A Norscan Whaler

Norscan Whalers are not just typical hunters, they are also well-abled warriors. Since whaling is an important trade for Norsca, Whalers are respected even among the warriors due to the extreme dangers of the waters surronding Norsca. Swimming through the dark currents of the Sea of Claws are massive whales, many of which bear strange markings, and odd colouration, twisted and warped as they are by the power of Chaos. These monsters can capsize ships and swallow hundreds of men in a single gulp. Thus, Whalers must be made of sterner stuff than ordinary fishermen.[1a]

Whales provide not only meat but also blubber which can be processed into oil for fuel. Not an ounce of a whale is wasted: the skin is used to manufacture rope, the gullet to make shoes, and the stomach used as floats. Even the lungs and intestines are eaten. Demand from Imperial cities for whale oil to fuel street lamps has made whaling a very profitable venture.[2a]

The easiest way to hunt these creatures is for whalers to embark in rowing boats and herd schools of small whales ashore where they can easily slaughter them. However, there is no honour in such methods, and Norsemen prefer the thrill of setting sail in a longship to chase the giant whales that plough the ocean. Many young men join such expeditions; it is the custom in many settlements that a girl should spurn a suitor who has not killed his first whale. A captain is careful to vet his crew, due to the belief that whales will attack boats crewed by dishonourable men.[2a]

Norsemen relish the danger of hunting these monsters. When a whale is sighted, the rowers speed their vessel towards it. Harpooners gather at the prow and, when in range, hurl their weapons at their quarry. The bravest men leap from the boat onto the whale’s back, thrusting their spears deep into its flesh before swimming back to their vessel.[2a]

A skewered whale can easily capsize a longboat, or tow the vessel by the harpoon lines until it shudders apart. Its tail can sweep a man overboard, where he will be swallowed whole in its maw. Few ships return home with a full crew. The harpooners must ensure a swift kill – the best can pierce a whale’s heart with a single throw. If this is impossible, whalers aim to embed their harpoons in the monster's ribs, enabling the crew to drag it to the ship’s side where they can kill it with hooks and skewers.[2a]

A whaling vessel will not return to shore unless it is towing a slaughtered whale. Whalers prefer a watery grave to the dishonour of returning empty-handed. When a whaling ship does return after a successful hunt, the gods are praised and celebrations continue for many days, for the survival of the settlement is ensured for the next few months.[2a]

Scrimshaw

Although the Norse sagas romanticise whaling expeditions, much of a whaler's time is spent waiting until a quarry is spotted. Many spend the long hours whittling whalebone or teeth. Their work involves complex interlocking patterns, sinuous shapes, and heroes and animals of legend. Soot is rubbed into the etching to bring it to view. This method of engraving is known as scrimshaw, and those who practise it are known as scrimshanders. Most whalers wear a scrimshaw necklace or earring, as they believe that these talismans bring good luck. Some even have scrimshaw designs tattooed on their flesh. Their profession is a dangerous one and any form of protection is not to be scoffed at.[2a]

Source

  • 1 Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Tome of Corruption
    • 1a: pg. 150
  • 2: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Career Compendium
    • 2a: pg. 226
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