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 02. The Pern Colonial Expedition, History & Setting
The Red Star
 Posted on: Jul 12 2017, 12:04 AM
238 posts | 2115 marks
written by crowfeet


Parallel Earth, Resources Negligble.

This was the name given to the third planet from the star Rukbat, located in the Sagittarian Sector--on the very edge of the territory under the jurisdiction of the Federated Sentient Planets. Discovered by the Exploration and Evaluation Corps or EEC team 200 years ago, it was determined that it had no resources that would be of any use to an advanced space-faring society like the FSP. And that could have been the end of it--

But it was a viable planet that resembled Earth in many ways, with its clean, deep oceans, clear blue skies, and green vegetation. Or rather, it looked like old Earth: an Earth before millennia of industrialization and exploitation had reduced it to a corrupt and barren planet.

A catalyst for action came in the form of a long, bitter war between the FSP and an alien race known as the Nathi. Many planets suffered bombardments and attacks, leaving their surfaces devastated by radiation--in particular, those living on Sirius III and Vega IV had to retreat to underground bunkers. It came to its eventual end, but not after leaving humanity, Earth, and its colonies scarred. With both their spirit and their planet exhausted by war, mankind was left to pick up the pieces however they could--to look for a way forward.

And some found it in Pern.

With its rich ecosystem and little to attract the interest of powerful corporations, it seemed a safe haven. It was a chance to start over--to live a simpler, more peaceful life, close to nature and far away from the corruption and greed that permeated the FSP.

Preparation for the Pern Colonial Expedition began. Five years later, the expedition was realized. Six thousand colonists on three ships--the Buenos Aires, the Bahrain, and the Yokohama--volunteered to make the long journey. Most were placed in cold sleep for the fifteen years it would take, with crew members and other important staff alternating shifts during that time. The ships were stocked not only with people, but with all plants and animals familiar and useful to the future colonists. Seeds and embryos of many species were taken along, too.

Under the careful guidance of Admiral Benden and the colony Governor Emily Boll, the colony ships arrived safely at their destination. Three potential landing sites were identified by the EEC--by the time they reached the planet, however, there was only one that proved to be suitable. Landing was established on the Southern Continent alongside the river Jordan, named for its Earth counterpart. It was close to a group of stratovolcanoes, but it was determined that volcanic activity had long ceased in the region--and with its proximity to the sea and level ground, it seemed the ideal choice.

Slowly, the Pernese settled into their new home. There was much the EEC report had not mentioned--but it proved to be just as capable as sustaining life as predicted. Landing served as the colony’s first home--it was never meant to be a permanent settlement, however. As the Pernese grew more comfortable, colonists began to claim their stakeholds and build their homes throughout Pern.

The biology team was slightly concerned to discover that there were no large herbivores--indeed, there did not seem to be any large terrestrial creatures at all. The most ubiquitous of Pern’s unique fauna were the dragonets, later dubbed firelizards. The little empathic creatures were found to be useful for a variety of tasks--carrying messages and hunting pests, for example--and their ability to teleport came as a surprise to the colonists. Yet despite these oddities, the planet seemed healthy. The strange, bare circular formations the EEC team had discovered years prior seemed to have been largely overgrown, and with time, any initial fears began to fade.

Map of Pern at the time of Landing
user posted image
(click to enlarge)

Landing, located in the Jordan Province
user posted image
The Red Star
 Posted on: Jul 17 2017, 12:24 PM
238 posts | 2115 marks
written by crowfeet


B.L. = before Landing
A.L. = after Landing

200 years B.L. - The EEC team discovers and evaluates Pern. It is determined able to support life, but it is too far out of the way to be of any real interest to the FSP.

65 years B.L. - The Nathi War begins. The FSP mobilizes for the war effort, and a draft for all individuals aged eighteen and up is implemented.

20 years B.L. - The Nathi War ends at last. Preparation and planning for the Pern Colonial Expedition begins.

15 years B.L. - The Yokohama, the Buenos Aires, and the Bahrain depart for Pern.

Landing on Pern. - All colonists initially land at one site. Over the course of the next year, they slowly begin to move out into their stakeholds they claimed.

8 years A.L. - The beginning of the First Pass. Thread falls on Pern for the first time. Paul Benden, Emily Boll, and many other members of the colony's leadership perish in the First Fall.

Year 8, Month 1 - The dragon project commences development in secret, under Kitti Ping's guidance.

Year 8, Month 3 - Kitti Ping passes away after completing the last dragon embryo. Her daughter Wind Blossom takes over the project. With its realization well under way, new Governor Silvia Tolbert announces its existence.

Year 8, Month 9 - The first dragons on Pern hatch. Eighteen healthy hatchlings bond successfully to riders.
The Red Star
 Posted on: Jul 17 2017, 03:04 PM
238 posts | 2115 marks
written by crowfeet

Setting of the First Pass

To help those who are not familiar with the setting of the First Pass, here is a brief primer on what the original intentions of the Pernese colonists were, what kind of technology they had, and how they lost it.

Why Pern?

When the EEC designated Pern as "Resources Negligble", they did not mean Pern was an entirely barren planet; they simply meant that Pern did not have enough materials that would make it worth it to invest in for a space-faring civilization. Perhaps more importantly, however, Pern was located at the very edge of the FSP's territory--it took the colonists fifteen years to reach it, after all, and most planets were not as far away as that. Thus, it simply could not be profitable.

It was for that reason the FSP agreed to turn Pern over to the expedition. It was a one-way trip: the colonists, essentially, wanted to separate themselves from the FSP, and the FSP didn't particularly care what they did.

Technology on Pern

The first colonists arrived on Pern with everything they would need to survive. They intended to separate themselves from the heavily industrialized and space-faring ways of the FSP. They did want to lead a more agrarian life. However, the Pernese never intended to go back to medieval Europe. The intention was to build a sustainable society, but with all the modern comforts they were used to--including modern medicine.

The plan was to slowly wean the Pernese of certain technologies, such as the sleds, but they had no intention of abandoning all scientific progress and development. After all, they relied heavily on bioengineering in adapting to Pern. They used various techniques to alter crops and plants to be better suited to Pernese soil, which was higher in boron content than Earth's. They likely planned to return to a technology level comparable to that of the 21st century on Earth.

However, Thread threw a wrench in these plans. The pressure of Thread meant that they needed very quickly to resort back to the space-faring technologies they had, but they had not brought anything with which to establish an industrial base to support these technologies. At this time in the RP, they are running out of fuel and supplies with which to repair the sleds--and they are not able to build new ones. As such, the technologies they brought are being used up faster than they intended.

In Dragonsdawn, another loss occurred when the volcano erupted, and Landing was subsequently evacuated and buried under ash. AIVAS, their AI system, was left behind in Landing in the mad rush North, along with many other things. The Pernese thus never intended to lose nearly as much technology as they did. Even after that, however, it took many turns for technology to degrade to the level seen in later Passes.

The volcano has not erupted yet, currently, in our timeline; it will eventually, but you can assume that for now they are still very much a technologically advanced society. Some people in the stakeholds may have chosen to lead a much simpler life, but most areas on Pern, and on Landing for certain, would have access to the advanced technologies they brought with them. In general, most aspects of Pernese life can be assumed to be reasonably similar to that of our modern Earth's; the Pernese still have advanced computer-based technology and medicine that goes beyond even what we have on Earth. Genetics and bioengineering are able to treat or even cure many conditions that we currently cannot, and there is also the technology to create artificial limbs and joints, usually from plastic, to replace those that have been lost.

That being said, some things were purposefully not brought to Pern, or made significantly more limited. The aim of the mission was to leave many Earth things behind that were the source of old conflicts, or otherwise considered unhealthy, and to return to a more sustainable, peaceful lifestyle--one more connected to nature and the real world. The following list includes things they do not have:
  • Video games/virtual reality systems
  • Personal electronic devices for entertainment/home use--no home PC's, TV's, or smartphones for the colonists; any computers or tablets are solely used for engineering work and research
  • Tobacco and other recreational substances (except alcohol)
  • Internet/Wi-Fi: the only networks in existence are those used by medical practitioners, researchers, etc. for work related purposes

Other Planets and the Nathi War

Pern is not the only colony established by humans. It is, however, very unique in the fact it is simply so distant from the rest of the FSP. It is isolated and detached from nearly everything--and while the FSP likely needed to have other agrarian colonies to grow food, they were never founded with the exact same intention Pern was. The rest of the FSP is fairly close together, and technologically advanced.

Earth is the most common home planet for those who made the journey to Pern, as all the ships left from Earth. However, a few individuals were born elsewhere, such as the Moon, First Centauri, and Altair. The following is a list of colonies your character may have come from, besides Earth:
  • The Moon
  • Altair
  • First Centauri
  • Vega IV
  • Sirius III
  • Cygnus III
  • Ceti III
(Planets with the name III seem to be a popular choice, perhaps due to distance from the sun.)

During the war, many colonies were hit hard. The Nathi bombarded Sirius III and Vega IV especially, and the citizens of these planets had to retreat into underground bunkers to escape the devastation and radiation inflicted on their planets' surfaces. First Centauri was besieged, and Governor Emily Boll was chosen for the expedition partly because of her experience from leading the colony during a time of scarcity.

Many older individuals who joined the Pern expedition are war survivors. The war ended around five years before the expedition was launched, however, and individuals under the age of thirty likely would not have seen actual combat, unless their home planet was on the front lines. In Dragonsdawn, Sallah Telgar is presumed to be in her late twenties, and she had just completed her training as a sled pilot when the war ended. She gained experience and skill for the expedition in the next few years that followed, where she assisted with mapping devastated areas and reconnaissance.

Professions on Pern

You can assume that any sort of profession you'd see on modern Earth was brought to Pern, and is still needed there. The colonists did bring some military with them, though not too many; these are the sled pilots, the captains of the ships, and the late Admiral Paul Benden who was in charge of them.

Leadership of the Colony

Initially, the plan was for the colonists to spread out into the stakeholds, with stakeholders being relatively autonomous organizations. However, the arrival of Thread necessitated having a centralized executive leadership that could make quick decisions. This exists in the form of a Council, which is headed by the Governor and a group of four elected council members, chosen to represent the stakeholds. There are also a number of section heads, formally appointed by the council, who report to the council members and are responsible for managing and running various departments critical to the colony.

The council members, along with the Governor, are responsible for making decisions about the colony. They are equivalent to Lord Holders in later Passes--indeed, the Council will eventually form the basis of the future system of Lord Holders and Bloodlines. The council members, including the Governor, were initially elected by the colony.

The section heads, meanwhile, are the equivalent of Mastercrafters from later Passes. They are in charge of managing and running whatever their specific department is--so the Head of Medicine acts as the head of all the doctors, and determines how the department is run. Each section head reports to the Council, presenting their needs and concerns as reports, and sometimes assisting with decision-making (though true executive power is held by the Council). The section heads are formally appointed by the Governor, though most of the time other senior members of each department hold the most sway in deciding who is the next section head.

The following is a list of of some (but not all) possible departments:
  • Medicine
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Biology
  • Genetics
  • Geology
  • Archival/Record-keeping
  • Education
The final component of the colony's leadership, though they technically have power similar to that of the section heads, are the captains of the ships. Formerly, Admiral Benden worked with Governor Emily Boll, as the head of all military operations on Pern. However, the ship captains have partially taken on his role in death; the captains are responsible for organizing the sled pilots who currently defend Landing against Thread. The role of the captains and sled pilots is in some way similar to that of the future dragonriders, though there are numerous (obvious) differences. Captains are slightly more autonomous than section heads but must report to the Council.

Religion, Culture, and Language on Pern

Religion was not brought to Pern. The colonists wanted to leave all Earth conflicts behind, and all colonists who joined the expedition would have had to agree to this. Some individuals may have retained their own personal spirituality, but Anne has specifically stated that she did not want there to be any organized religion on Pern; at First Weyr, we have no intention of changing this.

English is the language universally used by the colonists to communicate; however, it is certainly not the only language in existence. With all the nations still in existence, you can assume, too, that the unique cultures and languages do too. People would have brought their own traditions and languages with them to Pern, though everyone would be able to speak English if needed.
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