The young of Pern
So - who are they and what are they?
Candidates are people who hope to become dragon riders. Aged between 13 and 22 (they can be older if they want to be goldriders-with special permission from the BoD), they come to live in the Weyr after being Searched.
Search is generally done by blues - they seem to be best at it for some reason. All it consists of is the dragon telling its rider which young people are suitable to Impress.
Dragons know these things... although it has never yet been discovered HOW a dragon choses who it wishes it Impress.
It is a mystery to us - maybe it is affected by if you've been near the egg beforehand... maybe it is not. Maybe some people are just born in order to Impress a dragonet (this would explain those poor little Hatchlings who never Impress and die on the Hatching Grounds... their riders were not there for whatever reason... maybe they died young in some accident or other and will meet with their dragon between... no one knows...)
A fair few Candidates come from Weyrs, the ability to Impress seems to some extent to be hereditary and run down bloodlines. However, Crafters, drudges, and Holders children do Impress too. They live in the Candidate Barracks for a full Turn, and after that each sevenday before a hatching the return to the barracks. Every Hatching they have to go onto the Hatching Grounds in their white Candidate robes in the hopes a dragon will pick them.
Some never do get picked by dragons, and go on to take some other job around the Weyr. Some get picked on their first Hatching, and some not 'til their seventh or eighth. Again - no one knows why this is. If and when they do Impress they become Weyrlings, and go to live in the Weyrling Barracks..
Weyrlings are young dragonriders, dragonriders in training. They come under the authority of the WeyrlingMaster and the Assistant WeyrlingMasters who train them and make sure they don't get in trouble if they can help it (or at least that's the idea!)
They have to learn many things in training, how to work together as a team, to be trained up to be totally fit, to read and write if they don't already know (dragonriders MUST be literate and all Candidates will have lessons in this as well), to fly, to flame and to go between.
Weyrling training takes about 18 months, and then they are full dragonriders, although Weyrlings under 16 may have to fly in a Weyrlings wing or the Queens Wing until they reach that age.
WeyrBrats and HoldBrats
The real babies of the lot. These are the children of Pern - a HoldBrat is a child of the Hold, and a WeyrBrat is... you guessed it, a child of the Weyr.
WeyrBrats, more than HoldBrats tend to stick together and learn to cope on their own. Dragonriders have a tendency not to make good parents, they're so busy fighting Thread that them giving a commitment to anything else is dodgy.
Sure, there are good dragonrider parents, who mother their kids and keep an eye on them every hour of the day, but there are also parents who consider that once a kid's old enough it can be given mealtimes and bedtimes and where to find them if you need them and pretty much left to get on with it.
Because of the friendships that grow, older kids "mother" younger kids and pecking orders are established. If they get in major trouble - and every so often they do - then parents are called on by whoever catches them at it.
Teaching is given by Harpers, the teachers of Pern. Of course some dragonrider parents realise they will never make good parents and send their kids to be fostered elsewhere, but most raise them in the Weyr Creche- a large, well organized and well run place within a Weyr that is basically like an orphanage of sorts. Many dragonrider parents let the Weyr Creche raise their children while keeping an eye on them from time to time.
Fostering however is a common practice on Pern, it means the gene pool doesn't get too small in Weyrs, Holds and Halls and that most children (never say all, there will always be exceptions ESPECIALLY in an rpg where we all love the melodrama) are wanted children.
HoldBrats have pretty much the same deal, except of course they live in a Hold not a Weyr, so they aren't side by side with dragons all the time and less of them grow up certain they're going to be a dragonrider when they're old enough. (Not that they don't WANT to, they're just not so certain of it)
A fair few HoldBrats also grow up knowing that they're going to inherit their parents Hold when they're old enough and so they learn about land, economics and the rest of it. Again, they are taught by Harpers.
A favourite sport with both HoldBrats and WeyrBrats is hookball, which I figure is pretty much like football - of course I could be wrong. It's meant to be a game, but it can get pretty competitive... and well, rpg-wise you can see the possibilities just looming can't you?
All references to worlds and characters based on Anne McCaffrey's fiction are copyrightę Anne McCaffrey 1967,2005, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.
The Dragonriders of Pern« is registered U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, by Anne McCaffrey, used here with permission. Use or reproduction without a license is strictly prohibited.