Boat-Dwellers of the Silver Stream Profession in Salan | World Anvil
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Boat-Dwellers of the Silver Stream

My children were born on this boat. I was born on my father's boat. I was born poor, but I'd rather rot on my boat than live in that stinking slum of a city!
— A Fisherman
  The Boat-Dwellers are a cast of fishermen, living around the huge Faren cities by the River Farinos. They do not own any homes on land, but live permanently in their boats on the river. Most of them are ethnically Zeribians, people of the Eastern Islands. The Zeribians have never enjoyed venturing out far from the sea, but the large rivers of Farensal offered them the opportunity to continue their traditional livelyhood of fishing while venturing deeper into the continent.  


Provided services

We fish all the day. By the mercy of Idûrfeš our catch is plentiful! In the evening we bring the catch to the market. Then we gather together on an islet like this one here. We meet other families, cook the food on the camp fire. We sleep 'till morn and wake up early. It' s simple but good life!
— A Fisherman


The families can make and repair their own fishing nets but the string is traded for. They also trade for fishing hooks and spear heads, bread and vegetables as well as fabric. The boats require a lot of work and expertise to build, so they are purchased from Zeribian craftsmen.  


Zeribian ships have everything that their inhabitants need. Even the smaller boats are quite seaworthy and the bigger ones can make weeks' travel without touching ground.   The boats usually consist of a main hull and a stabilising outrigger that are connected by a deck. The underside of the deck can be used for storage, or even sleeping or cover from the rain if it's big enough. The smaller ones often have a small cover on the deck. Despite the large deck size, the boats are very light, and can be carried if necessary. The boats can be powered by a triangular sail, but paddling is more convenient for river travel.
by John Webber (public domain)
Zeribian family on their boat

Dangers & Hazards

We live here, summer and winter. My daughter often cries about being too cold. It's still too cold even with the blankets. The children can't bear the cold. They often get sick. But this is our life.
— A Fisherman
  Living on the river without proper shelter means being very suspectible to the weather. The winter nights can get very cold compared to the tropical Eastern Islands, and the conditions are made even worse by the heavy winter rains. The biggest risk, however, is poor catch, which will mean that the family can't trade for bread or any other supplies.   For the first months the newborn babies are in a danger of falling from the boat and drowning. Luckily the Zeribians usually learn how to swim before running!


Career Progression

The children grown on boats don't have any education or experience in any land-based professions, unlike in traditional villages, where usually only the boys would become fishermen and the girls would learn gathering and handicrafts. Thus the most likely career options besides fishing are paid rower on a war or a trade ship, or a shipmaker. However, some end up as beggars, thieves and slaves in the city.


Social Status

They are outcasts with no legal rights in the cities. Despite that, many of the fishermen are quite proud of their profession.


The Zerbians are thought to have first come into contact with the continent in large numbers in the 4th century AFS, but the boat-dwellers as a separate profession are thought to have developed after the series of natural disasters known as the Black Years (418-430 AFS) displaced a large number of Zeribians from their native archipelago. Later others have joined the original refugees, often as commoners discharged from expeditions who couldn't support themselves by any other means.

The number of immigrants caused unrest in the local fishermen and the Faren inhabitants. In response many of the city states established heavy taxation on the Zeribians to discourage them from staying. The taxation made living expences too high for many already poor fishermen. Therefore permanent living on boats has become the best option for many families. They live unsettled lives, and avoid the government officials the best they can.
Agricultural / Fishing / Forestry
Anchoring one's boat inside the city borders without permission is illegal, but the authorities can't do anything about boats staying further away.
Related Locations
by Teinesavaii (Wikipedia)
The basic structure of a Zeribian boat,
before the deck is attached
by Tuisku
A successfull fisherman


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