Hooks: Are We There Yet?

Haldur grimaced and shifted his weight in the saddle again, trying to find a spot that didn’t feel like it had been pummeled with grain flails. Surely they were close to the falls by now. They had been a dull roar in the distance for some time, but didn’t appear to be getting any closer. He turned to the rider at his side.

“Are we there yet?”

The tall man smiled wryly and shook his head. “No, Master Haldur. We will soon reach the last of the dry land and will need to make our base camp before those of us going on enter the marshes tomorrow. Only late on the morrow will we reach the river proper, and we shall need the pindars before then.”

He was referring to the two craft being hauled by ox-drawn wagons. They had slowed the entire journey, but the man had insisted they were necessary. Well, he was the king’s representative in the Tuleme Marshes, and was reputed to know them like the back of his hand. Best to bow to his knowledge, Haldur thought. With a last glance back over the column of horses, wagons and men that made up his construction crew, Haldur turned his attention to the path ahead. He knew the greater challenges lay beyond today, but was confident he and his crew would get the job of building the first pier on Tuleme Island above the falls done on time.

If the stories he’d heard about Tuleme were just that…stories.

* * *

Let’s assume for a moment that Kaldor as a kingdom has decided that Tuleme Island is the only practical alternative location to build a port capable of servicing ocean-going vessels, and that the Crown has commissioned a master engineer to commence construction.

What kind of things would the engineer have to consider? What difficulties would the construction crew have to overcome? What techniques might they employ to overcome those problems? And would this be a suitable hook for a campaign…or at least a part of a larger campaign?

Look for the discussion in the HârnForum.

8 comments on Hooks: Are We There Yet?

  1. Well, first off, forget travel by land. Load up a few barges and go. A combined flotilla of river boats and barges would be best.

    Even the barges themselves can be cargo. Build them with the idea of using their timber at the destination.

    Sandbars could be a problem, but not a severe one with even a tiny bit of pre planning. (Rope and pulleys and a few 5 foot iron spikes if no trees are around can do wonders….)

    The Pagaelin would be the biggest threat.

    Materials could also be imported to Tuleme from the other direction. The fact that the port does not exist yet only makes unloading ships harder, but NOT impossible, and not even remotely unheard of. This means the port builders can get stuff from pretty much anywhere in western Lythia.

    As it is a marshy area, you probably will not have local timber or stone, so that will need to imported in quantity. The import of labor (human and animal) and food will be the other big issues.

    One thing that can’t be stressed enough:
    The fact that it is on a major river, down river of Kaldor, and will have a massive demand for timber, makes barges by FAR the prime choice for the bulk of the cargo. River boats will also be busy, probably hauling food in, and barge crews out. While cargo COULD be imported from Lythia, or other parts of Harn, it will be far cheaper to get almost all bulk cargo from Kaldor itself.

    As for the port plan, the ‘easy’ option would be a river port at the top, and a sea port at the bottom, and a short road linking them. No need for complex locks to raise and lower ships. (Frankly, my own idea is that locks would be fiscally insane. I just don’t see the benefit justifying the cost…)

    So in truth, you are really building TWO ports (or one port, and some insanely expensive locks…)

    I would LOVE to see a canon ‘detailed’ map of Tuleme….

  2. To add to what I’ve said above.

    The Chelni
    Based on canon, the Chelni are a non-threat as long as you don’t enter their territory. Furthermore, even if you do enter their territory, they can be dealt with. They don’t seem to have a habit of massacring anyone who treats them respectably, even allowing modest settlement. The port might be next to them, but it is NOT Chelni territory. So long as they are politely treated, and the port stays off their land, they would be a non-issue.
    And even if the terrain means the port would be best on their side of the river, Trolbridge Inn’s existance shows that they can, with proper inducement, be convinced to allow trade outposts.

    The Pagaelin
    Based on canon, the Pagaelin are the most unpleasent barbarians on Harn. A couple of other tribes have, by unpleasent fate, been pushed to lower levels of uncivilized behavior, but only the Pagaelin seem to have EMBRACED being murderous bastards for its own sake.
    The Pagaelin will raid, rape, kill, murder, to the limit that they can get away with it. If defenses are excellent, the Pagaelin will probably be a non-issue (they like rape and murder, not suicide attacks).

    The Navehians at Bejist will probably be a non-issue. However, they might become a threat if they thought the port was part of a plan to destroy the Pagaelin entirely. Killing Pagaelin near Tuleme would almost certainly not concern them (much). Push further towards Bejist, and they will take note.

    Probably a non-issue.
    Based on canon, Evael had no problem with the Kingdom of Lylan which existed prior to the Migration wars. Lylan had a substancial border with Evael, along the Kald river. Lylan appearently did not claim Tuleme, but the canon map I have is not especially detailed, so maybe they did.
    In fact, Evael has been HARD CORE isolationist for a long time. They even ignored Lothrim’s rise. If they take action against a non-dwarf killing human settlement, on their border after ignoring Lothrim, unless they have a REALLY good reason, the humans will probably find a few hundred Khuzdul volunteering free security service. (much hunch is any action by Evael against KALDORIC humans on their border without some overwhelming justification, would invoke frothing RAGE in the Dwarves. Basicly: “You ignored Lothrim, let him wipe out one of our cities, and now take action against settlers from a human kingdom that we are on good terms with!!???!!!!!!” (Kaldor and Azadmere have a long conflict FREE history, at least by canon… Heck. Azadmere was a key playing in the rise of the house of Tane.)

    Beware sabotage. I don’t see direct action by Chybisa unless they REALLY want another war. I could see any sort of covert action by Chybisa. The port would be a disaster for them (Reduced trade, and Kaldor MUCH better placed to push demands in the future….)

    Like Chybise, but less so. Kaldor is not an immediate threat to Melderyn, even with a port. Melderyn probably prefers a contained Kaldor (one without a port).

    Unlikely, but possible.
    Building materials don’t make the best loot. Building crews tend to have less women than coastal villages. Once the port is established and making money, then things change.

    Based on Canon, the falls are “said to be enchanted”.
    This could mean that they are merely startlingly impressive/beautiful, or it could mean really powerful and dangerous magical effects, or anything between those two extremes.
    If the issue is severe enough, one solution is to build the port on the east side of river. This option increases exposure to the Pagaelin.
    Another option would be to build the sea port on the Wend river where the Wend merges with the Kald, and then the river port on the Kald above the falls. But this option requires the concent of the Chelni.

  3. Just re-read my comments
    Again, this cannot be stressed enough:
    cargo by water = economic win.
    Prior to railroads, even paved roads could not compete with a good river, and even in the 21st century, river shipping STILL is competative.

    My comment on sandbars above needs a qualifier: based on my admittedly limited knowledge, barges on sandbars were pulled off (one way or another), but only if not too big, and not too badly beached. Otherwise they were unloaded until they floated again, then reloaded (royal pain in ass).

    In canon, there is a comment somewhere about several Kings of Kaldor toying with the idea of short canals around the falls, but only an occasional survey being done. No mention if Miginath was one of those kings.
    Canals pretty much guarentee having to deal with either the Chelni or Pagealin. Based on the mere existance of Trobridge Inn, there is a possibility that the Chelni could be convinced to allow a settlement, but this is questionable. With Trobridge, it is crystal clear who is in charge. With a port, the Chelni would lose ‘power’ over a portion of their land. My comments on the Pagealin stand as they are.

    I still like the idea of double ports ON Tuleme Island, with a short road connecting them. However, this idea is dependent on the geography of Tuleme allowing the ports. Brute force can carve the road without to much expense, but the ports themselves could be insanely expensive, or impossible, depending on geography. For example: If the location of the sea port below the falls is shallow and made of jagged rocks, it is probably WELL beyond the engineering available to Kaldor to put a port on that spot anyway. The underwater geography matters as much as the above water geography. Both can be modified by engineers, but only within practical limits.

  4. The underwater geology around Tuleme Island certainly allow for ocean-going vessels to dock at jetties and piers build out from the lower island. That’s why Tuleme Island works as a deep-water port.

    The road between the lower island and the upper island would be very, very steep, with many switchbacks. The road itself would be narrow, and would allow only a few passing points. In fact, it was originally envisioned that cargo might even be winched up from below. The actual height is not all that great, just 100ft.

  5. Is there a Canon map of Tuleme Island itself somewhere?

    I know that canon says that the combined height of the falls is 50 feet (Tuleme Falls are not just one waterfall, but a series of them), but that 50 feet does not dictate the geography of the Island itself.

  6. I went looking for the Port of Kaldor file but couldn’t find it online anywhere, so I located it amongst my extensive collection and have sent it off to Jeremy at Kelestia.com for him to post, as this was an original HarnMakers Guild work.

    Even if it is labelled “heresy”. 🙂

  7. Much thanks. Just downloaded it and gave it a quick skim.

    There is one detail in the article I have to strongly disagree with: The nature of the Melderyn Embargo.

    Embargo is not the same as a blockade.

    Embargos are DEEPLY offensive and insulting to those embargoed. This is pretty much a constant truth for all of human history. But embargos are limited to those taking part. As Kaldor is not going to embargo themselves, the Melderyn blockade would have ZERO effect on them unless a ship made the CHOICE to stop at Melderyn. Nor would Melderyn have ANY cause for action against a ship that decided not stop (unless the ship is registered in Melderyn….)

    If Melderyn acts against ships that decide to not stop in Melderyn, then the embargo becomes a blockade. Blockades are a full scale act of war. They can’t be described any other way.

    The only way that Melderyn can be blockading Harn is to openly be at war with every other state on Harn.

    If they are only doing an embargo, it can be bypassed simply by not stopping at Melderyn. This is also canon. (If anyone disagrees, explain not just Kanday, but also Orbaal and Rethem).

    There seems to a common belief that the Melderyn Embargo also includes requiring ships bound for non-Melderyn ports to also stop at Cherafir. In canon, there is NO mention of such a policy.

    The Melderyn embargo only comes into play when a ship is heading to a port in Melderyn. The embargo is moderately effective because ‘most’ ships that ply trade to Harn do so through Melderyn. For this reason alone, Melderyn probably prefers a Kaldor without a port, but ‘forcing’ the issue is an open act of War.

  8. Aha! Yes, you see the point here. And the dilemma that both Kaldor and Melderyn face! 🙂

    I would say three things; firstly, those being blockaded have to learn of the blockade. A port at Tuleme Island would make such a blockade much more visible than it would otherwise be.

    Secondly, up to now, the nature of the Gulf of Eder has “assisted” the embargo by preventing almost every sensible captain from considering sailing to the nearest safe port along the south coast; Aleath. Oh, and sinking the great majority of those foolhardy captains who risked it. 🙂

    Thirdly, the markets of western Hârn as quite small, almost non-viably small. The four caravans that converge on Tashal for the Great Summer Fair concentrate the island’s wealth. A port on Tuleme Island will benefit from that immensely. Currently, all that wealth has to travel back over the Genin Trail to Thay, reducing its value. Shipping cargo by talbar (river barge) down the Kald River to Tueleme Island is much more cost effective.

    A port in Kaldor is a game changer in a number of ways:

    1. It opens up a much larger market than Aleath (although there is an argument that sailing on just a little further to Golotha opens up Rethem and the entire Thard River valley).
    2. It’s a much shorter, and thus safer, journey than that to Aleath. Even more so to Golotha.
    3. It’s a more viable destination than Thay, removing the need to transport goods via the Genin Trail.

    However as you point out, almost all ships will firstly call at Cherafir; its market size of 6 is larger than either Aleath is, or Tuleme Island would be, so there are few logical reasons why a ship wouldn’t stop there. This gives the embargo an opportunity to be enforced. Only those ships with enough reason would not call at Cherafir first, and these might be considered smugglers by Melderyn. Naval action against them might be thus explained away (if it were thought necessary).

    The other consideration is that the embargo covers things that should not be known; advanced technology, hidden knowledge, etc. The great majority of cargoes are absolutely fine.

    Hârn is a backwater for a reason, and those in charge intend to keep it that way. But a port at Tuleme Island would change the dynamic considerably. That makes for some cool gaming. 🙂

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