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Trade and Markets in Glorantha

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On 10/13/2017 at 5:47 AM, Joerg said:

Are the shards fixed in their distance to one another, or could there be some oscillation there, caused by ebbing and flowing of the Doom Currents?

Teleos at least is said to have "shifted" during the Closing so it apparently happens -- but rarely enough that the dislocation could be detected and was considered worth mentioning. Mostly flagging this point because I've had difficulty getting a sense of linear intercontinental distance. The Homeward Ocean may confound navigation and so appear bigger or smaller than various methods suggest. For all I know there are relativistic effects.  

On which note, I wonder now whose epochal feats of sail revealed the Homeward islands. Maybe these were unknown to modern cartographers before the Cradle Saga? 


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On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Your definition of non-coastal sailing - staying afloat for months outside of the sight of land - is unknown in anything but the modern age of our world, pioneered by portuguese, and even they used island and port hopping wherever possible. So, when I am talking about sailing the high seas, it is in that context - vessels leaving the sight of land to cut across to a known or at least assumed destination.

My definition of non-coastal sailing is sailing beyond sight of land. The Portuguese were far far later.


On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Kethaelan triremes with a crew of 170 are basically a somewhat widened and elongated penteconter hull (like the Wolf Pirate ships) built up with added space for the second and third banks of rowers on top of the  bottom fifty, and usually a planked deck above the rowers. A smaller penteconter patrol craft is described in Men of the Sea. It has about the same freeboard as a regular penteconter (counted to the lowest openings to the oars). Typically, on a cruise only the lower deck will be crewed, and keep a steady speed rowing in shifts. Having the full complement of rowers at the oars happens only in combat situations, parades or races.

Um, no, a trireme is very different in size and construction to a penteconter. The two ship types are very different. I'd be wary of using 'Men of the Sea' as a reference, as much of its material about ancient ships is inaccurate.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Apart from purely coastal patrols, triremes usually carry a mast and sail. The wolf pirate ships are a monoreme design with a ramming bow suitable for shearing maneuvers (attacking enemy vessels* oars) and for locking the ship to their prey. The animated figureheads help in this.

A trireme has a full ram, often three-bladed; a Wolf Pirate has a a fore-ram and cutwater. The use and operation of the two are very different: the former is intended to hole the enemy; the latter to hold an enemy for boarding.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

The crew to cargo capacity ratio of a wolf pirate ship is hardly better than that of a trireme. The trireme has a much wider deck, and some more space between the rowers especially on the upper banks.

Roughly true: neither are cargo vessels; a trireme is much larger.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Yes, storms have a tendency to scatter fleets, seriously reducing sight and communication. But fleets were rarely uniform, mixing triremes with pentaremes and biremes, for different tactical purposes. If you look at the naval war between the Persians and the Greeks with Marathon and Salamis, you see coastal sailing and very mixed fleets on the side of the Persians, and apart from scout crafts, no serious attempt to attack the approaching fleet by the Athenians prior to Salamis.

And neither were operating very far from friendly ports. There are reasons why the Athenians waited until Salamis - restricted waterway where their tactics and operational capability could overcome the superior number in the Persian fleet.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

The Spanish Armada was a transport fleet full of land forces rather than a fleet of invincible fighting vessels. Crew/passenger to cargo space were ,similarly unfavourable as with galleys, which limited their operations to coastal operations. The only fleet larger than that, the treasure fleet of Zheng He, followed the coasts as well, establishing contact with the coastal natives imposing trade and tribute on them.

The Spanish Armada is a good example of a fleet being scattered by a storm; the exploits of Zheng He are the subject of considerable debate.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Nobody expects to be out at sea for more than a fortnight. Most journeys take less than a week - if conditions make a trip take much longer, only a very desperate ship will attempt it, and with short rations and water.

According to the Guide, long-distance trade routes out-of-sight-of-land are minor, even those taking 'seven days.' The majority of shipping is coastal.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Both Waertagi and Sendereven live off the bounty of the seas when at high seas.

And neither are ordinary sailors.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Obviously, a pirate craft needs to have enough cargo space for the booty it wants to make from its opponent unless the objective is to capture the entire vessel. Far from all ships will carry significant amounts of high value low volume goods.

We are talking about ramming combat here, so the target ship is rather likely not to survive the encounter.

There's little room on a penteconter, and pirates throughout history have captured the cargo vessel, not sunk it. It's pretty tricky to offload a cargo from one vessel to another at sea, especially when the pirate vessel lacks a hold. If a pirate holes the cargo vessel, it will take its cargo and crew to the bottom.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

The usual way to deal with rain - whether to capture it or to avoid it flooding the bilge - is to use canvas to redirect it, either into empty containers or overboard. Unless you are in a torrential rain, bailing against that doesn't need that much manpower.

Unfortunately, on these small vessels, collecting rain to refill casks isn't very practical.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Six knots is considered a good travel speed, Line fishing and thrown nets can be used at this speed. Given that most of the time at least one third of the crew of a trireme is off rowing duty, you have the manpower to haul in some fish for a better supper. Spearing some of the fish with a trident will be another way to get the slippery little things onto deck. Some ships may have cormorants for fishing.

Trailing nets acts as a drag, slowing the vessel. I'm afraid you seem to have misapprehensions about how triremes operated, and how they were supplied. A few fish are not going to feed a crew of more than two hundred. These are not long range sailing vessels.

On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

There are elements of more catastrophic deluges mixed into that riverine scenario (that reflects the recent floods in Pakistan), leading to the permanent loss of coastal lands e.g. in the Persian Golf, the tidal waves devastating Doggerland (in addition to the lands sinking as the melted ice shield stopped seesawing them up), or the inundation of much of the Black Sea basin. The "navigation by birds" in the bible could be a confused account of following seabirds to their roosts.

Speculation. And latest evidence indicates the Black Sea filled very very slowly, and Doggerland was so far away in time and distance as to have no bearing.


On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:47 AM, Joerg said:

Any vessel on an unexpected long-distance voyage without the means to take on provisions will end in tragedy. It would be rare for a Gloranthan vessel to have supplies for more than two weeks on board, and possibly less water than that if rainfalls are to be expected (or called down).

It would be very unusual for a trireme or penteconter to carry enough food or water for more than three or four days.

The main thing to draw from this is that penteconters are capable of remarkably quick bursts of speed and rapid maneuvers. Their battle tactics are customarily ramming and holding fast to the enemy vessel and then boarding – with the number of warrior rowers giving a numerical advantage. Bear in mind that a trireme rarely carries more than 14-20 marines, and a cargo ship very few if any fighters, but a pirate penteconter has fifty rower/warriors. The pirates swarm the target, and intend to capture the ship, its crew and passengers, and cargo whole. The vessel is then manned by some of their rower/warriors and sailed to where it can be offloaded at port. This tactic worked in the ancient Mediterranean and in the Caribbean, where pirate ships sailed with larger crews not only to overwhelm defenders, but to then sail the captured vessel.


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On 14.10.2017 at 6:46 AM, g33k said:

AFAIK, the main forces that anciently sent ocean-going vessels upriver (any substantial distance) were the Vikings; those were some pretty devoted shipsmen, as they were known to go upriver from the Baltic and then portage until they could go downstream to the Black ...

Most overseas ports were situated at estuaries rather than the open sea. Prime port locations were at natural harbors that provided shelter from storms and ground high enough to provide shelter from the occasional floodings, at least for most of the city. Some of the most important ports like Hedeby or Lübeck were located at transshipping places - Lübeck had a riverboat connection to the Elbe emptying into the North Sea and to the salt production of Lüneburg, while Hedeby had a 20 miles  carriage way to Hollingstedt on the Treene,, also connecting to the North Sea. Seagoing vessels could transship to river boats in Rungholt, which had an artificial anchorage secured from the tides by a lock,

Cities like London, York or Chester all were overseas ports. Given the general state of the road networks (even where you had Roman military roads) it was a good idea to have the ports rather far inland.

In Glorantha Sog City and Noloswal conform to the river estuary model. Handra dominates its river estuary from a prominent island (but suffers from the fact that the river doesn't really provide an economic hinterland, only a wilderness route into Safelster). Nochet doesn't quite, but has a great advantage lying on the Mirrorsea Bay. Rhigos has perfect river access to 70% of the Esrolian grain lands and should handle most of the grain exports, but for the fact that the Opening of the Seas was effected by the city of Nochet, which gained the overseas grain trade monopoly, making Rhigos only a transshipping point to Nochet.

Dosakayo is a collection of all the memes and tropes of foreign coastal trade posts in exotic (to European traders) oriental places, like Honkong, Goa or Batavia (Jakarta).



But the overwheming majority of cargo & passenger shipping would transship from a relatively-deep ocean vessel to a relatively-flatbottom river vessel.

Note that smaller ships can have shallow-ish absolute drafts even with deep keels "relative" to the ship...

Maybe a removable keel is possible?

North Sea coastal sailing ships (like e.g. the flyboats used by the Dutch to prevent the local Spanish forces from joining the Armada) used side fins rather than keels to be able to sit on the mud at low tides without careening over, something Thor Heyerdahl also applied to his reed ship Ra. I don't think that that addition was based on any archaeological evidence, though.

Sitting out a low tide is something that happens to real world coastal ports twice a day, as opposed to the Gloranthan average of 3.5 days.

Few Gloranthans fear the tidal flood - it is a gentle force, almost going unnoticed. It is the sudden ebbing which will create torrential currents carrying boats and ships out into the Closing that is viewed with dread. 


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