Serve onboard a barge? Why don't I just lay down in a wild cave and let the fungi eat me.Battle Barges are the largest naval vessels of the caverns, from which raids are launched and hunts conducted. They are usually seen only in regions like the Abyss or the Writhing Dragon River in the Sheoin Region where their bulk is more easily accommodated. Though they are sometimes used for trade, exploration or hunting, their primary purpose is to wage war - usually against other battle barges.
The typical battle barge is a rectangular raft with hollow, air-filled shells or balloons attached to either side. They are constructed from a mix of hattick and the carapace taken from large beasts. Most are ramshackle in appearance, made from whatever parts are at hand to fill out the bulk of the vessel. Only Dhanû and Dūbavu) make battle barges with any regularity, making their designs the most common. Barges are rowed, often by slaves or junior warriors.
Barges range in size from a few meters to over ten, though the latter is only really seen in the Abyss. They can hold from 12 to 60 marines aboard, who also row the ship. They have no hull and no structure on the deck, though hides are sometimes stretched between "wings" that can be closed around the deck to afford some shelter from the elements.
Dhanû BargesBarges from Dhanû are lighter and moderately sized. They use less Hattick and more carapace to build their vessels, with two canoe-like floats on either side with the raft square in the middle. Lightly armored and built for relative speed, the Dhanû barges are longer and thinner. The Dhanû craft each barge with care, using a great deal of bone, horn and carapace to create vessels that look as if they were almost alive and hunting.
Dūbavum BargesDūbavum barges are solidly built and tend to be slow, box-shaped things. They often bristle with spikes and spears, most which point down towards the water. The Drowning City ladled their barges with armor and built short, small walls on the sides from which they can take cover. The floats are in closer to the center and sometimes use strange creatures from the Abyss to keep it afloat.
Never have I witnessed a process that have filled me with less confidence.Battle Barges are typically made piecemeal, which individual parts constructed where it is convenient and then assembled near where it will launch. Hattick or bone make the frame, reinforced by either additional hattick or by carapace. When carapace or chitin is used, they are glued together with either Chitin-stew or Polyp mash. The interior is further insulated by a padding of either chitin-stew or hides. Acid is sometimes used to melt the edges of the carapace and them the parts are molded together.
Dūbavum sometimes use shells large enough to form almost an entire small barge by itself, then expand on that. The beasts with such armor rarely part with it easily, however.If Hattick is plentiful, cutting it into planks and sealing them together with the same kind of glue and hides is another method. Particularly large Cave-Capped Hatter is sometimes hollowed out, treated and used as floats or segments of the barge. Should any worker perish while working on the vessel, their bones are used to make some part of the ship - to neglect this act of respect is to invite bad luck when the ship sets off to sea.
Battle barges are by no means common, even in the Abyss. Most vessels there are smaller and naval combat is infrequent, owing both to its lethality and the vastness of the Abyss. In smaller subterranean oceans and rivers, only lesser barges can even fit. As tough and rugged ships capable of holding many warriors, barges typically dominate lesser waterways by sheer weight.
Rowing the Underseas
The barges rarely carry artillery of any kind but rely on their crew in battle. Most naval engagements in Araea start as skirmishing duels across the water, fought with slings, crossbows, javelins and so on. Those with more men or more confidence in their arms will seek to board the other barge as quickly as possible. Such boarding action are vicious, brutal melees with little space and unsteady footing. Rarely, barges will instead try to ram the other boat and try to sink them outright.
The Abyss While rivers and lakes of all kinds criss-cross the subterranean world of Araea, none rival the Abyss in size or depth. It is an ocean of titanic size, sprawling across a continent's worth of tunnels and caverns. The Abyss sees more battle barges than all other parts of Araea combined and has seen countless drowned in its black depths. Read About The Abyss