Re: The Glorantha Digest V8 #148

From: darvall <>
Date: Wed, 6 Dec 2000 17:09:51 +1100

Michael Hitchens
>> >That's just the point - the fyrd doesn't train. It's individual members
>> >might, to greater or lesser degrees, but they don't train as a unit. And
>> >cattle raids don't give any experience in such things - they're too
>> >disorganised.
>> Military historians have a specialist word for disorganised raids,
>> disasters.
> Cattle raids aren't stand up fights. They developed in the RW to
>avoid mass combat while still satisfying the cultural need for conflict.
>They were disorganised, in the sense that there was little in the way of
>sub-unit organisation or leadership. They were mobs with some idea what
>they were doing.

& so with both organisation & leadership albeit fluid & de-facto. See later post.

>> it will be organisation apropriate to the culture requiring training
>>>>apropriate to the culture.
>Correct. Which means if they are faced with a set piece battle situation
>against a properly drilled force they are in trouble.

See Trotsky in # 149 for 'properly drilled'. The appropriate tactic would then be to fight where the drilled force cannot use its strengths.

>> To achive organisation amongst the fyrd they train as a unit, or
>> more likely sub-units.
>Do they? This is the question. For Sartar, we don't know the answer.
>*My* feeling is that there is no real unit or sub-unit training for the
>Heortling fyrd, but we won;t know until we're explicitly told.

My brothers & I trained as a brawling unit by brawling, both amongst ourselves & with others. We were a unit because 1)we were kin & 2)we were intimately familiar with each other's style. The O/i train to fight the same way. Its part of what they are not an add on of political neccessity as it is for 20C nation states.

>> >Which means one on one they miught be quite good. But put
>> >them up against an organised fighting force and they're in trouble.
>> DOTTS. Depends On The Tactical Situation. See your example below.
>Yes, and the the example is extreme.
>This was an extraordinarily unusual, almost unique event.

Which means only that (this example aside) the Germans were poor tacticians.

>The question is quite simple. Arrange equal (large) numbers of Lunar
>regulars and Fyrd/weaponthanes in a (reasonably) open field, for a set
>piece battle. Who do you expect to win? Why?
>My answers are: The Lunars. Because they have far superior unit training
>and discipline.

Arrange equal numbers of Bricklayers & Plumbers on an open field & engage them in a wall building contest.
>Who do you expect to win? Why?

Of course the Lunars stand a better chance the Orlanthi are fighting their battle. To do so qualifies them for Terminally Stupid 4w2 or Desperate 4W3.

>If the Orlanthi leader can get the Lunars into broken terrain *and* break
>up the unit integrity than the Orlanthi have a much better chance. *But*
>the Lunars can get to enough settlements without this happening. Why do
>you think the Lunars conquered Sartar and Tarsh and have an empire?

Like the Crusaders took the Holy Land. The war ain't over yet. See also more reasoned replys from Mikko & Olli in #149.

>> The Orlanthi have the decided advantage (over both
>> Lunars & Germans) of dispersed power. Taking the cities will not destroy it
>> as the power centers in places of worship as much or more (they have a
>> pretty immanent pantheon) than in places of business.
>Over the Lunars, yes.

And the Germans. Whilst the german religion may have provided economic & social benefits it did not provide the direct & immanent power G gods do. The O/i advantage lies in the fact that the centers of this power are dispersed into the very areas that make formed unit tactics so difficult.

>Yes, Hastings was lost by the superiority of the new over the old. What
>lost it was the fyrd. They are what broke, half early, half later. The
>knights couldn't break the carls. It wasn't the mounted technology that
>beat the fyrd (except that it enabled the Normans to run away quickly when
>they needed it) but their own lack of discipline.
>Saying that they beat someone so had 'discipline' against that enemy is
>nonsense. *Maybe* they had the same *relative* discipline, but that's
>all. I wouldn't put the French army at Agincourt in the same box as the
>Norman army at Hastings. Same basic technology, but same discipline? Do
>you really think the French were capable of the feigned retreat William
>used to break the second half of the Fyrd? I don't think so. And
>interestingly it was arrows that won Agincourt and arrows that killed

  1. Being mounted provides a faster response to breaks in the Fyrd. A circumstance the Fyrdmen were not trained or exposed (& so diciplined)to deal with. 2)AFAIR Bows were not big in A/S warfare until 1066. Thus the Fyrd was not trained or diciplined to stand under arrow fire for 8 hours.
  2. The French Knights were unused to peasants being of any military value thus the peasant bowmen could pose little threat. Not a failure of dicipline but a failure of imagination. In both cases, I'd say, the forces were diciplined to deal with the technologies & therefore the tactics with which they were familiar.

>>A soldier's life leaves little time for that sort of individual

Donald Oddy
>I don't know about that, an officer's skills are quite different to an
>NCO's and, in Dara Happen units at least, promotion from NCO will be
>rare. I can see the file leader performing hero quests relating to
>keeping the phalanx together and ordered while the officers hero
>quests relate to where and how the phalanx is deployed.
>>How do you learn to use a knife & fork? Why can a Chinese 5 year old make a
>>neater meal with chopsticks than I can? O/i are exposed to weapons in much
>>the same way, they're an accompaniment to daily life. You go herding with
>>spear & sling. You take dad his lunch carrying a spear. He eats it next to
>>his spear. You then go off & play with your mates. Whats the game? Hill of
>>Gold, or Braggis best cattle raid, or any one of the multitude of very
>>violent stories you've been told.
>I don't believe Orlanthi children have much time for play in the sense
>modern city children do. They are doing tasks which teach them what
>they need for adult life - most of which is related to farming or
>hunting not fighting.

A good deal of which is play.Furthermore fighting is a skill they will need in Adult life.

>Furthermore you don't send a child out with a spear until they know how to
>use it.

Why not? Modern armies formalise this & call it Weapons Familiarisation. The difference being that modern armies can rightfully say:
> better for them to run back for help then get killed through clumsyness.
While the O/i youngster has a better chance fighting than running from the wolf. The threats are vastly different.
Even in the RW & within the last century & in a peaceful, stable western culture all rural kids could expect to learn to shoot before their 10th birthday & carried a rifle far more than could be expected given the level of threat (virtualy nil in Oz). And yes many were killed through clumsyness but it took a massacre for the practice to be even moderately curtailed. Even so the law allows for children under 14 to learn to shoot.

>To get to that stage requires someone to train them and there is only so
>>much time to do it. That's why I think a day a week is the best they can
>hope for.

Depends on who's doing it. Grandad 'cos the kid should know', older sibs just to show off, Granma to keep the kids busy during a lull in the work (which I suspect happens more often than you credit), Dad to relieve the boredom of Dark season, Uncle Fred to relieve the boredom of missing the Fire season raid etc etc.

>Of course a well planned raid doesn't involve combat,the raiders are away
>>before the defenders have time to react.

Which teaches tactics. Theres vastly more to warfare than just the physical stoush, & more than this even to becoming a Hero, but all of it is available in the course of daily O/i existance. Examining the development of G shows early *rules* mechanisms to substitute for this system which has been gradually appearing as we explore life on the Lozenge. As it has appeared the PC centered training & guild mechanisms have vanished.

>That's an interesting way of looking at it - the Hero as the unit,
>presumably represented by its standard. Not quite sure how it would
>work as a player character though.

I'm not sure of the actual mechanisms either. Tarsh War & Runemetal Jacket are the obvious inspirations but mechanics may well be provided by Rolemaster's War Law & Aria (Pete, can I have my copy back?)

>>>That means most steads will not have a hero, maybe one in four or one in
>>>three <snip>
>>>That's why the handful of farmers from one stead gathering on
>>>a hill aren't worth the effort of supressing.
>>What? between 25 & 30% of the population has the potential, via an easily
>>disrupted act, to produce a major security problem & you'd leave it be?
>No, 25-33% of steads have a single hero. And while it may be easy to
>disrupt you have to find out which hill and get sufficent troops there.
>Of course if you blunder you will strengthen the ritual.

IMO you grossly underestimate the Hero producing potential of O/i society but then that's the point we're debating.

>>>Theres a difference between good at brawling and good at fighting. When
>>>the police are called to your Queensland brawls how long does it take
>>>for them to break them up?
>>Not long granted but then as I said last post O/i pub blues aren't
>>limmitted to a few blokes going the knuckle.
>Maybe, but the average policeman is probably no match for the brawlers
>on an individual basis. It's the training at working together that
>makes the difference and that's true whether it's trunchons against
>broken bottles or sword against sword.

NO but thats not the point. The point is that Pelorian peasants miss out on all the O/i version & are probably more near the W Qld experience. I'm comparing brawling cultures (or sub-cultures) to more sedate cultures not the relative abilities of groups within those cultures. No police unit would stand before the TA scenario I described in the last post.

>>>Isn't that the battle where a large chunk of the Lunar army were eaten
>>>by a dragon? Of course not all Lunar troops are regulars - e.g. the Tarsh
>>Nope. Its the start of Starbrows rebellion.
>Doesn't appear to be mentioned in KoS then,

No. Wyrm's Footprints as part of the campaign that kicked it all off

Donald <snip>
>>premise based on his feeling of cultural superiority. A mistake common &
>>commonly fatal in the RW.
>They don't strike me that way, he puts the best Orlanthi fighters on
>a par with the best Lunar troops (the hoplites). He may well be
>underestimating numbers but the 10% of adult male population is, if
>anything, high.

But the Rat uses clearly pejorative language consistent with the attitudes I describe and the rest of his report is decidedly innaccurate & self-evidently based on extrapolation from other areas not observation of the items he purports to report. He extrapolates Sartarite population from Sylian habits, he discounts women as warriors entirely (foolish in light of their considerable experience in Tarsh) He refuses to regard the Fyrd as a serious threat despite their being armed & local (the wording of this reminds me of nothing so much as anti Japanese propaganda just prior to the fall of Singapore). He extrapolates the number of elites from Pelorian experience not O/i habit (whether its correct or not its very poor technique). Were I recieving this report from a soldier I'd reject it as too biased to be reliable.

>My view is that the fyrd would have trouble with
>an equivelent number of peltasts who are professionals trained in a
>similar style of fighting while just bouncing off a formed phalanx.

Providing the Fyrd declines to fight on the Phalanxes terms Peltasts will be a greater threat. An unformed Phalanx is just a bunch of spear carrying Pelorian rabble while Peltasts operate in a loose body & are trained & diciplined to do so. Once again it comes down to using tactics apropriate to your technology & diciplines.

>>To which I can only say 'Malayan Emergency'.ie. there are very many tactics

>Precisely what I mean, making sure you only target known opponents
>and separate them from the bulk of the population with propaganda
>and bribes.

Which consists of one of the many tactics. What you notably miss is the seperation from recruiting, support & supply organisations. This role is filled by the various small groups of farmers praying on the hilltops. They maintain Orlanth & his heros & provide the matrix from which the next generation of heros can spring. Two empires have been overthrown by such heros Harmast Barefoot under the Lokamayadon supressions & Alakoring Dragonbreaker from what remained after the EWF seductions.

>The Malayan Emergency is just about the only RW example I can think of.
>>Whether the Lunars have the time and knowledge to achieve that
>>successfully is the question.

I seriously doubt it as the strategies involved spring from a 20c liberal humanist viewpoint which should be utterly foriegn to all but a very few of the Lunar Strangers in Prax for the types I mean.

>We seem to be arguing terminology here, to me a weaponthane is person
>who has specialised in combat and would include most skilled warriors
>irrespective of who's household he is attached to. You appear to apply
>the term purely to the clan chief's warriors.

AH-HA.I suspect you are correct. I feel that the whole society has competent warriors sprinkled through it not as a matter of policy but as a matter of practical O/i living. Thus Bill down the track is the tribe's best warrior due to an adventurous youth but doesn't get on with the chief more than is neccessary to stop his stead from burning. Mind you his kids are damn handy in a stoush & the whole lot shows up as a very effective sub-unit in the muster.

>>>Because you don't spend 10 - 15 years raising children and then kill
>>>off one in seven because they don't meet a high standard. You set a
>>>standard of basic competence which has some risk (usually of injury
>>>or humiliation rather than death) and find other tasks for those who
>>Assuming human levels of fecundity for Gloranthan humans & adding in Bless
>>Pregnancy & various healing & protection magics to reduce deaths in
>>childbirth & indeed in childhood we can expect the average group of
>>siblings to be at least 5 & probably between 7 & 10 with sibling groups of
>>12 & upward not uncommon. It doesn't make the loss any easier to bear but
>>this is what your God requires. Medieval noble families faced a similar
>>problem with all the RW horrors thrown in. They still invested the effort &
>>trained their sons to warfare & the return on this training was a great
>>deal lower than the return on initiation into O is for his people.
>To counterbalance healing and protection magics there are hostile,
>particularly chaos, magics

Which are not nearly as sigificant to human fecundity as to the fertility of the land & even that is limitted outside Prax (which has been rendered barren because of a single use of magic not as a result of ongoing magics)

>as well as the ability to control fertility.

Fertility & childbearing is a biggie for Ernaldans. Successful child birth being a pre-req' for progress in the cult. Thus controling (in terms of limmitting it) it is a process used by the few not the many.

>In any case one of the biggest population controls in the RW has always
>been famine and families the size you suggest would be very vunerable
>to a crop failure.

Yep it did. The families existed nay-the-less, albeit with higher infant mortality than postulated for G. BEWARE we stray into the territory of a hoary old digest chestnut.

>I checked the initiation part of Jane's web pages today and her
>interpretation of the myths fits my ideas - it's very difficult
>to get killed or seriously hurt even if you fail and decent
>preparation makes that unlikely.

Dunno about that. Dodging hungry trolls has a limmitted life expectancy but here we enter the area of IMG. No the Pit of War won't kill you in the myth but you'll come back to the mundane plane with all your wounds. This really does depend on how tough you want to be on characters. Obviously the quest won't stack inexperienced youngsters against ZZ death lords but the chance of death should be real & immanent. Compare to Zulu initiations. Lion hunting ain't safe, or the frequently used term Baptism of Fire after which one is a vetran, if one survives. The greater the level of violence in a culture the more dangerous their initiations are likely to be. Violent subsistence cultures can't afford those who can't keep up.

>Even in Orlanthi society healing people and animals is going to be
>more common than fighting. For every combat injury they'll be at
>least one caused by handling livestock plus twice that number of
>injuries to livestock.

But O is a warrior god & neither O or E are specialist healer gods. If 48% of my population was initiating into a warrior cult I'd have pretty fair grounds for saying it was at the heart of the culture. As How many Heros notes even the O/i farming deities have myths about their fighting prowess

 Olli Kantola
>HW rulebook states on combat ability:
>Heortling Cottar 15

>Dara Happan Peasant 8


And this is where the comparison needs to be made if we are to determine the threat implicit in gatherings of farmers on hilltops. The base level of Heroic Warrior endevour in O/i culture as opposed to Pelorian culture. Which is more likely to throw up the warrior Hero? And what mechanisms are likeliest to do so given appropriate levels of suppression (ie the Big Boys are not going to be allowed to play in Sartar)

>From quiet homes & first beginnings

Out to the undicovered ends
Theres nothing worth the wear of winning But laughter & the love of friends.
Hilare Belloc

End of The Glorantha Digest V8 #151

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