Maritime Vessels Of Ahlonia

In Ahlonia the faring of the sea is a respectable and highly rarefied profession. All landsmen have little skill off the land, but in Ahlonia only the men of Sigard know the secrets of building and manning a boat, and they control the exclusive Navigators of the Guild of Shipwrights, a mystical and inscrutable skill, closely guarded by its adherents. Sigarder vessels have a distinctive style, exclusive to Ahlonia, and only made by the elite of Sigard in the Guild of Shipwrights. They are easily identified by the so called anchor-hull or hammerhead structure. All of the vessels have a long main hull, shallow at the back and deep at the front, and at the very front of the vessel the hull meets with a crescent that wraps back around the sides of the vessel. This distinctive shape creates an anchor-shape when seen from above. The back lowers almost to sea level, while the towering curtain-forecastle shelters the rest of the central hull, often even arcing over it. This has the dual effect of making sea travel in Ahlonia both very safe, even in harsh conditions, and very slow.

River Barges

The oxen-pulled barges that ply the rivers of Ahlonia are the only vessels that are the province of the common man. Broad, flat and simple, these are little more than floating platforms with goods bound to them. Usually made with tarred bound logs for ballast, wealthier merchants sometimes use sealed brass urns so as to allow their vessels to carry more weight.

Sigarder Galley

The galley is a single-sailed, clinker built, anchor hull vessel manned by a crew of twenty oarsmen slaves. The towering, sloping forecastle houses two sub-deck levels and rounds out under the point where the mainsail hooks to the fore mast and the sweeping points of the anchor, forming a platform on which the ships wheel sits. Primarily a small warship, the galley has a ballista mounted at the very rear of the vessel, firing behind the ship. Firing forward would propel projectiles through the sails. The galley predominantly relies on its oars except in extremely favourable weather, and can house upward of a thirty crew in addition to the slaves on the lower deck.

Sigarder Carrack

Carracks are similar to galleys, but predominantly designed as a goods vessel, though they are also called frigate-killers in certain more famous usages in naval warfare. A carrack is two-sailed, clinker built and anchor-hulled with four level on the forecastle, and the ships wheel is at the rear of the ship. It is manned by forty oarsmen, but only has space for an additional forty crew. What makes the carrack distinct from the slightly larger cog is the sleekness of the forecastle, which becomes a more streamlined point rather than a curve where it dips into the water, making the carrack able to ram larger vessels and sink them while remaining relatively untouched if they can get their backs to a good wind. Because of this the carrack seldom mounts arms, but normally crews are trained with short bows, to fire against any enemy crewing larger weapons against them.

Sigarder Cog

The cog is slightly larger than a carrack, and lacks the pointed forecastle making it a heavier, slower vessel, however its hull is deeper and less flat than that of a galley. Clinker built and anchor hulled the cog has the same triangular foresail attached at either corner of the sweeping forecastle as all anchor-hull vessels, but the two rear sails are square rigged, giving the cog a little more ability to use the wind over its oars. The wheel is at the rear as in the carrack, and the forecastle can mount an array of three ballista or a catapult. The forecastle is three levels, and below deck is room for the fifty slaves required to be at full power at oars, and an upper level, raising the lower deck up level with the upper level of the forecastle. An additional hundred men can crew the vessel, or a considerable amount of cargo when used for trade.

Sigarder Frigate

The frigate is the pinnacle of naval warfare in Ahlonia. Four sailed, clinker built, anchor hulled, broad and slow moving, it takes eighty slaves to be at full oar, and two rear square rigged sails paired with two triangular foresails, as well as a pair of wheels and rudders at either sweeping point of the forecastle make it more maneuverable than its lack of speed might suggest. More of a floating fortress than a vessel, the frigate is never used for goods, as it simply proves too slow. However in battle smaller vessels often sail into battle in the slipstream of the frigate, emerging from behind it when they catch a favourable wind. The forecastle stands a full five levels with two full levels below deck, and close to three hundred men can be on board in addition to the slaves. The forecastle is often plated with thin metal sheets to repel flaming arrows, and the upper level has a series of trapdoors housing a dozen ballista which can fire forward along the arch of the fore, while a heavy catapult fires to the aft. The greater ability to turn than any other sigarder vessel means that it can bring these weapons to bare far more readily than an inexperienced naval captain might expect.

Pirate War-Junk

The foreign war junks that sail in from the east occasionally are much smaller, sleeker vessels. It has no fore or aft castle, favouring a single lower deck, and does not rely on oarsmen to power it. A pair of lateen sails can be moved inward, toward the long axis of the ship, allowing the junk to sail into the wind. Junks are usually built of light weight softwoods with multiple compartments accessed by separate hatches and ladders, these separating bulkheads giving the vessel more structural strength. Usually the hull has a horseshoe-shaped stern supporting a high aft deck. The bottom is flat with no keel, so that the boat relies on a very large rudder to prevent the boat from slipping sideways in the water. War junks have no characteristic weaponry, and tend to house about forty crew, but often travel in flotillas of five or six, using their greater mobility to render the heavier weapons of the sigarder vessels useless.