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Esrolian Merchant Ships


Mark Mohrfield

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I am finally about to start my Glorantha: HeroQuest campaign which in which the PCs will be the entourage of a young Esrolian noblewoman sent to Pavis to oversee her House's trading interests there as a test of her leadership abilities. They'll get to Corflu by ship, and I want to know what sort of merchant ships the Esrolians use.

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IMO or IMG there are several types of Esrolian commercial ships. 

It starts with Dormal's all-purpose exploration ships that are used in naval battle against the Alatan pirates using the same type of ship, with a loss for the Kethaelans away from their merman support. Sailed, with auxiliar ores.

Soon afterwards, dedicated grain barges with greater cargo capacity and less suitability for naval conflict re-appear. These tubby sailing vessels soon are found along the southern coast of Genertela, trafficking between Melib and Noloswal.

Either type will take the eastern route that bypasses Corflu. I am not quite sure how well the Corflu port is suited for the bigger grain barges.

A third type will be a cross-purposed oared galley for express deliveries, basically a warship used for transport of messages, low volume wares and important people.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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As there is a large Holy Country trade enclave in Dosakayo on Melib Island there would be frequent sea voyages and as that journey is 700 miles or so some captains may stop off at Corflu. 

As Joerg points out it would more than likely be a grain ship: link and link. Galleys are expensive and don't do well in open seas so these would reserved for VIP's 

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1 hour ago, Mark Mohrfield said:

Do these resemble any historical ships?

Plenty. Prior to engine-powered sailing, this shape appears in a number of evolution of marine vessels, like when the landlubber carpenters of the Hanseatic Cities looked at the concept of the nordic knorr merchant ship and started with a clinker built and keeled ship using techniques they knew from tiling roofs. Later designs also had flat bottomed ships of greater tonnage.

Flat-bottomed ships turn up where tides and falling dry are a common occurrance, or when you have to pass sand bars. They tend to be harder to keep on course, but there are numerous cases of side swords added to such constructions to regain the advantage a keel line offers.

This kind of hull design can also evolve from river barges that need to deal with sand bars.

There is flat bottomed as in "has a keel but extends horizontally from it for much of its belly", and there is flat bottomed as in "you start with a flat raft and add walls to it." I tend to expect the Esrolian merchantman to be of the keeled variety (and Jeff's example picture just proved that). Even though living in Esrolia, most of the shipbuilders there are of fisherfolk (i.e. Pelaskite) ethnicity, and heirs of the boat building technology that also resulted in the galleys which were copied by the Quinpolic League.

I am a bit curious how this quite divergent design was made to be acceptable using the Dormal rites - I think the Dormal exploratory ship was a slightly tubby keeled ship mainly for sailing, with oars only as auxiliary means of propulsion (much like the nordic knarr) and not the main mode. But then the Holy Country has access to some of the most accomplished magical traditions able to deal with the seas, so that development may not have taken them more than a few years.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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this image give a bit more detail...

I'm not sure Dormal brought any technological advancements, he is the Sailor not the Shipbuilder. I assumed that Dormal found a ritual loophole that enabled him to sidestep the Closing. The reappearance of the Boat Planet ultimately lifted the curse. 

 

8122590.jpg

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Rather than call it a C-shaped chine, an awful lot of marine archaeologists refer to these kind of ships as having a "flat-bottomed" hull.  The Esrolian ships have a flatter hull that might be expected because they were developed for the Mirrorsea, and not for blue-sea travel. 

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Could anyone give me the size, speed, crew numbers and cargo capacity and other relevant specifications of these ships? 

I've found a website for a replica of a phoenician ship: http://www.phoenicia.org.uk/

It doesn't appear to be flat-bottomed, but I figure that the Esrolians may have some for deep-sea trading, perhaps either purchased from or copied from foreign sources.

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these ships ranged in size from 15 - 40 meters long and 3 - 7 m wide. They would have had a crew of 12 - 20 

speed was dependant on the wind, but 5-6 knots would be fair, they could not sail close to the wind so actual time to get form a - b would vary dramatically 

as for cargo you could use the a simple (but inaccurate) Builders Measure of Tonnage = Length * Beam * Depth / 100 so a 40m (130') * 7m (23') * 5m (16') = 47,840/100 = 478.4 tonnes 

 

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On 3/9/2018 at 7:34 AM, Jeff said:

Rather than call it a C-shaped chine, an awful lot of marine archaeologists refer to these kind of ships as having a "flat-bottomed" hull.  The Esrolian ships have a flatter hull that might be expected because they were developed for the Mirrorsea, and not for blue-sea travel. 

Note that many Viking ships had both purposes -- they were to brave the open ocean, but then sail/row upriver and make it across some VERY shallow fords to their final destination.  Quite remarkable multi-use hulls, really!  I do wonder, though, if anyone has done a study (is there even enough data to study?) what rate of sinkage/founder/etc occurred with these ships (that were almost flat-bottomed river barges) also being used as deepwater sailing ships...

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longships were clinker built which is lighter and adds stability while increasing freeboard. The crew could pick up their longship to cross sand bars if necessary. 

in Glorantha the Loskalm longships are clinker built and the favoured transport of Harrek, I'm guessing that Kathelan ships are caravel built as these are easier and cheaper to build. 

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8 hours ago, g33k said:

Note that many Viking ships had both purposes -- they were to brave the open ocean, but then sail/row upriver and make it across some VERY shallow fords to their final destination.  Quite remarkable multi-use hulls, really!  I do wonder, though, if anyone has done a study (is there even enough data to study?) what rate of sinkage/founder/etc occurred with these ships (that were almost flat-bottomed river barges) also being used as deepwater sailing ships...

There are no reports of vessels sunk between Iceland and the other islands or the continent. Ships did go missing, but on a sometimes hostile coast that could as often be blamed on hostile encounters than on navigational mishap.

Erik the Red's Saga reports 11 out of 25 ships (presumably knarrs similar to the Gokstad ship) lost at sea for the journey from Iceland to Greenland. This rate of loss would have been extraordinary. On the other hand, a 30 years old fisher was considered an elder in his profession along much of the Atlantic coast. The sea fed, but it also consumed.

The main cause of sinkage would be extreme weather. Treacherous coasts add reefs and sandbars to the perils (getting stuck on a sandbar in a storm will likely destroy a ship due to wave action, which explains why the west coast of Juteland which doesn't have any rocky skerries or reefs is such a veritable ships' graveyard).

River ports were pretty much the norm outside of the Fjords of Scandinavia. There are different degrees of river and river estuaries, however.

Many "ports" did not sport a quaye and required beaching. In those places a rather flat bottom was a bonus, preventing too much of a lopside while beached.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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9 hours ago, g33k said:

Note that many Viking ships had both purposes -- they were to brave the open ocean, but then sail/row upriver and make it across some VERY shallow fords to their final destination.  Quite remarkable multi-use hulls, really!  I do wonder, though, if anyone has done a study (is there even enough data to study?) what rate of sinkage/founder/etc occurred with these ships (that were almost flat-bottomed river barges) also being used as deepwater sailing ships...

There are quite a number of Viking-age wrecks, some perhaps sunk intentionally, others sinking due to bad weather, or sea conditions.

See Archaeology and the Social History of Ships for details. There are good reasons why the longships with a low freeboard were replaced over time with more seaworthy vessels: increased cargo capacity, improved seaworthiness. In 876 the Viking ‘ship army’ from East Anglia was supposed to rendezvous with a ‘land army’ near Exeter but met with a 'great storm' at sea, and many of the ships were lost. The 'land army' was caught and effectively besieged by Alfred and forced to make terms. These ships, whilst flexible, were at risk in heavy seas and bad weather.

Esrolian ships are apparently carvel-built, with a shell of planks held together with pegged mortise-and-tenon joints forming the hull built up from the keel and stem- and stern-posts, with the internal ribbing then fitted to this hull to reinforce it. This type of ship is suitable for relatively calm waters, but not so reliable for ocean travel. The Phoenicians, did, of course, sail such ships into the Atlantic (and possibly circumnavigated Africa) but they took coastal routes, and sailed only in the safest seasons.

Edited by M Helsdon
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7 hours ago, Psullie said:

longships were clinker built which is lighter and adds stability while increasing freeboard. The crew could pick up their longship to cross sand bars if necessary. 

in Glorantha the Loskalm longships are clinker built and the favoured transport of Harrek, I'm guessing that Kathelan ships are caravel built as these are easier and cheaper to build. 

Kethaelan cargo ships look like tubs. They are wide, and fairly shallow. The Mirrorsea and Mournsea are often quite shallow (at low tide, many sunken lands reemerge from the waters). They aren't the most stable in open water, but they tend to try and overcome that magically rather than with better design. 

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57 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Kethaelan cargo ships look like tubs. They are wide, and fairly shallow. The Mirrorsea and Mournsea are often quite shallow (at low tide, many sunken lands reemerge from the waters). They aren't the most stable in open water, but they tend to try and overcome that magically rather than with better design. 

I wonder how feasible that is where the remnants of volcanic activity pierce through the sediment. The Rightarm isles cannot be just a spit of drifted sand, not the least because the dominant current runs in the false direction (east to west), and has done so in mythical times, too (at least when the currents were alive).

Those sunken lands must  have sunk (again) when the Seas reformed and closed the chaos rift.

It is noteworthy that Kethaela was exempt from the coastal sinkings to the end of the Imperial Age that affected Old Seshnela, Slontos, and Kralorela. Vestkarthan's Shudder did affect the land, but didn't cause any sinkings.

But then, if any parts of the coast between Pithdaros and Ramalia sunk, there were hardly any humans there to notice, and neither mermen. Teshnos didn't sink (significantly), either, even though no longer upheld by Tolat's Sword (since Avalor's departure in 950). Maybe the cleansing after the Machine War was good enough not to drown those coastal parts.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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7 hours ago, Jeff said:

Kethaelan cargo ships look like tubs. They are wide, and fairly shallow. The Mirrorsea and Mournsea are often quite shallow (at low tide, many sunken lands reemerge from the waters). They aren't the most stable in open water, but they tend to try and overcome that magically rather than with better design. 

this is what happens when you rely on spell checker, that should have read 'carvel built' relating to the planking not caravel... 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Merchantman

The merchant ships of the southern coast of Genertela are oval in shape, of carvel construction, and propelled by sail. The vessels are completely decked, with a hold below carrying a cargo of approximately 74,800 lbs. usually carried in bales, barrels and amphorae. Some merchant ships are much larger, but only a rich House can afford to build and maintain them.

Most merchantmen carry only a single square sail; some have a foremast carrying a smaller foresail, often used to aid steering. Lacking a keel, the sails can only be used when the winds are favorable. Esrolian ships may have a curved sternpost in the shape of a goose, the sacred bird of Imarja, the source of the Four Esrolian Virtues.

The ship has a flat bottom, to allow the ship to be grounded at low tide for loading and unloading, when a harbor is not available. The stability of the vessel is enhanced with magic.

The hull is usually lined with very thin sheets of lead to provide protection from worms and other marine creatures. This permits the ship to stay in the water throughout the sailing season, unlike a warship, but increases its weight and reduces its maximum speed.

These ships are often used as support and supply for trireme squadrons.

The ship is guided with two steering-oars with a transverse tiller. It may carry oars for use when the sea is smooth and there is no wind, but carrying enough oarsmen to propel the ship at any speed is uneconomical. The crew numbers six or seven, including the captain.

Most of these ships include a small shrine to Dormal at the bow or stern.

 

Roundship

Length

40 ft.

Beam

11 ft.

Draught

4-6 ft.

Speed

Knots

Duration

Sail:

2-5

Daylight

 

Edited by M Helsdon
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2 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Merchantman

The merchant ships of the southern coast of Genertela are oval in shape, of carvel construction, and propelled by sail. The vessels are completely decked, with a hold below carrying a cargo of approximately 74,800 lbs. usually carried in bales, barrels and amphorae. Some merchant ships are much larger, but only a rich House can afford to build and maintain them.

Most merchantmen carry only a single square sail; some have a foremast carrying a smaller foresail, often used to aid steering. Lacking a keel, the sails can only be used when the winds are favorable. Esrolian ships may have a curved sternpost in the shape of a goose, the sacred bird of Imarja, the source of the Four Esrolian Virtues.

The ship has a flat bottom, to allow the ship to be grounded at low tide for loading and unloading, when a harbor is not available. The stability of the vessel is enhanced with magic.

The hull is usually lined with very thin sheets of lead to provide protection from worms and other marine creatures. This permits the ship to stay in the water throughout the sailing season, unlike a warship, but increases its weight and reduces its maximum speed.

These ships are often used as support and supply for trireme squadrons.

The ship is guided with two steering-oars with a transverse tiller. It may carry oars for use when the sea is smooth and there is no wind, but carrying enough oarsmen to propel the ship at any speed is uneconomical. The crew numbers six or seven, including the captain.

Most of these ships include a small shrine to Dormal at the bow or stern.

 

Roundship

Length

40 ft.

Beam

11 ft.

Draught

4-6 ft.

Speed

Knots

Duration

Sail:

2-5

Daylight

 

where is this from, or is this your own 

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It is Martin's own, and I don't quite agree with all of it.

I wonder whether these boats would use side swords, like the dutch coastal vessels which were made for conditions just like these.

"Fully decked" would be unconvenient when stowing amphorae, and I know of no ancient merchantman design using this.

At least in my Rightarm Isles there are sons of Lodril peeking through the sand, so falling dry cannot be done just anywhere, even with a magically enhanced hull.

Lead-clad hulls in the vicinity of trolls and their sea-troll allies, who can create coinage simply by chewing a bit on the metal? Copper-sheeting sounds more likely, or possibly more exotic solutions. Why not use ham beetle chitin plating? A lot lighter, and you need a lot less lead to get these food leftovers from Shadow Plateau. The Molakka spells warding off bore-worms might be stencilled inside already, or possibly you use a bait bar magically attracting all the nearby bore worms which can be sold in port as a troll delicacy.

 

Mixed operation with sleek galleys and tubby sailships are a nightmare to keep together, and then to get anywhere. Galleys on escort duty usually would use sails, but the tubs sail at their own timetable, and military needs be damned.

 

In shallow waters, the tubs often are poled rather than rowed. Hiring draft teams of whichever muscle power is available is a common tactic, too. Newtlings and ducks are available in coastal Maniria for amphibious duties, and friendly ludoch might, too. Using a distant anchor and a winch might be another slow but steady way to move forward. Newtlings might provide an underwater infrastructure for this where river currents are difficult similar to the rings the river boaters used in Donaudurchbruch upriver from Kelheim (they wouldn't interfere with sea currents, though, those are the realm of the Ludoch).

 

Here's an image of the rings that allowed boaters to use hooks to pull their boats against the considerable current in Donaudurchbruch:

800_weltenburg_057.jpg


I envision something similar on the sea floor, with rings that a diver could place a hook in, and then a rope pulling event or a winch drawing the vessel ever so slowly against the resistance.

Or you hire a river priest to create a local counter-current, but that might be too expensive if you run a low margin cargo - maybe you might join a convoy led by a local river priest/pilot for less, but then you'll have to wait. The Waertagi of old rode their tidal waves instead, pushing the river currents back into their channels, or overlaying them, but I doubt that the Ludoch allow the Rightarmers this privilege.

Most of the ports are situated on river estuaries, or even upriver, away from the sea. The river priests' influence would thin out as the water gets saltier, but extends some distance from the shore.

 

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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4 hours ago, Psullie said:

where is this from, or is this your own 

My own, based upon real ancient ships (including the decking - see also the pictures above). One of the best examples of this sort of vessel is the Kyrenia ship, which is a little larger. We don't know the extent if its decking, so you'll find recreations with full and partial decking.

 

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

I wonder whether these boats would use side swords, like the dutch coastal vessels which were made for conditions just like these.

Lead-clad hulls in the vicinity of trolls and their sea-troll allies, who can create coinage simply by chewing a bit on the metal? Copper-sheeting sounds more likely

Nevertheless, pitch and lead sheets were used on real ancient ships as far back as the 4th century BC. Copper sheeting in our world dates only to the 18th century, so would be highly anachronistic.

The use of lead in the Holy Country seems very likely given the availability of the metal from trolls.

Side swords? Ah, you mean leeboards, which date in China to around the 8th century, and were brought to Europe by the Portuguese and Dutch in the 16th century. Anachronistic.

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Mixed operation with sleek galleys and tubby sailships are a nightmare to keep together, and then to get anywhere. Galleys on escort duty usually would use sails, but the tubs sail at their own timetable, and military needs be damned.

Triremes could use their sails, but on 'patrol' or 'escort' they are useless as they take time to take down for action. In fact, most ancient fleets travelling from place to place made, on average, only about thirty miles a day (about 3-4 knots). With favorable winds, supply ships could keep up, which is why, instead, warships relied upon supply depots supplied by merchantmen.

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

In shallow waters, the tubs often are poled rather than rowed.

Small requirements - someone has to pay for the extra crew, rendering the ship uneconomical.

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Most of the ports are situated on river estuaries, or even upriver, away from the sea.

You'd best look at a map...of Glorantha, and of the ancient Mediterranean. Also most places these ships traded with didn't have 'ports' with quaysides, which is the reason the draught was shallow to permit the vessel close into shore.

1 hour ago, Joerg said:

I don't quite agree with all of it.

It's based on some real ships of the ancient world, which are the template for the Gloranthan 'tub'.

Edited by M Helsdon
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