Historical Ships, Part II

The previous post covered historical ships in the form of ancient trireme-style ships and Civil War-era ironclads, which don’t seem to have much in common, but both contain some of what I’d like the ships in Seas of Stryvn to look like.

Today, we’re going to look at some other historical ships, before (in a future post) moving on to some images of fantastical ships.

Lets start with the Korean “Turtle Ship,” just because a) it’s totally nuts, and b) it’s totally nuts that this actually existed:


There are lots of other good pictures of “Turtle Ships,” and they tend to look more or less the same. It’s just so completely different from anything I’ve ever seen before, and the spiked armor kinda makes it look like it was designed by a hyperactive eight year-old with anger issues. But apparently, they were real war vessels, and were apparently real effective.

Here’s a cool cut-away view:

And here’s a “Panokseon,” a less-turtlely version of the Turtle Ship. Both are Korean, 16th century-ish. I like the fact that both ships make use of cannons and oars–that’s not a combination I think of when I think of warships. There could be examples, but I’m pretty sure that by the time Europeans (with whom I’m most familiar) started employing naval guns, they’d abandoned oars in favor of sails. I’m combining high-fantasy Elves and Dwarves with coal and iron, so I like the idea of ships that combine things I wouldn’t normally put together.



What I like about the Turtle Ship is how unusual, non-boatlike, and very warlike it looks. In this French Galleas (17th century), on the other hand, what I like is the decorative look of the sails and flags. There’s nothing particularly great about the ship itself, but between the shapes of the sails, their varying sizes, the way they overlap, and those bold orange stripes, there’s something there visually that makes me think of Elves or  Goblins. Make the geometry of the ship more fantastical, add some gold accents and somehow make it all sleeker and nastier-looking, and you’d have something along the lines of how I envision the Elvish flagships, Imperious and Elven Pride.



This next one should have gone in the previous post, as it’s from the ancient era, but I somehow missed it. I can’t find the original source, but it’s someone’s elaborate imagining of a Persian warship. The bow is pretty much exactly what I meant above when I talked about making the ship’s geometry “more fantastical,” and the big-ass lamassu statue (yep, it’s a lamassu. I looked it up. Assyrian protective deity, right?) just looks ridiculous and awesome at the same time. This is the kind of thing that makes me really glad I won’t be responsible for the art on this game, because I never, ever, would have come up with something that looks as sinister, threatening, and not-normal as this.

Persian Battle Trireme of Artemisia Front Greco-Persian Wars


And finally today, we have a (possibly fictitious) “Superjunk.” It’s like that eight year-old who designed the spiky-armor roof on the Turtle Ship had gone, “Hey–let’s take a Chinese Junk, and make it three stories tall! Oh, and square, too. For some unknowable reason, it has to be square!”

Which is not to say that I necessarily want the Dwarven sailing around in big square ships. But I do really like the fact that this image challenges my thinking: in a fantasy world, where mages can conjure storms and Elven wizards can summon sea monsters, why can’t a warship be square? What else could it be? Hexagonal? Taller than it is long or wide? Could it have two separate hulls like a catamaran? What about three? or five?

And that’s just with historical (or quasi-historical) ships. Next post, I’ll start looking at examples of fantasy ships that I found, and talking about what I find inspiring in them.

Historical Ships, part 1

When I was first thinking about the game, I assembled a lot of pictures of both historical (ancient Greek, etc.) and fantasy warships. Rather than dump them into one huge post, I thought I’d break them into chunks, as a way of ruminating over them some more and maybe giving some insight into why I chose them.

This is either a Bireme or a Liburnia. Either way, it's an ancient Greek warship and it looks badass as hell. This is one of the cases where the big, billowing sails look right on this type of ship

This is either a Bireme or a Liburnia. Either way, it’s an ancient Greek warship and it looks badass as hell. This is one of the cases where the big, billowing sails look right on this type of ship

Here's a trireme, also with cool-looking sails.I think these types of ships really influenced the "long, skinny, and tall" shape of the models I created.

Here’s a trireme, also with cool-looking sails.I think these types of ships really influenced the “long, skinny, and tall” shape of the models I created.



This is a barge that Caligula supposedly built. It wasn’t a warship, but it’s so over-the-top that I included it as kind of a historical ship that’s almost a fantasy ship. I guess what I like about it is that it just doesn’t look like any of the other ships from that era (although Ptolemy IV allegedly built some that were even bigger and crazier:

The Tessarakonteres
The Tessarakonteres
The Thalamegos
The Thalamegos

I think the reason I tend to think of trireme-type ships without sails is that they are often (if not usually) shown without their sails when in combat. My suspicion is that sails were for traveling fast, but oars made you much, much more maneuverable. Which was good if you were trying to avoid (or cause) something like this:

This is not ending well for someone...
This is not ending well for someone…

That being said, there’s also something about the lack of sails that just makes the ships look more low-slung, steampunk, and threatening to me. One thing it makes me think of is the first ironclads–there’s something a little creepy about a lot of them:




I think one of the things I like about the early ironclads is that they are very much the “steam” part of Steampunk. They were produced in the middle of the Victorian era, they literally ran on steam, they belched black smoke and cannon fire, and they looked like nothing before or after them.

Welcome to the Seas of Stryvn Blog


Hi, welcome visitor!

I’ve been posting about the game I’m designing, Seas of Stryvn, on the game’s Facebook page, but a while ago I decided that I wanted to post some stuff that seemed better suited to a blog than a FB page, and voila!

If you’re new, Seas of Stryvn is a fantasy naval game where players command the Dwarvish and Elvish navies in an attempt to control the sea lanes and thus win the Great Catastrophic War of 2482 .

It will (ideally) combine some of the best features of modern Euro-games with some of the excitement of old-school war games. It will emphasize resource management and “worker” (i.e., ships) placement, and offer a variety of types of interesting decisions on each turn. Sid Meir supposedly said that a good game is a “series of interesting decisions,” and that’s what I’m using as my goal.

This is a very old version of the board. Don't get attached.
This is a very old version of the board. Don’t get attached. Also, the real art will be much better. I promise.

Since I usually post updates about the design process on the FB page, I thought I’d use this blog to post things that were more about my thinking on the game, on game design, and what I want Seas of Stryvn to be. Thus, I might (for example) not have a new version of the map to show off, but I might have a new direction I thinking about for how the map will work. That kind of thing.

Speak, friend, and enter…