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Old Apr 20 2012, 01:32 AM   #1
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Default What is the tithe rate?

"Tithe" means a tenth, but for our purposes I assume that tithe is actually the Pernese word for tax and has nothing to do with the actual amount of tithe they are paying - the rate must be flux in order to take into account the rise and fall of dragon population during Pass and Interval.

Further, I think it's logical to assume that the Weyrwoman receives both marks and goods from her Lord Holders, with the majority of tithe coming in the form of goods. The Weyr must have some marks coming in, in order to pay for the contracted Journeymen and -women from Halls which aren't directly in their Coverage Area as well as items like peppers which apparently only grow in Boll. Presumably a canny Weyrwoman would have her Headwoman trade their excess goods, and this might be one reason why Traders would frequent a Weyr.

And don't forget: the small cotholders are also tithing to the Lord Holder for the right to farm the land.

With that all in mind, what do we think the tithe rate is like for the average Pernese? 25%? 50%? How much of their herds and grain do they keep, after-Tithe. Given how high the tithe rate is going to be during Pass, I would not be surprised to hear that continuing to collect it is the major concern of the queenriders of the Weyr outside the breeding cycle of their dragons, or that skimping it is the major crime of Pern.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 06:28 AM   #2
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"Tithe" means a tenth, but for our purposes I assume that tithe is actually the Pernese word for tax and has nothing to do with the actual amount of tithe they are paying - the rate must be flux in order to take into account the rise and fall of dragon population during Pass and Interval.

Further, I think it's logical to assume that the Weyrwoman receives both marks and goods from her Lord Holders, with the majority of tithe coming in the form of goods. The Weyr must have some marks coming in, in order to pay for the contracted Journeymen and -women from Halls which aren't directly in their Coverage Area as well as items like peppers which apparently only grow in Boll. Presumably a canny Weyrwoman would have her Headwoman trade their excess goods, and this might be one reason why Traders would frequent a Weyr.

And don't forget: the small cotholders are also tithing to the Lord Holder for the right to farm the land.

With that all in mind, what do we think the tithe rate is like for the average Pernese? 25%? 50%? How much of their herds and grain do they keep, after-Tithe. Given how high the tithe rate is going to be during Pass, I would not be surprised to hear that continuing to collect it is the major concern of the queenriders of the Weyr outside the breeding cycle of their dragons, or that skimping it is the major crime of Pern.
Have you been reading my mind? Okay, I think the Weyr population is going to be something like 500 riders at most, and likely something in the region of 2500 support workers. This is dwarfed by the Hold population, so even given the extra resources the Weyrs need, I think we can easily keep it within the traditional tenth. The Pernese Holders and Crafters don't have a lot of free time, and they work with very limited resources in a pastoral society. I don't think it's feasible for them to easily generate enough produce to tithe at a higher rate than that.

Aside from food, drink, fabric, furnishings, tools, marks, luxury craft goods, medicines and raw supplies of wood/metal/oil, there's also going to be cromcoal, firestone, haberdashery, dyes, kitchenware and all sorts of perishable items as well as marks. I see each major hold coordinating the tithe of their cotholds, with independent minor holds doing their own tithe separately. I also think there'd be some level of communication between headwoman/weyrwoman and the Holders, as well as the back-trading of excess resources. Because many items are seasonal, I'd expect to see several tithes a year from each Hold, spaced out in time for the Weyr's convenience so that they don't suddenly get a glut of anything all at once and starve the rest of the time. Additionally, weather conditions in the north don't really agree with northern tithe trains taking place during a Pass in the winter months - can you imagine a broken wagon wheel between Thread shelters when you're digging out snowdrifts every couple of dragonlengths, with Thread due any time? For fanfic purposes, I have the major Holds producing a tithe for the dragonriders to collect at an agreed place and time - it's in the Weyr's interests that winter tithes don't perish, after all!

The biggest tithe need, I think, is going to be livestock and fodder. 500 full-grown herdbeasts a week don't come out of nowhere. The only place I can see the tithe going above 10% is there - grazing land to feed animals destined for the Weyr, or to produce bales of hay/silage... it's not necessarily labour intensive, except for the harvesting of the grasses, so I'd suspect mostly they'd let the animals do the work of eating, and only harvest what's needed for the Weyr over the winter months. Beasts and fodder would head to the Weyr right after harvest, while the weather still allowed for large drover trains, and you'd just have to pick off wild wherries if the Weyr ran low. I think each hold would be required to supply a certain head of cattle, depending on the relative population sizes. Let's say four major holds for each Weyr, and each would need to supply, what, 6500-head of cattle to the Weyr each Turn?

Any farming experts around, who can say what kind of acreage that needs?
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Old Apr 20 2012, 10:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

Keep in mind that not all holds will tithe cattle, or at least not just cattle, for their meat - they may offer sheep, goats, donkeys, pigs, horses, or poultry as a primary or secondary meat product for human or dragon consumption. And of course different animals will have different land requirements, though some may be complementary. For example, you can usually free-range chickens in the same land that cattle or sheep graze in - they serve as pest control. Another major factor is the land quality. Rich, fertile fields will support more animals, while rockier land or shallow dirt with poor plant coverage will require a lot more acerage to support cattle or do better with animals who do well on rough forage like goats and donkeys.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 11:32 AM   #4
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

Mmm. I definitely see the Weyr getting goats - or even moorland ponies!
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Old Apr 20 2012, 12:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

I was going to say that 2500 support staff feels wrong, but I did some thumbnail math and a Weyr probably has about a thousand weyrbrats running around inside during the Pass, assuming that a Weyr has on average 3 breeding queens, who lay four clutches a turn between them of 30 eggs each, and half of the candidates the Weyr fields are weyrbrats between 12-18.

The US population under 18, according to the 2010 Census is 24%! So a Weyr population of adults probably is around 2500, if you assume the 1000 weyrbrats, and the 500 riders contributing to the genepool. It still feels like a lot, and I suspect that we might want to dig into how large hotels, cruise ships and old estates are run for a better model of how many laundresses and cooks a Weyr really needs, since a Weyr's housekeeping is going to be a closed system similar to those environments.

ETA: The problem is, as always, in how many eggs a queen lays in a Turn.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 01:20 PM   #6
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

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I was going to say that 2500 support staff feels wrong, but I did some thumbnail math and a Weyr probably has about a thousand weyrbrats running around inside during the Pass, assuming that a Weyr has on average 3 breeding queens, who lay four clutches a turn between them of 30 eggs each, and half of the candidates the Weyr fields are weyrbrats between 12-18.

The US population under 18, according to the 2010 Census is 24%! So a Weyr population of adults probably is around 2500, if you assume the 1000 weyrbrats, and the 500 riders contributing to the genepool. It still feels like a lot, and I suspect that we might want to dig into how large hotels, cruise ships and old estates are run for a better model of how many laundresses and cooks a Weyr really needs, since a Weyr's housekeeping is going to be a closed system similar to those environments.

ETA: The problem is, as always, in how many eggs a queen lays in a Turn.
I agree with your clutch numbers - 120 dragons is a fair upper limit to the number of new dragons entering the population each Turn, and there'll be a heck of a lot of die-off in training and Threadfall. Ignore that at your peril!

So, 8% of the population of the Weyr will be in the right age bracket. Except there'd be more - you're inevitably going to have a more bottom-heavy demographic pyramid thingy. Each cohort will have 6 turns in which to Impress the ~60 dragons they're assigned to. That's 360 Weyrbrats required in the age bracket, and at 8% that suggests a full population of 4500. Make the population more bottom-heavy, and have outside Searches when the Weyr is breeding at that high-end rate, and you can probably manage with the 2500 figure.

Take 1250 women, they can easily manage to produce a hundred or so new babies a year.

Ouch.

Even so, that's a heck of a lot of brats.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 01:30 PM   #7
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

Isn't it also said that the majority of (male) weyrbrats who don't Impress end up leaving the Weyr? Support staff is heavily female is the implication, but then most of a Weyr's support staff does domestics which tend not to be an honorable male domain in an agrarian society. Laundry, kitchen and janitorial are going to be your three big employers, along with the creche.

So you can adjust your 2500 to skew more female and reduce the burden on the women to produce.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 01:35 PM   #8
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

...which we know that the Weyr women have an easier time of than the Hold women anyway.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 02:23 PM   #9
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...which we know that the Weyr women have an easier time of than the Hold women anyway.
Here's a pretty interesting set of figures for the provisioning of a cruise ship for a week: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisi...cruise_ship%29

Now, we assume that Pernese don't actually consume that much due to not being, well, on a pleasure cruise, but there's some starting numbers for figuring out how much food a Weyr needs in a week.

A cow that weighs 1500 lbs sources about 800 lbs of edible meat, and let's knock down the amount of meat our weyrfolk are eating in a week. McCaffrey always depicts Pern as a full larder but our Pernese likely have diets heavy in grain and veg rather than meat. We'll say 10,000 lbs of beef, which divided out by 3,000 people is 3.3 lbs of beef a week which is very generous, and works out to 12.5 cows a week for just the Weyr's human population, 48 for a month's supply.

Now for dragons. I'm convinced that McCaffrey's math on how much the dragons are eating is wrong. A tiger eats about 10lbs a day in food in a zoo, or 30-40 pounds when the zoo feeds twice weekly and the average tiger weighs about 500 lbs. 2% of their body weight? Zoo tigers are not real active or eating for manned flight, so we should maybe round that up to 10% for dragons.

It's important to note that dragons don't weigh very much. Paleontologists estimate Hatzegopteryx to have weighed maybe 500 lbs, wingspan 36 feet, which is a nice guesstimate for a green dragon. 10% of 500 lbs is 50 lbs a day, 150 lbs a sitting if the green feeds twice a week.

So. Green dragons, the majority of the weyr, probably still eat wherries as the bulk of their diet well into the 9th Pass. They're just not large enough to justify a green slaughtering a cow, unless the smaller colors are also communal eaters.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 02:55 PM   #10
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I'm not convinced that a dragon weighs as little as that. Remember, they're telekinetic, so they don't NEED to be flightworthy working on the laws of physics alone, and torso-wise even the first pass dragons were at least equivalent to a horse in scale. I think you'd be looking at well over your figure - a round ton, minimum. [What is that in Imperial? 2200lbs-ish] Eating between 2%-10% of your body mass a day on average is between 50-200lbs a day, or 350-1500 a week, i.e. between half to two cows in either one or two weekly meals. Some of the books mention dragons eating every 4-5 days, so I'd call it a cow and a wherry a week for the smaller 9th Pass dragons, and maybe just the cow or even less way back when.

So... I think we can justify the cow a week number (if we want - or not, if we don't ), with enough wiggle room on dragon mass and metabolic rate.

Another source of wiggle room is TK power and travel between: any mental effort, especially when it involves breaking the laws of physics, should take some kind of physical toll!

That cruise ship link is both fascinating and appalling! I think if I took my monthly groceries for the family, multiplied up to a Weyr, and deducted 25% for economies of scale, I might still be nowhere near the cruise ship values...
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Old Apr 20 2012, 03:16 PM   #11
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

And I've never been convinced the dragons actually needed TK to fly, so long as we stick to feet. They've been uplifted from firelizards, and I'd be shocked if the firelizards weighed more than a couple of pounds, soaking wet. Ramoth would still be the largest aerial predator of all time and a bit farfetched, but the ground she sits on has been rapidly eroded by paleontological discoveries. This is one area where science is actually doing Anne's work favors.

They do have forelimbs and long tails, however, so maybe we should add on some weight. It's still not terribly much.

Dragons with smaller mass make more sense in terms of biology, and ecology. The Weyr needs far less resources if the dragons are on a sensible diet.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 03:41 PM   #12
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

It's not that simple. Length scales up by one factor, wing area by that factor squared, while volume and mass scale up by the same amount cubed. What works for a firelizard won't necessarily work for a dragon. Paleontology can only push things so far, before you run into physical impossibilities.

But yes - lighter weight dragons WOULD be a good thing in terms of the world-building, and I think the argument for them could definitely hold enough water for you to run with it without too much splashing... [Very tired. Metaphors are all heading for the blender.] On the flip-side, we do have dragon diets outlined fairly well in the books... and I'd rather fit a semi-sensible explanation to the canon data than come up with a better, more plausible system that didn't match the books.

I'm not familiar with Hatzegopteryx - how much is known about its flight capabilities? I'm guessing the skeletal details would be sufficient to make a good model of the musculature and work out the biomechanics from that, but was it a true flyer, or just an especially large proto-bird who found an evolutionary advantage in a big heat-sink that it could pseudo-glide with?
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Old Apr 20 2012, 03:58 PM   #13
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

I think all the Azhdarchidae (the family that includes Hatzegopteryx and Quetzelcoatl) are now known to be fliers. Some people have argued flightlessness, but through computer modeling we know now that all pterosaurs had a unique method of launching themselves into the air using their wings to kick them off and so biomechanically they would have no trouble launching.

At least one paleontologist thinks Hatzegopteryx and Quetzlcoatl are the same beastie, and that they had a global range.
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Old Apr 20 2012, 04:17 PM   #14
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Looking up references, I see that I misremember a bit of things. Wherries are 'bucks' and 'does'? Interesting. Ruth is depicted as eating three and Jaxom seems to think he's being a glutton, so perhaps Pern does work out if we're assuming wherries are similar to ostriches and emus.
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Old Apr 28 2012, 11:23 AM   #15
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Right. Triple posting in my own thread to get it going again. Let's assume that the ostrich makes a good analogue for domesticated wherries. I don't know that the author ever gives us enough detail about wherries to judge that, other than the knowledge that 'wherry' ultimately means any animal in a family of species of predatory pseudo-avians. We know they have four limbs, with the upper arms being held upright. We also know they have been domesticated and that while some species fly, the domesticated ones seem either flightless or limited to an extent that the owners can pen them without reasonable fear of escape.

An ostrich renders about 80 - 120 pounds of usable meat. (cf: two ostrich farming websites, we'll assume the folks know of what they speak.)

Ergo, Ruth is eating about 300 pounds of meat in a sitting (admittedly, before activity his rider thinks is going to be strenuous for his dragon, and Jaxom also thinks the third wherry is overkill.) Which is a bit far off from my earlier estimation, but not so far off as to be outlandish. Perhaps the dragons DO weigh more and ARE using TK support more than I would like - that is the author's presumption.

Three wherries, then, is about the amount a green would eat at a well-portioned feeding twice weekly. (She could eat more, but she wants to keep her trim figure!) That's six wherries a week per green dragon.

We'll also assume that a majority of Pern's herdbeasts are not cows, but goats and sheep. This makes a lot of sense: goats and sheep require less pasturage, and most of humanity's staple meat is - even into the 21st Century - the goat, rather than the cow. Goats and sheep render about the same amount of meat as a wherry does - 50% of the body weight, with most meat sheep and goats seeming to weigh 100-300 pounds.

So a green's meal could easily be a goat and two wherries every three days, with some fluctuation for hunger and activity levels. I would also assume that dragons eat far more offal off the beasts than humans are comfortable with, but those numbers are good enough to work on.

Half the population of dragons in a Weyr are green, we'll say 250 dragons. For a week, that's about 500 goats and 1000 wherries, just to feed the greens!

Next, to figure out how to scale the amount of food by color. If the Weyr has 500 dragons, 5 of them are queens. 45 are bronzes. (We know that in a healthy Weyr, a Weyrleader always has spare bronzeriders to serve as wingseconds and plain old wingriders. Just because you ride bronze doesn't mean you automatically rank up to wingleadership!) 250 of them are green, which leaves 200 dragons of blue and brown. More blue than brown, so 75 browns and 125 blues.

Green: One goat, two wherries (350 pds) x 2 weekly.
Blue: One goat, three wherries (450 pds) x 2 weekly.
Brown: Two goats, three wherries (600 pds) x 2 weekly.
Bronze: Three goats, three wherries OR one cow (750 pds) x 2 weekly.
Queen: One cow and a wherry. (900 lbs) x 2 weekly, maybe more if she's with clutch as the extra-large Ramoth is in Dragonflight.

Coming soon! Figuring out what that equals a herd per head for a quarterly drove!
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Old Apr 28 2012, 11:28 AM   #16
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Nice work!
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Old Apr 28 2012, 03:02 PM   #17
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Default Re: What is the tithe rate?

Green Dragons eat:
Two goats, 4 wherries a week. Eight goats, 16 wherries a month. Multiply by 250.

That's 2000 goats and 4000 wherries a month. 6000 and 12,000 wherries for a quarterly tithe.

Blue dragons eat:
Two goats, six wherries a week. Eight goats and 24 wherries a month. Multiply by 125.

That's 1000 goats and 3000 wherries a month. 3000 and 9,000 wherries for a quarterly tithe.

Brown dragons eat:
Four goats, six wherries a week. 16 goats and 24 wherries a month. Multiply by 75.

That's 1,200 goats and 1,800 wherries a month. 3,600 goats, 5,400 wherries a quarterly tithe.

Bronze dragons eat:
Six goats, six wherries a week. Or two cows. 24 goats and 24 wherries or eight cows a month. Multiply by 45.

That's 1,080 goats, 1,080 wherries or 360 cows. 3,240 goats, 3,240 wherries or 1,080 cows a quarter.

Queen dragons eat:
Two cows and two wherries a week. Eight cows and eight wherries a month. Multiply by 5.

That's 40 cows and 40 wherries a month. 120 cows and 120 wherries a quarter.

All together, the dragons of a Weyr eat, per quarter:

15,840 goats.
29,760 wherries.
AND up to 1,200 head of cattle.

Now, functionally, each Weyr is beholden to three Major Holds, the Lord Holders of which are responsible for collecting and droving the tithe to the Weyr. Assuming three holds, each hold is actually only responsible for a month of supply to the Weyr per quarter. This works out to 5,280 goats, 9,920 wherries and UP TO 400 head of cattle, just for the dragons.

Which seems like it might be a reasonable number, especially if wherries are like ostriches (or close kin, dragons) with 30 eggs in a clutch and two to three clutches a year. Wherries are easier to replace than goats, but possibly harder to feed assuming a diet of grain rather than graze. Regardless, if you're a greenrider at the Weyr, your green is never going to be permitted to have a cow. Cows are for people and metallic dragons, and you'd be silly to let her eat one as she can't possibly finish it in one go.

If I have more time today, I'll try and figure out my real question, which is how much could a single hold (let's say Ruatha) be expected to produce in a quarter and so how much is the tithe in percentage to production? But if you limit dragons to feet and limit the chromatics to goats and wherries, it starts to look far more reasonable than some of the quotes I've seen.

Also, these numbers assume 9th Pass sizes. Dragons in earlier passes would obviously be smaller and eat less.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 12:35 AM   #18
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Other than this thread by ElectricDragon (http://forums.srellim.org/showthread.php?t=4917) has anyone tried to determine the square miles size of a Major Hold's boundaries?

I am going to use food production stats from the UN for this next part, but picking an accurate country model here is key. Uruguay? Greece? Pakistan is far too large. It has to be relatively developed (Pern is not sub-Saharan Africa) and relatively similar climatically to average Northern Continent (European, hilly if not mountainous). Obviously, the closer a match we can get on landmass is key.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 06:16 AM   #19
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I note that you're using the following colour ratios - 50:25:15:9:1

Personally, I use 50% green, 30% blue, 15% brown and 5% bronze. Queens and sports/unhatched eggs are at the sub 1% level, and I usually just end up with one less green in those clutches. It's a little tweak, but it'd save you 80 goats a week (20 dragons of a different colour, bronze vs. blue weekly diet differs by 4 goats)...

Another tweak you could make is to reflect the fact that dragon's don't just eat the western world's understanding of human-usable meat. I think you could easily scale back by 25% or more to account for brains and bones and offal and feathers and suchlike.

I wonder if dragons leave a daintily untouched gall bladder behind, like cats do? Or if they tear off the wherry-quills?
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Old Apr 30 2012, 06:22 AM   #20
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Other than this thread by ElectricDragon (http://forums.srellim.org/showthread.php?t=4917) has anyone tried to determine the square miles size of a Major Hold's boundaries?

I am going to use food production stats from the UN for this next part, but picking an accurate country model here is key. Uruguay? Greece? Pakistan is far too large. It has to be relatively developed (Pern is not sub-Saharan Africa) and relatively similar climatically to average Northern Continent (European, hilly if not mountainous). Obviously, the closer a match we can get on landmass is key.
Tricky. You can't use too many intensive farming techniques. Numbers for organic farms might work well as a western-world comparison. Maybe compare and contrast Zimbabwe before and after Mugabe's upheaval of the farming culture there, to get an idea of the maximum you'd need to adjust a country's production rate to get it from intensive modern techniques to subsistence level farms, then split the difference.

I don't think it makes a great deal of sense to match the geography closely. Just pick Spain - it's got a little bit of everything, more or less. Or perhaps Chile.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 12:30 PM   #21
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Tricky. You can't use too many intensive farming techniques. Numbers for organic farms might work well as a western-world comparison. Maybe compare and contrast Zimbabwe before and after Mugabe's upheaval of the farming culture there, to get an idea of the maximum you'd need to adjust a country's production rate to get it from intensive modern techniques to subsistence level farms, then split the difference.

I don't think it makes a great deal of sense to match the geography closely. Just pick Spain - it's got a little bit of everything, more or less. Or perhaps Chile.
I'm a little leary of going too "third world" for the same reason: it isn't a good idea to use the United States or Western Europe. Pern's not so declined that it doesn't have a Farmcraft that oversees best yield techniques. Which makes sense when you consider how much meat a single cothold likely farms in order to tithe. The entire planet is organized around pumping out enough meat product to feed dragons to make life possible.

We also want to select a country that has a culture which prioritizes the goat over the cow. (By the way, goat rearing websites seem to suggest 6-10 goats per acre on just pasturage. With selective feeding, the number goes up.)

I suppose we could pick a country and find the numbers, then adjust for the arbitrary number of acres we think a Major Hold oversees. The UN wants to give us our yield in quantity by tonnes, rather than by head, but since I've already documented an average meat yield per beast, it should be fairly simple to thumbnail it.

I think you're right about the offal, but I don't know that scaling it back is all that useful. Any Weyrwoman worth her salt is going to want to have a padding there so that her dragons aren't flying malnourished and in case of disease amongst the Weyr stock. It might be relevant during a Long Interval scenario for her to know, but she's always going to request a little more than she needs for that reason.

On the other hand, adjusting the numbers for more blues is sensible, though I think the 50:25:15:10:1 ratio is more accurate to the manpower we see in the books. 50:30:15:5:1 leads to more wings with brownrider 'seconds as a necessity, and I've always felt F'nor was intended to be rare during the later passes. This is a 'more F'nor' or 'more F'lessan' question!
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Old Apr 30 2012, 12:37 PM   #22
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On the other hand, adjusting the numbers for more blues is sensible, though I think the 50:25:15:10:1 ratio is more accurate to the manpower we see in the books. 50:30:15:5:1 leads to more wings with brownrider 'seconds as a necessity, and I've always felt F'nor was intended to be rare during the later passes. This is a 'more F'nor' or 'more F'lessan' question!
Take a wing of fifty dragons, the greens and smaller/younger blues doing half shifts, and you'll have 2.5 bronzes per wing. 5 bronzes would rule out brown wingseconds, but 2.5 may not be enough. Somewhere in between is probably right
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Old Apr 30 2012, 01:07 PM   #23
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Also, I don't have any of my dragon books immediately handy, but am I right in thinking that when queens are blooding their kills for breeding, that's another 3-5 extra beasts or so at that time (and what happens to the uneaten carcasses? Do other dragons eat 'em? Or are they used for human consumption, just cutting out the bites? Or something like?)

Also, as I recall, in "Moreta" K'lon (I think his name was) mentioned in casual passing that his dragon was eating daily, and it was observed (I think) by Moreta that dragons don't eat daily. Of course it was found out that he was timing it to spend time with A'Murry as well as doing his courier jobs. So, timing it, at least, would draw more heavily on a dragon, hence his dragon (I think it was a blue?) needing to eat more.

And one more thought: as far as I know, farmers do get sports or deformed beasts: if they survive, perhaps they are kept for passing Riders? Plus, I'm sure in some of the books wild wherries are mentioned, so maybe the riders hunt the wherries to ease some of the pressure on the weyr's food animals.

Just my thoughts.

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Old Apr 30 2012, 01:32 PM   #24
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Take a wing of fifty dragons, the greens and smaller/younger blues doing half shifts, and you'll have 2.5 bronzes per wing. 5 bronzes would rule out brown wingseconds, but 2.5 may not be enough. Somewhere in between is probably right
The DLG says the max number in a wing is 33. 50 would make more sense with the shift change. OTOH, the shift change barely makes sense in the Ninth Pass except as ossified tradition, as the greens are at least the size of a First Pass queen! (This may lend more credence to your speculation that Sean is really only flying Fall over immediately settled areas, since even his bronzes should be switching out every two hours, but doesn't seem to jibe with Moreta, which has the best depictions of an average Fall in combat in the series.)

Perhaps the optimal number of bronzes is 8:1 queen. Eight is how many bronzes contest in Ramoth's first flight.

Danette: I feel like both hunting (and the possible breeding of the animals) by the Weyr should be regarded as a minor, but negligible amount off the tithe. Maybe 5%. The whole idea of the tithe is that dragonriders during 'Fall don't have to support themselves. To me, the Weyr engaging in breeding seems sensible - they've got a flock of 10 - 20,000 wherries! But we see no evidence at all that the Weyr does engage in a significant amount of breeding.

I've also long assumed that the animals that get bled for flights become that night's stew in the caverns or the long-sweep jerky ration. Waste not, want not!
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Old Apr 30 2012, 02:08 PM   #25
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I don't believe I mentioned breeding...except in reference to the holders keeping runts and sports for passing Riders...something that, considering dragonriders lost their status during the second Long Interval, was probably not at all applicable by the end of said Interval...at least until Thread started again...

So eight bronzes flew Ramoth in "Dragonflight." But remember that F'lar stated that the Weyr was understrength due to Jora not controlling Nemorth (from gorging) during her flights so she was heavy? That she sghould have been laying more than a dozen at a time? which suggests that there should have been more bronzes for the flight, at least at the start of the flight.

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Old Apr 30 2012, 02:34 PM   #26
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So eight bronzes flew Ramoth in "Dragonflight." But remember that F'lar stated that the Weyr was understrength due to Jora not controlling Nemorth (from gorging) during her flights so she was heavy? That she sghould have been laying more than a dozen at a time? which suggests that there should have been more bronzes for the flight, at least at the start of the flight.
There should also have been more queens, and blues, and browns, and greens. The whole numbers-problem scales up.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 02:54 PM   #27
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Yeah, true that, and as the dragons of Pern should have increased, so should have the Holds, which makes sense that the tithe would be a set proportion - 10% or 20%. That way, as the Hold prospered, the tithe would automatically take that into account.

As a matter of interest, what happened re: five Weyrs seemingly disappearing from the planet after the end of the 8th Pass? Was the tithe to the remaining Weyr split between all the Holds of Pern, or did the other Holds just happily carry on without havig to tithe? (which I think.)

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Old Apr 30 2012, 03:15 PM   #28
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Regarding wherries, from the appendix in Moreta:
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wherries: a type of fowl roughly resembling the domestic turkey of Earth, but about the size of an ostrich
So I'd say your sizing is good for those.

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On the other hand, adjusting the numbers for more blues is sensible, though I think the 50:25:15:10:1 ratio is more accurate to the manpower we see in the books. 50:30:15:5:1 leads to more wings with brownrider 'seconds as a necessity, and I've always felt F'nor was intended to be rare during the later passes. This is a 'more F'nor' or 'more F'lessan' question!
I've always felt that brownriders shouldn't be that uncommon as wingseconds, though perhaps rare as wingleaders. During the First Pass, at least, there were several brownriders who were wingleaders and seconds, and even a few blueriders who were wingseconds. This wasn't due to a shortage of bronzeriders - it looks like there was a 15-20% bronze population: 'twenty mature queens and well over a hundred bronzes' in Sean's speech about the new weyrs, and only twenty or twenty-six wings ( it's not entirely clear if the frequent count of twenty includes the six which are stationed outside of Fort at the time for R&R and coverage of Ierne Island.) So with 60 or so primary wing positions, and over 100 bronzes, there are still brown and blue riders in these roles.

Fast forward to the ninth pass, and you have what, 170 dragons or so that are capable of fighting fall? That makes five or six wings for seven bronzeriders to manage, so there must have been more brownriders as wingseconds. For that matter, F'lar's other wingsecond for actual wing duties is a brownrider, T'sum. In general wingseconds don't get mentioned often, with F'nor being an exception not because his dragon is brown but because of his relationship, familial and in role, to F'lar.

Anyway, I've found a ratio around 47:28:18:7 on average to work out well as a middle ground between the solid statements in the books (such as half the weyr being green) and the inferred context (bronze+brown should be fewer than blues, but still about a quarter of the weyr in order to maintain a sturdy wing presence during a full fall). Vary toward more greens and blues during interval, when they are less likely to be killed off by overflying and injuries in fall (because the books tend to represent them as being more injury-prone due to higher risk of exhaustion mid-fall), and a lighter presence during passes when the risks are greater specifically for them, and it works out well.

ETA: I started this post several hours ago, and other people have posted since. Ah well!
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Old Apr 30 2012, 03:29 PM   #29
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If I recall rightly, in several of the books wherries are mentioned as flying - didn't Piemur get a slash from a wherry's talons while getting Farli from the sand when she hatched? Also in Dragonsdawn, most wherries mentioned were flighted, plus ground-breeding wherries would have to worry about tunnel snakes eating their eggs (fire lizards had to so they surely would?) Plus, I think a pic of a winged, flight-capable wherry is in the DLG? Perhaps wherries come in both winged (mainly the smaller, but a few larger ones?) and flightless versions, which would explain different descriptions..
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Old Apr 30 2012, 03:33 PM   #30
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I would assume that domesticated wherries have been wing-clipped to keep them from flying away, or they have become so heavy compared to their wild counterparts (from steady feeding) that their wings are not able to support them for more than short flights. It is also possible that the term 'wherry' is used in the same manner as 'herdbeast', and actually covers several species that are different but serve the same purpose to the society.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 03:41 PM   #31
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I would assume that domesticated wherries have been wing-clipped to keep them from flying away, or they have become so heavy compared to their wild counterparts (from steady feeding) that their wings are not able to support them for more than short flights. It is also possible that the term 'wherry' is used in the same manner as 'herdbeast', and actually covers several species that are different but serve the same purpose to the society.
You put in better words than I could that wherry might cover more than one soecies. Plus you idea of wing-clipped wherries also works. Do you think wherries are permitted to graze, or are fed (corn or some kind of grain) ormaybe a mixture of both?

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Old Apr 30 2012, 04:01 PM   #32
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I believe wherry is the name for the entire clade. There's a domesticated type (possibly descended from the kind that picked off the chickens?) and at least a couple of wild predatory birds.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 04:20 PM   #33
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You put in better words than I could that wherry might cover more than one soecies. Plus you idea of wing-clipped wherries also works. Do you think wherries are permitted to graze, or are fed (corn or some kind of grain) ormaybe a mixture of both?
It's generally accepted that you get better quality meat from free-range animals than from strictly penned animals, so probably a combination.

And I believe they are generally characterized as omnivores (they are known to hunt fish, fowl, and firelizards, after all) so they would probably also be fed meat products such as organs and scraps that are not suitable for human meals. Menolly's kill in the marshes is one that was apparently hunting berries, but it isn't clear if they eat grains or even general greens from what I can remember.
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Old Apr 30 2012, 04:39 PM   #34
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During the First Pass, at least, there were several brownriders who were wingleaders and seconds, and even a few blueriders who were wingseconds. This wasn't due to a shortage of bronzeriders - it looks like there was a 15-20% bronze population: 'twenty mature queens and well over a hundred bronzes' in Sean's speech about the new weyrs, and only twenty or twenty-six wings ( it's not entirely clear if the frequent count of twenty includes the six which are stationed outside of Fort at the time for R&R and coverage of Ierne Island.) So with 60 or so primary wing positions, and over 100 bronzes, there are still brown and blue riders in these roles.
That's a good reference for blue/brown riders getting position by merit in the first pass, but possibly less so for the percentage of bronzes/queens in the population generally. The first two clutches were (understandably) biased towards queens and to a lesser extent bronzes. The relative numbers will be between 1:5 and 1:10 for those colours, but the rest depends on how large the population is as a whole. For wings of 50 dragons, 26 wings is 1300, and the bronze-fraction slides in under 10%. At a minimum, you're looking at ~21x33 or 700-ish, or 15% bronzes, tops.
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Old May 1 2012, 02:15 PM   #35
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That's a good reference for blue/brown riders getting position by merit in the first pass, but possibly less so for the percentage of bronzes/queens in the population generally. The first two clutches were (understandably) biased towards queens and to a lesser extent bronzes. The relative numbers will be between 1:5 and 1:10 for those colours, but the rest depends on how large the population is as a whole. For wings of 50 dragons, 26 wings is 1300, and the bronze-fraction slides in under 10%. At a minimum, you're looking at ~21x33 or 700-ish, or 15% bronzes, tops.
I agree, it's a fairly logical ratio of gold:bronze but not necessarily of the total population. Twenty viable queens and, say, 120-140 bronzes (who knows how many 'well over a hundred' should be), puts you at 1:6 or 1:7, which seems fine to me. But my point was that justifying more bronzes by saying they are needed for the wingsecond roles doesn't seem right, given there was a higher than normal bronze population density at that time and far more bronzes than there were wingseconds, yet there were still brown- and blueriders in these roles.

Anyway, the 15-20% rate is, again, First Pass specific, and it is based on either 20 wings @ 33 each or 26 wings @ 33 each and 120-140 bronzes, which has a result ranging from 14% (858 total, 120 bronze) to 21% (660 total, 140 bronzes). I use those specific wing sizes because that is what is explicitly stated in 'Second Weyr', to remain consistent with the entire example. I never expected the First Pass overall density of golds and bronzes to apply to later times, after the population stabilized.

Amusing side note on bronzes: Prideth/Pridith's first clutch of 32 eggs apparently had 14 bronzes in it, but Ramoth's first clutch only ever mentions one - N'ton's bronze. I have to wonder if that was wrong, or if Ramoth really only clutched one bronze and one gold in her first clutch, with the rest all chromatics. It sems unlikely, but Dragonflight repeatedly mentions only two bronzeriders - T'bor and N'ton - being in the past with Prideth, yet all of N'ton's clutchmates would have been present.
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Old May 1 2012, 03:09 PM   #36
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I'm sure there were about ten or so bronzes in Ramoth's first clutch - and I put those high numbers down to it being the first book in the series, and Anne preferring to write about the 'speshul' colours (says she, whose current fanfic features, count 'em, 3 gold POVs, 4 bronzes, and a solitary green). You could go round in circles with this stuff pretty much indefinitely, mind.

Why did only N'ton get a mention alongside T'bor? Because he was the best of the crop.
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Old May 1 2012, 05:19 PM   #37
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Anyway, back to the tithe portion of the discussion:

So I can see weyrs readily receiving goats, cattle, sheep, werries, and even pigs as the meat portion of their tithes; most weyrs probably also receive barrles of fish from their sea-holds. Then you have the crops - fruit, vegetable, and grain - which would both support the human population and provide food for the herds (because you have to feed them something before they get eaten themselves). I think these foodstuffs would make up the bulk of the tithes from holds, while the halls would provide most of the standard textiles like cloth/clothing, tableware, furniture, etc, as well as skilled labor.

In DQ we see that the crafts tithe to all weyrs, not just the one which is nearest, and at least some of the holds send products to multiple weyrs as well - Benden Hold's vintners send wine to all of the weyrs in some volume or another - while DF mentions that the tithes are supposed to be the first and best of the crops gathered. MHoP has the Harper Hall providing tithe via performances.

As for the amount overall: Dragonheart has Fiona specifically stating that a tithe should be a tenth - page 279 via Google Books.
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Old May 1 2012, 05:39 PM   #38
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There's something about the concept of the Halls tithing to all six Weyrs that really bugs me. Unless their functional tithe rate is lower than a 'tenth' and is actually a 'tenth of the Hall's output divided by six Weyrs'. I don't see how it would work either way.

ETA: Because obviously, nothing could survive consistently being taxed at a 60% rate when you're not receiving services from 50% of the tax!

(I'm really loathe to assume that tithe is always a flat tenth is true based on a Todd book without completing my maths, but it might shake out that a Major Hold can hatch out ten thousand head of wherries with that still being a tenth. I doubt it, but as I dig into Ag stats, we'll see. I still think the functional tax rate on Pern is going to shake out far, far higher than a tenth.)

On one end, you have the Masterharper of Pern dealing with six Weyrwomen's demands for their portion of the tithe and loathe be you to cheat one. (On the other hand, perhaps you're not fond of Marda, why not cheat her out of her Harper Hall tithe? How will she ever know, she doesn't have access to Benden's books, or the books of the Harper Hall!)

On the other end, we have Iantine being paid by Weyrwoman Zulaya to do her portrait. Yes, she's being nice to a starving (literally) artist who her rider rescued from certain death, but she seems to think that the Weyrwoman is equivalent to Hold and Hall when it comes to contracting such services. Services she really could tithe.

But perhaps we should throw out the examples from Dragonseye. They're from a period in Pern's history when the Craft system hasn't developed yet!
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Old May 2 2012, 01:38 AM   #39
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There's something about the concept of the Halls tithing to all six Weyrs that really bugs me. Unless their functional tithe rate is lower than a 'tenth' and is actually a 'tenth of the Hall's output divided by six Weyrs'. I don't see how it would work either way.
Bolding mine. I'd go with that one. I'd also reckon on more than a tenth for the tithe - a tenth was historically enough for a church, but not for a standing army.

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On the other end, we have Iantine being paid by Weyrwoman Zulaya to do her portrait. Yes, she's being nice to a starving (literally) artist who her rider rescued from certain death, but she seems to think that the Weyrwoman is equivalent to Hold and Hall when it comes to contracting such services. Services she really could tithe.

But perhaps we should throw out the examples from Dragonseye. They're from a period in Pern's history when the Craft system hasn't developed yet!
I think the Holds and crafts will give marks as well as goods and skills, and a responsible Weyrwoman will spend her own petty-cash on luxuries like a portrait, rather than making the whole Weyr fork out for it up front. Effectively, they're doing that anyway, but if it comes from her own pot of savings, she's probably done without a few fancy dresses in recompense. Dragonriders don't eat and drink (or purchase) freely at Gathers, though they do likely get treated by all and sundry. A crafter may WANT to gift J'oe Randomth's rider, so he can mark whatever fancy item off against his craft's next tithe-output - but a good Weyrwoman would control her rider's spending with cash, so she can ensure the tithe comes in with decent eating cutlery and needles and pots and fighting-strap buckles and wherry-spears rather than fashionable bejewelled belt-knives...
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Old May 2 2012, 09:22 AM   #40
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[...] but a good Weyrwoman would control her rider's spending with cash, so she can ensure the tithe comes in with decent eating cutlery and needles and pots and fighting-strap buckles and wherry-spears rather than fashionable bejewelled belt-knives...
Which are actually considered excessive and valued above tithe goods, according to the weyrleader gathering after F'nor's fight in DQ. So tithes are going to be fairly standard objects, perhaps on the higher quality end of the scale but not premium items. And it seems that at least some of craft tithes come in on an as-needed basis rather than in set batches the way the holds tithe. That actually makes a lot of sense, because it allows the weyrwoman and headwoman to determine what is most needed from a given craft and request that for the tithe, rather than just getting a random selection of whatever they have available.
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