The Swan Ships

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
So, I have a thought on this, actually. Long ago, I had imagined a ship for a novel I was (and still am) writing. I abandoned it at the time because research and discussions with experienced sailors showed me it was impractical. However, it might work for our Teleri.

I imagined wing- like sails that extended out from the sides of the ship to supplement the mast sails. I might draw this later if that's not clear.
 

Halstein

Active Member
So, I have a thought on this, actually. Long ago, I had imagined a ship for a novel I was (and still am) writing. I abandoned it at the time because research and discussions with experienced sailors showed me it was impractical. However, it might work for our Teleri.

I imagined wing- like sails that extended out from the sides of the ship to supplement the mast sails. I might draw this later if that's not clear.
Are you thinking of something like studding-sails?
 

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
I don't know if this is helpful at all.. Anyway, here's a picture of a ship with wings. The wings are obviously just a decoration, but they could be expanded into sails, which could be folded along the railing like the wings are,or spread out to catch wind.

 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Ah...so we have to decide whether we want a historical/realistic ship design, or a 'fantasy' ship design. The advantage of using real ships is that it helps ground the show in reality. If the sail design works, it doesn't jar the audience or look weird. The disadvantage of using a real historical design (with some added swan decorations) is that it seems too....mundane. Anyone could make a ship like that, so what's so special about it?

Numenor can have realistic ships. Vingelot doesn't really have to be all that realistic; it's going to transform into a spaceship, so.....
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
The engineer in me will hate us forever if we design a ship that can't work.

I would be willing to see the elves employ 'complicated' sails - more like a composite of a bunch of different sails to more closely mimic wings. But only if such a design actually *works*!
 

Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
The engineer in me will hate us forever if we design a ship that can't work.

I would be willing to see the elves employ 'complicated' sails - more like a composite of a bunch of different sails to more closely mimic wings. But only if such a design actually *works*!

Ok, let me clarify. The reason the sails I'm proposing are not used, as it was explained to me, is that they would only push the ship in the direction of the wind. You can't "tack" (sail almost against the wind), and if deployed at an angle other than one at which the wind was blowing, they would "correct" the ship's course to match that of the wind.

If the elves have some means of adjusting local wind direction (possibly through "sea shanties" as mentioned on another thread), they could easily overcome this issue.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
We will also have the conceptual grand-children of those ships, in the swan boats of Galadriel and company in the Fellowship of the Ring. So that will eventually be a nice callback I think.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Ok, let me clarify. The reason the sails I'm proposing are not used, as it was explained to me, is that they would only push the ship in the direction of the wind. You can't "tack" (sail almost against the wind), and if deployed at an angle other than one at which the wind was blowing, they would "correct" the ship's course to match that of the wind.

If the elves have some means of adjusting local wind direction (possibly through "sea shanties" as mentioned on another thread), they could easily overcome this issue.

Controlling the wind sounds like something that shouldn't be possible, as Tom Bombadil insists, "I am no weather-master... nor is aught that goes on two legs."....but then again, Galadriel tells us, "of wind I sang, a wind there came, and in the branches blew," so it's not like we don't have precedent.

I'd be happier with collapsible/adjustable sails rather than fixed sails for anything sticking out on the sides.

Basics of tacking a sailboat:

 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
Oh, I would most certainly suggest the sails be adjustable and collapsable in the same way a bird's wings are. As to the singing of wind, I would add to your mention of Galadriel, that she is not even Teleri. If she can do it, how much more those Calaquendi who depend on the winds far more than she.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Well, her mother is Olwë's daughter, and we're having her hang out in Alqualondë regularly. So, she has strong Teleri ties.

Making a wind spring up out of nowhere does seem to be rather natural elfy magic, so why not? But, wind is Manwë's realm, and the changing wind at Pelennor has practically divine implications. I would not want the elves to seem to have too much control over the wind or waves - just a nudge in the right direction, maybe ;)
 

Marielle

Well-Known Member
Well, her mother is Olwë's daughter, and we're having her hang out in Alqualondë regularly. So, she has strong Teleri ties.

Making a wind spring up out of nowhere does seem to be rather natural elfy magic, so why not? But, wind is Manwë's realm, and the changing wind at Pelennor has practically divine implications. I would not want the elves to seem to have too much control over the wind or waves - just a nudge in the right direction, maybe ;)
I think we can have them "nudge" the wind without making them full blown "weather-masters"; but it's interesting Tom says that, and then calls the rainy morning "Goldberry's washing day". So he's not saying no one can ever influence the weather, just not control it.
I don't think, for example, we ever show an elf capable of calming a storm. But strengthening slightly a breeze, so that their sails can propel them? I think that's subtle enough.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I am straying off course, but I think what I mean is illustrated (of all places) in the two Conan films. The first one has a magician character (the storyteller), and he was able to perform impressive magic feats (even to the point of possibly bringing the dead back to life). But...he has no certainty what he's doing will work. He more...sets it up...calls on the powers....and then plays wait and see to see what will happen. There is more than a tinge of madness to his approach, and he's clearly terrified of the powers he's calling on. He does not know what will happen.

In the second film, the same character can rattle off incantations as needed to accomplish specific tasks magically. It's much more D&D - memorize a spell, and then use it to have a fairly guaranteed outcome. It's a disappointing let-down compared to the earlier film.

Some example scenes from the two films - the difference should be clear, though obviously I am not suggesting we take any of our ideas for 'how to portray magic on film' from these cheesy early 80s films.

While there is an obvious comment about science and religion in there, I think the awe is what makes the magic feel magical, and the taking it for granted is what makes it seem too mundane. Which is tricky, because elves *should* take it for granted, and it's the non-elves (like hobbit observers) who are in awe of what the elves can do.

I don't mind elves singing up a wind. I do mind elves seeming to have control over the wind, so that they can summon or banish it at will. I want them to *ask nicely*.
 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
I am straying off course, but I think what I mean is illustrated (of all places) in the two Conan films. The first one has a magician character (the storyteller), and he was able to perform impressive magic feats (even to the point of possibly bringing the dead back to life). But...he has no certainty what he's doing will work. He more...sets it up...calls on the powers....and then plays wait and see to see what will happen. There is more than a tinge of madness to his approach, and he's clearly terrified of the powers he's calling on. He does not know what will happen.

In the second film, the same character can rattle off incantations as needed to accomplish specific tasks magically. It's much more D&D - memorize a spell, and then use it to have a fairly guaranteed outcome. It's a disappointing let-down compared to the earlier film.

While there is an obvious comment about science and religion in there, I think the awe is what makes the magic feel magical, and the taking it for granted is what makes it seem too mundane. Which is tricky, because elves *should* take it for granted, and it's the non-elves (like hobbit observers) who are in awe of what the elves can do.

I don't mind elves singing up a wind. I do mind elves seeming to have control over the wind, so that they can summon or banish it at will. I want them to *ask nicely*.

I think that's wise. What is having the song sound like a request.
 
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