The Whaling Guild
Type of Organization
Type of Members
|Whalers, Shipwrights, Fishermen, Laborers|
|Number of Members||1,270|
|Demographics||Human 87%, Grum 8%, Elven 4%, Ogre 3%, Other 2%|
|Sir Bandon Kriegur, The "Anointed"|
|Year Founded||2204 CY|
The Whaling Guild is one of the wealthiest and most powerful guilds in Stovikar. Whaling has been practice in this part of the world for most than a thousand years. It is one of the pillars of the Stovikar economy and one of the foundations upon which Ormek is built. The Whaling Guild itself has been in continuous operation for more than five hundred years.
Most of the guild’s wealth is tied up in its fleet… twenty of the largest and sturdiest seagoing vessels every built, each highly specialized for its task. These enormous vessels sail out to deep sea, sometimes for months at a time, in pursuit of whales. Whaling is a very dangerous venture, but also a highly profitable one. Because of its wealth and the adventuresome nature of its trade, the whaling guild wields a great deal of respect among the people and political clout among the nobility of Stovikar.
Stormwall is the name of the whaling guild’s central guild house, a massive edifice of stone that sits on Stormwall Island just outside of Stovikar. This six level stone castle has a very square shape with the sea facing side unbroken by window or balcony. Originally a Thullian military fortress, it was sieged, captured and recaptured between Thullian and Traxxian forces more than once during the Great War. The ruin of this was rebuilt by the whaling guild and now serves as their headquarters and main processing facility. It is known for having a huge central chamber where entire whale carcasses can be stored and processed (if a whale is killed close enough for it to be hauled back to Stormwall).
The Whaling Ships
The ships of the whaling guild are large and wide bellied vessels, heavily built with extra thick hulls and internal bracing to resist the impacts of attacking whales (for which horn whales, in particular, are notorious). A typical whaling ship is a three masted ship with a deep keel, two decks and a tiller. Voyages typically last between one and four months.
The crew complement of a whaling ship is 24 men. The captain, first officer, first mate, second mate, steward, boatswain, blacksmith, carpenter, cook, cooper, first harpooner, second harpooner and twelve crewmen.
The first mate and second mate are officers and each commands a harpoon boat. Each harpoon boat will go out on the chase with a mate, a harpooner and six crewmen manning the oars. The harpooners are, as the name suggests, the one who throw the harpoons. It requires a steady hand and a good eye and a fair amount of skill. Hence, harpooners enjoy a bit more privilege than the rest of the common crew.
The whaling guild is ruled over by Sir Bandon Kriegur, an ex-mariner who climbed the ranks to ship captain and then on to rule the guild. He’s a ruthless businessmen who exploits every opportunity and will do anything for a profit. He has even managed to get a knight hood. His title of “anointed” is something of a pun, given the nature of his guild’s primary product. Sir Kriegur is a large man with a bald head and a thick bushy moustache.
The People of the Guild
The Whaling guild employs over a thousand people. Besides the crews that man the ships, there are hundreds of shipwrights that build, maintain and repair the ship. There are also carvers (who cut up whale carcasses when they are brought in), cooks (young men who run the cauldrons that render the blubber to oil), oil men (who deliver oil to customers), porters (who carry loads) and scrabs (a whaling term referring to the lowest ranking waifs who clean and run errands). Overseeing the entire operation are several officers who all serve Sir Kriegur, help run the business, make sales and so forth.
Those who venture out into the sea on whaling ships face grave danger. Spilled oil has led to terrible fires aboard. Sharks circling the ship, attracted by the whale blood, will quickly turn on any man unlucky enough to fall overboard. Ships often return to Stormwall with a few missing men. Whole ships have been lost to pirates, storms and sea monsters (or so the tavern tales say). Crew quarters are cramped, the food is awful and men spend weeks away from their families. The work is hard and between whale sightings, the voyage can be extremely dull. Despite these hardships, there are always more applicants than positions whenever a ship captain puts out the call for a crew. Everyone in the city knows how profitable these whaling jobs can be and good jobs are hard to find in Stovikar.
The guild hunts many types of whales - orcas, right whales, grey whales, sperm whales, barnacle whales, long greens, spire whales, varkon whales and horn whales.
Any whale which is killed within two days sail of Stovikar or any whale small enough to hoist to the ship’s deck is taken back to Stormwall for processing. Larger whales killed out at deep sea are tied to the side of the ship and processed at sea.
When a whale is killed, its blubber is cut from the body in large chunks and cooked in huge iron cauldrons. This renders the blubber down to oil. If the ship is far from homeport, but near land (such as an island), they will set up the cauldrons on land and do the rendering there. It's safer than doing it on the ship. However, if no land is nearby, they render the blubber right there on the ship, because fresh blubber produces better oil. Oil and fire on a wooden ship is a dangerous combination so this process must be done carefully.
Oil from different species and even different parts of the whale are of different quality. These varying oil types are organized and divided by type and purity. The ship's cooper builds and repairs barrels and casks as needed. Most of the barrels on board are used for storing oil. This valuable product has a number of uses on the mainland. Whale oil is a fuel source for lanterns, forges and other things. It also is used as a lubricant and as a primary component in the manufacture of soap.
Ambergris (a smelly waxy substance sometimes obtained from the guts of certain whales) is highly prized and can fetch hundreds of gold pieces for a large piece. Ambergris is used in the manufacture of perfume. It's also a valuable spell component for certain sea related spells. This valuable substance is only found in the stomachs and intestines of sperm and horn whales and is quite rare. Any whaling voyage which finds a lump of ambergris is considered "blessed by Semorjon" and is sure to have good luck for the duration of the voyage. The man who finds it is hailed as a hero by his fellow crewmates.
The most valuable part of any whale is its oil, but it's not the only thing taken. Meat is packed in ice and sold to butchers. Bone and teeth are used for carvings and jewelry. Baleen is used in variety of crafts in Ormek - clothing, baskets and even armor. Blood is bottled and sold to wizards as a spell component.
The whale's body is stripped of everything valuable. The remaining carcass is cast loose and left to the sharks.
This page last updated June 30, 2016. Copyright 1990-2011 David M. Roomes.