly those in his Weyr’s territory, since they’re often big fans of dragonriders. This tells us that relations between High Reaches Weyr and the Halls and Holds in its territory must be very friendly.

M’din was also friendly and not standoffish toward the Lower Cavern staff since the first day he arrived at Ista Weyr, telling us that relations between dragonriders and Lower Caverns staff at High Reaches Hold must be fairly cordial.

Igen Weyr

Igen Weyr’s territory is harsh and unforgiving, and so are the men who live there. The dragonmen who are chosen from their ranks are no different.

B’dir told K’brin that dragonriders of Igen Weyr were almost as likely to get into an honor duel as those of Telgar Weyr, but were generally a little more pragmatic and level-headed.

The dragonriders of Igen Weyr are known to be practical and direct on one hand, and philosophical on the other. Their harsh land has bred an extremely pragmatic people who place a high value on individuality and self-reliance.

K’brin has been told that strong loyalties often form early here and are slow to change, leading to more rivalries and conflicts than at other Weyrs.

‘Mala’s comments paint a very grim picture of relations between Igen Weyr and the Holds and Halls in its territory. She pointed out that the Weyr is surrounded by unforgiving desert with a single trade road cut through it, which is the way they like it – so they can see trouble coming from a distance.

Igen Weyr is structured architecturally and socially so that dragonriders and Weyrfolk do not have to interact directly with each other as much as at Ista Weyr. When they do interact, it’s governed by time-honored and traditional roles.

Speaking very generally, Igen Weyr does not like change.

Igen Weyr cares more about bloodlines than any other Weyr, and it is not unusual for mothers to take a more direct hand in the upbringing of their children.

Being chosen to Stand the Sands is viewed as a high honor in Igen Territory, even if the Weyr and its dragonriders are viewed with a combination of awe and trepidation. Candidates who fail to Impress are assigned crafts.  Sending failed Candidates back home is viewed as something of an insult.

The power struggle between queen dragons at Igen Weyr begins the moment a new queen is hatched. Unlike most other Weyrs, which have an orderly succession of power, at Ista Weyr the junior queen rider takes over the moment she gains enough political power among the bronze riders. Queen riders here seldom live to old age.

Igen Weyr is seemingly unique in that it has five queen’s weyrs. This is extremely curious because even having three queen dragons in the same Weyr is challenging at times. K’brin secretly wonders if this is because Igen Weyr needs to keep more gold eggs on the sand to account to attrition through infighting.

Curiously, there are more Harpers posted to Igen Weyr than any other because music is so popular.

Ista Weyr

Ista Weyr is one of the youngest (5th of 6) of the Weyrs and still the smallest in population.

Instead of a military tradition, Ista Weyr has inherited a strong measure of the tribal culture of Big Island.

The dragonriders of Ista Weyr are warriors, not soldiers like at Benden and Fort Weyrs. If Benden Weyr fights for honor and Fort Weyr fights for duty, then Ista Weyr fights for family.

This seeming lack of military structure and discipline can be off-putting to dragonriders from more traditional Weyrs, especially Fort and Benden. It took L’nos and T’grim a while to figure out that Ista Weyr isn’t chaotic or lackadaisical. Instead, it is staffed with trained warriors who go about their jobs without the need for regular supervision or comment by leadership.

Ista Weyr’s dragonrider population is still so low that everyone knows just about everyone else – at least on sight, if not by name. There really isn’t a large enough population to support many cliques, much less factions, although this is slowly changing as more clutches are hatched beneath the baleful eye of the Red Star.

Weyrleader G’mar’s very hands-off leadership approach is well-suited to Ista Weyr. The entire Weyr functions like a very large family, with Weyrleader G’mar and Weyrwoman Daena at its head.

The bonds of family between those who remained at Ista Weyr while it was shutting down are especially strong.

For years, Weyrwoman Daena suffered terrible guilt over her and her dragon’s inability to bear children –  the most important duty of Weyrwomen and their gold dragons.

Between this and the fact that she accidentally goaded a bronze rider into a deadly honor duel using her Talent when she was younger, she quietly suffered depression for Turns – and this was only made worse by the awful strains of combat when Threadfall returned. This changed the moment K’brin returned with his twin children of Old Ruathan blood (known for being powerful Talents, and for more queen riders than any other bloodline), Shireya and Kevlen.  Shireya can hear dragons, meaning that she is almost guaranteed to become the next Weyrwoman of Ista.

Daena instantly took to the children, openly referring to them as her grandchildren and spending an unusual amount of time with them – particularly Shireya.

When discussing the Conclave of Lord Holders, G’mar admitted that he hadn’t seen Daena so happy since Threadfall started – and probably not even for who knows how many Turns before that.

All of Ista Weyr took strongly to both of the twins, seeing them as powerful symbols of hope and continuity for the next generation.

As befitting a tribal culture, the succession of Weyrwomen at Ista Weyr follows a grandmother – mother – daughter pattern. Seniority is based on age and experience, not political power. When the time comes, the eldest Weyrwoman gracefully steps down to make way for her successor – but remains at the Weyr to quietly offer advice, and continue working, until it is time for them to go between.

Ista Weyr is known for being a very traditional Weyr, but you wouldn’t believe it based on its current leadership.
Weyrleader G’mar is surprisingly open-minded and places great trust in his subordinates to know and carry out their jobs. Weyrwoman Daena’s strong independent streak means that she does what she thinks is best, regardless of what others say – or of tradition.

Both grant K’brin an unprecedented amount of authority and leeway, and he’s probably the largest single source of change on Pern in well over a thousand Turns.

Because Ista Weyr is both small and tribal in nature, Weyrfolk are treated better there than at any other Weyr on Pern. K’brin has witnessed ground crews chew out their dragonriders, with absolutely no fear of repercussions or reprisals.

Only at Ista Weyr would a woman from the Lower Caverns dare scold the prodigal son, former Harper Master and Wingleader K’brin, into re-washing laundry that his dragon tried to turn into a nest.

One of K’brin’s many roles at Ista Weyr is playing music accompanied by his Talent to subtly improve the morale of both dragonriders and Weyrfolk alike.

Weyrleader G’mar instituted an annual holiday to honor both riders and weyrfolk who died during the previous Turn.

Ista Weyr has cordial relations with the Holds and Halls in its territory, now that Lord Renatus of Ista Hold died in the summer of 1,265. Lord Ackerley of Keroon Hold has proven to be a staunch ally, especially since K’brin Impressed.

Wingleader K’brin’s diplomatic abilities – and strategic gifts of firelizard eggs – have also been brought to bear to intentionally help improve relations between Hold and Weyr.

Candidates who fail to Impress are free to leave Ista Weyr, but many choose to stay because of the many benefits of Weyr life:  better food, clothing, and medical care; relaxed positive attitude toward sex; distant but consistent leadership; and an easygoing tribal lifestyle in a literal island paradise.

Ista Weyr is, strangely, the most egalitarian of all the Weyrs – with the closest to a 50/50 ratio of male to female riders.

Telgar Weyr

Telgar Weyr stands in stark contrast to Ista Weyr, almost its exact opposite in many ways. While Ista Weyr trains tribal warriors, Telgar Weyr raises Vikings.

They are hidebound traditionalists and quick to take offense.  Every dragonrider here, and most weyrfolk, carry a blade and are quick to defend their honor. To the death, if necessary.

It would seem strange, then, that such hidebound warriors would willingly follow a physically weak leader like D’fel. This is because, like Vikings, they respect all types of strength – including intelligence. They know that he is so smart that he sees the world very differently than they do, and they trust him to safely chart a course for Telgar Weyr into the future.

There is a huge divide between dragonriders and weyrfolk at Telgar Weyr. Weyrfolk are expected to show deference to dragonriders at all times and know that to seriously offend one may mean death on their blade a few short painful moments later. Needless to say, there are considerably fewer weyrfolk there than at Ista Weyr – and those that do live there usually interact with their dragonriders only in their time-honored professional roles.

Unlike any other Weyr, Telgar measures the performance of its weyrfolk, especially the ground crews – and posts them, to publicly reward those who perform well and shame those who do not.

Telgar Weyr recruits almost nothing but strong young boys – none older than 16 – for Impression, meaning that they have far fewer female riders than any other Weyr.

Many of the Lower Cavern staff are attractive, or at least fit, young women who also see to the dragonriders sexual needs.  Still, the extremely high ratio of men to women here made K’brin suspect that homosexuality might be more prevalent than at other Weyrs.

It is also common for dragonriders of Telgar Weyr to slip off to nearby Holds to seduce – or sometimes force themselves upon – the women there.

Powerful women, like Weyrwoman Vanoirca, are respected. Weak women are forced to conform to stronger men’s wills.

The Holds in Telgar Weyr are much more rough and tumble than those in more civilized areas, such as Fort and Benden. They raise hard men who often have at least a little bit of a might-makes-right mentality. Telgar Weyr recruits its dragonriders from these lands, so they have a similar mentality.

If the Holds balk at Telgar Weyr’s requests, then they have little hesitation about taking what they know is their right by tradition. This includes forcibly taking children to Stand the Sands.

K’brin was made painfully aware of this when T’grim pointed out that about half Faranth’s Wing saw absolutely nothing wrong with seizing Shireya and Kevlen from Ruatha Hold.

Dragonriders are expected to hunt wild game with their dragons to avoid depleting the Weyr’s stocks.  The only exceptions are those who cannot hunt for themselves, such as weyrlings and the injured.

Dragonriders are expected to be in uniforms and their dragon in tack unless resting in their private quarters.

Candidates at Telgar Weyr who fail to Impress are allowed to return home, but it is viewed as a great shame – so few choose to do so. Instead, they are usually apprenticed to other weyrfolk.

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