The Alienage
All Things Relating to Trade, Shipping, and Commodities

The Shipwright

Maritime History of Hârn and Northwestern Lýthia



I started this project years ago out of a passion for historical research and a desire to develop some rational for how ships and shipping developed within Northwestern Lýthia. Part of this stemmed from a number of conversations with Hârn Forum members over the development of the Karune and the Dak as well as the existence of the longship at the same time.

This work is the first full piece to come out of this work thus far. There are a number of other pieces I have published thus far in draft or as a separate work. These include Hârnic Navies and Shipwrights.

In the future I plan on adding to this work as I develop other topic that at one time were planned to be included into a single piece called Hârnic Ships and Shipping.

Although this is not something a GM could use or helps in game play I hope you still find it informational and entertaining.

Technical Advancement (Innovation vs. Need):

One of the key points in the discussion about why the Karune (Caravel in our own time) and the Longship exist at the same time. Of course the game system is not our world and the situation that drove technological advancement is quite different. Even so, the advancement of technology is not based solely on innovative ideas but on the expressed need of society at the time.

Within our own history the Scandinavians many were working with and fighting against the Byzantines who possessed many ship building technologies that the Scandinavians did not have. Even with a prolonged contact spanning hundreds of years they never introduced skeletal construction or the lanteen sail into their own shipbuilding traditions. In fact, it was the growth of the bulk trade in grain, furs, salt, fish, etc in the Baltic Sea that finally drove shipbuilders to design a bulk carrier in the form of the Kogge. As it turned out, the Kogge would supersede the long ship in all distance trade of bulk goods whereas the Knarr (Scandinavian merchant longship) and its derivatives would be relegated to coastal trade only.

Another example would be the Roman super grain carriers of the early first millennium. These vessels were huge and needed to provide Rome and its other large cities with grain from Egypt and Sicily. However, with the fall of the Western Roman Empire these huge ships disappeared but their smaller cousins continued in use in the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium). Why did they not build the larger ships, after all they did have the technology? The main reason was that the need for large amounts of grain was absent and so the need for the super ship would not come about for another 800 years when Venice and Genoa began building the large crusade ships.

Finally, the Caravel came about as Prince Henry of Portugal was looking for a way around Africa to the riches of the east. The current vessels were unable to fight the contrary winds off the west coast of Africa and were too slow for any reasonable exploration of the route. The Portuguese shipwrights answered with the Caravel, a small fast vessel based on a Portuguese fishing vessel that sailed in the region.