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Life at Igen

In form and function, the Igen Weyr of the early 12th Pass is a rather remarkable Weyr. It has been the outcast Weyr of the Northern Continent for quite some time: once for the incompetence of its leadership, and now for the unsettling radicalism flourishing there. Igen is a lot of things: seedy, strange, tense, political. The one thing it isn't, though, is dull.


The Old Weyr: Dragonrider's Abode

Igen Weyr life can be broadly divided between the Weyr and the Bazaar. The Weyr proper functions mostly along the traditional lines: it is hierarchical and communitarian, set within a maze of caverns carved deep into the sides of an extinct volcano. The non-rider Weyrfolk are under the jurisdiction of the goldriders and head(wo)man's staff, while the rider wings are under the jurisdiction of the Weyrleader and his Weyrsecond. While rank carries privileges, the Weyr generally tends to share and share alike: if you share in their labors, you share in their riches.

Food and supplies are rarely fancy for those in the lower ranks, for Igen is not tithed to by especially wealthy Holds and Halls - but they're good and serviceable. Peace and order tend to carry the day within its rugged old caverns. The only thing Igen Weyr does not directly supply to those who serve it is shelter within its cavern complex: a long-ago cave-in severely limited the useable parts of the inner caverns, so the Weyr's non-rider workers are housed in the New Weyr's terraces alongside a goodly portion of the Bazaarfolk. The riders, naturally, live high above it all in their own private weyrs.

Owing to the influx of Oldtimers from the 10th Interval, the Weyr has undergone a rapid political upheaval amongst its rider population that is still far from settling. The two greatest hot button issues are rider gender and dragon color. Traditional Nowtimer mores maintain that girls should Stand exclusively for gold eggs; the Oldtimers, from pre-Comet Pern, maintain that women are as effective on fighting dragons as men. Amongst the Nowtimers, positions of authority have traditionally been almost exclusively the domain of bronzeriders; the Oldtimers claim that a dragon's hide says nothing about rider merit. Some Nowtimers have come 'round to the Oldtimer way of doing things, and a few Oldtimers find something to like in the rigid traditions of their Nowtimer neighbors. But most have remained loyal to their own ways, and the Weyr has a tension-filled political atmosphere as a result.

The New Weyr: Bustling Bazaarfolk

The Bazaar is a different beast entirely, and to some decree it is unique to Igen. Established gradually over the course of the past four centuries, the Bazaar sprawls over a previously unused section of the Weyr's central bowl. Instead of the usual cavern complex, the Bazaar consists of a thick maze of adobe buildings, tents, and caravans, ranging from elaborate multi-storied structures to the rudest of hovels.

The business of the Bazaar is business. What's taken root here is a sort of proto-capitalism, with buyers and sellers (some Craft- or Hold-aligned, some not) exchanging goods and services. (From the perspective of many Pernese, the Bazaar amounts to a sort of permanently established Gather.) A wide array of goods are available here, from the practical to the luxurious.

This comes about because Igen Weyr happens to be a convenient junction point between all the main Trader routes that ply the south-central region of the Northern Continent - and also because Igen Weyr has been unusually tolerant of allowing Traders to settle in their midst. Most of the established Bazaarfolk families are related to Trader caravans, and both Bazaarfolk and their Trader kin speak the same language: the language of trade, wealth, and calculated risk.

The Bazaar, unlike the Weyr, is not collectivist. Some Bazaarfolk are rich, and some are very, very poor, and this is determined by connections, skill, and luck, rather than a clear hierarchy. Resources, rather than rank, determine whether you bed down in a dirty corner or if you have a spacious room of one's own. To some Pernese, this is exciting: to others, it's so foreign as to be incredibly terrifying. The one thing even the poorest Bazaar worker won't do is starve: if unable to afford Bazaar food, they are always able to walk across the Bowl to the Lower Caverns, where they will inevitably be fed. (Though they might have to work for it.)

Officially, the Bazaar is entirely at the whims of the Weyr leadership: after all, it's Weyr land they're living on. Unofficially… well, it's complicated. The New Weyr is a far livelier and more populous place than the stately Old Weyr, and the Weyrwomen and Weyrleaders step lightly with the old merchant families that hold sway there. The Bazaar is also richer - though how this will shake out after turns of Pass-level tithing and competent Weyr management is anyone's guess.

Holds and Halls in the Igen Coverage Area

Major Holds: Keroon Hold
Notable Minor Holds:

  • Southern Telgar
  • Plains Hold (in northern Keroon)
  • Moreta Hold (in the Keroon Heights, and now named for its most famous resident)
  • Igen River Hold (the closest hold to the Weyr, about thirty miles), Lost Hold (in central Keroon), Red Butte Hold (at the foot of the famous landmark)
  • Vtol Swamp Hold (at the head of the Igen River delta).
  • Kurkar Hold (once called the Underground)

Notable Craft Halls:

  • Tannercraft Hall (moved from its 10th Interval location, after comet damage)
  • Herder Hall in Keroon.

Igen Hold itself is not technically in Igen Weyr's coverage area, but marks the southern boundary. In practice, it's traditional for Igen to assist Ista in mopping up over the Hold and Lord Igen is an important political figure, and Igen Weyr has informal relationships with many places in southern Igen, like Katz Field and Igen Sea Hold.

Population

In terms of fighting force, Igen is the smallest Weyr: it houses about 300 dragons at peak capacity. With the replenishment provided by Oldtimer dragons (and two fertile Oldtimer golds), the Weyr is now sitting comfortably on the higher end of the mid-200s.

The dragon population is always in flux. While Igen has a relatively small gold contingent (it only has four weyrs even large enough to house a full-grown queen), Pass golds have a clutch about once every 18 months, and these clutches are typically between 30 - 50 eggs: the dragons that hatch must eventually be integrated into the main fighting force. Because of its political situation, Igen sees substantial immigration and emigration. There has been a gradual trickle of conservative Nowtimers leaving the Weyr, to be replaced by progressive incomers unwelcome at other Weyrs. On the other hand, some of the progressive Oldtimers end up transferring out as well: these riders almost invariably go to the other Oldtimer citadel, Southern Weyr, though Telgar and Ista have seen a few transfers as well.

Igen has an unusually large non-rider population. The New Weyr has permanently housed over a thousand for turns, with the population seasonally swelling as Traders ply their routes. This is very unusual, and means that Igen manages to have half the draconic population of Benden, but a larger overall census. The numbers have recently started swelling with Holdless refugees.

Noteworthy groups in the general Igen Area include Traders (the most dramatic being those who traverse the Central Desert sands), the nomadic herders of South Telgar steppe and the sedentary herders of Keroon prairie, and Igen River's bank farmers and fisherfolk.

Physical Area

Geography

Igen Weyr is the southernmost of the two Weyrs located in the Central Range, a few hundred miles south of Telgar Weyr. Forested Lemos is to its northeast, prairie Telgar is to its northwest, with the Central Desert (and Igen Hold) to its south, and prairie Keroon to the southeast. The Igen River, Pern's largest, is fairly close - about forty miles to the east, and just visible from the Star Stones. Routine rain cycles far to the north and the influence of tides in the wide southern delta make the Igen a (relatively) predictable and exceptionally fertile flooder, leading to lush farming along the banks and rich fishing in the tidal swamps.

The Weyr itself is located in an area of high altitude desert: rain comes rarely due to a mix of unfavorable air currents and mountainous rain shadows. The Central Range's foothills meander into grassy steppes to the west, but level out quite quickly to the east into the Igen River's lush floodplain. The vast majority of the area's population lives in three different regions: herders on the Southern Telgar steppes and in Keroon's prairies, farmers in the Igen floodplain.

Igen Weyr's coverage area includes northern Igen (stopping at the Hold itself), southern Telgar, and all of Keroon. Roughly a third of Igen's total coverage area requires little or no Thread protection, owing to little vegetation.

Climate

Spring: The start of the Pernese turn is warm and windy, with rare bursts of intense heat and occasional showers. Around the Igen River, early spring is marked by the turnly inundation as snow melts further north and the last dredges of the winter monsoon season swell the already swollen waterway. Once the water recedes, the riverbanks begin an intense period of growth. Directly around the Weyr, and further to the west, late spring brings climbing temperatures and an end to the monsoon rains. This is the end of the Trading season; most caravans try to finish up their business and find somewhere to hole up before summer strikes, or restrict their routes to the riverbank.

Summer: HOT. HOT HOT HOT. This is the weather Igen is infamous for: even at the Weyr's elevation, daytime temperatures can rise to painful heights. Sandstorms are the only storms on the horizon. Summer is the 'dead' season in Igen, when everyone avoids going outside in the heat of the day and trade grinds to a crawl.

Autumn: As the temperatures begin to drop, the Igen region comes alive again. This period, between the spring flooding, summer heat, and winter wet, is the golden season for Igen's Traders. Autumn is often quite windy, however, and this is the season most prone to Igen's infamous sandstorms.

Winter: Surprisingly cool, surprisingly wet. The Nerati monsoons are at their peak in this season, and Igen mops up the dregs in the form of sudden showers and steady drizzles. From a purely aesthetic viewpoint, winter is the most beautiful season in Igen, as rain makes the desert bloom. Winter nights are infamously chilly, and frost frequently forms in the Weyr's upper heights. Occasionally, Igen gets snow; rarely, it sticks for a day or two.

Clothing

First and foremost: you're gonna need a hat.

Igen's extreme climate poses a set of peculiar sartorial challenges. Igenites must account not only for the harsh temperatures of midday but the chilly temperatures of midnight, while coping with a blistering amount of sunlight, all while additionally dealing with bursts of harsh, gritty wind. During the winter months, it is fully possible for an unwary idiot to get heatstroke and hypothermia… on the same day.

The result is that Igenites favor loose, concealing clothing, with hats (featuring neck covering flaps) or headscarves borderline mandatory while out of doors. Layered clothing is normal, with cloaks and jackets donned at night and shed during the heat of the day. Veils are commonplace outdoor clothing for both men and women, due to the benefits of keeping grit away from the mouth and nose, as well as providing a layer of protection for the delicate skin of the face.

These necessary fashions are factored into flight leathers as well: Igen riders' leathers are typically designed in easily shed layers, and the veils shielding the parts of the face normal flight helmets leave exposed can give them a somewhat unsettling appearance.

For Oldtimers, an additional challenge will be the simple reality of sartorial change. Pernese fashion in the 12th Pass more closely resembles medieval attire: hose and breeches, gowns and kirtles, tunics, boots and slippers. While trousers are starting to take hold as a fashion item with some of the Nowtimer men, Oldtimer women continue to run into grief for wearing trousers.

Clothing Suggestions and Trends:
  • Men: loose tunics; close-tailored breeches; tall boots. Facial hair is popular, and a bearded chin is a common sight.
  • Women: intricately embroidered headscarves; kirtles; bright colors. Long hair in elaborate styles is common. Perfumes are popular with those who can afford them.
  • For everybody: the ancient superstition about the color green has had a major resurgence. Most Nowtimers won't wear it, because it's extremely unlucky.


Assorted Other Theme Info

Color Hierarchy

Most Pernese Weyrs of Nowtime abide by strict color hierarchies amongst their dragonriders. Gold and bronzeriders are on top, brownriders assist, blue and greenriders follow orders.

Igen used to abide by the same rules. The arrival of the Oldtimers brought about a rapid change in Igen's social order, and one of the issues the Oldtimers hold dear are the rights of chromatic riders, whom they typically maintain ought to be eligible for any role in the hierarchy save Weyrwoman and Weyrleader. Through social pressure and political trickery, the Oldtimer contingent and their Nowtimer allies have managed to gain authorization for chromatic-led, progressive-leaning Arroyo.

Gender

Amongst Nowtimers, conservative gender norms are the order of the day. Girls start being married off as young as sixteen (although marriage earlier than this is frowned upon), and are expected to be obedient, fertile wives. Boys are expected to grow up to be manly providers and protectors. Most crafts discourage female apprenticeship, except in appropriately 'feminine' fields. One of the few positions of real power open to a woman is goldrider - and even there, most goldriders in most Weyrs are closer to figureheads than real power brokers.

Oldtimers, though, come from an era when women were routinely part of the uppermost echelons of power, and they've come out swinging against the status quo. Through their influence, female riders are (more or less) welcome in Igen, and the place is increasingly attractive to female Crafters, Traders and Holders looking for more equal opportunities.

Igen and Southern are the only Weyrs on the planet that permit girls to Stand for non-gold clutches. All other Weyrs consider female chromatic riders aberrations.

Marks and Barter

Please bear in mind that Pern is a largely cash-free society. Most transactions are handled strictly as barter: goods for goods, or goods for services! A limited number of marks are minted every turn, and the number is insufficient to serve every transaction. While Igen does have a larger number of marks floating around than usual, even in the Bazaar the majority of people barter.

A single mark is quite a lot of money, and a regular laborer might make that amount of money only over the course of a few months. If transactions are conducted in marks, it's usually in mark percentages. (They range from 1/2 marks all the way down to 1/16ths.)

Also note that mark transactions aren't as straightforward as paying for something in currency in real life. Marks have different trade values based on who mints them, and are reflective of the fortunes of their makers. One turn, a Smith mark might be worth 3/4ths of a Farmer mark; the next turn, if Smith's fortunes are on the rise and Farmer's are on the decline, this may be the other way around. The precise trading rates are determined once a turn at a Conclave.

Don't be afraid to just handwave this in RP! No one is going to mock you for being vague on how your character paid for what they bought, as long as it's plausible that they could buy it.

Hierarchy

It's worth bearing in mind that hierarchy is central to Pernese culture: they literally wear their ranks on their shoulders! It's equally worth bearing in mind that Igen features certain ambiguities with rank and hierarchy that are found nowhere else on the planet.

In general, remember that it is a terrible, terrible idea to deliberately antagonize anyone who outranks you, even if they are not in your own hierarchy. Rank-defying badasses don't strike the Pernese as cool: they strike them as idiots. If playing one, be prepared for the consequences!

If you are a rider: You answer first and foremost to the Weyrleader, and then to the Weyrsecond, and then to your Wingleader, and then to your Wingsecond. You are expected to show appropriate respect to the Weyrwomen, the Weyrlingmaster, the Head(wo)man (and their staff) and rankers from Hold, Hall, and Caravan, and you'll (generally) follow their orders when on their turf… but you don't answer to them, you answer to those in your own line of command.

Note that riders salute those higher up the chain. They're taught how to do it properly as weyrlings.

Riders can get away with a fair bit of strutting towards non-riders, especially at the start of a Pass… at least if they are not non-riders of substantial rank. 'Can get away with' does not mean 'encouraged' - it's just that many non-riders hesitate to complain.

If you are a non-rider: You answer first and foremost to the Senior Weyrwoman, and then the Junior Weyrwomen, and then the Head(wo)man, and then the Head(wo)man's staff. Your circumstances are the mirror image of a rider's: you should show appropriate respect and obedience to the Weyrleader's chain of command, but you ultimately answer to the Weyrwomen.

If you are a Crafter, you answer to both the Weyrwomen and to those in your own hierarchy.

The Bazaar is somewhat ambiguous. As non-riders, they officially answer to the goldriders, and most Bazaarfolk have more or less the same official rank. Unofficially, wealthier and more influential Bazaarfolk may hold a considerable degree of sway, and may be treated with more respect than their spot on the hierarchy would merit. This ambiguity is weird as hell to most Pernese. Some people will find it fascinating; some people will be horrified by it.

Crime and Punishment

Let's not beat around the bush: Igen Weyr has a fair bit of crime. Or (to be precise) it has a lot of crime in the Bazaar, and a moderate amount of spillover onto rider turf. This is mostly theft and vandalizing, but Igen plays home to at least a few murders every turn, to say nothing of a host of other bad behaviors. It's a seedy place.

Criminal activity is fair game for PC characters at Igen! However, PLEASE make sure to be communicating opening with your potential victims before your character makes their move.

While Igen's guard is moderately more competent than they were before the Oldtimers arrived, they're still not GREAT. They're understaffed and under-equipped to deal with volume. And they've been bad at their jobs for so long that Igenites still struggle to take them seriously.

Punishments for criminal activity are generally doled out by those who outrank the perpetrator in their own chain of command. Pernese law code is not terribly elaborate, but in ambiguous legal situations Harpers can serve as advocates and legal experts.

Exile and execution both require consensus votes from the Weyr Council. (The uppermost ranking members of the Weyr.) These punishments are reserved for the most grievous crimes. With the Pass upon them, execution takes a particularly grisly form: it's traditional practice to stake the condemned out in an unprotected area during Threadfall.