Feared in northern waters for their compactness, stealth and unsavoury payload, the Delma are the signature ships of the Kasumarii navy, the Black Wave Pirates - the Tscoiarans. Compared to more conventional ships, the Delma seems impractical and, indeed, on cross ocean voyages there are very uncomfortable, even dangerous, but their stealth, speed and remarkable resilience are perfect for the often dark work of the Kar-ii Stormsons. These are not trade ships, or passenger ships, and have only a single, nefarious purpose. Get in, get the job done and get out.
Lying low in the
water, with its mast
torn down and a seacloth tarp pulled over the deck, the Delma seems to disappear
from sight, as crew, cargo and equipment settle down into the hull. Against a
dark sea, the poor prey of the
never see them coming, their first warning being the sudden failure of their
ships hull, or an unexpected deluge of Echilianii warriors appearing from
The ultimate stealth ship, the 'standard' (there are actually two styles of Delma, differing only in their size and application) Delma is almost 10 peds long, and 1.2 peds wide, while the smaller Delma, which are used primarily by two man crews for smuggling or short range missions, is only 1 ped wide and 6 peds long. The body of the ship curves slightly, and the highest point is its bow, which is a sharp, upward sloping spike - which cannot be used for ramming, as the Tscoiarans interviewed pointed out at every available opportunity - that cuts through the surf, allowing rapid launching. The sides of the hull curve in slightly, affording some extra protection from the sea, and have small bronze loops bolted to the exterior to tie down seacloth. The interior of the hull lacks benches and is covered with glued down seacloth that is even cut to fit snugly around the flexible rudder and the bronze base for the mast. The mast itself is thin, surprisingly light and pre-rigged to rapidly fly a square sailcloth when a hasty retreat is necessary, or when travelling open waters.
The seacloth 'flooring' of the boat serves two important purposes. One, it insulates and keeps the interior of the boat warm and is a much beloved luxury of Stormsons who've been out to sea for too long. Second, and most importantly, it helps save the interior of the ship - changing the seacloth lining once every few years or so is fairly cheap, allows a chance to inspect the skeleton of the ship for defects, and is preferable to having the beams of the hull rot. A few Delma have been passed down the generations, and are over a century old and still in top shape.
Although a luxury, many Tscoiarans spend large amounts of money to buy dark blue paint for the outside hulls of their ships, to afford some extra camoflague. The exact hue is often personal choice or belief, but cannot be too light, or too dark, otherwise it would stand out during the night or day. As salt water tends to erode paint, few ships are always painted, save those crewed by prolific pirates or highly successful smugglers...
|Image description. The ship's helm of a Delma Longship, complete with a compass rose lent from the mowickle design. Drawn by Seeker.|
Delma hulls are made from a series of overlapping planks, held together with
prodigious amounts of glue, that are gently bent into shape around what the
the skeleton, which is simply the keel and stems of the boat. The secrets of
building a Delma are passed down within families of shipbuilders, who are often
unassociated with any of the Orders, and there are peculiar tricks associated
with each family. The Tscoiarans were happy to share what little they knew of
the construction, but the exact nature of the materials, any special procedures
and the exact order in which the ship is built are closely guarded by the
Usage. Delma are the unique property of the Kar-ii Tscoiarans, who have an unofficial monopoly on their construction. The old shipbuilding families, while not members of the Order, respect the wishes of the Stormsons and (usually) refuse to craft the longships for any other than Cyhalloi's sea lords, and closely guard the secret to their craft. It seems not to be much of a loss, as the Delma are tailor made for stealth and rapid delivery operations, which, as it happens, are really only useful for those with the peculiar skillset of the Tscoiarans, smugglers and pirates - often the same men, as it happens. The larger boats are generally crewed by 4-6 men, and propelled either by sail or by 2 pairs of rowers. The captain is the primary rudderman when the sail is used, and shares this responsibility with the second-ranking Tscoiaran, who is generally working towards obtaining his own ship. Smaller boats are often 2 man crews, and usually rowed.
There are so-called false Delma crafted throughout Sarvonia, which the Kar-ii laugh at as being subpar, pathetic imitations of their beloved longship. The Avennorians, working with the Erpheronians, in particular seem to craft many of these ships, which the Tscoiarans insist is an attempt to match their superiority... It is best to take this with a grain of salt, though, as many, if not all of the false Delma are actually shallow water ships and riverboats that simply bear a superficial resemblance. It is less a statement on the quality of the Delma than a testament to Kar-ii arrogance that they believe so many cultures, with vastly different needs, have tried to imitate them. There are cheap imitations, often marketed as legitimate Delma, but as most serious shipbuilders are too proud (and rightfully paranoid of the Kar-ii) these are often crudely altered boats meant to look like the popular image, including, famously, a painted Ducraer ship with the sides shaved down that an unscrupulous merchant tried to sell to a Kar-ii expatriate!
History/Origin. Like so many other things unique to the Kar-ii, the origins of the Delma lie in their bloody, unending conflict with the Cyhalloian orcs. Historical records gives us the name Korias, a late contemporary of Kasumar who is universally accepted as the inventor of both the Delma itself, and the core tactics associated with its use. Touched by Tscoiaru, God of the Frigid Waters, the decider of naval combat and Lord of Dark Waves, Korias is said to have had an innate understanding of the sea that bordered on the supernatural. His original designs are said to be unmatched, and popular folklore states that his vast tome of ship design and nautical knowledge lies in the possession of the Cyhalloian orcs.
The introduction of the Delma, tailored to fit the unique needs and skillset of the Kar-ii people was directly responsible for the birth of the Tscoiarans, and, later, the re-establishment of connections with Sarvonia. Korias himself never closely affiliated with the Tscoiarans, despite being offered an honorary position of Deepmaster, and simply remained a shipwright for the rest of his life. Today, Korias has become a folkloric figure among fishermen, Stormsons and other sailors from the icey isles, praised for his genius and lamented for the loss of his skills and knowledge, for it is commonly agreed that even the greatest of modern Delma are but mediocre imitations of the master's original work.