Crafthalls of Pern

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In the series of books Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, all forms of human knowledge are maintained by one or more crafthalls. Based loosely on the medieval system of guilds, the crafthall system on Pern is designed to maintain both theoretical and practical knowledge across a broad area in the absence of widespread printing, advanced communications, or record-keeping technology.

History of the Crafthall system[edit]

Pern did not have time to establish systems of learning before the calamities of the First Pass; however, pre-colonization plans included a system similar to the Crafthall system. Originally, the Crafthalls were centralized as a University at Fort Hold, built around the computer databanks available there. With the breakdown of the available computers and the loss of electrical power at the beginning of the Second Pass (Dragonseye), there was little point in continuing to confine the scholars of Pern away from the subjects of their study. Contrariwise, there were political and economic reasons to distribute the Crafts around the settlements of the Northern Continent. As a result, the Halls drifted apart physically. Over time, this led to the Halls adopting the same philosophy and politics of autonomy that already dominated the Holds; by the Eighth Pass, this trend had led to the breakdown of nearly all cross-craft technical collaboration. The dramatic reversal of this trend near the end of the Eighth Interval was crucial for the success of the recolonization of the South during the Ninth Pass. After the rediscovery of the original settlements and their precious treasure of databanks and ancient technologies, a University of sorts was re-established at Landing, and cross-craft contact was elevated to a level not seen since the Second Pass. However, the tradition of Hall autonomy except in planetwide matters was maintained, as was the widespread geographic distribution of centers of learning on Pern.

Each of the crafthalls on Pern adhere to the same basic organizational structure and ranking system.

Craft ranking system[edit]

There are three degrees of rank: apprentice, journeyman (or journeywoman), and master. Apprentices begin their education as early as eight or nine years of age and are instructed by one or more master craftsmen on a regular basis. Journeymen (or women) continue to receive instruction, but may go without instruction for indefinite periods of time to practice their craft in outlying settlements. The majority of a craft's members will be journeymen and journeywomen; many will never advance beyond this point. The highest regular rank is master which denotes the ability, right, and responsibility to pass the ways of the Craft on to apprentices and journeymen. There are two types of Master in a crafthall: a Craftsmaster, who is higher ranking than apprentices and journeymen/journey women, and a Master Craftsman, who is in charge of all things relating to that particular craft.

Organizational structure[edit]

Crafts are divided into separate halls. These Halls are both places of work and a social structure. A Crafthall may range from a humble Fisher's shack on a rocky coast to the great craft complexes like Smithhall at Telgar or the Harper-Healer Hall at Fort. Generally, one or more crafthalls are recognized as being the center of learning for their craft are generally identified as Major Crafthalls, the rest being considered Minor Crafthalls. Each crafthall selects a leader from among their masters, and the convocation of all Craftsmasters of a craft elect their head, their Craft's Mastercraftsman. The Mastercraftsman has the right to speak for all members of his Craft, planet-wide.

The difference between Hall-Crafts and Hold-crafts[edit]

A distinction should be drawn between the Hold-crafts and the Hall-crafts. Several Crafts, while having their own Halls and places of learning, are basic skills that no Hold can do without. Examples include the Farmercraft, Cookingcraft, and Beastcraft (or Herdcraft). These Hold-crafts are therefore found everywhere, and their life does not primarily revolve around their home Halls. In contrast, crafts such as the Minercraft, Smithcraft, or Healercraft require specific locations, specialized halls, and years of learning to master. Unlike the Hold-crafts, these Crafts stand somewhat aloof from the regular day-to-day life of the Holds of Pern.

List of major Crafthalls[edit]

  • Harper Hall, at Fort
  • Healer Hall, at Fort
  • Smithcrafthall, at Telgar
  • Minecrafthall, at Crom
  • Beastcrafthall, at Keroon
  • Farmer Hall, at Nerat
  • Vintner Hall, at Benden
  • Glass-smith Hall, at Ista
  • Fishercrafthall, at Tillek
  • Weavercrafthall, at Southern Boll
  • Tannercraft hall, at Igen

Several additional halls were established with the rediscovery of scientific knowledge in the Ninth Pass (All the Weyrs of Pern and subsequent novels):

  • Printer Hall, at Lemos (loosely allied with the harper hall)
  • Plastic-smith Hall, at Southern
  • Technicians Hall, at Landing (loosely allied with the smithcrafthall)
  • Dolphin Hall, at Kahrain

See also[edit]