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Old Jan 11 2008, 12:43 AM   #1
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Default Pern's Population

Okay, here's another issue like Pern's diameter: What is Pern's population?

There have been various quotes, up to 4 or 5 million.

Supposedly, 6,023 people landed on Pern. Ignoring First Fall casualties and assuming a 1% growth rate, in ~2500 years, Pern's population would double every 70 years. This would give us about 330,000 people.

But this is a frontier world, so let's amp that up and assume folks are being frisky to breed their own labor. The highest growth rate on the planet (Earth, that is) at present is 3.66%, so let's go for 4%, giving the Pernese credit (at least initially) for some more advanced medicine and midwifery. That doubles population every 17.5 years. At this blistering pace, you get 1.3 million Pernese in ~2500 years.

Even cranking it up to an improbable 10% growth rate, doubling every 7 years, you only get ~3.5 million Pernese in two and a half millenia.

I find it hard to credit a 4 or 5 million population figure. Frankly, 1.3 million might be a stretch given the reality of Thread. This gets especially interesting given Pern's infrastructure, dragon-rider attrition during a Pass, and dragon reproduction rates (I'll address those last two another time).

If you visit the Domesday Book on-line, you get a nice little population model for medieval societies and infrastructure. If you take the size of the Northern Continent of Pern based on the Atlas (which is too small) you have a rough area of 810 by 330 miles, for 267,300 square miles, of which we can deduct about half for ocean giving about 133,250 square miles. Plug this into the Domesday Book, select a barren terrain (accounting for the impact of Thread and the restrictions on settlement) and you get some interesting results.

Population comes out at about 1.3 million! Infrastructure consists of four "cities," sixteen "towns" and some 2636 "villages" with some 27,000 "itinerant" persons (caravaners and holdless, perhaps?). A city is defined as about 10,000 people, a town as 5,000, and villages as about 700. There would be over 900,000 cattle and almost two million fowl. Roughly 40 large fortifications (equivalent to castles: major holds or Weyrs) could be constructed in 2500 years.

Given various figures quoted for major holds, they contain somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 people. The former figure may be for the physical "Hold" itself, and the latter for the immediate environs (presumably including other "holds" under the immediate supervision of the Lord Holder).

Rather than four cities and sixteen towns, Pern has fifteen major holds which is well within acceptable variability and would explain the overcrowding of the holds that spawns the movement to recolonize the Southern Continent. The smaller holds would equate to larger "villages" with up to about 700 people at most, and other smaller villages down to "cotholds" of a few dozen. We can also potentially deduct the roughly 1,300 to 1,600 population of each Weyr from the "cities" and the model works particularly nicely.

We've still got some problems. Dragons eat cattle. About 2-3 per week, in fact. For 3,000 dragons, that's almost 400,000 cattle each year! Sure, some fowl ("wherries") can be substituted, but the dragons are eating about a third of the cattle. This puts an interesting pressure on the food supply.

So too, does firestone. I read an estimate somewhere that a dragon consumes several hundred pounds per fall (IIRC ~300). With 3,000 dragons and roughly 18,000 falls in a Pass, each of the six Weyrs will need 1,350,000 tons of firestone over the course of a pass. That has some interesting implications for the importance of the Minecraft, drovers, and tithes during Intervals...
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Old Jan 11 2008, 09:04 AM   #2
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I always wondered what would happen if firestone started running out. Are there such large deposites of the phosphine-bearing rock available?
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Old Jan 11 2008, 11:24 PM   #3
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I always wondered what would happen if firestone started running out. Are there such large deposites of the phosphine-bearing rock available?
Apparently, yes. The interesting thought for me was the significance it gives the Minecraft:

1) They mine firestone;
2) They mine coal (infinitely more palatable than dung as a fuel source in a wood-poor society);
3) They carve Holds out of rock.

If would be unsurprising if through much of Pern's history the Minecraft was the most powerful or at least one of the most powerful Crafts, rivaled only by the Harpers (thanks to their teaching profession) and the Farmers (everybody has to eat) and possibly the Fishers (not so significant inland maybe, but again, everybody has to eat).
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Old Jan 27 2008, 12:22 AM   #4
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Okay, back to the original topic on this one as well.

I went back and fixed my problem with Excel and got some interesting results.

To get Pern to about 20,000 people by the first Fall, you would have to have a 19% growth rate in the population. Given that 10% of the women were probably beyond child-bearing (not unlike Emily Boll) and as much as 20% may have been underage (given that children appear to have made the trip) that's about 2100 women bearing 6.8 children each in 8 years.

I'm just a male so maybe I don't understand the deeper mysteries of pregnancy and motherhood, but would any woman who has actually given birth care to comment on that number? That would mean that each woman was pregnant 64% of the time during the first eight years (give or take multiple births). I know that some women have become pregnant and given birth at such ridiculous rates, but an entire population of them? I am, to say the least, dubious.

Given the citation of hundreds of casualties in the first Fall alone, and assuming more over the course of the first Turn of Fall, I arbitrarily knocked the Pernese population down 10% and then sapped it at a rate of 1% annually through the first Pass (accounting for continued casualties, famine, etc...) and also the 4000 casualties of the Fever Year, about 5% casualties about the time the dolphins lost contact, and about 33% casualties during the Great Plague. Each Pass I zapped with the 1% loss annually, and I rolled back the expansion rate to half a percent each Turn. I also sprinkled in lesser epidemics courtesy of percentile dice for flavor, but never on the scale of the Fever Year or the Great Plague. Instead, I kept these smaller epidemics to 1% (or double that during a Pass). In all, I added about 48 epidemics to the three known ones, which didn't seem unreasonable in 2500 Turns.

The end result after 2500 turns or so was about 1.3 million Pernese, which fits nicely with the on-line Domesday Book model for a medieval society in a barren environment similar in size to one set of dimensions given in the Atlas for the Northern Continent. Minor changes could be made to the numbers to yield results in the range of 4-5 million.

Even expansion numbers as low as 1% put the Pernese population ridiculously off the chart. Given primitive living conditions, sanitation, limited crop areas, increased maternal mortality, increased infant mortality and primitive medicine, as well as the cramped character of the living areas, I can't see the Pernese having a growth rate to match even modern Earth, much less the incredible 19% above.

So whatever numbers you pick, they almost have to be below 1% and there have to be heavy casualties during Passes.

Using my admittedly arbitrary model, my Pernese population dipped to about 8,400 at the end of the First Pass. It bottomed out at the time the dolphins lost contact dropping to near 8,300.

In spite of various epidemics, I had Pern up to a little over 15,800 by the second Pass which promptly smashed things back to about 9,300.

By the third Pass it was up to a little more than 21,600 and got slapped back to about 13,100.

By the fourth Pass it was up to just shy of 33,000 and got knocked back to about 19,300.

The first long Interval raised the population over 153,000 by the fifth Pass, where it was rolled back to about 79,400.

By the start of the sixth Pass it was almost 205,000, but between the Pass and the devastation of the Great Plague, it got hammered back to 83,800.

By the seventh Pass it topped 216,000, and was pushed down under 127,000.

By the eighth Pass it went over 303,000 and tumbled to a little more than 181,000 by the end.

Then you get the second long Interval and things change dramatically. By the start of the ninth Pass, Pern's population grows by a factor of seven, to over 1.3 million! (Pick whatever arbitrary growth rate you want, you'll get a similar result).

This is a staggering increase and the issues of the Holdless, and overcrowding have got to be downright painful by the 9th Pass, so the interest in the Southern Continent is obvious.

More subtle is to consider the shock the Oldtimers had to have suffered. Here they jumped from a society of 181,000 to a society of 1.3 million. They were also probably catapulted into a situation of having to defend seven times the arable/usable land, making fighting Thread in the 9th Pass rather more difficult than the 8th Pass. No wonder they were less than enthused by all that forestry...
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Old Mar 6 2008, 08:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Pern's Population

Another update: In DQ there is a specific statement by an Oldtimer (D'ram?) that the population of Pern has increased four-fold from the 8th to the 9th Pass, so Pern's rate of population growth is actually even less than I was using. Couple that with the references in DB to the Holder having a nice plague about every 20 years and even getting Pern to 1.3 million people looks tough.
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Old Jul 10 2010, 03:52 PM   #6
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I'm bumping this old thread because it came up on a google search when I was working on theme files for our new MUSH. And I found it a really insightful post that ended up giving me good concepts for a game.

I used ElectricDragon's 8,400 as the population size for the end of the First Pass, and acknowledging that there are at LEAST 20 Queens on Pern (given the number of Queens mentioned in Chronicles) means that there are roughly 2000 dragonriders on Pern at this point. If you assume that for every 1 queen she supports about 100 dragons.

This means that about 1/4th of Pern's population at this point had a dragon. You can massage the numbers down or up, but it's still a massive swath of the population. Which is staggering given how few people they have to dedicate to things like, say, herding all the cattle needed for four Weyrs of dragons.
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Old Jul 10 2010, 04:43 PM   #7
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Default Re: Pern's Population

2000 dragons is pushing it for the foundation of the four Weyrs [Fort's capacity wouldn't take much over 500, even allowing for smaller dragons, weyrling clutches weyred off-site and weyrmates sharing ledges], but not implausible for the end of the first Pass.

I'd guess it might be less - even allowing for one queen per hundred other dragons, covering a new and expanding territory, and fighting an increasing number of falls as that territory grows, is inevitably going to increase the casualty rate. [It's also the best way I can think of of getting my head around Sean's incredibly low casualty rate in the first few years - he wasn't fighting every fall, just the ones over populated or soon to be populated lands.]
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Old Jul 10 2010, 04:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricDragon View Post
Okay, here's another issue like Pern's diameter: What is Pern's population?

There have been various quotes, up to 4 or 5 million.

Supposedly, 6,023 people landed on Pern. Ignoring First Fall casualties and assuming a 1% growth rate, in ~2500 years, Pern's population would double every 70 years. This would give us about 330,000 people.
Whoopsie!

Yes, a 1% growth rate does lead to a doubling of the population in 70 years, and gives us ~ 36 doublings of the population over a 2500 turn period. I'm not sure quite what ED has done, but there seems to be something going *very* wrong there.


You start with 6,000. [I'm spelling this out for the benefit of the non-mathematicians] 70 years later you have 12,000 (x2 from start), all of whom are just as likely as the start-number to breed... and, 140 years later you have 24,000 (x4 from start), 210 years later you have 48,000 (x8 from start), 280 years later you have 96,000 (x16 from start), 350 years later you're at 192,000, and 420 years later you're already over his 2500-turn later estimate, and they ain't gonna stop breeding in the intervening two millenia...

Geometric series, friends. It's 2x4x8x16, not 2x2x2x2. The factor you need to multiply the starting population by is 2^35 (or 1.01^2500)... and that gets you well into the billions by the 9th pass.


There's a lot more complexity here than a simple series - not all the population breeds, and there are limited resources as well as population crashes. His points about the effects of long intervals are well founded, as are the issues with the population base still being relatively small compared to ~2000 dragons at the end of the first pass... but as far as the long-range projections go, those numbers are total bull and should NOT be used.
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Old Jul 10 2010, 08:56 PM   #9
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Considering they didn't have computers for nearly 2500 years (landing to when they rediscovered AVIAS) or tv or anything that we've got, friskiness would be rampant. After all, there would be quite a few of the female population who would have up to 12-15 kids and not necessarily to the same male but the average would be about 5-6 kids. Kylara had 5 but she's a flirty one....Lessa had one but would have liked more, although with her personality, hmmm.....Aramina had several......F'lessan fathered several children but not to the same person ~ bearing in mind that these are just examples of population growth. Currently at the present time, most people on Earth are only having 1-3 due to realising what kind of pressure we're putting on our planet.. But then again when we went to the Melbourne Museum last week, one of the exhibits showed the population growth from 1 AD to 2010 AD and that went from like a few 100,000 persons to 6 billion in 2000+ years so 1.3 million on a rural planet like Pern, would not be absurd in 2500 years.
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Old Jul 11 2010, 02:15 AM   #10
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so 1.3 million on a rural planet like Pern, would not be absurd in 2500 years.
In the absence of other factors, it's absurdly low, which is one reason WHY Pern needs so many plagues and Passes to keep it that way. The pressure of thread keeps people living in high density hold populations, where diseases can quickly run rampant. The wide dispersal of the population centres and difficulty of travel between them during Passes, plus the ease with which a more isolated or small population unit can be rapidly made untenable by direct Thread strikes on the food supply, all of that will make sudden population crashes a real risk.

Tell you something, Pern's due for quite the explosion. What it went through in the last long interval is nothing in terms of the next century - you've broken the cultural ties to Hold lifestyles, and added this vast new frontier and new technology, while still letting them breed like the proverbial ****ing bunnies - Pern two centuries on is going to be really, really different.


Seriously, I can see a role for the morning-after-dragon....
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Old Jul 11 2010, 01:21 PM   #11
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Default Re: Pern's Population

Kath makes a really good point here - the isolation of small holds means they can be (and several times /are/) wiped out, in their entirety, due to illness; and Threadfall severely limits the amoutn of food that can be grown, which forcibly limits population. Until the long Interval right before the 9th Pass, there was much less area under cultivation and a much lower population than is seen in Dragonflight. 400 years without Thraedfall leads to a lot of population growth and expansion - significantly more than would occur in a normal interval. And after the 9th pass, the population should fairly well explode, between lack of Threadfall and the ready availability of additional viable settlements on the Southern Continent.
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Old Jul 11 2010, 03:30 PM   #12
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There's a lot more complexity here than a simple series - not all the population breeds, and there are limited resources as well as population crashes. His points about the effects of long intervals are well founded, as are the issues with the population base still being relatively small compared to ~2000 dragons at the end of the first pass... but as far as the long-range projections go, those numbers are total bull and should NOT be used.
Useful, thanks. Luckily it doesn't involve too much tweaking to the theme files for what we've made and it might be more interesting to use these larger numbers for plot purposes.
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Old Jul 31 2022, 02:49 AM   #13
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Sorry for the significant necro, but I was looking up the population of Pern, and this thread was one of the first to show up. The math here isn't quite right - at least, I don't think so.

Quote:
Supposedly, 6,023 people landed on Pern. Ignoring First Fall casualties and assuming a 1% growth rate, in ~2500 years, Pern's population would double every 70 years. This would give us about 330,000 people.
Now, this isn't quite right. In fact, it's significantly not right. Yes, the population doubles about every 70 years. That means the population doubles 35 times.

Lets start with just 10 times. 2x2=4x2=8x2=16x2=32x2=64x2=128x2=256x2=512. In 700 years, the population will be 3,072,000, not 330,000. In another 700 years, the population would reach 1.57 billion. By the modern era, at an uninterrupted growth rate of 1%, the population of pern would be 25 trillion.

Obviously, this is nowhere near the reality, but it goes to show that even a 1% growth rate is dramatically larger than what Pern would regularly see. In point of fact, 1% is VASTLY beyond anything humanity saw during similar conditions in its own history. In the 1400's, for example, the human population increased an average of just 0.02% per year.

However, in the beginning, with advanced technology available and nearly unlimited(food) resources, it wouldn't be unrealistic to see growth rates as high as 2%, which humanity reached during the later parts of the industrial revolution. At those rates, it would take about 61 years to reach a population of 20,000.

Anyways, sorry again for the necro, hopefully someone finds this interesting.
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Old Aug 2 2022, 12:14 AM   #14
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Well, math isn't my strong ability, but, don't forget the known losses after landing, and thanks, my sight now gone, after forty odd years of having low vision, and i have to get use to a new way of reading numbers, with the addition of sometimes they can come across not clear this time I can kinda understand it. with JAWS my text to speach softweare, I haven't tried to do much math with it, but I recalled year s back its harder to do then and now. sorry for my rambling. and Welcome to hear!
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Old Aug 2 2022, 12:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by semantre View Post
Kath makes a really good point here - the isolation of small holds means they can be (and several times /are/) wiped out, in their entirety, due to illness; and Threadfall severely limits the amoutn of food that can be grown, which forcibly limits population. Until the long Interval right before the 9th Pass, there was much less area under cultivation and a much lower population than is seen in Dragonflight. 400 years without Thraedfall leads to a lot of population growth and expansion - significantly more than would occur in a normal interval. And after the 9th pass, the population should fairly well explode, between lack of Threadfall and the ready availability of additional viable settlements on the Southern Continent.
Thanks Like Moreta's home, in Moreta: DDragonlady of Pern, and the other small runnerbeastholds in that area, as a example, that is why tthey used fosterling , or sending off to a craft. PS I sometime find the older post s and apend my thoughts to express my self , or expand on my older oone iif I have on e in this the thread,
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Old Aug 2 2022, 12:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElectricDragon View Post
Apparently, yes. The interesting thought for me was the significance it gives the Minecraft:

1) They mine firestone;
2) They mine coal (infinitely more palatable than dung as a fuel source in a wood-poor society);
3) They carve Holds out of rock.

If would be unsurprising if through much of Pern's history the Minecraft was the most powerful or at least one of the most powerful Crafts, rivaled only by the Harpers (thanks to their teaching profession) and the Farmers (everybody has to eat) and possibly the Fishers (not so significant inland maybe, but again, everybody has to eat).
Maybe their own Minercrafthold and maybe they mwith Smithcraft sand during/near a PAss they make sure the rock is sound, and help with getting it started, but its uup to thothose who are going to be in the Hold/Hall/Wyer , to carve out their living space. Starting with Fort Holdm, checked out all the way, but carved out by tunder theminers help, There is a lot of that holders , traders in later Turns, PS I just was reading the rest of the posted here, and thought this might make a nice way to bump this thread,
JFinding a mettle and stsstone for this took time,.

As for computers They were working, till just beforestart of Second Pass, for looking up of information. like bblbloodslines
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Old Aug 2 2022, 07:45 AM   #17
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A few more thoughts to complicate the population issue. The settlers were genetically screened for disease in a form of eugenics. So that assumes they were all healthy and remained healthy through the generations - right? WRONG! Even if they didn't suffer from genetic diseases and didn't carry mass killers like measles onto the planet no account is made of occupational or lifestyle illnesses. Blackrock is used extensively for cooking and heating purposes - coal smoke causes lung diseases. It's likely that smaller and more remote holdings might be using herdbeast dung, which is even worse. Living underground would mean less temperature differences, cooler in hot climates and warmer in cool climates but I still wouldn't want to be living in High Reaches during a cold winter. Any illness would spread very rapidly in the overcrowded and poorly ventilated under-halls of large holds and weyrs. The biggest killer of children and small babies in the hovels of overcrowded medieval cities and the holds of settler ships wasn't anything as exotic as plague, it was "flux" i.e. diarrhea. In northern climates and during threadfall, gardening outside would range from difficult to impossible. By spring, there'd be no fresh food, leading to scurvy and other vitamin deficiencies. It is estimated that before we had modern medicine and vaccination as many as half of the children born didn't live to the age of five years.

On the other hand, the way the world-making of Pern was set up, there should have been fewer deaths of women from childbirth. Healer hall might have lost modern mechanical and chemical medicine, but they wouldn't have lost the knowledge of the need for hygiene, and midwifery wouldn't have had the added burden of religious restrictions that hampered the growth of knowledge in Europe. Many indigenous populations were well aware of means of preventing pregnancy, of herbal medicine and healthy lifestyles. While Oldive and Robinton may have expressed regret at the amount of knowledge that had been lost, I doubt it was as much as it could have been.
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Old Aug 2 2022, 03:06 PM   #18
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This is an interesting question.

One thing to consider is when you couple a more modern level of medicine (and they have kept most of this even into the 9th Pass) and that there are so many instances of families with 8-15 children that the growth rate during intervals might be much higher than is being calculated. If you have adequate food and medical care, there is no reason why in holds many couples regularly have 8 or more children.

What would it look like to have an average of 8 children per family with child bearing years being 15 to 50. I'd assume a bell curve of ages among the colonists with the peak being about 30. The first generation likely would not have that many children and they might not until the end of the first pass, but then I'd assume maximum family size and people spreading out for 200 years with a small slow down during each pass. From reading the above parameters, I bet that altering it as I described would easily get to 5 million.

I had several family groups in my family tree in the early 1900's with more than 8 children. The generations before suffered from more infant and child deaths so I think the first years of an interval on Pern would be the prime population increase years.
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Old Aug 2 2022, 09:37 PM   #19
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Measules was what kept Iantine from finishing his contract with Bitha In DragonEye/Red Star Rising Hold.
I wonder Spodded feaver from in 6 Chickin Pox could have been what they were taalking about, NRill and her brothers, after their father got back from the Gather.
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Old Aug 3 2022, 07:13 AM   #20
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I wonder Spodded feaver from in 6 Chickin Pox could have been what they were taalking about, NRill and her brothers, after their father got back from the Gather.
It was the flu people were getting sick/dying from in Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern and Nerilka's Story.
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Old Aug 5 2022, 10:23 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by BD1 View Post
It was the flu people were getting sick/dying from in Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern and Nerilka's Story.
Thanks, I may be able to say them, but trying to sspelling them, was alwas a problem I had something that helped but I can't get it working so good, but In Nerilka's Story I was talking about after the Nerilka's family were talking about their father early return, and about working on keeping themhealth ly the youngest son said something about that type ofillness and other brothers said they all had it, and that their sister was trained in [still room' note, my fingers are starting to slip here, its just a little background, that I recall listening to, and I thought the different type s of ways to controll ggrowth onPern. Also There is/are many winter colds and feavers too, Like what hit Tilik When Robinton was their, his wife, mmany fishfolks , and others , I am just using these as examples how to control ;no ppun' attended here,
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Old Aug 5 2022, 10:35 PM   #22
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Well with Minning coal/blackstone something like Thirdy Turns, and start finding mates around forteen turns Dragon's Kin and Dragon's Fire Note By that time, they had to return to mining in deaper places for it, not near to ssureto top of the land. Note I am trying toto help just a few bits I recall from listening to the two. If lucky, to then get pass to your knot and find your own icamp/mine if lucky.
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Old Aug 6 2022, 12:29 PM   #23
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The yammerer is talking (like usual) during a movie!
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Old Today, 12:10 AM   #24
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I know it's an older thread, but thanks for bringing up the number of livestock it takes to feed dragons.
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