Endless Blue – Week 19 – Nautilus and Aegis   1 comment

Combat

Of Nautiluses and Aegises

Life has devised myriad methods to aid the never-ending burden of survival on the world of Endless Blue.  Perhaps the most prolific adaption has been the development of thickened skin or chitin into armor.  Right behind that, chasing like a predator keyed in on its prey, is the adaption of lengthened keratin and dentin into weapons.  This tit-for-tat dance of evolutionary one-upmanship is primal in the primitive quest to stay alive, and the intelligent races of Elqua have heightened their competition with the application of  advanced tools and technological innovation.

Taking cues from natural development, pisceans have developed their own protection and armament with the creation of the nautilus, the aegis, and the unguis.

Nautilius

Nautiluses are the armor the races of the Known World have developed to cover the soft, vulnerable parts of their bodies from the teeth, jaws, and claws of very hostile monster that swims the seas.  They cover at least the arms and upper torso of the piscean, with various adaptations to help protect the tail.  Swimming in the piscean form places extreme emphasis on the tail of the body, requiring its flexibility and freedom of movement to accomplish the task evolution honed it for — mobility.  Thus rigidity would be a hindrance to engaging or escape, and attempts to remedy this paradox have had mixed results.

Using armor breaks up the hydrodynamic curves of a swimmer, causing what is known as drag.  Instead of water flowing easily along the contours of a swimming body, its flow is impeded and jumbled by uneven surfaces.  This interruption of flowing water slows down a swimmer dependent on the type of nautilus worn.

The more esoteric and textured a nautilus, the more drag it incurs.  Further, the bulkier the nautilus, the more restricted the movement and the more difficult it becomes to move the body in the systemically timed manner to achieve sustained swimming.  Light armor slows down a swimmer by 1/4th their swim speed, Medium armor slows down swimmers by 1/3rd their speed, and Heavy armor by one-half.  Spikes can be added to nautiluses to help protect against close-range dangers, but these will increase a nautilus’ drag by 5 feet (applied after the halving/thirding/quartering of swim speed).

Aegis

Aegises are a supplemental system of protection equivalent to shields.  They are held by the hand or strapped to the body on the forearm, chest, or back.  They compound a nautilus’ amount of drag, and are usually only beneficial on a situational basis.  For example, an aegis strapped on the forearm cannot protect  the body if the arm is being utilized to swim. and an aegis on the back provides no benefit against a spear thrust at the ribcage.

Aegises increase drag, usually reducing swim speed by 5 feet (after nautilus penalty has been applied), and are cumulative.  Using two aegises will reduce swim speed by a total of 10 feet, and only one aegis is ever useful at a time — there is no significant benefit to covering your body with multiple aegises, as the skill in using them depends on moving the aegis to block.  Further, adding spikes will cumulatively add drag to aegises just as it does for nautiluses, and can effectively make some combinations too bulky to swim in.

Light Nautiluses

Woven Kelp — This is the most primitive kind of armor, and serves as the base form that all other light nautiluses are derived from.  It is a system of padding woven from harvested kelp.  The padded segments are tailored to the wearer, and a re-laceable system of cording keeps the pads tied together and on the individual.

Woven Cartilage — Woven cartilage nautiluses are the same woven kelp pads as the above, but have strips of cartilage interlaced between the weaves in strategic place to help harden the armor.  The spongy elasticity of cartilage helps absorb impacts from blows that might damage the wearer otherwise.  The primary source of cartilage used in these nautiluses comes from sharks.

Woven Bone — Exactly like a woven cartilage nautilus, but relies on the more resilient and rigid bone inserts harvested from slaughtered domesticated livestock instead of cartilage from predatory sharks.

Hardened Kelp — This woven kelp nautilus is treated in an alchemical bath derived from the catalytic properties of acari.  It stiffens the fibrous plant material into hard plates which are then corded together.  The stiffened kelp requires a tight yet flexible weave, making the acari process incompatible with cartilage or bone inserts that depend on the friction of kelp ties to keep the inserts in place.

Medium Nautiluses

Hide — This is the base form of all medium, and subsequently also heavy, nautiluses.  It employs the same corded interlacing as woven kelp nautiluses, but uses the alchemically tanned skins of animals as the plating.  Bone and cartilage are both used to support the hide plates, but add nothing exceptional to the overall level of protection the nautilus affords.

Shagreen — Shagreen is a special kind of hide nautilus made from shark skin.  The tanning process is not as thorough for shagreen nautiluses, resulting in an armor that is not as protective but preserves the natural nap of shark skin, excellent in deterring grappling foes.

Shell — Shell nautiluses employ patterns of small, overlapping shells to cover the wearer’s body.  The shells are pierced a few times along their hinge, then cord is fed through and tied to the hide plating.  The sheer variation of shell shape, color, and size can form mosaics in the nautilus, and a skilled craftsman can increase the nautilus’ value many times over though just the sheer artistic expression of these shells.

Nacre Chain — With an extremely expensive procedure to create,  nacre (or pearl) chain nautiluses are the province of the wealthy and powerful.  Small, interlocking rings are first carved from coral, rock, or other hard material.  These are then inserted into domesticated oysters as an irritant.  Placed under the fleshy body, the animal reacts by secreting a substance called nacre.  This nacre slowly builds up, covering the offending irritant in a layer of beautiful iridescence.  The rings are harvested before too much nacre solidifies and plugs up the ring, and then the rings are assembled into a continual fabric of links.

Xanthellae Coral — Exclusive to the Chelon, this coral breastplate is literally grown on the body of the wearer.  This nautilus is especially beneficial due to its porous nature, allowing it to completely cover the gill slits along the ribs where other types of nautiluses must leave some space open for circulating water.

Heavy Nautiluses

Echinodermal — An archaic form of nautilus that fell out of popular use millennia ago, it basically uses live giant echinoderms like starfish as a form of living armor.  In a symbiotic relationship, these over-sized starfish latch onto the flesh of the wearer with their suckers, leaching sustenance from the host in exchange for bodily defense.  The dietary demands of the echinoderms are manageable, and rarely has a host died from the relationship short of extended fasting or wounding on the battlefield.  They were used in mating pairs: one latched onto the host’s chest, the other clinging to the back.  Fuller nautiluses used the offspring to cover the limbs and tail of the host.

Shellback — Used mostly by Sahaguin, Kouton, and the more savage Narwahl Orcans, these nautiluses are literally the exoskeletons of Chelon or Lumulus killed in combat and then scavenged from the corpse.  Its use is utterly reviled among the civilized races, and those that wear it without regard in populated areas may soon find themselves attacked by offended pisceans.  Despite this, there are those so enamored with the deep luster and vibrancy of shellback shells that they will pay a premium for a prize they can only admire in private.

Abalone Plate — Much like its nacre chain cousin, abalone plate is based on the nacre-like excretions of shellfish.  Whereas nacre chain coats inserted rings, abalone plate is carved from the outer shell of mollusks.  A very specialized craft, portions of shell are chipped and grooved to promote increased creation of abalone.  When sufficient thickness has been achieved, the craftsman severs away portions of the outer shell from the animal without harming it (and hence allowing it to produce more abalone).  These cut-away pieces are then further refined, carved, engraved, and polished into full nautiluses of mythic quality.

Piecemeal Nautiluses — Not actually a type of nautilus, these methods of armoring are comprised of parts of different kinds of armor, almost as if kit-bashed together from a junkyard.  Only nautiluses of the same class (light, medium, heavy) can be piecemealed because each class is dependent on the previous to work — medium nautiluses have woven kelp and bone supporting it, and heavy nautiluses have hide linking their parts together.  Average the scores of the two types of nautilus (rounding down) to determine their effectiveness.

One response to “Endless Blue – Week 19 – Nautilus and Aegis

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 93 – Eadro, the Changing Tide | Endless Blue

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