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    Naval Cultures of the Flanaess: Olve Seafarers
    Posted on Fri, November 28, 2008 by Dongul
    Crag writes "“A ship should dance upon the waves with the grace of a fine lady courtier.” – Seafarer Cesceant

    Naval Cultures of the Flanaess: Olve Seafarers
    By Crag & MikelAmroni

    “A ship should dance upon the waves with the grace of a fine lady courtier.” – Seafarer Cesceant

    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:
    Elves in the common tongue or olve in the flan dialect are not only to be found within the forests but also upon the seas. Olven coastal cities and island settlements were ancient before the influx of western refugees entered the Flanaess. Despite the upheaval these arrivals caused the olve continued to flourish within the eastern isles and their distant coastal colonies. The olven fleets retain communication and trade amongst the disparate seafaring olven communities. Olve shipwrights launch ships nearer to works of art then mere vessels of transportation. Olven vessels are surprisingly resilient despite their delicately crafted sails and exquisitely carved woodwork. The olven naval doctrine seeks to avoid close combat situations in favour of missile fire and evocation spells. Olven fleets also routinely use illusions to avoid confrontations whenever possible to avoid the needless loss of olven life. Olven vessels often sail with aquatic crew members whose special abilities make them ideal scouts and saboteurs. Most olve seafarers also carefully cultivate friendships with the native marine life and are exceedingly difficult to catch unawares. Mariners of other species have even claimed to have seen olve vessels vanish from the horizon.      

    Olve Seafarers (Evocation & Illusion)
    Alothean: Surf Rider (Merchant)
    Casalyn: Herald of Harmony (Diplomatic)
    Coryanar: Glorious Sea Path (Exploration)
    Elsharyl: Huntress (Transport and Warship)
    Kethlia: Wind Mistress (Warship)
    Yalisean: Wind Rider (Merchant)

    - As the strains of the harp lingers; a sensitive issue is broached –

    I am humbled by your trust; seer…
    Since the assumption of leadership of the sacred isles, our destined path has been set before us. It was necessary to restore peace and tranquility within these isles. The sacred soil cried out with discord; humans whispered in the shadows with scarlet agents and half-breeds demanded olven blood be spilled. We had to act to preserve our people and heritage; must we surrender every bit of soil to the ravenous hunger of humanity, can we not retain a small sacred vestige for our own. We will move, no more and if olve blood must be shed for a cause, let it be for one worth olven lives; reunification of the eldest race. Encroaching human vessels have had to be sunk to convince outsiders to leave these isles in peace. That lesson may have to be repeated and our fleet must be prepared to fulfill that unhappy duty. Our hesitancy to engage in combat comes not from weakness as some suppose but our deep reverence for olven life. This reverence is evident within the interwoven design of olven vessels which provide additional structural stability and the magical precautions employed to reduce the risk of disastrous breaches. The preservation of olven life remains the cherished core of the seafarers’ existence as it is considered of paramount value within olven society.

    Olve ships are a magnificent artistic expression which blends form and function to achieve an environmental harmony unsurpassed among the sentient races. These structural masterpieces appear to be woven from ethereal dreams and sea foam which are breathtaking in their elegance. Our precision craftsmanship is evident within all olve ships as each hull plate is perfectly fitted to provide maximum stability. This attention to the smallest structural detail has allowed the eldest of races to create such wonderfully durable vessels. These naval creations are lovingly sculpted from timber produced within specially nourished groves to achieve the finest grain of wood. Whether due to the timber, craftsmanship or some magical means employed during construction; olven vessels are capable of a limited form of natural regeneration. An olven vessel will eventually repair itself unless the sustained damage is truly catastrophic in nature. This natural regenerative process can further be accelerated through the application of plant growth spells or an abundant dosing of fresh water.

    Olven ships have been known to literally bloom following a rainstorm and following such blooms ships often sprout edible fruits. This edible fruit replenishes the food stores of the ship which enhances the operational length of olven vessels. Our military and exploration ships are outfitted with sails created from a composite material similar to our famous cloaks. While less effective due to the more durable composition required for sail material and the increased surface area involved. Nevertheless these sails have allowed many an olven warship or explorer to seize the tactical initiative at sea. While our mercantile vessels do not boast olve sailcloth our mercantile vessels still boast olven quality within their sails. Olven mercantile sailcloth remains well suited to withstand the harsh rigors of an ocean storm. Our mercantile fleet is a fine example of olven innovation while our warships are more uniform to ensure ease of command within combat encounters. Olven vessels are universally known for the intricate patterns which are painted upon them. The significance of these patterns is unique to each individual vessel and is a matter of pride for their crew. It is common practice for the mariners serving aboard a ship to paint a portion of this pattern themselves though most shipwrights will often personally carve the bow of the vessel before the ship is launched.  

    The Alothean is a common sight among coastal and island olven communities. Its name literally means Rider of the Gate of the Sea, though its less poetic name is the less ambitious Surf Rider. These shallow sided but broad hulled vessels are often beached upon the shore for the night. These simple vessels are unsuited for lengthy voyages although a prepared captain can accomplish such a voyage with a disciplined crew. These vessels have no sheltered cargo hold; merchandise is simply lashed to the deck. Each vessel is highly individualistic in appearance as there is no uniform standard for olven mercantile vessels. Shipwrights and the merchants who employ them are more concerned with their own needs rather than adherence to a uniform standard. However certain basic design specifications are universal such as the broad bottomed hull, jointed hull plating and the use of light weight but fine grained woods. The hull plates of an olven vessel are tight fitted and sealed with a waterproof mixture developed by olven mages eager to protect their magical tomes from water exposure. The shallow sides’ of the vessel does increase the need for bailing in the event of storms but rarely is extensive maintenance required to maintain its seaworthiness. To alleviate this potential hazard it is not uncommon for a minor enchantment such as an invisible servant to be active upon such ships to help bail.

    The Casalyn is designed primarily for the comfort of its esteemed passengers and dignitaries, although the ship does still possess an adequate but limited cargo hold. Unlike the small confined quarters other naval vessels provide; the casalyn offers passengers luxurious and spacious private cabins. Casalyn means “Herald and Bringer of Harmony”, though it is more commonly known as the “Herald of Harmony”. The primary purpose of these vessels is neither trade nor war but comfort and grandiose display. The casalyn provides refined accommodations for olven dignitaries en route to diplomatic assignments or official visits. The use of ingenious design and construction has made each private cabin a visual delight. The innovative use of a wind scoop which funnels air below deck makes the voyage far more pleasant than it might otherwise be for those unused to ocean travel. The private cabins are also cleverly ventilated and illuminated through magical means to provide a comfortable civilized experience. These vessels due to their spacious accommodations and restricted cargo capacity do ride higher in the water then most ships of their draft and are surprisingly maneuverable for their size.

    The Coryanar class is an exploration ship that is well suited to the uncertain nature of the unknown. The vessel is sturdy enough to handle ocean storms and yet light enough to be drawn ashore upon a foreign coastline or river bank. Commonly painted sea green to match the ocean by their adventurous crews and outfitted with sails created from a composite material similar to our cloaks. Under sail these highly agile vessels can often avoid most hostile encounters. The name Coryanar means Glorious Sea Path, given the impeccable craftsmanship of each ship, few deny their impressive sailing qualities. The olven military has even occasionally used these ships as forward scouts or to transport stealth specialists on to hostile shores. Some half-olven pirates have managed to acquire these ships and while not suited to confront the brute force of a warship, these half-breed pirates have successfully accomplished some daring raids.

    The Elsharyl class military transport, called the “Huntress of the Green Ocean”, is a deceptively dangerous ship. The “Huntress”, as it is most often referred to, grapples with the opposing vessel and releases a contingent of elite naval marines. The ensuing close combat often results in the capture of the enemy ship. However naval marines are scarce and contingents are unable to be assigned to each elsharyl transport. Naval marine losses are difficult to replace as few olven volunteers choose to complete the intensive training involved. The elsharyl is based upon a design similar to a large galley with a wide based dual hull design, though each hull is slender and cuts through the waves easily. The olven sails aboard these warships are the most advanced within the olve fleet but the class remains the slowest within the olven naval fleet. Primarily used to transport olven land armies these vessels normally seek to avoid naval combat. Although deemed a mere vessel of transport by some those that have had the misfortune to meet an elsharyl transport with a naval marine contingent never view these vessels the same again.

    The Kethlia class design is a sleek olven warship renowned for its speed and agility. The sides of the vessel are crenellated, like a castle, to allow for a wider range of fire for the olven archers and ballistae, while still providing protection for the crew. A standard feature of olven ballista bolts is a clay pot of alchemist fire for use in combat. Alchemist fire bolts are more cost effective and allow the olven spellcasters on board to maximize potential damage during combat. It is extremely rare for an olve warship not to have at least one spellcaster on board. Another common feature of olven warships is a metal lined tray near every archer station which is used to ignite arrows. Despite their delicately crafted construction olven warships are far sturdier than their appearance would suggest. Indeed, a kethlia has been submerged by a rogue wave and has resurfaced under sail. The inner holds within the ship can be completely sealed during a storm and while not completely watertight these ships can survive storms that would capsize other vessels. A secret enchantment applied to these ships is a variation of the slippers of spider climb enchantment. While normally inactive, if the captain commands, everyone on the main deck of the ship will find themselves rooted in place. This enchantment has saved many olven mariners during violent ocean storms. Of course this secret enchantment can also be used by an olven captain to devastating effect against hostile boarding parties.   

    The Yalisean, the far reaching olve trader, is a well known ship to nations and ports which do business with olven seafarers. Its name literally means "Rider of the Path of Breezes". Its more common translation is "Wind Rider". While this ship can be beached, a harbour is the preferred berth. Olve merchants concede they will never outhaul a human merchant with a yalisean. However an olven merchant will normally spend less on maintenance and often reap higher profits. All yalisean are highly individualistic vessels even two ships, made for the same merchant by the same shipwright will be noticeably different. It is a commonly held olven belief that each ship is a unique individual and therefore each must be independently designed. Of course similar overall traits are unavoidable but unique preferences will create similar but noticeable differences. This lack of a uniform design philosophy has produced a wide variety of innovative designs; some truly memorable, if a bit bizarre. The yalisean, despite its occasionally odd design features still is an effective mercantile vessel that typifies olven naval technology. Artistic but practical; less advanced but more efficient, deceptively delicate and yet sturdy enough to maintain the fragile ocean trade routes to our distant kindred.

    Mysticism and arcane curiosity are innate for many olve; for humans the desire is much rarer. Humans who devote themselves to magical studies often feel superior to others of their species and rarely choose to risk their personal safety. As a result our naval rivals have few spellcasters aboard their vessels and frequently have none at all. In contrast olven vessels routinely have several capable spellcasters available to provide magical assistance. Traditionally olve priests and mages view their magical gifts and role within olven society as one of service. As a fine artist uses their talent to enrich the society as a whole; so is the same expected of those blessed with a studious nature or religious insight. Our fleets often choose to avoid needless confrontations misdirecting foes by means of an illusion to prevent the meaningless loss of olven life. However when forced to defend ourselves; multiple evocation spells are often used to devastating effect. Hopefully our foes choose to withdraw from hostilities thereby minimizing possible olven causalities.

    These isles are vital to the eventual reunification of our species therefore we must bolster our defenses and remain resolute. Disappointments may occur but already there is cause for rejoicing. Trade with the distant eastern olven communities is less robust then we may hope but it is increasing and an exchange of diplomatic ambassadors has been proposed. It is hard to be certain but it appears our continental kindred are ascertaining their territorial rights and refuse to become entangled in further human conflict. Our supporters are finding open minds and receptive ears among our kindred though serious opposition remains to be overcome. However the debate unvoiced for millennia is openly being discussed. It may take generations but songs shall be sung of our racial reconciliation.

    Be faithful and walk with Sehanine in bliss.

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