The Cliffport Defense Fleet

So... ye drew the Farsea in the Allocations? Bad luck that! There'll be no coast raidin' fer ye the next couple a years then. Not unless ye're looking ter git ye'reself an' ye're ship sent t' the bottom by them damnable Dwarven slingshots! Just watch ye'reself... them Wavesprinters the Dwarves sail 'r' fast, and they carry a mighty sting. Their firespitters'll have ye're sails ablaze and ye're masts turned to char wood before ye can even get within range ter fire back.
— Two Tyrnabay privateers discussing future plans.
The Cliffport Defense Fleet is uncharacteristically small for an armed force that is charged not only with defending the Free City of Cliffport from any sea-borne invaders, but also for escorting merchant ships carrying valuable cargo that is important to the Seafarer Dwarves of Cliffport, or anyone else that can afford the cost of taking on an escort for a private voyage.

The fleet itself consists of just twenty-six ships. Four of these are the massive Dwarven Citadel-class Man-o-War vessels; the remaining sixteen are of the light, but fast Wavesprinter pursuit ship class. The true power of the fleet lies not in the number of ships, nor even in the design of the ships themselves (though both classes are quite formidable in their design and effectiveness). The true power of the fleet lies in its armament, for every ship in the flotilla is equipped with the famed Dwarven Catapults created by the gnomish engineer, Edillmeera Libnip , approximately two hundred years ago in the nearby Glitterhold. These catapults area capable of firing accurately at ranges that far exceed anything that fleets from the rest of the world can obtain. The result is that a ship that threatens a ship of the Cliffport Defense Fleet usually finds itself ablaze and a lost cause before it ever gets within its own firing range of a target.

The secret of the cave spider silk that sets these heavy artillery weapons apart from those of the rest of the world is fiercely guarded by the Dwarves. While their use by Dwarves is widespread across all of Cartyrion, any Dwarf that will be working with or even near one is required to take an oath whereby they swear on the honor of their Clan never to reveal the weapons' secrets. No Dwarf has ever broken such an oath.

A number of these catapults are also land-mounted in reinforced positions on Cliffport's cliff edge. These are also under the operation and control of the Defense Fleet, and act as a last line of defense should an enemy slip behind the floating fleet.
17606 DR (Dwarven Reckoning)
30th year of the Great Strife
(2248 years ago)
still active

Command Structure

Escort Operations
Fleetmaster Granwin Foamracer


The Free City of Cliffport has existed for over 13000 years, and was the first large Dwarven seaport ever established. During its history, there were a number of times when the city was assaulted by pirates, but it wasn't until the beginning of the Great Strife that the City's leadership decided they needed to take extraordinary measures to defend their city and their fleets. The were aware of a significant threat from the Dark Armies coming out of the marshlands far to the east, and while they were confident their armies and those of the nearby Glitterhold would be able to repel any land-based attack, they feared an alliance between seafaring folk partial to the Dark Army causes providing a means to deliver an invasion force. The Cliffport Defense Fleet was formed with both sea-based and land-based units to repel any such assault. The unit was sorely tested several times during the Strife, but due to its efforts, Cliffport was the only major city on the Farsea or Icefell Bay coasts that was not ravaged by invading armies during the long war.

With the end of the Strife, it was agreed the Defense Fleet should remain activated. But at this time, it began to augment its duties by escorting dwarven merchant ships to and from their trading destinations in order to combat the rampant piracy that was everywhere after the war.



The fleet consists of twenty-six ships: six Citadel class man-o-war vessels, and twenty Wavesprinter class pursuit ships. Each is equipped with an array of dwarven catapults and ballistae, with the Citadels carrying more catapults than the Wavesprinters. Each of the heavy weapons is manned by a fire team that includes an alchemist to handle the actual loading of explosive or incendiary charges onto the weapon before firing.


The Citadel Class Ships:
  • The Undaunted
  • The Stalwart
  • The Unshakable
  • The Fearless
  • The Indomitable
  • The Indefatigable
Citadel class Man-o-War
Wavesprinter class Pursuit Ship

The Wavesprinter class Pursuit ships:
  • The Marlin
  • The Bonefish
  • The Tarpon
  • The Swordfish
  • The Blueshark
  • The Bluefin
  • The Mako
  • The Wahoo
  • The Tigershark
  • The Fourwing
  • The Sailfish
  • The Yellowfin
  • The Skipjack
  • The Striper
  • The Bullshark
  • The Albacore
  • The Bigeye
  • The Whiteshark
  • The Barracuda
  • The Hammerhead
  • Weaponry

    Each ship in the fleet is equipped with a number of Dwarven Catapult and Dwarven Ballistae. While these devices resemble similar weapons used all around Cartyrion ships at sea as well as land forces, the Dwarven varieties are vastly superior due to one modification. The Dwarves learned that replacing hemp ropes with ropes woven in a special manner from cave spider silk resulted in devices that were more durable (less-prone to rope failure), more reliable, and far, far more powerful. In fact, these weapons can fire 50% to 100% farther than a similarly sized conventional device.

    The Catapult
    Ammunition for these weapons is varied, depending on desired effect. The catapults are almost exclusively used to launch fire charges at enemy ships. Often these charges are "sticky firebombs"; these are designed to be launched at the sails and rigging; they stick to the first thing they strike and then explode. Without the "sticky", a bomb may bounce off a sail and either fall to the deck or into the sea without notable effect. In the rare event that the fleet wishes to capture a ship intact, the catapults may be used to launch "Tanglefoot" charges onto the decks in order to bind up the crew of the ship to be boarded.

    The Ballista
    The ballistae are used less often, but have two distinct purposes. First, in the event an enemy ship gets close enough to be a threat, the ballistae can be used to fire a barbed projectile into the hull at or just below the waterline. An explosive charge then blasts a hole in the hull to rapidly sink the ship. Alternatively, ballistae can be used to fire barbed projectiles trailing ropes from bow, amidships, and stern simultaneously without explosives to "catch" a ship. The ship can then be hauled alongside for boarding.


    Citadel-class ship image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
    Wavesprinter class ship Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
    Catapult Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay
    Ballista Image graciously drawn and provided by ZogMadDog.

    Articles under The Cliffport Defense Fleet


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    Dec 10, 2020 19:21

    pretty neat Every body loves Dwarven catapults

    Dec 31, 2020 18:22 by Michael Chandra

    Sounds awesome. But is the fleetsize 20 or 26?

    Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young
    Jan 1, 2021 05:32 by Bob O'Brien

    Thanks for catching that! (It's twenty-six)

    Check out my latest efforts:
    Laurels & Loot is a new, lightweight TTRPG rules system that hearkens back to the early days.
    Feb 6, 2021 21:19

    You win !!!!

    Feb 6, 2021 21:19

    I really like this one Nice Job

    Feb 14, 2021 13:25 by Bob O'Brien

    Thanks! There will be lots more of the Seafarer Dwarves coming later in 2021!

    Check out my latest efforts:
    Laurels & Loot is a new, lightweight TTRPG rules system that hearkens back to the early days.
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