Istan Territory

General Information



The territory predominantly involved in our game is the protectorate of Ista Weyr: the Big Island (Ista Island) and a portion of the Nerat Peninsula, and all Holds, major and minor, located within those areas. (Note: the northernmost part of the Nerat Peninsula falls under the protectorate of Benden Weyr.)

This includes:


Our territory lies in Pern's tropical zone, and as such boasts a hot climate for much of the Turn. The temperature rarely drops below 55 degrees Farenheit even in the cooler months of the Turn, though cooler air blowing in off the sea often means that it's actually slightly more comfortable along the coast than it is inland.

Istans, like other Pernese who live in tropical areas, typically sleep in hammocks rather than traditional beds.

The People

Natives of the Big Island in particular tend to be somewhat darker in skintone than other Pernese. This is not universal, of course, and depends strongly on the individual's genetics and forebears and how long their ancestors have inhabited the tropical region, but skintones of light tan to warmer brown to very dark are somewhat more common here than they are in the northern Holds and Weyrs. Neratian natives may also display this tendency, albeit to a lesser extent.

Of course, part of this can also be attributed to the fact that even those of fair skin tend to sport something of a tan Turn-round and may not actually appear as pale as they might if they lived in cooler climates where people stay covered and stay indoors for more of the Turn. While naturally darker hair colors are often common, sun-bleaching is prevalent among the population, too.

The “stereotypical” Istan, in the minds of much of Pern, is a bit of a mutt: blunt-featured, with naturally-tanned light brown skin with sunbleached brown hair, and eyes of either blue or very (almost unnaturally) light brown. In reality, though, Istans (and Neratians) can come in any size, shape, or color that any other Pernese can come in.


Because of the heat, native Istan and Neratians typically wear either very light clothing that they can layer as they see fit, or, in the deeper summer months, very little at all – depending on personal preference and how each individual responds to the heat.

Jewelry is very popular at Ista in particular, though only the very wealthy or otherwise well-connected can afford fine gemstones. Most Istan jewelry is made of shells and fiber, mother-of-pearl, or bone and ivory scrimshaw. Istan men are just as likely to sport jewelry as women are, and pierced ears are common in both sexes. (Note: Piercing of other body parts is also practiced occasionally, but anything that requires more than the most basic care and recovery time is discouraged, particularly among dragonriders, who can't afford to be unable to between because of a strictly cosmetic procedure!)

Ista Weyr




Ista Weyr: On a bright orange field, a Smoking Mountain in black

The Weyr

Ista Weyr, the second Weyr to be planned but the fifth to actually be settled and established, is located in the dormant remains of a half-volcano, right on the bay on the southwestern tip of the Big Island. Unlike most of the other Weyrs, it is not a full crater – the bayside half of the Weyr's caldera was blasted off in a volcanic eruption long before settlers arrived on Pern, leaving the Bowl of the Weyr open and facing the sea. At the edge of the open side of the Bowl, the mountain begins to slope downwards (the remnant of long-ceased and cooled lava flow), finally ending with a sharp drop-off to the black-sand beach – and beyond that, the sea – below.

Also unlike other Weyrs, Ista has no lake. There is a warren of tunnels within and below the Weyr, some of which house underground streams – fresh water flows in below the Weyr from lakes and rivers to the northeast, and architects and engineers long ago created a system of pipes to redirect that water where it most needed to be. There is an artificially-created waterfall on the north interior of the Bowl that feeds a small pool where dragonets too young to fly can bathe, and a system of pipes underground that feed fresh water into another pool connected to the herdbeast corral at the edge of the plateau. The water from this pool flows down the mountain and then spills directly over the side of the plateau, creating another waterfall that thunders down onto the beach below. This black-sand beach below the open side of the Bowl, below the plateau drop-off, is a gathering spot for the Weyr's adult dragons, who bathe in the sea Turn-round. Occasionally the top of a small mountain surfaces just offshore in response to undersea earthshakes, and when it does it often becomes home to a handful of sunning dragons or fishing riders, as well.

Ista is the smallest of the Weyrs of Pern, housing a maximum of four-hundred or so adult dragons. Even though it houses fewer dragons and a myriad of tunnels beneath the Weyr, it lacks adequate weyrspace for all its dragons within the confines of the Bowl, and so supplements with what the locals call “forest weyrs”. These are a feature unique to Ista Weyr, but hardly all that exciting – they're simply weyrs located on the outer face of the Bowl, with a view of the jungle, rivers, and well-traveled road to Ista Hold outside the Weyr's caldera rather than the interior of the Bowl.

Ista Hold


Ista Hold: Per Pale, bright orange and white


Ista Hold is very well-populated – in fact, the entire Island is. The population is spread out over the entire island, often clustering along the coast in every halfway decent cove. Given the easy access to the sea and lack of harsh winters, it is entirely possible to live a simple existence here subsisting entirely on fish, which are plentiful in the Istan waters, and fruit, which grow easily all over the island. Farther inland, people gather near fresh water in areas that are open enough to support farming and herding.

During the Interval, many Istans lived in simply-constructed thatched-roof cottages built from the surrounding trees and large-fronded plants. Since the First Fall disaster, however, many of the survivors are scrambling to either move into a traditional stone Hold or to find a cave or cliff-dwelling of their own. As a result, Ista is undergoing a rapid population shift.


Ista is a major stop on seagoing trade routes, as it has a variety of exports that either can't be found anywhere else on Pern, or that are in high demand for other reasons. While the port here is busy, the traders themselves are not encouraged to wander far beyond the docks. The Istan point of view is that the traders need them, not that they need the traders (though in reality they do rely on this trade as much as any other exporting Hold does).

Gems (most notably fine emeralds and sapphires from the mines in the Istan mountains)
Pearls (Pearl-diving is an Istan tradition that many sea-folk take up at a young age)
Fiber plants
Fruit (Easily traded because it grows so well here and doesn't suffer from the same bad harvest disasters that staple crops may suffer from on the mainland)
Citrus Fruit (A wildly popular export to the northern holds, in orange, yellow, and green – citrus grows at Ista with better quality and more abundance than in any other place.)
Peppers (mild to the hottest on Pern)

Nerat Hold


Per Bend Sinister, bright orange and golden yellow


Nerat has many miles of coastline, with a fertile-soiled interior that supports heavy farming through much of the Hold (and which is the reason Nerat also houses the Farmcrafthall). It also supports small forests and, nearer to its tip, marshland and jungles more similar to its distant island neighbor. This means that the people of Nerat may live a rather varied existence depending upon what area they live in. Fishing is a common profession, however, given the extensive coastline, with farming as a close second. Because the soil is better used for farming, Beastholding is rare in Nerat – as a result, the natives live on a diet high in fruits and vegetables, and they get the majority of their protein from fish or smaller game like chickens or wherries. In fact, chickens are extremely common here and nearly every Hold keeps a large number of them, both for their meat and for their eggs. Egg dishes are very popular in Nerat, and the egg shells are saved inorder to incorporate into fertilizer. Red meat is more of a delicacy, as the Hold must trade in order to obtain it in large quantities.


Bamboo (Note: not the same as actual Earth bamboo; however, it is similar. It is light, strong, and can be dried, cut, and/or woven to make wicker-like furniture and other goods, which is used in much of the Hold proper.)

Cable Knit Patterns

Of special note: While the weather is almost always too warm for sweaters or other warm knitted garments among the general populace of Ista Island, such sturdy, weather-resistant garments may still be worn by the many fishermen of Ista, who must often brave the elements and fare into cold waters. Knitting also serves well to give idle hands something to do during Ista's frequent bad weather.

Traditionally, each Sea Hold on Pern has its own unique knitting pattern that serves both as a point of pride, and to help identify the port of origin of a drowned sailor if his body should wash to shore. The pattern is either knit with plain yarn, or dyed with the Hold's colors.

Ista Hold: embossed/raised leaf pattern in the Hold colors, bright orange and white
Sea Cliff: moire stitch
Rocky Hold: star stitch
Nerat Hold: scallop shell stitch

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