In Vikja the board game there are different means of transportation to travel around the world. Characters can travel overland by foot, pony, horse, cart or in caravan. They can also travel over sea by ship such as faering (= rowing boat), skute (= small sailing vessel), knarr (= transport and trade ship) or longships such as karve, snekkja, skeid or drakkar (= busse).
A brief history of land and sea travel is described below to give some insight to travelling and the conditions the people were up against.
People traveled overland by foot or by using horses, ponies, carts, wagons, sledges, skis or skates. The geography of the Norse lands was diverse from region to region and often difficult for overland travel, so a water route was usually preferred.
Not many roads existed outside of settlements, most of the time these were paths rutted by cartwheels. In covering the route from one location to another, parallel paths existed, using different routes for different purposes. Carts might take one path, while a rider on horseback followed a different one. If one route became impassible, a new one quickly sprang up alongside it.
Roads and paths tended to follow natural routes, avoiding marshy places and wetlands. If wet areas had to be crossed, they were covered with wooden planks or brushwood. Wooden bridges were built using wooden piles driven down into whatever solid ground existed below the water, braced with wood and spanned with planks.
The difficulty of land travel in the Viking age should not be underestimated. Many natural features presented insurmountable obstacles to travel. In all regions, people used prominent, easily recognized landmarks as navigational aids. In more desolate areas, rock cairns were built to mark a route.
Reduced visibility due to weather conditions made many landscapes difficult to navigate through. Difficult travel conditions also existed on steep slopes along the shores of fjords etc. A place where uncertain footing resulted in people sliding off the path to their death.
In winter, sledges were the preferred means for transporting cargo overland. In some ways, overland transportation was actually easier in winter. Frozen lakes, rivers, and marshes made some of the routes much easier than in summer, and a sledge could carry heavier loads than a cart. People waited until winter to transport heavy resources such as timber and stones.
Source: Hurstwic: Land travel
The horse in the Viking age was a large mammal that belonged to the subspecies Equus ferus caballus. The weight of the horse lied between 330 and 450 kilograms and the height could range between 145-165 centimeters. Most horses had an average lifespan of 20-30 years, but this could be shorthened by war, famine and disease.
The horse in the northern lands was somewhat smaller, stronger and sturdier then horses in other parts of the world. This was probably due to the harsh climate, natural selection and the selective breeding people used. The horses were known to have had over 100 different names for color variations. Some had developed a double coat for extra insulation in cold temperatures. A typical speed for horse and rider on a long trip would be around 6 - 8 km per hour. Much greater speed was possible for shorter distances. During the winter months horses were given spikes on their hoofs to increase the grip when pulling sledges or carts .
There was a distinction in the animals depending on the type of need. You can have pack animals to transport goods, draft animals to pull carts or for use in the field like the plough. Ride animals for transporting people and so forth. Sometimes horses were bred for their favored coat colors only. Most of the time horses were not ridden until they were 4 years old. Their most productive years were between 8 and 18 years, although they retained their strength and stamina well into their twenties.
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The Viking pony is a mammal that belongs to the subspecies Equus ferus caballus. The weight of the pony lies between 200 and 400 kilograms and the height can range between 125-145 centimeters. Most ponies have an average lifespan of 20-30 years same as horses, but this could be shorthened by climate, work, food and disease.
The Viking ponies have a somewhat stocky body, dense bone and a round shape. They have a short head, large eyes and small ears. Ponies also have strong hooves, grow a heavier hair coat, which can be seen in a thicker mane and tail and heavy winter coat. They are hardy, sturdy working animals and remarkably strong for their size. Ponies can also pull and carry more weight than a horse poundwise as much as 450% of their weight.
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Pets are companions of the main player characters in the game. Some pets have different skills from their owner and can help out in certain situations. The dog can help with hunting, tracking, herding and combat, while the falcon can be used to hunt, explore and warn his master in advance.
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A cart is a vehicle designed for transport, using two up to four wheels. They are normally pulled by one or a pair of draught animals. Carts can carry a cargo up to 30 units depending on the size of the vehicle. The distance a cart can travel lies between 1 and 3 nodes depending on terrain and weather. The draught animals used for carts can be horses, ponies or oxen. Oxen and ponies can pull more weight on average then horses.
Little information exists about the kind of carts or wagons used in the Viking age because only a few have survived. Some of the best evidence about wagons comes from tapestries. The Oseberg tapestry shows wagons being drawn by horses using collars. This kind of collar would have allowed enough force to pull a load of around 500 kilograms.
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A faering is an open boat with two pairs of oars, commonly found in most boat-building traditions in Scandinavia dating back to Viking era. The hull is built like a shell into which the ribs are mounted. Faerings are clinker-built, with planks overlapped and riveted together to form the hull. A faering can be rowed only or rigged with mast and sail. If a rudder is mounted , it is usually mounted on the stern, equipped with a push-and pull tiller. The length usually varies from 4.3 meters to 5.2 meters. The hull is built very light, often less than 80 or 90 kg. The rigged faerings had square sails, while other boats usually have variations of lug rigs and sprit sails.
- Wikipedia: Faering
- Færing - What is a faering? - Definition of the basic norse boat: the faering - Viking ships and norse wooden boats by Jørn Olav Løset, Norway
- Viking ship classes
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The skute was a smaller non classified type of Viking ship, probably primarily used for persons, couriers, passengers, small transport and general travelling. The term skute most likely referred to a wide selection of smaller vessels all possibly with their own uses and were known to be fast sailing vessels. These ships had the advantage of being ready to sail at a short notice and only demanded a small crew and little equipment. Such ships could be hidden from view easier and were quick to get ready to sail without attracting too much attention.
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The Knarr is the Norse term for ships that were built for Atlantic voyages. They were cargo ships averaging a length of about 16 m, a beam of 4.6 m, and a hull capable of carrying up to 122 tons. Speeds of up to 10 knots could be reached. Knarrs routinely crossed the North Atlantic centuries ago carrying livestock and stores to Greenland. It was capable of sailing around 120 km in one day and held a crew of about 20 to 30. This type of ship was used for longer voyages and also for hazardous trips. It is also shorter and sturdier it depended mostly on sail-power and used its oars only as auxiliaries if there was no wind on the open water.
Sources: Wikipedia: Viking ships
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The Karve were a small type of Viking longship, with a broad hull somewhat similar to the knarr. They were used for coastal passages in war and ordinary transport, carrying people, cargo or livestock. Because they were able to navigate in very shallow water, they were also used for coasting. Karves had broad beams of approximately 5.2 m.
Sources: Wikipedia: Viking ships
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The snekkja class longship was the second smallest of the Viking long ships used for battle or raid purposes. The Snekkja was thought to have a length of 17 metres, a width of 2.5 m, and a draught of only 0.5 m. The ship had oars and sails of which the number of oars was at least 20 pairs. The Snekkja is thought to have carried a crew of around 40 Vikings. It was easier to build and still capable of carrying plenty of bounty. The Norwegian snekkjas were designed for deep fjords and Atlantic weather, and typically had more draught than the Danish snekkja which was designed for low coasts and beaches. Snekkjas were so light that they had no need of ports, they could simply be beached, and potentially even carried across a portage. Despite not being the largest of the longships, the Snekkja was definitely one of the most common and probably the most popular.
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The Skeid class longship was a large Viking warship much larger than the snekkja. The Skeid had a size of up to 30 metres in length, a width of 3.5m, and a draught of 0.8 m. The skeid had both sales and oars, with up to 30 pairs of oars to power it. As essentially the mid sized longship, the skeid was a sizeable ocean vessel. It could carry a crew of around 70 Vikings. The skeid was big enough to lead a raid to far off lands, as it was fully seaworthy and imposing.
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The drakkar class longship was the most prestigious Viking warship. The drakkar was big with sizes up to 50 metres in length. Fitted with both sails and oars, a drakkar could have up to 35 pairs of oars, allowing it to travel with speed utilising any propulsion method. The drakkar was capable of carrying a large cargo, which was beneficial on large scale raids, where the Vikings could take as much treasure home as possible. The ships was thought to have carried a crew of around 80 Vikings. The scale and size of the drakkar also allowed the Viking raids to travel further afield. The larger cargo holds meant the journeys across the oceans would be feasible compared to the smaller ship classes.
The drakkar would have a animal head typically a dragon or serpent head stem on the bow. In some cases the animal design would have moved down to the stern as well, with a matching animal tail. This drakkar design was thought to be reserved for the largest ship in the Viking fleets, the flagships that would head up the landing parties and raids. It’s thought that the name originated from this, when the raid subjects would spot the dragons ships off the shorelines, and fear would likely strike them.
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