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Marienburg Class Land Battle Ship

The 'Marienberg' Class Land Battle Ship

Landships are massive constructs outfitted with wheels to serve its purpose as massive, gun-platforms bristling with cannon batteries. One of the wealthiest cities in the Old World, a nexus for trade and crossroads for many lands, such is Marienburg's that in the year 2429 by Imperial reckoning, it effectively 'bought' its secession and independence from the Empire by a vast transfer of gold into the Imperial coffers, its merchant-lords having grown tired of the factious wars and intrigues of the Imperial state and their effect on the only thing they cared for - the pursuit of profit. This independence, hard schemed for and defended many times both against outside forces and from within as well as those in the Empire who would see it undone, has been the making of Marienburg's power, which stands greater than it ever has, but has also proved in some circumstances to be a two-edged sword, particularly in military terms. Without the vast manpower and veteran men-at-arms the Empire can call upon, Marienburg has often been forced to 'buy' its way out of trouble, and its merchant guilds have long learned to rely upon mercenary forces and even privateers to supplement their own small standing armies and retainers when the need has arisen, which has been often. In particular, allied troops from the Empire, its former realm and largest trading partner have sometimes proved thin on the ground in recent years when a great threat has come to endanger Marienburg and the Empire both. In particular elite Imperial units have proved an exorbitant expense to hire, leaving the security of Marienburg vulnerable.[1a]

A case in point has been the incredibly powerful and extremely rare Empire Steam Tank, examples of which have been 'loaned' in the past at back-breaking cost (under close Imperial supervision of course) and had proved unavailable to be purchased outright at any cost. The genius behind the Steam Tank is all but unreplicable at any rate, and such secrets as those known by the Imperial Engineers guarded upon pain of death. So, in recent years, with ever-increasing threats to their city-state growing all around them, the guild-masters of Marienburg sought to do what they had always done and spend their way out of the problem, and as they could not buy a Steam Tank, they would commission something better! Wary of the political ramifications, the Imperial School of Engineers at Altdorf would have nothing to do with the contract, while the Dwarfs merely scorned such human folly. To a cabal of engineers at the Imperial Gunnery School of Nuln however the proposition and the vast sums of money offered proved irresistible, and with the Countess Emmanuelle's tacit approval (and no doubt reasons of her own beyond a cut of the price), they entered into a secret bargain with the Marienburgers to build them 'Steam Tanks' of their own. There was one problem with this - they didn't know how to.[1b]

There were countless disasters at the prototype stage and the whole project became known as the 'coffin filler' by the young apprentices attached to it in dread. Steam boilers such as they could construct couldn't be made small enough and retain the necessary power without becoming dangerously unstable, hull mounted ordinance proved just as likely to smash the machine to pieces when fired, and the whole thing had a tendency to fall apart when the smallest change in direction was attempted. Justly are the forges of the Imperial Gunnery School famed for craftsmanship and productivity but not for innovation, and with every delay and cost overrun, the Engineers found themselves agreeing to more and more concessions from the hard-bargaining Marienburgers in turn - "yes, it would be able to navigate the wetlands of the Cursed Marshes", "yes, it could be crewed by Marienburg troops rather than dedicated engineers," while the costs kept spiraling and still with no working war machine in sight. As the delay turned into years, the Merchant-lords of Marienburg began to suspect that they'd been had and their monies disappeared as if tossed down a privy, and dark rumblings of a vengeful trade war were in the offing which Nuln could little afford. It was then that one of the more unstable of the Gunnery School Engineers, a man named Hezekiah Guttmann (known less than affectionately as the 'burnt scarecrow' to his fellows), had an epiphany. If they could not construct a small, powerful boiler such as the Steam Tank had, why bother? Why not use a larger, cruder one instead and the machine could be scaled up accordingly, and conversely the cannon could be made smaller, and as for the rest of the demands, they would appeal to the Marienburgers' vanity - the machine would take the shape of a boat (or as it transpired at least a caricature of a boat), after all, they liked boats did they not? Once seized upon by the desperate Engineers, this plan, as crazed as it might have been, took hold very rapidly and in a remarkably short time a prototype was assembled hybridizing steam power, boat building and some 'inspired' innovations by Guttmann. The entire product looked more like a grotesquely-sized theatrical prop than either a ship of war or a Steam Tank, and was a pretty shameful imitation of either, but somehow it worked - well, mostly! The provost-marshal of the Imperial Gunnery School proclaimed them The Wonder of the Age upon announcing their success to the Countess Emmanuelle and the Marienburg legation, and even managed to keep a straight face while doing so. The Engineers' relief at the acceptance of the design turn to something resembling panic however when the Marienburgers ordered not one or two, but a squadron of ten, and the functioning prototype proved less than easy to replicate and the project continued to 'fill coffins' apace.[1b]

Three 'Marienburg' Class Land Battle Ships (to give them their official title) had been completed, with a fourth on the way, when Tamurkhan's horde darkened Wissenland's horizon. The Merchant Lords of Marienburg had already made to secure their investment by moving a number of heavy barges and a sizable guard of veteran mercenaries, the infamous Manann's Blades, to escort the first part of the 'fleet' back to Marienburg upon completion. The Countess Emmanuelle swiftly demanded the use of these 'wonder weapons' in defence of the city, and the Marienburgers were happy to oblige - for the right price![1b]

Source Edit

  • 1 Tamurkhan: The Throne of Chaos
    • 1a: pg. 154
    • 1b: pg. 155

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