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    Canonfire :: View topic - Naval Strengths of the Realms of Greyhawk
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    Naval Strengths of the Realms of Greyhawk
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 04, 2016 12:10 pm  
    Naval Strengths of the Realms of Greyhawk

    Does anybody have information or even good speculation on the naval strengths (warships) of the various realms in the Flanaess?
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 04, 2016 2:34 pm  

    Well, starting from the northeast...

    The Frost, Snow, and Ice barbarians probably have a good number of ships between them, but they're not likely to be terribly organized. Think Vikings and you won't go far wrong. They'd be formidable raiders and pirates, and could possibly take on small professional naval vessels, but they'd be beaten in a serious fleet battle.

    The Great Kingdom had a decent fleet. I imagine that after the breakup the various successor states took whatever parts of the surviving fleet were based in their sphere of influence. The fleet in the east probably took a bit of a beating when the elves reclaimed the Lendore Islands, though.

    Obviously the elves of the Lendore Islands have a strong fleet, but I'd expect their naval interest to be almost entirely defensive in nature. Unless you're invading their turf, you're not likely to have any real problems with them.

    The Scarlet Brotherhood, rather surpisingly, must have a strong fleet given their far-flung outposts all across the southern Flanaess and Hepmondaland.

    The coastal members of the Iron League - Onwall et al - likely have decent fleets as well, not just to protect themselves from the Great Kingdom successors, but from the Scarlet Brotherhood as well.

    The Urnst states probably have riverine forces guarding the Nyr Dyv and light naval forces on the coastline. Strictly defensive in nature.

    Greyhawk, having absorbed Hardby in the Greyhawk Wars, would have a small but formidable fleet inherited from (and likely still run by) the Gynarchs. This is NOT just a defensive force; the Gynarchs were heavily invested in sea trade and would stand ready to smash pirates or commerce raiders against their merchantmen anywhere they might strike.

    Greyhawk itself probably only has a small coast-guard covering the Nyr Dyv. Likewise, Dyvers probably maintains a small riverine force.

    Both Iuz and Furyondy have surprisingly strong fleets on Whysil Lake.

    It's quite likely that Turrosh Mok's Orcish Empire is at least experimenting with naval forces. In what strength, just how good they'd be, and to what end is never mentioned in canon, so it would be up to the DM if this would be a defensive coastal force, subsidizing local pirates, a professional raiding fleet, or a serious naval presence.

    The Ulek states probably have a small defensive fleet as well, built to fend off 'pirates' from the Sea Princes, and now used to fend off the Scarlet Brotherhood.

    Keoland's naval strength varies with the strength of the threat from the Sea Princes, the King's political will to do something about it, and the extent to which the state can finance it. That Keoland COULD afford and man a strong navy is obvious; less obvious is the NEED for a strong naval force in a realm with such extensive land borders. Expect a decent core navy in active service, with lots of ships beached 'in reserve' in various stages of preservation or decay.

    The Sea Princes had a small, professional fleet, but it could be HUGELY expanded by impressing 'merchant' ships from their extensive merchant fleet... many of whom would be pirates in all but name. In an actual naval war scenario, extensive use of privateers could be expected as well.

    How much of that fleet survives, and how much of it has managed to stay independent from the Scarlet Brotherhood, is up to the GM.
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    Sat Jun 04, 2016 4:19 pm  

    Quote:
    Both Iuz and Furyondy have surprisingly strong fleets on Whysil Lake.


    Furyondy *did* control Whyestil Lake in naval terms prior to the Greyhawk Wars. When Iuz's forces seized Crockport and Grabford the Whyestil Squadrons made it downriver to the Nyr Dyv, reinforcing the squadrons out of Willip.

    The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (page 150) states of the Whyestil: "What little traffic now exists is in peril. Iuz's pathetic navy (the Old One is no expert in waterborne affairs) holds the lake, though with the liberation of Crockport and Grabford the situation is unlikely to last and Furyondy will rule once more."

    So I'd guess Whyestil Lake is lawless after the wars. Iuz likely has a temporary advantage in numbers (but not quality) immediately after the Great Northern Crusade, but that won't last with Furyondy re-taking the southern shore of the Lake and being able to transfer ships from the Nyr Dyv and Willip.

    The Willip Arsenal, Furyondy's principal shipyard is noted in WGR4 The Marklands as "...capable of producing a completely fitted war galley in barely over a month when working at full speed. The Arsenal has been functioning at full speed since the beginning of the wars."

    Don't mess with Belvor on the Nyr Dyv I'd guess
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:15 am  

    Zeech out of Alhaster in Redhand should have a significant fleet. LGG mentions him harassing his neighbors (but denying it, iirc).

    Also, during LG, we had Iuz force Alhaster into cranking out ships for his fleet.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:50 am  

    Great topic to post about. I've always been interested in naval adventures (strange for an Army guy I know), and have wanted to make a waterborne campaign, but I never got around to it. I was even thinking about creating a world that's mostly water (80-90%), similar to the old cartoon Pirates of Darkwater.

    As far as the naval strength of Turrosh Mak's empire, which was mentioned by someone earlier in the thread, there is some specific information on the topic in the sourcebook Slavers. Besides having control over several ports along the Wild Coast, Turrosh Mak (and the Slavelords) also has control over river operations to capture and transport slaves from the Nyr Dyv all the way to Woolly Bay. Naturally this brings them into contact and possible conflict with the navies of both Furyondy and Greyhawk. Starting in 585 CY 12 ships operating out of Elredd also started harassing shipping in the Sea of Gearnat, which will create more conflict and increase the power of Turrosh Mak's empire.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 05, 2016 10:44 am  

    C. 578 CY the freshwater naval power is Furyondy, dominating both the Western Nyr Dyv and Whyestil lake. Furyondy has the advantage of being able to move ships along the Crystal/Veng river system, functioning like a Panama Canal for them... i.e. they can move naval forces between two fronts quickly. We can assume that the Urnst States, Dyvers, and the Shield lands also maintain a presence on the Nyr Dyv. Also, those polities along major river systems (Greyhawk, Verbobonc, et. al.) likely maintain a patrol for pirates and the like. These freshwater vessels will be actual warships (think galleys and that family) that are limited by range and endurance, but lethal to sailing ships.

    Concurrently, the salt-water naval powers are Keoland, the Sea Princes, the Principality of Ulek, Onway, Nyrond, the Lordship of the Isles, the Sea Princes, and the Sea Barons, but only the latter three seem to use their fleets to project power (Mahan-style) at a distance. This is because most states are continental powers, and also because on saltwater, the warship is just a converted merchant vessel, not a specialized vessel like the galleys, and navies are expensive to maintain; the three big sea powers however are islands and thus rely on the sea to attack and defend (the Sea Princes are de facto an island as they are surrounded by mountains and marshes except at sea).
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    Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:08 am  

    Lest we forget the Baklunish West...

    The Dramidj Ocean remains a commercial and maritime hotbed. However; its crowded sea lanes and numerous islands encourage countless corsairs. Whilst; mainland fleets of galleys proudly sail their pennants.

    Generally; these fleets consist of a small core of prestigious Dromonds, that can be supplemented by its mercantile galleys, oft refurbished in wartime. Based on the historical numbers of the Ottoman Empire, 200 ships of various galley types would be sustainable for the larger mainland states.

    Caliphate of Ekbir: Maritime tensions increase as commercial convoys have been harassed and refused berths. Island corsairs have taken advantage of this naval spat.

    Sultanate of Zeif: Still stinging from island reverses. Nevertheless; the maritime concerns have turned toward Ekbir as its shipyards continue to launch vessels, whilst refusing ekbiri berths.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 05, 2016 11:57 am  

    Solid numbers I could find.

    Before the wars, sourced from a series of articles on Greyhawk in a number of earlier Dragon magazines.

    Almor's Relmor Bay fleet (under joint Nyrondal command) consisted of 13 warships, 8 large galleys, 57 transports, and 1000 marines.

    Iuz in 577 financed the building of a fleet of 40 galleys at Dorakaa, but Belvor launched a raid on Dorakaa, burning most of the galleys in the shipyards. Of the completed galleys, 7 were captured and 5 were sunk.

    The Lordship of the Isles lost 4 warships and 3 loaded cogs at the Battle of Medegia against the Sea Barons, and that seemed a significant loss.

    Sea Barons sent a squadron to Bellport in 578 consisting of 6 large galleys and a score of other warships.

    After the wars, sourced from Ivid and Marklands:

    Ahlissa has 22 cogs and coasters, 7 galleys, and 4 galleons.

    Free Cities: Roland has 3 coasters. Winetha has 6 war galleys.

    Nyrond has 9 galleys, 30 caravels, and 20 coasters. It notes that there were losses to Ahlissan vessels during the wars but they were replenished by galleys and caravels fleeing Onnwall when the SB took over there.

    Furyondy lost most of the Whyestil sqaudron, although some of them escaped down the Veng to the Nyr Dyv squadron, which is nominally based in the Barony of Willip. Willip has 4500 naval personnel. The Sentinel Ports (Keristen, Sendrift, Walthain, and Dianrift) each have 600-800 naval militia. The Royal Navy consists of eight Great Galleons (warships) with crew strength 150 per vessel, 16 Heavy Caravels (crew 60), 14 Caravels (crew 50) and 44 assorted river vessels (average crew strength 25). Some 500 reserves are based in Willip at any time, as are the crews of the two Great Galleons and four Heavy Caravels in port at any given time.

    North Province: 2 war galleys with a third being repaired at Bellport. 3 war galleys at Kaport Bay.

    Rel Astra: 6 coasters and 2 heavy cogs.

    Sea Barons: Asperd Isle's fleet is 3 galleons and 12 coasters. Oakisle's fleet is 5 galleons and 12 coasters. Fairisle's fleet is 3 galleons and 10 coasters. Leastisle is made up of independent pirates hostile to the Sea Barons, with a half-dozen cogs and coasters.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 05, 2016 7:44 pm  

    Actually, to get a little Mahan-ish, only the Sea Barons, Lordship of the Isles, and Sea Princes are really “sea-powers” in the sense that they use their naval capability for more than raiding and coastal defense. Since they are all essentially islands (the Sea Princes, while part of the mainland, are isolated by mountains and swamps, making them a de facto island), only with strong navies can they project power against other states. Of course, as deep-water sea powers, most of their warships would be indistinguishable from merchant ships since cannon do not exist.

    Since by 585 CY two of the three sea-powers mentioned above are under the sway of the Scarlet Brotherhood, they become the dominant sea power in the Flanaess, running an “island” empire of geographically isolated territories, with the sole exception of Idee, but including the Pomarj through their clients. Since Idee is soon wrested away by the continental power of Ahlissa, the Scarlett Brotherhood’s maritime empire has probably reached its natural limit.

    By 591 CY, the Scarlett Brotherhood is still the primary sea power, but its dominance is reduced by the collapse of the hold of the Sea Princes and its tenuous hold on Onwal. The biggest advantage that the Brotherhood enjoys at sea is that the Sea Barons, despite skirmishing with them and searching for ways to circumvent their blockade, are focused locally on the issues in the Solnor, and that the continental powers on the Azure Sea face landward challenges (giants from the Crystalmists and humanoids from the Pomarj) that divert their resources.
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    Mon Jun 06, 2016 4:26 pm  

    I love this site, always helpful. Very useful information, thank you everybody.
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    Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:41 am  

    I remember from The Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook that the Touv of southern Hepmonaland weren't a seafaring people. Mr Reyonolds states that "The severe storms and dangerous waters around Hepmonaland prevented the natives from developing watercraft beyond small coastline-hugging vessels"

    Anyone else think that's a rather convenient explanation? Personally I'd like to see the Touv follow Rome's example in the First Punic War and develop their own navy in response to the Scarlet Brotherhood's armada.

    A rumble off the jungle coast might be an interesting wrinkle in the Brotherhood's plans. Anyone else got any thoughts on this?
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    Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:34 pm  

    DeanP wrote:
    Does anybody have information or even good speculation on the naval strengths (warships) of the various realms in the Flanaess?


    -Besides the below offerings, you might be able to deduce something from the forces ca. 582 in the Greyhawk Wars set (sadly, I lost the pack while travelling). Each infantry counter was probably 2,000 men each (give or take), cavalry was 1,000 men and 1,000 mounts (give or take), and each vessel would have been something like 1,000 men plus major warships- maybe 12 or so-an actual "fleet" of 3 or 4 squadrons-(give or take). This wouldn't be the entire active duty force, but the part that can be "shaken loose" for mobile operations (something Tarleton was getting at). The entire navy, active and mobilizable, would be larger.

    From they, you could calculate for former or later dates, I suppose.

    BTW, does anyone have a tally of Greyhawk Wars' total forces for all nations, by chance?

    Kalindren wrote:
    ...Mr Reyonolds states that "The severe storms and dangerous waters around Hepmonaland prevented the natives from developing watercraft beyond small coastline-hugging vessels"

    Anyone else think that's a rather convenient explanation?


    -Maybe, but the Touv are clearly inspired by sub-Sahara Africans, who weren't noted for their sea-going navies. SKR was probably just following that.

    Kalindren wrote:
    ...Personally I'd like to see the Touv follow Rome's example in the First Punic War and develop their own navy in response to the Scarlet Brotherhood's armada...


    -AFAIK, the Touv don't see the SB as a threat, at least as of 591 CY.

    Kalindren wrote:
    ...A rumble off the jungle coast might be an interesting wrinkle in the Brotherhood's plans. Anyone else got any thoughts on this?


    Even if they did in the future, they'd have to become a united force, which is probably a long way off. IOW, the Romans had a huge numerical superiority over the Cartharginians et al, so they were able to afford massive losses as they got their act together. I suspect that the the correlation of forces between the SB (inc. the Lordship of the Isles) vs. united Touv force would be more balanced, and the first battle or two would likely be the Touv's last if they don't have allies (or magical or fantastic help). But even so, it would constitute at least a "wrinkle" in the SB's plans, if they could get past the "ifs".
    GreySage

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    Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:02 pm  

    Kalindren wrote:
    I remember from The Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook that the Touv of southern Hepmonaland weren't a seafaring people. Mr Reyonolds states that "The severe storms and dangerous waters around Hepmonaland prevented the natives from developing watercraft beyond small coastline-hugging vessels"

    Anyone else think that's a rather convenient explanation? Personally I'd like to see the Touv follow Rome's example in the First Punic War and develop their own navy in response to the Scarlet Brotherhood's armada.

    A rumble off the jungle coast might be an interesting wrinkle in the Brotherhood's plans. Anyone else got any thoughts on this?


    This is all quite reasonable.

    If you decide that the Scarlet Brotherhood actually sends ships that far south to raid for slaves, the Touv could capture one of the SB ships (perhaps one that wrecks in a storm on the jagged coastline) and reverse-engineer it. That would allow them to build comparable warships almost immediately. Of course, learning how to sail/man them skillfully would require more time, but it would allow them to build up a powerful navy fairly quickly.

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    Wed Aug 12, 2020 11:39 pm  

    Unsure if this is an active thread anymore or even exactly how this works as I legitimately just made an account for this but I have been attempting to do greyhawk campaign heavily influenced by pirates and the sea but have little resource idea for what the different shops look like (sizes etc..) and was hoping someone could give me resorces to pull from
    GreySage

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    Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:18 am  

    DillBoe503 wrote:
    Unsure if this is an active thread anymore or even exactly how this works as I legitimately just made an account for this but I have been attempting to do greyhawk campaign heavily influenced by pirates and the sea but have little resource idea for what the different shops look like (sizes etc..) and was hoping someone could give me resorces to pull from


    I am not certain if you are asking about what kinds of merchants might be located in a pirate town, what types of NPCs pirates might interact with, or what life as a pirate might be like. But, for any of those, you can look to various books about pirates, movies, and tv series. For example:

    Black Sails (Hulu) - Very gritty, not-for-children, pirate series detailing the life of pirates and those they interact with in Nassau, the Carribbean. Based on true life pirates with fictitious characters added.

    Roman Polanski's Pirates - A comedy story sprinkled with true-to-life events from the lives of real pirates. Shows how difficult it could be to be a successful pirate.

    Errol Flynn's Captain Blood - Old and bloodless, but some good action and authentic-looking props.

    Also worth mentioning are:
    The Crimson Pirate
    The Sea Hawk - Errol Flynn
    Treasure Island
    A High Wind in Jamaica
    The Buccaneer - Yule Brenner

    Here is a longer list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pirate_films_and_TV_series

    Here is a link to a list of some good books about pirates: https://csphistorical.com/2015/06/28/recommend-books-on-pirate-history/

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    GreySage

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    Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:51 am  

    jamesdglick wrote:
    -Maybe, but the Touv are clearly inspired by sub-Sahara Africans, who weren't noted for their sea-going navies.


    In a quick search, it seems the Kingdom of Aksum in what is now Ethiopia and Eritrea was noted to have a strong navy. Of course, Ethiopia was in the center of a trade network stretching from the Roman Empire to India, and the Touv nations are portrayed as more isolated. As portrayed in the book, Ikelan for example doesn't have much in the way of places along the coast to trade with; Chebikav is the closest port to the north, and it's really not very close, and they'd have to navigate past Breeka's Teeth (which might also have some useful trading partners, to be fair). Ichamamma upstream is a hostile state inhabited by yuan-ti, so any trade with them is probably going to be more along the lines of smuggling.

    Anatal on the eastern coast is noted to trade gems and food and spices and to be friendly or cordial with the other Touv states, but it doesn't have any close neighbors to trade with. The closest seaport is Kevot, beset by sahuagin raids. Jolan, a riverport that's technically closer than Kevot, is specifically said to refuse contact with the Anatalians (though I suppose they must be cordial about it). To the north, the closest settlement is Sharbakal, an accursed city settled by Suel, and they aren't a seaport (and aren't given a geographic reason for a city to be there at all, except that there was a ruined Olman city there before them). To the north of that, Sharba (another Suel city) is said to have regular trade with the Lordship of the Isles. There should probably be a port on the coast near Sharba for Lordship ships to dock at before venturing inland to Sharba. The Lordship of the Isles is probably the most likely trading partner for Anatal as well. In fact, absent another port on the eastern Hepmonaland coast, Lordship merchants would probably have to dock at Anatal before joining caravans inward to Sharba and Sharbakal. There isn't a closer option on the map. Importing Fort Thunder from David Howery's "Dark Continent" in Dragon #189 (also explored in Dungeon #15 and #22) on the bay north of Sharba (or a little further to the northeast, if the Leopard Swamp from Dungeon #15 is the Pelisso Swamp) would make a lot of sense, and would give Anatal a closer port to trade with.

    Honestly, although it's a project I don't have time for right now, I'd like to rework Hepmonaland so that its city-states are less isolated and there are reasonable trade routes both on sea and land to other parts of Hepmonaland and beyond. Ikelan might trade with Zahind (or whatever you want to call it) and "Nippon" on the other side of the Vogan Sea. Adding some smaller settlements around the major ones would help a lot in making Hepmonaland more cosmopolitan.
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    Fri Aug 14, 2020 3:25 pm  

    Most of what is posted below is from my own version of things, so take it with as many shakers of salt as you want.

    The LGG noted that the Hold of the Sea Princes had the single best fleet in the entire Flanaess, and I ran with that. After the Greyhawk Wars, most of those ships are now being used by the state that the rebellious Suel slaves created in the Hold's place, although they've slipped somewhat as many of the most experienced sailors and shipwrights among the Sea Princes have fled to other realms like the Pomarj and the Horned Empire. Many of those former slaves have had to learn sailing and shipbuilding themselves, taught by former Sea Prince freemen who threw in with the new regime as a way of staying alive.

    Naval experts argued over whether the Sea Barons or the Lordship of the Isles had the second-best navies, and which of them is now the best in the Flanaess. Gary Holian once told me in Greytalk that he thought the Sea Barons won two-thirds of their conflicts with the Lordship, and I run with that. The Battle of Medegia certainly seems to bear it out. So the Sea Barons are now the best navy in the Flanaess, with the Lordship a close second.

    Further down the ladder we have the navies of places like Rel Astra, Ratik, the Duchy of Urnst, Furyondy, the Principality of Ulek, Keoland and Irongate. These lands are respectable, and Irongate even comes close to the Lordship's quality (much to the latter's dismay) but they can cannot compare to the true maritime powers. Keoland's navy grew in strength after the Greyhawk Wars thanks to ships and citizens taken from the Sea Princes, and is now the strongest part of a military that's otherwise the laughingstock of the Flanaess's major powers. Among this group, Irongate and Keoland stand out from the rest.

    The Suel barbarians are a special case. They do not have much in the way of a formal naval force, as their ships are more designed for quick raids than proper sea battles. Of them, the Snow Barbarians are the best, with the Ice Barbarians coming in a close second. The Frost Barbarians are, predictably, the poor cousins when it comes to naval prowess.

    Up-and-coming powers include the likes of the Pomarj and the Horned Empire. The Horned Empire was landlocked before the Wars and the Pomarj had no central government or navy, so they're building their navies from scratch. They have the benefit of Sea Prince citizens who fled the fall of their nation offering expertise as shipbuilders and captains, and they're both spending some of the wealth they gained during the Wars to build themselves up. Ahlissa is also rebuilding the fleet that the old Great Kingdom regime allowed to decay, to the point that Overking Xavener is paying out of his own personal coffers. It will likely become a power to rival or exceed Irongate, and possibly even threaten the Lordship of the Isles, in the years to come.

    At the bottom we have the naval lightweights, including the County of Urnst, Dyvers, Greyhawk, Onnwal, Nyrond and Northern Aerdy. The first four of these states are simply militarily weak in general, and their navies are no exception. Nyrond's navy was gravely weakened by the Greyhawk Wars. Now, it's plagued by a constant lack of funds and skilled shipwrights and has all sorts of problems keeping Nyrond's coasts clear. North Province didn't have as much of a naval tradition as the more southern parts of the Great Kingdom, and Northern Aerdy doesn't have as many resources as Ahlissa. It's been forced to use the resources it does have to build up its land forces, although it's possible that the mineral wealth it gained from annexing the Blemu Hills during the Wars will allow it to rise to 'up and coming' status.
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    Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:42 pm  

    DillBoe503 wrote:
    Unsure if this is an active thread anymore or even exactly how this works as I legitimately just made an account for this but I have been attempting to do greyhawk campaign heavily influenced by pirates and the sea but have little resource idea for what the different shops look like (sizes etc..) and was hoping someone could give me resorces to pull from

    Assuming that Dill meant ships instead of shops, I recommend this thread, Greyhawk Naval Rules, which discusses different rule sets used across the editions to represent sailing ships and naval warfare, references canon sources regarding various navies of the Flanaess, and discusses sailing technologies vis-à-vis Earth's Age of Discovery and Age of Sail.

    Additionally, I've found Wikipedia's entries for medieval ships a helpful primer and learned a lot from its discussion of sail plans, especially its links to particular sail plans. (I focused on the sloop and cutter.)

    On that last point, the sail plan entry also features the proa, which might be useful for reimagining Touv seafarers.
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    Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:37 pm  

    The article I wrote gives a basic overview of ships, crew, etc. It might help you get a quick start on things.

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1217&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0
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    Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:07 pm  
    Keoish naval intelligence

    Additionally, the article Keoish Intelligence Report from the Azure Sea (recently posted) goes into a couple of my pet theories on Azure naval strength post Greyhawk Wars.

    A caveat, I wrote these series of articles in character - making them not necessarily reliable to the reader - intelligence is often not exacting. But it gives the reader wiggle room to modify it to taste.

    My take on the official Greyhawk Wars events on the Azure is a bit different. I saw the SB as making a power grab on the ships of the Sea Princes more than the lands. But with having a lot of vessels but skilled crews are now limited, the blockade's effectiveness is mostly a bluff.

    The article is here - with a second and third part detailing other aspects of the Azure to be posted soon:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=1214&mode=&order=0&thold=0
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