It has long been understood that whistling at sea may call a homeward wind or a storm, and that singing can make a voyage easier - work songs remind a ship of its duty and make heavy work lighter, and prayers might ease a storm or calm troubled waters. But even the most capable seafarer is at the whim of the unforgiving sea - storms, rogue waves, and divine malice may spell disaster and destruction. Found anywhere people put to sea, a swellsinger is a type of wizard whose specialism is in soothing and flattering the sea gods, calming the sea and calling fair winds, and ensuring a vessel's safe passage. Some swellsingers are also trained in animal magic, calling shoals of fish into nets or locating profitable fishing spots.
by Joshua Earle
Found worldwide, the training of young swellsingers varies by culture but most are apprenticed to an experienced practitioner during their adolesence and learn through practice. This apprenticeship may be a personal choice, a parental decision, or a result of divine guidance. As a mostly traditional practice with deep cultural roots and intimate connections to local gods, the profession as a whole has been united in resisting a formal education system, but the legal requirement mandating their employment has necessitated some formal mark of competence. In response to this, regional swellsingers' guilds were formed - like healing guilds, swellsinger guilds number are disporportionately represented among the oldest professional arcane organisations in the world. Each guild has their own entry requirements, licensing practices, and insurance, and many are fiercly competitive.
Payment & Reimbursement
A professioinal wizard, a swellsinger is permitted to charge for their services, and a ship's captain is expected to make provisions for them throughout the voyage. Costs to employ them vary from a nominal sum (guild fees, mandated to maintain their status as a professional wizard), a percentage (fishing vessels usually pay as a percentage of the value of the catch), or a flat fee (passenger and cargo vessels).
Once a secret jealously guarded by merchant kingdoms of Ophoné, swellsingers in the form of Seawives are now a common sight in seafaring nations throughout the world. In Ai̯ophoni law, any vessel bearing passengers, more than eighteen crew, or a cargo worth more than a year's labouring wage is mandated to have at least one swellsinger for each eight hour shift, and more if a voyage will last longer than three days. These requirements were swiftly adopted by large trading hansas as basic safety standards - a means of ensuring the survial of crews and vessels, and reducing financial losses. Their imposition on all vessels trading with the hansas, regardless of origin, and the conflict between foreign laws and independent indigenous cultures made them wildly unpopular. This, combined with the long history of the profession and the efficiency of the swellsinger's art, means that the profession is a victim of its own success; among professional circles, swellsingers are poorly-regarded and some consider their legal necessity a form of extortion.