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    Naval Cultures of the Flanaess: Western Guardians
    Posted on Thu, October 23, 2008 by Dongul
    Crag writes "Western Guardians: “One should not fear the Dragon Turtle for its breath but for its single minded devotion to devour all in its path.” – Reis Hifawzi

    Naval Cultures of the Flanaess
    Western Guardians
    By Crag

    Western Guardians:
    “One should not fear the Dragon Turtle for its breath but for its single minded devotion to devour all in its path.” – Reis Hifawzi

    The Flanaess has evolved into a cultural melting pot of several diverse peoples; this diversity has stimulated various cultural approaches regarding the value of the sea and vessels required to exploit it. Cultural beliefs of the sea within a society have a profound effect regarding its fleet composition and the military doctrine that is developed to achieve the desired goals within the society.

    Naval Doctrine: The baklunish arrived in the Flanaess as refugees fleeing an ancient cataclysm. Some baklunish settled in the Dramidj coastal regions and a naval philosophy was soon established. Insecure because of a lack of seafaring experience; the baklunish developed ships primarily propelled by oars rather then sails. The many island chains found within the Dramidj enhances the effectiveness of oar propelled fleets which further hampers the development of sail ships. Open ocean sail ships are considered impractical and unnecessary within the Dramidj. The baklunish naval philosophy has rendered naval engagements formal affairs. Once the site for a military engagement is agreed upon; the fleets engage with rams, catapults and boarding actions until one side achieves a noticeable tactical advantage. Once the advantage is acknowledged; the defeated fleet formally sues for acceptable terms. Baklunish culture frowns upon military annihilation; especially when the defeated enemy is also baklunish. Naval tradition has evolved a formal code of conduct concerning the civilized treatment of honourable enemies. Most military leaders not only strictly adhere to this code of conduct but strive to surpass it, in an attempt to impress their defeated foe. Of course corsairs are not considered honourable enemies; they are captured or sunk on sight. This doctrine has a noticeable weakness; it rarely produces a decisive naval result. Instead an endless civilized cycle of formalized skirmishes occur with no definitive resolution. Some notable naval fleets that adhere to this doctrine are: Ekbir, Komal, Istustan and Zeif.

    Baklunish (Elemental & Illusion)
    Curragh (Merchant)
    Dromond (Warship)
    Great Galley (Merchant)
    Xebec (Merchant)

    - Walking in a garden; an old hunter passes on his wisdom –

    First time hunting is a serious assignment…
    Since our people settled the basin; some of us have sailed the beautiful Dramidj Ocean for trade and adventure. Others however view the ocean as a lawless place where theft and slaughter can thrive. It is so; for every man who plants a flower, another man seeks to pluck the blossom. Our ancient ancestors should inspire us to greatness; not natural mariners, they braved the unknown depths in flimsy leather vessels. Mariners still confront the ancient fear of the watery depths with unease as our people remain uncomfortable upon the open ocean far from shore. Due to this unease; island anchorages are often needed to rest tired rowers and replenish low provisions. Amicable relations with the underwater races that surround these island chains are considered essential to naval security and trade. Know the ships that are upon your ocean and you might survive to walk in a garden.  

    Those first mariners braved the depths in Curragh; flimsy leather vessels. The curragh is still used as a fishing vessel as well as for river and coastal trade. Lacking a sail; these fragile vessels are not suited to travel beyond the horizon but they are inexpensive to build and reliable enough to function as coastal haulers. Unfortunately; these ships tend to sink rapidly if they sustain structural damage or if the hide ruptures.

    Dromonds are impressive warships; these behemoths dominate naval engagements on the Dramidj Ocean. Dromonds are designed to be primarily propelled entirely by slaves or free oarsmen; although it does use sails when the winds are favourable. The enormous crew compliment and their contingent of marines make these warships dangerous foes during a boarding action. Dromonds also have a central tower near the main mast; from this protected position, marines man ballistae and a catapult. The most fearsome weapon of this ship is its powerful ram which is capable of sinking enemy ships. If these warships have a failing; it is their tremendous cost to build and maintain. However many rulers feel the prestige and naval power gained is more then adequate compensation for the expense.

    The Great Galley is designed to be primarily propelled entirely by slaves or free oarsmen, although it does use sails when the winds are favorable. Fortunately, the Dramidj has an abundance of offshore islands which provide sheltered anchorages and convenient navigational reference points for sailors. Galleys are used for both warfare and trade; most navies and trade fleets sailing the Dramidj are largely made up of galleys. The versatility of the galley makes it a favourite among navies, corsairs and merchants. Galleys have a large cargo capacity but are also able to accommodate a large number of fighting men. In times of peace; galleys are used as merchant vessels; however in the event of war, these ships can be refitted for battle to bolster naval strength. The galleys’ main armament is its ram; however once refitted with ballistae and enhanced hull protection, the galley becomes a worthy naval foe.  

    The Xebec is a vessel many consider a transition between the coastal curragh and the ocean galley; primarily propelled entirely by slaves or free oarsmen although it does use sails when the winds are favorable. Greatly favoured by coastal corsairs and the Gulf of Ghayar states, their distinctive overhanging bow design allows an extensive sail area. The greater sail area allows a smaller turning radius which is considered an invaluable advantage especially within the cramped confines of the gulf. This increased sail area combined with its shallow sides and narrow hull provides greater overall speed then the galley. However the deficiencies of this design soon become apparent once upon the open sea; the ship is not suited for long sea voyages. Its hull lacks the breadth and strength needed to support a ram; these vessels rely on agility and speed to quickly board an enemy ship. They are commonly used as merchant ships to ferry goods within the gulf; although their smaller cargo hold and poor seaworthiness compared to the larger sturdier galley limits the appeal of these ship outside of the gulf.        

    Our mages and priests use their elemental prowess to gain an advantage over an opponent not to cause his obliteration. A keen mind and use of the elements surrounding the ship has often proved decisive. Conjured rouge waves or an exquisitely timed gust of wind which allows friendly vessels to maneuver while the enemy remains becalmed has ended many naval engagements. Clever illusions used to great effect have a long and honoured naval history upon the Dramidj. Distant sails on the horizon believed to be reinforcements have saved many merchant convoys in the past. A favourite corsair ploy is an illusion of a nautical hazard such as sand bars to lure an enemy into an ambush. Due to the effective use of such illusions; large naval engagements between honourable fleets agree upon acceptable spells and the location of the battlefield prior to the commencement of hostilities. 

    Corsairs sail the Dramidj in search of plunder; most corsairs seek to board their victims rather then ram them not because of a sense of honour but a selfish desire not to damage a perspective prize. Even black hearted corsairs know damaged goods and a damaged vessel is worth less coin. Fight well for your life, if you ever encounter corsair scum upon the ocean waves; your only value to them is within a slave collar. Show them no mercy; remember the corsairs that plague the Dramidj have no honour; keep your wits and do your duty.

    Be faithful to your duty and Al’Akbar will protect you."
     
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