About the Craft


A Harper's Life


Events in the Harperhall


Meet the Harpers


In the Vaults

Torlan's The Survey of Pern

Up ] Dragons ] Interviews ] Character Research ] As Pern Turns ] Diary ] Zither ] Guilt ] Ter's Concert ] [ Survey ] Ylisa's Concert ]

Table of Contents


  1. My name is Mandark and I live with my mother. (Introduction)

  2. I put this wire here, and that one there, and then (The Process)

  3. I look great for someone 5..uh... 41! (Ages)

  4. So what exactly do you /do/ for a living? (Occupations)

  5. I'm a Frenchman and I'm damn proud! (Birthplaces and homes)

  6. Come here cute little dogEEE!!! Owe! (Pets and Money)

  7. She says her name is "Get away from me!" (Firelizards)

  8. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father! (Family)

  9. Alternative Lifestyles (Alts)

  10. I'll need three copies of your birth certificate (Creation dates)

  11. How to tell if the gather was a success (Popular Holds)

  12. How to tell if you overprice your merchandise (Popular Crafts)

  13. How to tell if you have writer's block (Popular Books)

  14. I'll never let go, Jack, I'll never let go (Conclusion)

  15. Jansen, take a memo! (Notes)


I'm Torlan a Senior Apprentice at the Harper Hall of Ista Hold. For my Journeyman Project I have conducted a survey of HT characters and listed the responses of 52 of Harper's Tale's most active residents. Since there are 1549 characters on HT at the time of this writing, I have contacted a sample of 3.35 percent of all characters on HT. I find this to be a sufficient enough sample to provide accurate results. The survey was conducted in October of 1998 and released in March of 1999. I calculate the margin of error to be + or - 3.5%. While this is a great range, it is nearly impossible to get more respondents than the number I was able to manage. When I refer to "characters" I refer to characters that in October of 1998 had 4 hours or greater average activity.

The Process

The process of this project was very interesting. To begin with, I looked at the activity of all characters on HT. Those that had an average of four or more hours of activity were put onto a list. This list was quite large, and I cut up all of the names and stuck them in a big empty yogurt container. Then, with the help of Jerran (Harper Journyeman of Tillek) we picked out 100 names. Now instead of just taking 100 names, I decided that the person had to be picked twice in order to make the survey even more random. I wrote down the 100 names and put everyone back into the jug. Jerran and I shuffled it up again and picked another 100 names. About 30 came up for the second time and were escorted into the "yes" pile. We shuffled and picked again, and this time 40 names that had come up from one the first two drawings came up again. These were put aside. Now, in the final drawing, we got 32 names. Thus, the first 100 were chosen.

That was only the beginning. Next, I had to make the survey and decide what I wanted to ask. The biggest decision was whether or not I was going to ask for information on alts. I know many players are very secretive about who their alts are, and I knew that a few would probably be offended if I asked for their names. Thus, I worked out a nice compromise. I asked only for the ages of their alts and not their names or occupations. Even still, some players were fairly cryptic about the ages, and in contrast some would list off all of their alts by name.

Once the survey was completed (and read over several times by Katja the SuperMentor), it was sent out to the 100 active HTers with the polite request that they participate in the survey. About half of those contacted agreed, and I eagerly sent out the survey to them. Close to 35 players returned the surveys, but I decided that I wanted more than 35 responses. I had to choose whether to open the survey up to the public and allow anyone to respond or to try to contact more people. I decided to open it up to the public, and many more responses poured in. I took the first 17 responses by active (my definition being an average of 4 hours) players. Now I was up to 52 and I began to input all of the results into Excel.

Good old Excel. The thing got me through 884 question responses and 16,897 fields of input! It ended up taking me five months to sort through and input in all of the data, although admittedly I didn't make it my first priority. Once all of the fields were complete I had to read the data to see what was most interesting. Once I outlined the areas of interest I began writing this final statistical analysis. I hope I have included enough interesting tidbits about HT's characters to keep you reading through the entire document. That said, on with the show!



This was a fairly simple category. I simply asked each person for his or her characters age (Turn, Month).

25.8% of all characters are between the ages of 17 and 20. This is not overly surprising considering the main characters of the most of the Pern books are close to this age.

What /is/ surprising is that the average character age is 22.84. This suggests that while the most concentrated group of characters is ages 17 through 20, there are more characters older than that than younger.

That fact is supported with that statistic that 17.7% of characters (easily the second largest demographic) are between the ages of 21 and 24. Ages 25-28 and 29-32 tied for third with 11.3%. The smallest group? 1.6% of HT characters are 49 turns or older.


This statistic had to be broken up into two groups, occupation by rank (Apprentice, weyrleader, drudge, etc.), and occupation by type (Healer, Weyr resident, Harper).

Almost 1/5 (20.3%) of characters are Harper's Tale apprentices. But if you consider that the Harper craft has 85 members (5.5% of the characters on HT) and 56 of them are Apprentices (this does not include Senior Apprentices), the statistic suddenly becomes much more realistic.

Dragonrider characters and Journeyman characters tie with 14.1% of the vote each for the second largest rank.

Close to 1/10 (9.4%) of HT characters are hold workers. This includes all positions in a hold besides Lord Holder, Lady Holder, Headwoman and Steward.

Only 3.1% of characters have positions of leadership within a hold, 3.1% of characters are leaders in a Weyr.

In terms of association, 18.8% of characters are mainly associated with a Hold. This does not include crafts located at a hold, or Keroon and Tillek holds which were not open at the time the survey was conducted.

Following holders are the dragonriders who make up 15.6% of characters.

3rd and 4th place go to Herders (12.5%) and Harpers (10.9%) respectively (NOTE: This statistic /could/ be off due to the large number of eager Harper respondents. I calculate that the number of Harpers is no less than 8%, which would still have been the fourth largest group).

Only 1.6% of characters are associated with the Seacraft.

Birthplaces and Homes

Finding the birthplaces of characters was much easier than I suspected. Due to the low number of characters with histories I assumed many hadn't chosen where their characters had come from; I was wrong. Only one person hadn't chosen where their character was from. What made the statistic more difficult was the fact that there were so many different places characters could be born. To simplify this (and also to make this statistical range greater), I sorted birthplaces into Hold regions. Someone born in a cothold in the outskirts of Ruatha was considered born in the Ruath Hold area. Someone who was born at Telgar Weyr was born in the Telgar Hold area.

It comes as little surprise that 21.5% of characters were born on Ista Island. An interesting side-note is that only one was born in Ista whose character had been around /before/ the move to Ista from Fort.

Perhaps because Ruatha Hold will never be an HT hold it makes player's want to have their characters there. Or, it could be because much of The White Dragon takes place in Ruatha. Either way, Ruatha is the second largest home-hold for Istans with 15.4%.

The third and fourth largest home-holds were Fort (12.3%) and Telgar (10.8%). Fort's inclusion in the top four did not surprise me, but Telgar's did. Apparently Benden Hold doesn't have the same appeal the Weyr does, because only 1.5% of characters came from it.

In terms of where on Ista characters are now, the largest number (23.0%) is at Ista Hold. This DOES include the crafts that are located at Ista Hold, and explains why it is so much higher than the others.

Ista Weyr has the second largest population with 19.7% of characters.

In a surprising upset, the 14.8% of characters at Gar Hold easily outnumber the 9.8% living in High Reaches Weyr. This occurs mostly because the Stacraft is located at Gar.

Only 1.6% HT characters live on Paradise Island.

In terms of only Ista Island, 25.5% of Istans live at Ista Hold.

Pets and Money

I was surprised at the low number of people who owned pets. Owning three on this character alone, I was sure that most people would own pets... I was wrong. As far as marks go, a few of you have SO many you SCEW the results!

44.1%, the great majority, have no pets. Although 55.9% do have pets, I divided them by the number of pets they had. 15.3% have one pet, 11.9% have two pets, and 10.2% have 3 pets. Surprising, the next largest number of pet owners have 9 or more pets (5.1%).

The average person has 1.57 pets.

37.5% of all pets are canines. Ferrets make up the second largest group with 16.3%. Felines and rabbits tie for third with 15.0% each.

I theorize that most people get pets before they have great flocks of firelizards, and once they get the firelizards they @recycle some or all of their pets. This is supported by the fact that 43.1% of all pets are zero to two years old. Only 1.5% are older than 10. Pets 3-4 make up the second largest group with 24.6% and ages 5-6 are third with 12.3%.

The average age of a pet is 4.35 turns.

The average person has 13.26 marks on hand. Taking away several individuals (no names mentioned) with an inordinately LARGE number of marks, that number is reduced to 8.99. Big difference, huh? Those four individuals had 215 1/8 marks together...

The average apprentice has 12.9 marks. This seems suspicious, but if I take away the character with a large number of marks, it becomes 9.83. Either apprentices dabble in thievery or they make great commissions, but either way, I want to get in on it!


It wasn't surprising to find that the vast majority of respondents had firelizards. Owning anywhere from one to six firelizards, characters have everything from five blue flits to five brown ones.

Unsurprisingly, blues make up 29.6% of the firelizards on HT. Browns scored a minor upset over greens with the second largest population (27.2%). This isn't much of a surprise considering HT's strict breeding policy.

Greens trailed far behind with 18.4% of the population. Bronzes were fourth with 13.6% and, no shock, there are fewest golds on HT (11.2%).

The average HT player has 2.4 firelizards. The average firelizard owner, on the other hand, has 3.21 firelizards. This suggests that once a player gets one firelizard they aren't likely to stop there.

40.3% of firelizards are between zero and two turns old. Trailing far behind are the 21.8% of firelizards that are three to four turns old.

The next largest demographic was the firelizards that are eleven turns old or older. They made up 13.7% of the firelizards on HT. I hypothesize that most characters are active when they are first created, but that many idle out and get reaped when they reach the middle ages. Those that do stick around end up having a lot of flits and make up the 11+ group.

Only 5.6% of firelizards are between five and six years old.

The average firelizard is 5.02 turns old.


Many of the characters on HT, either on their own or by help with *family-requests, have created PC families. When I asked for information on characters' families I asked for PC character only, however many also gave me their NPC families. I cringed as I read page-long detailed descriptions of entire NPC family infrastructures. I apologize to those of you who took the time to write all of this out, I should have made it clearer that I desired only PC family members.

The average character has 1.2 PC family members. The average character with PC family has 2.18 of them, two bodies and an arm! 53% of HT characters don't have PC families, although many of them had been created only a few months before the survey was given.

Of the role a family member plays, 15.8% of HT characters have PC sisters, which is a great deal larger than the 7.7% with brothers.

The ubiquitous "cousin" is a PC family member of 12.8% of you, and 11.5% have PC foster sibs. Only 1.3% have PC mothers, which is unfortunately lower than expected.

24.3% of characters' PC family members are Holders, either residents, staff, or heads. This does not include Fosterlings. Why? Because 20% of family members are fosterlings at a hold, hall, or Weyr. 12.9% live in a Weyr, 7.1% are herders.

Surprisingly, just 1.4% of family members are Harpers. I guess we're more emotionally isolated than most would think.


I've heard of players with eight or nine alts and shaken my head in disbelief. I've been on HT for close to three years now and have only managed to keep two characters together at a time. I've just branched out to four and am already about to lose one to idle-reap. How people can manage to keep so many characters active is amazing. While they RP on four characters at a time, I'll just sit back and analyze the stats...

The average player has 2.04 alts NOT including the character that returned the survey/

The average player with alts has an average of 2.79 alts not including the character that returned the survey.

23.6% of alts, by far the largest group, are between the ages of 17 and 20.

The second largest group is ages 21-24 (18.9%).

The next largest groups are 13-16 (12.3%), 0-8 (11.3%), 25-28 (8.5%), and 29-32 (6.6%). It is interesting to compare that main characters ages 25-28 make up 11.3% of the whole for main characters, but trail in fifth place for alts with only 8.5%. This holds true for 29-32 (6.6% dropping from 11.3%). Also interesting is that the demographic groups of ages 0-8 and 13-16 are much larger for alts than for main characters (3.2% to 11.3% and 6.5% to 12.3%).

Generally, the above trends seem to indicate that the main character of each player is older than the ages of most of their alts.

The smallest portion of any group in the entire survey is the 0.9% of alts ages 45-48...

The average age of an alt is 22.28 turns old.

Remember that the average age of a main character is 22.84 turns old, which is slightly (.56) older.

Creation Dates

Not surprisingly, most HT characters have been created in the last year and a half. Only one person I surveyed had their first character made in 1993 or earlier.

Over half (53.7% to be exact) of players made their first HT character between July of 1997 and October of 1998. To be more precise, 20.4% made their first HT character between January and June of 1998. That group is followed by the 18.5% that made their first character between July and December of 1997, and the 14.8% of players that started between July and October of 1998.

Only 1.9% of players started playing HT between January and June of 1993.

30.1% of alts were created between July and October of 1998.

16.4 % were made in January through June of 1998, July through December harbored 15.1% of alts, and only 1.4% were created in January through June of 1993.

Players who made their first PERN character in July through December of 1997 edged out players of January through June of 1997 and January through June of 1998 (15.8% to 14.0%).

Surprisingly, fewer players made their first character in July through December of 1993 than January through June, despite having higher numbers in the first HT character category.

Popular Holds

The final three questions of my survey were questions that asked the players' opinions. The first question was which Hold was their favorite. Instead of analyzing the numbers, I'll just present the numbers and give any appropriate comments.

1st: Ista Hold (24.3%) No surprise here!

2nd: Grinstead (16.1%)

3rd: Gar (16.0%) This is so close that they almost tie.

4th: Blacksands (11.5%)

5th: Paradise (11.1%) Paradise has run many events since October of '98 and I believe that now their popularity as a hold would be higher.

6th: Sea Cliffs (10.9%)

7th: Redsands (10.1%) This percentage shows partially why Redsands is in the process of deciding whether to stay open.

Popular Crafts

It was hard to choose which crafts to include in the survey. I could have included them all but I felt that the Seacraft and Bakercraft were too small (or not active enough) to be included, and would probably be left out on many player's ballots.

1st: Harpercraft (17.2%) Although I should be impartial, YAH!

2nd: Healercraft (14.9%) We can get along without music, but not without Felis!

3rd: Dolphincraft (11.9%)

4th: Herdercraft (11.8%) Like Grinstead and Gar, these are just about a tie.

5th: Starcraft (10.8%)

6th: Weavercraft (10.2%) Many people forgot (or chose not to include) this craft on their ballot, despite inclusion on my help_file.

7th: Smithcraft (9.9%)

8th: Minecraft (7.1%) The Minecraft was left off many ballots as well.

9th: Farmcraft (6.1%) The Farmcraft got perhaps the least recognition of any craft.

Popular Books


Two books easily stood out in players' minds, but after those two there was no clear favorite for third.

1st: Dragonflight (17.3%) For many this is probably the first book they read, and the one that started it all.

2nd: Masterharper of Pern (12.3%) It might be because it is the latest book released, or it may just be because Robinton is so dang popular!

3rd: Dragonsong (9.2%) The anchor of the Harper Hall series barely captured third.

4th: The White Dragon (8.7%)

5th: Dragonsinger (8.4%)

6th: Moreta, Dragonlady of Pern (7.9%)

7th: *TIE* All the Weyrs of Pern and Dragonsquest (6.9%)

9th: Dragonsdawn (5.8%)

10th: Dolphins of Pern (4.0%)

11th: Dragondrums (3.0%)

12th: *TIE* Dragonseye and Nerilka's Story (2.5%) *Dragonseye is known as Red Star Rising for our European friends* I guess everyone else didn't like the first person perspective of Nerilka as much as I did...

14th: Renegades of Pern (2.2%)

15th: Chronicles of Pern, First Fall (1.8%)

16th: The Girl who heard Dragons (0.7%)


So, that summarizes the responses of the first official (and hopefully annual) Survey of Pern. I'd like to thank my wonderful mentor Katja, the Harper Council for approving my project, and especially to the wonderful HTers who were willing to take time out of their busy RP (and channel-chat!) sessions to talk about themselves. Thanks so much!

-Harper Senior Apprentice Torlan, Ista Hold.

*Notes: Sample characters had to meet 4 hour average activity before participating in this survey, which could easily explain why the Moo numbers do not equal the survey numbers. Respondents were chosen randomly from a carton of over 450. Travelers were not considered for this survey due to their characters' (assumed) limited time on the Moo.





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Harper's Tale MOO Web SiteThe Masterharper's Office Graphics Copyright P. Rutins & J. Hamilton, 1999

Design Copyright S. Minkus & L. Ledger, 2003

Content Copyright the Members of the Harper's Tale Harpercraft, 1999-present

Pern and the concept of the Harpercraft is the property of Ms. Anne McCaffrey, who kindly allows us to play in her world. Thank you!