The Survey of Pern

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Fan Survey
Title: The Survey of Pern
Date(s): probably 1998
Medium: report
Fandom(s): Dragonriders of Pern, Harper's Tale MOO
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The Survey of Pern was undertaken by the person playing the Harper Apprentice Torlan in Harper's Tale MOO (another word for a type of MUD or MUCK: "MUD object-oriented)), as Torlan's Journeyman Project. The survey was undertaken among players of the MOO, probably in 1998.

Sample characters had to meet 4 hour average activity before participating in this survey. Of this number, one hundred characters were selected at random, and sent the survey (though not all responded). At the time there were 1549 characters in Harpers' Tale MOO. The responses of 52 of Harper's Tale's most active residents were analysed.

The results of the survey were posted on the player's personal website, The Mystic's Dream, and linked from the Harper Hall website for Harper's Tale MOO. Unfortunately, the survey was not linked to the index page of Mystic's Dream, and hence does not appear to have been archived. It seems therefore to have disappeared when GeoCities went down in 2009. The original url was

The following information is included in the survey:


  • 25.8% of all characters are between the ages of 17 and 20
  • the average character age is 22.84

Occupation and Rank

  • 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.
  • 18.8% of characters are mainly associated with a Hold
  • dragonriders make up 15.6% of characters
  • 3rd and 4th place go to Herders (12.5%) and Harpers (10.9%) respectively
  • Only 1.6% of characters are associated with the Seacraft


  • 21.5% of characters were born on Ista Island (the location for Harpers' Hall MOO)
  • 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%).


  • 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%.
  • 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!


  • 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.
  • blues make up 29.6% of the firelizards on HT. Browns scored a minor upset over greens with the second largest population (27.2%).
  • 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 character has 1.2 PC family members. The average character with PC family has 2.18 of them
  • 53% of HT characters don't have PC families
  • 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
  • 24.3% of characters' PC family members are Holders, either residents, staff, or heads. This does not include Fosterlings.
  • 20% of family members are fosterlings at a hold, hall, or Weyr. 12.9% live in a Weyr, 7.1% are herders.
  • just 1.4% of family members are Harpers.


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

Creation dates

  • 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.

Additional Questions

Additional questions asked about:

  • most popular holds in the MOO
  • most popular crafts in the MOO
  • most popular of McCaffrey's books