On Flying Skiffs and Their Mysterious Decline (Part I) (Steam Bombers)
One of the things that so much surprised my military sponsors during their ill-fated last conflict with Hammerhold was the appearance of fast-moving light flying skiffs of precious unknown design. Their appearance allowed the normally slow dwarven forces excelelnt scouting capabilities and even some skirmishing quite on par with that offered by our own Reiter squadrons, especially when combined with accurate fire from concealed Ranger squads.
This being one of the explicit purposes with my studies with the dwarves, I asked Queen Haephaestia for permission, as was graciously allowed to study these marvelous creations both at dock and at flight. The Hammerhold fleet consisted of two heavily armed skiffs, at least four smaller vessels, and one much larger ship, which acted as a supply ship to the rest of the fleet as well as a potent combat platform in its own right. This chapter will detail the two skiffs.
The one depicted in the woodcut above is the "Ancestral Wrath", a swifter twin-sailed design.
While both skiffs were unique, and indeed according to my hosts, all such vessels are, being the remnant of a lost age of dwarven splendour, they still have many similarities. All such vessels are shaped much like a shallow-keeled boat, with a prow much like a northern longboat, and are kept aloft in disregard of all known natural laws by a powerful Runic Engine on the back of vessel, which somehow provides lift much like the wings of a great beast does. Such power is unpredictable though and the skiffs are known to dip and swerve almost at random, making them quite unsafe to sail in close quarters.
Indeed on several occasions Reiter squadrons tried to trap these swift Skiffs against the mountainside to limit their mobility, only for the mountainside to erupt in a shower of bolts as well-concealed Ranger Troupes made their presence known.
Such a unpredictable mount requires a very special crew, and even among a folk that tolerates the weirdness of Ranger Troupes, the insane fatalism of the Seeker Sect, the insular eccentricity of the Engineer Cult, and the single-minded fanaticism of the Forgemaidens, the crew of such vessels are seen as both unhinged and dangerous and are seldom welcome in polite company.
Having a almost instinctive understanding of the eccentricities of their runic engine, split-second reflexes and a love for speed and the open sky that is most undwarven, they tend to twitch uncontrollably and feel at ill at ease inside most smaller chambers of a Dwarfhold.
They are also heavy drinkers, which for dwarves is saying something! Whether in the sky or on the ground.
While primarily used for trading with cities and Holds than cannot be reached by land (all such flying vessels are technically part of the Dwarven Trading Navy, not the militia or the Queen's Army) and scouting, the skiffs can defend themselves in combat with a light grapeshot cannon(originally invented to scatter the vast Harpy hosts congregating in some mountain areas long enough for the skiffs to break through) and a large munition of bombs that can wreak great damage to lightly armoured infantry to slow to shift in response to a sudden assault dive.
The crew are generally organized with a older, more experienced captain steering the Skiff and a junior apprentice manning the Grapeshot cannonand dropping munitions.
The single-sailed "Flying Hammer", masted much like the longboat it so resembles, was the second skiff i was allowed the take notes off.
It is to me a mystery why the dwarves claim to no longer have the ability to make more of such miraculous vessels, for dwarven memory and bookkeeping are both exacting and ancient (their eccentricities regarding their Queens notwithstanding) so surely such a thing would not be allowed to become lost?
But sadly none of the dwarves I questioned would answer my questions in this regard, merely gesturing angrily at the Skiff's figureheads and making oblique references to the skills needed being lost in the "Schism".
Interesting enough the intonation on the words used for this Schism suggests that whatever it was, it was a great rift of both physical and political/religious nature.
However as the figureheads offer no clue to me, I have little idea as of what they mean.
I guess time alone will tell if this lost knowledge will be reclaimed or if the remaining vessels will surely grumble as the great statues of the dwarves do
Of the Dwarves: Notes on Physiology, Military and Habitat, vol III, by Krugman Bartliebhafer, Imperial Scholar. [Read More]
Hi there folks, I have the great pleasure to have joined the content team and to be making content for you all to enjoy.
You can find my You Tube battle reports here;
You can also follow me on Facebook here;
I look forward to sharing my hobby with you. [Read More]
In this episode, Tony and I are joined by Mark Borland as we recount our experience at the first Heat of the 9th Age GT.
Catch us on Itunes (please leave a positive review ) or, for MP3 download, via tfwp.podomatic.com.
Contact/follow us via Twitter on:
Email - TFW_Podcast@yahoo.co.uk
Goblin Gaming (via our link to help the show!) https://www.goblingaming.co.uk/?tap_a=18936-14583c&tap_s=116493-c9df92
Products for Wargamers productsforwargamers.com/remember to put TFWP in the notes when at checkout!
Music from the Freemusicarchive.org:
Into - Jan Morgenstern - Circling Dragons
Outro - BoxCat Games - Battle 'Special'
Sound effects from FreeSFX.co.uk [Read More]
The Vale Renegades Bi-weekly 9th Age Podcast! Tune in and enjoy the random ramblings of two Cardiff players and special guests from the hobby!
In this episode we chat random 9th Age!
Forum: Vale Renegades Forum
9th Forum: Softmints / Last_Chance
Twitch: Vale Renegades Twitch
Youtube:Vale Renegades Youtube
Website: Vale Renegades Main Site
Event Scores Site: Event Scores and Tracking
Home-Base: Firestorm Games Cardiff
Siege of Strivelyn Team Tournament 9th Age
Check out our 9th Age and 40k Podcast at...
...and most Android Podcast Apps! [Read More]
I was recently informed that T9A is being removed from Adepticon next year to "make space for bigger commercial game companies to run events. " I will make a video soon about this, but what does this mean for the future of T9A in the US? [Read More]
Crossbows, Rangers, and voluntary exiles.
Much have been written on the subject of dwarven rifles, by a lot of people who know very little on the subject and thus embarass themselves with every word. Not as many words have been wasted on the dwarven crossbow. and for a very good reason.
A crossbow is a crossbow, no matter who makes it, the dwarven one is more solid and can be used as a club with very little damage to the weapon but is otherwise identical to those used by out own regiments.
Dwarven militias from poorer settlements or lower classes will often choose the crossbow over the rifle for simple reasons of economics, the former being much cheaper to produce and many dwarfs with woodworking skills can produce their own with ease, instead of having to commission a master gunsmith.
Public, or Militia regiments recieve a small stipend to cover the time spent in training, but its members much buy their equipment theirselves, often leading to a very varied appearance compared to the Proffesional, or Queen's regiments, who are provided for and equipped by the queen.
For that reason, it is very common for public regiments to have a wealthy female sponsor who provides for them in return for social capital reaped from the regiment's success.
Crossbows also have the advantage of silence which can be vital is the more unstable regions of the under-realm, where the sharp retort of a rifle-shot may bring the ceiling crashing down or bring undue attention. As such it is also a common weapon for political assassination in those few dwarfholds unstable enough where that is a occurrence.
With Queen Haephestia having ruled it with a gold-steel fist since time immemorial, that thankfully is not the case for Hammerhold.
In open combat, the crossbow fulfills the same role as the rifle, allowing even a poorer settlement to unleash a withering volley of fire to support the massed regiments of heavy militia speardwarves and axedwarves. Such a combined force is usually enough to see off all but the most determined attack from anything less than a professional army, heavy armour and stout shields rendering counter fire all but impotent.
(Banner painted by pro painter Jonas Wideen.)
The regiment depicted in these woodcuts is Habrik's Shafters (and yes, the Hammerhold dwarves have enough Imperial visitors to fully understand and embrace the double-meaning of their name) and their banner depicts Habrik himself, now long-dead, in the normal ancestor-worshipping manner of public regiments.
Of far more interest is the rarer crossbow-armed style of regiments; the Rangers, and their role in society.
Rangers dwarf a small stipends much as all public regiments do, but unlike others who are only part-time warriors, being a Ranger is not a choice to take lightly. Once the Oath of a Ranger is taken, the dwarf cannot return to any Dwarfhold for more than a single week a year as long as they adhere to the role of the Ranger, unless forced to do so by injury or illness. For that reason, a troupe must be almost entirely self-sufficient and most rangers carry all their belonging with them at all times, their crossbows and long knives being equally suited to hunting and cleaning game as they are at slitting throats.
It should be noted that the Oath of a Ranger, unlike the Oath of the Seeker is completely completely voluntary, does not bring shame of the Rangers family, and can be renounced at any time. It is not uncommon for young dwarves who have trouble adapting to the very conservative dwarven society to spend a few years as a Ranger before settling down. Such runaways seldom stay for long. It is also seen as a good, if unusual way to see the world, as Rangers travel far and wide, both within the Dwarfhold's holdings and far beyond.
Rangers spend all their days in the field, on the move, often under open skies, always on the move.
For many outlying settlements owing fealty to the Queen, especially those not dwarven, a yearly visit by a Ranger troupe may well be the only contact they have with the Dwarfhold at all.
They also provide accurate fire support for the Hold's army, skirmishing and scouting, as well as wildlife rescue in peacetimes.
It falls to ranger troupes to patrol the Dwarfholds lands, making sure roads are safe and banditry is short-lived, either at the end of a volley of well-aimed bolts, or under the steelshod boots of a massed dwarven throng, summoned by said Rangers.
[i]The majority of Rangers are females and most stay a Ranger for their entire life, seeing it as more of a calling and a mobile community than the martial profession it officially is.
Rangerhood is also one of very few professions for a dwarven female that allows them to remain unmarried (the others being Seekers, Runesmiths and priests, the Forgemaiden bodyguard of the Hold's Runemistress, and a number of ceremonial titles, such as the First Hammer, First Shield).[/i]
It is also a good "out" for any dwarf that does not fit in… [Read More]