A Northlander longship being pulled onto the shore.

A longship was a square-sailed, oared ship with a single mast[3][7] that could be removed.[2]

Description[edit | edit source]

The longship was similar to the drakkar but much smaller—typically 70​ to ​80 feet (21​ to ​24 meters)[7][8] along the keel and 15​ to ​20 feet (4.6​ to ​6.1 meters)[3][7][8] across the beam. With 20 oars on each side, the minimum crew size was 40[8][4] plus three watchmen[4] and could carry a maximum crew of between 60[4] and 200[8] including rowers. Longships could sail, assuming moderate, favorable winds and calm seas, at a maximum speed of 16 nautical miles per hour with sail and between two[4] and ten[8] while propelled by oars.

Longships were capable of plying the open seas. Their open, aphract (without deck or armor),[2][7] relatively light hulls were built with overlapping planks held together by rivets. This kind of hull allowed the ship to sail over the waves, instead of having to force its way through them, but was in danger of being swamped by high seas.[2] Its small size allowed it to also enter rivers or land directly on beaches.[2]

Normally, longships carried no weapons,[8] but some versions mounted a couple light weapons,[7] one large weapon (such as a catapult or ballista),[3] or a ram.[3][7][note 1] They could carry between 40[7] and 50[3] tons of cargo.

Schematic starboard view of a longship.

A typical longship took only two months to build within a small shipyard.[9]

Like great galleys, longships could be adapted for space flight through the installation of a spelljamming helm. However, due to the ship's small size, its air supply could not support a full crew for a long time.[6]

Regional Differences[edit | edit source]

Gundarlun Island
Their figureheads depicted fish (usually marlins or swordfish) and predatory birds (such as ernes and ospreys).[2]
They used longships big enough to support Fire giants, with figureheads that depicted fierce warriors.[2]
Ruathym and Luskan
Their figureheads and sails favored red and white dragons.[2]
Purple Rocks
Their longships usually had squid-like figureheads.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

Longships vs. a sea monster

Longships were used extensively in the Savage Frontier by the Northmen. Also called dragon ships for the carved figureheads they usually had mounted, they were appreciated by true Northmen beyond other property or family[10], and were never used as anything but a warship. Longships were the fastest ships along the Sword Coast in most weather, and were crewed by 40 men, each one a warrior.[2]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. The three main sources contradict each other on this point. Since the longship had no deck and a flexible hull, it seems that mounting a heavy weapon would be difficult without major modifications to the ship design.

External Links[edit | edit source]

Smallwikipedialogo.png Longship article at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

References[edit | edit source]

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