The World Of Khoras - Civilization - Seafaring Ships

Nautical Lore and Technology in Khoras

Ship Technology

Most nations in Khoras have middle ages technology equivalent to about 9th century Earth, though with some variations. The Great War spurned on a great deal of techological development. In particular, nautical technology took a leap forward. Khoras ships tend to be larger and better built than their Earth historical counterparts.


Most of the more powerful and more advanced nations have developed the wheel and rudder system for their ships. Such technology has influenced neighbor nations as well. Economics, more than anything, determines what a ship will have. Royal, military and wealthy merchant ships tend to use a wheel and rudder system. Smaller ships, such as fishing vessels, smaller trading ships and so forth are more likely to use a simple tiller.

A few notable examples stand out. The nation of Kalimura is more technologically advanced and tends to have ships with very good wheel and rudder systems and tend to be more seaworthy and more maneuverable. Other nations, Ormek, Talis, Bathynia, Borrell, the Secambru Tribes, the Fire Isles and the Eshtari are all less advanced (to varying degrees) and use a simple tiller system or even more primitive steering methods.

Magnetic Compass

Most civilized nations have developed some form of the magnetic compass. Less advanced nations use a crude compass consisting of a magnetic needle embedded in a floating piece of cork. More advanced nations utilize true compasses fashioned of metal and glass.


Kalimura has developed gun powder and ship mounted cannons. Cannons, at this point in Ithrian history, are still very experimental and dangerous. Although they are devastatingly powerful, they are slow to load, inaccurate and clumsy. They have tremendous recoil and, on occasion, will misfire. This can result in an explosion which can damage the ship. Currently, only Kalimuran ships are equipped with cannons although there are rumors that a few non-Kalimuran ships have been equipped with cannons for a price.


Navigation at this time in Ithrian history is far from an exact science, although several navigational tools and aids are available. The most important navigational aids are the magnetic compass, the astrolabe, hourglasses, maps, and charts. Although celestial navigation (finding direction by checking the positions of stars and other heavenly bodies) was the favored method while sailing under familiar skies, a technique known as dead reckoning was more dependable on voyages in unknown seas.

Using an astrolabe, a metal disk inscribed with a map of the major celestial bodies, a mariner could tell location simply by positioning the stars on the astrolabe to match the stars in the sky. But the astrolabe worked only when the skies were clear and the positions of the stars were known. On cloudy days or when the stars in the sky were unfamiliar, celestial navigation and the astrolabe were ineffective.

Dead Reckoning

In dead reckoning, the technique often used for traveling in unknown waters, the position of the ship was determined by starting with its last known location. Then, by calculating what direction the ship was going, how fast it was going, and how much time had passed, the pilot could come up with a new position. Pilots could calculate the distance they had traveled in an hour or a day by dropping a floating object in the water at the front of the ship and timing how long it took to get to the back of the ship. Knowing how long the ship was, the pilot could calculate how fast the ship was moving and, thus, how far they had traveled.

Many captains from southern Ithria prefer dead reckoning over celestial navigation and are not comfortable with the astrolabe and other devices for navigating using the heavenly bodies. Above all, a captain of any ship must be masterful in interpreting the signs of nature, such as the behavior of birds, the smell of the air, the color of the sky, the condition of the seas and the appearance of floating debris. Successful navigators survived by “reading” nature in this way. A true master of this can even predict storms.

Dead reckoning is the basic method of navigation in which the position of a ship is determined by calculation from a previous position of the ship, the direction of travel from the previous position, the speed of the ship, and the time traveled. It is difficult to accurately plot the position of a vessel solely by dead reckoning, because many unpredictable factors can affect the vessel's course, such as the effects of ocean currents and winds, the inaccuracy of the course steered, and the inaccuracy in the measurement of speed. Under the best conditions, a position determined by dead reckoning is subject to some error, and in storms or turbulent weather the error is greater. As a result, vessels navigating by dead reckoning must check their position periodically using celestial observation to correct errors. Dead reckoning positions can be calculated entirely by arithmetical methods, but they can also be determined by plotting the various distances involved on a chart and finding the position graphically by vectorial addition.


Time and Distance Measurement

Crew Shifts

Most ships work their crew in four hour shifts. There is a 30 minute hour glass on board. The boatswain turns the hourglass every time the sand runs out (30 minutes). Each time a verse is said and a bell is tolled. Eight bells, each a different tone, signify the time.

Length of Voyage

Most naval voyages are short... less than 2 weeks at a time and usually the ship keeps to the coast. Voyages between the three great continents are much more difficult and dangerous. Only the largest and most advanced ships will attempt such voyages.

Land Sighting Reward

It is tradition that when seeking new lands, a monetary reward is offered to the sailor who spots land first. This incentive keeps eyes sharp.



This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.

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