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    A brief synopsis of the whaling skill
    Posted on Wed, November 10, 2021 by LordCeb
    longetalos writes "This article provides some information that can be used to flesh out whalers and those that hunt other large aquatic creatures in the Flanaess. it is a blend of text from on the internet, along with some gaming information that can be adapted for the GM who wants to introduce a whaling skill to their game.

    Whalers is a generic term used to represent any professional that hunts huge aquatic creatures such as whales and sea serpents. As a whaler gains experience, they can perform more complicated tasks – and hence earn more. Frequently whalers are paid out as a percentage of the profit from the hunt and not paid a daily wage. The crew of a whaling ship consists of the Foremast hands/Crewman (who does the basic jobs on the ship and the flencing), Boatsteerers (row the whaleboats), the Harpooners (they are the ones that attack with the harpoon), Officers/Mates and the Captain. Products made from whales include;

    ·  Whale oil: This is oil rendered from the blubber.

    ·  Spermaceti oil: Sperm whales have an additional oil source in a cavity in their head. Pressing this waxy spermaceti oil separates it into the highest grade of oil and a superior candle wax.

    ·  Baleen: Some whales have plates that hang from the upper jaw to strain food from seawater. These plates, called baleen, are strong and flexible. In the fashion industry, baleen was often called "whalebone."

    ·  Ambergris: A substance produced occasionally in the intestines of sperm whales. Ambergris was used in fine perfumes to keep the scent from changing, and was occasionally added to wine as an aphrodisiac.

    For the whaleman, it was a rough and dangerous life. Once a whale was sighted, the crew took to their whaleboats in pursuit with the immediate objective of harpooning their prey. If the harpooner successfully speared a victim, the whaleboat and its crew were treated to what was called a "Nantucket Sleigh Ride" as the whale dragged its hunters through the sea in an attempt to escape.

    "The grim realty is it's basically a waiting game, a very dangerous waiting game," Millard says. "People have been dragged out to sea for entire nights. There's been examples of guys who got dragged about 120km away - and ate their own clothes to survive."

    Typically, after two to three hours of this rollercoaster ride, the whale would tire, be finished off and hauled to the mother ship. Other times, whales have destroyed boats entirely. When the whale is too tired to continue fighting, someone jumps into the water and severs the spinal cord.

    “The loose boat then came to the ship for a hawser to fasten round his flukes; which being done, the captain left his irons in the carcass and pulled for the ship, in order to beat to windward, and, after getting alongside, to 'cut him in.' This done, and the mammoth carcass secured to the ship by a chain round the bitts, they proceeded to reeve the huge blocks that are always made fast for the purpose to the fore and main mast head, and to fasten the cutting-in tackle. The captain and two mates then went over the sides on steps well secured, and having each a breast-rope to steady them and lean upon. The cooper then passed them the long-handled spades, which he was all the time grinding and whetting, and they fell lustily to work chopping off the blubber.


    Soon after we had finished cutting in, while the ship is lying to, the business has begun in good earnest; the blubber-men cutting up in the blubberroom; others pitching it on deck; others forking it over to the side of the 'try-works;' two men standing by a 'horse' with a mincing knife to cleave the pieces into many parts for the more easy trying out, as the rind of a joint of pork is cut by the cook for roasting: the boatsteerers and one of the mates are pitching it into the kettles, feeding the fires with the scraps, and bailing the boiling fluid into copper tanks, from which it is the duty of another to dip into casks.


    The whale now taken proves to be a cow whale, forty-five feet long and twenty-five round, and it will yield between seventy and eighty barrels of right whale oil (7000 to 8600 liters)."

    Skill progression: The Whaling profession consists of different roles/tasks. As a whaler gains ranks in this skill, they can perform the more complicated tasks.

    · Rank 1 (Foremast hands/Crewmen): The majority of the crew (65% of the crew) was made up of foremast hands. They performed daily duties of cleaning the vessel, converting the prey into sellable products, and taking turns on watch.

    ·  Rank 2 (Boatsteerers): These are the crew members (20% of the crew) that rowed the whaleboat into position (usually 3 to 5 per whaleboat). They then needed to hold on and keep the whaleboat afloat as the prey fled with the whaleboat attached.

    · Rank 3: 

    o Harpooners: These are the crew members (5% of the crew) that threw the harpoon, hoping to latch onto the whale. This began the process of the whale hunt. They enjoyed more liberties than the average crew member.

    o Officers/Mates: These crew members (10% of the crew) commanded their own whaleboat, and acted as the captain’s direct supervisors of the rest of the crew.

    · Rank 4 (Captain/Master): Perhaps the term Master was more applicable than captain. This individual had complete control and authority over the whaleship and its operations. As one whaling captain said to his timid crew while on the whaling grounds, “I am God.”

    Rank 1: Flencing & Trying out, Rowing

    · Flencing & Trying out: The individual can remove blubber from the prey (flencing) and boil it (trying out) such that it becomes oil. On average, the individual will convert 20 kg of blubber into 10 liters of oil each hour (the rest of the blubber is used to fuel the boiler or waste). Whales have (6d6+40)% of their body mass as blubber.

    · Rowing: A Standard complement of whalers can row a boat at its Best speed.

    Rank 2: Artillerist, Hunt, Wild ride

    · Artillerist: The individual is considered Trained when using catapults that launch harpoons against aquatic prey.

    · Hunt: The individual will locate a whale after 2d6+2 days of hunting.

    · Wild ride: The individual can control the whaleboat such that the boat does not capsize as the prey flees pulling the whaleboat. The ride will last 1d6 minutes per point of CON of the prey until the prey tires itself out and bleeds to death.

    Rank 3: Harpooning, Throw harpoon

    · Harpooning: Against huge aquatic creatures, the individual can leap off the whaleboat with a harpoon, onto the back of their prey, imbedding the harpoon and latching it properly. When used in this manner, the harpoon does double maximum damage.

    · Throw harpoon: Against huge aquatic creatures, the individual can throw a harpoon with great accuracy such that the harpoon imbeds itself and latches properly. When used in this manner, the harpoon does maximum damage.

    Rank 4: Improved Artillerist, Improved hunting

    · Improved Artillerist: The individual is considered Expert when using catapults that launch harpoons against aquatic prey.

    · Improved Hunting: The individual will locate a whale after 1d6 days of hunting.

    Rank 5: Improved Harpooning, Improved Throw harpoon

    · Improved Harpooning: Similar to Harpooning except the harpoon does triple maximum damage.

    · Improved Throw harpoon: Similar to Throw Harpoon except the harpoon does double maximum damage.

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