Summary of Factions

Let the Wargames begin!  Soon, dear comrades, soon.

The way I see it, the chances of me actually getting my story published are slim to none, even if I could afford to be a full-time writer and produce a book series at a reasonable rate.  However, I have a toe in the door (not quite a foot, but better than nothing) of tabletop wargaming, given the popularity of my model tanks and sailing ships on Shapeways.  Mind you, the closest experience I have to wargaming is Axis and Allies, which I have played only twice in my life (once as the Axis, and once as the Allies).  That being said, I see no reason to avoid casually developing my own game and get some more market exposure.

I cannot control the ideas that pop into my head.  Sometimes, I will work on one 3D model after another, other times I’ll write several pages of the story, and other times I’ll work on my 2D graphics.  I was putting off writing this post until I had the flags for all Nine Empires finished.  Behold:Nine Empires Flags

In an earlier post, I provided some short descriptions of each of the Nine Empires, and over the course of several later posts, more detailed backstories for some of them.  This time, I’ll discuss the symbolism and best-known empire-building strategies for each nation.

Bulmut: the cross contained within a square was a long-used symbol by the westernmost kingdoms that eventually became Bulmut.  It was meant to symbolise both the sword and the hammer.  After the dwarves joined, the quatresact was integrated into the design, and the Silver Star of the North was placed in its centre.  A quatresact, by the way, is a symbol that many dwarven noble houses display.  It is essentially a square version of Odin’s Sign.

Strategy: focus on technology and industry.  Superior weaponry allows Bulmut to achieve victory on almost any battlefield.  Only the most stubborn enemies will continue fighting long enough for Bulmutian forces to suffer any significant losses.  However, with smaller numbers at its disposal, a single defeat could be devastating.

Alexandria: the double-headed eagle is the symbol of the Karamzov family.  It was originally black, but changed to gold after the family took the throne.

Strategy: fortifications and deep battle.  The borderlands have many forts, and behind them are rugged lands that are easy to dig into, but difficult to move armies through.  Alexandria’s wealth comes largely from agriculture and trade, and the rail lines allow the empire to quickly move both soldiers and resources around in the event of war.  Much of the fighting consists of holding off the enemy as long as possible, then retreating into the wilderness as soon as something goes wrong.  If the winter doesn’t kill the enemy, the partisan groups hiding in the woods and angry farmers eventually will.

Kantossa: the rising sun.  Kantossa is the easternmost land of Rossbera, hence the first to see the sunrise.  It is also a wealthy nation, and is rarely affected by economic downturns.  Given its widespread trade, as long as someone on the continent is doing well, so are the Kantossi.

Strategy: trade monopoly.  Kantossi merchant ships are armed, and can defend against some fairly powerful warships.  The merchant fleet has a few dedicated warships, which are meant mainly to defend against dreadnought and other heavy warships.  Piss off the Kantossi, and you may find every single port you control under blockade.

Sondor: the sailfish on a red field is the coat-of-arms of House Azul.  The blue cross represents the rivers of the mainland, and the gold cross represents the wealth that flows over them.

Strategy: always use the land against the enemy, even if you are in their territory.  In addition to a large arsenal of dedicated river warships, Sondor makes good use of espionage to learn about the battlefield, many times for isolating the various enemy divisions and avoiding a battle altogether.  Imperial agents routinely make friends within criminal organisations that stand to benefit from a major power shift in the area.  Turning the common people against their own government is another common strategy, but it is not quite as reliable.

Drachania: “black diamond” is anthracite coal, and Drachania has a lot of it.  The black dahlia on a yellow field is the coat-of-arms of the Votavko family, and looked remarkably similar (at a distance) to the coat-of-arms of the Karamazovs, back when both were still vassals to the Skharnovs.  To avoid confusion, the families went in two different directions with the designs of their nations’ flags.

Strategy: get lost.  Seriously, enemies can just get lost within the vast wilderness of the country.  They will find that Drachania has huge amounts of untapped natural resources, but should the enemy bring in mining equipment and try to steal it, that is the time to strike, because that is when they are most vulnerable.  Drachania has potential to be a more powerful version of Bulmut, and all that is needed is one step in the right direction.  It would take no time at all to build up industry and collect the necessary materials to build a huge army with powerful weapons.  Now, if only you could find a way to motivate the people…

Karaden: “blood of the jungle, blood of the waters.”  When the request was made to turn those words into a flag, that was the result.

Strategy: trololololol!  The Karadenians have a habit of doing totally unexpected things during war, then making the trollface and saying “you mad, bro?”  Well, their rhetoric is not quite 21st-century like that, but the idea is the same.  Galleons firing explosive shells and incinerating men-of-war, the dreadnought-killing Invictus-class battleships that are smaller than many armoured cruisers, and of course, the flying galleon are all troll-weapons that the Karadenians have unleashed to discourage everyone else from getting in their way.

Breace: the arm-and-hammer was the symbol of the resistance during the War of Breacian Independence, a conflict that had been foreseen for decades, and finally took place thanks to Arcadia’s weakened state from the War of Karadenian Succession.  The many different red, white, and blue battle flags were all combined with a highly abstract version of the arm-and-hammer to produce the flag of the independent republic.

Strategy: feign surrender, then pull the rug out from under invaders.  The people of Breace enjoy their independence, and every time that Arcadia has tried to take back the territory, it is the people themselves who take up arms against the occupying soldiers and drive them back.  This usually costs Arcadia a staggering number of troops, such that continuing the war is no longer an option.  On a slightly humourous note, every time an Arcadian ruler makes the mistake of trying to reclaim Breace, it means the end of a dynasty.

Taressim: a rising star, stretched out like the arrows of expansion in green and red, symbolising blood and land.  This is how the State instructs the people to see it.

Strategy: devote yourself to the State or die.  There is nothing to do in this country if you’re not a soldier.  Even civilians work for the military in one way or another, though the options are rather limited.  When the country was first formed, life was fun, because the country was constantly at war, gobbling up other countries and expanding rapidly.  Now, surrounded by mighty empires on all sides, High Command is left with two choices: start wars that will push the country to the limit and potentially bring about its downfall, or change the directive of the State.

Arcadia: the golden compass on a dark blue field is the coat-of-arms of the Rodilos family.  Unlike its successors, House Rodilos did not see fit to come up a with completely new flag design when it rose to power.  The compass was originally meant to symbolise exploration, but on the imperial flag, symbolises conquest and dominion in all directions.

Strategy: peace through power.  I’ll eventually rephrase that before I put it in quotes, seeing as the country isn’t run by the Brotherhood of NOD.  The Arcadians do not believe that military conquest is necessary, as long as all roads run through their empire.  With huge amounts of land and natural resources at their disposal, the Arcadians have the potential to dominate the continent either by force or through economic strength.  The empire also has a large and powerful military that is capable of protecting any commercial or industrial facilities that are of great benefit to the nation, be they at home or abroad.  The main challenge that Arcadia faces is that it can’t fight everyone at once, and should it be the one to start the war, that may very well be what happens.


The River Dreadnought

I recently released this model in my Shapeways shop.  This is the largest and most powerful of the Sondorian river warships.QAL Angnor Alt 1The QAL Angnor looks rather similar to contemporaries of the HMS Dreadnought, but with different proportions.  The ship is shorter (120m vs 160m), wider (34m vs 25m), and the hull is only half as deep, with a freeboard of 3 metres, and a draught of 4.5 metres (vs 7m and 9m for the Dreadnought, respectively).  As with the small monitors and mid-size river cruisers, the purpose for the different proportions is to make navigating shallow and winding waterways much easier.

Unlike the river cruiser, which is designed to hide behind high riverbanks and trees, the river dreadnought is designed to stand out and instill as much fear as possible.  After all, no-one expects to be in danger from 305-mm (12-in) guns inland.  The poor Taressimian soldiers who marched deep into Sondorian territory found themselves at a tremendous disadvantage, as no land-based artillery had the power or the range to counter these mighty warships.  The towering armoured citadel allows the officers to see over the vast majority of obstacles, and in the field, ships of this type usually function as mobile command centres as well as floating artillery platforms.

River fleet

Above: the QAL Angnor in my virtual river diorama, surrounded by river cruisers.

Below: an earlier version of the ship, with a smaller forward funnel.

QAL Angnor 2

River Dreadnought superfiring broadside

Above: since the guns are usually not fired from a level position, the far-side middle turret frequently fires over the near-side middle turret.  This particular type of superfiring is something that only river dreadnoughts ever did.  Thus, even though this type of ship had one fewer turret than the oceangoing variety, it effectively has the exact same firepower.


I recently watched this video by AronRa.  Sometimes, to entertain myself, I sit down and watch his videos pertaining to evolution.  I’ve always found palaeontology fascinating, and not just because I like dinosaurs.  In fact, dinosaurs aren’t even my favourite.  However, this particular passage does contain a bit about dinosaurs, and not much about any other creature that actually existed.  I even based the title of this post on the title of the video I referenced.  However, I chose to combine “dragon” with the more modern term “phylogeny,” rather than with the older “taxonomy,” for reasons that should become clear to anyone who reads this and knows the difference between the two.

Regrettably, I have no pictures to show for this one, and I really ought to.  Perhaps I will post a supplement to this later, with all the pictures that will make this easier to understand.  Anyway, let’s dive into this.  I warn you, unlike the typical fantasy writer, I have given a lot of thought to the evolution of life on my made-up world.  No magic or gods in this creation myth, just nature.

Given that Varanganska has nearly twice the gravity of Earth, the fish that crawled out of the oceans need the help of every bit of flesh.  Thus, they grew three pairs of limbs, creating a hexapod paradigm.  Since much of the creature’s mass was forward, the extra support was doubled at the front end, rather than at both, hence the hexapod paradigm instead of an octopod one.  Smaller animals found the extra pair of limbs hindering, so they became dormant in all but the largest species in later periods.  Thus, there are suppressed hexapods and expressed hexapods.  Through convergent evolution, both groups evolved to have analogs in each other, adapting either thicker limbs or more of them to hold up the same body.  An example of this is the similarity between the dostrop and the sleipnus, both of which are analogs of the horse.  The former is a suppressed hexapod with very stocky limbs, and the latter is an expressed hexapod with more slender limbs.  Over tens of millions of years, limbs came and went depending on the animals’ needs.  This is most apparent with the evolution of Varanganskan dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs evolved from similar ancestors on Varanganska as here on Earth, however most creatures in both groups had six legs.  However, this is at the point that the similarities between the two evolutionary pathways begin to disappear.  Around the same time that the first proto-feathers appeared, the first group of dragons, the flightless dragons or “great serpents” break off from dinosaurs.  Today, flightless dragons have each pair of legs (or flippers, as some are aquatic) evenly-spaced over the length of their bodies.  The earliest specimens had only down feathers, and so appear to be covered in fur, but most modern species are covered in contour feathers, which, from a distance, resemble scales.

The second group of dragons broke off during a time when both lizards and smaller dinosaurs started to glide between trees.  Both wyverns and membrane-wing, more commonly called leatherwing, dragons appear.  In addition to the number of limbs, wyverns are actually reptiles, and not descended from dinosaurs as dragons are.  Leatherwing dragons also have sparse feathers, whereas wyverns have none.  Flight feathers had not yet appeared when leatherwing dragons broke away from dinosaurs, which is why they look more like the unrelated wyverns than other flying dragons.

The third group of dragons constitutes the last split of dinosaurs, which occurred shortly after the appearance of asymmetrical flight feathers.  It is at the point of their origin that dinosaurs begin to differentiate between dragons and birds.  Their common ancestor is an expressed hexapod that otherwise looked identical to Archaeopteryx.  By modern definition, the Archaeopteryx-like creature would be called a feathered dragon, rather than a bird, but it is most certainly an ancestor to both.  Modern feathered dragons all have avian wings, but with protruding claws, as well as long tails that are more lizard-like than bird-like, but can still manipulate flight feathers with them.  Another difference between feathered dragons and birds is the means of reproduction: birds are typically oviparous, whereas all three types of dragons are typically viviparous.  In other words, the majority of Varanganskan dragons do not lay eggs.

There are several exceptions to the last rule, but the most notable one is the Night’s Dragon, which is not a true dragon by any means, and, as a genetically engineered creature, does not fit into any clade.  Even by conventional taxonomy, there are too many characteristics taken from totally unrelated clades to make classifying the Night’s Dragon even possible.  These I will arrange in the order of most subtle to most radical.  First off, though the Night’s Dragon has the talons of a raptor (referring to both dinosaurs and modern birds of the type), with deeply-curved claws the size of meathooks, no raptor has even been known to have more than four toes; the Night’s Dragon has five, the outer two of which can pivot to change the configuration from 4:1 to 2:3.  Second, the Night’s Dragon has fully fused phalanges in the wings (unique to birds), and slit pupils (absent in birds) in its tetrachromatic (absent in dragons) eyes.  The Night’s Dragon arguably has better vision than any bird or true dragon, especially at night, when only owls boast such great eyesight.  Third, and this is somewhat related to the feet, the Night’s Dragon is bipedal, in spite of being an expressed hexapod, and its arms terminate in five-fingered hands with opposable thumbs, a feature unique to mammals.  Fourth, the Night’s Dragon can deliver venom by means of chelicerated fangs that fold up and retract inside its mouth.  Chelicerata is its own, totally unrelated clade, a subphylum of arthropods separate from both crustaceans and insects, but which includes arachnids.  Though vipers can have retractable fangs, none of them have chelicerae, and furthermore, no vertibrate has venom that can match the Night’s Dragon for potency, as it is the same cocktail of neurotoxins and proteolytic enzymes typically found in spider venom.

Varanganskan dragons come in all shapes and sizes, and, while some have lost legs over the years, they are still distinguishable from wyverns by both their internal anatomy and genetics.  As I mentioned, within the lore of this particular fantasy world, wyverns are reptiles, and dragons are actually dinosaurs, as birds are.  None of them breathe fire, but that did not diminish their usefullness as beasts of war, most notably by the dark elf dragonlords.  That being said, not all species of dragons can be tamed, or even trained.  Furthermore, unless you first have contact with the creature when it is very young, you would have no hope of getting it to do anything other than kill you.

One unusual dragon is the “winged lion,” a feathered dragon whose body is covered in down feathers, thus resembling fur.  The “mane” is comprised of both feathers and horns, somewhat resembling a cat’s ears.  Aside from this “mane” the creature looks little like a lion, but for many, it is the simplest way to describe the creature.  Another unusual specimen is sometimes called a manticore, though this leatherwing is far uglier, possessing  frills and horns arrayed around its head to, again, resemble a lion’s mane if you squint at it the right way.  Most dragons, however, are simply expressed hexapod versions of extant birds, or otherwise analogs of fairly small creatures, with nearly all the big ones having gone extinct by the time that The Nine Empires takes place.  Sorry to disappoint, but this is a steampunk story, after all.

Virtual Dioramas

Who doesn’t like train sets?  Even if you don’t have the patience or the space to build your own, you have to admire the detail in the set, as well as the work that went into it.  In the last place I lived, my father’s trains were set up in the finished attic.  Now, however, the only place we have to put them is the second floor of the workshop.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that space getting finished any time soon.  There are simply too many other things that need to be done in the mean time.  Therefore, computer-generated images of my own creations will be the closest I will have to those wonderful tabletop models for some time.  Admittedly, my go-to software, Autodesk Inventor, is not very good for rendering terrain or indeed, most organic shapes.  Inventor was made for designing machinery.  Tanks, ships, and buildings are easy to make with this software.  That’s where I end my rambling for today and simply share some pictures of my sets.

Diorama 1Above: five river cruisers steaming down a river.  Ten KV-1 tanks are on the riverbanks, seven of which are visible in this picture.  I will, of course, eventually replace them with tanks of my own design.

Diorama 2

Above and below: views of the river cruisers from the banks.

Diorama 3

Below: the Zaphnora approaches the Hub.Diorama 5Diorama 6Diorama 4Above: the Hub as seen from Zaphnora‘s bridge.

Inside Zaphnora's Hangar

Above: the Zaphnora inside an airship hangar.

Below: Pherazmil and Khrodanau approach the Tower of the Eyes.

Tower of the Eyes 2

Below: from this angle, Zaphnora and Grugnula can be seen approaching the tower.Tower of the Eyes 3Tower of the Eyes 4

Above: standing at the base of the tower, looking almost straight up.

Architecture Preview

I spit at most architectural conventions, especially the modern ones.  Naturally, I am speaking of the aesthetic aspects of architecture, not the practical ones.

Buildings 1

This is a screenshot of the largest and most interesting buildings I have rendered thus far.  Two of them are available in my Shapeways shop, if you want to take a peek at the full 3D views of either the tower on the far right or the airship hangar right next to it.  The models are untested, but I see no reason to hurry up and validate them because they are very expensive and I don’t expect to sell either one ever (I doubt I’ll ever buy them myself, considering that I have no place to put a diorama).  Anyway, I’ll tell you a bit about each of these, going from left to right.

Tower of the Eyes: this ancient monstrosity, the same size as the Empire State Building, was constructed by the black dwarves under the direction of the chuyinka.  It served as their headquarters for plotting their schemes to take over the world (cliché much?).  The yellow bit at the top is a lighthouse, and was added centuries after the original construction to serve as an airship beacon.  Taking inspiration from a documentary I watched years ago called “The Code,” by Carl Munck, several of the characters analyse the mathematical relationships of the positions of certain ancient landmarks and use the formulas they derive to locate the tower.

Castle Holgar: this one I’ve mentioned before.  Originally an inverted motte-and-bailey castle, with four mottes on the outside, and a huge bailey in the middle containing substantial farmland, Holgar was burned to the ground and rebuilt as a huge star-fort of reinforced concrete under the direction of the chuyinka.  Though called a castle, Holgar is actually a citadel (see this video), given that this was the central government building of ancient Skhara, as well as the residence of the Skharnov family and the fortress for their military.  Castle Holgar is immense, much larger than most castles in our world, and also one of the largest fortifications on Rossbera.  Each of those turrets is the same size as the keep of Rochester Castle in England.  Castle Holgar was eventually destroyed from the inside, but the outer walls, including the bastions, still stand.

The White Keep: a fortified palace, and the central building of the Skharnograd Kremlin.  It’s difficult to see in this picture, but I’ve used the same style as most kremlins built during the 15th century (“kremlin” is capitalised only when referring to a specific example, such as the Moscow Kremlin, which is the most famous of the lot by far).  The Skharnograd Kremlin was way ahead of its time, and built of red brick during a time that nearly all other castles were built of stone.  Alexandra Skharnova ordered its construction in the fashion of Skharan fortresses, choosing red brick in lieu of the Skharan concrete that she no longer had access to.  Years later, Drokar Skharnov II, a.k.a. Drokar the Pious, ordered the whole thing whitewashed.  His successor, Viskar I, had the outer walls painted black, but left the keep alone.

Airship Hangar: a hangar designed to hold one of the black triremes.  The corner towers are topped with angular versions of onion domes with spikes protruding from them.  This is a feature I use quite a lot.

Hub Tower: another secret facility the chuyinka have at their disposal is the Hub, which is quite new.  Six cranes protrude from the tower, moving things between the many causeways below ground level and the platforms on the upper levels, connected to the upper research lab.  Like the airship hangar, this tower has an angular, bizarrely-decorated onion dome.

So, there you have it, for now.  I’ll post some better entries with more pictures in the near future, showing exactly what is so weird (not necessarily unique, but definitely unusual) about my buildings.

A Point About Funnels

Smokestacks on ships are called “funnels,” for those who don’t know.  During the early days of steamships, the number of funnels correlated directly to the number of boilers.  However, that didn’t remain the case for long.  Multiple exhaust flues could connect into a single funnel.  In fact, that quickly became standard design practise.  Show me a ship with thirty boilers… easy.  Show me a ship with thirty funnels… I won’t hold my breath.  I’ve never seen any ship with more than six.

River cruisers

On the left is the second of the river cruisers.  This one focuses more on offense and less on stealth.  I brought up the funnels because it is standard practise to build river cruisers with a single funnel, so that, from a distance, they resemble harmless ferries.  Up close, the mistake is unlikely to be made, but over a distance of a kilometre or so, through trees and thick fog, one might not know if the approaching steamship was just another cargo steamer or a deadly river cruiser.

So, what’s the logic behind multiple funnels?  Well, a more efficient exhaust system makes for a more efficient ship (more funnels, less coal burned, to a point).  The ram adds to that as well, which is why so many large ships have them.  In addition, there was no need to disguise ships deployed to the eastern border, only those that remained well within the mainland territory to fight rebel factions.

I plan to make one more river cruiser design before moving on the river dreadnoughts, of which there will be at least two.

River Cruisers

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of previous posts, mainland Sondor is more water than dirt.  There are so many waterways that it makes more sense to get around by boat than by any other means.  In addition, most towns are built as a network of crannogs or pole-buildings (think Venice).  Every building is something new for construction crews, so owning a building is absurdly expensive.  Most people live on their boats, and keep them moored close to where they work.  For centuries, the marsh kingdoms and river kingdoms did battle entirely on the water.  After the economic collapse following the War of Karadenian Succession, the islands of Nala and Toruck, as well as the coastal kingdoms, submitted to the Crown of Qells and the Sondorian Empire was born.  As time passed and the empire expanded inland, the ships evolved from river galleys and gun-barges to monitors, casemate ironclads, and eventually the famed river dreadnoughts.

I’m not making the river warships in any particular order, but this is the first I’ve done.

Sondor river cruiser 1 bowSondor river cruiser 1 stern

This is a river cruiser, the intermediate of her contemporaries (river monitors and river dreadnoughts) in terms of size.  The river cruiser is much smaller than an oceangoing cruiser; at 78 metres long, this particular example is actually smaller than the CSS Virginia.  That being said, river cruisers are nothing to scoff at in terms of firepower.  While other major powers largely abandoned the casemate ironclad in favour of ships with turrets, Sondor chose to keep this design and update it because it possessed several advantages in river combat.

Notice the small squares atop the raised platform in the middle.  These are viewports, very similar to the viewports one might see on a tank.  The Sondorians discovered very quickly, during the early days of ironclad warfare, that low-profile ships could slip past enemies on the banks, taking advantage of the hull-down position.  Obviously, the only thing that gives away the ship’s position is the funnel.  Such a low-profile ship can also unleash a devastating barrage while the enemy’s guard is down, then slip away during the confusion, especially at night.  Furthermore, the low profile and sloped armour makes the ship a rather frustrating target.

The casemate guns and turret guns are all the same calibre, 152mm in the case of this ship, which makes it unusually well-armed for a cruiser of the period.  However, the casemate guns are almost always howitzers, strictly for the purpose of firing relatively high-angled shots over the riverbanks.  The turret guns are proper cannons, and are capable of the necessary muzzle velocity for armour-piercing ammunition to do its job.  Smaller guns may also be mounted on the top decks, such as machine guns.  Many times, mantlets will be added to protect top deck gunners.  Most river cruisers are also equipped with a sturdy ram, to be used as a last resort.

During the ongoing war against Taressim, Sondor used the comparatively stealthy river monitors and river cruisers to strike hard and fast at enemy encampments wherever they could, while the towering river dreadnoughts acted as a blockade.  With so many large rivers in such close proximity, there was nowhere along Sondor’s eastern border that was not within the firing range of the dreadnoughts’ guns.  That being said, the river cruisers saw most of the action during the war, both against the Taressimians and against various factions of Sondorian rebels.  Along with the monitors, these ships were to Sondor what tanks were to the rest of the continent.

This model will be available in my Shapeways shop, as well as variations on it (round casemate, octagonal casemate, etc.) very soon.  The monitors and river dreadnoughts will follow.

A Point About Armoured Cruisers

The picture below shows the three ships I’ve made with a Tiamarda hull.

Tiamarda three ships

As you may have noticed, the one at the bottom is laid out as an armoured cruiser.  In my description of this ship, the Oermida, on the product page of my Shapeways shop, I refer to this ship as both an “armoured cruiser” and as a “heavy cruiser.”  Normally, these are two different types of ships, and in our own world, they are actually from two different time periods (the first armoured cruiser was launched in 1870, and the last was built in 1911, while the term “heavy cruiser” didn’t appear until 1930).  Within the Karadenian navy, however, the two terms are interchangeable.  The reason is that, after the launch of the Invictus, seventeen more hulls were allocated for the same class.  However, Emperor Plutus Milaius, who ordered this in the first place, changed his mind shortly before the ships were to be launched.  He came to the realisation that having eighteen “dreadnought-killers” would likely have invited hostility from countries with substantial navies.  Since Karaden was already struggling in an on-and-off war against Taressim, a land-locked country, Emperor Plutus decided that he would be better off with a navy that focused on defense, rather than offense.  Thus, twelve of the planned Invictus-class battleships were equipped with smaller guns and thinner armour on both the superstructure and belt.  The resulting ships qualified as armoured cruisers, however such ships already existed in the Karadenian navy: they were sailing steamers (like the Selsequenter), but were not built with Tiamarda hulls, and were lighter still.  Therefore, the Oermida and her sisters became known as the heavy cruisers, while the existing armoured cruisers became known as medium cruisers.

Around the rest of the continent, the term “heavy cruiser” was not used.  The vast majority of cruisers were either armoured cruisers or the lighter protected cruisers.  A few of them were large enough to qualify as battlecruisers, though most countries interested in such large vessels simply went the extra mile and built them as dreadnoughts.  There is one country where this gets even more confusing: Sondor.  Sondor has multiple classes of river warships, which are every bit as powerful as their oceangoing counterparts, but with hulls designed specifically for navigating the prolific waterways of the mainland.  These are the river monitors, river cruisers, and river dreadnoughts.  Yes, you read that last part correctly.  I bring this up because I will likely start work on the Sondorian river fleet next.

Too Much Gun for Such a Little Ship?

Tiamarda ships

Another Karadenian warship, specifically an Invictus-class battleship, sitting next to the Selsequenter.  The Invictus is a much more modern-looking design, but these two ships were contemporaries (and built from the exact same Tiamarda hull), and simply filled different roles.  Thanks to her sails, Selsequenter was faster, and she was armed with a large number of medium-sized guns, thus was optimised for sieges.  The Invictus-class, on the other hand, relied on additional boilers (hence the extra funnel) to power the two engines, and still could not match the Selsequenter for speed or range.

Just as, in past centuries, the Karadenians had used sixty-something-gun galleons to obliterate first-rate ships-of-the-line through the use of explosive shells, the Invictus-class battleships were used as dreadnought-killers, armed with four massive 380-mm (15-in) guns.  The main turrets were offset from centre, mainly to make more room to move around them both above and below decks.  This was unusual, but by no means unique.  In fact, the famous pre-dreadnought USS Maine had the same configuration, but with a much more pronounced offset, as did the HMS Inflexible and many Italian battleships of the same era.  However, among Rossberan navies, this is exclusively a Karadenian practise.  The offset turrets were not as much of a concern, of course, as the guns in them.  The Tiamarda hull lacks a keel (which is not unusual), and relies on a combination of the deep draught and low position of the ballast to remain stable.  However, there were concerns that the recoil from all four guns firing at once to the same side of the ship might cause it to list enough for water to pour into the open gunports (which is an awful lot, look at how high they are).  Thus, the magazines were loaded with half-charges, meaning that the canisters had to be modified and loaded in tandem in order to make use of the guns’ full power.

As for the Invictus herself (by the way, I must digress here – I do not always refer to ships as female, but rather as they would be within their respective navies, e.g. ships are neuter in Rhûn and Kantossa, just as they are in Russia), she struck a mine, and the resulting explosion blew off the forward main turret.  Were it not for the way that turrets are held in place on battleships (they’re not, by the way, they fall right off ships that capsize), the incident could have blown the entire ship apart.  The Karadenian navy balked at the prospect of repairing the ship, as the damage was quite extensive.  The Invictus spent the next ten months sitting in drydock before the navy figured out what to do with her.  Fortunately, they needed a salvage ship, and so the Invictus was repurposed.  In the very first book of The Nine Empires, which I have fully outlined and a few chapters written, one of my point-of-view characters, Agent Bedalia Crassus, is assigned to take the ship on a critical recovery mission.

Like the Selsequenter, the Invictus, both before and after her modifications, will be available in my Shapeways shop in the near future.



The Tiamarda Ironclad

I’ve been looking for drawings of the HMS Warrior, an armoured frigate built in 1860, as well as the French ships Valmy and Napoléon, but locating decent ones to work with hasn’t been easy.  So, in the mean time, I decided to design my own ironclad.

TiamardaTiamarda stern

This is the Karadenian battleship Selsequenter.  It is a shining example of a Tiamarda-type ironclad, so-named because of its hull.  The Tiamarda hull is a Bulmutian invention, and was the first purpose-built iron warship hull.  Prior to that, ironclads were all built as iron-plated wooden ships, or as larger, iron versions of conventional wooden designs.  By the time that Karaden adopted the design, however, the rest of the continent had already stopped building them, and phased out sails on military vessels entirely.  Of course, this was completely in line with Karadenian naval practise.  Speaking of sails, the reason that the main course is furled on this model is simply because of how rarely it is used; sails could catch fire if exposed to hot exhaust, and the main course is not needed unless the engines stop working.

Karaden was never known for being an innovator when it came to ship design.  However, they were the first major power to use explosives in war since Skhara.  At a time when the rest of the continent was switching over to large frigates, Karaden was still using smaller galleons, using the logic that a large magazine is not required if one or two explosive shells are sufficient to blow apart a wooden ship-of-the-line.  The trend continues to this day, so Karadenian ships tend to have very outdated designs.  However, thanks to some of the best explosive shells available, Karadenian warships are nothing to scoff at.

The Selsequenter is armed with 120 guns: 2 180-lb breach-loaders (fore and aft turrets), 28 110-lb breach-loaders on the decks, and 90 “casemate guns,” which were originally 68-lb muzzle-loaders, but have been switched out with 270-lb naval howitzers.  The model depicted here is a full-hull model, but I will be offering a waterline model in my Shapeways shop, once I have it validated.