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History as Inspiration: Umbar Corsairs as Ancient China and Polynesia

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#1 LionelValentine

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 01:31 AM

EDIT: Okay, so the forums fucking logged me out while I was writing, so the images do not exist on this version. I'll try to post and label them in the thread below, wish me fucking luck.


Okay, so I decided to chip in my own limited expertise in history to help you guys dig for inspiration. I'm not a lord of the rings expert, but I do have quite a bit of knowledge regarding history, and I noticed in the discords you guys were looking for inspiration for future updates to the seafaring vessels.


The Corsairs of Umbar will be the first thing I delve into in this... Series, I guess. Mainly because this is the first idea that popped into my head regarding them. The Corsair ships shown in the movies and games reminded me heavily of a sort of... Pseudo ancient Chinese ships, especially with the slanted, heavily framed sails (I'd love to incorporate ancient Japanese ships, but they're too clean, too square-looking to fit into the aesthetic shown in previous official media).


Paddle-Wheel Crafts: A notable innovation in the Tang Dynasty, alongside gunpowder bombs, these were a major staple in the Tang Navy. You may need to look into other types of paddle-wheel craft that were developed post-steam technology to get an idea as to what these craft looked like besides the illustration I'll provide here (alot of illustrations from this era are rather... abstract, to say the least...).




MengChong: Essentially ramming ships covered in rhino leather, with oar holes in the sides (or paddle-wheels if you wanna have fun with the mix n match), and holes in the front for crossbows and spears to get through. It was impossible to board these ships, but at the same time these ships could not board. They were resistant to small arms fire (rocks and arrows), and they were the smaller, more "melee" oriented units in the navy. Once again, you may want to take inspiration from other ramming ships types from ancient Greece to get an idea on the realistic proportions, alongside the illustration provided here.




Combat Junks: The standard junk ship in China, already kind of done in the game with the default Corsair ship. I won't go into too much detail here, as I'm trying to offer ideas for new shit.


Flying Barques, or Zou Ge: It's hard to pinpoint good images for this one, so I'll try to combine definitions of what I can find. Barques are Three-masted (or more) ships. In the case of the Zou Ge, these were designed to be incredibly fast, with elite footsoldiers in small numbers, and a myriad of rowers to help with the speed of the ship (and steering?). They seemed to be used for ambush tactics and had incredible maneuverability on the waves. Since the definition of a traditional barque and the image provided from the Wujing Zongayo (Chinese Military Encyclopedia, highly recommend it along with the later Gujin Tushu Jicheng) don't line up, it could be fun to combine the two and come up with interesting models.




Fire Ship: Just a kamikaze ship that's used to... Well, you get the idea. Here's the design, I thought it would be interesting to add, considering the in-game alternative is a goofy troll rowing a boat (though I could remember that wrong).




Louchuan: Literally a fucking siege ship! It was a ship with a giant tower and a trebuchet on top of it! It's so coo, plus it would be a great alternative inspiration to the in-game one that just looks cartoonish. Here's the illustration, along with some rendering from other sources on what they could've looked like in real life.






Treasure Ships: Anyone who so much as sneezed into a Chinese history book will know about these sexy bad boys. The largest ships in the ancient world, lead by the manliest man alive literally without balls, Zheng He himself (he was a eunuch). While these weren't necessarily warship, they were impressively enormous, t the point where they could potentially be used as a seafaring fortress, OR a unit-builder if there's any way you can Tolkienize it into that, haha. Here's some images of what they looked like, a lot of models were made and designed, including a modern reconstruction of a "medium-sized" one.









With the cool ancient Chinese ships out of the way, let's go into the Polynesian stuff. This is gonna go a little past the ships themselves, as the Polynesians did a lot of interesting stuff in terms of their ship designs AND their navigation equipment which could give some inspiration to potential upgrades in a naval fleet.


Dual-Hulled Outrigger Canoe: Essentially, these were how ancient Polynesians traveled the high seas in between all the tiny islands they ended up landing on. The throughline between them all is one to two sails, with two boat hulls parallel, with a platform on top linking them. Sometimes, small huts or houses were put on them, and sometimes plants were even grown. It seems like the size and designs varied insanely, many of which were kept as guild secrets by those who designed them. I'll put up different images, and maybe after some Tolkienization, these bad boys could be useful as support units. I will say that the Drua (the multicolored 3d image) is the most interesting variation, as they were the largest and could carry 200 people.


Here is an article going in depth into the development of the outrigger canoe: http://archive.hokul...ging_canoe.html








The Karakoa: 18th century Polynesian Warship designed and implemented by the Visayans. I'm going to provide a brief explanation of their capabilities, alongside several sites/articles that go into a lot more detail on how they were made. Three times faster than a Spanish Galleon, the Karakoa was capable of transporting warriors and fighting at sea, which made them ideal for piracy.


Here is an article covering the in depth design on the Karakoa: http://www.gmanetwor...-karakoa/story/








Balangay: A trading vessel that also seemed to be used for boarding. One of the earliest designs discovered from pre-colonial polynesia. Interesting variations in its design could be useful, but it may not be entirely appropriate for the Corsairs of Umbar. I'm including it here just in case.


Here is a website dedicated to the design variations in the Balangay: http://www.balangay-...ut-the-balangay










Garay: An interesting pirating vessel used against unarmed trading ships in the 18th century. They had a single bronze cannon known as a Lantaka (that'll be examined later, as it was also used in the Karakoa), which... May not work in the world of Tolkien. However, these ships are sizeable, and they are a nice abstract design not rooted in the same design philosophies that guided European ships (which seem to be the inspiration for the "Good" factions in the game), which could be a nice change of pace when looking at the "Bad" faction naval redesigns.








Lanong: Another outrigger warship, similar to the Karakoa. It had two shear masts that also served as boarding ladders. It had rowers as well. Similar to the Garay in naval position (mothership of sorts). I cannot seem to upload these photos. I will try to do so in a separate post on this thread.






Lancaran: A ship used in war and commerce. Loaded with Lantaka cannons, and taller than a Mediterranean galley. They pose an interesting design that's valuable as an alternative aesthetic. Same problem with uploading these photos. Will add to the later post.






Lepa: Not a warship, but the design is too cool to resist. It was a houseboat. Maybe an interesting idea for a support unit, but the aesthetic might prove useful. I'll post the images in a different post on this thread. My thing is screwing up here.








The KoraKora and the Penjajap could be interesting ones to look at, but they share a lot of characteristics with the others that are already shown here.


Now to get into the accoutrements that the Polynesians used.


Lantaka: Small bronze cannon used by Polynesian pirates. I doubt it has any use in the Tolkien universe, as this was a more 18th century development. I wanted to include it anyways, as the Polynesians were one of the less technologically advanced peoples that managed to compete with colonial powers in terms of naval navigation, even before the colonial powers came into being. Since the Corsairs are known for being pirates, I figured including the Original Gangsters of old world pirateering would be interesting to include.


Compasses: Literally sticks woven together into abstract designs that helped the Polynesians read the winds and waves. I'm going to include the wikipedia article on it, as it goes into better depth. There's a lot of potential for upgrade aesthetics here, as birds and stars were also read to navigate the waves.


Article: https://en.wikipedia...ational_devices


I'm also going to include a wikipedia article on the gunpowder weapons of the Ming Dynasty, whose design fits the abstract nature of gunpowder usage in the Tolkien universe: https://en.wikipedia...he_Ming_dynasty


Okay guys, I'm done for now. I hope this helps, and I hope I can upload the other photos. If not, I know that googling the terms will find you what you need.




Edited by LionelValentine, 09 November 2018 - 01:41 AM.

#2 LionelValentine

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Posted 09 November 2018 - 01:33 AM

Looks like I managed to get the photos in.... Phew, fixed it...

Edited by LionelValentine, 09 November 2018 - 01:42 AM.

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