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Old Aug 30 2010, 07:02 PM   #1
semantre
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Question Clutch sizes

And another question!

What is the 'average' size of a dragon clutch, during a Pass, during the 10-or-so Turns pre-Pass, and mid-Interval? And how often should the golds be rising in each of these periods?
And I mean realistically, not any of the crazy 'Faranth clutched 60 eggs and several queens' thing that I think everyone can agree can be explained as distortion of history, where multiple clutches were on the sands.

I know DF had some solid figures about the ramping-up period - I remember Lessa looking at the records and scorning Namorth for not rising regularly and clutching larger amounts, rather than the 10(?) eggs in the clutch Ramoth hatched from, to get ready for the approaching Pass. I just don't remember what they were, or how logical they were. I do remember that Ramoth clutched 40-something her first clutch, and Prideth clutched 32 her first, but that was also in a 'only one Weyr!' situation, and I can't recall if they numbers eased at all after the Oldtimers came forward?
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Old Aug 31 2010, 04:25 AM   #2
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

We could (and have!) argued for months on the exact numbers - do some searches on this forum and I'm sure you'll find plenty of threads on this topic.

Queens shouldn't rise any more frequently than every six months [the 'twice a turn' comment in Dragonflight], but I personally think that's a little excessive. Rising every 9 months to a year at the top end is more bearable if you want to avoid excessive overpopulation. Once the population is stable, you can drop this a little - for a stable population and good management of dragons in Threadfall, dragons rising every 18 months seems sensible to me personally, perhaps as infrequently as every 2 years plus for an older queen.

In an interval, I'd expect a queen to rise about every two turns or so, dropping to 5 turn plus gaps as a queen ages - it's easy to work out the numbers assuming a fixed breeding rate, and that's what most people do, but if you assume there's only one or two queens present at a time during the interval, then you can allow some flexibility - once a turn for a young queen, dropping off as she ages. For a queen's sixty year lifespan, 10 clutches in the first ten turns (rising once a turn), ten in the next twenty (rising every two years), then a final six clutches over the last thirty turns (once every five turns now that the rider is menopausal) averages out at about one clutch every two and a half years - and I think I'm being generous there for an interval queen. You could easily halve those numbers, and still have reasonably regular clutches when the queen is young.

As for the numbers - anything more than twenty is respectable. Anything less suggests a foreshortened flight (either through ineptitude, design, or distaste - would YOU want to mate with Jora?) or poor fertility on the part of either of the mating dragons. Large clutches are only seen in the case of Special Dragons - Ramoth is just bigger and can be explained as being able to have more extended flights, or just being super-fertile. Faranth's super-clutch can be put down either to confusion in the records or Anne not bothering to think things through. Mid to high thirties for a good pairing is something I'd count as a good clutch for a young and fertile queen. Note that Orlith's was in the high twenties, IIRC - and there's no doubting that Kaminath[??] was a good bronze, despite Sh'gall.

But yeah, unless you want a population explosion, you need to make sure the clutches aren't excessively often or excessively large. Regular 35+ clutches require some serious losses either in Weyrlinghood or in Threadfall. Keep things to ~9-13 months in a Pass at the highest rate of rising, and the numbers averaging in the low twenties (and get those queens flying out low away from the Weyr if you really want to keep the numbers down), and it all works out more or less okay. Or, up the numbers for the average clutch to the high twenties, and make them less frequent. It all depends on the circumstances of the Weyr in question.
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Old Aug 31 2010, 02:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

We do have to allow for a high mortality rate, though. During a Pass, they're going to need the population increase. Plus, there is the mortality rate for Weyrlings at any given time--deaths learning to fly between and other accidents. That's not going to be a big number during Intervals, but there will still be losses. So clutch numbers might seem high, but you have to assume not all will reach maturity, and that during a Pass they're replacing Threadfall attrition, and not just rider age.
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Old Aug 31 2010, 05:09 PM   #4
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Oh definitely - but if you have three queens adding 100 dragons to the Weyr each year [or more - this is still a reasonably conservative figure], maintaining the fighting strength of the Weyr at the current level rather than having a population explosion requires a 20-30% yearly attrition already, averaging two deaths a week (either in 'fall, training or due to old age). If that's acceptable, fine. If not, then making clutch size/frequency higher is something to worry about.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 12:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Quote:
Faranth's super-clutch
If you mean the reference to "sixty eggs on the sand, and multiple queen eggs" (paraphrasing) - I think that's generally accepted as referring to multiple clutches in a shared Hatching Ground.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 03:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

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If you mean the reference to "sixty eggs on the sand, and multiple queen eggs" (paraphrasing) - I think that's generally accepted as referring to multiple clutches in a shared Hatching Ground.
Generally, but not by all. There's still the chance that Anne did mean that it really happened that way. Bad idea - it makes no sense at all, realistically - but 'because Anne said so' is as strong a reason for giving something canon weight as any amount of logic.

I don't like the idea myself, but others do...
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Old Sep 1 2010, 03:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

I have a spreadsheet with all known clutches 'through the ages', with for the Ninth Pass also the extrapolated ones.

If anybody is interested in that I could put it up on The Pern Museum & Archives
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Old Sep 1 2010, 07:12 AM   #8
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If anybody is interested in that

YES! PLEASE!


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Old Sep 1 2010, 07:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Oh, definitely do so, Hans, please!
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Old Sep 1 2010, 10:36 AM   #10
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

That would be very helpful, Hans. I'm trying to estimate how many riders would logically be dying from old age each Turn, based on what the clutch sizes would have been during the Interval, with an average lifespan of 60 Turns, just to give myself a baseline to calculate the ages of a group of riders headed into a Pass.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 10:57 AM   #11
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

There's going to be fuzziness there, but just take something basic - Impression at 15 and death at 60 on average - and you have 45 years of dragonriding.

Okay, so it's Logan's Weyr, and when you hit 60 you're killed off. Assume constant attrition due to age, constant influx of weyrlings, and a uniform age-distribution (not utterly unreasonable for the adult population in a fairly civilised and healthy zone), and you have a fraction 44/45 of your dragonriders who will survive that turn, and 1/45 who die off, to be replaced by the same number of new weyrlings. If you go with an interval Weyr population of 180-270 riders, that's 4-6 deaths due to old age per turn, and a clutch of 12-18 weyrlings replacing them every three years. Allow for up to 50% attrition of weyrlings during training and you can have that 12-18 egg replacement clutch every 18 months without getting a population explosion.

As you're heading into a Pass, the Weyr will have grown in size in terms of dragonriders, but they'll still be relatively youthful. You'll still have an old-age death rate of about 2% of the INTERVAL dragonrider population until at least a couple of decades into the Pass.

For a constant population size spanning a fairly uniform range of ages - what you have in an Interval Weyr - the death rate is a function of the lifespan of the riders, and not moderated by the clutches that their dragons hatched from. What the clutch sizes/frequencies give us insight into are the required deaths in training - the necessary culling before large clutches add too many individuals to the main fighting force.

Of course, if you want to do this better, and are just interested in the number of individuals in different age ranges, go and look at demographic population pyramids, choose your preferred model, and normalise your 300-500-odd dragonriders by that.Which (now that I think of it) won't work, of course, because the pre-Pass clutches boost the number of younger riders... in which case, just tune it to a baby-boom pyramid of the right age.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 11:06 AM   #12
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

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Originally Posted by Kath View Post
For a constant population size spanning a fairly uniform range of ages - what you have in an Interval Weyr - the death rate is a function of the lifespan of the riders, and not moderated by the clutches that their dragons hatched from.
I'm not saying that the clutches have anything to do with rider deaths, but I'm trying to estimate how many riders will be in specific age groups during different timespans and in turn how many are dying from 'natural causes' under specific circumstances - during the Interval, and then during a Pass, based on when they Impressed. Larger clutches = more riders, which means more people who have to die eventually, and in turn, be replaced by younger riders.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 11:20 AM   #13
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

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Originally Posted by semantre View Post
I'm not saying that the clutches have anything to do with rider deaths, but I'm trying to estimate how many riders will be in specific age groups during different timespans and in turn how many are dying from 'natural causes' under specific circumstances - during the Interval, and then during a Pass, based on when they Impressed. Larger clutches = more riders, which means more people who have to die eventually, and in turn, be replaced by younger riders.
I've been editing my previous post while you replied...

Definitely, it's a complex problem, but you do have a fairly rigid timelag.

So, how long in advance do the breeding queens need to start ramping up the population? That's really one of the main points.

For a static population and the worst-case weyrling training deaths, they need clutches of, say, 15 eggs every 18 months. The goal is to almost double the Weyr population.

Assuming the Queen rises every 6 months, and lays 30 eggs - that's 75 extra dragons clutched each 18 months, and 300 in a six-turn period. With 50% Weyrling attrition, a single queen will double her Weyr's population in roughly a decade. So, your population pyramid is three times fatter in the bottom decade than it would have been otherwise. Add more queens - really, I'd expect three of them pre-Pass and you can get your Weyr in shape in a measly four turns.

Slow down the rate at which the queens rise to a slightly more manageable once a turn, and you get 60 extra dragons every three turns, and it takes 15 turns for a single queen to add 300 dragons to the population, or five turns for three of them - assuming no Weyrling deaths. Kill 'em off at that ridiculously high rate of 50%, and the single queen will need to breed for 30 years, and the trio for ten.

So.... depending on what sort of clutch model you want, and how many queens there are in the Weyr, your baby-boom bulge will be anything from four to thirty turns in height as it progresses up the age pyramid. Then, just let them die off at a rate equivalent to (fraction surviving weyrlinghood)*(clutch size)*(yearly clutch frequency) when they hit 60, at whatever your chosen time-lag is later.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 11:22 AM   #14
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

That's the kind of information I needed! Thanks, Kath!
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Old Sep 1 2010, 11:44 AM   #15
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

One other point - once you're INTO the Pass, they'll stop living long enough to die of old age.

Electric dragon has commented in the past about the chances of dying in combat differing in terms of age and experience, and he's raised very valid points there.

Option 1 - age is irrelevant. Work out how many people die in Fall each year as a percentage of the Weyr, and that's the odds of dying that year, regardless of age. [Up-thread, I gave a total of 20-30% - let's assume that's 15% due to Threadfall]

For a given age cohort who Impressed from the same interval-clutch, you'll need to subtract those casualties as you go. If a group of riders is due to hit 60 some thirty years into the Pass, the proportion of survivors is (85% raised to the power of 30), or under 1%! WOW! Dangerous stuff, this dragonriding business...

Option 2 - age IS relevant, with the younger and older riders bearing the brunt of the casualties. Say, you're most likely to die in Threadfall under the age of 25 or over the age of 48. That's half of the dragonriding lifespan of 45 years, and the 15% death rate goes up to 30% for these age group. [very simplistic, but a nice first approximation] Fortunately, this particular clutch were safely over 30 when the Pass started, and only get 12 years of attrition in threadfall at the 30% rate. How many survivors are there by the group's 60th birthday? (70% raised to the power of 12) is still about 1.5%... not great either!

Option 3 - casualty rates depend on experience. For the first ten years of the Pass, you're very likely to die, and after that you're a wily old sod who just keeps on going, and it's the younger riders who are most likely to die off in 'fall. Those ten years of attrition as the Pass starts... treating everyone the same... (0.85^10) = 20% of the cohort left to die of old age. After those first ten years of the Pass, the death rate for the WHOLE Weyr would go down... but so does the clutch rate as you don't need to replace as many dragons or boost the numbers as much.


I like the last scenario best - it's the only one that gives A'verage and Dragonth even half-way decent odds to living a decent span...
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Old Sep 1 2010, 11:54 AM   #16
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Quote:
Originally Posted by semantre View Post
That would be very helpful, Hans. I'm trying to estimate how many riders would logically be dying from old age each Turn, based on what the clutch sizes would have been during the Interval, with an average lifespan of 60 Turns, just to give myself a baseline to calculate the ages of a group of riders headed into a Pass.
Oh... I did some work on that with and based on the research done by Hartley Patterson (who discontinued his Pern pages because of what he saw as Anne's endorsement of the Scientology Church).

He did quite some research on dragonrider demography and together we looked at clutches and losses of dragons/riders during Passes. I remember the death rate is staggering to arrive at results based on figures given in the books.

I'll see if I can dig that up, too.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 12:07 PM   #17
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

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Option 3 - casualty rates depend on experience. For the first ten years of the Pass, you're very likely to die, and after that you're a wily old sod who just keeps on going, and it's the younger riders who are most likely to die off in 'fall. Those ten years of attrition as the Pass starts... treating everyone the same... (0.85^10) = 20% of the cohort left to die of old age. After those first ten years of the Pass, the death rate for the WHOLE Weyr would go down... but so does the clutch rate as you don't need to replace as many dragons or boost the numbers as much.


I like the last scenario best - it's the only one that gives A'verage and Dragonth even half-way decent odds to living a decent span...
I like #3 as well--there is the line about "there are OLD pilots and there are BOLD pilots but there are no OLD BOLD pilots." The only place where this is less likely than #2 is if the Weyrs don't make a habit of grounding or phasing out the oldest riders as their reflexes slow and old injuries catch up. Dragons have an almost-overpowering instinct to fly thread and riders are as likely as pilots to be subject to the "young whippersnapper, I've been flying since before you were born" type of attitude. There's also the possiblity of a cultural attitude--better to die "in the saddle" fighting thread than sit around in your rocker.

We don't have a lot of examples of these older riders--C'gan's obviously in an unusual situation (there aren't enough dragons of any age) and Leri is riding past the age where it's really sensible, but she's a queen rider flying the lowest-risk part of Threadfighting (and IIRC it's suggested her duty is less flamethrowing than coordinating with the ground crews.) So it's hard to say whether this is because there aren't many old riders or Anne just never shows them.
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Old Sep 1 2010, 12:55 PM   #18
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

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Originally Posted by Hans View Post
He did quite some research on dragonrider demography and together we looked at clutches and losses of dragons/riders during Passes. I remember the death rate is staggering to arrive at results based on figures given in the books.

I'll see if I can dig that up, too.
That'd be cool, Hans!

Yeah, it'd have to be staggeringly high, no argument there. I don't know if Anne ever did the figures herself, but it doesn't surprise me that we don't see many elderly riders during Passes, like Anareth says. There's a reason why militaries around the world have age-based and seniority-based retirement programs - except where you need to maintain experience, skills and seniority in the older members, [relative] youth provides a more effective fighting force. You can't ground a dragon, but once they stop being combat-effective, they're going to start slipping.
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Old Oct 11 2010, 09:52 PM   #19
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Gold Re: Clutch sizes

dont know about numbers of eggs per clutch- that varies far too much, but there are some good illos in the "A Gift of Dragons" book, especially in the "The Smallest Dragonboy" and "Ever the Twain" stories, showing the size of the egg/hatchlings and the Candidates.


Quote:
Originally Posted by semantre View Post
And another question!

What is the 'average' size of a dragon clutch, during a Pass, during the 10-or-so Turns pre-Pass, and mid-Interval? And how often should the golds be rising in each of these periods?
And I mean realistically, not any of the crazy 'Faranth clutched 60 eggs and several queens' thing that I think everyone can agree can be explained as distortion of history, where multiple clutches were on the sands.

I know DF had some solid figures about the ramping-up period - I remember Lessa looking at the records and scorning Namorth for not rising regularly and clutching larger amounts, rather than the 10(?) eggs in the clutch Ramoth hatched from, to get ready for the approaching Pass. I just don't remember what they were, or how logical they were. I do remember that Ramoth clutched 40-something her first clutch, and Prideth clutched 32 her first, but that was also in a 'only one Weyr!' situation, and I can't recall if they numbers eased at all after the Oldtimers came forward?
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Old Oct 11 2010, 10:33 PM   #20
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Red face Re: Clutch sizes

I just recall something, in DE/RSR. They were talking about the older riders, about two browns nearly getting themselves in practice, the dragon reflexes are good they would protect their rider but what about the rest of the wing? In fall. The younger ones, and not rush their training. For the Wyer was a full power.

51 egg just before the second pass, and two of the jr. queens doing good in their clutches with more blue and greens. Teglar Weyr had five queens which was good for the low flying wing.

Moreta queen had 25 + a queen. eight turns before end that pass.

I don't know if this is usable or not.
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Old Jun 15 2015, 11:54 PM   #21
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Would this quote from Dragon's Fire help?

https://books.google.com/books?id=Kl...q=eggs&f=false

Page 409
Quote:
There were only twenty-three eggs on the Grounds. Cristov had learned that traditionally a queen would lay as few as thirty and as many as forty or more eggs. That Garirth had lain so few was a further indication of her extreme age.
Also, in Sky Dragon there were some queens that laid just a little over twenty for their first clutch. Greens, meanwhile, seem to lay between 5 and 20.

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Old Jun 16 2015, 02:34 PM   #22
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

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Would this quote from Dragon's Fire help?

https://books.google.com/books?id=Kl...q=eggs&f=false

Page 409

Also, in Sky Dragon there were some queens that laid just a little over twenty for their first clutch. Greens, meanwhile, seem to lay between 5 and 20.
Not really, since it's Todd's books so 50-75% of us will consider it less than canon. The simple reference to fertile greens dumps it on the 'apocryphal' heap for a lot of people.
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Old Jun 16 2015, 04:28 PM   #23
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Not really, since it's Todd's books so 50-75% of us will consider it less than canon. The simple reference to fertile greens dumps it on the 'apocryphal' heap for a lot of people.
Why are fertile greens a problem? It makes sense to me. For that matter, why are Todd's books a problem? I've only read two and part of a third, but they don't seem that bad. Will his sister face this same problem when she ventures into writing for Pern?
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Old Jun 18 2015, 04:17 PM   #24
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

It makes a lot more sense to me that Kitti Ping would plan for the greens to just be sterile, limiting the numbers of smaller dragons, than that she would attempt to link firestone use to fertility. It doesn't impact the queens' fertility, she simply made it so they couldn't process the firestone in the first place.

Once that knowledge was lost, people simply made a false extrapolation - greens use firestone and are sterile, queens don't use firestone and are fertile, therefore the firestone must be the reason greens are sterile. No queen rider would risk sterilizing her queen, so they wouldn't rediscover that firestone simply doesn't work for queens.
And until F'lar was trying to repopulate the Weyrs in DF, there would be no reason to withhold firestone from a young green in order to let it clutch.

I certainly could see him trying it, if there had been more time before Lessa's ride - but then, would he have been able to convince that young rider just how critically important it was that he NOT let his beloved dragon learn to chew firestone with the rest of her clutchmates? (There's an interesting story idea...)
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Old Jun 19 2015, 05:29 PM   #25
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

What Brenda says. Fertile greens make some of the tense moments in canon silly, since the solution was staring them in the face. Also, accidents happen and at least a few green clutches would've happened unintentionally, especially in times like the Long Interval when Weyrs got sloppy about maintaining training.

(And there's absolutely no reason the FIRST riders wouldn't have let at least some greens clutch, since they needed to pump their numbers up in a hurry, and even if the greens only lay greens and blues, those are still immensely valuable fighting dragons.)

Dragonsdawn is a pretty good book, and it's pretty clear in that book that Queens just can't process firestone at all, not that firestone is linked to infertility. That book also gives Kitti Ping's reasons for setting it up the way she did. Personally, I think it would've made more sense for her to set it up so that the greens are fertile til they get the infertility switch from firestone, just in case, but believable characters sometimes make choices that I disagree with. Kitti Ping explicitly did so.

And, honestly, clutching greens are such a fandom cliche that by the time canon got around to it, I was already tired of it.
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Old Jun 20 2015, 02:31 PM   #26
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Well, she probably would have done more if she'd had more time, too - I imagine it's a lot easier to just cut off the connection that would allow queens to process firestone, than it would be to try and add a trigger from use of firestone.
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Old Jun 20 2015, 05:39 PM   #27
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

But how do we know that greens DIDN'T clutch during the Long Intervals? Or that the first riders didn't use them to breed more dragons?

As for greens, they are already fertile until they chew firestone. The firestone is what triggers their sterility. Now that I think about it... Don't weyrlings start firestone chewing while the dragons are still maturing? So how could there be any accidental clutches?
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Old Jun 20 2015, 05:40 PM   #28
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

But how do we know that greens DIDN'T clutch during the Long Intervals? Or that the first riders didn't use them to breed more dragons?

As for greens, they are already fertile until they chew firestone. The firestone is what triggers their sterility. Now that I think about it... Don't weyrlings start firestone chewing while the dragons are still maturing? So how could there be any accidental clutches?
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Old Jun 20 2015, 11:09 PM   #29
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

If the first riders were breeding greens (they weren't) it would say so in D'dawn and First Fall/The Second Weyr. Sorka mentions only golds, bronzes, and browns breeding. F'lar in the Ninth Pass dismisses the notion *even if it were possible*, pointing out they'd be up to their eyeballs in green dragons. Greens and blues are worker drones, engineered from green and blue firelizards that have little to no success raising offspring.
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Old Jun 20 2015, 11:55 PM   #30
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Blues and greens were not engineered from green and blue firelizards. It is stated in the chapter about the first hatching that "Kitti programmed the heavier males, but I believe they're to carry sperm for the entire range" (Pol speaking to Emily).
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Old Apr 8 2016, 06:13 PM   #31
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Clutch size and wing composition are related. Clutches would range 30-36 dragons; one or two bronze, two or three brown, ten to twelve blue and eighteen to twenty-two green. They are formed into a wing, with the either the lone bronze or dominant bronze as wingleader. The wingleader is expected to lead right from the start, usually by simply telling him the training schedule and having him organize the wing, assisted by his wing second.

This means, of instance, that some wings will be smaller than others. Flar's wing is only twelve in number, but it was the second last clutch before Ramoth (I can't remember Jora's queen's name). I also don't remember how many were in her final clutch.

This is also in keeping with R'gel's comment about 'light casualties for a green wing' in DQ. Rather than split a clutch up as reinforcements, the dragon riders kept them as a complete unit. All the dragons are siblings, which might make communications between them easier, and there might be a sibling bond between the dragons. The wing would all train together and be more consistent in age, size and capabilities.
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Old Apr 9 2016, 04:12 PM   #32
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

But that would mean that an entire cohort would age/retire/die together depriving the fighting wings of their experience.

Having wings of mixed ages/experience (as well as mixed colours) would make more strategic sense.
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Old Apr 11 2016, 07:12 PM   #33
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Experience would not be lost as the diminished wings would train the upcoming ones. Also a small wing would be attached to a novice wing to advise, reinforce, and act as a reserve in the novice wing's first fight.

Dispersing the wings also means that experienced riders would be assigned to a novice Bronzerider's wing. Given human nature, many would consider this an insult or, at the least, they would continually question the orders of the Wingleader. Others would simply treat him as 'a kid still wet behind the ears'. In other wings, a rider might not trust a novice to be a proper wingman which would distract the elder and create conflicts.

The clutch/wing system keeps the performance of the wing consistent, they are all the same age and size. The riders will bond together better (with the normal family squabbles occurring) as a unit. The pairs within the wing would be selected by a combination of affinity between riders and orders from the Wingleader.

AFAIK, no queen has ever laid a clutch of only one or two colours, so the wing will naturally be mixed in colours. Monochrome wings are possible in either system, but I could only see them used in limited circumstances; e.g.. an all Green 'wing' to start the fight at extremely high altitude. Once that was completed, the Greens would rest, resupply and then rejoin their original wing.
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Old Apr 12 2016, 03:42 AM   #34
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

Experienced soldiers raising up baby officers is a longstanding tradition in most militaries. Hasn't caused many mutinies yet. And there's no reason a bronze would go straight from the weyrlingmaster's tender care to leading a wing of his own -- that's what wingsecond knots are for.

I don't see a benefit in creating an entire wing of people who have no idea what they're doing, when instead you could could have a two or three people per wing who don't know what they're doing, surrounded and guided by a few dozen who do.

I doubt lack of bonding within a wing's ever a problem, to be honest. They're all psychic, for starters, with dragons who communicate exclusively mind-to-mind, and there's never more than a few hundred dragonpairs in a Weyr at a time. There are high school classes that are bigger, let alone small towns where everyone knows everyone else's business.
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Old Apr 12 2016, 09:05 AM   #35
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You would probably have all green-blue wings under either system, since there are more of them, and they are noted as more agile than the heavier higher ranks.
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Old Apr 12 2016, 01:29 PM   #36
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

I think the first tasks of a newly graduated clutch would be resupplying the regular wings with firestone, checking for Thread burrows (and then burning them out), and possibly tagging along with the queens' wing to catch low-level Thread. The Weyrlingmaster could then see how well they performed in the presence of live Thread --- and the most effective of them would, I'm sure, be assigned to experienced wings, while others might be held back for a while.

I don't recall R'gul's "green wing" comment. It could mean any wing that hadn't flown Thread before --- which would actually include ALL the wings at the beginning of a Pass. At the end of Dragonflight, T'ton said the Bendenites had flown Thread very well "for a first battle, with every dragonman green as a hatchling."
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Old Apr 13 2016, 06:30 AM   #37
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

I always got the impression from the books that the wings were mixed (except for the golds) with the bronzes/browns doing a sort of heavy tank role -- long sustained bursts at major targets; and the agile blues/greens hopping about mopping up the remnants.
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Old Apr 13 2016, 04:20 PM   #38
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

The bonding that I spoke of was between the riders primarily. They go through basic training (care and feeding of their dragons, flight training, formation training and fighting training) together which increases their cohesion. While there may be good reasons to break them up, there are also good reasons to keep them together.

Another factor here is the gaps between clutches at Benden in the Long Interval. Large differences in age, stamina and maturity would occur when clutches are five or more years apart. There would be a natural tendency for the clutches to stick together.

The Old-timers might be remembering their own first fights of fifty years ago, but I doubt it. In the continuous fighting, it would be easier in many ways to just keep the clutches together and commit them as units rather than splitting them up amongst the other wings. This does not preclude detaching/attaching dragons between wings, which might happen if a wing loses its leader and second.

Weyrs are a rather unique type of society, rather like the militant Orders of the Middle Ages. We don't get much information about the actual organization and hierarchy beyond the fact that the Weyrleader is the rider of the Bronze which flies the senior Queen. The authority of the Weyleader is not absolute, however. F'lar (by his own admission) disobeys his Weyrleader and raids herds of the Holders. This implies that his wing is a close-knit group, willing to follow him in this insubordination and loyal to him first, the Weyrleader second. This would be more likely to happen in a clutch/wing system.
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Old Apr 13 2016, 09:15 PM   #39
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I don't think you can cite the social structure of 8th Interval Benden as indicative of how a normal Weyr would work. That was a dying culture struggling for fresh blood and purpose. F'lar very well may have just been leading his clutchmates, because who cares? What duties does a fighting wing have with Thread "not coming back"?

F'lar mostly taught himself to be a wingleader out of old records and memories of his father's enthusiasm. That doesn't mean that's a good way to train a wingleader if you have a better option. Nor is "You're my brother and I love you" a necessary or sufficient qualification for a second-in-command if you've got a choice in who you pick.
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Old Apr 14 2016, 12:07 AM   #40
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Default Re: Clutch sizes

<quote>Weyrs are a rather unique type of society, rather like the militant Orders of the Middle Ages. We don't get much information about the actual organization and hierarchy beyond the fact that the Weyrleader is the rider of the Bronze which flies the senior Queen. The authority of the Weyleader is not absolute, however. F'lar (by his own admission) disobeys his Weyrleader and raids herds of the Holders. This implies that his wing is a close-knit group, willing to follow him in this insubordination and loyal to him first, the Weyrleader second. This would be more likely to happen in a clutch/wing system.</quote>

The situation was that only 3 Holds were now tithing to Benden Weyr, and the Weyr had a new clutch of hungry baby dragons to feed (including Ramoth, the biggest ever). I'm sure F'lar and his wingmates (or possibly clutchmates) were only raiding the non-tithing Holds (not fair to punish the compliant ones).

R'gul and S'lel were taking the line that the Weyr should avoid making demands on the Holds, so it was no use F'lar asking permission to raid the herds. (And besides, he didn't have a lot of respect for them as leaders.) But Lessa thought he was knuckling under to R'gul, so she hinted to K'net that he might do some raiding, only he was not circumspect about it, and the Lords started advancing on the Weyr shortly before Ramoth's mating flight.
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