GENERIC HOLD FAQ
This information applies to our club's Pern, using the novels, Atlas, and online resources as a basis for developing the culture currently present in this timeline.
A Major Hold is the primary political division on Pern for non-riders and non-crafters. It is referred to as the Hold (always capitalized) by the residents. The Hold itself usually houses anywhere from 500-1000 residents, although conditions may have reduced some Major Holds to as little as 300. Depending on the plans of the establishing Lord Holder, the main Hold building (referred to as the "Hold proper" in our timeline) can house almost all the residents - or as few as the Bloodline and those who server their daily needs. They generally have no form of electrical power. Heating is accomplished as in the 1800, with oil and coal or 'black rock' as it is known. Refrigeration is unknown. Refer to each Hold's details for the exact situation at each location.
The Hold's true population accounts for all the minor holds and cotholds that are beholden to the Lord Holder. This can range as small as 5,000 up to a well-populated 15,000.
A Lord Holder's successor (referred to as an "Heir") in the South must be male, and generally of the same Bloodline. However, if a Lord Holder has no likely heirs, or those he has are considered incompetent, he can designate any male he feels capable of running the Hold after his death. Birth order has no deciding factor on which of a Lord Holder's children (or nephews, cousins, or other male relatives) will be chosen as his Heir. In the rare cases that a Lord Holder dies with his heirs still underage, a Warder is appointed. The only time a woman will be left with the complete running of a Hold is as the Warder for her children or nephews if no male relative is available. It is extremely rare for the Lord Holders' Conclave to allow a male child to inherit, preferring adult leadership for Holds at all times.
The Lord Holder pays a tithe to the local Weyr at set times during the Turn. Since some items tithed are perishables (fruit, vegetables, etc), they must be delivered at appropriate times to be usable to the weyrfolk. All minor holds and cotholds are responsible for contributing to the tithe, and their portions are sent on a set schedule throughout the Turn.
Individual crafters are contracted to the Hold by the Lord Holder or his representative (often the Steward will handle more mundane details of day-to-day management). Contracts can run from a few sevendays (such as a portrait commission from an artist harper) to lasting for Turns (such as contracting a Master Harper or Healer for the Hold). Crafter contracts can range from a small payment of marks and room-and-board up to more luxurious contracts for a long-term crafter resident that includes perks such as special quarters, meals, or privileges in the Hold. The crafter's final loyalty lies with the main Crafthall for their craft.
When a Crafthall (also called a "Hall") is deemed necessary by a Lord Holder, he can offer a contract to the Craftmaster (not to be confused with a Hallmaster in charge of a minor Crafthall). The contract will include land and buildings for the Crafthall to initially inhabit, as well as detail any obligation the Crafthall has to the Hold in return for the chance to establish the Hall there. Halls are autonomous from the Lord Holder, although he can break the contract if the situation causes it to be necessary, and require the crafters to abandon the Hall. The reverse is also true. A Lord Holder in conflict with a Hallmaster can find that the Craftmaster withdraws all crafters from his location. New Crafthalls additionally have to be approved by the Lord Holders' Conclave, to prevent a particularly wealthy Lord Holder from dominating trade.
A minor hold is a larger community beholden to a Major Hold. Minor holds are not capitalized unless you were referring to the proper name (Three Trees Hold, Dark Cliff Hold, etc). They house approximately 100-500 residents, although the average is about 250. They are led by a male resident, who is called the Holder (not the Lord Holder), and are usually inherited along the male bloodline. Such inheritance must be approved by the Lord Holder upon the current Holder's death. They may have crafters in residence under contracts as they can afford them, but never a Crafthall. Minor holds can be specialized as farming, mining, or other pursuits. They can trade for items their own areas do not supply at local Market Days, or with passing trader caravans. A minor hold answers to their Lord Holder and no one else.
A cothold is the smallest community on Pern. Their names are often tied to the family residing there (Marthin cothold), and cothold is never capitalized. They can house as few as one family (unusual) and as many as 50-75 residents, usually all related in some manner. Due to the communal nature of Pern, and the harsh life on an agricultural world with limited technology, the average number of residents is usually over 20 in a cothold. There are no crafters in residence at a cothold, unless one of the family members has sought craft training and later left the Craft or gotten special permission to return home permanently. Cotholds can be specialized as farming, mining, or other pursuits. They can trade for items their own areas do not supply at local Market Days, or with passing trader caravans. A cothold answers to their Lord Holder and no one else.
A cot is quite literally a cottage. A simple building meant to house one family, although with additions it can house extended family members.