Description & History
An iceboat is a vessel similar in design to a sailing ship, catching the wind in its sails for propulsion with runners (akin to those seen on many sleds) maintaining contact with the ice or snow below. The concept is common to many cultures of the High Northern Threshold, and appears in as many variations.
The simplest iceboats are merely sleds with masts in place of foot or animal power, and the primacy of iceboat traditions amongst many Northern cultures may be traced to the time following the Great Contagion when the death toll amongst sled dog teams left many of the best breeds extinct and the survivors few in number, while colder winters on the White Sea and a lack of icebreaking artifact vessels or weather control systems meant a deeper, more even freezing of the water and surrounding land, while the winds of the North retained their renowned potency. Adding a sail to a sled meant it could take advantage of the winds, much as do sailing vessels, without need for animal or human power.
More complex iceboats (such as the cargo haulers employed by The Guild and the Haslanti League) are even more closely related to sailing ships: many First Age vessels in the furthest North included systems to allow them to move up onto the ice, so their weight could break it and open a sea passage. Inspired by these systems and by sailing sleds, Northern craftsmen engineered vessels designed to travel by sea, but with runners so they could push onto the surface of the ice and continue across that surface when the waters had frozen over. The runners mean such vessels are slower and more expensive to maintain than their sailing ship peers, and on the surface they are not as maneuverable (nor can they be as well balanced) as large sailing sleds, but in exchange for this they gained versatility to handle the various conditions of the northern trade routes.
While many tribal groups embraced the iceboat in general terms, most saw it as one tool amongst many, supplemented by riding beasts and animal-drawn sleds and foot herding, the Haslan embraced it as the highest point of their culture. Some have spoken that, even before they settled into their League, the tribe’s focus on its sailing sleds was akin to the Icewalker treatment of their tribal animal herds. To the Haslan, mastery of the iceboat was the highest form of achievement: those who could construct and pilot their boats well, prove their capabilities by achieving the highest speeds and undertaking the most risky maneuvers. In the way other tribes might carve heirloom jewelry or breed herds, the Haslan tended their sleds, competition and need to prove themselves driving invention and innovation as well as making risk something not to be avoided but to be embraced. Today, the Haslanti remain the finest pilots and builders of iceboats, and the skills and drives of this culture were key to pushing them onto the path of the Airboat.
In addition to basic sailing sleds and the narrow, three-runner speeders favoured by Haslanti racers, iceboats exist approximating coastal trader and blue water merchant sailing vessels. In addition to spike rudders, such larger boats often use harpoons secured to lines and thrown from the sides to aid in steering and allow sharper turns.
Pages in category "Iceboats"
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