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.

 

CaligulaNemiShipjpg

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:

ironclad

Albemarle

EssexCivilWar

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.