The Great Pendragon
Whaling can only be done at certain key locations, and only at certain times of the year.
In the late summer and early Autumn months the ‘right’ wales to hunt are in the waters south of Wessex. Our Holy mother Domnu has been known to give visions of where whaling can be practiced and she is also the font of knowledge from which we learnt how to how to catch these Leviathans!
Each watch tower has a 10% chance to spot a pod each season. Each pod contains 1 d6 whales. With 5 towers, that’s a 50% chance every year.
Hunting whales, ship rolls 1 d 20 each time it goes hunting. hunting skill 14.
15+ = fail, the whale is lost.
18+ = crit fail, roll on below table
Failin’ at Whalin’ Table
1 = Capsized – The boat tips, but stays afloat. The same cannot be said for the crew. -£0.3
2 = Washed Away – The crew is hit by a huge wave, washing them over the side, the boat is found along the shore some weeks later. -£0.3
3 = Rammed – The whale rams the boat, damaging it enough to get the crew home, but rendering it useless thereafter. -£0.5
4 = Wrecked – The ship hits a hidden rock and the bottom is torn away, leaving the crew clinging to the wreckage. -£0.5
5 = Storm – The boat sails into the heart of a storm, the boat is wrecked and all hands went down with it. -£0.8
6 = Hunters become Hunted – The watchtowers swears that some huge dark shape swallowing the ship whole. Then again, the watchers are drunk most of the time… -£0.8
each whale taken provides the following
0.6 Tons of Baleen = £1/2
15 stone of tongue meat = £1/2
25 Tons of Blubber = £1/2 of food or fuel, or it can be rendered down and turned into 5 tons of oil – if you have rendering plant and the time to do it, that is.
The rest of the meat is only fit for dogs and peasants (and the left overs from each whale will feed ~20 people for year!)
How much is 5t of oil worth?
Set watch towers and have them manned at the right time of the year – when the double spume of the whales are spotted; the nearest tower lights two smokey bonfires, and the next tower in the line to the hunting fleet then lights a single bonfire to pass the message on: That way the fishing fleet will have a rough idea of which way to head out.
One fleet can have up to five watch towers (marked as an X here) a bit like this
X (1/3 mile gap) X (1/3 mile gap) X & the fleet (1/3 mile gap) X (1/3 mile gap) X
the hunting fleet then set out, and attempt to harpoon the Right Whales with wooden drogues. Assuming they get a few drogues into the the whale, it is then a matter of keeping pace with the beast until it tires enough to get close enough to deliver the killing blow(s). I will assume that 6 boats can always bring back up to one whale each if they are available.
each tower has a 10% chance of spotting a whale pod in each hunting season
each tower costs £1/2 to build and from then on needs three men for three months of the year (you want good quality men, who maintain the tower, man the signal fires and keep a diligent watch)
Each hunting boat needs 6 oarsmen, a cox and harpooner (or PC knight on a hunting jolly?) to throw the spears. Each boat can bring down a single whale in a given sortie
Each boat cost has to be built and equipped, and the crew need to be paid for the three months they are not out doing normal fishing – they are on 24 hour call to watch the signal fires form the towers, and then launch the boats at a moments notice! That said these men can continue to mend nets, fish on shore, and tend small farms/gardens, render oil and so stay near the boast so they are not totally idle.
A render plant is a set of stone ovens and melting pots, they cost £5 to build, and then when the whales are caught the boat crew render the blubber to oil in their time between hunts. A render plant also needs to employ a cooper to make barrels (he works all year round…)