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jayem
2018-08-04, 01:07 PM
Mail was expensive in the viking era and early medieval period.

Someone posted this prise-list (http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/120D/Money.html) previously. And it says a war horse in the 12th century was "up to 50s" and a mail was 100s. Thus a mail was twice the price of an expensive warhorse...

So from that price list in the 1300's over 2.5 years wages for a labourer, 2 months wages for the armourer, 1 months wages for an active knight, and 2 days for the almost top rank.
Which obviously is 300 years different.

Kiero
2018-08-04, 01:38 PM
How long will properly-maintained mail last? There were literally hundreds of thousands of sets of lorica hamata in circulation in the late Roman era, they can't all have immediately rusted away to nothing within a few years of the Western Empire's collapse.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-05, 04:48 AM
How long will properly-maintained mail last? There were literally hundreds of thousands of sets of lorica hamata in circulation in the late Roman era, they can't all have immediately rusted away to nothing within a few years of the Western Empire's collapse.

well, considering we have pieces of chainmail that are at hundreds of years old sat in museums in Europe, Id say it can last a very long time if properly maintained.


also, bear in mind the fall of the roman empire didn't magically erase the knowledge of metalworking form the face of Europe. The invading tribes knew how to make the stuff (Indeed, the romans learnt how to make it form the Celtic tribes of northern Italy) , so it was perfectly possible to keep patching, scouring and maintaining these suits for a very long time.

what was lost was the organisation and logistics required to mass produce chainmail on the scale the romans could, so it regressed form a factory good back to a artisan crafted item that only wealthy warriors could afford to own.


another factor is that most combatants in the dark ages were not professional warriors, but militiamen of some stripe, who were subsistence farmers first and foremost, so they didn't have the time, money or inclination to buy and maintain a suit of chainmail that they might only need once every few years, if ever. If all you ever expect to do is turn up to the local weapen-take, show your spear and shield, then uck about drilling for a day, then its a needless luxury.

Kiero
2018-08-05, 04:58 AM
well, considering we have pieces of chainmail that are at hundreds of years old sat in museums in Europe, Id say it can last a very long time if properly maintained.


also, bear in mind the fall of the roman empire didn't magically erase the knowledge of metalworking form the face of Europe. The invading tribes knew how to make the stuff (Indeed, the romans learnt how to make it form the Celtic tribes of northern Italy) , so it was perfectly possible to keep patching, scouring and maintaining these suits for a very long time.

what was lost was the organisation and logistics required to mass produce chainmail on the scale the romans could, so it regressed form a factory good back to a artisan crafted item that only wealthy warriors could afford to own.

My point was that the industrial base that produced mail on that scale disintegrated with the fall of the Western Empire, but at that point there must have been over half a million suits floating around. For a period it must have been relatively easy to come by a suit that someone had meticulously looked after, without even having to look for new manufacture.

Galloglaich
2018-08-05, 01:03 PM
well, considering we have pieces of chainmail that are at hundreds of years old sat in museums in Europe, Id say it can last a very long time if properly maintained.


also, bear in mind the fall of the roman empire didn't magically erase the knowledge of metalworking form the face of Europe. The invading tribes knew how to make the stuff (Indeed, the romans learnt how to make it form the Celtic tribes of northern Italy) , so it was perfectly possible to keep patching, scouring and maintaining these suits for a very long time.

what was lost was the organisation and logistics required to mass produce chainmail on the scale the romans could, so it regressed form a factory good back to a artisan crafted item that only wealthy warriors could afford to own.


another factor is that most combatants in the dark ages were not professional warriors, but militiamen of some stripe, who were subsistence farmers first and foremost, so they didn't have the time, money or inclination to buy and maintain a suit of chainmail that they might only need once every few years, if ever. If all you ever expect to do is turn up to the local weapen-take, show your spear and shield, then uck about drilling for a day, then its a needless luxury.

To build on these comments (which I largely agree with)

Barbarian metal technology vs Roman

As mentioned above, the Romans actually adopted a lot of their weapons and armor from 'Barbarians' from the fringes of the Empire. The gladius, pilum and the big scutum shield were all adapted from the Iberians or Celtiberians. The various forms of helmets were adapted mostly from Iberian or Celtic sources. The use of steel for swords was at least accelerated by adopting barbarian traditions - the main Roman center for making steel (and 'steely iron') swords and other artifacts was the Illyrian town of Noricum (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noricum#Steel_for_Roman_weaponry) which the Romans captured or annexed around 15 BC.

The list goes on. Mail armor itself was apparently invented by Celtic or some other Central European tribes. All kinds of cavalry kit came from Gallic and Central Asian tribes (Scythians, Sarmatians, Saromatians, Alans, Taifals etc.) some of whom became part of Germanic tribes during the Migration era.

What the Romans did was adopt the best of a lot of these technologies and start mass producing them...

Dark Ages vs. Migration era
The term Dark Ages was actually invented by Italian scholars in the middle ages, they were referring to the relative lack of documents available from a wide period of time ranging from the ~5th or ~6th Century AD to roughly the Carolingian period. There was a kind of "dark" period without massive amounts of written documentation.

The reason for this was largely the mass movements and resulting warfare of hundreds of tribes and dozens of massive tribal confederations going back to early Imperial times, but probably peaking around the end of the 4th Century AD and continuing until the rise of the great Frankish kingdoms under Charles Martel and Charlemagne - who himself was still contending with Vikings in the North, Magyars to the East and Muslim Arab fanatics to the South.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2d/Invasions_of_the_Roman_Empire_1.png/640px-Invasions_of_the_Roman_Empire_1.png

The constant movement of these tribes, many 'pushed' by the invasions of the Huns and other Central Asians, by pressure from the Romans themselves, and arguably by population explosions in certain parts of Central and Northern Europe, caused disruptions in the social order that uprooted tens or hundreds of thousands of people and put them on the move sometimes for decades. Many tribes were either wiped out entirely or defeated and enslaved by others or by the Romans or the Huns. This was not conducive to organized production of much of anything short of food and the other basic necessities. Literacy certainly declined, as did most of the more subtle cultural traditions and technological secrets which had been carefully hoarded by these tribes for generations.

Roman slave labor vs. medieval artisans
A lot of roman production was based around a combination of complex but efficient Imperial organization and massive infrastructure, the clever application of technology, and the massive use of slave and coerced labor. The Romans did have machines, but how they were used was largely decided by the Imperial bureaucracy and not always in the most efficient way - everything in Rome was designed to work in the way that was least threatening to the hierarchy first and foremost.

The new medieval societies which coalesced as the migration era came to a close had a new opportunity to grow. This was partly due to the 'braking effect' provided by Carolus Magnus and his mighty armies, by mass conversion to Christianity, and by the check of the invading armies thanks to defeats of the Muslims and the Magyars and the conversion of the Norse.

The Roman bureaucracy was nearly gone, surviving only in the comparatively tiny and crude administrative structure of the Carolingian Franks, and of the Church. The massive roads, bridges, harbors, aqueducts, granaries, mines, and workshops of the Romans were no longer fully intact - some were, for example many of the roads remained in use- but for the most part the massive Roman infrastructure was if not gone, greatly diminished. Slavery was also if not quite gone, greatly diminished, partly because the Church had banned it, and partly because the Barbarian tribes of the north lacked the cultural context for the use of slave labor on the massive, industrialized scale that the Romans did.

What replaced all this was a new dynamism which arose in the commune movement, and specifically in the little towns, it is too much of an exaggeration to all them cities yet, which arose and reached a certain independence already in the 10th and 11th Centuries. In the towns a new estate came together, the burgher - first merchants bravely traveling the roads to tap into the vast pent-up demand with trade - towns on the coast had fish but needed wood, towns in the interior had wood but needed fish and salt and so on. And then craft artisans formed guilds which acted as alliances of strangers - people who were not in family or kin groups or tribes, but who swore allegiance in a new kind of brotherhood, somewhat similar to the old Viking vikinglaeg or varjag groups organized for trade and pillage during the Viking Era. These guilds pooled many of their resources, made pacts to take care of each others widows and ophans in the event of being lost on the road or crushed by rocks making a house, they shared costs and developed systematic training methods to produce skilled labor from unskilled youngsters.

They started to aggregate the best techniques and devices, originally drawing heavily from Greek, Roman and Arab sources, and then increasingly, making little 'hacks' to improve them. According to the French historian Jean Gimpel (https://www.amazon.com/Medieval-Machine-Industrial-Revolution-Middle/dp/0140045147), a single overshot water wheel could grind as much grain as 50 Roman slaves could. In a Roman society this may mean that the same 50 slaves are just sent off to work in a salt mine or something - and it was the same way in most princely feudal estates. The new medieval communes however were self managed, so those same 50 people were not slaves and in fact were free to find some other way to make money - for example bakeries would be set up next to the watermill, and people would bake bread, pretzels, and buns to sell in the market.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-uki3Ieb-x7Y/TamYHePSJkI/AAAAAAAAA1A/yJiN1RRzM4Q/s1600/MAforgeron.jpg

The same happened with water powered sawmills, a carpenters, shipwrights and a joiners craft guild can set up shop next to each mill. Making houses, furniture, ships and boats, anything you can think of. This also happened with glass, with textiles, with stone work, with a thousand other technologicial clusters. And of course, with the development of the water powered trip-hammer and water powered bellows meant the same thing happened with iron. All kinds of things could be made out of iron once the larger bloomery forges started being set up. Swordsmiths and cutlers, farriers, lock and clock makers, builders of traps and tools, makers of iron plowshares and other agricultural gear, and of course armorers.

https://www.guedelon.fr/visuels/1462028955_Gu-delon_119_zoom.jpg

The craft guilds made small as well as large improvements. It was during this period leading into the High Medieval that little innovations like the draw plate and the vice were either invented in (or rediscovered and disseminated from) some small craft workshop in Central Europe or Italy, and spread from town to town by journeymen all over Europe in something like a 10 or 20 year span. A draw plate is nowhere near as revolutionary as a Catalan forge but it makes the production of wire, and therefore mail, vastly more efficient (before that wire had to be hammered out on an anvil a few inches at a time). Similarly the humble vice was enormously helpful for every kind of fine craft work.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI_4B3CXIew

With all the money these communes were making from trade and manufacturing, hand over fist is putting it mildly- they started investing in their own infrastructure. First priority was always the town walls so they could continue to be free. But after that, the roads and bridges started getting built again, using tools and machines (like the crude looking but very powerful treadle crane for example). Shallow canals were dug to link the rivers into something like a railway system. Mines got tremendously more efficient thanks to water-wheel powered machines to drain them, smash ore with hammers, ventilate and so on.

By the later 13th Century you start having metal production on a scale - in terms of efficiency and output if not the number of people involved- which dwarfs anything the Romans ever achieved.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8c/Germany_First_Coke_Blast_Furnace_Miniature_DM.jpg/640px-Germany_First_Coke_Blast_Furnace_Miniature_DM.jpg

And as the cost of iron, and iron alloys like steel, went steadily and rapidly down, and the number of specialized iron workers went up, armor became more ubitquitous and much more affordable. In the Migration Era, armor wasn't being produced very much. Yes mail can last a long time if carefully taken care of but it rusts in the rain, iron doesn't last if it's not taken care of, and the production of iron which probably peaked in Rome in the 3rd or 4th Century, had declined to very low levels by say, the 5th Century (either among the Barbarians or the remnants of the Romans, mainly in what would become Byzantium). So it was very expensive.

As the new society rose up, armor like everything else that required organized manufacturing started getting a lot cheaper.


Agricultural changes and the Cistercians
Of course all this was indeed underlain by important changes in agricultural practices. A lot of people take a macro-economic view of all these things and either point to fluctuations in weather (barbarian invasions around 0 AD, late 4th Century, and late 8th Century all seem to coincide with droughts in the Gobi desert for example) or in the very significant changes in agricultural practices. The latter can be to a surprisingly large extent to the great Abbey at Cluny in France and to what became the Cistercian Order that grew and spread from there. They were great technology aggregators and saw as their mission the improvement of life on Earth through technology.

So the Cistericans either invented or spread the ideas like the famous 3 field system, the use of new harness rigs so that horses could pull plows instead of just oxen, new plows with iron plowshares, much better drainage techniques, better water storage techniques, and the use of wind mills and water mills to do everything from grinding grain to pulling water out of wells. This did make a big difference and undoubtedly contributed to the population boom of the 10th-13th Century. However, so did many other factors, and we also had population booms in Europe in the same time periods of the other Barbarian invasions (0 AD, 4th Century, 8th Century).

Personally I think the improvements in agriculture were fantastic but only to a point - the feudal system acted as a brake on innovation. Only the towns and the universities were unchecked in their growth and it was the latter which caused medieval society to continue to expand and flower.


So TL : DR the old Roman system made armor pretty ubiquitous - nearly every one of the hundreds of thousands of Legionaires had a mail shirt and an iron or brass helmet during most of the Roman Imperial period. Then during the Migration Era (4th-8th Centuries) iron production and armor production slowed down a lot, so armor became increasingly rare and therefore, expensive. After a period of stablization under the Merovingians and Carolingians (8th -10th Centuries, roughly) production nudged back up. During the return and explosive growth of urbanization in Europe (11th- 15th Centuries) armor rapidly became more ubiquitous and a lot cheaper and more affordable in the marketplaces, until by the 14th Century, even a peasant could afford better protection than a Roman Legionaire could in the Classical Era.

Galloglaich
2018-08-05, 01:28 PM
Mail was expensive in the viking era and early medieval period.

Someone posted this prise-list (http://medieval.ucdavis.edu/120D/Money.html) previously. And it says a war horse in the 12th century was "up to 50s" and a mail was 100s. Thus a mail was twice the price of an expensive warhorse...


Be cautious with that one - the "up to" part in particular. Later on in the Late Medieval, mail could range from relatively cheap (though not as cheap as say, a munitions grade breast plate) to incredibly expensive. A very fine quality mail shirt could actually cost more than a full milanese harness.

The point being that there was always a wide range in quality with mail, mainly relating to how fine the rings were, but also to whether the mail was 'doubled', what kind of metal it was made from (steel vs. iron or even brass or bronze) whether the mail was heat-treated (typically toughened or tempered as opposed to hardened) and also how much the mail covered.

Mail armor in a merchants record or a price quoted in a letter might mean just a short sleeved mail shirt, or it may mean a knee length hauberk with full sleeves, or it may mean a whole panoply of mail including chausses and a hood and everything.

TL : DR is that the cost or price of mail specifically seems to fluctuate enormously in medieval records, by as much as a factor of 50 or more. It certainly was expensive still by the 10th Century, though that depended where. Certain armies like many of the Viking forces by that time had a lot of mail.

G

Kiero
2018-08-06, 03:03 AM
To build on these comments (which I largely agree with)

Barbarian metal technology vs Roman

As mentioned above, the Romans actually adopted a lot of their weapons and armor from 'Barbarians' from the fringes of the Empire. The gladius, pilum and the big scutum shield were all adapted from the Iberians or Celtiberians. The various forms of helmets were adapted mostly from Iberian or Celtic sources. The use of steel for swords was at least accelerated by adopting barbarian traditions - the main Roman center for making steel (and 'steely iron') swords and other artifacts was the Illyrian town of Noricum (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noricum#Steel_for_Roman_weaponry) which the Romans captured or annexed around 15 BC.

The list goes on. Mail armor itself was apparently invented by Celtic or some other Central European tribes. All kinds of cavalry kit came from Gallic and Central Asian tribes (Scythians, Sarmatians, Saromatians, Alans, Taifals etc.) some of whom became part of Germanic tribes during the Migration era.

What the Romans did was adopt the best of a lot of these technologies and start mass producing them...

As above, I'm well aware that the Romans didn't invent mail (or a host of other innovations they adopted from others), nor did they have a monopoly on the knowledge of it's manufacture. Rather than they were the only state with the critical mass, organisation and infrastructure to manage mass-production.

In any case, you answered the question on what happened afterwards further down. Though I guess we don't really know what happened to the stuff in existence at the point of the Western Empire's collapse beyond conjecture.

snowblizz
2018-08-06, 03:29 AM
Though I guess we don't really know what happened to the stuff in existence at the point of the Western Empire's collapse beyond conjecture.
I don't think we can ever conclusively say one way or another. But personally I think a lot of the Roman stuff would have been lost during the migration period.
A large part of the equipment of a defeated Roman army (or barbarian for that matter) would probably be damaged beyond the immediate value and as such disappear with the soldiers into the ground.

E.g. the Battle of Teutoburger I don't think I recall that any widescale looting was done of the Romans? Didn't the Romans find corpses and equipment lying around when they finally got abck to check up on the disaster?

Not to mention all the stuff they threw into bogs and such as we've discussed.:smallbiggrin:

Galloglaich
2018-08-06, 08:58 AM
I would assume most of that Roman armor would be kept, but iron stuff just doesn't last that long unless cared for properly. Yes you can keep it for centuries if you oil it and keep it out of the weather, but all you really need to do to ruin it is get it good and wet one time and fail to clean it for a few weeks.

Then you get rust sufficient to start fusing links and so forth, and then it's time to maybe throw it back in the forge and make a dagger out of it or something, or even 'sacrifice' it into a bog or whatever.

We do see many iron artifacts from way, way back, and this tends to fool us into thinking that iron easily lasts forever. It can last for a long time, but most iron artifacts don't. The amount of surviving iron swords etc. drop away dramatically after about 500 years ago, and by the time you get to the Roman Empire era, they have become far more rare. You really see preserved swords or armor etc. in two types of conditions - either somebody put it in a church, town armoury or castle where it was kept dry and continuously cared for as needed for centuries (this alone is testament to a rather profound level of consistency), or it ended up in some kind of bog with anaerobic conditions.

I think most of the surviving Viking swords are of the latter variety for example. Perhaps Tobtor can speak to things further back as I believe he is an expert on this ...

G

Carl
2018-08-06, 11:10 AM
Also nless i've misunderstood my history wasn;t the western empire n a long decline for quite some time beforehand. I'd imagine a hell of a lot of the stuff was lost in some fashion well before the formal fall of the empire.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-06, 11:57 AM
Also nless i've misunderstood my history wasn;t the western empire n a long decline for quite some time beforehand. I'd imagine a hell of a lot of the stuff was lost in some fashion well before the formal fall of the empire.

strictly speaking, yes, the empire had been in steady decline for about 100 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_the_Western_Roman_Empire)before the line of emperors was broken and the empire "fell", and at the end it was little more than the immediate lands around Rome itself (and the still strong eastern/byzantine empire, but thats another story, as you well know).


its quite likely that a significant portion of the weapons and armour that was in use in 380 was broken or unserviceable by 480, so your point is valid.




As above, I'm well aware that the Romans didn't invent mail (or a host of other innovations they adopted from others), nor did they have a monopoly on the knowledge of it's manufacture. Rather than they were the only state with the critical mass, organisation and infrastructure to manage mass-production.

In any case, you answered the question on what happened afterwards further down. Though I guess we don't really know what happened to the stuff in existence at the point of the Western Empire's collapse beyond conjecture.

Apologies if I came over as condescending, but my comments, while addressed to you, were aimed as much at the general readers of this thread. A large number of people have a very biased and distorted view of history (myself included, as I keep getting shown in this thread and others like it), so its always useful not to assume to much.

Plenty of people still tend to think of the Celtic and Germanic people living beyond the empire as fur-clothed savages (https://youtu.be/yXiSp9aJYN4?t=3m41s) with a barbaric* warrior culture and nowhere near the technological prowess of the romans.

the truth, as you say, is that while they couldn't match the romans in, say architecture or sculpting, they were as good or sometimes better than the romans in areas like metalwork, and definitely better at rearing horses and producing horsemen, as the high demand and value of Celtic auxiliary cavalry shows. The Celts get a bad rep because they didn't have much of a written tradition, so most of what we know about them is based roman accounts, which naturally are MASSIVLY biased and more intrested in either playing up the alien-ness of the celts or their more bestial habits, in order to justify the romans manifest destiny.


As Galloglaich says, the romans had something of a cultural fetish about not been too proud to steal good ideas form other people. I honestly think that they were just more open to admitting it.


*no pun intended.

Vinyadan
2018-08-06, 03:44 PM
I just wanted to say that mechanisation and automation of work described as freeing people to do something different and more remunerative is an interesting take on today's fears of the same processes stealing jobs. It is a take that makes sense, however; if no one is making flour because it is costly and labour intensive, then people have to do it personally, as it was done e.g. in Palestine, where even small households had their own grinder (which was considered essential for survival and could not be distraint). So someone in the family would be needed to operate it, instead of working outside. Once making flour becomes remunerative thanks mechanisation, however, the same work can be done by someone else for a cheap price, far less than what the freed workforce can get for a salary.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-06, 04:59 PM
I just wanted to say that mechanisation and automation of work described as freeing people to do something different and more remunerative is an interesting take on today's fears of the same processes stealing jobs.

without getting too political, a major part of the fear of the march of technology is the replacement of skilled tradesmen by a cheaper machine. to give a example, the replacement of taxi drivers by self driving cars. or the local "greasy spoon" café to fast food restaurants. The skilled tradesmen, who have worked long and hard to earn a living plying their trade, resented (and still resent) the loss of their livelihood to some faceless company product that now leaves them effectively without a means of support. A lot of the early protesters of the Industrial revolution were tradesmen who had been put out of a job by factories.


however, the example you give of breadmaking is more of a different kind of progress, which is the labour saving device or service. the primary purpose of things like the microwave, the blender, or a hoover is, and always has, been to save the user time and effort. The group that most benefited form these tended to be the middle class, as the poor didn't have the money to invest in these devices, and the rich would just hire a servant to do it instead. things like buying bread form a baker, or a ready cooked curry form a supermarket, mean that the average household has significantly more time for leisure or other activities than if it had to do it all itself.

Archpaladin Zousha
2018-08-06, 05:09 PM
Have people ever worn a metal helmet with non-metal armor? Like, if a game has leather armor, but there's a good helmet I want that's made of metal, does that have any historical accuracy, or would a metal helmet only make sense with actual metal armor, with someone wearing non-metal armor wearing something like a padded cap?

Storm Bringer
2018-08-06, 05:32 PM
Have people ever worn a metal helmet with non-metal armor? Like, if a game has leather armor, but there's a good helmet I want that's made of metal, does that have any historical accuracy, or would a metal helmet only make sense with actual metal armor, with someone wearing non-metal armor wearing something like a padded cap?

people did that all the time, like this fine fellow (https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwje86aCvdncAhUFbBoKHZLhA-cQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.andracor.com%2Fen%2Fp%2Fmerc enaries-gambeson--104099&psig=AOvVaw0Jwmse-Jpl-CeWIpLoW0OT&ust=1533680974163521), in padded gambeson and a kettle helmet.

A helmet was usually the first piece of armour, metal of otherwise, someone got, second only to a shield, if they were in use in the time period. The head was often the most exposed and most vulnerable part, as well as being absolutely vital, so if a fighter could only afford one item of armour, it was generally the helmet it opted for.

Second was some protection for the torso, particularly the stomach, as gut wounds were often a very slow, painful way to die. after that was generally lower arm and leg protection (ie bracers and greaves, for the extremities), followed by upper arm and hands (as the upper body is easier than the lower body to hit, increased protection to lower torso and upper legs (normally some form of skirt), with joint protection tending to be the last pieces added (as until the limbs are protected, its generally not worth the difficulty in deliberately aiming for the joints)

Archpaladin Zousha
2018-08-06, 05:37 PM
people did that all the time, like this fine fellow (https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwje86aCvdncAhUFbBoKHZLhA-cQjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.andracor.com%2Fen%2Fp%2Fmerc enaries-gambeson--104099&psig=AOvVaw0Jwmse-Jpl-CeWIpLoW0OT&ust=1533680974163521), in padded gambeson and a kettle helmet.

it was usually the first piece of armour someone got, after a shield if they were in use in the time period. the head was often the most exposed and most vulnerable part, as well as being absolutely vital, so if a fighter could only afford one item of armour, it was generally the helmet it opted for.
Huh. I see!

But such a person wouldn't use a two-handed weapon, right? My understanding is that the average person who used something like a pike or a two-handed sword at least had a breastplate or chain, if not full-on plate armor in later centuries, while a person using non-metal armor with a metal helmet would almost always have a shield.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-06, 05:48 PM
Huh. I see!

But such a person wouldn't use a two-handed weapon, right? My understanding is that the average person who used something like a pike or a two-handed sword at least had a breastplate or chain, if not full-on plate armor in later centuries, while a person using non-metal armor with a metal helmet would almost always have a shield.

they would tend to use a shield, yes, as that would be there main protection. They would use a mid length spear as their main weapon (normal reckoning would be about as long as the user was tall), which can often be used two handed, and carry a sword or axe as the backup weapon.

that said, nothing stopped him using a two handed sword, particularly in a non warfare situation were he could be fairly confident he wasn't going to get shot at by archers.


and plently of pikemen wore very little armour. I'm sure G or one of the other posters has some photos of swiss pikemen wearing nothing but a skull cap and street clothes.

Mike_G
2018-08-06, 05:57 PM
Huh. I see!

But such a person wouldn't use a two-handed weapon, right? My understanding is that the average person who used something like a pike or a two-handed sword at least had a breastplate or chain, if not full-on plate armor in later centuries, while a person using non-metal armor with a metal helmet would almost always have a shield.

Not necessarily.

Plenty of poorer troops would have used two handed weapons, like spears, bills, those big flails, bows and so on. Troops who could afford metal armor got it, those who couldn't did without. It's certainly safer to use a shield if you have no armor, but it's not universal

Vinyadan
2018-08-06, 06:51 PM
things like buying bread form a baker, or a ready cooked curry form a supermarket, mean that the average household has significantly more time for leisure or other activities than if it had to do it all itself.

To get back to ancient times, I guess that this is why Rome was such a great place from later perspectives. Most things were bought already made (pottery and clothes, for example), you had lots of places where you could buy ready-made food, and there was a thriving entertainment and leisure industry. Had people been living in a subsistence economy, it would have been impossible.

My favourite detail of Roman food business were mosaics in taverns that were very similar to each other, because they were made based on a single model to show the varieties of seafood they had for sale. A bit like McDonald's big, serialised images of burgers on the walls.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/19/96/4f/19964fd94b63e9d38089d5d5795fc946.jpg

Also, to keep things historical, back when audio was added to cinemas, there were big protests by musicians. Suddenly, cinemas could do without them! There were appeals to the public to desert cinemas with audio systems, and to only go where real musicians played their instruments. It was a pretty big hit to the single musicians.

Galloglaich
2018-08-06, 10:24 PM
It was a big deal in the middle ages, automation - and often controversial. There is a possibly apocryphal origin story of the word 'sabotage', that it comes from peasants, IIRC in Flanders in the 18th Century, throwing their sabots - heavy wooden overshoes, into the gears of mills to interrupt automation that they felt was stealing their jobs.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/b0/0d/69/b00d69da3ebd0797c39b88d81d16354c.jpg

In the high to late medieval period you had all kinds of automation, mechanization and labor saving tools powered especially by water mills, but also based on wind mills and on augmenting animal and human power. Simple things like a treadle for a loom were big game changers. As were more efficient carts and horse harnesses and so on... on up to complex water or wind-powered machinery to do things like drill, saw, sand, polish, smash or grind various substances.

http://userblogs.ganoksin.com/primitive/files/2010/06/metallica-gears.gif

There was always two schools of this - in Victorian times the craft guilds had the reputation of halting technological progress but more recent scholarship shows that more often they were actually at the forefront of it and helped to spread it around. They just needed time to adjust their industries. A lot of time their niche was for the nicer quality goods for middle class consumption, i.e. for people like themselves, but they also could make cheap or luxury goods when the economy demanded it.

For example I read a detailed article about the glass industry in Venice. In the 13th and 15th Century they rose to prominence with such innovations eyeglasses (the Medici's once famously ordered some 300 sets of eyeglasses with 24 different prescriptions for both near and far sighted people) drinking vessels, window panes (ordinary urban homes all over Europe started to get glass windows in the 14th Century, before that often wax paper had to suffice), glass windows for ships including tempered glass, and various specialized maritime equipment like spyglasses. Then toward the end of the 15th Century with the discovery of the New World and so on they had to change radically. The buying power of the Middle classes declined, but the Coastal Monarchies were putting in huge orders. The glass blowers crafts started making massive quantities of those infamous glass beads and tiny mirrors for trade goods like the ones they supposedly bought Manhattan island with, and simultaneously making giant fancy mirrors for the super-rich in France and Russia.

The same craft guilds which had earlier specialized in making eyeglasses, drinking vessels and window panes were able to pretty quickly re-organize themselves to make mass produced cheap goods (glass beads and so on) and to specialize in various steps needed to make the super labor intensive and fancy luxury goods (giant mirrors and other baubles for the rich).

Ultimately, it seems to be a rivalry between the craft guilds organized by skilled labor, and the so called putting-out system which evolved into the modern factory. But in some places you have a bit more of the remnant of the old craft guild system. In Germany today they still have apprenticeships in many industries and some even still do the Joureyman Waltz. Certain places like Solingen where they used to make those wonderful Ulfberht swords are now famous for making fancy chef knives.

When new automation technology arrives, it does inevitably disrupt - whether that means new jobs opening up or just more people put out of work is up to who runs the economy. I think it's something we have always lived with from the earliest days of civilization, and probably always will.

G

Galloglaich
2018-08-06, 10:53 PM
without getting too political, a major part of the fear of the march of technology is the replacement of skilled tradesmen by a cheaper machine. to give a example, the replacement of taxi drivers by self driving cars. or the local "greasy spoon" café to fast food restaurants. The skilled tradesmen, who have worked long and hard to earn a living plying their trade, resented (and still resent) the loss of their livelihood to some faceless company product that now leaves them effectively without a means of support. A lot of the early protesters of the Industrial revolution were tradesmen who had been put out of a job by factories.


Even in the 19th and 20th Century, you can see automation working both ways. Yes a lot of people who used to make horse carriages, carriage whips, or work in stables or raising horses and so on, got put out of work by the internal combustion engine. But many new jobs were opened up by the latter - a lot of people whose parents may have worked in a stable later in life themsleves worked in an auto factory, in a mechanics shop, on an oil rig or in a gas station.

During World War II, locomotive and rolling stock (train car) factories were converted into making tanks. For example this is the Vulcan Locomotive works in the UK making Matilda tanks

http://enuii.com/vulcan_foundry/ww2/matilda_tank_construction_small.jpg

So whether the automation and technological innovation takes jobs or makes jobs really boils down to how the economy is run. The printing press ultimately closed down a lot of scriptoria but many of the people who had worked in the former got involved in printing and printing in turn created the newspaper industry and caused the book publishing and book binding industries to grow enormously.

Of course, during the Industrial Revolution the efficiency of this process often lagged to an astounding degree, leading to a vast amount of excess labor being sent off to the colonies. Where in turn, arguably a bit more freedom or a looser economic system allowed a lot more innovation to take off.

Blymurkla
2018-08-07, 03:55 AM
This is not really a weapons, armour or tactics question but given the wealth of knowledge presented in these threads, I'm hoping it's not out of line.

I need an estimate on how long an early medieval colonization takes. I'm trying to build a timeline for a (section of a) world that isn't tens of thousands of years long (as fantasy tends to do) but rather somewhat believable.

I've got an island roughly the size of Ireland, though decidedly more mountainous. It sits in the not-Atlantic on a comparable latitude or slightly more to the north than Ireland. It's much more isolated than Ireland, with no large landmasses anywhere near.

To the island sails a people of human, late-dark ages early-medieval, Norse or Anglo-Saxon-ish stock. Their migration is probably a bit of Manifest Destiny, they've left their old lands in search of a new home with no intent of ever returning. If nessceary, there's a bit of divine wind to carry the settlers over the sea.

At the time of their arrival, the island is wilderness. There's monsters like dragons and orcs, but no civilization to resist the invaders. There's overgrown ruins from the not-Romans who died out or left a century or two earlier.

The colonizers settle all across the island (except the most mountainous or otherwise uninhabitable regions). They reach 'decent' population numbers, comparable to low-density parts of medieval Europe (England, perhaps Scandinavia?). That's probably somewhere between 0.5 and 1 million inhabitants. They found four (rather small) kingdoms, there's a few towns, a bit of trade. Early-medieval stuff. Then the fledging civilization is almost destroyed in a generation-long, dragon-induced cataclysm.

With basically two variables to play with - the number of initial colonizers (who might not all arrive at the same time) and the time - how does this play out?

Epimethee
2018-08-07, 05:53 AM
Look at the history of Madeira, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Madeira. It was colonised from 1419 from a desert island. As soon as i come back from this wonderfull island i may give you more informations ( and also complete some previous answers)

The Jack
2018-08-07, 08:15 AM
Is military banter a universal? Soldiers in the english speaking world (US,UK,Aus etc) joke around with euphemisms, boisterous behavior, testing eachother and such, but is this the same for everywhere else?


Also, do any nations really differ in how they train Infantry? I was given to understand that US forces don't emphasize the sneaky stuff so much as everyone else, after years of being geared towards asymmetrical war.
Even back in Nam, Australian forces fared better because they played it as sneaky bastards VS sneaky bastards, while the US didn't. US forces in the middle east are apparently more taught to police over all the commando stuff.

Whilst I'v also read that Finland and Sweden more or less prepare to fend of a potentially superior Russian occupation. Does that lead to a very different outlook to say, a British force? How do infantries of less developed nations compare?
Note: I'm not asking who's the best.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-07, 09:22 AM
Is military banter a universal? Soldiers in the english speaking world (US,UK,Aus etc) joke around with euphemisms, boisterous behavior, testing eachother and such, but is this the same for everywhere else?


Also, do any nations really differ in how they train Infantry? I was given to understand that US forces don't emphasize the sneaky stuff so much as everyone else, after years of being geared towards asymmetrical war.
Even back in Nam, Australian forces fared better because they played it as sneaky bastards VS sneaky bastards, while the US didn't. US forces in the middle east are apparently more taught to police over all the commando stuff.

Whilst I'v also read that Finland and Sweden more or less prepare to fend of a potentially superior Russian occupation. Does that lead to a very different outlook to say, a British force? How do infantries of less developed nations compare?
Note: I'm not asking who's the best.

militaries do have a different lookout on life, and it is to a degree universal, but based on my own experience as a British solider working the (among others) American, Danish, Dutch, German, Romanian, and Norwegian troops, the UK/Aussie level of banter is a outlier and much higher than the level those other nations expect as normal (partly a cultural thing due to the English method of using humour as the default setting).


different nations do teach different doctrines, and use different Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (T.T.P., to give the UK acronym), which is in part driven by cultural elements, part by politics, and part by economics. For example, the US has a enormous defence budget, spending over a third of the money (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures) spent on defence worldwide . This means they can utilise a resource intensive style of warfare that costs a lot of dollars but reduces casualties. Other nations, with less cash to splash, have to do things differently.


historically, the US Army has had something of an aversion to thinking about and preparing for asymmetrical warfare, and tended to focus on what it saw as its "proper" role as conventional warfighters, with a emphasis on fighting the Russians over the plains of north Germany. their tactics have tended to favour throwing bullets and bombs at the enemy over bodies, and they back up their ground forces with a phonemical amount of logistical support that can keep them fed, watered and supplied to a level most other armies can only dream about (case in point: the battle of the bulge. The Americans loose 700-odd tanks, and made good those losses within a few weeks form supply dumps already in France. The Germans lost 500 tanks, and never made good those losses for the rest of the war).


The UK, and her commonwealth allies, with a history of colonial warfare and imperial policing, tended to be much more comfortable with this sort of thing (though thats not to say they were any more successful, or that they could have "won" Vietnam), but tend to have a fairly rigidly defined command structure, a legacy of WW1, with a top down orders process that placed the emphasis on the higher levels of command to keep abreast of the situation at the front and give sensible orders.

Germany has a fetish for Auftragstaktik (mission command, or telling your subordinates what you need achieved, as opposed to how you want them to achieve it), which works well if you have the talent at the junior level, but struggles if the platoon leaders don't have the skill or verve to pull it off. they've recently started having reliability issues due to cost cutting measures forced on the military by politicians looking for a peace dividend, but I wont say more on that beyond saying it exists (https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a14480191/germanys-entire-submarine-fleet-is-out-of-commission/).


Russain doctrine placed the focus on good mid to senior level commanders working at the operational level, discouraging initiative in the junior ranks (less they muck up the plan), misdirection and concealment as core elements of all activities, and with an attritional view of warfare that emphasised being ready to both take and inflict casualties, and planning for war on the basis of those losses (i.e. maintaining a reserve and cycling units though the front to refit and repair in the rear. the way I heard it put was that if war was a game of chess, the west put the emphasis on making the best pieces they could, while the Russians put the emphasis on teaching good chess players.


HOWEVER, thats mostly been the historical case, rather than present case. the Russian army of today does not fight, or think, like the soviet armies of late 80s, and I am no a expert in how they fight now (though it you look into the fighting in Ukraine, you can get a idea of what they are like now). Also, my comments are generalised and sweeping, as you could (and people have) writing large books about the tactical nuances of the various armies of the world.


suffice to say, yes, different nations, being faced with different geopolictical situations, tend to evolve different approaches to the same problem.

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 11:12 AM
That is a really good analysis I think, of the national character of the different forces.

As a former US soldier who worked and trained with UK, West German, French, Italian and to a lesser extent, Salvadoran, Honduran and Mexican troops (the latter in medic specific training only) I would say the kind of banter you are referring to is pretty universal, though it takes on a different national character.

One thing in the military that I remember most is the widespread practical joke, mild to moderate hazing, special (often very funny) military slang and institutionalized jokes. When you think of modern English language slang, some of the dirtier and funnier words come out as mock-acronyms from the US military - S.N.A.F.U, F.U.B.A.R., G.T.F.O., W.T.F. and the K.I.S.S. principle are well known - others less known unless you were in the service, many of these used on the radio for brevity. US enlisted personnel could give 4Chan a run for their money in inventing these things:

BCGs - Birth Control Glasses- ugly military issue glasses
LPCs - Leather Personnel Carriers (aka boots, usually referred to sarcastically when you were hoping to get a ride in a truck or APC)
FM - ***ing Magic - when a screwed up electronic device starts working again
BFO - Blinding Flash of the Obvious
DILLIGAF - Does it look like I give a ***
HMFIC - Head Mother ***er in Charge.
Chock - Reference to the solid wood blocks used to park trucks. Euphemism for truck driving MOS's
IFS - I ***ing refuse
NFG - "Non functioning Gear" / "No ***ing Good"
POG - Person Other Than Grunt (douche)
RTFM - Read the ***ing Manual
TARFU - Things are really / royally ***ed up

https://anvil-prod-covingtonnews.s3.amazonaws.com/media/images/2017/11/01/images/kilroy-on-wall_kmYrICd.79a7e6ca.fill-250x250.jpg

You also have some odd traditions like the "Kilroy was here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here)" graffiti in WW2.

As for the difference between US and UK / Commonwealth, I agree with what Storm Bringer said but here is how I see it from the American side. As Storm Bringer said, the British seem to have a more severe sense of hierarchy especially with their officers. The officers are treated much different than the enlisted men and the enlisted men seem to accept it. They, conversely have a severe sense of "taking the piss" and razzing each other very intensely. I think American troops are a bit more careful about that because real violence can erupt a lot more easily.

As a medic I worked in clinics and as a liaison in the German hospital emergency rooms on the weekends (as a rotating duty) when we were not on deployment. The English and French were in there own sectors but some English units would go into our sector, especially in Frankfurt where the big air base was but also in smaller and more remote towns and kassernes. All the troops we dealt with in West Germany in the 80's were fairly violent. The English troops were perhaps the most prone to violence, and there were some creepy hazing incidents among them that led to casualties (and criminal charges). But the rate of serious crime from American units was higher.

All the European armies at the time except the British were sharply divided between the conscripts and the professionals. The conscripts were mostly just trying to get through their mandatory service without getting hurt or getting in too much trouble, and seemed to be pretty lazy. The pros on the other hand for example in the French (which had a lot of them) and West German (which had fewer) armies were seriously good, as good as our best elite troops or better.

The English were a volunteer force like us I think, and seemed to come from a specific working class background, almost all of them had the same accents (distinctly different from the officers) and generally pretty capable, and tended to angry violence when drunk, and toward sometimes shocking hazing in the barracks. The American troops on the one hand tended to be more motivated and maybe a little more ... creative? But also had a lot more of a criminal element, there were more problems with drugs and rather shocking crimes like armed robbery and rape of civilians, wholesale theft of American military logistics and so on. I think as a hangover from the Vietnam War, tension between enlisted and officers could be really nasty. Racial tension too. And sometimes just between units - when we had two infantry units in town at the same time, let alone paratroopers, we could expect a lot of people in the ER. There were serious violent incidents between US and UK troops as well, sometimes on a fairly large scale.

As for training, I think too much of the American training boils down to just hazing. The Army had a fetish for forcing you to go with out sleep which I think was just stupid and counterproductive. Even the more elite troops, training seemed to be all about proving your endurance to putting up with misery and being hazed. I remember training with some West German "pros" and they were showing them how to dig foxholes while under mortar fire. We very rarely got that kind of training. The better West German units seemed to shoot better at the range and perform better in tank maneuvers and so on from what I could see.

The US seemed to have an edge in the use of helicopters, obviously we had more of them but we had a lot of good pilots willing to 'push the envelope' (sometimes leading to crashes and mass casualties - pretty much always 2 or 3 times in any major field exercise). Aside from our supposedly huge logistics though, we tended to notice with some jealousy that the English, French and Italians got better food in the field (the French and Italians ate from tables with white table cloths and were given wine!) while we squatted with our MRE's, and what i saw of an English barracks seemed a lot nicer than ours.

The big difference in the American Army was by unit and unit type. The Airborne units like the 82nd and 101st Airborne had a palpable presence and were much more disciplined, alert and just competent. Something about jumping out of a perfectly good plane seems to really improve morale. The Rangers were by far the best in the simulated infantry firefights we did, one ranger company once wiped out our whole battalion in a simulated raid. But they also seemed kind of like jocks or knuckleheaded to me. The Special Forces were the creative ones, very dangerous and sneaky in field exercises, but without as much of a chip on their shoulder as say, SEALS. There were some regular infantry, air mobile and armor units which seemed very 'strack' too, 1st ID, 2nd Armored, and 1st Cavalry Division and so on. Pretty much all the air mobile or Air-Cav units. Conversely some National Guard units seemed to be really disorganized and backward, I won't mention which states. in the regular army "NG" was an acronym for "National Guard" and also for "No-Go" i.e. not ready.

Final comment was that a lot of the equipment and gear we had didn't work very well. Some did and was well liked for that reason, but a lot of it was in the "NFG" or "FM" level, and the military hierarchy didn't seem to know what to do about it.

G

Tobtor
2018-08-07, 12:54 PM
We do see many iron artifacts from way, way back, and this tends to fool us into thinking that iron easily lasts forever. It can last for a long time, but most iron artifacts don't. The amount of surviving iron swords etc. drop away dramatically after about 500 years ago, and by the time you get to the Roman Empire era, they have become far more rare. You really see preserved swords or armor etc. in two types of conditions - either somebody put it in a church, town armoury or castle where it was kept dry and continuously cared for as needed for centuries (this alone is testament to a rather profound level of consistency), or it ended up in some kind of bog with anaerobic conditions.


This cannot be stated enough (thouh really cold environments also sometimes helps).

Iron preserves well in good condition, but rust away quickly if in the soils or just changes climate too often.


I think most of the surviving Viking swords are of the latter variety for example. Perhaps Tobtor can speak to things further back as I believe he is an expert on this ...


Yes. That and gravegoods. We have a fair amount of grave found swords. Swords from graves are typically not well preserved though. Some are just pieces of rust hold together by dirt. It help a bit if the swords (or other metal objects) where burnt (like in a funeral pyre) just before burial as it burns away oxygen.

On issue is that some periods have traditions of burying the dead with their arms and armour, which means two things )a. we know what stuff existed, and b) that stuff sieced exist for the next generation (I am sure some of the Roman mail went out of circulation this way).

However, other periods don't use weapon burials, and we then now much less about the weapons of these periods.

Vinyadan
2018-08-07, 01:11 PM
About the no sleep thing, the US still have that weird military school where they torture people by sleep deprivation, waterboarding, gassing, and so on, to simulate prisoner conditions. I wonder if it's a result of the same mentality.

Tobtor
2018-08-07, 01:36 PM
This is not really a weapons, armour or tactics question but given the wealth of knowledge presented in these threads, I'm hoping it's not out of line.

I need an estimate on how long an early medieval colonization takes. I'm trying to build a timeline for a (section of a) world that isn't tens of thousands of years long (as fantasy tends to do) but rather somewhat believable.

I've got an island roughly the size of Ireland, though decidedly more mountainous. It sits in the not-Atlantic on a comparable latitude or slightly more to the north than Ireland. It's much more isolated than Ireland, with no large landmasses anywhere near.

To the island sails a people of human, late-dark ages early-medieval, Norse or Anglo-Saxon-ish stock. Their migration is probably a bit of Manifest Destiny, they've left their old lands in search of a new home with no intent of ever returning. If nessceary, there's a bit of divine wind to carry the settlers over the sea.

At the time of their arrival, the island is wilderness. There's monsters like dragons and orcs, but no civilization to resist the invaders. There's overgrown ruins from the not-Romans who died out or left a century or two earlier.

The colonizers settle all across the island (except the most mountainous or otherwise uninhabitable regions). They reach 'decent' population numbers, comparable to low-density parts of medieval Europe (England, perhaps Scandinavia?). That's probably somewhere between 0.5 and 1 million inhabitants. They found four (rather small) kingdoms, there's a few towns, a bit of trade. Early-medieval stuff. Then the fledging civilization is almost destroyed in a generation-long, dragon-induced cataclysm.

With basically two variables to play with - the number of initial colonizers (who might not all arrive at the same time) and the time - how does this play out?

Well you have Iceland: An island in the Atlantic which was colonised by Norse settlers. Iceland is sligthly bigger than Ireland, but have a much more inhospitable inland (mountains, glaciers, volcanoes), but in spite of the much more northern location is able to have agriculture due to Atlantic climate (and hot springs heating the earth).

So here is an isolated island, more northern than Ireland with roughly the correct size. What you describe seem to be less inhospitable in the interior, but it does have orcs etc, thus this would likely increase the time it takes to settle the land (I would expect Orcs to resist colonization pretty strongly).

The settling of Iceland really started around 870'ies, and quickly rose to about 25.000people in 930 going to around perhaps 50.000 by the 11th century (some estimates). This is unevenly distributed, with very densely populated fjords and something like 90% hardly occupied interior. The coastal regions was actually pretty densely populated.

Your estimate of 05.-1 million is close to the estimates I have seen on actual medieval Ireland. I have seen estimates in the 700.000-900.000 range for Ireland in the 11th century. But also other estimates with lower numbers (around 500.000-600.000). Thus if you have it more northerly and more isolated so we might expect smaller populations density, so perhaps only 400.000 thousands inhabitants?

Anyway a big question is: how large of an start migration do you have? If you have a big push factor (ig. a reason to migrate) this can easily provide you with 50-100.000 in the first wave. Then if the land is halfway decent it will initially be rich in wildlife, fish etc, to supplement bad harvest or similar issues, thus you can have a population boom (Iceland certainly did) with could double that after two generations, then slow off as you get nearrer the population carrying capacity for the tech-level, so perhaps 100.000 to start with, 200.000 after 50 years, then gradually going to 400.000 after another 150 years for a total of roughly 200 years.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-07, 02:31 PM
About the no sleep thing, the US still have that weird military school where they torture people by sleep deprivation, waterboarding, gassing, and so on, to simulate prisoner conditions. I wonder if it's a result of the same mentality.

maybe, but its more likely they your on about SERE training (Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract), the more advanced forms of which try and prepare you for torture so that you can resist exploitation better. its normally given to aircrews, special forces operatives and other prone-to-capture jobs, and the object is not to let you endure torture without giving anything away (part of the training is forcing the student to realise that he will break eventually, its just a matter of time, and how much damage he'll take first), but how to minimise the amount you give away, and how to do so in a way that reduces the impact of you spilling the beans while still satisfying the people holding you so that they don't feel the need to be torture you ("being helpfully vague", in a nutshell)


Aside from our supposedly huge logistics though, we tended to notice with some jealousy that the English, French and Italians got better food in the field (the French and Italians ate from tables with white table cloths and were given wine!) while we squatted with our MRE's, and what i saw of an English barracks seemed a lot nicer than ours..

I've touched on MREs below (which i'm told have a long list of colourful re0namings in US service. my fave is below as well), but on canteens, i've noticed a real bi-polar split in American ones, mainly that permanent ones were amazing and the field/exercise ones were awful. ours tend to be more consistent on barracks and on the field, although the barracks have mostly moved form a messing arrangement (where you had a mess bill detucted form your pay every month, and it was free to eat, but you paid even if you never ate in the canteen) to a "pay as you dine" system of paying at the till (Nicknamed "pay as you stave" by those with poor money management skills towards the back end of the month)

to add a few to Galloglaich's list of military acronyms and slang terms with a few of the more colourful (but printable) british terms:


Joe 90s: army issued glasses, similar to the Birth Control Glasses. so called because they look like the ones form worn by a character (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-JCIfOmAZXWU/Tem-_YIwXhI/AAAAAAAAAGA/PVu-Z3z51RY/s1600/JOE1.jpg) form a Gerry Anderson puppet show (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_90).

PONTI: Person Of No Tactical Importance. front line infantry's term for non front line infantry, on the basis that anyone who isn't a infantryman will have such poor tactical ability that they can be discounted when making your battle plan.

Rupert: freshly minted 2nd lieutenant, especially one form a privileged background ("Rupert" is a stereotypical "posh" mans name, in the same way that double-barrelled first names are considered "white trash names (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04uN57jOg-Q)"(Warning! profanity in video link)). Has impeccable manners but no common sense.

Green maggot: cold weather sleeping bag, as anyone trying to get comfortable in one looks like a 6 foot long green maggot wiggling around. Soldiers are encouraged to spend as much time here as possible on exercise ("never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, never be awake when you can be asleep" is a old sergeants saying), on the basis that you never know when the next time you might get the chance to sleep is. Someone who manages to get significantly more sleep than everyone else is sarcastically given the "golden maggot" award. Alternative nicknames for sleeping bag include doss bag ("dossing" is a slang term for chilling, wasting time).

Basha: Strictly, this is the waterproof sheet (https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-an-army-shelter-called-a-basha-setup-ready-for-a-soldier-to-sleep-66180005.html) you erect over you and your kit, but its used to refer to the whole set up, including the basha, the Bivvie bag (water proof, camouflaged outer bag that you, your sleeping bag, your rifle and anything else that absolutely cannot get wet goes into), with a roll mat underneath (basically think a tougher version of a yoga mat big enough to lie down on, intended to insulate you form the ground).


Compo: field rations, originally called Composite rations, now called Operational Ration Pack or ORP. contains enough food to feed a soldier for 24 hours, mostly in the form of sealed "boil in a bag" pouches. In the late 80s/early 90s, British rations were much more plateable than the American MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat. four words, three lies!), with brits able to get almost anything off the yanks in exchange for compo, up to and sometimes including the yanks rifle. modern rat packs are still pretty decent tasting, and American MREs have come on massively to "pretty ok" standard, so its not as bad as it used to be.

Tour Goggles: named by association with beer goggles, this is the lowering of standards in female attractiveness seen in troops deployed on operational tours of duty, where long periods of time with no or limited access to female company, and the lack of cosmetics for those females they do encounter, lead to pretty much every woman seeming to be almost divinely beautiful, often referred to as being "tour fit").

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 02:48 PM
Great stuff Storm Bringer. I bet you have some great stories.

Yeah back in the 80's, our field kitchens etc. seemed to be all very crude, Vietnam era or WW2 era kit. I gather now days they do a lot via (very, very, very expensive) contractor, with people in the far flung posts basically surviving on the (as you said, now slightly better) MRE's.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-07, 03:27 PM
Great stuff Storm Bringer. I bet you have some great stories.

Yeah back in the 80's, our field kitchens etc. seemed to be all very crude, Vietnam era or WW2 era kit. I gather now days they do a lot via (very, very, very expensive) contractor, with people in the far flung posts basically surviving on the (as you said, now slightly better) MRE's.

If you mean proper war stories, I m afraid I'll disappoint you as my tours have been reassuringly dull. Signals work tends to be very dull. Absolutely vital, but dull. most of my stories are of the "you had to be there" type, or the "wacky squaddie hijinks" type.

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 04:16 PM
If you mean proper war stories, I m afraid I'll disappoint you as my tours have been reassuringly dull. Signals work tends to be very dull. Absolutely vital, but dull. most of my stories are of the "you had to be there" type, or the "wacky squaddie hijinks" type.

Same here, though mine have a bit of blood and gore because I was a medic. Never went to war though even in peacetime the military can be pretty wacky. It is often surreal behind the curtain, so to speak. Cold War in Germany was pretty far out.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAXDWjXsvzw

Not that i did anything like that personally, but it was definitely going on without a doubt.

G

Storm Bringer
2018-08-07, 04:43 PM
is it bad that I watch that clip and im more bothered by the fact they're driving the wrong tank* than the fact they are high on at least 3 different drugs? I think its bad.




*appears to be a leopard 1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_1#/media/File:Brazilian_Leopard_1_tank.jpg), a German tank widely used in many armies, but never by the US, who would be using M60 Patton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M60_Patton#/media/File:M60A3_Panzer.jpg) or M1 Abrams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Abrams#/media/File:105mm_cannon_on_an_M1_Abrams_tank,_1986.png) tanks at that time.

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 04:45 PM
Well you have Iceland: An island in the Atlantic which was colonised by Norse settlers. Iceland is sligthly bigger than Ireland, but have a much more inhospitable inland (mountains, glaciers, volcanoes), but in spite of the much more northern location is able to have agriculture due to Atlantic climate (and hot springs heating the earth).

So here is an isolated island, more northern than Ireland with roughly the correct size.

I agree Iceland looks like the perfect example of what he was asking for. For a later time period, you could also look at the Azores (unpopulated when discovered by Flemish sailors in 1427, colonized by Portuguese and Flemish settlers in 1433), the Canaries (known to the Phonecians and Greeks, originally populated by people at a neolithic tech level (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guanches#Historical_background) when discovered in 1402, and rapidly conquered and settled by the Spanish in the 1400's), Madeira (discovered in the 1330's and settled by the Portuguese in 1420) which was already mentioned and Cape Verde (discovered empty of people I believe by Genoese and Portuguese in 1456, settled by the Portuguese in 1462)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/Cidade_da_Horta%2C_vista_parcial_do_cimo_do_Mirado uro_de_Nossa_Senhora_da_Concei%C3%A7%C3%A3o%2C_con celho_da_Horta%2C_ilha_do_Faial%2C_A%C3%A7ores%2C_ Porttugal.JPG/640px-Cidade_da_Horta%2C_vista_parcial_do_cimo_do_Mirado uro_de_Nossa_Senhora_da_Concei%C3%A7%C3%A3o%2C_con celho_da_Horta%2C_ilha_do_Faial%2C_A%C3%A7ores%2C_ Porttugal.JPG

All of these are pretty dramatic and amazing stories little known to the general public. I've been to the Azores (on a kind of random vacation due to a package deal my wife found online) and it is an amazing place. Volcanic islands similar to Hawaii though in a more temperate climate, with a unique Portuguese-Flemish population. The settlements are so old they still have some of the old 15th Century windmills and water wheels running (and you know how I feel about watermills)

There is one in an amazing town called Furnas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furnas=), which is literally inside of an active volcano crater. Town is known for cooking food in the ground, an amazing stew. The good was great in general over there.

One of the towns we went to on Sao Miguel is called Sete Citades (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sete_Cidades_(Ponta_Delgada)) i.e. "Seven Cities", named after a picturesque legend of a Visigoth colonization party that set out into the Atlantic after being defeated by the Arab invasion way back in the 7th or 8th Century. In the legend, the Bishop was said to have discovered islands where they founded seven cities. It might actually refer to the Canaries.

In general, the story of exploring one of these remote but beautiful and lush island chains I think could be high drama. Good basis for a DnD game too especially if you added some antagonists, nasty orcs or something. I'm sure in real life the challenges of setting up a colony in such an isolated (if fertile) place would be dramatic enough but if you added a bit to it you could find much fodder for adventure.

G

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 04:47 PM
is it bad that I watch that clip and im more bothered by the fact they're driving the wrong tank* than the fact they are high on at least 3 different drugs? I think its bad.




*appears to be a leopard 1 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_1#/media/File:Brazilian_Leopard_1_tank.jpg), a German tank widely used in many armies, but never by the US, who would be using M60 Patton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M60_Patton#/media/File:M60A3_Panzer.jpg) or M1 Abrams (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Abrams#/media/File:105mm_cannon_on_an_M1_Abrams_tank,_1986.png) tanks at that time.

yes I don't think the US military was on board with the filming of that movie, it's one of the most vicious sendups of the US Army set in the post-Vietnam era anyway. I thought it was pretty accurate aside from the tanks ... ;)

G

Archpaladin Zousha
2018-08-07, 05:53 PM
Another question about armor: at what point did scale armor "fall out of fashion," so to speak? Mail armor saw persistent use from ancient times through the medieval period, and that's when we started to see plate armor evolve, but I'm not sure when people started adopting scale armor or when people STOPPED using it, because you don't see medieval knights using it, for example.

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 09:13 PM
Scale armor was never really big in Europe per se, it seems to be a Middle Eastern and Central Asian phenomenon for the most part, and it seems to have been phased out and replaced by Lamellar early in the Iron Age.

I think the point of both scale and lamellar armor is to defend against missiles. It's better for hit and run warfare.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/17/c6/e3/17c6e307a216cf9f269e3212353eb7cc.jpg

The Romans had two types of scale armor, lorica squamata (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorica_squamata) and lorica plumata ("fish scale" and "bird feather" armor respectively). Lorica squammata was simple scale armor and mainly used by cavalry. Lorica plumata was really interesting in that it was both mail and scale, each scale - often of bronze or brass- was bent 90 degrees and then wired into the mail underneath. Both scale and mail links tended to be quite small. Very labor intensive to say the least!

This is probably a pretty good reproduction of lorica plumata

https://img.etsystatic.com/il/5d40e3/1365669402/il_570xN.1365669402_qrst.jpg?version=0

The scales were probably a little extra protection against piercing attacks which is the main threat to cavalry at that time, but may have been redundant ultimately as mail (lorica hamata) seems to be what they kept the longest. Mail is probably the most rugged armor they made.

The issue with scale, the traditional "plumata" type, is that it's likely to get knocked off it's backing with repeated strikes. It is comparatively easy to make (easier than riveted mail) but so is lamellar and lamellar is more sturdy and less easy to get inside of.

For close in fighting where you may get cut or stabbed repeatedly, mail is better... or eventually plate armor.

G

The Robot Goat
2018-08-07, 09:26 PM
Wow, there's some really interesting stuff going on in this thread, I feel smarter just by proximity (and reading it, I guess). Anyway, two quick questions for a setting I'm working on:

One: Would it be possible to reduce recoil from a firearm with some kind of shock absorber (like in a car) or would it not matter because you'd still have to hold the gun when you fired it? Sorry if this is a dumb question, I don't know much about weapons (or shock absorber for that matter, I just thought it sounded feasible).

Two: I've done some research, but would a harpoon gun make a suitable weapon for underwater infantry? I know it doesn't fire very fast but there aren't many underwater weapons. (The enemy would be equipped with similar weapons, at least when it comes to rate of fire/range)

The shock absorber isn't for a harpoon gun, it's for a robot, if that helps at all.

Galloglaich
2018-08-07, 10:23 PM
Many guns do have shock absorbers. That's why most assault rifles don't kick that much.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_59GYpEVAu0U/TI3a11uYdRI/AAAAAAAAAdw/4Qc3iGcrc_U/s400/long-recoil.gif

http://combatsportsupply.com/images/products/display/KAm4gbbopen.jpg

G

Gnoman
2018-08-07, 11:50 PM
There are, however, practical limits to how far this can go before you run into the "this gun vibrates so badly when firing that the safest place to stand is directly in front of it" problem, and if the gun is big enough you'll still risk being knocked down or injured even at that point - a shock absorber doesn't change the amount of energy transferred, just how quickly you feel it.

Blymurkla
2018-08-08, 02:43 AM
Your estimate of 05.-1 million is close to the estimates I have seen on actual medieval Ireland. I have seen estimates in the 700.000-900.000 range for Ireland in the 11th century. But also other estimates with lower numbers (around 500.000-600.000). Thus if you have it more northerly and more isolated so we might expect smaller populations density, so perhaps only 400.000 thousands inhabitants? Sounds totally reasonably.


Anyway a big question is: how large of an start migration do you have? If you have a big push factor (ig. a reason to migrate) this can easily provide you with 50-100.000 in the first wave. Then if the land is halfway decent it will initially be rich in wildlife, fish etc, to supplement bad harvest or similar issues, thus you can have a population boom (Iceland certainly did) with could double that after two generations, then slow off as you get nearrer the population carrying capacity for the tech-level, so perhaps 100.000 to start with, 200.000 after 50 years, then gradually going to 400.000 after another 150 years for a total of roughly 200 years. I haven't decided on the size of the start migration - that's one of the things I needed a bit of help with. I want it to be as large as possible while still be believable. Start of with just thousands of settlers and reaching full population takes forever ...
Your suggestion here, with 100 000 settlers reaching the 'target' population in 200 years is what I was looking for. Thanks!

gkathellar
2018-08-08, 09:59 AM
Two: I've done some research, but would a harpoon gun make a suitable weapon for underwater infantry? I know it doesn't fire very fast but there aren't many underwater weapons. (The enemy would be equipped with similar weapons, at least when it comes to rate of fire/range)

Perhaps this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADS_amphibious_rifle) will suit your needs? Credit goes to Brother Oni, he posted it upthread in response to a similar question.

Carl
2018-08-08, 10:37 AM
Many guns do have shock absorbers. That's why most assault rifles don't kick that much.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_59GYpEVAu0U/TI3a11uYdRI/AAAAAAAAAdw/4Qc3iGcrc_U/s400/long-recoil.gif

http://combatsportsupply.com/images/products/display/KAm4gbbopen.jpg

G

That more an action designed to absorb the recoil than a full on shock absorber. That said The full on concept has been used a couple of times. The G11 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_G11) used it in an especially unusual way in it's 3 round burst configuration.

Also this weird ass .50 BMG Pistol:


https://youtu.be/nMkiDguYtGw


You could also go with a weapon that uses an advanced primer ignition design as the action for that effectively spreads the recoil force out over the full firing cycle, but as allready noted, there's a practical limit to how much you can cut down on recoil forces that way.

Brother Oni
2018-08-08, 01:08 PM
I've touched on MREs below (which i'm told have a long list of colourful re0namings in US service. my fave is below as well), but on canteens, i've noticed a real bi-polar split in American ones, mainly that permanent ones were amazing and the field/exercise ones were awful. ours tend to be more consistent on barracks and on the field, although the barracks have mostly moved form a messing arrangement (where you had a mess bill detucted form your pay every month, and it was free to eat, but you paid even if you never ate in the canteen) to a "pay as you dine" system of paying at the till (Nicknamed "pay as you stave" by those with poor money management skills towards the back end of the month)

I had a chat once to a RAF guy who had been deployed out in Iraq and they had been subsisting off MREs when their FOB had been designated to be upgraded to something more permanent.
As part of the more permanent base fixtures, the Americans started setting up a Burger King, which was shortly queued up around the base by squaddies dying for a bacon burger. :smalltongue:


I also chatted to a RAMC medic who had been deployed out to Sierra Leone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_military_intervention_in_the_Sierra_Leone_ Civil_War) and due to a RLC ****up, had spent 20-odd days on the same rat pack (if he ever sees spicy tomato pasta again, it'll be too soon).


I've heard some second hand war stories back from when I was trying out for the army, this one is my favourite:

RLC lieutenant, fresh out of Sandhurst got deployed out to Kosovo back in the 90s. After some scouting around of a decent place to set up a supply dump (mostly him going "hard standing, road links, a rail link nearby, this looks good" and his senior NCO saying "This looks ****, sir" and being right), they finally set one up, only for some smart alec in the RA doing the math and figuring out that nearly all the British positions were within range of the hostile artillery.

In an attempt to boost morale, the lieutenant gathered all his men and explain that while they were within range, artillery was very inaccurate and they were unlikely to suffer a direct hit, while all his NCOs stood at the back of the room and shook their heads in disagreement.
He even overheard a satellite phone call by one of his sergeant to back home saying "I don't think I'm coming home this time"...

Eventually they get orders to fall back and the whole base comes a hive of activity to move stuff out. While the LT was supervising a warehouse at the other end of the base, a message from HQ comes in - this spreads like wildfire throughout the base until a NCO sprints to the door of the warehouse and bellows "MESSAGE FROM HQ, SIR!" and the LT has to do his best calm and collected officer's walk (actually more like a quick jog) to the radio room.

The message was something along the lines of "Don't forget to turn off the lights when you leave". :smallbiggrin:


Two: I've done some research, but would a harpoon gun make a suitable weapon for underwater infantry? I know it doesn't fire very fast but there aren't many underwater weapons. (The enemy would be equipped with similar weapons, at least when it comes to rate of fire/range).

As gkathellar said, there are specialised underwater firearms. From videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqPyBpuPb9E) and my number crunching (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showsinglepost.php?p=23260615&postcount=190) in previous posts, a speargun is very penetrative if it connects, but only has an effective range of about 8-10 metres in air or water and is effectively single shot (it takes a long time to reload comparatively).

Lemmy
2018-08-08, 01:46 PM
So... For I setting where I'm currently running 2 games, there are nations who used to be part of a single empire, whose emperors always wielded (or at least carried) a long 2-handed sword (which was probably too big for the real world, but still quite reasonable for fantasy standards :smallbiggrin:)... But, once the empire broke, the sword was used to forge 7 daggers, representing the equality between the newly formed kingdoms...

But, so it happens, now the PCs are trying to reunite the old empire... And to recreate the old sword as a symbol of the new union...

My question is: Is there any (non-magical) way to turn the daggers into a single weapon without making it too brittle for actual use?

gkathellar
2018-08-08, 01:54 PM
So... For I setting where I'm currently running 2 games, there are nations who used to be part of a single empire, whose emperors always wielded (or at least carried) a long 2-handed sword (which was probably too big for the real world, but still quite reasonable for fantasy standards :smallbiggrin:)... But, once the empire broke, the sword was used to forge 7 daggers, representing the equality between the newly formed kingdoms...

But, so it happens, now the PCs are trying to reunite the old empire... And to recreate the old sword as a symbol of the new union...

My question is: Is there any (non-magical) way to turn the daggers into a single weapon without making it too brittle for actual use?

Are we to presume you don't have the option of tossing them in a giant industrial furnace and melt them down entirely?

Cause steelworking gets a lot easier if you have giant industrial furnaces.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-08, 01:59 PM
since they seem so popular, allow me to add a few more squaddie slang terms starting with:


Squaddie: solider in general, and junior ranks in specific.

Crab Air: Royal Air Force, specifically their transport aircraft units. So called because their flights never seem to go forward, but slide to the right, down the calendar, further and further away... this is extremely annoying if your delayed when heading home on mid tour leave, as your leave starts when you leave your unit, not when you get to the UK. It is not unknown for soldiers to spend their whole two weeks leave stuck kicking their heels in bastion, unable to get home before they need to return to there unit (its very rare for this to happen, but it has happened, and obviously a story like this spreads like wildfire). for those returning it tends to mean being stuck in a airbase in either Cyprus or the UAE, with nothing but the clothes on your back (and maybe a daysack of kit you took home), all the while knowing that your screwing up everyone elses leave plans because they cant go home until you get back.


Elevenareef: A man who always has to one-up any story you tell. So called because if you have been to Tenerife (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenerife) (i.e. ten-a-reef), hes been to eleven-a-reef, and it was WAY better.

Spinning a DIT: telling a tall tale. DITs are Defence Instructional Techniques, the proscribed method of teaching used by the military. Parts of it include impressing on the audience that what your teaching is relevant to them, and relating what your talking about to personnel experience (for example "these first aid lessons WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE. I know this, because I've used this very training I am about to give you to give life saving treatment out in Iraq"). While both effective tools in the hands of good teachers, in the hands of mediocre teachers it has a tendency to lead either to the teacher bragging about what he did back in the day, or him telling a semi-related, clumsily adapted story that has been squashed in.


The Seven Ps: Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-08, 02:02 PM
So... For I setting where I'm currently running 2 games, there are nations who used to be part of a single empire, whose emperors always wielded (or at least carried) a long 2-handed sword (which was probably too big for the real world, but still quite reasonable for fantasy standards :smallbiggrin:)... But, once the empire broke, the sword was used to forge 7 daggers, representing the equality between the newly formed kingdoms...

But, so it happens, now the PCs are trying to reunite the old empire... And to recreate the old sword as a symbol of the new union...

My question is: Is there any (non-magical) way to turn the daggers into a single weapon without making it too brittle for actual use?

as suggested, a very large furnace to melt daggers and then re-forge the blade. you'd need to remove all the hilts and such first, and you may need to add some extra steel back in if any was lost in the conversion to daggers. but it's not impossible to do,

The Jack
2018-08-08, 02:06 PM
I was more asking if non-english speaking countries joked around like the english speakers.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-08, 02:56 PM
I was more asking if non-english speaking countries joked around like the english speakers.

in my experience, nowhere near as the level normal in the UK or USA. I get the impression that a lot of cultures would see it as immature or unprofessional.

That, and British humour is often both self-depreciating and irreverent to a degree that would cause offense in many parts of the world. Not only do we routinely make insulting or disparaging comments about our own abilities, we make such comments about our superiors, and consider the inability to take such comments well, or laugh at oneself, to be serious character flaws. I cant imagine American troops toasting the President with a "cheers, Uncle Donald!", but I've heard squaddies raise a glass to "Aunt Liz" (normally in a situation where the drinks are being paid for by Her Majesty's Government in some fashion).

Lemmy
2018-08-08, 03:20 PM
Are we to presume you don't have the option of tossing them in a giant industrial furnace and melt them down entirely?

Cause steelworking gets a lot easier if you have giant industrial furnaces.
Wouldn't that process make the resulting weapon too brittle for actual use? :smallconfused:

Gnoman
2018-08-08, 03:40 PM
No. All of the hardness from the blades would go away when they were heated and worked, allowing them to be rehardened without excessive brittleness. It is possible to have enough carbon transfer to make them brittle (I can't remember if that is losing or gaining carbon), but it would probably work.

You wouldn't necessarily need to melt them down - taking them down to bare metal and making a Damascus pattern with them would probably work, although it probably wouldn't be as good in absolute terms.

Galloglaich
2018-08-08, 04:13 PM
You can't melt them you'd have to heat them in the forge over and over and beat and twist them together to form a big rod or steel blank, assuming there is enough metal there. Then go through the whole process of forging the sword.

Could be done probably but it would be a very painstaking process.

gkathellar
2018-08-08, 04:26 PM
Wouldn't that process make the resulting weapon too brittle for actual use? :smallconfused:

If you melt it with a premodern forge, which will separate the alloy, and/or cast it in a mold, which is good for cooking pans but not so much for weapons, yes. Which is why you're going to need a giant industrial smelter, the kind we make complex steels with in the present day. From there, you might be able to produce steel rods suitable for proper forging, the type which is done by shaping and joining blocks of heated metal. You're also going to lose any sophistication in the alloys along the way (i.e. different material compositions in different parts of the blade), unless you've also got pretty sophisticated materials science knowhow.

That is to say, you couldn't do it without tech from at at least the beginning of the 20th century. I suppose you could always handwave some shenanigans involving a volcanic super forge or something.

EDIT: Basically, I agree with what Galloglaich said. To make a sword, you need one or more steel rods of the appropriate length. If you can somehow make your daggers into such a rod, you're good to go.

Mike_G
2018-08-08, 05:15 PM
EDIT: Basically, I agree with what Galloglaich said. To make a sword, you need one or more steel rods of the appropriate length. If you can somehow make your daggers into such a rod, you're good to go.

No reason you couldn't heat and hammer the daggers into rods, then combine them.

You'd be starting from almost scratch, using the daggers like you would iron blooms right from a forge.

Lemmy
2018-08-08, 06:12 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I really appreciate your generosity. :smallsmile:

If you don't mind me bothering you one more time... I got a doubt:


If you melt it with a premodern forge, which will separate the alloy, and/or cast it in a mold, which is good for cooking pans but not so much for weapons, yes. Which is why you're going to need a giant industrial smelter, the kind we make complex steels with in the present day. From there, you might be able to produce steel rods suitable for proper forging, the type which is done by shaping and joining blocks of heated metal. You're also going to lose any sophistication in the alloys along the way (i.e. different material compositions in different parts of the blade), unless you've also got pretty sophisticated materials science knowhow.

That is to say, you couldn't do it without tech from at at least the beginning of the 20th century. I suppose you could always handwave some shenanigans involving a volcanic super forge or something.

EDIT: Basically, I agree with what Galloglaich said. To make a sword, you need one or more steel rods of the appropriate length. If you can somehow make your daggers into such a rod, you're good to go.
What would be main features necessary for a forge to actually do it effectively? I mean... What were the old forges lacking? Maximum temperature? How fast they could heat up the metal? Something else? Basically... I want to know what part of the forging process/equipment to handwave. :smallbiggrin:

Once again, thanks for all the replies! You guys are awesome!

Xuc Xac
2018-08-09, 01:15 AM
To make a sword, you need one or more steel rods of the appropriate length. If you can somehow make your daggers into such a rod, you're good to go.

If you have the technology to make a sword in the first place, then you can make a sword from your seven dagger blades. There are several ways to do it, but they all involve forge welding those seven pieces together into one piece.

You could layer them. Remove the hilts and other bits, heat up the blades one by one, and pound them out flat. You do that by heating them up hot enough to destroy their temper and pounding on them with a hammer and a flatter (a kind of big flat stamp you put on top of the metal and strike with the hammer to make a flat surface instead of hammer shaped dents). Ideally, you want your seven plates to be close to the same shape so they line up neatly when you stack them. Then you heat up the whole stack very hot and pound them together quickly. If the surfaces are smooth, clean, and hot enough, they will merge together into one piece (the atoms on the boundaries stop acting like parts of different objects and start acting like one continuous object). Once you have a single solid block of metal, you draw it out into a long bar, flatten it, bevel the edges, and start making it into a sword.

You could also braid/plait it. You take the blades, heat them up, and pound the edges down to make them dull. Then keep going until it's not even blade shaped. You pound them into rod shapes (probably with a square cross section to make it easy to stack them together). Then you take your seven rods, bundle them tightly together with minimal gaps, heat the whole thing up very hot, then quickly twist them together into a tight braid that squeezes out any gaps and forces all the metal together. If it's hot and clean enough and you twist it tight enough, it will fuse together like the plates. Now you have one rod that you can draw out into a new blade.

Either way, you'll probably be folding and refolding the metal a few times just to be sure it's thoroughly mixed and all the gaps are gone. You'll have to go through the quenching/hardening/tempering process all over again. All of that stuff gets "reset" when you get the metal hot enough to forge.

You don't have to melt the whole mess into one puddle again, but you will be starting from nearly scratch. You will definitely not be sticking 7 daggers end to end and sticking them together. Sticking the shards of Narsil back together like puzzle pieces in the "Lord of the Rings" was basically half magic and half movie maker ignorance (or movie makers catering to audience ignorance).

snowblizz
2018-08-09, 03:09 AM
Am just gonna say I've been watching History channel for about two weeks now where they got a show called Forged in Fire where various smiths come in and make blades out of various grades of steel in 3-4 hours. 90% of the time the guys manage to make real world quality blades near as I can tell.

Some of the more recent ones have invovled using golfclubs, scoope of a backhoe digger and a car (most went for the suspension coils) as source of raw materials.

In the latter cases, a few have failed because they've not properly manged to weld stuff together but usually it's time pressure that gets them.

I watched one guy, at his homeforge, make a damscened viking sword out of steel cable.

Most of the modern stuff they use in this process is to save time.

snowblizz
2018-08-09, 07:10 AM
, but I've heard squaddies raise a glass to "Aunt Liz" (normally in a situation where the drinks are being paid for by Her Majesty's Government in some fashion).
In the chatroom of an online game I launched "Bessy Deux" to rounding applause of all British persons present.:smallbiggrin:



Another question about armor: at what point did scale armor "fall out of fashion," so to speak? Mail armor saw persistent use from ancient times through the medieval period, and that's when we started to see plate armor evolve, but I'm not sure when people started adopting scale armor or when people STOPPED using it, because you don't see medieval knights using it, for example.
G already covered a lot but in general all types of non-rigid armours fell otu fo fasion as it were as and when effective firearms developed.



As Storm Bringer said, the British seem to have a more severe sense of hierarchy especially with their officers. The officers are treated much different than the enlisted men and the enlisted men seem to accept it. Britain was and still is a class society on a level hard to understand for most Americans and other Europeans I think. And they don't really question it in a way we would.


The English troops were perhaps the most prone to violence, and there were some creepy hazing incidents among them that led to casualties (and criminal charges). But the rate of serious crime from American units was higher.

The English were a volunteer force like us I think, and seemed to come from a specific working class background, almost all of them had the same accents (distinctly different from the officers) and generally pretty capable, and tended to angry violence when drunk, and toward sometimes shocking hazing in the barracks.
Because they most probably did. The army was and remains a "refuge" for the poorer people, and those differences are really much more marked than elsewhere. When I visited Glasgow in 2005 I learned how disliked the Irish were there. The reason being large numbers of poor Glaswegians ended up in the British army as late 70s industrial decline hit and then were quickly sent over the sea to Northern Ireland during the worst periods. The same would not be true in places like Kensington and Oxford.


The American troops on the one hand tended to be more motivated and maybe a little more ... creative? But also had a lot more of a criminal element, there were more problems with drugs and rather shocking crimes like armed robbery and rape of civilians, wholesale theft of American military logistics and so on.
For similar reason, but I think we see here a reflection of the societies they came from. How you describe the Brit soldiers is also the picture I get if I think about a British hoodlum, bash in a head or two but not going to be sticking a knife in all and sundry. Whereas the American counterpart might have witnessed stuff the British "lout" has only seen in movies.


Aside from our supposedly huge logistics though, we tended to notice with some jealousy that the English, French and Italians got better food in the field (the French and Italians ate from tables with white table cloths and were given wine!) while we squatted with our MRE's, and what i saw of an English barracks seemed a lot nicer than ours. That's funny because that's really living up to the stereotypes! Because I can really see it, the US fuels its tanks and it fuels its soldiers, with about the same enthusiasm. The French and Italians, now they, they feed their troops. Because food is important. I remember Micheal Moore comparing a French school diner to an american one. Despite cost being the same the French kids ate freshly prepared balanced food prepared by a chef, with dessert, on plates.
Though I still say when you have to pick between a MRE and British "food" don't discount the MRE.:smalltongue: I've never tried a MRE but I'm still willing to give it a shot over a British "meat pie".



Conversely some National Guard units seemed to be really disorganized and backward, I won't mention which states. in the regular army "NG" was an acronym for "National Guard" and also for "No-Go" i.e. not ready.Aren't they basically considered "weekend warriors" by more regular units.



Is military banter a universal? Soldiers in the english speaking world (US,UK,Aus etc) joke around with euphemisms, boisterous behavior, testing eachother and such, but is this the same for everywhere else?

I was more asking if non-english speaking countries joked around like the english speakers.
Yes and no. As been demonstrated military banter is a thing (probably since forever), but it will take on a specific character of the nation it comes from.


Also, do any nations really differ in how they train Infantry?
Yes, some things are universal, but a lot can vary. Whether you've got professionals or conscripts is going to make a huge difference for one.


Whilst I'v also read that Finland and Sweden more or less prepare to fend of a potentially superior Russian occupation. Does that lead to a very different outlook to say, a British force? How do infantries of less developed nations compare? Well obviously it will. But it's more than just about infatry. You are talking about a "strategic awareness" that can infuseand inform the entire society. Finland builds bombshelters for a majority of the population by including them in building code laws/rules. Highway viaducts are built with hooks for the demoteams to put the explosive right from the start. In Sweden there are hidden weapon depots out in the wilderness. SAAB used to have an underground, nuclear hardened, aircraft factory. The last Swedish tank was more of an assaultgun because it only had to "defend to the front". Much of these are all things I suspect noone in the US or UK would ever think of on a societal level (I'll ignore the preppers as a whole other lvl of insanity).

Most places prepare to defend against their immediate neighbours, because only the Americans sail around randomly invading anymore. I guess the British have retired from that life just a bit.:smallbiggrin:

Oh and as a bonus military thing I heard during my time at uni was a woman relating the story how she had been told by boyfriend/spouse/whatever that they liked to joke that the Finnish army had camouflage tampons for female enlisted. I'll admit I woulda bought that story too.

Oh another thing just came to me. Peasoup. The Finnish army is famous (in Finland but still) for it. Every Thursday. It's so pervasive most lunch restaurants in Finland will have peasoup on Thursdays at the very least as an option. If they don't you can always find a bewildered would-be patron arguing with the staff that "there has to be peasoup, it's Thursday!". It's also the core of one of the funnier and emotinal scense in the old classic Finnish WW2 movie "Unknown Soldier" (1952), where one of the grunts laments the solitary pea with no friends in his bowl of 'soup'.

Galloglaich
2018-08-09, 10:12 AM
For similar reason, but I think we see here a reflection of the societies they came from. How you describe the Brit soldiers is also the picture I get if I think about a British hoodlum, bash in a head or two but not going to be sticking a knife in all and sundry. Whereas the American counterpart might have witnessed stuff the British "lout" has only seen in movies.

Actually, from working duty in the ER including at the 97th General at Frankfurt, I can say they actually did stab people - a lot. The British seemed to be pretty "stab happy" , but it rarely caused fatalities. Partly I'd say because they used small knives or beer glasses, partly because they seemed to go for limbs or sometimes torso but usually causing shallow cuts. None of the stabbings I dealt with or saw come into ER from British troops ended in fatalities.

The Americans tended to be more sharply divided by race, class and social status. I'd describe it as a "law of thirds" - a third of the guys you'd meet were very 'soft' and green, coming from relatively quiet suburbs or small towns, they were kind of amazed to be in Germany, awed by the military experience and while some had big mouths most of them didn't really want to fight anybody. A third were more genuinely rural people - the tobacco chewing kind, who were usually slow to start trouble but would usually take any kind of threat very seriously. A small percentage of those 'rednecks' had a very hard edge and could be extremely dangerous. And a third were inner city people who had also seen a lot, and some (a small percentage) of whom tended toward extreme violence whenever things jumped off.

In one incident, a British NCO stabbed an American PFC at a bar in Cologne. He was medevac'd to the 97th in Frankfurt where I was stationed at the time for TDY, we were doing mass-innoculations for incoming troops from the US for a big military exercise called "Able Archer". On the weekends we would have to work in the hospital and I was there when he was brought in. Cologne was at the time in the British zone and you had to get a special pass to go there or you could get in trouble from the MPs. Some Americans from the same unit went there anyway and kidnapped 4 British soldiers, tied them up and threw them in the Rhine where they drowned. This caused a serious international incident and it also had racial overtones.. the guys ended up getting caught, courts-martialed and sentenced to 20 years hard labor in Ft. Leavenworth.

In the US barracks, you knew who to steer clear of and who you were safe around. Some people were involved in some very heavy stuff and it was better to a.v.o.i.d. I was part of a very small clique of "white boys" from large cities. We had a rather bush-league or mildly transgressive "mafia" and could do favors for each other. For example to get the ambulance signed out to us on the weekend so we could try to pick up girls in it, or my buddy the Battalion clerk from Flint Michigan who gave me maps we probably shouldn't have had access to so we could play Twilight 2000 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight:_2000) if that gives you any idea where i was at at the time. As people who kind of 'crossed boundaries', we often played the role of kind of (pretty timid) interpreters and peace-keepers between some of the other factions in the barracks. My roomate and best buddy was also Navajo so I kind of had a link with their little network of Native American friends around the base.




That's funny because that's really living up to the stereotypes! Because I can really see it, the US fuels its tanks and it fuels its soldiers, with about the same enthusiasm. The French and Italians, now they, they feed their troops. Because food is important. I remember Micheal Moore comparing a French school diner to an american one. Despite cost being the same the French kids ate freshly prepared balanced food prepared by a chef, with dessert, on plates.
Though I still say when you have to pick between a MRE and British "food" don't discount the MRE.:smalltongue: I've never tried a MRE but I'm still willing to give it a shot over a British "meat pie".

I'd take British bar food over an MRE any day! Other than that you are spot on. The French and Italians know how to live. We yanks have much to learn from them in that department.



Yes and no. As been demonstrated military banter is a thing (probably since forever), but it will take on a specific character of the nation it comes from.

I'd love to hear some more examples of military slang and jokes particularly from non-English speaking countries. I do believe it was fairly universal.



Yes, some things are universal, but a lot can vary. Whether you've got professionals or conscripts is going to make a huge difference for one.

That is definitely true- I was trying to point this out about the Continental European soldiers. Probably 90% of the West German and Italian, and 80% of the French were conscripts and totally uninterested in military life. The professionals were super intense, conversely. The American and British "volunteers' were somewhere in between.



Most places prepare to defend against their immediate neighbours, because only the Americans sail around randomly invading anymore. I guess the British have retired from that life just a bit.:smallbiggrin:

Actually I think they usually join us on those adventures. It's kind of a joint Anglo-American project to invade half of the smaller countries in the world...



Oh another thing just came to me. Peasoup. The Finnish army is famous (in Finland but still) for it. Every Thursday. It's so pervasive most lunch restaurants in Finland will have peasoup on Thursdays at the very least as an option. If they don't you can always find a bewildered would-be patron arguing with the staff that "there has to be peasoup, it's Thursday!". It's also the core of one of the funnier and emotinal scense in the old classic Finnish WW2 movie "Unknown Soldier" (1952), where one of the grunts laments the solitary pea with no friends in his bowl of 'soup'.

Here in New Orleans we traditionally have Red Beans and rice every Monday. It's fantastic.

http://raisedonaroux.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/RedBeansandRice.jpg

G

Galloglaich
2018-08-09, 10:45 AM
I cant imagine American troops toasting the President with a "cheers, Uncle Donald!", but I've heard squaddies raise a glass to "Aunt Liz" (normally in a situation where the drinks are being paid for by Her Majesty's Government in some fashion).

It's the same in the US, trust me, though now days as with anything else, there are polarized factions.

When I was in the jokes about the leadership, the Army and the Pols were universal. Only the most brittle people would find any offense in it. Most military humor is self depreciating or depreceating of the military.

Galloglaich
2018-08-09, 10:48 AM
Am just gonna say I've been watching History channel for about two weeks now where they got a show called Forged in Fire where various smiths come in and make blades out of various grades of steel in 3-4 hours. 90% of the time the guys manage to make real world quality blades near as I can tell.

Some of the more recent ones have invovled using golfclubs, scoope of a backhoe digger and a car (most went for the suspension coils) as source of raw materials.

In the latter cases, a few have failed because they've not properly manged to weld stuff together but usually it's time pressure that gets them.

I watched one guy, at his homeforge, make a damscened viking sword out of steel cable.

Most of the modern stuff they use in this process is to save time.

Cable 'damascus' isn't really. Though it looks that way.

Modern gear actually had it's ancient equivalent. About the only thing you didn't have back then was a welding torch. Everything else like a trip hammer, drills, saws, grinders, lathes etc. etc. had their (usually water powered equivalent) in the 15th Century. Like this water powered trip hammer


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCrlp_O9-S8

Brother Oni
2018-08-09, 01:10 PM
That's funny because that's really living up to the stereotypes! Because I can really see it, the US fuels its tanks and it fuels its soldiers, with about the same enthusiasm. The French and Italians, now they, they feed their troops. Because food is important. I remember Micheal Moore comparing a French school diner to an american one. Despite cost being the same the French kids ate freshly prepared balanced food prepared by a chef, with dessert, on plates.

You know that 2 of the 7 Italian MREs have an alcohol allowance (https://www.mreinfo.com/international-rations/italian-combat-rations/) - it's a 3 cl shot of "Cordiale/bevanda alcolica", and must be of no less than 70% proof.

The 90s French MREs (https://www.mreinfo.com/international-rations/french-rcir/) used to have a small bottle of wine, but the more recent ones don't.

Going further back, the Royal Navy stopped issuing their sailors a daily rum ration back in 1970, although the Kiwis stopped issuing theirs in 1990.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-09, 02:26 PM
It's the same in the US, trust me, though now days as with anything else, there are polarized factions.

When I was in the jokes about the leadership, the Army and the Pols were universal. Only the most brittle people would find any offense in it. Most military humor is self depreciating or depreceating of the military.

oh, bitching about the boss is a time honoured tradition everywhere (Personally, I consider it the right of a professional to moan about how stupid the bosses are while continuing to work hard to obey their orders)
.
however, the level of casual self depreciation in US and UK is not that common on the Continent. you give a UK 2nd lieutenant a leaving present of a colouring book and crayons (because you cant trust him with actual pens yet), he'll likely laugh and then show you his drawing three days later*. give it to a French 2nd lieutenant and he'd likely have a sense of humour failure and complain to your boss.

*yes, i've given my platoon leader a colouring book and crayons for a leaving present, and he laughed about it. he also used to refer to his command as "his train set"



I'd take British bar food over an MRE any day! Other than that you are spot on. The French and Italians know how to live. We yanks have much to learn from them in that department.

you are mistaken. the Meat Pie is street vendor food. Its called "meat" because no one, not even the butcher who made it, can actually tell you which meats were put into it.




It's kind of a joint Anglo-American project to invade half of the smaller countries in the world...


It is said that the UK has fought with or over something like 90% of the counties in the world (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_Kingdom#cite_not e-1), or their predecessor governments. We're just showing you the around and remembering the good times....:smallbiggrin::smallbiggrin:

Epimethee
2018-08-09, 04:05 PM
So I'm back around my books. As usual there is a lot going on here. I watched you but had a lot of other things to do and could once again not follow the rhythm. Nevertheless I think a few discussions deserve to be called back.

As it is the most recent topic, I will start with my own experience in the military. As some may have already understood, (I will be very disappointed if it come as a surprise to you Galloglaich:smallbiggrin:)I'm from Switzerland.

As I was in a militia, i have of course far less experience that some of the professionals here. But it is also I think a very different way of doing it that the life in some less folkloric military forces.
That's only half a joke. The Swiss military is really a strange beast. We have well trained and drilled professionals,but that's only a handful of peoples. Ooh... It's difficult to start to explain the thing in a way that would make sense beyond the cheap joke ( a national sport) or the pretty picture of the nicest army in the world.

I hope it is not against the rules to explain a little bit of the political institutions of Switzerland, as it is important to understand the way the army is organized. I intend this mostly as social geography and modern history, so I hope there will be no hard feeling.

The country is small but very complicated, with the 26 cantons each a different political entity, the direct democracy at every level from the communal to the federal, and the federal state organized more around collegiality than a sweeping majority.
The executive branch of the country is made of seven peoples. As they are elected by the two federal legislative chambers, the members of the Bundesrat, or Conseil Fédéral, (and also Consiglio federale or Cussegl federal) are selected after a hotly negotiated process to translate more or less the political forces and cultural equilibrium of the country. The four main parties of the country are represented, as most of the linguistic sensibilities.
The idea is to have a collegial and consensual government, as even from different political parties they are supposed to defend the policies of the bundesrat.

And one of those Seven Sages is at the helm of the army, or more precisely of the Department of Defense, Protection of the Population and Sport. As much as the government is collegial, those minister tend to come from the rightwing parties, the radicals, a very important political party for the creation of modern Switzerland in the XIX century, was almost the automatic recipient of the post for the most part of the existence of Switzerland, with mostly the total agreement of the other parties. The main decision are still taken by the college, then the department is concerned by the implementation of those decisions and the day to day administration.

But the legislative branch of the federal state is really concerned by the army, and the population vote often for the precise allocation of the budget, the last was about buying a new plane, or on propositions about the organization of the militia, like the days of service. For example since a few years ago it is possible to do every day in a single service, as until then you have first a school for a few months then 3 weeks each year till your 300 days were completed. Even the Principe of a standing army is up for debate and may lead to voting.
So the army is actually a political topic, often discussed in the daily life of the people. Even its strategical objectives are sometime debated: a few years ago some of the exercises were made public, a scenario about the disintegration of Europe, and it lead to some healthy political debates on the role of the army.
It make the exact preparedness of the country hard to assess, as the tactical, political and social obligations are sometime a bit entangled.

Because you need to add the economic importance of the troops for some local populations. The military installations provide sometime a big stream of money in remote part of Switzerland, not only local jobs but a constant afflux of customers for the commerces. They may also help a airport or some other installations to stay open. The Swiss Confederation own military industries, like RUAG, so you could wonder the intricacies of deciding a budget for the military.
They also help organize some huge events, like the "Patrouille des Glaciers", a race high in the mountains, or help some sportsmen to live as professionals, like in curling or fencing, but also some of the olympics laureates in ski.

The obligation of service, the necessity for each Swiss citizen to be engaged with the country (only on a voluntary basis for women), is no more an obligation to serve in the army: you have also the Civil Service, and the Civil Protection. The Civil Service is longer than the military, 450 days, compared to the 300 of the military. It is mostly made in cultural or social institutions, museum, hospital, hospices for the elderly, but also in projects to rebuild rural stonewalls or to clean a forest.
For some social institutions, those peoples are essential, but as you can imagine they play a role in the social and cultural fabric of the country. For a lot of Youngs, it provide also a working experience.


And then you add history. Ok, we could talk about the medieval folklore. But the present political state of Switzerland may be traced to the constitution of 1848, which made the Swiss Army a federal concern. (We still use roughly the same constitution, with some updates every few years.)
As I cannot stress enough, the cultural and linguistic layout of Switzerland is really diverse. We can talk another time of the many different histories that led to the union of places as diverse as the urban Geneva and the mountainous Graubunden. Still the army was one of the main place were the male population of Switzerland would meet. That's clearly more relevant in the XIX century than today, as occasion to meet people from around Switzerland are more common, but that's still important in the way the country work.

So in a way the army is as much a political and cultural institution as a strategical asset. This lead to a lot of contrast between some forces. Some of my friends were in the most special forces you could go without being a full professional and they are really well trained, even participating sometime in real intervention on demand of the law enforcement.
But some are somewhat strange: it was made public a few years ago that the Air Force was only open in the office hours. We had planes able to protect the sky only between 8 and 12, then 1330 to 17, from Monday to Friday, not counting public holidays of course.
You may understand the need of cheap jokes...

Yeah... It's really a strange beast if you go a bit deeper than the picture of the Swiss army knife of a country. (By the way, when I was incorporated, the soldiers had a Swiss army knife of course (I still use it) but only the officers had one with a cork-opener. The knife was redesigned after I left so I don't know the specific today.)

So actually they are a lot of differences according to your affectation in the training and the motivation of the forces, but also on their equipment or doctrine. The Swiss army is huge by today standard of war, some weapons may cover many time the territory of Switzerland, I mean we have so much of them and of soldiers that we don't exactly know what to do with the firepower.
But some other troops, like the air force, are subject to intense political debate that delay their modernization.

Accordingly, if the equipment of the regular soldier is mostly of excellent quality, the cadre is also made of militia mans and the exact level of each corp may vary. I mean that the professionals are mostly instructors, or on the upper hierarchy. The lieutenant and captains are from the militia, or in the process of becoming professionals.
Of course, a few special forces are outside this process, but let's talk about the basic militia, most of the peoples clearly.
Only a part of the intendancy is professional, the cooks for example are for the most part from the militia. This make the meal a kind of lottery, of course they are a lot of professional chef in the civil life who are drafted in the kitchens but still, you could find yourself with a five star chef or the guy from your school cantina.
The same hold true for the chain of command. Some of the sergeant or caporal are drafted against their wish, but they are not always the worst as they sometime understand the soldier better than some who want to be chief but lack the capacities. Above, you go only on a voluntary basis but some officers that are "paying their stripes", proving they are ready for command by taking care of new recruits, are clearly out of their depth. Other of course are excellent.

But lets talk a bit about the recruits. I think it is important to say that the military personnel is a regular sight in Switzerland. Most soldiers get back home every week-end so you may see huge groups of soldiers in the train stations of the country. A soldier in leave for some civilian obligation may wear his uniform and the practice is totally normal, peoples will ask some questions about the specific of his service, as small and mostly polite talk. I saw peoples in uniform at work, in formations or even in meetings.
As a side note, when taken home, the gun must travel by the fastest and most direct road and can be used without order only in accredited shooting range. Each soldier must perform every year a specific number of shot in those shooting range. They may do more on their own money but every round is counted.

The army use the country as a training field. Most of you know certainly that the motorways of the country may be used by warplanes for landing. But the sight of military material, like trucks or even armored vehicle is fairly common.
Also when in exercise, the soldiers may sleep near the populations, in farms or in the amenities of public schools, or the anti-nuclear bunkers that abound in the country.
As one officer once said: " If a Swiss soldier cannot drink a grog when he is on a farm, then it is not a Swiss soldier", in a French heavily accentuated by German. The farmer are really friendly and they have great products, the drink was warm, given as soon as we arrived, and of course heavily spiked. The officer was well aware of that.
He knew also that the farmer was happy to offer us this drink and so it was really the normal order of things. The next morning, we had a fresh breakfast, with milk, bread and eggs, and also some biscuits. That was not always the case in other farms to be so well treated but it was always mostly friendly.

The army was, when I was a child, an occasional provider of chocolate and biscuit. My father always took some back from his own service. The chocolate was dark and heavy, considered as survival rations and made to last half a week in ten little chunks of chocolate.
When I was a child, trucks stopped one time in my school yard and the soldiers were happy to give some of those delicacies to the children.
I tried the same once with the son of some Chinese official and was surprised to receive back a cucumber from his garden.
I know it look a bit like a folkloric picture but it is still true, the people of the Swiss army, at least the soldiers, are well treated by the population even by those who, on a political level, are not so pleased with the military for various reasons.
Also the officers have of course a special chocolate who is a good currency as the soldiers find a lot of means to grab them.

Then about the banter... You must understand that few troops live a real engagement, and even then it is mostly peace missions or, in very special cases, special forces assault on domestic terrorist, or what Switzerland has closer to the concept (not unheard of but very very rare.) The corps tradition is less developed than in other countries and most of the banter take place around a single batch of recruits, that will then mostly come back together each year.

In my experience, at first the recruits were playing the soldiers. Their comportment was influenced by movies and other cultural references. Then you have the things that you must have been there to know ad some sort of "esprit de corps" may form... But some soldiers were really seriously involved and for others the army was more a game. So the exact extent of this is not so clear. The task of the officers was to discriminate between the two kind of soldiers...

So for most of the soldiers the military is a serious but also very virtual experience. Today it is more professional than even thirty years ago but still... Youngs adults, 18 to 20 years old, are away from home, with all the chaos that such concentration of young minds may cause. The outing, and the meal outside the barracks are often occasions for some heavy drinking.
I know it seem far from the goal of a military, but this kind of young adult ritual is still seen as a normal. Also it is an occasion of socialization. I clearly don't mean to say that the Swiss army is drunk all the time, the rules are clear. But the occasion is still important in bringing closer people from different socio-economics, cultural and linguistics background.

A fews years ago, the recruitment was made in the communes. Today it is more regional, but the young peoples of some rural villages still go often to the recruitment together, with the flags of the village, in some case drums and so on. The recruitment has a part of sport competition and of course you would meet the peoples of your town, the guys you went to elementary school with and the other people from around your own town. It was also an occasion of socialization, and as Switzerland produce a lot of wine, drinking was often involved.
Note again that this may vary according to the region, or even the town. In some part of Switzerland, it is customary to share a glass of wine in social occasions. Of course, it may lead to some abuse, but it is still an important part of the social customs.

As a side note, the urban places were less close to this kind of practices but some have their own very strong identity. Some peoples in my family are actually producer of wine and were thus sending me a few bottles, and some local products like cheese or something close to the beef jerky. It was an occasion to share those products with the guys from around the country.
Then they were inclined to give something back: we shared our things with the cook, from the "Primitive Swiss", I don't remember if it was Glaris or Uri, and he made some macaronis with a cheese of his place the next week. That was a strange meal it should be added.

A lot of the banter goes along those linguistics and cantonal lines. The German peoples are seen, obviously, as more serious but more rigid than the French, who are less disciplined but then to find somewhat creative solutions, at which point the German would say something like "Ach, les Romands..."

They say you could hear the difference between a marching section of French or German, as the rhythm of the germans is more precise.

Also the Germans words are used a lot in the Swiss army, as the germans are the more numerous inhabitants of the country. It should be noted that an officer must be able to give an order in every national language and that a soldier may ask for a translation. Nevertheless, a lot of vocabulary is inherited, mostly abbreviations like the swipf, for Zwischenverpflegung, the snack or the Fassmanschaft, the soldiers charged on a rotation to clean the barracks and help the cooks (so they wash the dishes...). Not to be confused with the Fass 90, the name of the gun, a variant of the SIGG-550. The abbreviation stand for Fusil d'Assaut, but is more used even by the German, as more easy to use on the field than STGW for Sturmgewehr.

It is sometime quite interesting to hear the Swiss people talk in a mix of German, French and also more and more frequently English and the army is one of the main place to do just that.

Also a special thing is the procession of the Swiss soldiers from home to the barracks and back every week. The trains are free for the soldiers and all the militians take it. You start mostly with some friends, then they leave, and the guys who do the same service as you come in.
With the guys who lived near me, we even took one of the little train around the Alps, only a few more hours in an amazing landscape. It was really a nice morning, even if some tourists were looking at us strangely.

Ok, I think I will stop here for today, that's a lot already and I was not even close to address the specific of the first question... If those tales of the heavily armed but strangely quiet country are of any interest to you, I may be inclined to go further.


But as I said I have a few other things to discuss... I took too much of your time already so maybe it would best be left for another post, if even it is worth discussing here.

For example, apprenticeship is really developed here. Of course it trace its roots from the Medieval period but, like a lot of things, its history is far more tortuous that stated like that. Apprenticeship and companionship are diverging around the Industrial Revolution, with a lot of social tensions around the new ways of doing things. Even their famous mobility stall around the XVI century and the practice of the companions of today is in most case a kind of reconstruction of the medieval practice. That make for a fascinating history, like much of the things you look deeper into, (I learned some pieces recently, because I wanted to clarify some points) but it is not really the place here.

Also I just discussed casually with some archeologist who have experience on proto-historic sites about the study and preservation of archeological iron. I want to come back with some of their observations sooner or latter as I think some of the remarks made above were true but a bit misleading.

Galloglaich
2018-08-09, 06:16 PM
Fascinating and ... lengthy exploration of the immense complexity of your Swiss military and social system. You give me a run for my money in lengthy posts! Speaking of which, I do realize that it's a long and torturous road from the old medieval traditions but I think Switzerland is probably the single most deeply grounded in the late medieval traditions of anywhere in Europe...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wsqol2CmqKQ

... including some fascinating and inspirational things like the Landgemeinde (I think still in two cantons, Glarus and Appenzel Innerhoden right?) and the journeyman / compagnion tradition you referred to which nearly got stamped out by the Nazi's in WW2 but survived largely due to the Swiss, to be re-constructed as you say in Germany and France and elsewhere.

In this case I think it's ok to veer slightly into the political because the social organization, direct democracy and other more strict oligarchal systems were integral to the Swiss war machine in the medieval world, nor were they as unique to the Swiss at that time as they are today. Just as you noted the Swiss citizenry control every detail of their military spending and even policy goals, they did the same thing in the 1400's and even armies in the field had a knack for electing capable leaders from a wide variety of different groups with very different cultures (and in spite of serious tensions between them).

One Swiss friend described your country to me as a wary truce that has lasted some 700 years (albeit with a few interruptions like when Napoleon came to visit)

And no, I'm not surprised to find out you are Swiss, now to guess where. Somewhere in the West? Geneva? Vaud?


G

Mr Beer
2018-08-09, 06:23 PM
The Americans tended to be more sharply divided by race, class and social status. I'd describe it as a "law of thirds" - a third of the guys you'd meet were very 'soft' and green, coming from relatively quiet suburbs or small towns, they were kind of amazed to be in Germany, awed by the military experience and while some had big mouths most of them didn't really want to fight anybody. A third were more genuinely rural people - the tobacco chewing kind, who were usually slow to start trouble but would usually take any kind of threat very seriously. A small percentage of those 'rednecks' had a very hard edge and could be extremely dangerous. And a third were inner city people who had also seen a lot, and some (a small percentage) of whom tended toward extreme violence whenever things jumped off.

I heard of some psychological study where the idea was to try to verbally provoke the test subjects to explosion.

One of the takeaways was that urban Americans from the North tend to get to 'no, **** you buddy!' quickly. Conversely people from the South tend to stay polite a lot longer in the face of provocation but when they snap, they are fully ready to send someone to the hospital as opposed to merely telling them off.

This kind of difference can be observed internationally I think. I've seen French and Italians mouth off at each other in a way which would have long since escalated to fisticuffs between say British or Australians. Makes me think there must sometimes be a meeting of cultures where the quick-mouthed, gesticulating types end up with a bleeding lip thinking 'Well what the hell is his problem?'

Epimethee
2018-08-10, 03:11 AM
Yeah, I tend to be verbose even in French but it may be exacerbated by the need of some periphrases in English, as the exact term is sometime hard to translate with precision.

Also I think the people here deserve the best explanations possible so I tend to go the extra mile, again hoping it is not too much.

You know, the thing about Swiss traditions is that even then, it is not an unified process as the history of Switzerland is really diverse. For one thing even the first VIII cantons were of very different form in middle age. The fifth, Zurich, was already a city, compared to the III primitives Uri, Schwitz and Unterwald.
The others part of Switzerland have a very contrasted history. Some were allies of the Swiss confederation, some, like Vaud, were subject (of Bern), some like Neuchatel were even under the rule of Prussia till the XIX century.
Of course there was some fighting, but guys like Nicolas of Flue (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_of_Flüe), or the Kappel Milch Suppe (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_War_of_Kappel), a shared meal shared by two armies as Reformation was breaking the links between the Confederate, are important in the way the Swiss tell their own story.

Then... you know, from as long as we have archeological records, the mountains were as much walls than bridges: the Simplon, the Gothard, the Saint-Bernard have a long history. Some dolmens are the same in the northern part of Italy and in the Rhone valley (Le Petit Chasseur (https://mediaserver.unige.ch/play/86801/Le%20dolmen%20de%20Sion,%20Petit-Chasseur%20(Valais).%20Néolithique%20final%20(cult ure%20campaniforme),%20vers%202400%20av.%20J.-C.), in Sion) and accordingly object from the region of Bern were found there.
It is no surprise that the Habsbourg, who would go on to control the danubian way, were interested in the more western passages.

As much as a remote place in the mountain, the actual territory of Switzerland was hugely influenced by those commercial ways. The medieval history of the western part, for example, may be played around those axes.
It is evident when one look at the cities, like Geneva or Basel, but even the Rhone valley was more connected than what is usually thought. I always use the example of Matthieu Schiner, the commander of the Swiss army in Marignan, as an example of some alpine lord influential across Europe in the age of giants like François the First Henri the Eighth and Charles the Fifth.
In the XVII century, you have guys like Stockalper, the King of Simplon, helm of a huge commercial empire employing more than 5000 people from a city of 900 inhabitants. (here you have some informations about is castle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockalper_Palace)

Even the main population was more connected with the rest of Europe than you would think: I have a very precise study of the genealogy of a village on the road to the St-Bernard between XVII and XX century. The valley is not blind to the history of Europe, the marriage and alliances tend to reflect the political landscape of the time. Of course it has nothing to do with what happened in Paris or London but the peoples craved the news as much as the products cringed in by the industrialization.
And then you would add the mercenaries who would actually travel across Europe...

They are old traditions, but even then their status is sometimes heavily contested. Some says that Switzerland is mostly not an history but a geography. The National Rat has in his chamber a huge painting of the mountainous landscape and it is often used to represent the political institutions in televisions or in the press. The XIX century was really concerned by giving this landscape its own identity. The idea of a strong continuity, of a kind of island in Europe, was heavily pushed.
The history of the "lacustres", actually the pallafitics sites (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prehistoric_pile_dwellings_around_the_Alps) were for example used to show the same qualities in prehistoric times than the modern Switzerland. The myth of stilt houses for example was used to show the insular qualities of Switzerland during the first world war. Look at the fine peoples of Neuchâtel playing the prehistoric peoples: https://lyonelkaufmann.ch/histoire/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/group393-840d11.jpg

And the same could be said of the Roitschaggatta, traditional Carnaval masks in the Lotschental valley. I have seen a 1916 movie who start with: "In a valley so remote they ignore the horrors of war..." in a country that has an obligation of military service since more than 60 years... Also the guys go there by train... the masks were heavily used by the peoples of the Swiss cities to evoke a traditional Swiss, a place out of time and the stereotype stuck, a awful French horror movie played the same tropes as late as 2008.
Actually the locals are vary of the discourses of the historians and anthropologists, as they feel used by them and even made their own stories, along with moderns incarnations of the masks.

This was also heavily supported by a lot of cultural productions, from theater, novels to the paintings. Here I will give you a little selection, the depiction of the mountains, but also some views of the Palafittes as imagined by the second half of the XIX century. As every artistic depiction it must be taken with a grain of salt but those images are still widely spread in the contiguousness of the population, even as new studies have shown for quite some time how they need to be relativized.

Bieler and the depiction of the Swiss population:http://fr.wahooart.com/Art.nsf/O/8LHTGG/$File/Ernest-Bieler-Accounts-of-the-pasture-or-La-Raclette-S.JPG https://www.ernest-bieler.ch/img/d_03_chanson.jpg https://www.ernest-bieler.ch/img/d_14_bergere.jpghttps://www.ernest-bieler.ch/img/d_20_mendiant.jpg https://cdn-s-www.leprogres.fr/images/EFB30AEF-A62C-40DF-8EDA-7958278F3F89/LPR_v1_02/la-ramasseuse-de-feuilles-(aquarelle-gouache-et-crayon-sur-papier-maroufle-sur-carton-47-x-58-cm)-presentee-a-l-exposition-universelle-marque-le-debut-de-la-notoriete-de-bieler-photo-dr-1479278308.jpg mere here:https://www.ernest-bieler.ch/pict.html

Here you have Edmond Bille (http://www.edmond-bille.ch/chando.htm), again with depictions of a rural Switzerland.

Raphy Dallève: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c5/Raphy_Dallèves%2C_L%27homme_à_l%27écuelle%2C_1910. jpg/1920px-Raphy_Dallèves%2C_L%27homme_à_l%27écuelle%2C_1910. jpg


And maybe the most famous, Hodler: http://blog.mahgeneve.ch/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hodler_guerrier.jpghttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/Hodler_Holzfäller.jpg or even http://blog.mahgeneve.ch/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/hodler_marignan.jpg

all those painters were actually from the cities, like Geneva, or Basel, but they were the main proponent of the depiction of a kind of eternal Switzerland. I also saw a Kokoschka were the airport is left out to reflect the authenticity of the country...

And here Auguste Bachelin on the "Lacustres", the image is absolutely inaccurate. Bachelor would paint a lot of historical subjects. http://mobile.hls-dhs-dss.ch/images/5367.jpg and here is Otto Emmanuel Bay: http://lap.unige.ch/plonjon/images/otto-emanuel-bay_1891.jpg

You will note that it was easier to depict naked bodies, and of course female bodies in this kind of context. A German movie from around 1936 used the same kind of representations for nationalistic purposes and enrolled the local prostitutes to play the virtuous women of old, as they were more inclined to play their role topless. But they were also depicted as virtuous and motherly: https://www.swissinfo.ch/image/33171398/3x2/640/426/ca45e2029f1af757db8bf8bbe51d5d80/mJ/anker_pfahlbauerin-33171400.jpg by Anker

Now for some violence: http://www.ceramostratigraphie.ch/imgblog/Berthoud2.jpg

You will find plenty more here: http://www.passion-histoire.net/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=39971

Really that's a fascinating chapter of the history of Switzerland. But I'm always weary, according to those considerations, to state a direct connection between todays practices and some ancient customs. That's only true in a way and the other narrative, how those traditions are perpetually reinvented, must also be stated I think.

Right for the Landsgemeinde. But as a lot of things here, the tradition is seconded by technologies: one of the ways to modernize it implies a technological tally of the vote, like by a photography and a computer. It is not implemented yet but the mere existence of the topic may help understand this very Swiss thing of mixing old customs with cutting edge technologies.
Also the landsgemeinde is fun and all, but those cantons are really small. For most Swiss peoples, the main way of voting is by post, as in each time you will receive personally a mail with informations about the subjects and all the material necessary to cast your vote. You then send back the envelope or go to your town on the day of election to depose your vote.
That's roughly, not counting elections, three time a year on one to four different subjects for the federal state (4 dates are always prepared long before but they are not always used) and then you add the cantonal subjects... So the army is not the only institution concerned by such scrutiny.

Lastly, yep, the west part is obviously the French speaking part, so you are close Galloglaich. And it's a bit tricky cause I travel a bit around more than one canton.

gkathellar
2018-08-10, 08:21 AM
you are mistaken. the Meat Pie is street vendor food. Its called "meat" because no one, not even the butcher who made it, can actually tell you which meats were put into it.

Or not without going to prison, anyway.


One of the takeaways was that urban Americans from the North tend to get to 'no, **** you buddy!' quickly. Conversely people from the South tend to stay polite a lot longer in the face of provocation but when they snap, they are fully ready to send someone to the hospital as opposed to merely telling them off.

I can believe that, but I think it misses something about what the cues mean. In my experience, if a Southerner is being coldly, visibly polite, it is because they are pretty uncomfortable and/or angry with the situation already.

Kiero
2018-08-10, 08:38 AM
The big difference in the American Army was by unit and unit type. The Airborne units like the 82nd and 101st Airborne had a palpable presence and were much more disciplined, alert and just competent. Something about jumping out of a perfectly good plane seems to really improve morale. The Rangers were by far the best in the simulated infantry firefights we did, one ranger company once wiped out our whole battalion in a simulated raid. But they also seemed kind of like jocks or knuckleheaded to me. The Special Forces were the creative ones, very dangerous and sneaky in field exercises, but without as much of a chip on their shoulder as say, SEALS.

That's quite an interesting observation on the differences between the special forces. I've seen it observed elsewhere that SEALS have a big opinion of themselves, is that something to do with their naval heritage?

Galloglaich
2018-08-10, 09:58 AM
That's quite an interesting observation on the differences between the special forces. I've seen it observed elsewhere that SEALS have a big opinion of themselves, is that something to do with their naval heritage?

i really can't say with any genuine insight, my personal opinion based just on a non-scientific hunch, is that it's both training related and related to how people were picked for their jobs.

I think Marines have good morale because they have built a good brand and have an esprit de corps around the very concept of being a Marine. Their ideal job is to fight very hard while storming a beach (in theory at least - we don't do that many contested Amphibious Landings any more) and endure casualties but ideally for a short time.

Airborne, well they are just the better grade of the regular infantry type guys. Skydiving is inspirational - Jimi Hendrix was a paratrooper. It has to spark the imagination and give you a confidence boost. They just seem to have that esprit de corps.

Rangers traditionally were used to fight to the death in very difficult situations. Storming cliffs with rocket grapnels and that sort of thing. You want guys who won't question authority but can solve local tactical problems with brisk efficiency. They get paratroop training of course so their morale is high from the start. I know their training is miserable and very physically demanding but also heavily emphasizes leadership. They are forced to take turns as squad leaders and given very demanding problems to solve. So when the Captain dies and the squad leader dies, somebody else can take their place and rally the group and keep going.

Green Berets have to think outside of the box. They do want people who will question authority, at least to a point. Of course their training puts them through intense misery but it also emphasizes clever problem solving and thinking outside the box. Green Berets have to work with and train foreign troops, I think that is usually their main job. So they need to have some empathy and ability to understand very foreign concepts, terrain and cultures.

SEALs are I think kind of the Navy version of Rangers. They do underwater scuba stuff and airborne too I believe - which no doubt enhances their general morale and willingness to deal with strange environments. Their training seems to be a lot of hazing. Running down the beach coated in sand, carrying heavy logs on two hours of sleep, treading water forever and so on. I think maybe their purpose is to go in and kill regardless of casualties.




Regular infantry in the recent wars complain that a lot of the time their job is kind of to act as bait. They sit in a fortified outpost, go on patrol, drive supply convoys... until they get ambushed or sniped at, and then they go into action. I've read that one reason SEAL, Green Beret etc. morale is higher is that they get to go hunt the enemy. They may take casualties in raids but they aren't constantly exposed to being attacked. More often they are the ones attacking and by surprise.

G

Mike_G
2018-08-10, 11:03 AM
SEALs are odd.

They have a reputation for having a chip on their shoulders, and for projecting more of a macho image than even other special forces. Army SF are happy to use shortcuts and tech and smile while they kill you, SEALs seem to want to prove they can do more with less.

And SEALs are 37% more likely to have a literary agent than any other specialty.

They're tough, the training is hard, but while most other special forces are drawn from infantry, SEALs begin life as sailors, with a naval rating, before they can qualify for SEAL training. So, where an Army Green Beret will have started his service as an infantryman, and already gone to infantry school and jump school and probably have a few years and a deployment under his belt, a SEAL candidate started life in the engine room. They have to make up for all that grunt stuff that a guy going for Force Recon or Green Beret has already done.

Historically, SEALs descended from the underwater demolition teams, who would already be skilled swimmers and trained in stealthy underwater infiltration, explosives and brave/crazy as hell, but they're fairly unique in building a commando from a non-infantry background.

As a former humble grunt, (0351 Assaultman) I'm not slagging on SEALs, really. Nobody gets through that training without being tough mentally and physically, and properly deployed, they are scary.

Which is another rant for another day, but special forces are often deployed improperly and some high profile disasters where we lost people we shouldn't have come from that, trying to use the cool SF guys rather than just take a more conventional approach to a problem. Look at Grenada and Panama for examples of that.

When Scott O'Grady was shot down over Bosnia, he was rescued by regular fleet Marines, not any snake eaters, because they were good, well trained infantry who were in theater ready to go.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-10, 11:16 AM
Speaking of rescues and such, the USAF special forces units seem to be left out of these conversations a lot -- Pararescue, Combat Control, the pilots and aircrew for some of the special operations focused aircraft, etc.

They might not be elite combat troops, but the training and qualifications for "PJs" are both broad and strict. Not only do they have to be parachute (multiple techniques), SCUBA, and aircrew qualified, combat trained, and pass higher-than-standard physical requirements... they also have to be certified EMTs.

Carl
2018-08-10, 12:05 PM
SEALs are odd.

They have a reputation for having a chip on their shoulders, and for projecting more of a macho image than even other special forces. Army SF are happy to use shortcuts and tech and smile while they kill you, SEALs seem to want to prove they can do more with less.

And SEALs are 37% more likely to have a literary agent than any other specialty.

They're tough, the training is hard, but while most other special forces are drawn from infantry, SEALs begin life as sailors, with a naval rating, before they can qualify for SEAL training. So, where an Army Green Beret will have started his service as an infantryman, and already gone to infantry school and jump school and probably have a few years and a deployment under his belt, a SEAL candidate started life in the engine room. They have to make up for all that grunt stuff that a guy going for Force Recon or Green Beret has already done.

Historically, SEALs descended from the underwater demolition teams, who would already be skilled swimmers and trained in stealthy underwater infiltration, explosives and brave/crazy as hell, but they're fairly unique in building a commando from a non-infantry background.

As a former humble grunt, (0351 Assaultman) I'm not slagging on SEALs, really. Nobody gets through that training without being tough mentally and physically, and properly deployed, they are scary.

Which is another rant for another day, but special forces are often deployed improperly and some high profile disasters where we lost people we shouldn't have come from that, trying to use the cool SF guys rather than just take a more conventional approach to a problem. Look at Grenada and Panama for examples of that.

When Scott O'Grady was shot down over Bosnia, he was rescued by regular fleet Marines, not any snake eaters, because they were good, well trained infantry who were in theater ready to go.


Yeah there's a nasty habit of many people seeing SF as elite infantry, but that's not really acurratte, they can do that of course, (as a group of SAS did in WW2 i think either after the d-day landings or the sicily landings, can;t remember which precisely), and they'll do the job far better than ordinary infantry, but it's a real waste of their talents because they are going to get hewed up doing it and they're far less replaceable than ordinary infantrymen, (note i'm not trying to disparage the importance of the lives of ordinary soldiers, just commenting on the time cost and inherent difficulties involved in replacing a SF member compared to an ordinary grunt), and are far better at a lot of things ordinary grunts can't do because they don't have the necessary training.

Kiero
2018-08-10, 01:16 PM
There was a documentary on BUDS and it seemed like nothing but one long, brutalising, hazing session, with a bit of underwater training. By contrast I also watched one on the SAS selection and training (the SBS probably have parallels with a more amphibious skillset I would guess), and it was a lot more about psychological stuff. They assumed you were physically up to the job, and pitched tasks which would push you to meet those standards, but most of the testing was messing with the candidates' heads and seeing how they handled confusion.

The SEAL training seemed to be about producing really tough guys, the SAS training about producing flexible soldiers who could use their initiative to prosper under unexpected situations.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-10, 02:31 PM
Which is another rant for another day, but special forces are often deployed improperly and some high profile disasters where we lost people we shouldn't have come from that, trying to use the cool SF guys rather than just take a more conventional approach to a problem. Look at Grenada and Panama for examples of that.





Yeah there's a nasty habit of many people seeing SF as elite infantry, but that's not really acurratte, they can do that of course, (as a group of SAS did in WW2 i think either after the d-day landings or the sicily landings, can;t remember which precisely), and they'll do the job far better than ordinary infantry, but it's a real waste of their talents because they are going to get hewed up doing it and they're far less replaceable than ordinary infantrymen, (note i'm not trying to disparage the importance of the lives of ordinary soldiers, just commenting on the time cost and inherent difficulties involved in replacing a SF member compared to an ordinary grunt), and are far better at a lot of things ordinary grunts can't do because they don't have the necessary training.

sometimes, their are political elements to the decision to use specific units like special forces.....


no, scratch that, their are always political elements to the units involved in a given operation. Sometimes the politics are obvious and relatively unobjectionable (for example, using the 2nd French armoured division to liberate Paris in 1944). Othertimes, they are more questionable.


A major problem is the "justify our budget" element. For a long time during the 80s and 90s, anytime something was in the works, various special forces units tried to get involved, all sprouting various cunning arguments about how they were the perfect unit for this mission, but all boiling down to them wanting to have their units's name attached to the mission so they can name drop it the next budget session and try and squeeze some more cash out of Congress. after 9/11 and the significant and sustained demand for SF work that followed this was less an issue.

But thats helped feed another, separate issue, which is the "I want your best men on this" factor, where the political leadership demands that SF or other "elite" troops are used because they don't trust the "line" units to do the job. While understandable to a degree, it starts to become a positive feedback loop, in that the line units never get much chance to shine, so politicians and even generals start believing that the line troops are not able to do these jobs, when they often could.






Regular infantry in the recent wars complain that a lot of the time their job is kind of to act as bait. They sit in a fortified outpost, go on patrol, drive supply convoys... until they get ambushed or sniped at, and then they go into action. I've read that one reason SEAL, Green Beret etc. morale is higher is that they get to go hunt the enemy. They may take casualties in raids but they aren't constantly exposed to being attacked. More often they are the ones attacking and by surprise.



That sounds quite likely. Another element would be those times that, after weeks hard work building rapport with the locals, and finding, avoiding, disarming and exploited IED finds, they are told they helped find a bomb factory in their op area....that was Stormed by an SF unit last night.

well done lads, now, suit up, we off out patrolling in 5.

basically, the "fun" jobs keep getting co-opted by the SF while they are stuck sat in a FOB and doing menial but dangerous tasks.

Galloglaich
2018-08-10, 02:57 PM
Lets face it there have also been a large numbers of horrible catastrophes involving elite troops. The very first Ranger mission, the one I alluded to from WW2 with the rocket grapnels, turned out to be a near suicidal fight to capture what turned out to be some telephone poles.

I believe there were some SAS or some kind of commandos at Dieppe right?

I read an article once about LRP commando units being sent into interdict the Ho Chin Minh Trail, initially successful but after a the Vietnamese moved in some units they were just getting captured one by one, team by team, but still got sent in anyway. Typical of Vietnam.

There was that big Delta Force catastrophe of an attempted hostage rescue raid into Iran during the Carter Administration.

There were blunders during Grenada where I think a bunch of Rangers and some Delta Force were killed, I thought some ended up in the drink during a HALO drop but I don't see that in the wiki so maybe I remembered wrong. Seems like a lot of costly accidents though and several Rangers were killed.

Some SEALS who got wacked by a Panamanian militia dude in flip flops (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-02-09/news/9001120248_1_seals-platoon-plane) with an RPK after an epic (and probably totally unecessary) Submarine launched, stealth speedboat insertion.

And then there is the infamous Blackhawk Down incident which I think involved Rangers? And a host of other ones. It does seem like commanders tend to misuse them and also bad intel, a chronic problem for US forces certainly, has put them in some horrific binds.

Of course there are also amazing successes like when they got Bin Laden.



I think overall, the training (for all US military anyway) is too focused on hazing, with too much emphasis gets placed on being tough (and willing to do really risky things) vs. cleverness and useful training in actual combat techniques. Like digging foxholes under mortar fire or fighting your way out of an ambush. Maneuvering in the field, getting fire laid down on targets. Figuring out where the enemy actually IS which is always so hard to do...

Often simple mistakes like wrecking helicopters, communication gear that doesn't link together or just getting lost causes these guys to lose their lives. Enduring 3 days of sand in your underwear doesn't seem to protect against that.

Mike_G
2018-08-10, 04:08 PM
There were blunders during Grenada where I think a bunch of Rangers and some Delta Force were killed, I thought some ended up in the drink during a HALO drop but I don't see that in the wiki so maybe I remembered wrong. Seems like a lot of costly accidents though and several Rangers were killed.



It was a SEAL team that died in a bad drop in Grenada. Which was probably like half the casualties the US took in the whole campaign. And another SEAL team got cut off and had to hole up and await rescue by a third SEAL team because you couldn't have regular Army infantry or Marines rescue the SEALs.

This is the kind of thing that pisses me off. If you have a rifle company that can punch a hole through the enemy and reach a trapped unit, use them even if it's less sexy than six guys with beards and tied down knives and CAR-15s instead of the boring old M16, who still cost more than the line company.




I think overall, the training (for all US military anyway) is too focused on hazing, with too much emphasis gets placed on being tough (and willing to do really risky things) vs. cleverness and useful training in actual combat techniques. Like digging foxholes under mortar fire or fighting your way out of an ambush. Maneuvering in the field, getting fire laid down on targets. Figuring out where the enemy actually IS which is always so hard to do...

Often simple mistakes like wrecking helicopters, communication gear that doesn't link together or just getting lost causes these guys to lose their lives. Enduring 3 days of sand in your underwear doesn't seem to protect against that.

Couldn't agree more.

The best training is co-ordination between individuals. Learn to fight as a unit, in conjunction with other units. Learn to improvise when things go wrong, learn how to use terrain. And improve co-ordination between ground and air and artillery arms, that kind of thing.

We don't need Rambo. We need a well drilled rifle platoon with a decent radio and access to air and artillery.

Says the grognard.

Mr Beer
2018-08-10, 06:41 PM
I can believe that, but I think it misses something about what the cues mean. In my experience, if a Southerner is being coldly, visibly polite, it is because they are pretty uncomfortable and/or angry with the situation already.

Sure, there's probably some body language going on as well. Would be interesting to contrast people who adopt a traditional 'puffing up' sort of posture e.g. head thrown back, chest out, legs broad and parallel, folded arms etc. against people who are more consciously preparing to fight when aggrieved, so head slightly tucked down, standing perpendicular to their interlocutor, arms starting to be raised etc.

Carl
2018-08-10, 07:52 PM
The stuff on hazing is interesting. I've got into a few discussions with various people about fictional training methods online, (the one that really comes to mind was discussion Lea's training methods in Ghost Story vs Harry's prior methods), and i noticed a tendency for a good percentage of the people there, (the majority of whom were fairly naturally american), to defend methodologies that raised serious red flags for me. But if American's as a culture are expecting that kind of abusive treatment as part of combat training it probably helps explain it better.

Galloglaich
2018-08-10, 08:32 PM
Good point. I heard an interview once on Joe Rogan with some guy who was one of those heavy duty snake eater. He had partly bypassed the military bureaucracy by taking a civilian skydiving course. He became an expert skydiver just playing with all these ordinary civilians who did it for fun. By the time the military found out about it he was a far better skydiver than most of the military instructors. He leap frogged passed them and got into Delta Force or whatever it was.

This story stuck with me as I read about how they did training in the Middle Ages. It's relatively easy to understand training in the Classical Era or in the later parts of the Early Modern, because it's kind of similar to what we do now: instructors assume you know nothing about anything, and scream at you (and torture you) until you listen, then teach you according to specific rote methods worked out in advance.

In medieval culture it was much more like the skydivers. Or at least in part. Medieval training is hard for modern scholars to recognize as such because so much of it looks like play. The Schutzenfest, the jousting, the horse races and tournaments. Bizzare things like water jousting and sword dancing and the running of the bulls and all that kind of stuff.

http://www.wilnet.ch/getAttachment.aspx?attaName=6b953cd9-8c9b-448f-89ac-1d5769013d6b

How could they be training if they are getting drunk and laughing? And yet they seemed to come out of all that very good at fighting.

In modern times, it's maybe the difference between regular sports training and say, X-game sports training... with some things like basketball or soccer which lend themselves so easily to pickup games, perhaps falling somewhere in between.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHYVS2CIXDw

Without a doubt, there is more than one way to train. We see that in martial arts clubs too. There is a lot to be said for repetition and self discipline, even self denial, but I think there may be something to be said for play as a form of training, even for war.


G

Xuc Xac
2018-08-10, 09:24 PM
Without a doubt, there is more than one way to train. We see that in martial arts clubs too. There is a lot to be said for repetition and self discipline, even self denial, but I think there may be something to be said for play as a form of training, even for war.

Tickling little kids teaches them how to cover their vulnerable spots like the throat and belly.

Raunchel
2018-08-12, 08:05 AM
Once again, I'm here with a fresh question. I was thinking about Ancient and Medieval heavy cavalry (I know, they're completely different beasts, but the same question applies to both of them). What I'm wondering about is how closely heavy cavalry would be spaced when charging. I recall reading that they would ride knee-to-knee (although that might have concerned Carlist cavalry, but that seems rather unlikely to me. I might not be the best equestrian in the world, but that would have several issues.

First of all, it would be hard to maintain such a formation even on perfect ground when going at a trot. Added to that, it makes it utterly impossible to avoid even small obstacles, which makes it an excellent way to cripple your horse without even really trying and before actually reaching any kind of enemy. And then there is the moment that you actually meet an enemy. There is no way to avoid anyone in your path, giving another great way to cripple or kill your horse. Of course, it means that you can't back out, but at the same time, you also won't survive unless the enemy runs away. When two cavalry formations meet head-on, this is even worse, because neither side can easily back out, leading to a bloodbath.

So, it seems to be that they didn't actually use such close-order formations, so, I'm wondering how they would actually have done it. Does anyone know more about this?

Epimethee
2018-08-12, 08:58 AM
As much as I understand it, a kind of hazing is more developed in forces with a huge tradition in each formation or in those who are close to real engagement.
I know a guy who was in the French foreign Legion and he has plenty of stories of the special kind of bonding, the rituals, from songs to specific actions after the engagement. The tattoos are particularly impressive and even after his retirement the bounds are close. If I talk with him soon I will give you an account of his perception of his training and of the specifics rituals of this very impressive unit.
He talk a lot about the sense of unity in the legion. For example, when somebody make a mistake, he is the one not punished. The entire platoon must do the punishment and the culprit must look at his comrades. But then on exercises, like marches, you will only go as fast as the slowest guy. The individual training is still important but the emphasis is really on the collective.
He was a true professional deployed across the world so is experience was quite something.

Also I know from informed peoples that some of the Vatican’s guards are happy players of 40k.

I think as much as the specific of each military, the unit is important in shaping this kind of comportment. The guys who will take the fire need a different experience not only in training but in the way they work as a team than those who would stare at screens searching planes. In a way my experience in the Swiss army may explain a bit this view. Again a bit of context. Most of the guys in my school were doing their army at the same time, roughly before the university. So I knew a lot of them pretty well as we were at school together for a few years. They were mostly drafted in different branches, from the airfare to the sanitary, the infantry, and even then you have the basic fusilier, the more robust grenadier and the fabled grenadier of the military police.

The school of recruits would take 18 weeks in the summer and each week-end, you would come back home, meeting your friends early in the morning along the way in the trains and train stations. You would often meet them again in civilians clothes on the afternoon and use the little time you had to make what young peoples do in the summer.
All week you were thinking about the army. As much as you were home on the week end, the training was also taking effect. And the differences between the guy you know and the guy who come back from the barrack may be impressive.
I mean, I know the Swiss army is a kind of elaborate toy. But still.
One of my friend was close to the special forces and really, even the week-end, you would see, I can’t say virility, I can’t say indoctrination, but a way of being into it, of staying in his role of soldier. He had more tales of his unit than most others.
The infantry was close to this than say, more technicals weapons like the air defense or the artillery. I really don’t know if I can explain it better. They are a lot of little clues, from the way they wear their uniform to the use in civilian clothes of military slang and even how they referred to their comrades.

The few peoples I know who were in actual conflict zones with the military have all some kind of folklore, from bonding ritual to jokes and tales that sound as much like jokes as proud memories, even the Swiss soldier who were sent outside the country on peace missions without weapons. Again, the difference is strong with the regular soldiers.

I think the actual and theoretical possibilities of engagement are very important in the way a soldier react to his training and of course how the training is completed. For most Swiss soldiers, a real engagement would be guarding an event, in some case they would help after a catastrophe but that’s mostly all. (BTW some of the best Swiss forces are on the Rescue branch, and they are really tough guys, not only because of the difficulty of rescuing in the mountains and lake of the country but also because of their numerous missions across the world. It is actually one of the more respected part of the military, even by pacifists.)

But something like the gradation of violence rise quickly with the possibility of actual engagement. I don’t mean that the people are necessarily badder the closer they go to actual combat, I try to use simple word to explain a difficult concept, something close to a kind of group coping mechanic. Some of the guys are really friendly, good family figure as much as I’m concerned (but I know of some with difficulties adjusting to civil life) but in specific circumstances they switch really quick to their military customs. I’m not sure I explained it as well as it is clear in my head.
As we have here a lot of different kind of soldiers, and as I know some professionals, who were in actual conflict zone, I may assure you that the difference is striking.





On archeological iron, I read the previous posts again and in fact I mostly agree with with was said. I was under the impression, reading it to pass some time without any inclination to answer quickly, that too much emphasis was put on the potential destruction of potential artifacts. I was mostly wrong so I offer my apologies.

I just wanted to stress that, as the anaerobic conditions may be found in other soils than bogs, and as archeologists have means to read even the most foul piece of rust, a lack of artifact may mean a lot of different things beyond the rotting of the pieces.
The grave goods in general account always for a lot of archeological discoveries, quite obviously. Around my corner there is an awful lot of early medieval belt buckle.
But metal artifacts tend to be rare first because they are often reused. This is more common with bronze stuff than iron, as iron is easier to make than bronze. But it is still a relevant point, hard to assess with only archeological evidences. 
 It may be more relevant when we talk about tools. We find a lot of nails but the tools are rarer than their obvious ubiquity may suggest.
For example, the material (the exact term for archeological artifacts is «*mobilier*» in French, literally «*furniture*», I wonder what the exact term is in English.), the material found in La Tène sites is very different on the eponymous site and on the Pont de Thielle, a few kilometers away. The military stuff were more numerous in La Tène, the artifacts in Thielle more mundane.
I don’t want to go on the many interpretations of La Tène, but the Thielle Bridge is interesting because it is postulated as an accidental site, the breaking of the bridge would have tossed the peoples in the river. You will understand easily the difference between a voluntary and accidental loss.
But the many conditions you need to have an accidental site are clearly numerous.

And then La Tène is an extraordinary topic to discuss the choices of the archeologists. As a really early discovered site, La Tène was the place of an intensive commercial use: the swords were precious pieces to be sold around the world, other savage finds were made but discarded by the looter but also by the more scientifically minded peoples. That’s not even talking about the almost industrial production of false pieces that were a huge source of money.
Those questions are really important for the present director of the Laténium, the museum on the site of La Tène, Marc-Antoine Kaeser. A few years ago, he made an exhibition, «*L’âge du Faux*», Age of Counterfeit*». It discussed the crapulous pieces, like the golden tiara of Saitaphernes, but also the poetics but misguided interpretations of collectors, the false attributions, even some jokes like a mermaid provided by John Howe who live nearby.
One of the aim of the exhibition was to show how those pieces helped to define what is a real and false archeological artifact, how much trust may be put on a discovery and how archeologist need to document their work and be careful interpreting it. In the course of this, the destruction of the context of the field, the alteration necessary for the processes of conservation and the interpretative choices of the archeologist were heavily stressed.

And as much as it may sound obvious for a lot of people here I think it was really formative for me to learn about those considerations.

Epimethee
2018-08-12, 09:04 AM
Once again, I'm here with a fresh question. I was thinking about Ancient and Medieval heavy cavalry (I know, they're completely different beasts, but the same question applies to both of them). What I'm wondering about is how closely heavy cavalry would be spaced when charging. I recall reading that they would ride knee-to-knee (although that might have concerned Carlist cavalry, but that seems rather unlikely to me. I might not be the best equestrian in the world, but that would have several issues.

First of all, it would be hard to maintain such a formation even on perfect ground when going at a trot. Added to that, it makes it utterly impossible to avoid even small obstacles, which makes it an excellent way to cripple your horse without even really trying and before actually reaching any kind of enemy. And then there is the moment that you actually meet an enemy. There is no way to avoid anyone in your path, giving another great way to cripple or kill your horse. Of course, it means that you can't back out, but at the same time, you also won't survive unless the enemy runs away. When two cavalry formations meet head-on, this is even worse, because neither side can easily back out, leading to a bloodbath.

So, it seems to be that they didn't actually use such close-order formations, so, I'm wondering how they would actually have done it. Does anyone know more about this?

But I come back quickly. I will read a few things, I have just the time and know were to look. I may take some time to answer tough.

I remember still a little literary point. In the "Lancelot -Graal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancelot-Grail)" I remember a quote about how an apple deposed on the right front of the lances of a charging cavalery would fall on the left side of the troops.
Clearly it is a literary device, but the image is striking.

The book is a late collection in vulgate, butt IIRC the trope is fairly common and speak volume about the way the cavalry was imagined at the time.


Edit: no, it was fairly quick. If I may quote :"Traditionally, French or Anglo-Norman cavalry were deployed in batailles or divisions, according to their place or province of origin, and normally under the leadership of the senior count or duke of the area in question. Large divisions would, in turn, consist of ecbelles or squadrons. The exact relationship between an echelle and a bataille is unclear, though the batailles were certainly subdivided into small conrois sections as they had been since Carolingian times. The conrois itself now normally consisted of about 20-24 knights in two or three ranks, riding very close together, shoulder-to-shoulder in a manner described as sereement. The separate conrois also appear to have ridden quite close to one another. Whether a theoretical tactical unit of ten men (known in early 12th-century England as a constabularium) was actually used in battle is again unknown."

That's an abstract from "European Medieval Tactics (1):The Fall and Rise of Cavalry 450-1260", by David Nicolle, obviously an Osprey book. He talk here about the end of the period.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-12, 10:09 AM
on hazing, I cant say ive actually experience hazing per se in my time in the (brit) army.

Yes, i've had to drag myself over walls, crawl though mud, then wade though chest deep water, and generally get wet, muddy and miserable, but every time i've had to do something like that, I could link it to a clear example in recent history of troops having to do the same thing while on ops. to quote murphy's laws of combat, "the easy way is always mined", and training to take these other routes is sensible and gets us into the mindset of using terrain like that in theatre.

I've had to operate on little to no sleep, and manhandle heavy things over distance because thats the only way to get the job done. sometimes, their really isn't any other way to get form A to B except on foot, carrying everything you need. That, to me, isn't hazing, just training for when things go wrong, because one day they will go wrong.


about the only time I can say i've had anything like hazing was during my promotion coruse for Lance Corporal (E-3 rank, but is normally fire team leader and squad 2nd in command, which I understand is normally a higher grade in the American forces) . in it, we did 2 or three hour PT session that were, on purpose, designed to exhaust us, and then ask us to not only keep going, but keep motivating the fellow soldiers around us (ie lead, not just follow), and yes, that was hard. But, in all honestly, I was more tired after a 30 minute section attack as a 2ic than after 3 hours of burden retrieval, because of the amount of things going on in my head and the need to keep control of the fireteam, and aware of the greater situation.



that said, theirs plently of "man test" stuff that people do on the side, and then thiers the Paras with their "Milling" (like boxing, but your not allowed to block hits, your just supposed to take it and keep punching the other guy harder), but they are as crazy as any airborne unit.

jayem
2018-08-12, 12:13 PM
I remember still a little literary point. In the "Lancelot -Graal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancelot-Grail)" I remember a quote about how an apple deposed on the right front of the lances of a charging cavalery would fall on the left side of the troops.
Clearly it is a literary device, but the image is striking.

I'm struggling to picture it. Is it saying that the tips of the lances form an effectively continuous / slope (from above), that the apple slides across (from rightmost person to leftmost)?
Or is it some other (imag-inary) situation (e.g. that the lance points to the left by about the rider and an apples width over it's length)?

Vinyadan
2018-08-12, 12:15 PM
There's an actual sport that works like milling, but I can't remember where it originated. The two boxers stand in front of each other, and they take turns at punching each other's face.

Mike_G
2018-08-12, 01:58 PM
There's an actual sport that works like milling, but I can't remember where it originated. The two boxers stand in front of each other, and they take turns at punching each other's face.

That sounds really stupid, even by Marine Corps standards.

Epimethee
2018-08-12, 02:13 PM
I'm struggling to picture it. Is it saying that the tips of the lances form an effectively continuous / slope (from above), that the apple slides across (from rightmost person to leftmost)?
Or is it some other (imag-inary) situation (e.g. that the lance points to the left by about the rider and an apples width over it's length)?

Yeah, the first one, the lances should Form a continuous slope from the rightmost to the lefmost person.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-12, 02:27 PM
Yeah, the first one, the lances should Form a continuous slope from the rightmost to the lefmost person.

That sounds like the sort of poetic language used by a writer who had never seen, let alone been in, combat, and didn't bother to ask anyone who had.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-12, 02:40 PM
That sounds like the sort of poetic language used by a writer who had never seen, let alone been in, combat, and didn't bother to ask anyone who had.

could be, or one using poetic hyperbole to express ideal to which they should aspire. "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes", that sort of thing.


That sounds really stupid, even by Marine Corps standards.

Oh it is. Also, like a lot of hazing, its partly an initiation ritual as well, so a big part of it is being willing to go though this in order to "prove your determination", and how far your willing to go to "get in" with the rest of the group (similar to the various frat-boy initiations in US collages, or the dares and challenges street gangs use).

Grim Portent
2018-08-12, 03:23 PM
This is probably an awkward question, but does anyone have any information on how much the chemical soaked ropes used as matchlock firearm wicks cost by length? From what I've read it was an expensive and resource heavy type of gun to use because of the constant need to replace spent rope but I can't find prices.

Gnoman
2018-08-12, 03:33 PM
In the modern day, you seem to be able to get slow match for about $3-$5 per yard. From what I can tell, most of the people selling it are using traditional methods (matchlocks are a fairly niche portion of the historical firearms market) except that they substitute cotton for the traditional hemp, so that might prove a useful benchmark.

Mr Beer
2018-08-12, 06:15 PM
that said, theirs plently of "man test" stuff that people do on the side, and then thiers the Paras with their "Milling" (like boxing, but your not allowed to block hits, your just supposed to take it and keep punching the other guy harder), but they are as crazy as any airborne unit.


There's an actual sport that works like milling, but I can't remember where it originated. The two boxers stand in front of each other, and they take turns at punching each other's face.

I saw a video clip of an MMA fight which went down like that for whatever reason - the two guys just stood there and rapidly hooked each other full bore in the head until one of them fell over. It was ridiculous.

EDIT

It was Don Frye vs. Yoshihiro Takayama apparently - just re-watched it and it's not quite as static as I remember. Still pretty crazy though. I won't link it in case it's against the rules but it's easy to find on Youtube.

Xuc Xac
2018-08-12, 06:37 PM
There's an actual sport that works like milling, but I can't remember where it originated. The two boxers stand in front of each other, and they take turns at punching each other's face.

There was supposedly an ancient Greek style where two fighters sat on chairs facing each other. There was no footwork or maneuvering. It was just a contest of punching and taking hits.

I think there was also an Irish style that tied their legs together so the fighters had to stand toe to toe.

Epimethee
2018-08-12, 08:00 PM
That sounds like the sort of poetic language used by a writer who had never seen, let alone been in, combat, and didn't bother to ask anyone who had.

I think you are potentially very wrong and quite beside the point. It may even have been written (or more accurately collected) by somebody who has seen more combat than anybody here. Simply put, his aim was not to inform scientific minded peoples on the specific of the use of weapon, or write a technical treaty about the best ways of charging.

The image is striking because it put the emphasis on the cohesion of the force acting as a single massive object. The aim is clearly ideological, as a kind of metaphor of the virtue needed on the battle line that the intended public, mainly the nobility but more and more urban people, would easily recognize as a literary trope, as much as sport readers understand the obvious hyperbolic accent of the journalist who wrote on the subject. Complaining about the accuracy of the line compared to actual combat is a bit like complaining that the quarterback, or forward or bowler (I don't know the most relevant for everybody here) could not actually throw the ball on the moon.

As an aside, the Lancelot Graal was a major inspiration for Mallory. Written in the XIII century, and often falsely, and anachronistically attributed to Gauthier Map, it is interesting to compare its depiction of mounted combat with those of The "Chanson de Roland" for example, as such a trope would not be present in a text mostly concerned by the individual fighting of the heroic figures. The Lancelot Graal was written some 200 years later and the fact that charges are depicted as a roughly cohesive and disciplined effort speak volume about the way war and ideologies were changing at the time. So the writer could have know more about war than what a literal reading may suggest.

So mostly in agreement with Storm Bringer then.

Galloglaich
2018-08-12, 10:08 PM
I think you are potentially very wrong and quite beside the point.

I say this in the sense of empathy, respect and friendliness: you're a weird dude Epimethee.

G

snowblizz
2018-08-13, 04:13 AM
Once again, I'm here with a fresh question. I was thinking about Ancient and Medieval heavy cavalry (I know, they're completely different beasts, but the same question applies to both of them). What I'm wondering about is how closely heavy cavalry would be spaced when charging. I recall reading that they would ride knee-to-knee (although that might have concerned Carlist cavalry, but that seems rather unlikely to me. I might not be the best equestrian in the world, but that would have several issues. Yeah, well they were better equestrians. And a little less conserned with elf* and safety. (*Well okay, maybe elfs did concern them a lot from time to time).
I can't exactly speak of the medieval times but the 1600s and later saw exactly this (I don't doubt it happened in other periods in ways appropriate to technology/equipment). It was the hallmark of well-trained heavy cavalry. And, no, you really didn't easily withstand it. Not to say it was by anymeans a guaranteed success.


First of all, it would be hard to maintain such a formation even on perfect ground when going at a trot. Added to that, it makes it utterly impossible to avoid even small obstacles, which makes it an excellent way to cripple your horse without even really trying and before actually reaching any kind of enemy. And then there is the moment that you actually meet an enemy. Here's the deal. Yeah cavalry didn't like to fight on uneven ground. For this exact reason. You also need to consider this isn't how you move around the battlefield. You only form close order right when you are about to charge. Some hundred(s) meters *at most*. And you go full tilt only the last few meters even. Forget the scenes in Waterloo of the Scots Grey (IIRC). Who indeed blew their horses and were butchered by fresh cavalry in return.

You don't do this when you expect obstacles. Which is why "Spanish horses", chevaux-du-friese and the Swedish "swinefeatheres" exist. It's also the rationale behind the pike. And why cavalry softened up targets by shooting pistols point-blank. And did a lot of other things to improve their chances of loosening the opposite formations.


There is no way to avoid anyone in your path, giving another great way to cripple or kill your horse. Of course, it means that you can't back out, but at the same time, you also won't survive unless the enemy runs away. When two cavalry formations meet head-on, this is even worse, because neither side can easily back out, leading to a bloodbath. And that's part of the reasoning behind it. When heavy cavalry charges they are not avoiding anyone in their path. 90kg of man and several hundred kgs of horses are going to, literally, trample the 90kg dude on foot. On foot you know this. The cavalryman might harm his horse, he might harm himself, but what is certain is that *you*, you are going to get abslutely mauled. Maybe you just move a bit further back, or to the sides and hey isn't that the backline? Maybe I'll just see how things look after this charge.

Cavalry doesn't countercharge cavalry as a rule AFAIK or I should say it's not going to look like a tournamet tilt just with 200 guys on each side. The periods I'm familiar with you would hold your ground and fire pistols at the chargers, later supplementing musketeers and artillery, like the Swedes did because they lacked cavalry. Yes it going to create an ungodly mess. And yes it dangerous. However, not nearly as dangerous as standing still getting shot at by cannon. Your armour will protect you in melee a fair bit. It does fu all against a cannon ball.

And I definitely remember reading about charges where the cavalry backed out. It's really only at the last few seconds there's no stopping it. A bit what they are trying to depict in Braveheart with the mechanical horses throwing dummies into a crowd of anacronistic faux-Scotsmen.


So, it seems to be that they didn't actually use such close-order formations, so, I'm wondering how they would actually have done it. Does anyone know more about this?
Yea they totally did. It's mentioned often. I'd have to check my books I never remember to on the knee-to-knee of the 1600s. 1700s Swedish Carolinian cavalry was famous for it. Obviously when the infantry are "only" armed with a musket you are less threatened with a wall of pikes and can better use your horse as a battering ram. Yea it's dangerous for the horse. But getting hit by a cannonball is alos dangerous for the horse. Generally the melee was a safer place to be for the armoured.

TL:DR Yea it happened, there's nothing very mysterious to it, you form up real close and use the mass of the formation to your advantage. You are not gonna try doing it when various factors are against you unless you are very desperate, stupid or French.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-13, 06:48 AM
I think you are potentially very wrong and quite beside the point. It may even have been written (or more accurately collected) by somebody who has seen more combat than anybody here. Simply put, his aim was not to inform scientific minded peoples on the specific of the use of weapon, or write a technical treaty about the best ways of charging.

The image is striking because it put the emphasis on the cohesion of the force acting as a single massive object. The aim is clearly ideological, as a kind of metaphor of the virtue needed on the battle line that the intended public, mainly the nobility but more and more urban people, would easily recognize as a literary trope, as much as sport readers understand the obvious hyperbolic accent of the journalist who wrote on the subject. Complaining about the accuracy of the line compared to actual combat is a bit like complaining that the quarterback, or forward or bowler (I don't know the most relevant for everybody here) could not actually throw the ball on the moon.


To me, that is the problem, though -- it's not written to be an accurate description, it's written to push an agenda.

The agenda-driven writing of the past, taken as factual when read in the present, has been a major drag on the accurate understanding of history for a long time.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-13, 07:12 AM
To me, that is the problem, though -- it's not written to be an accurate description, it's written to push an agenda.

The agenda-driven writing of the past, taken as factual when read in the present, has been a major drag on the accurate understanding of history for a long time.

I'd just note that this is not only a problem with past writing. It's better to assume that all writing (including this post) have agendas and biases that need to be adjusted for.

But I agree that if we take agenda-driven writing as neutral fact it presents distorted views of <insert subject here>.

Aneurin
2018-08-13, 08:06 AM
Once again, I'm here with a fresh question. I was thinking about Ancient and Medieval heavy cavalry (I know, they're completely different beasts, but the same question applies to both of them). What I'm wondering about is how closely heavy cavalry would be spaced when charging. I recall reading that they would ride knee-to-knee (although that might have concerned Carlist cavalry, but that seems rather unlikely to me. I might not be the best equestrian in the world, but that would have several issues.

First of all, it would be hard to maintain such a formation even on perfect ground when going at a trot. Added to that, it makes it utterly impossible to avoid even small obstacles, which makes it an excellent way to cripple your horse without even really trying and before actually reaching any kind of enemy. And then there is the moment that you actually meet an enemy. There is no way to avoid anyone in your path, giving another great way to cripple or kill your horse. Of course, it means that you can't back out, but at the same time, you also won't survive unless the enemy runs away. When two cavalry formations meet head-on, this is even worse, because neither side can easily back out, leading to a bloodbath.

So, it seems to be that they didn't actually use such close-order formations, so, I'm wondering how they would actually have done it. Does anyone know more about this?

I think the ideal was a unified, knee-to-knee charge but that it also very seldom was possible. As you've said, broken ground is going to stop them doing that pretty easily and unless the cavalry is highly trained they're going to get out of formation at the best of times as some go too fast and some go too slow.

The goal of heavy cavalry has been to hit on as broad a front as possible, get as many horses to land the charge as possible and, ideally, break the enemy formation before they ever even hit home. Because cavalry hates a dense formation of infantry that doesn't move - largely because their horses hate it, and will try and shy away rather than run anyone down or run on to spear points. If the infantry can bunch up tightly enough (as happened with the square in the late 18th and 19th centuries), there might end up being two or three infantry to each cavalryman and half the cavalry will either stream past the formation doing absolutely nothing, or they'll get stuck behind their friends and be unable to get involved.



Yeah, well they were better equestrians. And a little less conserned with elf* and safety. (*Well okay, maybe elfs did concern them a lot from time to time).
I can't exactly speak of the medieval times but the 1600s and later saw exactly this (I don't doubt it happened in other periods in ways appropriate to technology/equipment). It was the hallmark of well-trained heavy cavalry. And, no, you really didn't easily withstand it. Not to say it was by anymeans a guaranteed success.

Here's the deal. Yeah cavalry didn't like to fight on uneven ground. For this exact reason. You also need to consider this isn't how you move around the battlefield. You only form close order right when you are about to charge. Some hundred(s) meters *at most*. And you go full tilt only the last few meters even. Forget the scenes in Waterloo of the Scots Grey (IIRC). Who indeed blew their horses and were butchered by fresh cavalry in return.

Actually, the British Cavalry at Waterloo drove off the French dragoons about to break Wellington's flank, then butchered the French columns about to take the ridge with horrible effectiveness. The problem was that they then decided to win the battle all by themselves, and took off after the defeated columns, wearing themselves out, then getting slaughtered by fresh infantry, cavalry and, of course, Napoleon's Grand Battery. The discipline of the British cavalry was absolutely abysmal - there's a reason Wellington preferred the King's German Legion cavalry to the British.


You don't do this when you expect obstacles. Which is why "Spanish horses", chevaux-du-friese and the Swedish "swinefeatheres" exist. It's also the rationale behind the pike. And why cavalry softened up targets by shooting pistols point-blank. And did a lot of other things to improve their chances of loosening the opposite formations.

Such as attempting to hit them in the flank, rather than head on, and with infantry support to boot; unsupported cavalry tended not to achieve a great deal. Cavalry may be great at breaking a line, but without infantry or artillery support the enemy won't form a line; just make a dense huddle that horses shy away from and the size of the cavalry counts against them as they can only present a handful of men to the waiting enemy.

It was almost unheard of for cavalry alone to break a square, and typically required either extreme luck or extreme skill to manage. And, ideally, a panicky and poorly trained and disciplined enemy.


I've also heard of such things as releasing pigs or dogs at a pike-line or a spearwall to try and break them for a cavalry charge; I doubt these were ever common, any more than using pigs to scare elephants was (the theory, I believe, was that the squealing would make the elephants panic) in the Classical Era, or terribly effective. But I've no doubt it was attempted on occasion.


And that's part of the reasoning behind it. When heavy cavalry charges they are not avoiding anyone in their path. 90kg of man and several hundred kgs of horses are going to, literally, trample the 90kg dude on foot. On foot you know this. The cavalryman might harm his horse, he might harm himself, but what is certain is that *you*, you are going to get abslutely mauled. Maybe you just move a bit further back, or to the sides and hey isn't that the backline? Maybe I'll just see how things look after this charge.

A lot of cavalry would wear very large hats or helmets with plumes to try and enhance that effect; anything that made them look bigger and scarier to infantry was a definite plus.


And I definitely remember reading about charges where the cavalry backed out. It's really only at the last few seconds there's no stopping it. A bit what they are trying to depict in Braveheart with the mechanical horses throwing dummies into a crowd of anacronistic faux-Scotsmen.

It happened fairly often, I think, if an enemy - particularly one with spears or muskets with bayonets - could present several solid ranks. Waterloo has a good example, again, of when Marshal Ney inexplicably led mostly-unsupported French cavalry up on the other British flank and it failed, repeatedly, to break - or even really charge - the battalions drawn up in squares.

Tight ranks of muskets would also have a similar effect; too many ranks, and the cavalry would often check themselves and withdraw, usually having been mauled by a volley or two of musket fire on the way in, which can only help to spook the horses and make them unwilling to charge a dense blob of men with long pointy things. Which is the other thing to remember about cavalry; the horses matter too - it's not just a matter of the riders and the enemy, the horses have a say in things too and, being far more sensible than their riders, have a distinct aversion to running full-speed towards pointy things, and usually to trampling screaming thrashing things that can make you trip.


I will apologize to Raunchel for not really talking about Medieval and Ancient cavalry here; I'm more familiar with Waterloo and the Napoleonic wars and, helpfully, I think they've been far more studied than the eras you've asked for. But it's worth remembering that there are differences; Napoleonic cavalry (and infantry) were professional soldiers, where I don't think Medieval cavalry and infantry often were; a lot of infantry were levies who, when the fighting season was done, would go back to the fields and the heavy cavalry were just people who could afford a good horse and some armour who likely didn't drill together very regularly. Discipline must have been poor, and I suspect cavalry would often hold together for one or two good charges, then go glory-mad and their order would fall apart. Levy infantry would likely break easier, and be less able to employ counter-cavalry tactics in a reasonable time frame.

I'm not sure how well the more professional mercenary cavalry and infantry held up in comparison, as I know every little about them. I suspect they did better, being professionals, but could not say how much so. Also, depending on the period and area, some armies would have been more professional than others, with professionalism increasing towards the end of the Medieval period.

As for Ancient? I just don't know, I'm afraid. But I suspect for many forces it was the same; and that few nations could afford the burden of taking large numbers of good men from their employment and keeping them while they train.

Galloglaich
2018-08-13, 08:45 AM
I will apologize to Raunchel for not really talking about Medieval and Ancient cavalry here; I'm more familiar with Waterloo and the Napoleonic wars and, helpfully, I think they've been far more studied than the eras you've asked for. But it's worth remembering that there are differences; Napoleonic cavalry (and infantry) were professional soldiers, where I don't think Medieval cavalry and infantry often were; a lot of infantry were levies who, when the fighting season was done, would go back to the fields and the heavy cavalry were just people who could afford a good horse and some armour who likely didn't drill together very regularly.

This is a basket of cliches right out of Hollywood - not all that far off from "Braveheart."

Late medieval cavalry and infantry were both more capable than their Napoleonic equivalent. They stopped making much use of levies in the High Medieval (11-13th Centuries) as they were dismally ineffective (by contrast French Napoleonic infantry were actually conscripts). Most infantry around by the time you had plate armor were highly skilled and very well equipped. They were indeed part time but that didn't mean they were inept. Most warriors of every stripe were part time in that they did other things in their lives. Cavalry were often planters, ranchers, courtiers or merchants in their normal life. Gunners and marksmen were usually artisans. Infantry i.e. pikemen etc. were usually farmers. But they fought routinely and knew their weapons well.

They didn't do mass-drill the way trainig was done in the Early Modern era - but they did train. I was alluding to this upthread.




Discipline must have been poor, and I suspect cavalry would often hold together for one or two good charges, then go glory-mad and their order would fall apart. Levy infantry would likely break easier, and be less able to employ counter-cavalry tactics in a reasonable time frame.

Cavalry in every era was considered 'undisiplined' because it was more difficult to control than infantry, in part because cavalry relied less on unit cohesion for their personal survival. There were numerous famous disastrous defeats particularly of French cavalry due to impetuous charges, but that is not unique to the medieval period. That said, medieval cavalry were often extremely sophisticated in their tactics, could fight with excellent discipline and were certainly able to fight as cohesive units all day long.

One of the things which distinguished late medieval infantry from say, infantry during the 30 Years War is that medieval infantry could be counted on to maneuver in the field, attack enemies in the flank, make sudden decisive changes in tactics (such as flank attacks) and so on. This is how the Swiss won almost every battle in the Hapsburg Wars, Burgundian Wars, Wars against the Holy Roman Empire across 150 years. Nor were they by any means unique.

By contrast, in the 30 Years War (17th Century) pike infantry was expected to do little more than march into a position near the cannon or the banner and just stand there. They lacked the cohesion to be able to maneuver effectively while under threat.



I'm not sure how well the more professional mercenary cavalry and infantry held up in comparison, as I know every little about them. I suspect they did better, being professionals, but could not say how much so. Also, depending on the period and area, some armies would have been more professional than others, with professionalism increasing towards the end of the Medieval period.

Mercenaries tended to be less reliable than say, militias. This did vary by region but the Condottiere in particular were notorious for changing sides. Full time "professional" <> better soldiers.



As for Ancient? I just don't know, I'm afraid. But I suspect for many forces it was the same; and that few nations could afford the burden of taking large numbers of good men from their employment and keeping them while they train.

At their height the Romans had 30 legions of 4,000 - 6,000 men each, for a total of 120 - 180,000 men under arms, and they were full time pros.

Conversely the Mongols, at their peak the mightiest army in the world, were traditional nomads who did not train in ways distinct from their normal lifestyle. Same for the Huns who gave the Roman army so much trouble. They did play 'warlike games' like shooting the popinjay, as did people in medieval Europe. But they didn't do any traditional drill.

http://kilyos.ee.bilkent.edu.tr/~history/Pictures1/im40.jpg

Point being, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Or in the case of the Huns, 100,000 Roman professionals...

G

Epimethee
2018-08-13, 09:12 AM
To me, that is the problem, though -- it's not written to be an accurate description, it's written to push an agenda.

The agenda-driven writing of the past, taken as factual when read in the present, has been a major drag on the accurate understanding of history for a long time.

Again, If I may correct you, it was written to be an accurate description according to the expectations of the society it was written for.

Agenda driven is not the best way to describe the simple fact that every cultural production emanate from a specific time and place. That's why a literal reading of ancient texts is almost always misguided, as I said before and said again.

The main word here is context. Even a heavily influenced texts may be useful to understand some aspects of the actual activities of peoples. The literary devices work in my opinion more like clues to decipher, as they are also artifacts, albeit written ones, witness of a way of looking at the world and organizing it.

I'm currently reading a book about religions in Gaule by an archeologist who actually excavated some of the most famous places in the last 30 years. A lot of the work is concerned with crossing the archeological facts with the greeks sources, particularly on the vocabulary used to describe temples. Every word must be carefully weighted but then they start to give you something back.

As an aside, I think literal reading is still a problem, but for academics, for quite some time, the main problem is the projection of modern expectations on ancient texts. I may speak with you about the invention of indo-europeans and how different scientific branch, like linguistic and archeology, reinforced each other in depicting a past heavily influenced by the ideologies of the time.
The linguists use archeological hypothesis they don't really understand as fact to propose a scenario, then the archeologist use the linguistics propositions they take for well established as tools in their interpretation of the sites and the back and forth build a strange beast that seem very well established.

That's a large part of what fascinate me in ancient text and the place for endless interpretations.

Also thanks Galloglaich, I presume...

As you already answered the questions about medieval soldiers, I just wanted to stress again that, by the XII-XIII century, the changing ways of marriage for the nobility and the increasing demography of large swath of Europe explain also the professionalization of the soldiers.
That's really evident for the Swiss, as more and more of the second or third son was inclined to go on the army, as one of the best way to make a living in a region the was more crowded.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-13, 09:25 AM
Again, If I may correct you, it was written to be an accurate description according to the expectations of the society it was written for.

Agenda driven is not the best way to describe the simple fact that every cultural production emanate from a specific time and place. That's why a literal reading of ancient texts is almost always misguided, as I said before and said again.

The main word here is context. Even a heavily influenced texts may be useful to understand some aspects of the actual activities of peoples. The literary devices work in my opinion more like clues to decipher, as they are also artifacts, albeit written ones, witness of a way of looking at the world and organizing it.

I'm currently reading a book about religions in Gaule by an archeologist who actually excavated some of the most famous places in the last 30 years. A lot of the work is concerned with crossing the archeological facts with the greeks sources, particularly on the vocabulary used to describe temples. Every word must be carefully weighted but then they start to give you something back.

As an aside, I think literal reading is still a problem, but for academics, for quite some time, the main problem is the projection of modern expectations on ancient texts. I may speak with you about the invention of indo-europeans and how different scientific branch, like linguistic and archeology, reinforced each other in depicting a past heavily influenced by the ideologies of the time.
The linguists use archeological hypothesis they don't really understand as fact to propose a scenario, then the archeologist use the linguistics propositions they take for well established as tools in their interpretation of the sites and the back and forth build a strange beast that seem very well established.

That's a large part of what fascinate me in ancient text and the place for endless interpretations.


I don't care about expectations or interpretations, I care about getting to the facts, and the facts alone.

Did the heavy cavalry actually have their lances close enough together for an apple to roll all the way across, or not? Just figuring from the width of a horse with gear and armored rider, and the width of a lance, I'd pretty confidently say "not", particularly once they started moving forward.

So at best it's fluff that we know not to take literally, and at worst it's fluff that later historians have sadly taken quite literally, in turn presenting a horribly flawed vision of the past as "fact". (And from my experience, more than a few historians are rather disdainful towards empirical examination of their assertions, which is how a lot of the garbage that's "common knowledge" now went unchallenged for so long.)

Aneurin
2018-08-13, 09:58 AM
This is a basket of cliches right out of Hollywood - not all that far off from "Braveheart."

Late medieval cavalry and infantry were both more capable than their Napoleonic equivalent. They stopped making much use of levies in the High Medieval (11-13th Centuries) as they were dismally ineffective (by contrast French Napoleonic infantry were actually conscripts). Most infantry around by the time you had plate armor were highly skilled and very well equipped. They were indeed part time but that didn't mean they were inept. Most warriors of every stripe were part time in that they did other things in their lives. Cavalry were often planters, ranchers, courtiers or merchants in their normal life. Gunners and marksmen were usually artisans. Infantry i.e. pikemen etc. were usually farmers. But they fought routinely and knew their weapons well.

They didn't do mass-drill the way training was done in the Early Modern era - but they did train. I was alluding to this upthread.

That's one of the problems about talking about a vast swathe of history. I knew levies were replaced by phased out, on account of being largely useless against any sort of professional force, but exactly when (and for whom) I wasn't sure of. An issue confounded by the fact that not every nation would have phased them out at the same time, depending on their relative wealth. I was also assuming 'medieval' to mean somewhere around the end of the Low and beginning of the High periods to boot, which probably didn't help much.

I never intended to suggest that part-time soldiers were untrained, and apologise if I did. I'm certain they were trained, but training in weapon use and basic formation is not the same as mass-drill in which an army learns to maneuver effectively and intermittent training and drill cannot be as effective as continuous reinforcement of those lessons. Skills fade without practice.


While many of Napoleon's infantry were conscripts, that is less true of other nations. Not all of the French infantry were conscripts either, there was still a large core of professionals that had once been the Royal Army.


Cavalry in every era was considered 'undisiplined' because it was more difficult to control than infantry, in part because cavalry relied less on unit cohesion for their personal survival. There were numerous famous disastrous defeats particularly of French cavalry due to impetuous charges, but that is not unique to the medieval period. That said, medieval cavalry were often extremely sophisticated in their tactics, could fight with excellent discipline and were certainly able to fight as cohesive units all day long.

One of the things which distinguished late medieval infantry from say, infantry during the 30 Years War is that medieval infantry could be counted on to maneuver in the field, attack enemies in the flank, make sudden decisive changes in tactics (such as flank attacks) and so on. This is how the Swiss won almost every battle in the Hapsburg Wars, Burgundian Wars, Wars against the Holy Roman Empire across 150 years. Nor were they by any means unique.

By contrast, in the 30 Years War (17th Century) pike infantry was expected to do little more than march into a position near the cannon or the banner and just stand there. They lacked the cohesion to be able to maneuver effectively while under threat.

Sophisticated relative to what, though? Compared to what came before, almost certainly. I'm less sure about relative to what came after. I still think that, when levy infantry was heavily used that my statement holds true; though you've convinced me that the high medieval cavalry was more disciplined than I had thought, due to its different background and professional status.

It's fascinating how military thinking sometimes reverses, though. From the flexible high medieval infantry you describe, to the static 30 Years War infantry.



Mercenaries tended to be less reliable than say, militias. This did vary by region but the Condottiere in particular were notorious for changing sides. Full time "professional" <> better soldiers.

I'd argue that reliability is not the same as quality. Though having your mercenaries change sides would be a very bad thing.

[/quote]At their height the Romans had 30 legions of 4,000 - 6,000 men each, for a total of 120 - 180,000 men under arms, and they were full time pros.

Conversely the Mongols, at their peak the mightiest army in the world, were traditional nomads who did not train in ways distinct from their normal lifestyle. Same for the Huns who gave the Roman army so much trouble. They did play 'warlike games' like shooting the popinjay, as did people in medieval Europe. But they didn't do any traditional drill.

Point being, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Or in the case of the Huns, 100,000 Roman professionals...

G[/QUOTE]

The Romans are a notable exception, and I'm sure there were others. But those were rare; you need a very strong economic base to produce enough surplus food and materials to maintain a full-time fighting force.

I'm unfamiliar with the Huns, so I'll take your word for that. The tribes of steppe people, on the other hand, lived a life of constant struggle and frequently engaged in raiding with one another - they are not particularly analagous to the more settled people of Europe. Many of the tribes would exist in a state of semi-constant... not warfare, perhaps, but conflict. It was a warrior culture and, when the tribes became an nation, there was little requirement for new skills and tactics to be learnt for the warriors to make an army, unlike taking a farmer from a 10th Century field who would need to be taught everything. Nor are they really part of the Ancient period, since the Mongol Empire didn't exist until the 13th Century, and the Mongol Empire could not have sustained itself for long without its early(ish) conquests of more settled people - it's part of the reason the Mongol Empire expanded as much as it did, it needed the resources of China and Persia to stay together.

Epimethee
2018-08-13, 11:02 AM
I don't care about expectations or interpretations, I care about getting to the facts, and the facts alone.

Did the heavy cavalry actually have their lances close enough together for an apple to roll all the way across, or not? Just figuring from the width of a horse with gear and armored rider, and the width of a lance, I'd pretty confidently say "not", particularly once they started moving forward.

So at best it's fluff that we know not to take literally, and at worst it's fluff that later historians have sadly taken quite literally, in turn presenting a horribly flawed vision of the past as "fact". (And from my experience, more than a few historians are rather disdainful towards empirical examination of their assertions, which is how a lot of the garbage that's "common knowledge" now went unchallenged for so long.)

Your definition of fact is a bit narrow to my liking. Also I'm not sure too much emphasis on material facts is that far away from literalism.

I'm of the opinion that, on historical matters, you need the sources to understand anything and you cannot read the texts without at least a basic understanding of expectations and interpretations. Those are cultural facts, they frame the way you are able to interact with the written clues of the past and relates to the material objects that you can study.

By the nature of history most of the clues would be inductive (that's mostly what you did by calculating the probable distribution of armored riders). We have a fragmented vision of the past, must make assumptions based on the pieces we got, destroying the archeological evidences along the way. That's even more true for photo-historical and prehistorical time.

Also facts are nothing without a system to organize them, heavily dependent of the ideological frame of the guys who produced it. What is more real in this case may be variable, as for example today the genetic evidences are seen as cutting edge science and have a lot of weight in asserting an ancient scenario.
That was not always the case: in the first part of the XX century, linguistic was seen as a sort of hard soft science, an unifying force between history, anthropology. other social sciences and even archeology.
So an amusing exercise of thought. The linguistically and genetic conclusions of the guys who are studying the indo-europeans are mostly the same. The problem is that they are three main hypothesis, the steppes, the Anatolian and the into-iranian, and each is "proved" by linguists, archeologists and also, recently, geneticists. That's strange, as if facts were somehow organized...
At the very least this example show the necessity of interpretation.


I have nothing against empirical evidences but the methodological conditions to make one relevant are really difficult to achieve. The gap in knowledge must be filled, again by inductive means, the socio-economical structures that supported the activity cannot be simulated. Strictly speaking, all that empirical methodology can prove is that it was possible to do it that way, adding pieces to the inductive puzzle.

That's useful but again context is key.

But to be totally honest I dislike binary systems: it is also important to study the material objects, to stay close to the actual ways of doing thing and I'm really awed by the guys who would spend month or years to decipher the exact ways an armor would be worn, a pike used and so on. I think we need all the tools at our disposal, but as I said a lot of them need a cultural understanding to be deciphered.

So here, as I said before, the medieval romance are really interesting to understand among other things the way the warrior society of medieval time evolve across time. You may be not closer to understand how a sword worked but you could pick something about how war worked.

Galloglaich
2018-08-13, 12:06 PM
That's one of the problems about talking about a vast swathe of history. I knew levies were replaced by phased out, on account of being largely useless against any sort of professional force, but exactly when (and for whom) I wasn't sure of.

I never intended to suggest that part-time soldiers were untrained, and apologise if I did.

Absolutely no reason to apologize, and in fact I should apologize since my response was a little too forceful - it's a subtle distinction but it was directed at the Trope or cliche, not at you personally. You are writing good posts, there are just some things that need to be clarified here.



I'm certain they were trained, but training in weapon use and basic formation is not the same as mass-drill in which an army learns to maneuver effectively and intermittent training and drill cannot be as effective as continuous reinforcement of those lessons. Skills fade without practice.

It's not the same, and we know they did not in fact normally do mass-drill (there are some records of this, but not many). And yet they were not only as capable of doing these things (maneuvering in the field and so on) as later armies, in many cases they were better. They also more than held their own against contemporaneous armies like the Ottomans who did train with Roman or Early Modern style mass-drill.

One of the key examples of this that I often refer to here were the men of the Hungarian Black Army as well as some other similar regional forces like the army of Jan Jiskra (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Jiskra_of_Brand%C3%BDs). Though they were typically quite small, the HBA / Fekete Sereg which was probably the largest and most 'professional' of these forces, ranged from ~ 8,000 to as much as perhaps 40,000 troops, they routinely faced down huge Ottoman armies of up to 100,000 troops or more, many of whom were drilled in a manner similar to the modern.

Though modern authors often refer to the Fekete Sereg and other similar armies of the 1400's as 'professional', the truth is that most of them were anything but. They were a crazy mix of mostly part-time fighters from different parts of Europe and wildly different estates. Bohemian Heretics, German Burghers and petty nobles, Swiss Reislauffer, Italian militia from Genoa and Venice, Hungarian horsemen. Many fought for a season or two and then went back to their regular life. If they got paid they often had enough to start a new business, buy a citizenship or guild membership and etc. The same was true for Swiss who fought as mercenaries - many were actually just artisans or peasants from the militia who went to Italy or Hungary or wherever to fight for a season or two.

Yes it may be in the family, but it was just part of life. This is one of the most important ways that the medieval world was so very different. Almost all warriors were part time. Most mercenaries, and mercenaries formed the backbone of many medieval armies, were part timers. Most feudal armies were part time. And all militia.

Their training was different and nearly unrecognizable as such to modern readers. But it worked.


While many of Napoleon's infantry were conscripts, that is less true of other nations. Not all of the French infantry were conscripts either, there was still a large core of professionals that had once been the Royal Army.

The core of the French armies in the post revolution period were conscripts and they were in fact some of the best troops - as revolutionaries they had a high morale. Similar in that respect to Bohemian heretics in the Fekete Sereg.



Sophisticated relative to what, though? Compared to what came before, almost certainly. I'm less sure about relative to what came after.

It's fascinating how military thinking sometimes reverses, though. From the flexible high medieval infantry you describe, to the static 30 Years War infantry.

yes, history is not just a steady march upward in a continual curve. It is more cyclical and follows odd patterns sometimes. Economic conditions also widely deteriorated in many parts of Europe from ~ 1550 - 1750. This was one of the reasons for the French Revolution in fact.


I'd argue that reliability is not the same as quality. Though having your mercenaries change sides would be a very bad thing.

Very true. The comparative quality of professional mercenaries vs. militia was a hotly debated topic in the Late Medieval era. This was one of the main themes of Machiavelli's Il Principe, and one which he himself put to the test successfully with Florence. Ultimately Florence was defeated by the French Army which was just too big for them. However the strongest and most powerful Italian city-state, the only one to survive autonomous and intact through the Early Modern Period was Venice. Venice did use mercenaries but relied on militia for the core of their armed forces, and this paid dividends.



I'm unfamiliar with the Huns, so I'll take your word for that. The tribes of steppe people, on the other hand, lived a life of constant struggle and frequently engaged in raiding with one another - they are not particularly analagous to the more settled people of Europe. Many of the tribes would exist in a state of semi-constant... not warfare, perhaps, but conflict. It was a warrior culture and, when the tribes became an nation, there was little requirement for new skills and tactics to be learnt for the warriors to make an army,

I quote this because this is also true of nearly every polity of "Settled" people in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. They existed in a time of near constant struggle. Read the history of any princely family, of any king, of any Free City or City State, the State of any Crusading Order, even of nearly any Bishop or Archbishop. They were basically in a near permanent state of low-intensity war with one or more of their neighbors which routinely flared up into full scale war.

There were some places i.e. France where you had largeish areas where for some of the time the peasants were not particularly warlike, but that was more of an anomaly. Even in France during the 100 Years War, earlier in the periods of Viking and Moorish raids the local peasants had to be mobilized into militia, albeit not always successfully (actually Moorish slave raids continued in France until after the Napoleonic Era, and didn't end until France conquered Morocco.)

In the vast majority of Europe however they could not afford the luxury of a disarmed, passive population and in fact most people in Europe had to fight routinely both on a small (i.e. raiding and so on) and large scale. If you lived within 1,000 miles of the Golden Horde for example (which bordered on Poland and Hungary) you really couldn't disarm the peasants. Medieval people were also, as I have repeatedly pointed out, engaged intensely in highly organized, warlike games many of which are still practiced all over Europe today. These seem strange to use but were apparently effective means of training for war. Finally, the other major factor appears to have been hunting which was often done by all estates (and by both men and women) in a manner similar to war.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c1/28/f0/c128f0879a9dc4e018399a7a16d7c698.jpg



unlike taking a farmer from a 10th Century field who would need to be taught everything. Nor are they really part of the Ancient period, since the Mongol Empire didn't exist until the 13th Century, and the Mongol Empire could not have sustained itself for long without its early(ish) conquests of more settled people - it's part of the reason the Mongol Empire expanded as much as it did, it needed the resources of China and Persia to stay together.

None of that is true.

https://image2.slideserve.com/4550222/the-nominally-independent-khanates-1300-ce-n.jpg

The Mongol Empire didn't stay together continuously as one unified force but it remained intact as a group of four to six vast proto-states, called Hordes or Khanates, which lasted for centuries, in fact right into the Napoleonic Era.

The Mongol Empire nor the later Hordes such as the Golden Horde did not require the resources of settled people. They were quite capable of living on their own resources as herdsmen and raiders.

Most significant forces of Steppe Nomads, including the Huns of Roman times, also lived the same way, i.e. they were not reliant on settled people, the grain or slaves or iron tools of the settled peoples, was just a bonus.

In fact Ghenghis Khan specifically as a policy used to destroy and depopulate vast settled areas and turn them back into steppe. Later Khans such as Tamarlane did the same thing and wiped out vast areas, leaving behind towers of skulls as monuments to posterity.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Zm8AARuedIU/UX-VKIv2Z8I/AAAAAAAAABg/zCF9I6xoKNw/s1600/Timur.LowRes.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_g1FUwB86Ow/UAqeiDPKCqI/AAAAAAAAAeg/fOjEBkWWii0/s1600/tower+of+hears.JPG

G

Tobtor
2018-08-13, 12:33 PM
It's not the same, and we know they did not in fact normally do mass-drill (there are some records of this, but not many). And yet they were not only as capable of doing these things (maneuvering in the field and so on) as later armies, in many cases they were better. They also more than held their own against contemporaneous armies like the Ottomans who did train with Roman or Early Modern style mass-drill.

I am very much in agreement with G on his view of training etc in the medieval period. Sure at times you might see unorganised rabble army (the peasant crusade etc), forming. They where usually quickly put down. Most armies even in the early medieval would know what to do and how to hold their ground. Viking armies, but also french and Anglo-Saxon ones fought in formations, manoeuvred on the battlefield etc. Also "conscript" infantry DID hold the line against cavalry.

Sometimes the lack of what we today would consider "professionalism" is outweighed by skill and willpower (the wanting to fight). A proffesional do it for money so is less likely to put himself in danger than a Viking expecting Valhalla or a knight who's main concern is his honour, thus they are more readily to think about and use themselves in battle.

So most of the times I think the medieval armies was really well functioning, though as G alluded there are examples of mass blunders for the same reason. On training you might compare how Brazil (traditionally) trained soccer; as a form of playing in the street with focus on pretty game (and they have won many world championships on it), in contrast to Germanys more "rigorous" training system and organisation (which have also won them many trophies). Both systems work, though the first ones tend to create more extrme results (in both ends).



I quote this because this is also true of nearly every polity of "Settled" people in Europe throughout the Middle Ages. They existed in a time of near constant struggle. Read the history of any princely family, of any king, of any Free City or City State, the State of any Crusading Order, even of nearly any Bishop or Archbishop. They were basically in a near permanent state of low-intensity war with one or more of their neighbors which routinely flared up into full scale war.

Again I am in total agreement. Both for medieval and dark age (and for much of ancient as well), warfare was very common and you often was prepared for it. Roman author note that the Germanic tribes where always in a war, and if the tribe for some reason was not, the young men would go to other tribes and participate in their wars. Similar if you see a list of Roman wars/civil wars it is also clear that war was also on their agenda almost always. Similar there would alsways be some war going on in Greece before the Romans got there.

And even if there wasn't a war for a generation or two in your area, you would hear about them and know to be prepared (thus all the games and contests). "jousting" in the 12/13th century for example could be large "mock" battles (yes cavalry against cavalry) including hundreds of people.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-13, 12:42 PM
yes, history is not just a steady march upward in a continual curve. It is more cyclical and follows odd patterns sometimes. Economic conditions also widely deteriorated in many parts of Europe from ~ 1550 - 1750. This was one of the reasons for the French Revolution in fact.


Indeed, and the assumption / presumption of a long steady climb paused only by dire total collapses (fall of Rome, frex) has lead to a lot of mistaken notions about history, such as those we've discussed in these threads before.

See, the way that some Americans look at our early colonists and westward settlers, and assume that their conditions must have been reflective of the conditions in Europe at the time, and conclude that conditions in Europe before that time must have been even more primitive -- which has helped feed the "dung ages" myth about the 1000 years between "Rome" and "Renaissance".

Galloglaich
2018-08-13, 01:04 PM
Yes, I think that is exactly it. We look at the desperate, crude conditions of our earliest settlers. Refugees, religious fanatics, indentured servants, slaves, transported criminals and voluntary colonists alike, scrambling to survive in an alien and unknown land they were often quite ill-suited to handle. And we project backward to assume Europe before that time was further down that slope. Which would be basically non-verbal cavemen. Hence the medieval Judas Priest warrior with his dirty leather outfits, the shirtless medieval blacksmith, & all the other medieval caveman peasants.

http://middleearthnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/DallasBarnett_PrancingPony02.png

Then due to the power of Anglo-American media, we broadcast this perspective back to Europe, so that now when you travel over there, many local people of course still know their own local conditions, they walk by the mighty town halls, castles, cathedrals, city walls and so on of their local monuments - can see with their own eyes the art, participate in the festivals and so on. So they know that they in their own local area had an interesting, bright, artistic past with brilliant paintings and architecture, lovely culinary traditions and nice clothes and so forth. But they tend to assume that every other part of Europe fits that Game of Thrones, Beastmaster, whatever stereotype.

Which dovetails quite nicely with European regionalism and nationalism. And the Anglo-American notion of "inevitable progress"

And makes it very hard for even those of us who are powerfully drawn to it to understand the past.

G

Kiero
2018-08-13, 03:59 PM
I've also heard of such things as releasing pigs or dogs at a pike-line or a spearwall to try and break them for a cavalry charge; I doubt these were ever common, any more than using pigs to scare elephants was (the theory, I believe, was that the squealing would make the elephants panic) in the Classical Era, or terribly effective. But I've no doubt it was attempted on occasion.


Apparently the invading Gauls who defeated and killed Ptolemy Keravnos in Makedonia in 279BC used the expedient of rolling underneath the front rank of pikes, then popping up right in the midst of the phalanx.


As for Ancient? I just don't know, I'm afraid. But I suspect for many forces it was the same; and that few nations could afford the burden of taking large numbers of good men from their employment and keeping them while they train.

Population wasn't a big issue for several states in antiquity, they were often larger (and sometimes richer) than their medieval counterparts. The sort of man who'd be mustered as a heavy cavalryman would be rich enough to own an estate comprising many farms, none of which he'd work with his own hand. His tenants (who might themselves be rich enough to be cavalrymen) and slaves would do the work.

Makedonia was a good example of a state who (pre-Philip) had organised cavalry, but the rest of their armed forces were little better than a levied rabble. They followed the Thessalian model of close order cavalry (including using wedges and diamond formations), and were able to muster in their thousands. For a period after Alexander's death, due to settling both Makedonians and Thessalians, his Successors were able to

Looking further eastwards, the Persians were able to muster thousands of heavy cavalry and tens of thousands of lighter skirmishing cavalry. They weren't very disciplined though, much as many individuals would have been exceptional riders and warriors. Instead they fought in loose units of lords and followers who fought much as they pleased.


At their height the Romans had 30 legions of 4,000 - 6,000 men each, for a total of 120 - 180,000 men under arms, and they were full time pros.

During the civil war at the death of the Republic, there were around 250,000 legionaries mobilised and active - at the battles of Philippi and Pharsalus there were over 100,000 men on each side. Obviously this wasn't a sustainable level of mobilisation - more from a funding perspective than infrastructure or support, but it was a demonstration of just how much manpower the Romans could muster if required.

Those numbers weren't counting auxiliaries and allies, either. Depending on whether you believed the ancient historians, they may have been at least as important a part of the fighting strength as those under the eagles.

Brother Oni
2018-08-13, 05:42 PM
I've also heard of such things as releasing pigs or dogs at a pike-line or a spearwall to try and break them for a cavalry charge; I doubt these were ever common, any more than using pigs to scare elephants was (the theory, I believe, was that the squealing would make the elephants panic) in the Classical Era, or terribly effective. But I've no doubt it was attempted on occasion.

The theory behind the pigs is that elephants hate fire and they hate small animals underfoot. The Romans put the two together and decided to set small animals on fire. They then did some more problem solving about getting the flaming animals to the elephants and after some experimentation, found that pigs were the optimal animal to be delivered by siege engines, thus you have catapult launched greased up flaming pigs fire scaring the living hell out of war elephants.

There's a number of references to the Celts throwing bee/hornet nests into Roman formations to break up unit cohesion, and wardogs are mentioned a number of times in the Classic Era. Without doing some digging, the only proper records of the use of dogs in warfare I can remember are the dogs that accompanied the Conquistadors which absolutely terrified the natives.

Epimethee
2018-08-14, 06:56 AM
Max and Galloglaich, it's fascinating to read you here. You know, here in Europe, when assessing the tropes about ancient time, and particularly the medieval period, colonial America may be the last thing discussed, if even at all. Most of the tropes about the dark medieval period are more or less in place in Europe since 300 years so I'm not sure the cultural behemoth that is America has something to do with that.
I would even go the other way around, as the XIX century in America was heavily influenced by European literature.


The most easier way to describe the consensus here would be to start with the darkening of medieval time by the humanists. The famous myth of the medieval period seeing earth as flat come from the encyclopedists who were really influential for a long time in the way the medieval period was considered.
From roughly the XVI to the XIX century it is the most prevalent view, contrasting the new enlightenment (hey, where could the name come from) with the Dark Ages.

The romantics, in XIX century, were injecting a sense of scale and epic on the ancient time without totally moving from the "dark ages".
This fantasy led to spectacular restorations of ancient buildings, like those made by Viollet-Le-Duc in the XIX century.
But the medieval culture was fairly popular in XIX century, think of Walter Scott, of Victor Hugo and "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"or "The Man who laughs" , or for an ancestor of LARP, the Eglinton Turnament of 1839. The books were hugely popular, comparable in repercussion to modern blockbuster movies.
They were seconded by theater pieces, opera, but also panoramas and dioramas, museums and fairs.

Again, a few illustrations:


http://www.artpassions.ch/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/unnamed.jpgand http://www.artpassions.ch/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Delacroix-Louis-dOrle´ans-429x580.jpgEugène Delacroix,Louis d’Orléans montrant une maîtresse, 1825-26

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e2/La_mort_de_Chramm-Evariste_Vital_Luminais_mg_8249.jpg/1280px-La_mort_de_Chramm-Evariste_Vital_Luminais_mg_8249.jpg La Mort de Chramn, by Evariste Vital Luminais

http://img.over-blog.com/600x405/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/Autre/luminais-la-chevauchee-de-st-guenole-et-du-roi-gradlon-188.jpg
LUMINAIS Evariste Vital (1822-1896), La chevauchee de saint Guenole et du roi Gradlon, 1884,

https://dailygeekshow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Philastre_Fils_-_Meurtre_de_la_reine_Galswinthe.jpgPhilastre René fils (1795-?), le meutre de la reine Galswinthe, around 1846

http://img.over-blog.com/600x376/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/clovis/RIGO-Jules-le-bapteme-de-clovis.jpg
Jules RIGOT, Le Baptême de Clovis, 1871

http://idata.over-blog.com/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/Julius-Kockert--Koeckert---Harun-ar-Rachid-recoit-une-d.jpg
Julius KOCKERT (Kockert) (1827-1918), Harûm Al-Rachid reçoit une délégation de Charlemagne, 1864

http://idata.over-blog.com/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/jean-paul-laurent-l-excommunication-de-robert-le-pieux-1875.gif
Jean-Paul LAURENS, L'excommunication de Robert II le Pieux, 1875

http://idata.over-blog.com/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/522px-Albert_Maignan-Audovere_Repudiee.jpg
MAIGNANT Albert (1845-1908), Audovère répudiée

http://img.over-blog.com/600x398/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/Jean_Paul_Laurens_Le_Pape_Formose_et_Etienne_VII_1 870-MBA-N.jpg
Jean-Paul LAURENS (1838-1921), Le Pape Formose et Etienne VII, 1870

http://idata.over-blog.com/4/00/12/25/histoire/memoire/Albert_Maignan_-_Hommage_a_Clovis_II-1883-MBA-rouen.jpg
Albert MAIGNAN(1845-1908), Hommage à Clovis II, 1883

http://www.repro-tableaux.com/kunst/sir_lawrence_alma_tadema/erziehungdersoehnechlodwigs.jpg
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), l'éducation des fils de Clovis, 1861

You will again note the violence, the way the bodies are depicted, but also the subjects, mostly concerned with royalty and picturesque scenes.


Deeper, those romantic reconstructions were converging, as G. said, with a sense of national identity that led to a kind of picking between different historical narratives. A case in point are the Swiss alps, imagined as an out of time place were the eternal values of the country could be preserved for ever in pristine natural conditions.
It's not exactly a case of "we know what is around us", it's more dependent of the way history is narrated.
That's really a complex subject who ties with the invention of folklore, for local subjects, and on the way national and international history was narrated for a more general perspective on history.
Even then, modern history ties with the subject: the eastern part of Europe was less talked about during the Cold War Era, so a lot of what was in Poland, Romania or the Baltic States was less well know here.

By the first half of the twentieth century, those images are well ingrained in the consciousness of European peoples. And America is just starting to become a cultural giant. Europe is still the main provider of cultural artifacts, and its productions on medieval culture are still authoritative.

We tend to forget how the ideas were circulating. Think of the Gernsback pulps, essential in the history of science fiction. The foreword is placed under the watchful eyes of Jules Verne and H.G.Wells. After WWII, the reference to American authors like Clarke, Asimov, Lovefcraft or **** became necessary in Europe as they were translating this literature seen as originated from the new world with all its cultural energy. But the European inspiration was essential for the American author who only then fecund again the European cultural landscape.
That's I think a nice way of assessing the back and forth between the old and new world.

So as much as the passage through America is necessary today it resonate well with what was laid down in the last two centuries by europeans peoples and I would go in that material to look were the tropes are shaped..

So yeah, that's really an original way to look at history. I cannot disagree that the American productions are influential, but even then, medieval history is a frequent subject for local productions, exhibitions and so on. So I think you may be overestimating here the American influence a little bit, and also the influence of colonial America.

Carl
2018-08-14, 07:18 AM
Speaking personally i'd say that the european thinking o the "dark ages" comes from two general thrusts. The first is the somewhat inaccurate depiction of feudalism that is rooted in the arthurian myths. You'd thing the only type of rulership prior to the last few hundred years in europe was absolute monarchy with the Kings word being effectively god given law. With the (somewhat acurratte), depiction of many of the things we take for granted today like good plumbing being absent.

The other aspect is how much the Roman empire is talked up, you'll often hear it described as being the first civilisation to embrace fully the trappings of modern civilisation, (like the aforementioned plumbing or the sheer scale of it, the degree of complex organisation, and so on and so forth).

It thus isn;t so much that the dark ages are seen as full of unwashed masses in grubby clothing so much as the Romans where so much incomparably better than anything prior to the renaissance era with even that falling short in some areas with us only financially and truly eclipsing them with the industrial revolution. There's some truth to that but IMO they're placing the emphasis on how the oman empire was organised and how it operated, (and a few innovation technologically), than on the overall tech level, but many equate cradle of civilization with high tech. The Romans are seen as being more like "us" than the medieval people.

Epimethee
2018-08-14, 08:09 AM
Speaking personally i'd say that the european thinking o the "dark ages" comes from two general thrusts. The first is the somewhat inaccurate depiction of feudalism that is rooted in the arthurian myths. You'd thing the only type of rulership prior to the last few hundred years in europe was absolute monarchy with the Kings word being effectively god given law. With the (somewhat acurratte), depiction of many of the things we take for granted today like good plumbing being absent.

Actually, the Arthurian legends are relatively late in the game, as their influence was declining till the middle of the XIX century. The first reprinting of Mallory since 1600 was only in 1816 IIRC. Then you would have English poets like Tennyson, to popularize the myth.
Arthurian legends were effectively essential in shaping the new ways of representing royalty, nobility, love and war in medieval time, but their resurgence in the XIX century is coincidental with a more romantic vision.
The absolute ruler and the injustice in his power were discussed earlier, in the context of the Revolutions. In this case Arthur was more an alternative perfect ruler than an example of despotic rule. Of course, today it is quite another story...


The other aspect is how much the Roman empire is talked up, you'll often hear it described as being the first civilisation to embrace fully the trappings of modern civilisation, (like the aforementioned plumbing or the sheer scale of it, the degree of complex organisation, and so on and so forth).

It thus isn;t so much that the dark ages are seen as full of unwashed masses in grubby clothing so much as the Romans where so much incomparably better than anything prior to the renaissance era with even that falling short in some areas with us only financially and truly eclipsing them with the industrial revolution. There's some truth to that but IMO they're placing the emphasis on how the oman empire was organised and how it operated, (and a few innovation technologically), than on the overall tech level, but many equate cradle of civilization with high tech. The Romans are seen as being more like "us" than the medieval people.

I mostly agree with you here but again, it is more in the context of humanism and enlightenment. The medieval period was contrasted with the more enlightened time of the Roman Empire. There's again a lot to add on a topic that should be mostly called "The Invention of Tradition" but one of the most striking example is "De l'Esprit des Lois" By Montesquieu. (The spirit of the laws, 1772).
The book use roman laws as the ultimate contrast with the rules of the absolute monarchy, described as inherited from the medieval period. This obscurantism was the main target of his work, one of the most influential in the contemporary political history and huge in shaping the future constitutions of the democratic states in the wake of the French Revolution.
Another hugely influential book, the Encyclopedia of Diderot and D'Alembert, was again one of the main proponent of the Dark Ages, and the book was an international best-seller.

Even in remote part of Europe, like in the mountainous regions of Switzerland, those ideas were dispersed and influential and you would find revolutionary factions. They used the same frame to attack the so called "Ancien Regime", what existed before the Revolution.

In some university tradition, particularly in France, there is still a before and after the revolution that define History, and a lot of the tropes around the medieval period can be directly traced to that assumption.

Epimethee
2018-08-14, 08:17 AM
Also fun fact: the **** in a previous post was a censoring of the name of Philip K. ****. As most readers would have realized.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-14, 08:24 AM
Speaking personally i'd say that the european thinking o the "dark ages" comes from two general thrusts. The first is the somewhat inaccurate depiction of feudalism that is rooted in the arthurian myths. You'd thing the only type of rulership prior to the last few hundred years in europe was absolute monarchy with the Kings word being effectively god given law. With the (somewhat acurratte), depiction of many of the things we take for granted today like good plumbing being absent.

The other aspect is how much the Roman empire is talked up, you'll often hear it described as being the first civilisation to embrace fully the trappings of modern civilisation, (like the aforementioned plumbing or the sheer scale of it, the degree of complex organisation, and so on and so forth).

It thus isn;t so much that the dark ages are seen as full of unwashed masses in grubby clothing so much as the Romans where so much incomparably better than anything prior to the renaissance era with even that falling short in some areas with us only financially and truly eclipsing them with the industrial revolution. There's some truth to that but IMO they're placing the emphasis on how the oman empire was organised and how it operated, (and a few innovation technologically), than on the overall tech level, but many equate cradle of civilization with high tech. The Romans are seen as being more like "us" than the medieval people.

More than a few Renaissance thinkers had a deep fascination with Greece and Rome, and saw themselves as restoring lost greatness in thinking and art and culture, with a wasteland between Rome and themselves.

The rise of the absolute monarch was in part built on the myth of the previous absolute monarchy, on a myth of lineage and precedent -- they pushed an image of their predecessors as more powerful and dominant than was actually the case.

And then the Victorians come along...

wolflance
2018-08-14, 11:32 AM
The theory behind the pigs is that elephants hate fire and they hate small animals underfoot. The Romans put the two together and decided to set small animals on fire. They then did some more problem solving about getting the flaming animals to the elephants and after some experimentation, found that pigs were the optimal animal to be delivered by siege engines, thus you have catapult launched greased up flaming pigs fire scaring the living hell out of war elephants.

There's a number of references to the Celts throwing bee/hornet nests into Roman formations to break up unit cohesion, and wardogs are mentioned a number of times in the Classic Era. Without doing some digging, the only proper records of the use of dogs in warfare I can remember are the dogs that accompanied the Conquistadors which absolutely terrified the natives.
Elephant doesn't seem to have problem trampling human underfoot though, and were employed well into the gunpowder era. That said, war elephant was much rarer and exotic in Europe if you compare to...let's say India or Thailand. The handlers that fought the Romans back then probably had no idea what they were doing compared to an Indian mahout.

gkathellar
2018-08-14, 11:43 AM
I don't really see why many of these ideas can't be right. Is there an particular reason, other than elegance, to think that many different sources couldn't have contributed to the same mythologized view of the past, and even fed into and reinforced each other? History is, after all, messy and complicated.

Vinyadan
2018-08-14, 02:52 PM
There also is that medieval studies are far less developed and pervasive than the classical ones, in spite of the fact that we have a lot more stuff from the middle ages than from antiquity. To put things in perspective, the order and times of rule of visigoth kings was only established at the end of the xix century.
So you can easily find a job with Greek and Latin, but with medieval languages? Nope. It's a very narrow career path in academia.

But, after all, it's an interesting heredity of the middle ages themselves ;)

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-14, 02:56 PM
There also is that medieval studies are far less developed and pervasive than the classical ones, in spite of the fact that we have a lot more stuff from the middle ages than from antiquity. To put things in perspective, the order and times of rule of visigoth kings was only established at the end of the xix century.
So you can easily find a job with Greek and Latin, but with medieval languages? Nope. It's a very narrow career path in academia.

But, after all, it's an interesting heredity of the middle ages themselves ;)

Interestingly, the university I attended has a Medieval Studies Department.

Galloglaich
2018-08-14, 05:40 PM
I definitely think the French Revolution (especially) the pre-revolution Enlightenment period and specifically the Encylopedists that Empithee mentioned, and certainly a host of tropes and attitudes in the Victorian Era (notably 'The Inevitable March of Progress' perhaps as most succinctly laid out by H.G. Wells in his History of the World) all did indeed play a major role in erasing the medieval era.

Even in discussing this, people seem to think ancient Rome eclipsed the achievements of the Renaissance when the reverse is without any doubt the case by an order of magnitude. The Renaissance, in the midst of comparative chaos, did far, far more with much, much less.

There is a mix of 18th Century philosophy, 19th Century politics (especially as dictated by the French Revolution and the concept of modernity vs. the "Ancien Regime") Victorian pseudo-science and early 20th Century Anglo-American fantasy, but all as interpreted these days by Anglo-American, and especially American media. Hollywood and now Video Games and Big Data entertainment complexes such as Netflix and Amazon. And to no small extent RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons.

Each layer builds on the other.

But the main reason we understand the Romans better is not because they were cleaner or had better water systems than the Renaissance (they were not and didn't) but because our society today is more like theirs in many respects, down to the legal system we use today.

And our militaries are organized a lot more like Roman than Late Medieval ones.

G

Carl
2018-08-14, 07:16 PM
Just to clarify i was talking in the context of what continues the myth in my experience in the modern era, it may well have had completely unrelated origins back i the renaissance era.

Carl
2018-08-14, 07:20 PM
But the main reason we understand the Romans better is not because they were cleaner or had better water systems than the Renaissance (they were not and didn't) but because our society today is more like theirs in many respects, down to the legal system we use today.

And our militaries are organized a lot more like Roman than Late Medieval ones.

G

This was what i was driving at really, the similarities are held up as evidence that the Romans where more civilized and less Barbaric than the medieval peoples. personally in light of any number of things the romans did i find that utterly infuriating. hey may have had their similarities, but they also had plenty of things that would push all but the gentlest of modern people to take up arms against them if they tried to turn up today and enforce them on the modern era.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-14, 09:05 PM
This was what i was driving at really, the similarities are held up as evidence that the Romans where more civilized and less Barbaric than the medieval peoples. personally in light of any number of things the romans did i find that utterly infuriating. hey may have had their similarities, but they also had plenty of things that would push all but the gentlest of modern people to take up arms against them if they tried to turn up today and enforce them on the modern era.

To be clear, my comments have been about how Rome is viewed by many (past and present), not about how I view Rome.

The unconditional, unmitigated adoration heaped on Rome makes me cringe.

rrgg
2018-08-14, 09:33 PM
yes, history is not just a steady march upward in a continual curve. It is more cyclical and follows odd patterns sometimes. Economic conditions also widely deteriorated in many parts of Europe from ~ 1550 - 1750. This was one of the reasons for the French Revolution in fact.

medieval peasants had no potatoes though.

Galloglaich
2018-08-14, 09:51 PM
Or tomatoes. Hard to imagine Italy without those... but they did have pasta

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e8/6-alimenti%2C_pasta%2CTaccuino_Sanitatis%2C_Casanate nse_4182..jpg

rrgg
2018-08-15, 12:31 AM
Once again, I'm here with a fresh question. I was thinking about Ancient and Medieval heavy cavalry (I know, they're completely different beasts, but the same question applies to both of them). What I'm wondering about is how closely heavy cavalry would be spaced when charging. I recall reading that they would ride knee-to-knee (although that might have concerned Carlist cavalry, but that seems rather unlikely to me. I might not be the best equestrian in the world, but that would have several issues.

First of all, it would be hard to maintain such a formation even on perfect ground when going at a trot. Added to that, it makes it utterly impossible to avoid even small obstacles, which makes it an excellent way to cripple your horse without even really trying and before actually reaching any kind of enemy. And then there is the moment that you actually meet an enemy. There is no way to avoid anyone in your path, giving another great way to cripple or kill your horse. Of course, it means that you can't back out, but at the same time, you also won't survive unless the enemy runs away. When two cavalry formations meet head-on, this is even worse, because neither side can easily back out, leading to a bloodbath.

So, it seems to be that they didn't actually use such close-order formations, so, I'm wondering how they would actually have done it. Does anyone know more about this?

Anyways to get back to this. There was quite a bit of back and fourth over the best way to conduct a cavalry charge over the years: how many ranks it should include, what distances there should be between each rank and file, at what distance they should break into a gallop if at all, etc. and this seems to have been the case throughout the middle ages as well, with cavalry sometimes using extremely dense, deep, and close-ordered formations while other times cavalry charged in a looser, more flexible fashion. There were Byzantine cataphracts in the 10th-11th centuries which were trained not to gallop at all and maintain their formation at a canter the entire time.

You can find various opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of different manners of charging, but at the end of the day a cavalry vs cavalry collision would primarily be won by whichever side won the psychological contest. So which do you think would be more frightening: a long, scattered line of horsemen all galloping straight at you at full speed, or a dense mass of horsemen steadily advancing towards you while appearing to be a solid, impenetrable wall?

That's not a question with one true answer, sometimes the chaotic charge proved scarier, other times the disciplined advance proved scarier.

Raunchel
2018-08-15, 02:18 AM
There also is that medieval studies are far less developed and pervasive than the classical ones, in spite of the fact that we have a lot more stuff from the middle ages than from antiquity. To put things in perspective, the order and times of rule of visigoth kings was only established at the end of the xix century.
So you can easily find a job with Greek and Latin, but with medieval languages? Nope. It's a very narrow career path in academia.

But, after all, it's an interesting heredity of the middle ages themselves ;)

From what I know from my friends who did Classics, it's actually really hard to find something unless you want to be a teacher. Which is important of course, an education just isn't complete without at least Latin but ideally also Greek.

But then you occasionally meet someone who studies ancient history without at least being able to read the languages, which keeps confusing me.

snowblizz
2018-08-15, 05:40 AM
To be clear, my comments have been about how Rome is viewed by many (past and present), not about how I view Rome.
How we view Rome ofc is also a reflection of our own self more than how the Romans* were. The last part we know absolutely nothing about really. We are only workign of others' and our own interpretations of the little information in text and artefacts survive.

*even just talking about "Romans" as if that was a quantifiable moniker is totally off


The unconditional, unmitigated adoration heaped on Rome makes me cringe.

You'd like Terry Jones' Barbarians then (https://www.books-by-isbn.com/0-563/0563493186-Terry-Jones-Barbarians-Terry-Jones-Alan-Ereira-0-563-49318-6.html)

Though IMO it's guilty of the sin that trying to tear down something iconic it goes way past the line of absurd. Baby and bathwater kind of deal.

Epimethee
2018-08-15, 09:40 AM
Really that's interesting and I could talk about that all night long. I mean I have heavily invested in both subjects, was I have called the invention of tradition and the cultural relationship between the old and new world.
I hope it is not disrupting too much the regular martial preoccupations of this thread. Also I think we are close to talk of things that may be problematic for some political sensibilities.
I assume most readers here understand the difference between fighting political battles and evoking historical phenomenon that tie with political problems still open.

On the invention of tradition, I mostly agree with the quick resume of Galloglaich. Literally complex mean woven together and it is important to understand that in such studies. Each layer build on the other and that make the relationship between those layers essential to consider. But as often when discussing with Galloglaich, we agree on the specific but tend to differ greatly in our more general view of the organizations of those facts.
As I don't want to go too deep in a potentially sensible subject, I will only say that our political systems are as much influenced by germanic than roman law, particularly the common law in the US and United Kingdom. The reference is to Rome but that tie with ideologies more than with an actual transmission of culture.

Really, that's a long story, starting in the medieval period, when the Church of Rome would try to take the prestige of the Roman Empire, with things like the famous pseudo-Donation of Constantin. Then you would have Charlemagne, and the the literary romances like the "Fait des Romains" who would retell the history of Caesar.
Then you have the influence of roman authors: in the Divine Comedy they are not exactly in Hell but in a special kind of paradise as even the church would build a lot of his philosophy on classical influences.

And then every power in Europe would use the roman vocabulary as much as its aesthetic to show its power. From the Tsar to the British Empire that's a constant stream of references: Louis XIV would play Apollo. The French Revolution, and Napoleon, would also play the game. Even the mode would be touched, you have the famous haircut "à la Titus" or "à la Caracalla".
I think it is no wonder that the U.S tried to go in the same direction: the roman aesthetic is still the overbearing expression of universal power in occidental society.

As a case in point, look at the monumental scenery of the American places of power, or the Neo-classic style of many train stations in Europe. It is no wonder that most were following the same aesthetic programmation than roman monuments. But if we want to go deeper on the subject we would be discussing the USA as an imperial power, and that would be too sensible a subject for my comfort here. (To be honest, I feel confident that the discussion would be enlightened and positive for most peoples here, but still..)
So for those who would go deeper on the subject, I have read a few years ago this very interesting book on the monumental landscape of the Us and it is a recommended read:Spectacle Culture and American Identity 1815–1940 by Susan Tenneriello: https://www.palgrave.com/la/book/9781137360618


But then the new definition of nationality would also bring a dialectical dynamic between the roman stream and what was seen as more authentic traditions. From the Ossianic poetry to the Nazi Ahnenerbe, the duality is still open. Again a sensible subject as it is still the way some political entities see themselves. A lot of Indo-europeans myths, of Celtic or Scandinavians exaggerations may be traced to this context.
Look for example how the mythical figure of Arminius was used by the German nationalism since the XVIII century, then against Napoleon, then to shape the identity of the German nation in formation.

As I said, it is in my opinion fascinating: historiography is as much relevant as history.

As an aside, in libraries here you will find roughly the same number of books about medieval period than about roman time. Both are huge success in public demand and the scholars have roughly the same opportunities. Almost every university has medieval studies in one way or another, from theological chairs to literary studies and more historical perspectives.


Then to another of my pet subjects, again a bit off-topic but as it was discussed...
As much as the influence of the US and of English as a kind of super-language cannot be understated, the status of American culture may be not as hegemonic as you make it sound.
Really that's a thing with history and one of the best illustration is the history of language: we tend to understand historical relationship in a vertical way, as if winner and loser are the only two categories. In a way it is not incorrect. But it may be detrimental to a good comprehension of historical phenomenons: in the study of language, a great deal is made today of the creoles, the languages of the colonized, as they show how the colon is not able to totally disrupt the cultural space of the colonized and how in some places a new society would emerge. It is also a way to rethink the evolutionary models of language that are still heavily influenced by the taxonomy of Linné (seriously, it is the same kind of tree) and a victorian imperialistic understanding of cultural exchanges.

Then think about the Gallo-roman society, one of the most developed and studied of the society that would go alongside the Roman Empire but showing a great deal of specificities, even its own kind of latin, who would be already different before the fall of Rome.

I'm not sure it is the place to talk about that but I have spend time reflecting on the history of science fiction, and some connected matters like comics, roleplaying game and such, specifically on trans-cultural exchanges. The subject is particularly interesting with characters like Donald Duck, huge artists like Moebius, the great history of Franco-japanese animation and Flash Gordon.
As you go closer, you see that the exchanges are not in one direction only.
Also the new medias are in a way liberating some local forces. It is easier today to see Mexican catcher movies, contemporary Spanish series, the huge stream of Scandinavian productions, or the ambitious productions of emerging cinema like China or India.

Roughly speaking, a lot of non-hegemonical cultures tend to adapt the more hegemonic to their means, disrupting it as much as adopting it. Horizontal exchanges must be problematized as much as vertical ones.

It is a fascinating subject but I fell really on thin ice here. Really, the reference to America as close to the Roman Empire feel to me more political wishful thinking than a historical analogy. You may understand why I am at the same time reluctant to go further and fascinated enough not to let go completely of the discussion.

Kiero
2018-08-15, 11:40 AM
Anyways to get back to this. There was quite a bit of back and fourth over the best way to conduct a cavalry charge over the years: how many ranks it should include, what distances there should be between each rank and file, at what distance they should break into a gallop if at all, etc. and this seems to have been the case throughout the middle ages as well, with cavalry sometimes using extremely dense, deep, and close-ordered formations while other times cavalry charged in a looser, more flexible fashion. There were Byzantine cataphracts in the 10th-11th centuries which were trained not to gallop at all and maintain their formation at a canter the entire time.

You can find various opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of different manners of charging, but at the end of the day a cavalry vs cavalry collision would primarily be won by whichever side won the psychological contest. So which do you think would be more frightening: a long, scattered line of horsemen all galloping straight at you at full speed, or a dense mass of horsemen steadily advancing towards you while appearing to be a solid, impenetrable wall?

That's not a question with one true answer, sometimes the chaotic charge proved scarier, other times the disciplined advance proved scarier.

Alexander's cavalry won the day against more numerous and often better-equipped Persian cavalry through this fact alone. They were using disciplined Thessalian tactics, the Persians were little better than a mob comprising smaller groups each looking to follow their respective lord's lead.

Vinyadan
2018-08-15, 03:41 PM
While we are at it, there is a funny thing about why the White House was made in Palladian style. It was a result of of the opposition between French and English philosophies concerning kingly authority. In a time when France was much more concerned about increasing the power of the king, England wanted to depict itself as the opposite, a country where the power of the king was checked and limited, as in a Republic. So they looked for the best Republic around, which was Venice, and they imported the style of her most important architect, Palladio, which later seeped to America.

dino_park
2018-08-17, 07:21 AM
The side with bronze has more options when it comes to designing weapons sure, but they're still limited in how hard they can hit somebody and how long they can wear armor without getting tired by the strength of the human body.

Brother Oni
2018-08-17, 09:39 AM
Or tomatoes. Hard to imagine Italy without those... but they did have pasta

I remember listening to a programme about medieval cookery and they took questions on what Italian cooking was like before the introduction of the tomato - apparently there was this weird paste that had this sweet but umami taste very much like tomato but not, sort of like a cheap synthetic tomato flavour knock off.

That said, most traditional Italian cooking doesn't use that much tomato - it's just the 'italian cooking' that's exported around the world that has a lot of tomato in (much like General Tso's Chicken in the US or Chicken Tikka Masala in the UK).

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-17, 09:44 AM
I remember listening to a programme about medieval cookery and they took questions on what Italian cooking was like before the introduction of the tomato - apparently there was this weird paste that had this sweet but umami taste very much like tomato but not, sort of like a cheap synthetic tomato flavour knock off.

That said, most traditional Italian cooking doesn't use that much tomato - it's just the 'italian cooking' that's exported around the world that has a lot of tomato in (much like General Tso's Chicken in the US or Chicken Tikka Masala in the UK).

Evidently the tomato has become so common in cooking in India that the Indian-born member of the IT staff at my office had no idea that they weren't a native plant in "south Asia".

gkathellar
2018-08-17, 11:08 AM
Evidently the tomato has become so common in cooking in India that the Indian-born member of the IT staff at my office had no idea that they weren't a native plant in "south Asia".

This is pretty third-hand, but I have a family friend whose father was a PRC nuclear physicist, and we were recently talking about something similar. He claims that at one point his brother had the opportunity to meet a high-ranking Party official from Hunan (a region known for spicy food), and tried to show off by mentioning that peppers were actually from the Americas. The official's response?

"No they're not."

South American nightshades reshaped food culture the world over, and nobody realizes it.


That said, most traditional Italian cooking doesn't use that much tomato - it's just the 'italian cooking' that's exported around the world that has a lot of tomato in (much like General Tso's Chicken in the US or Chicken Tikka Masala in the UK).

IIRC, it's more Italian-American food that heavily emphasizes tomato. Often we forget that expat cuisines can end up very distinct from what you'd find back in the old country.

(There's a fun documentary about this called "The Search for General Tso," by the way. It's only about an hour long, and it's a great watch, so I highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in diasporas or food-culture.)

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-17, 11:21 AM
This is pretty third-hand, but I have a family friend whose father was a PRC nuclear physicist, and we were recently talking about something similar. He claims that at one point his brother had the opportunity to meet a high-ranking Party official from Hunan (a region known for spicy food), and tried to show off by mentioning that peppers were actually from the Americas. The official's response?

"No they're not."

South American nightshades reshaped food culture the world over, and nobody realizes it.

I could be generous and assume the Party official was confusing "peppercorn" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_nigrum) with "peppers" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum).

But it's China, and they probably teach in the schools that peppers come from China.

Brother Oni
2018-08-17, 12:12 PM
Getting back on topic, I managed to go to the display of British loot nicked over the ages The British Museum earlier this week and spotted two things that might interest people here:


https://i.imgur.com/ZWTIOQW.jpg

Greek or Italian footguards, from about 520-480 BC from Ruvo. From the holes in between the 'toes', they would like be held onto the foot with string.

They look bloody uncomfortable though.



Unfortunately, my actual photo turned out blurred so replaced it with a better one I found online, but the photo of the info card is still readable:

https://freshandrosyfingered.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/12.jpg
https://i.imgur.com/bp2XQoI.jpg

Looks like the Greek gods weren't the only pantheon the Romans stole!

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-19, 02:28 PM
Anyone know the normal turn-around time (offloading, resupply, repairs) for a late medieval ocean-going vessel? Something large enough for about 150 passengers other than the crew. Probably more on the sailing end rather than a galley-type, as the sea isn't all that calm.

If it matters, the distance traveled is pretty short, only about 200 miles at most.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-19, 03:25 PM
if it needed to be moving quickly?

very fast, assuming it was in good shape when it set off on the previous voyage and wasn't in need of a new mast, careening or other major repair work.

ships could easily carry supplies for much longer trips, and they had the ability to sort minor repair work themselves, so all that really needs to happen is drop off whatever you needed to unload at the port, load whatever you needed to load, and then catch the next suitable tide.

In a lot of places, the tides might add a effective minimum turn around time, as some ports could only really be entered or exited at high tide due to the need to get over sand banks in river mouths, etc. that, and tides really matter to sail and oar powered ships. A 3 knot tide is a big thing if your ship normally only manages 6 knots though the water. I've been sailing*, and planning routes really often boiled down to trying to hit certain points at times when the tides were in our favour ("time and tides wait for no man"), and in the past before motor engines were used could often lead to ships being sat outside a harbour waiting for the tide to rise enough to pass the bar and enter, or for your sailing time to be at 3 in the morning because if you wanted to catch the edd tide to pull you though a channel, that was the time you needed to be setting off at.

assuming you can organise labour, it could literally be in and out inside of 6-12 hours, but thats the minimum, and assumes you have a factor, someone in the port who can conduct business on your behalf. Trade ships running a regular route would often have these, normally a local merchant who knew your planned schedule, and who could arrange for dockside labour, warehouse space, potential buyers etc, and took a cut of the profits in exchange.


if your going to a non-regular port, then it really comes down to how quickly you can organise all that, which might take a day or two.


I was part of a sailing expedition (https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipODlQdNEkp0axFoQmyp6WSxS2Gfv2BJJ5nlKg-6) that left Gosport, near Portsmouth in southern England, and travelled up the Irish sea and into the Hebrides as far north as Tobymory on Mull, then came back to the mainland at Oban, to hand over to another crew who were then taking the boat (https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipND3oAf4qq30P8KKEMUNep-pv7gCHkh7tc5ui_-)to Iceland.


here is me (https://photos.google.com/photo/AF1QipMzONQzDDZUKvgkhgI-yDodrJP7CQBeBlehiCT8) on that boat. good times. the Group shot is of us in Tobymory, which English people might recognise as the real life location of the childrens TV show Balamory, which was mostly filmed in the town.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-19, 03:42 PM
if it needed to be moving quickly?

very fast, assuming it was in good shape when it set off on the previous voyage and wasn't in need of a new mast, careening or other major repair work.



Not so much peak speeds, more like no-big-hurry speeds.

In this case, I'm trying to get a handle on how long I could expect between ships docking if

a) there's one ship covering a 2-point route
b) carrying mostly slaves/loot in one direction and supplies/soldiers in the other. Mostly small raids, not large-scale occupation/conquest. Hit a village, take the usable people prisoner and any interesting stuff, herd them back to their foothold for loading. So far unchallenged (due to political shenanigans in the target nation)
d) from a decent natural harbor/city on one side (although without big trees, the ships have to be built in another location, this is just a transshipment point)
c) to a very rough port on one side (the foothold is quite new and not developed beyond just a palisade and some huts on a small bay. They're really not the builder types.


So the minimum (from what you said) is about 5 days: 2 days travel (on average), 1 day in port, then 2 days back.

What about shore leave in the more developed port for the crew? Since they're not in a rush, was that more like days? Weeks (I doubt that it'd be this long, but...)

jayem
2018-08-19, 03:46 PM
Anyone know the normal turn-around time (offloading, resupply, repairs) for a late medieval ocean-going vessel? Something large enough for about 150 passengers other than the crew. Probably more on the sailing end rather than a galley-type, as the sea isn't all that calm.

If it matters, the distance traveled is pretty short, only about 200 miles at most.

Columbus took 36 days from the canaries to somewhere near san salvadore, about 3500mi, so 200 miles is going to be a couple of days. Also Columbus managed those 36 days without maintenance or restocking (he had before hand), things are of course different for him.
Conditions for the later (germany/ireland - america) immigrant ships are hardly complex, so I'd imagine offloading and cleaning/checking the berths is going to be a one person job. 2 days food/drink you could almost rely on everyone bringing their own packed lunch. And (as mentioned) you ought to be good for at least 4 trips on the trot. In which case the critical factor is getting peoples money and getting people on (perhaps 3 hours?).

However sailing at night seems to add a lot of complications that aren't needed. If you put to port each night (via two midway ports) you can buy and eat onshore, you can keep a closer eye on the ship and do maintenance continuously, and you have a lot of dead time to do boarding and loading and can probably run continuously for the season. But then you have the tides etc which might add extra complications.

Even if you do go full board, then you are talking about less than a barrel on average for everyone. Which again is probably the 4 hours if you have things set up.

In short the journeys at the point where things obviously things depend on the situation, if you have people lined up and left to fend for themselves onboard, you could probably be very quick. And you could almost do it.

FWIW The Lusitania maiden voyage moored at 4:30 and departed at 9:00. Sailed for 12 hours then left 3 hours later. Then sailed for 5 days. But then stopped for a week.

jayem
2018-08-19, 04:03 PM
Mostly small raids, not large-scale occupation/conquest. Hit a village, take the usable people prisoner and any interesting stuff, herd them back to their foothold for loading. So far unchallenged (due to political shenanigans in the target nation)
c) to a very rough port on one side (the foothold is quite new and not developed beyond just a palisade and some huts on a small bay. They're really not the builder types.

So unless they're planning a relay. The ships are constrained by the soldiers operations.

Storm Bringer
2018-08-19, 04:05 PM
Not so much peak speeds, more like no-big-hurry speeds.

In this case, I'm trying to get a handle on how long I could expect between ships docking if

a) there's one ship covering a 2-point route
b) carrying mostly slaves/loot in one direction and supplies/soldiers in the other. Mostly small raids, not large-scale occupation/conquest. Hit a village, take the usable people prisoner and any interesting stuff, herd them back to their foothold for loading. So far unchallenged (due to political shenanigans in the target nation)
d) from a decent natural harbor/city on one side (although without big trees, the ships have to be built in another location, this is just a transshipment point)
c) to a very rough port on one side (the foothold is quite new and not developed beyond just a palisade and some huts on a small bay. They're really not the builder types.


So the minimum (from what you said) is about 5 days: 2 days travel (on average), 1 day in port, then 2 days back.

What about shore leave in the more developed port for the crew? Since they're not in a rush, was that more like days? Weeks (I doubt that it'd be this long, but...)

well, if they are not in a rush, then the deciding factor would be "how quickly can the raiding port produce plunder?", since thiers no point sailing the ship if its not needed, it might operate on a once a week schedule, which gives the crew a few days in homeport between runs in order to let the loot pile up, so there is enough to justify the run when they get to the far end.


another factor is the exact site of the "raiding outpost" port, and weather you can get a sailing ship actually up to the shore, or if it has to sit out where the water is deep enough for it and load/unload via rowboats onto a beach (which naturally takes much longer). considering the scenario you described, the latter is much more likely (as any deep water port site would likely already have a port on it), so thats going to add days of back-breaking labour to the trip.

historically, shore leave was more a case of "if we have time for it, we'll let you have some" than a standard thing. A lot of ships were crewed on a ad-hoc basis in what is today called the "gig economy", with sailors signing on for the voyage (or number of voyages) rather than for a fixed length of time or indefinitely, so they took their downtime between voyages rather than during them.

That said, such downtime was mostly spent getting another sailing job or working as a dockhand, since, y'know, food and lodging isn't free.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-19, 04:39 PM
Thanks guys. If it's flexible like that, I'm thinking I'll not set hard timelines. The raiders aren't exactly the most disciplined/organized bunch, so "whenever we get around to it/whenever we can coerce enough sailors/soldiers to get onboard" works as a frequency.

They're based loosely on the Githyanki for basic culture (minus the interplanar stuff) -- dangerous levels of frustrated boredom, laziness (for anything except fighting), and a strong "we're supposed to be the ones in charge" attitude. Their targets (except for one higher noble) don't know they're there (the coast they're attacking is the least-developed and the noble in kahoots with them is covering it up so they only attack isolated nobles and villages) and are mostly too busy with their infighting (due to the impending death of a high noble, 18+ people with valid claims, and no clear heir) to pay much attention to isolated areas. This would change if news gets back higher up, however.

Epimethee
2018-08-19, 06:52 PM
Don't forget the weather. A ship may be delayed for quite some time by bad conditions.

Then I was wondering: those raids seem a new development? Why does a culture you describe as "lazy (for anything except fighting)" only start raiding a neighbor so close in relatively recent time?

But my main concern is on the unnoticed part... Many thing could be factored but roughly speaking it is very unlikely that a regular party of raiders would go unnoticed for very long, even with some noble covering up as much as possible. Of course the reaction of the kingdom authorities can take some time but the local population would know of something like that relatively quickly.
With the kind of regularity we are talking about, that's close to a raid each week. It would add up.

Being unnoticed could be a possibility if the settlements would communicate only once every few years. Thats something like the first colony in America regarding the metropolis. I don't think it is coherent with what we know of the setting, as it would certainly imply a longer travel for the attackers.

The thing is, as soon as you have neighbors, you would meet them. That's not counting the flow of peddlers, hawkers, workers and other walkers. Informations were valued in any case.

Based on your description, I assume a kingdom, so something with at least some history, a kind of economy and maybe a few generations of peoples in the region.
Even in its most remote parts of the remotest region it seem strange to have more than a day or two of travel between two villages, and you should have some settlers, charcoal burner, manor or inn (for the trope) in between.
Mainly, people need a good reason to go further away. And a few years after you dig a mine in the mountains, someone build a inn along the way. A few generations later it is a little town.

You would also have a somewhat regular flow of traveller. Some peddlers would circle the region and come back every few weeks or months, some merchant would just pass, in their way to a fair or a huge market, the fairs would provide some flow of peoples, and so on...
That's not even counting the next village, with which you would have some kind of relationship, sometime a kind of rivalry but often also united in occasions like celebrations, work on projects like irrigation (a huge source of conflict) or any other example you could think of.
At the very least, someone would come every week, or two week, or you should have very specific conditions to explain the lack of travel.

To come back to your scenario, and again there is a lot I don't know, if I assume an underdeveloped part of a medieval kingdom, I think the news would only take a few days to reach the near region. It depend of the target: an isolated farm would be noticed a bit latter than a little village, but it is still a question of weeks, if and only if the attacker achieve is aim so well as to take or kill everybody.
In any other case, the news would spread relatively quickly, even if all the facts are not known. It is an interesting story, something worth reporting.

At first the peoples may not notice something that strange or unusual, attacks could be relatively common,again I don't know the setting. But then pattern would start to appear. It may take months to really assert the specificity of the attackers, depending of the regularity of attacks, but it may also go very quickly. All it takes is one of two spectacular actions, some survivors, and the tale start as by itself and every new attack just add up.
Also more witness may mean some survivors or refugees.

I understand and agree to the reason you give for the inactivity of the central authorities. Also a noble helping the attacker may delay the day of reckoning. But I think the population would know relatively quickly that something is not exactly right and that open a load of possibility for interpreting it, from fear to despair and even trying to do something.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-19, 06:58 PM
Don't forget the weather. A ship may be delayed for quite some time by bad conditions.

Then I was wondering: those raids seem a new development? Why does a culture you describe as "lazy (for anything except fighting)" only start raiding a neighbor so close in relatively recent time?

But my main concern is on the unnoticed part... Many thing could be factored but roughly speaking it is very unlikely that a regular party of raiders would go unnoticed for very long, even with some noble covering up as much as possible. Of course the reaction of the kingdom authorities can take some time but the local population would know of something like that relatively quickly.
With the kind of regularity we are talking about, that's close to a raid each week. It would add up.

Being unnoticed could be a possibility if the settlements would communicate only once every few years. Thats something like the first colony in America regarding the metropolis. I don't think it is coherent with what we know of the setting, as it would certainly imply a longer travel for the attackers.

The thing is, as soon as you have neighbors, you would meet them. That's not counting the flow of peddlers, hawkers, workers and other walkers. Informations were valued in any case.

Based on your description, I assume a kingdom, so something with at least some history, a kind of economy and maybe a few generations of peoples in the region.
Even in its most remote parts of the remotest region it seem strange to have more than a day or two of travel between two villages, and you should have some settlers, charcoal burner, manor or inn (for the trope) in between.
Mainly, people need a good reason to go further away. And a few years after you dig a mine in the mountains, someone build a inn along the way. A few generations later it is a little town.

You would also have a somewhat regular flow of traveller. Some peddlers would circle the region and come back every few weeks or months, some merchant would just pass, in their way to a fair or a huge market, the fairs would provide some flow of peoples, and so on...
That's not even counting the next village, with which you would have some kind of relationship, sometime a kind of rivalry but often also united in occasions like celebrations, work on projects like irrigation (a huge source of conflict) or any other example you could think of.
At the very least, someone would come every week, or two week, or you should have very specific conditions to explain the lack of travel.

To come back to your scenario, and again there is a lot I don't know, if I assume an underdeveloped part of a medieval kingdom, I think the news would only take a few days to reach the near region. It depend of the target: an isolated farm would be noticed a bit latter than a little village, but it is still a question of weeks, if and only if the attacker achieve is aim so well as to take or kill everybody.
In any other case, the news would spread relatively quickly, even if all the facts are not known. It is an interesting story, something worth reporting.

At first the peoples may not notice something that strange or unusual, attacks could be relatively common,again I don't know the setting. But then pattern would start to appear. It may take months to really assert the specificity of the attackers, depending of the regularity of attacks, but it may also go very quickly. All it takes is one of two spectacular actions, some survivors, and the tale start as by itself and every new attack just add up.
Also more witness may mean some survivors or refugees.

I understand and agree to the reason you give for the inactivity of the central authorities. Also a noble helping the attacker may delay the day of reckoning. But I think the population would know relatively quickly that something is not exactly right and that open a load of possibility for interpreting it, from fear to despair and even trying to do something.

The raids just started, mainly because they only made contact recently. The raider's main base is on another continent, quite a distance to the south; the intermediate base is on a large island that they've spent a while conquering. To add to this, the raided civilization is very sparse along that coast (they mainly occupy a jungle basin north of there) and they have no clue that there's another nation in the area at all.

I'm figuring that they landed about 6 months ago and started building a foothold and scouting the area. They made contact a few months ago with the noble and bought him out (paying his large debts in untraceable gold and gems in exchange for his efforts to suppress news), promising to only raid the independent nobles/villages that aren't really considered part of the kingdom. The raid that draws the PCs attention will be only their first or second significant raid inland on actual members of the kingdom (as opposed to native tribes that the kingdom considers as savages). It will be flagged when the local lord doesn't finish her correspondence with her former protege, now an upstart noble in her own right as well as a wizard. The protege will send the party to go figure out what's wrong, and stumble into a recently raided village.

VoxRationis
2018-08-20, 10:36 AM
I do have to question the choice of ship somewhat. Galleys were the choice of slavers* and pirates until we get to the classic "yo ho ho" sorts, and for good reason; before the advent of more advanced sailing techniques and larger masts, European sailing ships were slow and clunky. If you're trying to make a raid on a target and be gone before people could react or even notice, a medieval sailing ship is a poor choice. In particular, as pointed out, with a ship like that, you run into problems of draft and ability to make landfall; if the pirates need to come offshore by launching small boats and then rowing those, you give your victims a lot of time to prepare, either by running and hiding or by preparing some sort of defense. The vulnerability of medieval ships to unfavorable winds also makes the getaway somewhat uncertain.
What I'm leading up to is that we know, for a level of sailing technology that can be characterized as "medieval," what the optimal or near-optimal design for a coastal raiding vessel is, and that's the Viking longship, which combines seaworthiness, reasonable speed (it'll lose out to a classical trireme or a clipper, but beat its contemporaries), ability to perform without wind, and ability to make landfall directly.




*You might ask about the infamous slave ships of the Atlantic slave trade, but a), those were generally post-medieval, and b), their crews usually didn't have to catch their victims themselves, having rather bought them in Africa.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-20, 11:00 AM
I do have to question the choice of ship somewhat. Galleys were the choice of slavers* and pirates until we get to the classic "yo ho ho" sorts, and for good reason; before the advent of more advanced sailing techniques and larger masts, European sailing ships were slow and clunky. If you're trying to make a raid on a target and be gone before people could react or even notice, a medieval sailing ship is a poor choice. In particular, as pointed out, with a ship like that, you run into problems of draft and ability to make landfall; if the pirates need to come offshore by launching small boats and then rowing those, you give your victims a lot of time to prepare, either by running and hiding or by preparing some sort of defense. The vulnerability of medieval ships to unfavorable winds also makes the getaway somewhat uncertain.
What I'm leading up to is that we know, for a level of sailing technology that can be characterized as "medieval," what the optimal or near-optimal design for a coastal raiding vessel is, and that's the Viking longship, which combines seaworthiness, reasonable speed (it'll lose out to a classical trireme or a clipper, but beat its contemporaries), ability to perform without wind, and ability to make landfall directly.




*You might ask about the infamous slave ships of the Atlantic slave trade, but a), those were generally post-medieval, and b), their crews usually didn't have to catch their victims themselves, having rather bought them in Africa.

My problem with galleys (which would have been my first choice for all those reasons) is sea-worthiness.

The raiding ships can't be built on the island midpoint, because it lacks major tree cover. From there to the main base on the southern continent is a long way (~10 days or more) over open, stormy waters with no land in sight. Basically it's like as if the Mediterranean stretched all the way across asia and was located on the equator. About a thousand miles of deep (but unevenly so, with some real shallow parts where mountains got sunk) equatorial water, ruled by fierce storms that blow east-west and treacherous currents.

That tells me that a coastal vessel like a galley, suited for calm water due to its low freeboard and open oar-ports, isn't going to be the best here. If they manage to build a solid base on the northern continent, they'll probably start using local timber to create galleys for local operations and then load the slaves onto a bigger ship for long-distance transport.

A long-ship design might work, but I'm unsure as to how much they can carry (both people and gear) and how protected they are from storms.

Mike_G
2018-08-20, 02:32 PM
A long-ship design might work, but I'm unsure as to how much they can carry (both people and gear) and how protected they are from storms.

Longships did some impressive open sea voyages, reaching Iceland, Greenland and the coast of North America. And with a shallow draft they can run closer to the coast, make landfall, go up rivers etc.

there's a reason the Vikings used them for raiding.

PhoenixPhyre
2018-08-20, 02:49 PM
Longships did some impressive open sea voyages, reaching Iceland, Greenland and the coast of North America. And with a shallow draft they can run closer to the coast, make landfall, go up rivers etc.

there's a reason the Vikings used them for raiding.

Sounds good. It would also give me a reason to limit the number of raiders (so they party isn't necessarily facing 100 soldiers), although the information I can find says they don't have tons of room for slaves/captives.

So maybe with this first real raid they'll take the prisoners back to the local encampment and put them to work fortifying and building a more permanent camp and only transport the high-value ones back to the island. This first raid is more about finding a particular artifact they're hunting, so the slaves are secondary.

Epimethee
2018-08-20, 06:31 PM
Ok PhoenixPhyre, your scenario seem more clear as a of shock between two kind of colonial powers.

Also the longship is a kind of military vessel. IIRC, they are a few different kind of viking ships. The true military vessels would differ significantly from the Knarr, merchant ships who would have a deck. The ship was actually too heavy to be beached.

It was those kind of vessels who were used in crossing the ocean, they were packed with families, livestock and provisions. So maybe you should have two vessels, one for the raiders and one for their plunders.
Or even a few little raiding vessels, like some Xebec, in keeping with the Mediterranean tone, some big felucca or the like, with some triangular lateen sail.

snowblizz
2018-08-21, 05:08 AM
Ok PhoenixPhyre, your scenario seem more clear as a of shock between two kind of colonial powers.

Also the longship is a kind of military vessel. IIRC, they are a few different kind of viking ships. The true military vessels would differ significantly from the Knarr, merchant ships who would have a deck. The ship was actually too heavy to be beached.

It was those kind of vessels who were used in crossing the ocean, they were packed with families, livestock and provisions. So maybe you should have two vessels, one for the raiders and one for their plunders.
Or even a few little raiding vessels, like some Xebec, in keeping with the Mediterranean tone, some big felucca or the like, with some triangular lateen sail.

That's not quite correct. The vikings crossed the oceans in much smaller vessels than knarrs. Not to mention the modern replicas of the "classic" longboat has done it numerous times to prove it could be done. Around 30 vikings per boat is the more standard size IIRC. They'd still have room for cargo,booty some captives. A lognship isn't purely a military vessel like say a trireme.

It's true migration would be done in knarrs. It's also true however, that the raiding longship could take cargo and passengers. Because that's what they did. When collecting an army for raiding and attack they did not use knarrs. Most long distance viking voyages would be amde with the smaller more flexible ships and they did bring back booty. Not so much bulk goods ofc. And it can't be denied it's not a defacto cargoship, so there are limits on how much provisions + cargo + captives who take a toll on both they could have. But the vikings sailed in longships over the Atlantic, that's a fact. It can be done.
Also Berber pirates raided as far north as Iceland and they didn't exactly have safe harbours during the voyage. That's slightly later but they didn't use large oceangoing vessels either.

Epimethee
2018-08-21, 06:20 AM
You are quite right, a more correct turn of phrase would have been "in migrations across the oceans", and I should have been clearer on the raids, I aimed for brevity.

But if my sources are correct, by the 11 century the longship would be specialized in warfare, with the "ledungen" by witch region under a king control would provide the ship and the crew militia.
Of course, you are right to point out that they were able to perform multiple tasks but they were still more or less specialized, with longships (Skei, or langskips), small warships, (snekkja), coastal trader, small cargo boat and ocean-going merchant ship, the knarr.
They shared the same basic construction but they would perform different roles.

Also yes, the Barbary coast may be a bit later, roughly from XVI to XIX century, but the felucca is a timeless design!

Louro
2018-08-21, 08:07 AM
What's the name of the "Morningstar"?
(The chained spiked ball)

Because as far as I know (I might be wrong) the Morningstar is a mace with protuberances or spikes. Called "lucero del alba" in Spanish (light of the dawn).
Is there any "oficial" name for that very rare weapon?

ExLibrisMortis
2018-08-21, 09:28 AM
What's the name of the "Morningstar"?
(The chained spiked ball)

Because as far as I know (I might be wrong) the Morningstar is a mace with protuberances or spikes. Called "lucero del alba" in Spanish (light of the dawn).
Is there any "oficial" name for that very rare weapon?
Wikipedia lists military flail (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flail_(weapon)#The_ball-and-chain_flail), mace-and-chain, and chain mace.

DerKommissar
2018-08-23, 05:13 PM
Good point. I heard an interview once on Joe Rogan with some guy who was one of those heavy duty snake eater. He had partly bypassed the military bureaucracy by taking a civilian skydiving course. He became an expert skydiver just playing with all these ordinary civilians who did it for fun. By the time the military found out about it he was a far better skydiver than most of the military instructors. He leap frogged passed them and got into Delta Force or whatever it was.

This story stuck with me as I read about how they did training in the Middle Ages. It's relatively easy to understand training in the Classical Era or in the later parts of the Early Modern, because it's kind of similar to what we do now: instructors assume you know nothing about anything, and scream at you (and torture you) until you listen, then teach you according to specific rote methods worked out in advance.

In medieval culture it was much more like the skydivers. Or at least in part. Medieval training is hard for modern scholars to recognize as such because so much of it looks like play. The Schutzenfest, the jousting, the horse races and tournaments. Bizzare things like water jousting and sword dancing and the running of the bulls and all that kind of stuff.

http://www.wilnet.ch/getAttachment.aspx?attaName=6b953cd9-8c9b-448f-89ac-1d5769013d6b

How could they be training if they are getting drunk and laughing? And yet they seemed to come out of all that very good at fighting.

In modern times, it's maybe the difference between regular sports training and say, X-game sports training... with some things like basketball or soccer which lend themselves so easily to pickup games, perhaps falling somewhere in between.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHYVS2CIXDw

Without a doubt, there is more than one way to train. We see that in martial arts clubs too. There is a lot to be said for repetition and self discipline, even self denial, but I think there may be something to be said for play as a form of training, even for war.


G

Late to the party, but exactly that. I would even broaden this to others kinds of fields, like playing music e.g. or in my experience for learning a kata in martial arts vs./and „fooling around playfully“ within the specific systen. You need both to become good i think...

Sapphire Guard
2018-08-23, 05:35 PM
How common is it for a palace/fortress to have its own dedicated docks, if it's built in a port town? I'm trying to decide if this would be more a vulnerability or an asset.

Obviously the answer is 'it depends', but any help is still appreciated.

Gnoman
2018-08-23, 06:23 PM
I'm not certain how common it was, but it would be pure asset. It is technically a point of entry - but it is one so easy to control, and so hard to use, that the only way an attacker could exploit it is via negligence or treason on the part of the defender. Even then, it would be less dangerous than a similarly compromised gate.

On the asset side, it represents a supply line that is almost impossible to interdict completely. Even with full naval superiority, night-operating blockade runners could bring in enough supplies to make a siege virtually impossible unless the besieger brings their ships in very, very close - at which point they are vulnerable to artillery and fireships operating from the fort.

Epimethee
2018-08-23, 07:05 PM
On training: if what was said is mostly true, I think we should not underestimate the transmission by the parents. Also some itinerant master would, at least in the Swiss confederation, travel from town to town. In the Confederation, the well drilled mercenary would be incomparable to share their experience with the Youngs.
The parties were the most spectacular moments, and their prestige and importance should also not be underestimated, but still they were occasional. Huge but not representative of the training, maybe closer to something you would train for.
A huge part of the training in the Swiss confederation would also be done on the field, as valet sometimes, directly on the fighting forces on more than one occasion.
As a short information, the first proofs of training organized explicitly for individuals or for formations by the Swiss authorities are only dated from the thirty years war, so the XVII century. I think a case could be made here for the necessity of coordinating the fire of the soldiers.


On fortification: Mostly, the port and the fortress would be two different part of the fortifications. A dock is a gate and you may fortify a gate but you are less fond of making it your main point of defense.

Here you have one of the clearest example: Athen and the Piraeus port

http://antique.mrugala.net/Grece/Athenes/Grece,%20Athenes%20et%20le%20port%20du%20Piree.gif

Note how the Acropolis is distant from the port, so distant that a wall was build in between.

That's the case for a lot of cities: Rome and Ostia, Corinth and the Acrocorinth, even Carthage...
In Medieval period, it would mostly be still the case. Marienburg, along a branch of the Vistula, had a docking but clearly outside the fortress, as shown here: https://www.themaparchive.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/b9d24ee63e043d9dae72d8cfeefe8ff8/A/x/Ax01145.jpg
The dock are north of the fortress, along the river. And also in the city.

Look here at the siege of St Martin de Ré, in the XVII century around the more famous siege of La Rochelle:
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/English_Siege_of_Saint_Martin_1627.jpg/2560px-English_Siege_of_Saint_Martin_1627.jpg

That's modern but note the place of the fortress to cover the port and the city.

Sometime the fortifications of the port may be very impressive. The famous city of La Rochelle has one of is most spectacular fortification still surviving above is port. But you would mostly prefer to differentiate the two fonctions.

As you mentioned a palace, I think it is fair to understand your fortress as at least a place of power (If it is a palace, as the place of delight and pleasure, we are heading for something completely different). So I have a solution for you: you will find here a 3d modelisation (https://sketchfab.com/models/7f022938bee44f36bde778daffdbea8e/embed?) of the famous chateau de Chillon, in the lake Léman.

For reference, it would have looked something like that (and the map): http://static.mycity.travel/manage/uploads/6/43/33278/e689f6a7bd90342821f8b15d834f3bbc7a8ba19f_2000.jpgh ttps://static.mycity.travel/manage/uploads/6/43/23519/374c509ac725ca596b4947c03002c52a0a0862aa_2000.jpg in the medieval period.
All the pictures came from the site of the foundation that keep the castle, you can learn more here (https://www.chillon.ch/fr/Z5143/plan-du-chateau).

So if you look to the left (or south) of the big tower above the bridge, you should be able to find a little door. It lead to a small port on the lake. I know, it is a fortress and not a city, but still. That's doable depending of the geography of your town. Anything more is too much of a liability in my opinion.

In a palace, I would not hesitate to go for the luxurious canals and the lascivious gondola under the shadows of delicate flowers.

snowblizz
2018-08-24, 03:25 AM
I'm not certain how common it was, but it would be pure asset. It is technically a point of entry - but it is one so easy to control, and so hard to use, that the only way an attacker could exploit it is via negligence or treason on the part of the defender. Even then, it would be less dangerous than a similarly compromised gate.

On the asset side, it represents a supply line that is almost impossible to interdict completely. Even with full naval superiority, night-operating blockade runners could bring in enough supplies to make a siege virtually impossible unless the besieger brings their ships in very, very close - at which point they are vulnerable to artillery and fireships operating from the fort.

Indeed. The English castles in Wales were all built on the coast with access to the sea precisely because they expected them to be staging points for resources pouring in to quell rebellions.

A very good example:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caernarfon_Castle

Epimethee
2018-08-24, 06:21 AM
Ok, that's really strange because I can't see the dock inside the castle, I see a castle defending the river. As far as I can tell, the walls are doubling the coast of the river, but they are never interrupted by a passage for a boat. I can find only a few references to steps leading to an entrance in the basement of the castle for visitors and connecting to the now lost Water Gate, never completed and part of the defense of the city.

http://carneycastle.com/Caernarfon/plan2.jpghttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/47/Caernarfon.1610_cropped.jpg/300px-Caernarfon.1610_cropped.jpg

In my opinion, that's something different from a dock inside the walls of the fortress. We are closer from a postern than a gate. I looked a bit, but I can't seem to find an historical example of a castle who include a dock. Maybe Tintagel would qualify, but even then I would note the cliffs between the landing beach and the main fortifications. And it is a somewhat isolated castle, were the need for such a port would be greater.
When you have a city close, i think the need for a second a more cumbersome docking area disappear.
A postern is likely, but I can't find an actual example of more.

I looked as far as the Spanish Main, and even there the fortresses would guard the port but not be part of it. Here for example the Fort San Cristobal In Puerto Rico:

https://beautifulboricuastyle.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/san_cristobal.jpg?w=840

Again, the main goal of a fortress should be differentiated from the goals of a port. Negligence or treasons were the most common events that would lead to the fall of a castle. So as long as the castle protect the port, all the effects you mentioned about supply are there and you don't need to double on them to create opening in your main line of defense.

Another example, La Havana, look how the fortresses watch the port: http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw/images/0/0b/Map_of_Havana.jpg

I think it make clear that the fortress are here to protect the port and are not intended to be part of it.

snowblizz
2018-08-24, 07:40 AM
In my opinion, that's something different from a dock inside the walls of the fortress.


Well yes because a dock inside walls would be a harbour with walls and not a fort. Also, "dock" means the stone or wooden structure you put your ships along. Having a "dock" inside a fortress means technically you have a fortress that consist of a lake surrounded by walls. It's just incredibly inefficient way of protecting something. And not something most medieval fortresses really could afford to have. Space considerations means it's not exactly a fort any longer. Which is why I was thinking of the castles in Wales because they are designed on the assumption that they will be connected and resupplied by sea, acting as as staging ground in a hostile land independent of any towns that may or may not exist near them.

You only really need to defend the inlet to a harbour. Which is naturally why most of the examples you posed, eg form the Spanish Main are exactly that.

The Venetian Arsenal could get close to what I think is how you see it. Karlskrona in Sweden (the main naval installation after it was established in the 1600s) to some degree are similar. There's also Sveaborg in Finalnd. The latter two are naval bases/shipyards and with extensive fortifications. None of them are medieaval or surrounded by a curtain wall because that's not gonna be very practical.

Epimethee
2018-08-24, 08:18 AM
Yes, that was my point and I'm happy we agree on that. (TBH I may have overstated a bit the meaning of "dedicated".)

That's why I said repeatedly that a postern would be the most common case of connecting a dock with a castle, but more would not be really efficient. In the best case scenario you would have a small dock outside the wall. You quoted yourself the main reasons why: defending a dock is a crazy task. The naval bases (I was also thinking of Carthage and here you have a fortified port and a fortress, quite distinct) illustrate perfectly the difficulty of balancing the necessity of docking ships and the necessities of defense.

Also again, I agree that an isolated castle on a coast would have a different layout. But near a city, the castle would mainly be supplied by the town.

About blockade, I think the site is clearly important. In Caernarfon, as much as I see it, it is fairly easy to block the access of the channel between the land and Anglesey. I really think the castle is intended to protect the water ways, and even more as and Edwardian building to impose the power of the king of the channel. I can suppose that the castle was as much intended to close the way than to use the ships for supply.

Brother Oni
2018-08-24, 01:34 PM
On the 'harbour with walls' front, the Tower of London has the Traitor's Gate (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traitors%27_Gate), which was a iron bar gate with a portcullis to allow entrance to the castle from the Thames.

That said, the dock is just a flight of stone steps since there's isn't much space for a archetypical 'walkway extending out into the sea' style dock.

https://petalpress.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/traitors-gate.jpg
https://petalpress.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/traitors-gate.jpg

Sapphire Guard
2018-08-24, 06:19 PM
Thanks everyone, good thoughts all round. Wales is probably a special case, because the English Navy isn't going to have much competition in the Irish Sea.

Epimethee
2018-08-24, 06:29 PM
Kudos Brother Oni, well done!

In the same wikipedia page is a link to the article Watergate (architecture) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watergate_(architecture)) who gives other examples, such as Newport, Pembrokeshire, Southampton or Bristol.

I know less about those places (funnily I was in Pembrokeshire just around the same date last year but I haven't seen a tenth of the castles there obviously) so I can't say anything with any amount of certainty but, looking at the plans offered by wikipedia, I think you would still see that the moat or keep and the Watergate are distinct objects. The bigger the dock, the more likely such a situation may be. Thus we go back to the postern, or we need another discussion to what exactly qualifies as a castle, or as a fortification complex.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/94/Bristol_Castle_plan_ancient_times.jpg/1920px-Bristol_Castle_plan_ancient_times.jpghttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b1/Southampton_medieval_plan.png/666px-Southampton_medieval_plan.png(and the legends for the map are here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southampton_Castle#/media/File:Southampton_medieval_plan.png

But again, they are easiest ways, as perfectly stated by snowbliss, to defend a port and you don't really need, except for specific circumstances, walls and ceiling around your docks. On those counts I think we mostly agree here!

Epimethee
2018-08-24, 06:33 PM
Ninjaed by Sapphire Guard! Sorry!

Also Edward Longshanks, the main architect of the Caernarfon Castle, was the conqueror of Wales (roughly, again), so securing the water ways and the island nearby would have been an important problem for him.

Vinyadan
2018-08-25, 06:47 AM
In unrelated news, a few months ago a Black Hawk was forced to land after impact with a hobbyist UAV. The little drone was blown to pieces, but it impacted the rotor, causing damage sufficient to require replacement of a few parts. This did not happen in a war zone, and the whole thing was accidental and due to the drone being flown beyond line of sight by its owner, which is illegal. It apparently is the first documented collision of manned and unmanned aircraft.
https://petapixel.com/2018/01/02/dji-drone-collided-us-army-black-hawk-chopper-dented-rotor/

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-25, 08:25 AM
In unrelated news, a few months ago a Black Hawk was forced to land after impact with a hobbyist UAV. The little drone was blown to pieces, but it impacted the rotor, causing damage sufficient to require replacement of a few parts. This did not happen in a war zone, and the whole thing was accidental and due to the drone being flown beyond line of sight by its owner, which is illegal. It apparently is the first documented collision of manned and unmanned aircraft.
https://petapixel.com/2018/01/02/dji-drone-collided-us-army-black-hawk-chopper-dented-rotor/

Drones are going to be a scourge.

I'm of the opinion that flying a drone over someone else's private property without permission should be considered felony trespass, and using one to take pictures or otherwise surveil someone without their knowledge should be some sort of felony as well.

Telok
2018-08-25, 06:47 PM
Drones are going to be a scourge.

I'm of the opinion that flying a drone over someone else's private property without permission should be considered felony trespass, and using one to take pictures or otherwise surveil someone without their knowledge should be some sort of felony as well.

So that's a thought... DIY directed energy weapons. Anyone have a handle on the state of the art there?

Lasers probably won't cut it. Getting them to weaponized to levels where they could take down a drone is going to involve lots of power, waste heat, and probably a pretty good fire hazard. Radio and microwave lasers would probably work better since they can directly affect the electronics and will probably bypass the plastic body. But I don't know offhand if they're within reach of dedicated hobbyists.

Calthropstu
2018-08-25, 07:48 PM
Rear guard and flanking:

I had this experience about 15 years ago when I used to larp. I am posting it here as it seems relevant to the thread. We did a 30 on 30 line battle. I decided to try something and got on the very end of the line. As soon as combat started, I took off running around the side of their line and out.

I came back toward the center at their rear and it was...

Devastating. I wiped out their entire center in seconds getting 6 kills. At that point their entire line collapsed and we won easily.

So we did it a second time... With the exact same results.

Third time, they dedicated one of their better fighters to pretty much stopping me. This rear guard held me off for a time, but I managed to engage him and, while fighting, I got to a point where I could break away and once again charge their back line.

I managed 3 kills before the rear guard caught up to me and got me, and despite the rear guard taking one of the fallen's positions, their center still collapsed.

Getting attacked from behind is so devastating, I feel rpgs do not convey this properly. It was pretty much auto hit. Even with the rear guard shouting a warning. But even so, real world flanks and sneak attacks win fights completely.

Calthropstu
2018-08-25, 07:52 PM
So that's a thought... DIY directed energy weapons. Anyone have a handle on the state of the art there?

Lasers probably won't cut it. Getting them to weaponized to levels where they could take down a drone is going to involve lots of power, waste heat, and probably a pretty good fire hazard. Radio and microwave lasers would probably work better since they can directly affect the electronics and will probably bypass the plastic body. But I don't know offhand if they're within reach of dedicated hobbyists.

Actually, they HAVE such lasers. See here (https://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/07/03/chinese-police-to-adopt-laser-gun-that-can-set-protesters-on-fire/)

Brother Oni
2018-08-25, 10:46 PM
Actually, they HAVE such lasers. See here (https://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/07/03/chinese-police-to-adopt-laser-gun-that-can-set-protesters-on-fire/)

Except that a number of people think the ZKZM-500 is just a propaganda piece designed to instil fear into anti-government protestors - a man portable laser with an effective range out to 800m and capable of 1000 shots out of a lithium ion battery? It's essentially science fiction (https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/01/chinese-company-claims-its-laser-ak-47-can-set-you-on-fire-from-half-a-mile-away/).

In comparison, the best US laser weapon, the LaWS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_Weapon_System) requires the powerplant output of a large ship in the 30MW range (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Portland_(LPD-27)).

Gnoman
2018-08-25, 11:24 PM
Taking down a cheap drone with a laser isn't that difficult, in theory. They're completely unarmored, and you don't need very high power densities to cut through plastic - a standard set of safety glasses is considerably thicker and sturdier than a drone shell, and even a 10 watt laser will burn through those as if they aren't even there. Any industrial laser would probably do the job just fine, as long as it was low-powered enough not to create too much blooming.


Such a device would probably not be handheld, but could be powered from standard household electricity.

Calthropstu
2018-08-25, 11:26 PM
Except that a number of people think the ZKZM-500 is just a propaganda piece designed to instil fear into anti-government protestors - a man portable laser with an effective range out to 800m and capable of 1000 shots out of a lithium ion battery? It's essentially science fiction (https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/01/chinese-company-claims-its-laser-ak-47-can-set-you-on-fire-from-half-a-mile-away/).

In comparison, the best US laser weapon, the LaWS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_Weapon_System) requires the powerplant output of a large ship in the 30MW range (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Portland_(LPD-27)).

There is supposedly a video displaying it functioning, but I could not find it with a cursory search.

If real, it will be incredibly dangerous though as using it would pretty much cause widespread fires from its description.

Carl
2018-08-26, 02:55 AM
There is supposedly a video displaying it functioning, but I could not find it with a cursory search.

If real, it will be incredibly dangerous though as using it would pretty much cause widespread fires from its description.

If they had a laser powerful enough to do what they're claiming they'd need a vastly bigger battery pack and some kind of radiator built into it.

Vinyadan
2018-08-26, 03:46 AM
Guys, it's Breitbart. I wouldn't take its contents at face value.

Raunchel
2018-08-26, 05:30 AM
Rear guard and flanking:

I had this experience about 15 years ago when I used to larp. I am posting it here as it seems relevant to the thread. We did a 30 on 30 line battle. I decided to try something and got on the very end of the line. As soon as combat started, I took off running around the side of their line and out.

I came back toward the center at their rear and it was...

Devastating. I wiped out their entire center in seconds getting 6 kills. At that point their entire line collapsed and we won easily.

So we did it a second time... With the exact same results.

Third time, they dedicated one of their better fighters to pretty much stopping me. This rear guard held me off for a time, but I managed to engage him and, while fighting, I got to a point where I could break away and once again charge their back line.

I managed 3 kills before the rear guard caught up to me and got me, and despite the rear guard taking one of the fallen's positions, their center still collapsed.

Getting attacked from behind is so devastating, I feel rpgs do not convey this properly. It was pretty much auto hit. Even with the rear guard shouting a warning. But even so, real world flanks and sneak attacks win fights completely.

Wow! That's really nore extreme than I would have thought. I however have a few questions to help me understand a little bit better what was happening.

1. How deep were your formations? I'm thinking that if you have a few ranks, it's easier to get the rear to fight back than when it's just a single or double line.

2. How did the fighting work? I don't really know much about larping, but is it about hitting in certain places? Or is it something else?

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-26, 08:01 AM
Guys, it's Breitbart. I wouldn't take its contents at face value.

I hadn't even looked at the link yet, too busy yesterday.

The actual source... takes the story from implausible to laughable.

MrConsideration
2018-08-26, 09:01 AM
What kinds of 'lingering wounds' would piercing and bludgeoning weapons leave? I've only seen evidence of this from my previous life in a museum on skeletons where axes and spears do sufficient damage to bruise or break bones underneath all the meat but its hard to imagine what that would do to an adventurer.

I'm putting together a lingering wounds table which works on damage type (so Fire/Acid/Lightning result in burns related injuries, slashing the loss of limbs...) and I really don't have much for piercing and bludgeoning beyond:

Piercing:
Internal Bleeding/ messed-up organs
Losing an eye

Bludgeoning:
Concussion/Brain damage
Broken bones (limb)
Shattered ribs


Secondly, my current game is very wilderness survival based, and I'm planning to go wild camping next week. As the girlfriend and I have been painstakingly wrapping our skivvies in plastic and gore-tex derived waterproofing, I'm struck by the question of how people on campaign waterproofed things (bowstrings, guns, rations) before the advent of these materials. (my game takes place in a broadly C17th period). Seal-skin? Blubber? Rubbing fat on them? Barrels covered in tar? What can I adapt for my game?

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-26, 09:22 AM
Secondly, my current game is very wilderness survival based, and I'm planning to go wild camping next week. As the girlfriend and I have been painstakingly wrapping our skivvies in plastic and gore-tex derived waterproofing, I'm struck by the question of how people on campaign waterproofed things (bowstrings, guns, rations) before the advent of these materials. (my game takes place in a broadly C17th period). Seal-skin? Blubber? Rubbing fat on them? Barrels covered in tar? What can I adapt for my game?


Depending on time period, oilcloth, oilskin, painted or waxed canvas for tents...

Mike_G
2018-08-26, 10:52 AM
Beeswax is great for waterproofing. We used to use it on boots when I worked for the Water Department. You heat up the boots, then rub the wax on them.

I'm sure other fat works just as well.

This guy's channel, while gear toward 18th-19th Century America, has a lot of good tips for that kind of thing. They do a lot of videos on food prep, gear, firebuilding, cooking, etc. It's a good resource of writers/DMs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqjfwhirsVo

Calthropstu
2018-08-26, 01:28 PM
Wow! That's really nore extreme than I would have thought. I however have a few questions to help me understand a little bit better what was happening.

1. How deep were your formations? I'm thinking that if you have a few ranks, it's easier to get the rear to fight back than when it's just a single or double line.

2. How did the fighting work? I don't really know much about larping, but is it about hitting in certain places? Or is it something else?

It was a single line 30 wide. We had 60 people.

We used NERO rules slightly modified. Hit in the arm or leg meant losing use of it. Torso or head meant death. Face and groing meant illegal hits.

With their backs to me, I pretty much had it easy. Stab move, sta move.

And it did NOT take 6 seconds per kill... Stupid D&D.

Carl
2018-08-26, 02:20 PM
A little question on unarmed combat thats been prompted by reading various articles on the how to fight write blog and somewhat crystalized by the recent "practise, practise, practise" entry.

It concerns my Star Trek fanfiction character or rather the main character, i've raised the odd question about her before and i keep meaning to get back to some of those as you've indicated you really needed a more detailed breakdown to properly answer them. However this is a seperate question that i hadn't thought of until recently, mostly because, (and no offence to anyone here), his articles have provided a more structured breakdown of training process which has helped crystalize some things. I'd allways been aware that to some degree i was going to have to have her, (the character), pickup and learn combat skills at a much accelerated rate compared to what's really possible IRL. But i'd never really fully considered the how of that. Even if it's unrealistic by IRL standards i'm the sort of person who's going to come up with some kind of in universe explanation. In many respects thats how i build my settings. I set-up a bare handful of facts, and then figure out what those facts means in terms of consequences, where there's a decision point i make one and i follow the consequences out, doing so until i've gotten to the point where everything starts to tie together. And in this case i worked out a semi-answer thats raised some interesting questions of it's own.

Simply put for her to be able to learn that fast she must be able to commit things to muscle memory in a fraction of the time normally possibble. The corollary is she can almost certainly commit subconsciously noticed tells and other information that a fighter relies upon to react to an attack appropriately to muscle memory faster as well. And that made me ask a question to myself that i don't have the answer to:


Presumably, (especially given doubtless individualistic differences), similar moves in different armed and unarmed combat styles can have similar tells and other things the fighter notices to react properly to them, potentially to the point, (again accounting for individualistic differences), where it may be difficult to accurately identify different moves. Would moves similar enough to have potentially confusable tells and the like be counterable with the same move to an equal or at least workable extent, or could such a misidentification easily result in a bad countermove in response?

gkathellar
2018-08-26, 03:49 PM
Would moves similar enough to have potentially confusable tells and the like be counterable with the same move to an equal or at least workable extent, or could such a misidentification easily result in a bad countermove in response?

Yes. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MathematiciansAnswer)

I'm only half-joking. The reality of the human body is that it moves in a limited number of ways. Everyone's elbows bend the same way, whether their background is in Sambo or Kalaripayattu. People trained in different styles of martial arts will move differently because of the ways they were taught to generate power, maximize economy of motion, and respond to incoming attacks, but the aggregate of these stylistic differences tends to be more about execution, tempo, and overall strategy. A jab is a jab is a jab.

Except when it's not. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdPP0TmqKiU)

And see that's the thing about execution: a well-rounded fighter who's dealt with lots of arm locks probably isn't going to fail to recognize an attempt at a lock just because there are a million ways to tangle your limbs up with somebody else's and nobody can know all of them and fighting at the trapping range is a mess. What the well-rounded fighter may fail to recognize is the way an opponent sets up the arm lock, how much power can be generated from particular angles, how particular techniques telegraph, or the ways that an opponent seeks to manipulate their expectations. But those problems arise when two people from the same style fight each other, too, and the answer is the same: diversify and examine your experience.

So yes, experience with one style is often applicable to the techniques of another style. And yes, misidentifying something can cause you to make serious errors.


What kinds of 'lingering wounds' would piercing and bludgeoning weapons leave?

Breaks that have healed badly (i.e. with scarring) or incorrectly, or which cause chronic health problems (femur, spine, pelvis, etc). Loss of cartilage as a result of joint damage. Internal or sensory organ damage. Destruction or distension of the tendons and ligaments. Damage to the peripheral or central nervous system.

Mr Beer
2018-08-26, 05:21 PM
Getting attacked from behind is so devastating, I feel rpgs do not convey this properly. It was pretty much auto hit. Even with the rear guard shouting a warning. But even so, real world flanks and sneak attacks win fights completely.

GURPS has facing rules. Attacking humans from directly behind negates active defences which would yield a similar result to the one you describe.

I imagine that a lot of battlefield kills were achieved by attacking people who weren't watching you, rather than via superior weapon skills.

rrgg
2018-08-26, 06:49 PM
Rear guard and flanking:

I had this experience about 15 years ago when I used to larp. I am posting it here as it seems relevant to the thread. We did a 30 on 30 line battle. I decided to try something and got on the very end of the line. As soon as combat started, I took off running around the side of their line and out.

I came back toward the center at their rear and it was...

Devastating. I wiped out their entire center in seconds getting 6 kills. At that point their entire line collapsed and we won easily.

So we did it a second time... With the exact same results.

Third time, they dedicated one of their better fighters to pretty much stopping me. This rear guard held me off for a time, but I managed to engage him and, while fighting, I got to a point where I could break away and once again charge their back line.

I managed 3 kills before the rear guard caught up to me and got me, and despite the rear guard taking one of the fallen's positions, their center still collapsed.

Getting attacked from behind is so devastating, I feel rpgs do not convey this properly. It was pretty much auto hit. Even with the rear guard shouting a warning. But even so, real world flanks and sneak attacks win fights completely.

Now imagine a situation where everyone involved doesn't know that it's a game and actually fears for their lives to the point where even the mere possibility that some the enemy may have gotten behind them already would be enough to cause a panic.

This is part of the reason that "cohesion" and very well-ordered formations were often so important, even if they didn't actually make the soldiers involved any more effective at actually fighting or inflicting greater casualties. When thousands of men are fighting together each one from his position on the ground can see very little of what's going on everywhere else on the battlefield at any given time but still has to trust that all the rest of his allies are doing their job and keeping his flanks and rear safe. If he glances right or left down the line and sees that the long line of infantry has started to form erratic curves, or worse if he notices that a small break has started to appear somewhere, then he's suddenly thinking "wait, how long as that been there? have some of the enemy already gotten through? are my allies still doing their job?" From there it's all too easy to start a mass panic.

From my main period of interest, the renaissance, when infantry again regained status as an extremely powerful offensive arm on the battlefield rather than just a defensive one, this is part of the reason you start to see so much emphasis on extremely deep formations and actual geometric squares, with officers literally thumbing though tables of square roots when arranging their troops for battle. Making a formation very deep could help mitigate the psychological effect of flank attacks (though still not remove it entirely), and of these a "just square" would always be the most secure. Even though everyone involved knew that at most only the first 5 ranks of pikemen would actually be able to fight on any given side, a 10x10 square of men would often feel much safer than a single long rectangle 10 men deep and 100 men wide, just as a great square of 6400 footmen arranged 80x80 would feel much safer than if the same men were arranged 40 ranks deep and 160 files wide.

Then it would usually be preferred if possible to try to go ahead and anchor the flanks of these great squares with terrain/cavalry/artillery/etc. anyways. Just in case.

Calthropstu
2018-08-26, 08:33 PM
If they had a laser powerful enough to do what they're claiming they'd need a vastly bigger battery pack and some kind of radiator built into it.

It says invisible. It may not be light but rather photons. Regardless, the only thing I see that would be impossible is the number of shots. I doubt carbonization is instant and it doesn't say light people on fire it says their clothes and hair. It also mensions setting banners and signs on fire.

My guess is it's real, and since it claims nonlethality it will see use rather soon. We'll see during the next round of protests in China. I also doubt it will be long before we get a hold of some for disassembly.

Gnoman
2018-08-26, 09:14 PM
It may not be light but rather photons.

Light is made up of photons. "Photons but not light" is a fundamental impossibility.

Generating a laser of the intensity claimed at all would require a massive battery pack, and would generate a huge amount of waste heat. The chances of this being fake are 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999999999999999999%

Carl
2018-08-26, 09:34 PM
It says invisible. It may not be light but rather photons. Regardless, the only thing I see that would be impossible is the number of shots. I doubt carbonization is instant and it doesn't say light people on fire it says their clothes and hair. It also mensions setting banners and signs on fire.

My guess is it's real, and since it claims nonlethality it will see use rather soon. We'll see during the next round of protests in China. I also doubt it will be long before we get a hold of some for disassembly.

Um light is photons. If it's EM radiation from ultra low frequency radio waves to high frequency gamma rays it's a photon. The thing you have to get is that absorption of laser energy by the target is not 100%, not even close. Even the best lasers can only use about 40% of the input energy, the rest becomes heat in the weapon.

Assuming an infrared laser we can actually use some data from nuclear bombs to get an idea of the energy density required. I couldn't find specific son energy for fabric ignition, but i did find two points of data that give us a lower bound. First a large number of victims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered severe burns to exposed skin but no damage to their clothing. And i dug up a minimum estimate of the energy for that of 8 calories, (35 joules), per square centimeter. To get anything useful out of it your going to have to ignite more than a pinpoint at a time, which means you need to deliver several kj's to the target. Given ground level conditions in a protest your going to need rather a bit more than that at the barrel end. So even if your maxing the efficiency, (which is probably impractical in a weapon that compact), your likely to need 10-15kj's of energy per shot. So a battery capable of holding 1000 shots worth would need with our best battery tech to weigh 10-15kg's and be 5-7.5 litres, (1-2 gallons roughly), in volume.

And you still only get burns to flesh, not clothing.

Calthropstu
2018-08-26, 09:43 PM
Light is made up of photons. "Photons but not light" is a fundamental impossibility.

Generating a laser of the intensity claimed at all would require a massive battery pack, and would generate a huge amount of waste heat. The chances of this being fake are 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 99999999999999999999999999999999%

They have lasers capable of lighting things on fire already, but it takes several seconds. I see little reason an invention could not cut the power consumption and reduce the time needed.

I saw a video several years ago of lasers turned on an iphone.

Found it, here (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=i221tdgO3r8#)

The temp was over 500 degrees after 30 seconds.

Since touching something 300 degrees for a full second will burn you, and given that was over 6 years ago and those were HANDHELD lasers, I see no problem believing a laser exists that could scorch someone's hair or clothes in 2 second bursts.

Gnoman
2018-08-26, 10:24 PM
Iphone plastic. Plastic burn easy with laser because plastic not sink heat well.

Human meat. Meat hard burn with laser because meat sink heat good. Human not even notice iphone melting laser.


You saying rip paper easy, rip brick must be easy too.

Calthropstu
2018-08-26, 11:02 PM
Iphone plastic. Plastic burn easy with laser because plastic not sink heat well.

Human meat. Meat hard burn with laser because meat sink heat good. Human not even notice iphone melting laser.


You saying rip paper easy, rip brick must be easy too.

Like I said, the claim the article (and the company from multiple sources) makes is that it will burn human skin. You can get that from touching a hot pan for a second. That video showed the phone hitting 500 degrees. Half that will burn skin.

The claim it could set hair and clothes on fire is likewise believable as that is also fairly easy.

Causing heat blisters would cause the desired effect of dispersing crowds. The claim is not lethality. The claim is pain and discomfort to skin. Sounds like heat blisters to me.

Gnoman
2018-08-26, 11:08 PM
Like I said, the claim the article (and the company from multiple sources) makes is that it will burn human skin. You can get that from touching a hot pan for a second. That video showed the phone hitting 500 degrees. Half that will burn skin.


The phone reaches such a high temperature because the materials it is made of do not conduct heat easily. This means that the energy stays highly concentrated and builds. If you focus those same beams on a human, the human will disperse the energy much more rapidly, because humans conduct heat much more easily, and has much more volume to disperse the heat to. This will prevent the temperature from ever rising to such a high degree. Pumping energy into a person with a laser beam is extremely difficult.

Brother Oni
2018-08-27, 03:08 AM
It was a single line 30 wide. We had 60 people.

We used NERO rules slightly modified. Hit in the arm or leg meant losing use of it. Torso or head meant death. Face and groing meant illegal hits.

With their backs to me, I pretty much had it easy. Stab move, sta move.

And it did NOT take 6 seconds per kill... Stupid D&D.

Now try swinging your weapon at full power into meat and hoping it doesn't get stuck on bone/armour/their torso as they fall awkwardly and pull your weapon out of your hand.

While the principle of blindsiding people is correct (rrgg is spot on with his description with what has happened in battles), equating experiences from light contact LARP combat to actually killing people on the battlefield should be done carefully.

As an example, a tap with a knife to the torso is death under your LARP rules - try punching a knife deep enough through mail and a gambeson to inflict a lethal wound on the first hit.

Under the re-enactment rules I fought to, only torso hits were guaranteed kills - we used blunt steel weapons, so the head was off limits; wearing mail negated thigh hits and wearing mail and a helmet negated shoulder hits. I did almost exactly the same as you and the very next fight they put their best skirmisher on the end to stop me doing the same. All the end guy needs to do is block you - if you go sprinting around the houses to outflank him, then he can outflank your line first and if you end up fighting him, then you're not backstabbing the line.

If I remember correctly, this is why the best and most experienced fighters go on the end of the lines so they can break off if there are skirmishers and they're more likely to stand their ground, making the line less likely to cave in and thus open up exploitable weaknesses.


Would moves similar enough to have potentially confusable tells and the like be counterable with the same move to an equal or at least workable extent, or could such a misidentification easily result in a bad countermove in response?

To support gkathellar's comments, suppose I want to grab their wrist, so I feint a backfist to the head and they block expecting a punch, I can grab their arm and pull it out of the way for a reverse punch to the head or ribs or even pull their arm forwards into a lock or hold (this lock would be easier to perform if they were moving forwards eg. if they were going for a deflection style block and counter punch in response to the perceived backfist).


Causing heat blisters would cause the desired effect of dispersing crowds. The claim is not lethality. The claim is pain and discomfort to skin. Sounds like heat blisters to me.

While using lasers to damage targets is possible, the specifics of the Chinese weapon makes that weapon a dubious claim (specifically the battery and the man portability of it - a vehicle mounted version with a much larger battery and radiator is far more likely).

That said, there is such a crowd dispersal weapon currently in use (the Active Denial System (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System)) which basically heats up people as if they were in a microwave. It's also not small:

https://www.altermedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/active-denial-system.jpg

Calthropstu
2018-08-27, 04:54 AM
Now try swinging your weapon at full power into meat and hoping it doesn't get stuck on bone/armour/their torso as they fall awkwardly and pull your weapon out of your hand.

While the principle of blindsiding people is correct (rrgg is spot on with his description with what has happened in battles), equating experiences from light contact LARP combat to actually killing people on the battlefield should be done carefully.

As an example, a tap with a knife to the torso is death under your LARP rules - try punching a knife deep enough through mail and a gambeson to inflict a lethal wound on the first hit.

Under the re-enactment rules I fought to, only torso hits were guaranteed kills - we used blunt steel weapons, so the head was off limits; wearing mail negated thigh hits and wearing mail and a helmet negated shoulder hits. I did almost exactly the same as you and the very next fight they put their best skirmisher on the end to stop me doing the same. All the end guy needs to do is block you - if you go sprinting around the houses to outflank him, then he can outflank your line first and if you end up fighting him, then you're not backstabbing the line.

If I remember correctly, this is why the best and most experienced fighters go on the end of the lines so they can break off if there are skirmishers and they're more likely to stand their ground, making the line less likely to cave in and thus open up exploitable weaknesses.



To support gkathellar's comments, suppose I want to grab their wrist, so I feint a backfist to the head and they block expecting a punch, I can grab their arm and pull it out of the way for a reverse punch to the head or ribs or even pull their arm forwards into a lock or hold (this lock would be easier to perform if they were moving forwards eg. if they were going for a deflection style block and counter punch in response to the perceived backfist).



While using lasers to damage targets is possible, the specifics of the Chinese weapon makes that weapon a dubious claim (specifically the battery and the man portability of it - a vehicle mounted version with a much larger battery and radiator is far more likely).

That said, there is such a crowd dispersal weapon currently in use (the Active Denial System (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System)) which basically heats up people as if they were in a microwave. It's also not small:

https://www.altermedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/active-denial-system.jpg

In a real combat, I would have aimed for the spleen if unarmored or the side of the neck if armored.
I know full well the force it takes to wield an actual blade in combat and it would have posed no problem in that circumstance.
But even if it had, the fact of there being someone behind them was enough. Several of my kills tried to fight me but were forced to turn back and defend against my allies.

They were literally wide open to any attack I could have chosen.


As for the laser we will see. Even if it's bs now, it's not going to be science fiction forever.

Epimethee
2018-08-27, 06:30 AM
Ok, you are really not likely to find any warrior fighting on a simple line. Even the war bands would be used to fight together, protecting the flanks and rear with the best warriors or using the terrain at their advantage.

I think of two great Osprey illustrations ( and of course the text around may be helpful). As I obviously cannot share them here, I will describe them at best I can. The first is found on the book Roman Battle Tactics 390-110 BC. It show the first roman phalanx against some Italians peoples fighting as war bands.
The two groups are closing. Each is on a little step on both side of some kind of hollow way. They fight in a plain so the moment of the adversaries are visible.
The phalanx protect the flanks by being eight to ten men wide. The war bands use some skirmisher on their flank, with the more heavily equipped warrior on the center.

For both set of warriors, they are ways to stop a flanking or encircling action. The main point is that a single warrior is unlikely to provoke much arm against both formations. So any encircling maneuver should use enough people to actually gain a tactical advantage and thus could be tactically countered. The skirmisher are obviously mobile and the phalanx may commit peoples to his defense, protecting the first line.

The second illustration is even clearer. Found in the book European Medieval Tactics 1 The Fall and Rise of Cavalry, it show a fight between vikings and anglo-saxons, so shield wall against shield wall, or more precisely shield fort.

The vikings are better equipped but less numerous. They have anchored their right flank on a river and their right on a little hollow way. On the left, the line make an angle to prevent flanking.

The anglo-saxons are actually trying to outflank the vikings. Their most heavy warriors are on the center but skirmishers try to pass by both sides. On the viking's right, the river is of course a problem and the vikings have a few archers to impede this movement, forcing the skirmisher to go far for easy crossing, by which point the battle may be already finished or more warriors could be committed to defending against them.

On the other side, the vikings have extended their line to counter such a move, folding their wall. Again, those warriors are especially committed to defend against flanking.

I don't know, as it is an archetypal battle, who will prevail. The anglo-saxons should be careful not to commit too many warriors to the flanks as their line is the weakest but it is also their best option to counter the vikings as their own commitment to the defense of their rear is even more costly for their own frontline.

In both case, flanking is more or less expected. As the armies are bigger, it is even more difficult to achieve. So gaining this advantage is actually the stuff of legendary battles, like of course the victories of Hannibal in Cannae or Trasimene, or the Caudine forks.

Carl
2018-08-27, 07:40 AM
Like I said, the claim the article (and the company from multiple sources) makes is that it will burn human skin. You can get that from touching a hot pan for a second. That video showed the phone hitting 500 degrees. Half that will burn skin.

The claim it could set hair and clothes on fire is likewise believable as that is also fairly easy.

Causing heat blisters would cause the desired effect of dispersing crowds. The claim is not lethality. The claim is pain and discomfort to skin. Sounds like heat blisters to me.

Again we know from the effects of nuclear weapons that skin burn before clothes do. We also know how much energy is required to do this int eh IR spectrum. From that we can calculate the energy requirements of the weapon and from that the size of the battery and it cannot be done.

Calthropstu
2018-08-27, 08:00 AM
Ok, you are really not likely to find any warrior fighting on a simple line. Even the war bands would be used to fight together, protecting the flanks and rear with the best warriors or using the terrain at their advantage.

I think of two great Osprey illustrations ( and of course the text around may be helpful). As I obviously cannot share them here, I will describe them at best I can. The first is found on the book Roman Battle Tactics 390-110 BC. It show the first roman phalanx against some Italians peoples fighting as war bands.
The two groups are closing. Each is on a little step on both side of some kind of hollow way. They fight in a plain so the moment of the adversaries are visible.
The phalanx protect the flanks by being eight to ten men wide. The war bands use some skirmisher on their flank, with the more heavily equipped warrior on the center.

For both set of warriors, they are ways to stop a flanking or encircling action. The main point is that a single warrior is unlikely to provoke much arm against both formations. So any encircling maneuver should use enough people to actually gain a tactical advantage and thus could be tactically countered. The skirmisher are obviously mobile and the phalanx may commit peoples to his defense, protecting the first line.

The second illustration is even clearer. Found in the book European Medieval Tactics 1 The Fall and Rise of Cavalry, it show a fight between vikings and anglo-saxons, so shield wall against shield wall, or more precisely shield fort.

The vikings are better equipped but less numerous. They have anchored their right flank on a river and their right on a little hollow way. On the left, the line make an angle to prevent flanking.

The anglo-saxons are actually trying to outflank the vikings. Their most heavy warriors are on the center but skirmishers try to pass by both sides. On the viking's right, the river is of course a problem and the vikings have a few archers to impede this movement, forcing the skirmisher to go far for easy crossing, by which point the battle may be already finished or more warriors could be committed to defending against them.

On the other side, the vikings have extended their line to counter such a move, folding their wall. Again, those warriors are especially committed to defend against flanking.

I don't know, as it is an archetypal battle, who will prevail. The anglo-saxons should be careful not to commit too many warriors to the flanks as their line is the weakest but it is also their best option to counter the vikings as their own commitment to the defense of their rear is even more costly for their own frontline.

In both case, flanking is more or less expected. As the armies are bigger, it is even more difficult to achieve. So gaining this advantage is actually the stuff of legendary battles, like of course the victories of Hannibal in Cannae or Trasimene, or the Caudine forks.

You are thinking much larger armies in major battles. The numbers we were using is more a single battalion vs a single battalion.

You are correct that a line formation would almost certainly never be used against another line formation, a line formation is used against a smaller force in order to encircle them. In reality a battallion vs battallion would see 6 companies of 5 each vs 6 companies of 5 each. Each would break away and engage trying to outmaneuver their opponents using terrain and positioning to their advantage.

Once a team thought they had an advantage they would attack. As companies fell, they would immediately move to assist the other teams. Usually, the first company to eliminate their oppisition would determine the victor. Once a battalion commander sees this he will usually issue a retreat order and try to escape.

Carl
2018-08-27, 08:17 AM
Yes. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MathematiciansAnswer)

I'm only half-joking. The reality of the human body is that it moves in a limited number of ways. Everyone's elbows bend the same way, whether their background is in Sambo or Kalaripayattu. People trained in different styles of martial arts will move differently because of the ways they were taught to generate power, maximize economy of motion, and respond to incoming attacks, but the aggregate of these stylistic differences tends to be more about execution, tempo, and overall strategy. A jab is a jab is a jab.

Except when it's not. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdPP0TmqKiU)

And see that's the thing about execution: a well-rounded fighter who's dealt with lots of arm locks probably isn't going to fail to recognize an attempt at a lock just because there are a million ways to tangle your limbs up with somebody else's and nobody can know all of them and fighting at the trapping range is a mess. What the well-rounded fighter may fail to recognize is the way an opponent sets up the arm lock, how much power can be generated from particular angles, how particular techniques telegraph, or the ways that an opponent seeks to manipulate their expectations. But those problems arise when two people from the same style fight each other, too, and the answer is the same: diversify and examine your experience.

So yes, experience with one style is often applicable to the techniques of another style. And yes, misidentifying something can cause you to make serious errors.



Breaks that have healed badly (i.e. with scarring) or incorrectly, or which cause chronic health problems (femur, spine, pelvis, etc). Loss of cartilage as a result of joint damage. Internal or sensory organ damage. Destruction or distension of the tendons and ligaments. Damage to the peripheral or central nervous system.


Now try swinging your weapon at full power into meat and hoping it doesn't get stuck on bone/armour/their torso as they fall awkwardly and pull your weapon out of your hand.

While the principle of blindsiding people is correct (rrgg is spot on with his description with what has happened in battles), equating experiences from light contact LARP combat to actually killing people on the battlefield should be done carefully.

As an example, a tap with a knife to the torso is death under your LARP rules - try punching a knife deep enough through mail and a gambeson to inflict a lethal wound on the first hit.

Under the re-enactment rules I fought to, only torso hits were guaranteed kills - we used blunt steel weapons, so the head was off limits; wearing mail negated thigh hits and wearing mail and a helmet negated shoulder hits. I did almost exactly the same as you and the very next fight they put their best skirmisher on the end to stop me doing the same. All the end guy needs to do is block you - if you go sprinting around the houses to outflank him, then he can outflank your line first and if you end up fighting him, then you're not backstabbing the line.

If I remember correctly, this is why the best and most experienced fighters go on the end of the lines so they can break off if there are skirmishers and they're more likely to stand their ground, making the line less likely to cave in and thus open up exploitable weaknesses.



To support gkathellar's comments, suppose I want to grab their wrist, so I feint a backfist to the head and they block expecting a punch, I can grab their arm and pull it out of the way for a reverse punch to the head or ribs or even pull their arm forwards into a lock or hold (this lock would be easier to perform if they were moving forwards eg. if they were going for a deflection style block and counter punch in response to the perceived backfist).



While using lasers to damage targets is possible, the specifics of the Chinese weapon makes that weapon a dubious claim (specifically the battery and the man portability of it - a vehicle mounted version with a much larger battery and radiator is far more likely).

That said, there is such a crowd dispersal weapon currently in use (the Active Denial System (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Active_Denial_System)) which basically heats up people as if they were in a microwave. It's also not small:

https://www.altermedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/active-denial-system.jpg


@Brother_Oni. I assume backfist means what it sounds like, a strike towards the ace with the back of your hand, with, (in your example), the hand twisted a the last possibble second to grab onto the opponents blocking arm?


@gkathellar:

:biggrin:

I was afraid it was going to be that sort of answer. But if experiance makes a big difference in how well you cope with it, thats fine. One of the big differences between her older and younger selves isn't just how much more technical learning she's done, but how much experiance she has of applying that in the real world. Her younger self is no slouch, her ability to pickup technical knowledge and her generally learning cliff ignoring learning curve, plus her no baggage mental state when it comes to approaching a real fight are still a frightening combination for anyone she has to face. But her real longterm horror factor is her ability to combine decades of that kind of learning with enormous practical experiance and a meticulous approach to situations. Combine that with crazy prepared and indy ploy capabilities and she's a certifiable nightmare, and not only in a direct personal fight situation.

gkathellar
2018-08-27, 10:21 AM
A backfist is quite literally a backhand delivered with a fist. It can be used offensively (usually to the jaw or temple), or defensively (pushing a strike off course). Since it often follows an arc trajectory from low to high (and sometimes back to low), it can be used to setup a wide range of subsequent hand techniques, as Brother Oni describes.

(Basically it's the thing Batman does where he hits a guy coming up behind him, except executed to the front and without the artist breaking perspective for comedy purposes.)

Vinyadan
2018-08-27, 11:44 AM
http://youtube.com/watch?v=88FC7_xPpaY

Brother Oni
2018-08-27, 11:50 AM
@Brother_Oni. I assume backfist means what it sounds like, a strike towards the ace with the back of your hand, with, (in your example), the hand twisted a the last possibble second to grab onto the opponents blocking arm?

Yup, gkathellar has it described perfectly (three back fist variants (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7M3FWG31ybE)). It's essentially a Wing Chun 'grabbing hand' (lap sau) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYjlvBxOTtw), initiated with a feinted strike to the face.

Only comment is that unlike the Batman strike, this one is delivered to the side of the face/temple rather than to the bridge of the nose (link (http://www.cix.co.uk/~matb/pages/techniqu/Strikes/urauchi.html)), as it's harder to twist and grab hold of your opponent's arm with the latter.


But her real longterm horror factor is her ability to combine decades of that kind of learning with enormous practical experiance and a meticulous approach to situations. Combine that with crazy prepared and indy ploy capabilities and she's a certifiable nightmare, and not only in a direct personal fight situation.

You are aware that the point of committing techniques to muscle memory is so that it's faster to perform with the consequence of bypassing the conscious thought process, so whatever plans she has will tend to evaporate once she's in the thick of it (the short lulls between exchanging blows is where she'll have the opportunity to use her knowledge). Given it's a Star Trek character, is there scope to use sufficiently advanced science to increase her effective 'brain clock' speed so she can process information faster and react accordingly or is that prohibited by the fallout of whatever shenangians that Khan and his superhuman contingent got up to?



http://youtube.com/watch?v=88FC7_xPpaY

I saw that video while I was looking up ways to describe it and I didn't want to list it as you over-commit to the backfist. It's fitting with the tenets of the Kagawa style (it's a member of the Shotokan family of karate), it's just I'm not a fan of the linear 'one almighty blow to finish it' style of karate.

Epimethee
2018-08-27, 02:32 PM
You are thinking much larger armies in major battles. The numbers we were using is more a single battalion vs a single battalion.

You are correct that a line formation would almost certainly never be used against another line formation, a line formation is used against a smaller force in order to encircle them. In reality a battallion vs battallion would see 6 companies of 5 each vs 6 companies of 5 each. Each would break away and engage trying to outmaneuver their opponents using terrain and positioning to their advantage.

Once a team thought they had an advantage they would attack. As companies fell, they would immediately move to assist the other teams. Usually, the first company to eliminate their oppisition would determine the victor. Once a battalion commander sees this he will usually issue a retreat order and try to escape.


No, in this case scale is not really the point. Flanking is powerful so would always be the first or second thing fighters would have in mind as they choose were to fight and how to dispose themselves. It is the same concept for an army or for a group of fighters, the only things that change with the scale are the tactical means of each group and the operational need of their commander.

The closest historical example I have in mind of something of the exact scale of your experience was in fact offered by some Celtics re-enactor. One of the guys in the group is an archeologist actually sponsored by the French army to work on Celtic weaponry. So they are really close to actual science.
They worked mostly like a kind of wedge in open field, with heavy warrior on the front and some fighters specialized in protecting the flanks. But the formation was able to adapt quickly, to turn or to change shape according to the challenge ahead, or aback.
The starting formation use basically the same idea than the shield wall, each warrior working to form a frontline and protect the rest of the group, with the heaviest at the point of the attack and the flank protected as much as possible.

Even the roman Army was able to fight by contubernium, 8 men so less than 10 warriors. They would also be able to adapt shape according to their number, the terrain and the adversary. In a small fight in open field, they would again march in some kind of wedge. In bigger formation, they would be able to face different directions, lessening the risk of flanking. They are disposed to react to the most common menaces.

Any formation would in fact make some provision against flanking, regardless of the scale, making it really a tactical concept, something you have to work for and coordinate your forces, event 12 or 15 warriors, to achieve.

Shieldwall against shield fort is actually close to two line formations fighting against each others. That's again not two simple lines of fighter but a carefully weighted formation to maximise the forces of the warriors.

One of the single historical example of single line as the main formation, but as a kind of heavily ritualized warfare it may not be the best, would be this great article (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2839381?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents) about war and weapons in the Trobriand Island, by Malinowsky, were the fighters would be ranked in a line, throwing spears with rounded point and no barb, and protecting themselves with shield.
Women would sat behind, providing them with sugar cane, water and such.
Heavily ritualized, and with few casualties, but fun to know it existed.

Again, in more lethal fight, scale is not really the point when we talk about rear action. The basics principles stay the same.

Then in reality, your description is interesting and may fit a lot of things but may also be the most widely inaccurate I ever saw. It depends of an awful lot of things.
I could dispose twenty of my fighters on a line, keeping two squad of five to protect the flank. If I need to defend a static point, it would be in my opinion better than 5 or 6 squads. This line could also easily change to a wedge if I see an opportunity to charge. The squads would still protect the rear easily.
Against a foe who would fight in squad, it may give me a huge advantage if for example I see an isolated squad as an easy prey. My line could leap forward, annihilating the isolated adversaries before the others can close in. My formation would still prevent an easy flanking and by this point I have gained a decisive numerical advantage.
As a roman or anglo-saxon commander, I think I could do something like that easily. Other armies, with others tactics, may play it differently.

For example I could dispose my fighters in a line, but this time with skirmishers on both or one side. Again, the adversary fight in little squads but I am able to anchor my line on some rock formation and a river. I hope the enemy would continue to attack in squads, as my line is strong enough to resist that and hope to draw exactly those kind of action as my skirmisher make an encircling movement.
I could even make my line slowly advance in wedge, hoping to draw even more attention and keeping my soldiers together long enough to finish the maneuver of the skirmishers. You note that it weakens my front line so this is clearly a tactical choice.

My main point is to stress against your single experience the simple notion of tactic, and the related concept of flexibility. If you are able to see in something as wildly inaccurate as a LARP the power of a rear attack, you should be sure that fighters who played life or death upon this would also see it.

So I try to be careful before asserting what the reality of warfare was, as there is always a lot to consider.

Carl
2018-08-27, 04:28 PM
@Brother_Oni: what i meant with the plans stuff is the old adage about winning a battle before it's fought.

As contrasting examples from her history:

One of her big early fights, (and somthing of an important piece in her early journey), is a big bar fight when she wa a cadet. The whole thing comes down really to an idiot bartender on earth serving the wrong group of starfleet officers real alcohol, (they're grieving crewmates killed when their ship was destroyed, seemingly as a result of a cadets mistake in a tough situation, they know intellectually it was an honest mistake but emotionally they're still working through it), take their emotional state and the effects of real alcohol on people who mostly don't drink it and a good number of them came over and started a fight which as a result of a whole bunch of factors eventually escalated enough to result in a number of dead.

The story of what happened to the ship was all over the cadet campus and mos of the cadets at least got the point that they would be hurting, but no one expected it to come to more than difficulty with them interacting with cadets till they worked through things emotionally. And again without an idiot bartender they'd have been right. The thing is she had access to everything she needed to realise there might be trouble and take precautions and plan a general response to it if it did happen. But she was too young and too inexperienced to think to plan for stuff like that, she'd only start doing that as she grew more experienced, (and said fight was an important step up the ladder).


Many decades later she's at a major conference being held amongst the command staff of a hastily assembled fleet. Some non-federation ships that are known to belong to friendly types show up and have allready secured permission to approach from someone in the fleet. She's aware of this but since she has worked with them herself doesn't have any issues. But she's still employing her standard practise of bringing a fair variety of concealed weapons along and has various counterplans in place in case someone does decide to try and gatecrash the conference. And when said nominally allies do they start by beaming a small innocuous little device right outside the conference room window. No one else notices it, (i'll get onto how she'd notice it in a minute), but she does and in the couple of seconds she's got to think instantly raises it can't be a normal bomb, beaming it into the conference room would be more effective by far, (she''s still got a plan in place in case it is though that will only help if it's low power), it''s purpose must be to disable in some way. Light is the most likely option in that case as the window material would largely stop a phaser stun or the like. So she closes her eye's gently for a second. Probably wouldn't protect completely against a light burst powerful enough to be disorientating for even a few seconds, but should reduce the effects significantly. So when the enemy starts beaming troops in to secure the room and everyone in it. Whilst everyone is still too disorientated to even realise whats going on, (or do much of anything in most of the rest of the cases), she's allready in motion before they've finished materialising.

Which means she takes the person that materialises behind her completely by surprise. And she's allready decided she needs to know why there attacking and in the few seconds between sensing the incoming and having to start moving she's allready work out how to get it, (TLDR she's half vulcan and has been using mind melds for several inventive crew training and other tricks for decades, she can initiate one much faster and without it being obvious as a result of all the practise), initiating a grapple to go for a neck breaking maneuver that gives her the instants she needs to grab the basics. At which point she discovers the leader of the group is being blackmailed and gets a list of who beamed in that is working against said leader, (who's beamed in with said group), and uses that to focus on those specific individuals whilst there still adapting to the fact that someone is up, about and causing mayhem when they expected to have little trouble.

It's not enough to let her take everyone out tat a bad guy, but she knew that going for the grapple, she sacrificed enough time to have a chance of getting everyone to instead get information. if they'd wanted everyone dead or only a few people alive they could have gone about it a different way, and almost certainly would have, (Again she knows the person in question, so she can make a solid judgment of how he'd do things), and knowing why he's doing this is important because it's so highly atypical. But she's got plenty of backup plans, (most involving the array of hidden weapons she has, most of which don't show as weapons on scanners). Then it turns out someones given him a rather complete list of her stuff. There's a few things missing, (and a few tricks she can pull with some of the stuff even without it in her hands), plus some more backup plans that she can run without weapons. But she's also able to instantly figure out which of the small number of people it is that know that much that are connected in such a way that he could be being blackmailed by someone. But she also knows from what he hasn't been told that said person isn't interested in the stated goal and she's thus able to use that to setup a half breaking speech half distraction speech that lets her distract the bad guy portion thats still around to focusing on her in shock and generally set them up for a knockout punch, (exactly how that bit goes down i haven't decided, there's a whole bunch of ways it could go), but if that doesn't work she's still got at least 2 backup options allready set and ready to go.

No she didn't expect a fight to break out at the conference, and she didn't expect it to break out the way it did, but she came with a wide rnage of ways of dealing with various situations and a god set of idea's of how to use them. When the unexpected source happened she was able to adapt fast enough to get info, (though that may have been a standard contingency, and when them knowing more about her hidden weapons blew a huge chunk of ehr contingencies into dust bunnies she was able to adapt what they didn't blow to dust bunnies t meet the new and very different from what she had specifically allowed for.

That said she probably does have an unusually high clock speed given the semi-unique, (it's happened before and since but it's not exactly common), circumstances of ehr conception and what that means in both good and bad terms as far as her neurology goes, (there are some other physical consequences but the bulk of it is her CNS is wired up all weird, she the first in a few million cases since the circumstances became possibble it didn't kill in the womb or render non-functional).

rrgg
2018-08-27, 06:25 PM
No, in this case scale is not really the point. Flanking is powerful so would always be the first or second thing fighters would have in mind as they choose were to fight and how to dispose themselves. It is the same concept for an army or for a group of fighters, the only things that change with the scale are the tactical means of each group and the operational need of their commander.

The closest historical example I have in mind of something of the exact scale of your experience was in fact offered by some Celtics re-enactor. One of the guys in the group is an archeologist actually sponsored by the French army to work on Celtic weaponry. So they are really close to actual science.
They worked mostly like a kind of wedge in open field, with heavy warrior on the front and some fighters specialized in protecting the flanks. But the formation was able to adapt quickly, to turn or to change shape according to the challenge ahead, or aback.
The starting formation use basically the same idea than the shield wall, each warrior working to form a frontline and protect the rest of the group, with the heaviest at the point of the attack and the flank protected as much as possible.

Even the roman Army was able to fight by contubernium, 8 men so less than 10 warriors. They would also be able to adapt shape according to their number, the terrain and the adversary. In a small fight in open field, they would again march in some kind of wedge. In bigger formation, they would be able to face different directions, lessening the risk of flanking. They are disposed to react to the most common menaces.

Any formation would in fact make some provision against flanking, regardless of the scale, making it really a tactical concept, something you have to work for and coordinate your forces, event 12 or 15 warriors, to achieve.

Shieldwall against shield fort is actually close to two line formations fighting against each others. That's again not two simple lines of fighter but a carefully weighted formation to maximise the forces of the warriors.

One of the single historical example of single line as the main formation, but as a kind of heavily ritualized warfare it may not be the best, would be this great article (https://www.jstor.org/stable/2839381?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents) about war and weapons in the Trobriand Island, by Malinowsky, were the fighters would be ranked in a line, throwing spears with rounded point and no barb, and protecting themselves with shield.
Women would sat behind, providing them with sugar cane, water and such.
Heavily ritualized, and with few casualties, but fun to know it existed.

Again, in more lethal fight, scale is not really the point when we talk about rear action. The basics principles stay the same.

Then in reality, your description is interesting and may fit a lot of things but may also be the most widely inaccurate I ever saw. It depends of an awful lot of things.
I could dispose twenty of my fighters on a line, keeping two squad of five to protect the flank. If I need to defend a static point, it would be in my opinion better than 5 or 6 squads. This line could also easily change to a wedge if I see an opportunity to charge. The squads would still protect the rear easily.
Against a foe who would fight in squad, it may give me a huge advantage if for example I see an isolated squad as an easy prey. My line could leap forward, annihilating the isolated adversaries before the others can close in. My formation would still prevent an easy flanking and by this point I have gained a decisive numerical advantage.
As a roman or anglo-saxon commander, I think I could do something like that easily. Other armies, with others tactics, may play it differently.

For example I could dispose my fighters in a line, but this time with skirmishers on both or one side. Again, the adversary fight in little squads but I am able to anchor my line on some rock formation and a river. I hope the enemy would continue to attack in squads, as my line is strong enough to resist that and hope to draw exactly those kind of action as my skirmisher make an encircling movement.
I could even make my line slowly advance in wedge, hoping to draw even more attention and keeping my soldiers together long enough to finish the maneuver of the skirmishers. You note that it weakens my front line so this is clearly a tactical choice.

My main point is to stress against your single experience the simple notion of tactic, and the related concept of flexibility. If you are able to see in something as wildly inaccurate as a LARP the power of a rear attack, you should be sure that fighters who played life or death upon this would also see it.

So I try to be careful before asserting what the reality of warfare was, as there is always a lot to consider.

Scale could make a huge difference in how various tactics played out. In a fight with only perhaps a few dozen men on each side actual formations, close order, cohesion, etc. generally become far less important and often made it more effective to rely on a looser, more flexible formation and more agile troops or skirmishers. In a small engagement light skirmishers will generally have room to pretty much endlessly kite heavier troops, waiting only until spy an opening and then using their own initiative to rush in and attack with a long spear or arrows. In a fight like this, much of the time the heavier troops would have to resort to simply standing in place and blocking projectiles with their shield to protect their own skirmishers shooting arrows and javelins from behind them. Flanking becomes much less of an issue if the individuals have far less to keep track of overall and can easily see flankers coming and turn to face them long before they arrive.

Everything becomes far more complicated when it becomes a huge crowd of thousands of men all trying to fight and maneuver at once. The slightest amount of confusion if there's a threat to the flank or rear can much more easily become a mass panic and it becomes far more difficult for commanders to regain control once a rout has begun. If a mass of 3000 skirmishers gets charged by a mass of 3000 heavy infantry then unless extremely well drilled they won't be able to move out of the way fast enough as the front ranks try to backpedal into the rear ranks and it becomes far to easy for any attempt at a feigned retreat to become a real one. When attacking with that many men the easiest direction to move is always forward, and when the two fronts crash the advantage goes to whoever has the heavier armor, the denser formation, and the most bravery over individual skill.

Calthropstu
2018-08-27, 07:33 PM
Scale could make a huge difference in how various tactics played out. In a fight with only perhaps a few dozen men on each side actual formations, close order, cohesion, etc. generally become far less important and often made it more effective to rely on a looser, more flexible formation and more agile troops or skirmishers. In a small engagement light skirmishers will generally have room to pretty much endlessly kite heavier troops, waiting only until spy an opening and then using their own initiative to rush in and attack with a long spear or arrows. In a fight like this, much of the time the heavier troops would have to resort to simply standing in place and blocking projectiles with their shield to protect their own skirmishers shooting arrows and javelins from behind them. Flanking becomes much less of an issue if the individuals have far less to keep track of overall and can easily see flankers coming and turn to face them long before they arrive.

Everything becomes far more complicated when it becomes a huge crowd of thousands of men all trying to fight and maneuver at once. The slightest amount of confusion if there's a threat to the flank or rear can much more easily become a mass panic and it becomes far more difficult for commanders to regain control once a rout has begun. If a mass of 3000 skirmishers gets charged by a mass of 3000 heavy infantry then unless extremely well drilled they won't be able to move out of the way fast enough as the front ranks try to backpedal into the rear ranks and it becomes far to easy for any attempt at a feigned retreat to become a real one. When attacking with that many men the easiest direction to move is always forward, and when the two fronts crash the advantage goes to whoever has the heavier armor, the denser formation, and the most bravery over individual skill.

Yes, but the thing is flanking and facing are such huge considerations was my point originally. Reproducing my results in real world would basically require a single line of soldiers trying to hold off a larger force in a narrow pass and a single soldier finding a way behind them without their noticing.

OR, as in my case, virtually untrained troops not properly preparing or improperly relaying the information that a flanker was circling and coming from behind.

As would be the case with say ashigura spearmen.

Epimethee
2018-08-27, 08:04 PM
Scale could make a huge difference in how various tactics played out.

I think it is mostly what I intended to say by "the only things that change with the scale are the tactical means of each group and the operational need of their commander." (also I should have written limitations, need is a bit misleading but I lacked a word then.)


In a fight with only perhaps a few dozen men on each side actual formations, close order, cohesion, etc. generally become far less important and often made it more effective to rely on a looser, more flexible formation and more agile troops or skirmishers.

Here really it depends by what we mean by close order and actual formation. There is a lot of space in between (:smallbiggrin:) It is estimated that a roman legionary would mostly need as much space as a modern crowd control policeman to fight efficiently. Both set of fighters use close formation even in small groups, but could switch to looser orders. They fight together even on the smallest scale and coordinate their effort as much as possible.
The Celtic war band I saw were also able to fight together, not like a close order but as a relatively well oiled group. Again I can only agree with you on your point as we tread around the same ideas.
Still, even in relatively small scale fight, a relatively close formation may have advantage. You would for example notice that in a small group of policemen only some of them would actually engage the crowd, the other would make the fight easy for them.




In a small engagement light skirmishers will generally have room to pretty much endlessly kite heavier troops, waiting only until spy an opening and then using their own initiative to rush in and attack with a long spear or arrows. In a fight like this, much of the time the heavier troops would have to resort to simply standing in place and blocking projectiles with their shield to protect their own skirmishers shooting arrows and javelins from behind them. Flanking becomes much less of an issue if the individuals have far less to keep track of overall and can easily see flankers coming and turn to face them long before they arrive.


Again, mostly yes, but that's why an heavier group of soldier may want to reduce his front to draw the adversary, providing they don't fight in the open. What you describe only play on the forces of the lighter troops and, even in small scale fight, heavier troops would try as much as possible not to let them do as they wish.
In this case it may mean providing only one way of attack, like fighting around some hill, in a hollow way or even across a bridge. Whatever it takes to impede your adversary.

They could also use the heavier soldier to shield the skirmisher, who would actually go out of the protection to engage the adversaries, with the line closing behind, impeding reinforcement.

My main point is that even if you are better equipped to maneuver in a small battle and more able to coordinate yourself than on a larger scale, the basis of protecting the rear is stil there, as much as maximizing the front (as in the place were you intent to fight). That's why I spoke of a tactical action even on small scale. And that's why I think they are a lot of different ways to play out a fight between small groups, but even then individual abilities would only take you to a certain point. By which you need tactic, formation, cohesion and flexibility. Or at least some of that.




Everything becomes far more complicated when it becomes a huge crowd of thousands of men all trying to fight and maneuver at once. The slightest amount of confusion if there's a threat to the flank or rear can much more easily become a mass panic and it becomes far more difficult for commanders to regain control once a rout has begun. If a mass of 3000 skirmishers gets charged by a mass of 3000 heavy infantry then unless extremely well drilled they won't be able to move out of the way fast enough as the front ranks try to backpedal into the rear ranks and it becomes far to easy for any attempt at a feigned retreat to become a real one. When attacking with that many men the easiest direction to move is always forward, and when the two fronts crash the advantage goes to whoever has the heavier armor, the denser formation, and the most bravery over individual skill.

Of course again, the feat of coordinating troops on a larger scale is important. And I agree that there is more than the individual qualities of the soldiers in larger scale battle but the qualities you describe, heavier armor, denser formation and son on are true only in the point of contact, and even there you have ways to play around that.
The shield wall against shield fort fight I described to above is a good example, as one side is heavier but the other more numerous. So each would try to maximise his advantage. The flanking maneuver here is important for one side but it is not the only way of achieving victory. Also it is not that complicated a maneuver in this case.

But here again, more than the actual scale of the fight, the training of the soldiers, the way each part of your forces are coordinated and how you adapt to the menace and the terrain are more relevant than the exact scale of the fight.
As a case in point, as much as an isolated fighter may be more conscious of is environnement, a huge army is far less easy to hide. In both case you have to fix the adversary before you could hope to outflank him. I was really trying to stress the point that tactical maneuver follow a few simple principle, then specifics like, terrain, training, equipment and scale and so on come in play.

I hope we could agree on something like that?

spineyrequiem
2018-08-28, 06:48 PM
Re: tactics discussion and flanking

I've done reenactment in fights of up to about forty a side and LARP with up to 3-400* a side. This has included fights with three or more sides, light and heavy troops, archers, massively varying levels of experience and leadership and pretty much anything else you can think of except competitive cavalry (we've only got about eight, and safe fighting with horses is a pain, to say the least)

To see how effective flanking is, you only need to look at how humans are designed. Binocular vision is great for depth perception and so on, but it massively reduces our field of view. Thus, if one person is in front of you and one is to the side you cannot realistically fight both of them. The moment you focus on one, the other will job you.

Calthropstu's experience sounds very typical for inexperienced troops. I imagine that if you didn't flank, it'd feel more like thirty individual duels, with people ganging up only after they've killed their opponents, correct? Needless to say, in that situation even the most basic attempt at tactics tends to pay off. The other thing that often happens with inexperienced troops is they'll over-respond: one guy will come round the side and the whole line will turn to follow him, at which point the other line will roll straight up them.

Alternatively, with slightly better troops some will turn and wait while the others stay in place. This, however, is also open for abuse. By running groups of flankers around both sides, the line will be encouraged to bend back on itself until it forms a circle. At this point, the attackers can re-concentrate and punch straight through, killing the first few by weight of numbers then stabbing everyone else in the back while they're still looking at the two flankers sitting well outside weapon range and making rude gestures at them. Alternatively, aggressive flankers can encourage people to step back until they no longer have space to fight, at which point you can stab them to death at your leisure. We call this the 'doughnut of death', and for good reason.

The way to counter this is reserves. They have to be aggressive without letting themselves get drawn so far from the line that they get cut off or overly tiring themselves out, ensuring the flankers won't go in and the main body of the line can concentrate on fighting, rather than having to think about which way the enemy is. Of course, in the event they push enemy flankers back far enough they can themselves act as flankers, and this is historically what light troops tended to do. You can also use archers to counter, as light troops tend not to have much protection, and this seems to have been the solution in Ancient Egypt, among other places.

In larger confrontations, small groups tend not to be effective as entire units can be turned to face them. In this situation you have to flank with units, which is both harder and easier. Harder because anyone can see a unit coming and turn to face it. Easier because if people don't respond (say, because they're already engaged on the front) one can do a hilarious amount of damage very quickly, and larger groups of people find it much harder to run away, as they get in each other's way. Thus they bunch up into even bigger, crushier doughnuts of death and you hammer them until the refs call a halt for safety reasons. Obviously in a real fight this wouldn't happen and you'd just slaughter them.

It should be noted that in the bigger LARP battles fighters tend to be extremely inexperienced, leadership at all levels (at least on the player side) is usually poor-to-nonexistent, archery is short-ranged and inaccurate and big monsters, battle magic and safety concerns make the battlefield distinctly unrealistic. Still, you get the right general shape and the psychology still works, even if the danger isn't real.


Reenactment rules are very simple, hit zones are shoulders to knees, first hit wounds you for ten seconds in which you can't defend yourself and a second hit kills you. Headshots are an automatic death for whoever inflicted it, who often also has to run a lap of the field (we wear helmets, but still really want to discourage headshots). Maille stops leg shots, and the addition of coif and chausses blocks shoulders and allows you to defend yourself for your ten second injury time.

LARP rules are rather more complex, but simpler than many systems. Any part of the body is a legitimate hitzone (though groins, faces and breasts are generally impolite to hit), and a typical unarmoured human has two hits, though magic and XP can boost this. I believe the current maximum is around twenty? Someone on zero hits is bleeding out, for three minutes in the absence of special skills or other effects and cam be healed fairly easily, assuming someone appropriately skilled can get to them in time. There's also various calls to cripple limbs, knock people down etc. which people use hero points/mana to call a certain number of times a day. Everything can be replenished with potions, herbs or something of that ilk, but those are in turn limited by the in-game economy. Essentially, as with most things, it boils down to 'you hit someone enough, they're eventually going to fall over'



So the way the players tend to fight in big battles is what we monster crew like to affectionately call 'The Imperial Death Blob'. Most of the time, they aim to come on in column and form a long line 3-5 ranks deep (any thinner and shock troops can usually run straight through) from one side of the field to the other with healers, support troops and firefighters behind. They then attempt to sweep the field of monsters and take the objectives while they're respawning. In the event of heavy resistance (or a well-defended objective) they form into a huge, unstoppable mass and hammer through it by sheer brute force. Needless to say, this pretty well against static opponents, as a combination of weight of numbers, better healing and better stats carry the day in straight-up line fights.

In the event, however, that the enemy is mobile or the objectives are complex this rapidly goes to pot. Firefighters (who would otherwise be flankers and shock troops) run themselves ragged stopping small pushes while the confused mass, in the absence of better orders, huddle together watching the enemy go past and contribute very little to the battle. Skirmishers form a cloud around them but, lacking leadership, get pushed back until they're just another, unusually squishy part of the blob, even more reluctant to press forward than the rest. Individual units are cut off and surrounded and are either killed or saved by very expensive counterattacks that remove people who would otherwise be proactively dealing with the enemy. On seeing this, some more experienced people will try to take command and push the enemy back to give them breathing room, but will often find their troops unwilling to actually press home an attack, leaving them high and dry, as their troops are not used to obeying them and are still thinking for themselves, rather than thinking as a unit.

Meanwhile, on the monster side, while we haven't had long (we get maybe an hour, max, to drill them before the battle) to train our troops, they at least know who their commander is and what they're trying to achieve. Our commanders are also generally more experienced ('cause we often command two battles an event, while even a player who hogs command roles can only manage one) and absolutely clear on our role, as we got a full brief the night before. Thus, we can generally keep our troops in line and facing in the right direction as we know whose job it is to protect our flank and which way the enemy is.

When commanding minimally-trained troops, the Ancient Greeks seem to have had the right idea; competent troops at the front to encourage, more at the back to shove the mass forward and everyone else in the middle getting herded by the more experienced. Generally speaking, I like to command from the back, as I can then focus on surveying the battlefield and shouting orders. I also tend to shout even when I haven't got anything useful to say (e.g. "Hold, hold, we are pushing them back, hold them here" etc.) because it provides a vital morale boost to my troops; they know their commander's alive, they know he's unworried and so they know they don't need to worry. Occasionally I will go into the front lines, usually when my unit is letting itself get pushed back, to both act as an example (look, I'm not scared, why are you?) and to provide a strong point to rally around, but I'll rarely stay there for long, as I'm not usefully able to command my unit there. Incidentally, we have won several skirmishes against obviously superior enemies simply because our commander was behind us shouting while their commander was (from what we could tell) non-existent, meaning that even when they had good plans (like using their superior mobility to outflank us) they never properly carried them out as no-one ever said 'go'.

It should be noted that they still usually win, 'cause their numbers are bigger, but now the refs have taken the kid gloves off (and more people actually turn up for their monster slot) it's becoming a close-run thing, and for the last few events we've won and/or caused a massacre in at least one of the two big battles, plus a few of the skirmishes, simply because of tactics and psychology. I don't know if anyone will actually find this useful, but hey, I've written it now.

Calthropstu
2018-08-28, 08:07 PM
Re: tactics discussion and flanking

I've done reenactment in fights of up to about forty a side and LARP with up to 3-400* a side. This has included fights with three or more sides, light and heavy troops, archers, massively varying levels of experience and leadership and pretty much anything else you can think of except competitive cavalry (we've only got about eight, and safe fighting with horses is a pain, to say the least)

To see how effective flanking is, you only need to look at how humans are designed. Binocular vision is great for depth perception and so on, but it massively reduces our field of view. Thus, if one person is in front of you and one is to the side you cannot realistically fight both of them. The moment you focus on one, the other will job you.

Calthropstu's experience sounds very typical for inexperienced troops. I imagine that if you didn't flank, it'd feel more like thirty individual duels, with people ganging up only after they've killed their opponents, correct? Needless to say, in that situation even the most basic attempt at tactics tends to pay off. The other thing that often happens with inexperienced troops is they'll over-respond: one guy will come round the side and the whole line will turn to follow him, at which point the other line will roll straight up them.

Alternatively, with slightly better troops some will turn and wait while the others stay in place. This, however, is also open for abuse. By running groups of flankers around both sides, the line will be encouraged to bend back on itself until it forms a circle. At this point, the attackers can re-concentrate and punch straight through, killing the first few by weight of numbers then stabbing everyone else in the back while they're still looking at the two flankers sitting well outside weapon range and making rude gestures at them. Alternatively, aggressive flankers can encourage people to step back until they no longer have space to fight, at which point you can stab them to death at your leisure. We call this the 'doughnut of death', and for good reason.

The way to counter this is reserves. They have to be aggressive without letting themselves get drawn so far from the line that they get cut off or overly tiring themselves out, ensuring the flankers won't go in and the main body of the line can concentrate on fighting, rather than having to think about which way the enemy is. Of course, in the event they push enemy flankers back far enough they can themselves act as flankers, and this is historically what light troops tended to do. You can also use archers to counter, as light troops tend not to have much protection, and this seems to have been the solution in Ancient Egypt, among other places.

In larger confrontations, small groups tend not to be effective as entire units can be turned to face them. In this situation you have to flank with units, which is both harder and easier. Harder because anyone can see a unit coming and turn to face it. Easier because if people don't respond (say, because they're already engaged on the front) one can do a hilarious amount of damage very quickly, and larger groups of people find it much harder to run away, as they get in each other's way. Thus they bunch up into even bigger, crushier doughnuts of death and you hammer them until the refs call a halt for safety reasons. Obviously in a real fight this wouldn't happen and you'd just slaughter them.

It should be noted that in the bigger LARP battles fighters tend to be extremely inexperienced, leadership at all levels (at least on the player side) is usually poor-to-nonexistent, archery is short-ranged and inaccurate and big monsters, battle magic and safety concerns make the battlefield distinctly unrealistic. Still, you get the right general shape and the psychology still works, even if the danger isn't real.


Reenactment rules are very simple, hit zones are shoulders to knees, first hit wounds you for ten seconds in which you can't defend yourself and a second hit kills you. Headshots are an automatic death for whoever inflicted it, who often also has to run a lap of the field (we wear helmets, but still really want to discourage headshots). Maille stops leg shots, and the addition of coif and chausses blocks shoulders and allows you to defend yourself for your ten second injury time.

LARP rules are rather more complex, but simpler than many systems. Any part of the body is a legitimate hitzone (though groins, faces and breasts are generally impolite to hit), and a typical unarmoured human has two hits, though magic and XP can boost this. I believe the current maximum is around twenty? Someone on zero hits is bleeding out, for three minutes in the absence of special skills or other effects and cam be healed fairly easily, assuming someone appropriately skilled can get to them in time. There's also various calls to cripple limbs, knock people down etc. which people use hero points/mana to call a certain number of times a day. Everything can be replenished with potions, herbs or something of that ilk, but those are in turn limited by the in-game economy. Essentially, as with most things, it boils down to 'you hit someone enough, they're eventually going to fall over'



So the way the players tend to fight in big battles is what we monster crew like to affectionately call 'The Imperial Death Blob'. Most of the time, they aim to come on in column and form a long line 3-5 ranks deep (any thinner and shock troops can usually run straight through) from one side of the field to the other with healers, support troops and firefighters behind. They then attempt to sweep the field of monsters and take the objectives while they're respawning. In the event of heavy resistance (or a well-defended objective) they form into a huge, unstoppable mass and hammer through it by sheer brute force. Needless to say, this pretty well against static opponents, as a combination of weight of numbers, better healing and better stats carry the day in straight-up line fights.

In the event, however, that the enemy is mobile or the objectives are complex this rapidly goes to pot. Firefighters (who would otherwise be flankers and shock troops) run themselves ragged stopping small pushes while the confused mass, in the absence of better orders, huddle together watching the enemy go past and contribute very little to the battle. Skirmishers form a cloud around them but, lacking leadership, get pushed back until they're just another, unusually squishy part of the blob, even more reluctant to press forward than the rest. Individual units are cut off and surrounded and are either killed or saved by very expensive counterattacks that remove people who would otherwise be proactively dealing with the enemy. On seeing this, some more experienced people will try to take command and push the enemy back to give them breathing room, but will often find their troops unwilling to actually press home an attack, leaving them high and dry, as their troops are not used to obeying them and are still thinking for themselves, rather than thinking as a unit.

Meanwhile, on the monster side, while we haven't had long (we get maybe an hour, max, to drill them before the battle) to train our troops, they at least know who their commander is and what they're trying to achieve. Our commanders are also generally more experienced ('cause we often command two battles an event, while even a player who hogs command roles can only manage one) and absolutely clear on our role, as we got a full brief the night before. Thus, we can generally keep our troops in line and facing in the right direction as we know whose job it is to protect our flank and which way the enemy is.

When commanding minimally-trained troops, the Ancient Greeks seem to have had the right idea; competent troops at the front to encourage, more at the back to shove the mass forward and everyone else in the middle getting herded by the more experienced. Generally speaking, I like to command from the back, as I can then focus on surveying the battlefield and shouting orders. I also tend to shout even when I haven't got anything useful to say (e.g. "Hold, hold, we are pushing them back, hold them here" etc.) because it provides a vital morale boost to my troops; they know their commander's alive, they know he's unworried and so they know they don't need to worry. Occasionally I will go into the front lines, usually when my unit is letting itself get pushed back, to both act as an example (look, I'm not scared, why are you?) and to provide a strong point to rally around, but I'll rarely stay there for long, as I'm not usefully able to command my unit there. Incidentally, we have won several skirmishes against obviously superior enemies simply because our commander was behind us shouting while their commander was (from what we could tell) non-existent, meaning that even when they had good plans (like using their superior mobility to outflank us) they never properly carried them out as no-one ever said 'go'.

It should be noted that they still usually win, 'cause their numbers are bigger, but now the refs have taken the kid gloves off (and more people actually turn up for their monster slot) it's becoming a close-run thing, and for the last few events we've won and/or caused a massacre in at least one of the two big battles, plus a few of the skirmishes, simply because of tactics and psychology. I don't know if anyone will actually find this useful, but hey, I've written it now.


Try this:

Take your more skilled personell and assign them 4 people each.
These become companies.

Assign each company a number. This will allow orders to be relayed quickly. When you need units to deploy from the "blob" shout out company numbers and where they need to go and what they need to do.

This turns your entire force into a quickly detatchable mobile skirmishing unit as well as a tactical blob.

Simple commands such as "Company 4, join blob" can be used to form up, while "Company 3 and 7, Break away block the incoming from the right." Will allow you to detach and react.

It's how real militaries structured themselves for the last several thousand years even to this day.

Brother Oni
2018-08-29, 01:06 AM
Try this:

Take your more skilled personell and assign them 4 people each.
These become companies.

Assign each company a number. This will allow orders to be relayed quickly. When you need units to deploy from the "blob" shout out company numbers and where they need to go and what they need to do.

This turns your entire force into a quickly detatchable mobile skirmishing unit as well as a tactical blob.

Simple commands such as "Company 4, join blob" can be used to form up, while "Company 3 and 7, Break away block the incoming from the right." Will allow you to detach and react.

It's how real militaries structured themselves for the last several thousand years even to this day.

That's how the infantry of the Late Warring States Qin Dynasty were organised:

A unit leader with 4 men formed a Wu of 5 men
2 Wu formed a Shi of 10 men under the control of another officer

This carried on up for 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 men sized units, each with a separate officer commanding at that level.

As for the actual battle formation, the Terracotta Army (https://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/shaanxi/xian/terra_cotta_army/strategy_1.htm) reveals how the various types of Qin troops worked together, although LARPs generally won't have access to cavalry and chariots. :smalltongue:

spineyrequiem
2018-08-29, 09:59 AM
I actually already do that, typically I get people to break into blocks of 3-10 depending what type of unit we are, then depending if we're heavies or lights they either stick with me (and I say 'oy, Richer, take your claw and cover that left flank') or I send them off to mostly do their own thing, using whistles and runners to call them back if we need to reform for new orders. I usually have two sergeants, deployed to either flank, who are mostly there to listen out for my orders and pass them on.

We've also tried splitting the unit in two and have half charge, wait around thirty seconds, send in the second half and pull the first half back for healing and a short breather. Works pretty well, but relies on well-drilled troops.

When commanding units, I'll typically have 20-50, then we'll have about five such units beneath each of two to three group commanders. The group commanders are in turn subordinated to a general who commands the whole army for the twenty minutes before the players manage to catch him. At which point he dies gloriously, one of the group commanders takes command of reinforcements (assuming he's around, I once saw well over a hundred orcs under the command of one of my sergeants 'cause he was the highest-ranking orc in the respawn point) and the whole plan gets a bit messy.

Galloglaich
2018-08-29, 02:41 PM
I'm sorry I don't mean to be rude, and we all bring things to our understanding of these matters from our personal experiences. No doubt you can learn some things from LARP, and I am impressed by the scale of some of the big organized LARP's that go on. I'm sure when I was a kid if it had been around I would have had a lot of fun with it.

However.

I think we need a reality check here. You are missing three main factors in trying to draw lessons from the LARP's y'all are talking about:

1) Actual malice involved with any kind of genuine real world violent fight.
2) Training levels of participants.
3) Realistic conditions of any kind.

Real fights, even just a bar-fight let alone wars, do not have re-spawns, healing magic, foam rubber or latex boffers for weapons, orcs, elves or magic spells.

Given the numerous and multiple restrictions ala NERO rules or whatever, you are extremely limited as to what fighters can do and have, and that constrains the tactical environment beyond the level that it has any bearing on reality. That is to say, you could still learn something from it, but it's no more in the ballpark of a war ancient or otherwise than say, a friendly game of flag football, kickball or frisbee golf.

Flanking is definitely dangerous and it is indeed one of the main concerns that any ancient army had, (getting around behind the blockers in a flag football game is a good tactic too!) but your scenario hinges on a bunch of unrealistic assumptions. First, on a real battlefield people aren't so laconic and indifferent to their fate as a bunch of kids in a LARP, who are risking at most the inconvenience of a short wait before they "respawn". Kids furthermore who in most cases have never been in a real fight in their life. Real people - warriors or soldiers fighting for their lives, tend to be a bit more decisive and ... dangerous.

To deal with flanking attacks, aside from putting skirmishers on the fringes, you also had missile weapons (wielded by said skirmishers and also by more dedicated marksmen). You can't just loiter or run around the fringes of the enemy formation safely - you will be targeted. In the Bronze Age or Early Iron Age this might be mostly by javelins, darts, and sling stones - but also arrows including from powerful longbows (which are found back to the neolithic and were used for just such problems).

By the later Iron Age you would be facing powerful recurve bows and torsion spring weapons like Roman Scorpion and Ballistae. In the medieval period recurves, longbows and deadly crossbows are added to the mix, then guns. Your lone flank attacker would be targeted by multiple marksmen. And they wouldn't be restricted from aiming at the face!

Ancient Roman and Greek armies used light skirmishing troops like the Peltast and the Velites. Medieval armies had their equivalent.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d0/12/28/d0122878143e3f6ed6c595e07da8ef8c.png

Another common tactic would be to use cavalry, both for the flanking attack itself and for counters to it. Again just on a much higher level of intensity than anything you would experience in the park on Saturday morning.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DVa5EuqX0AINMFY.jpg

As has been pointed out already, ancient pre-industrial armies used formations, even down to small units, and experienced troops knew how to work together to handle all 'typical' contingencies, of which attempted flanking attacks would be among the most common. Formations of infantry in particular were experienced in changing configuration and face enemies from all directions when necessary, then change back as needed.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e6/Sempach_Schlachtfresko.jpg

Even a the very bottom of the barrel of a pre-industrial army, a raw peasant conscript in a levee in say, 1400 or 1000 or 500 or 500 BC, will be a more dangerous fighter than any LARPer. They will have slaughtered animals before, butchered them, taken them apart with blades. Spent a lot of time using blades to clear brush and so forth. They will have experience hunting (and aiming missiles). They actually know what it takes to cut or stab something and kill it. They will have experience fighting for real to an extent that is rare in middle class strata of modern society today in the US or much of Western Europe, let alone among ... hobbyist type folks.

When you are talking about a professional or semi-professional warrior, even a part time farmer / Hoplite or part time artisan / burgher militiaman, they are going to have experienced actual war over and over again in their lives by the time they are say, 25. They know how to keep a formation together, how to move as a unit, how to retreat in good order, and how to hold the line - with full knowledge of the consequences if they lose discipline. They have discipline, something you really don't have in a casual game of any kind.

You can't just touch somebody with a foam rubber boffer and kill them. Even with a really good quality weapon, it takes some training or experience to effectively use them. Cutting with a sharp sword is not as simple as it looks - do it wrong and you'll have no effect at all. Thrusting can be tricky too - rib cages and skulls can get in the way of dispatching an opponent. Real life is not The Walking Dead.

Training for LARP isn't training for war, it's learning to play a game. In actual fencing manuals from centuries ago, which you can look at for yourself, they do teach you how to contend with someone coming up behind you, how to turn a guard facing forward into a guard facing behind. you do have to be trained in footwork, what guards are, how to move your weapon from ward to ward. But once you are trained it can be done "with the quickness".


So by all means, figure out what you can from LARP, but don't put too much weight on that. No doubt LARP does have a lot to do with DnD and other RPG's, but if the basis of this thread is real world combat, you are best sticking to that.

G

Galloglaich
2018-08-29, 03:04 PM
To me the single most daunting factor for your lone skirmisher on his flanking attack is the fact that unlike in a LARP, in a real battle in the pre-industrial era, anyone trying to bother an infantry formation will be facing a forest of spears, pikes or halberds pointed right at their face.

https://estaticos3.larazon.es/binrepository/755x547/0c23/755d425/none/10810/SMWM/image_content_8308725_20180618021513.jpg

And unlike in a LARP, there is no rule saying they can't stab you in it.

Mike_G
2018-08-29, 04:03 PM
I don't think anybody here is comparing LARP top real war, just that you can get some insight from the experience, and that flanking is very devastating.

It's like how paintball isn;t anything like modern infantry combat, but if I had to suggest a way for a regular person to get a feel for the experience, I'd advise them to try paintball. So they're get to understand cover and concealment and how hard it is to spot a guy in cammo in the woods and how hard it is to hit a moving target, and so on.

Doing CPR on a doll isn't remotely realistic either, but better to have done that than not if you want to know what the reality is like.

Avista
2018-08-29, 04:44 PM
I have a question: What kind of problems did conventional knight armor have in combat? I know stereotypical knight armor isn't as heavy and immobile as believed, and a well-trained knight can move pretty effectively.

In my worldbuilding, a country has discovered an alloy that's perfect for making armor. I want it to cover up all the 'gaps' and problems from real-world armor. (i.e. use thin sliding plates to cover the inside of elbows to offer better protection without reducing mobility).


The continent is also frozen for half the year, so what kind of problems arise from wearing armor during the winter, and how is it counteracted?

Mr Beer
2018-08-29, 06:14 PM
I have a question: What kind of problems did conventional knight armor have in combat?

If 'conventional knight' means plate harness:

- Highly effective face and eye protection restricts vision.

- It's tiring to run around fighting in armour, although it beats getting stabbed.


In my worldbuilding, a country has discovered an alloy that's perfect for making armor. I want it to cover up all the 'gaps' and problems from real-world armor. (i.e. use thin sliding plates to cover the inside of elbows to offer better protection without reducing mobility).

'Perfect' how?


The continent is also frozen for half the year, so what kind of problems arise from wearing armor during the winter, and how is it counteracted?

You're wearing a giant heat sink. You need good winter clothes underneath to keep warm. If you have bare skin, then a gap, then metal, your skin will freeze if it touches. That's something to avoid.

The extra clothes will be problematic in combat because you will heat up quickly. What you need to wear to avoid hypothermia in walking conditions may overheat you in combat conditions.

My guess would be that one wouldn't have the full plate set-up on all the time in freezing conditions because that would be super inconvenient.

Brother Oni
2018-08-29, 06:54 PM
I have a question: What kind of problems did conventional knight armor have in combat? I know stereotypical knight armor isn't as heavy and immobile as believed, and a well-trained knight can move pretty effectively.

In my worldbuilding, a country has discovered an alloy that's perfect for making armor. I want it to cover up all the 'gaps' and problems from real-world armor. (i.e. use thin sliding plates to cover the inside of elbows to offer better protection without reducing mobility).

The continent is also frozen for half the year, so what kind of problems arise from wearing armor during the winter, and how is it counteracted?

Aside from the enemy, visibility, fatigue (from the weight or because of restricted breathing) and overheating are the main issues for knights in combat.

During the Battle of Agincourt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Agincourt), the heavily armoured French knights became stuck in the soft mud and some drowned, if the lightly armoured English archers didn't mallet them to death first.
During the Battle of Towton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Towton), some knights collapsed from heat exhaustion in the middle of a snowstorm. The crusaders (at least those who made it to the Holy Land) also had a number of problems with overheating, which led to the development of protective over-clothing (e.g. the surcoat and tabard) to stop their armour heating up like a baking tray from the sun - the crusaders pre-date plate harness though, so may be before your time period in question.

A lot of the coverage issues for joints were already sorted either through wearing mail and a gambeson, having larger plates hanging over the gaps or properly articulating it.

http://www.englyshe-plate-armourie.co.uk/Images/PastProj%20Images/English/Fitzherbert/images/FITZ%20COMPLETE%2001_jpg.jpg
http://www.englyshe-plate-armourie.co.uk/Images/PastProj%20Images/German/Field%20Harness/images/GERMAN%20FIELD%20HARNESS%2001.JPG
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/52/%D0%9A%D0%BE%D0%BD%D0%BD%D1%8B%D0%B9_%D1%80%D1%8B% D1%86%D0%B0%D1%80%D1%8C_2_%28%D0%AD%D1%80%D0%BC%D0 %B8%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%B6%29.jpg
https://www.gamigon.com/attachments/solomon001-jpg.1199/

If your alloy can reduce the weight of the armour without sacrificing its protective capabilities and still remain cost effective, then you'd fix some of the fatigue problems (at least until they build bigger crossbows/guns/cannon). Unfortunately overheating will still be inherent (unless you can build cooling pads/ventilation into the armour) and improving visibility isn't really possible without sacrificing protection until you invent something like polycarbonate.

http://www.bulletproof-vest.biz/images/2017/MICH02PLUS-tan.jpg

As for cold, assuming temperature ranges found in north European style climate, the only additional issues would be frostbite on exposed skin next to the metal plate and terrain (eg slogging through freezing mud without modern boots is not fun). The skin on metal issues are normally prevented by the knight wearing padded clothing underneath (aketon, gambeson, arming jacket, etc) and terrain is sorted by not campaigning during winter unless you could help it!

I couldn't say what issues there would be if the weather was colder than that (say Scandinavian or Canadian levels of cold), but I think some of our northern playgrounders in this thread could help with that.

Avista
2018-08-30, 01:20 AM
'Perfect' how?

"Perfect" As in: I need to know what are the downsides of real-world armor so I can figure out what this alloy actually fixes.

So I don't need to be concerned too much with joint covering - that makes it easier. I can have the alloy be durable and light to fix armor's weight issues. There's no problem for them wearing clothes underneath to prevent frostbite, and the bad vision is something I'll keep in. But that still leaves the overheating during combat.

For context, the setting is close to late/post Renaissance. These people began searching for a way to counteract guns, so this alloy is also penetration-resistant. They also dislike magic, so I can't handwave 'it's magic armor'.

Brother Oni
2018-08-30, 01:48 AM
So I don't need to be concerned too much with joint covering - that makes it easier. I can have the alloy be durable and light to fix armor's weight issues. There's no problem for them wearing clothes underneath to prevent frostbite, and the bad vision is something I'll keep in. But that still leaves the overheating during combat.

For context, the setting is close to late/post Renaissance. These people began searching for a way to counteract guns, so this alloy is also penetration-resistant. They also dislike magic, so I can't handwave 'it's magic armor'.

Cost and by extension, ease of manufacture is still an issue to be addressed.

That said, you're going to have to introduce something that stops the alloy being used for other purposes - if it's super light and super durable, what's stopping people building thicker and longer cannon/musket barrels instead, thus negating the additional protection offered by the armour?

Even if the alloy could stop a normal musket/cannon ball, it's still going to hurt or kill the wearer through blunt force trauma as there's only so much padding you wear to cushion the blow. Even if this poor carabinier's armour could have stopped the cannon ball, he's still being thrown off his horse and killed.

https://4.bp.blogspot.com/-80bLtQshoAk/WFKgyXRv_iI/AAAAAAAAJOI/0D_VEgrzffA283V0JVtmcuUnEhfv50OkwCLcB/s1600/carabinier%2B%2Bball%2Bwaterloo%2Bfrench.jpeg

Edit: Thinking about it some more, maybe we're approaching the problem from the wrong direction. Rather than bulking up on armour in an arms race to defeat better guns, go the opposite direction and reduce the amount of protection, making up for it with improved mobility instead? I know mercury fulminate and percussion caps are still a long way off, but incorporating tactical elements of later period army could be interesting in what is effectively the threshold of the pike and shot era.

DerKommissar
2018-08-30, 03:18 AM
I have a question for the gun experts:

What are causes for barrel fatigue?

Which factors influence those causes (like caliber, etc.)?

Is there a difference between smoothbore and rifled barrels in this aspect?

What are the effects of barrel fatigue (I mostly heard of imprecision as a result)?



And a bonus question:

Was WWI artillery mostly smooth-bore or rifled? I guess that mortars/mine-throwers were smoothbore, but I don’t have much of a clue for anything else.

Thanks in advance!

snowblizz
2018-08-30, 03:51 AM
"Perfect" As in: I need to know what are the downsides of real-world armor so I can figure out what this alloy actually fixes.

So I don't need to be concerned too much with joint covering - that makes it easier. I can have the alloy be durable and light to fix armor's weight issues. There's no problem for them wearing clothes underneath to prevent frostbite, and the bad vision is something I'll keep in. But that still leaves the overheating during combat.

For context, the setting is close to late/post Renaissance. These people began searching for a way to counteract guns, so this alloy is also penetration-resistant. They also dislike magic, so I can't handwave 'it's magic armor'.
Thre's two problems I don't see how you get around that's been brought up by everyone basically. Visibility and heatransfer. Take a look at a worldcup skiiing competiion and note how thin those garments are. The skiiers problem si not freezing but not getting voerheated. We are mammals accustomed to African heat, and our body's heatexchange system (and it's one of the best ones anywher ein the animal kingdom) is entirely built to those specs.

Then again, you really shouldn't be shooting for "perfection". There's absolutely nothing more annoying to play "gotcha" with someone trying to create invincibility, especially when it then also has to have flaws. Just see the insanity of how super heroe comic book universes turn around their axis of bigger-badder-reboot.



I couldn't say what issues there would be if the weather was colder than that (say Scandinavian or Canadian levels of cold), but I think some of our northern playgrounders in this thread could help with that.
Cold affects materials. Amongst other things metals get brittle. I walked home ~3-4km or so in -20C once (well I've done it many times but this was special) and about 1km from home one of the clasps on my laptop bag shattered due to the swiging stop-back motion of the bag hanging from my shoulder. Weaponsteel is made to be springy and give, cold counteracts that making it much more likely to shatter.




Edit: Thinking about it some more, maybe we're approaching the problem from the wrong direction. Rather than bulking up on armour in an arms race to defeat better guns, go the opposite direction and reduce the amount of protection, making up for it with improved mobility instead? I know mercury fulminate and percussion caps are still a long way off, but incorporating tactical elements of later period army could be interesting in what is effectively the threshold of the pike and shot era.
Right, because this is exactly what happened IRL. Armour was dropped and armies started to "skirmish" a lot more. You don't need percussion caps to do it. Even at a Renessaince tech level (and usually way earlier) there was a lot of skirmishing going on.

Mr Beer
2018-08-30, 03:57 AM
Impenetrable armour would be a lot thinner of course, which helps with weight. How strong is this stuff? For example, can you make weapon proof face plates of thin wire grid to make it easier to see? Is the wonder material penetrable by weapons coated in wonder material?

snowblizz
2018-08-30, 04:10 AM
I have a question for the gun experts:

What are causes for barrel fatigue?
The stresses of firing the gun. Rapid heating, cooling, reheating. Shocks, pressures, etc etc all kinds of forces being applied when you are containing a powerful explosion and channeling it out through a drainpipe.


Which factors influence those causes (like caliber, etc.)?
Pretty much any and every aspect of a gun. From material and make to size and how it is being used, what charges it fires, what ammunition you use etc.

There was a ww1 era German gun (may ahve been ww2), the K5, Paris gun, Thick Berta, one of these super weapons that had shells numbered in the order they needed to be used because the force of one of those going down the barrel, literally shaved off a bit of the inside as it went.

Most rifled barrels have an estimated number of shots going through it. Generally the bigger and more powerful the gun the less times it can fire before you need to swap barrels. Which is also why they often designed guns with rifled barrles so you can repalce the whole or part of it more easily.



Is there a difference between smoothbore and rifled barrels in this aspect?
Well yes. Smoothbores obviously have no machined surfaces inside the barrel that get damaged. Basically the smoothbore is gonna be a bit sturdier. They were, generally, shorter blockier weapons so would take stresses a bit more. There's more tolerance by and large since already a smoothbore firing a ball has some windage in it. Of course the opposite also happens, with the barrel becoming more foueld as you go along. At least for smaller weapons that would increase accuracy during use a bit.



What are the effects of barrel fatigue (I mostly heard of imprecision as a result)?
Imprecision would be the least of the effects. Think catastrophic (explosive) failure.



And a bonus question:

Was WWI artillery mostly smooth-bore or rifled? I guess that mortars/mine-throwers were smoothbore, but I don’t have much of a clue for anything else.

Thanks in advance!
Are you kidding me? Rifled. No serious gun has not been rifled since the invention of the shell. Somewhere in the period of the late 1800s anyone who was serious about war adopted the rifled quick-firing guns whose development advanced quickly. I want to say the period immediately following American Civil War where you still fielded many smoothbores even newly made big guns for siege and naval work.

That said, as we go further smoothbores do get a bit of a reneissance e.g. in tank guns and guns not shooting exactly common bog-standard shells. Someone else will have to tell you why though.

Brother Oni
2018-08-30, 05:48 AM
Right, because this is exactly what happened IRL. Armour was dropped and armies started to "skirmish" a lot more. You don't need percussion caps to do it. Even at a Renessaince tech level (and usually way earlier) there was a lot of skirmishing going on.

True. An ECW era pike and shot army would have significant problems dealing with being whittled down by Napoleonic era mounted infantry/dragoon, equipped with over-sized muskets and plate harness made from superalloy as they can snipe from further away while dealing more damage, plus are armoured/mobile enough to withstand/flee an enemy cavalry charge.

I was thinking of the percussion caps as you'd want to put out as much firepower as possible before legging it - even with the upgraded armour, a platoon of men couldn't take an entire cavalry company bearing down on them.


That said, as we go further smoothbores do get a bit of a reneissance e.g. in tank guns and guns not shooting exactly common bog-standard shells. Someone else will have to tell you why though.

Modern kinetic penetrators (eg APFSDS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armour-piercing_fin-stabilized_discarding_sabot)) are very long (typically around 80cm) and the average tank barrel isn't long enough to impart enough spin for the shell to have any proper stability if it were rifled. Since it's pointless to make them rifled, you may as well improve the durability and barrel life by making them smoothbore and sort out the stability by modifying the shell (normally they're fin stabilised).

The British Challenger II is a bit of a special case as we're inordinately fond of HESH (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-explosive_squash_head) (HEP for you Americans) which shoots better out of a rifled barrel. Since we also have massive stockpiles of it left over from the Cold War, inertia is the main reason why the Chally II still has a rifled barrel rather than the NATO standard of a smoothbore (although I believe we're switching over to a smoothbore gun sometime).

Epimethee
2018-08-30, 06:12 AM
I wanted to add a a little annotation under the fresco of the battle of Sempach Kindly shared by Galloglaich.

This one: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Picswiss_LU-23-06.jpg

It is painted on the Sclachtkapelle of Sempach, a kind of little church designed to memorize the fight. Some other exist or have existed, like in Morgarten or Näfels. Still this one was build around 1472 and 1473. The actual battle took place in July 1386.
The fresco was painted by Hans Rudolf Manuel (1525 - 1571), Hans Ulrich Wägmann et J. Balmer. So it was painted in the middle of the XVI century, then reworked around 1638 and 1641, and then would renovated in XIX and XX century.


So, as impressive as it is, the fresco should be taken with care, as it clearly does not depict the battle and also not the contemporary warfare.

As an illustration, look at the central figure that I detailed above who grab the pikes to make way for the Swiss army: it is doubtlessly Arnold Von Winkelried (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_von_Winkelried), a legendary Swiss figure. Modern research place is creation around the XVI century, so not far from the painting of the church.


In this sense, and don't let this point distract you from the excellent post made by G., the representation may be as wildly inaccurate as the one painted in XIX century by Konrad Grob: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/Winkelried.jpg

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 08:56 AM
I don't think anybody here is comparing LARP top real war, just that you can get some insight from the experience, and that flanking is very devastating.

It's like how paintball isn;t anything like modern infantry combat, but if I had to suggest a way for a regular person to get a feel for the experience, I'd advise them to try paintball. So they're get to understand cover and concealment and how hard it is to spot a guy in cammo in the woods and how hard it is to hit a moving target, and so on.

Doing CPR on a doll isn't remotely realistic either, but better to have done that than not if you want to know what the reality is like.

Fair points Mike, and I certainly agree that generally speaking doing games and simulations can help you understand various types of fighting, combat and war. It is how we prepare for war and it's certainly how they prepared in the medieval context.

But in order for a simulation to correlate with a real fight in some way, it has to be designed with that in mind, and even then, the correlation is usually limited in several specific areas. Even in HEMA, we know a tournament can't perfectly or even very closely simulate a real duel or fight, it can give you part of it.

Of course a CPR dummy is a reasonably good way to learn CPR. No doubt about it -it's how I learned. Simulations and games do help you train.

https://cdn-az.allevents.in/banners/a3a1893df479fd09f347521bf469b12b-rimg-w570-h342-gmir.jpg

But some do this better than others - I would definitely agree paintball from your example, is indeed a good (limited, but good) training for an actual firefight. For one thing, getting hit with a paintball hurts. You are fairly motivated to avoid being hit. For another, while the FPS isn't as high as real firearms, paintball guns can hit you at a fairly good distance and still hurt. They shoot rapidly and fairly accurately. Your opponents in the game can target any part of your body.

https://breakawayexperiences.com/content/images/thumbs/0007999_nerf-gun-battle-arena.jpeg

For these reasons, I don't think paintball is a good analogy for LARP. If you introduced a paintball gun to a NERO LARP it would be met with horror and outrage. The level of pain alone would be beyond the pale. A better correlation would be a nerf gun fight. Can you learn about combat from that? Sure, but not nearly as much.

Modern LARP's are (for the most part) decidedly not designed with realism in mind, they are designed with safety in mind first and foremost with the secondary motivation of having fun mainly through fantasy immersion. Checkout some of the rules of NERO LARP.

http://larphq.com/About/CombatSystem.htm

The only contact allowed during battle is by weapon. Any other type of fighting contact such as grabbing someone, hitting, or kicking is strictly forbidden. Violation of this rule is the shortest path to disciplinary action.

Any weapon shaped in such a way as to trap weapons (whether accidentally, or by design) is expressly forbidden. "Trapping" occurs when one weapon is used to hold another weapon so that it becomes useless. A weapon with multiple tines for instance can be used to grab and twist the opponent's blade, thus "trapping" it.

Any weapon that is reported as trapping weapons will not be allowed in game. A marshal has the right to reject any weapon for this reason.

During NERO combat you must never come into physical contact with your opponent. If you are crowding your opponent so much that she or he must step back to avoid body contact with you, you are Charging. Anyone who is reported for excessive charging will be pulled from combat for being unsafe. Any contact in NERO combat must be with weapons, not bodies.

One thing you must remember: you are only trying to make contact, not hit a home run. Do not reach back, wind up, and take a huge swing at your opponent. On the other hand, you can't just tap the person a hundred times a second like a hummingbird wing in flight; you have to give some swing to your strikes.

A general rule is that a swing should progress between 45 to 90 degrees. The swings must be controlled and must not hit too hard. If you are swinging so fast that you cannot announce the damage fast enough to keep up with the swings, then you are "Drum Rolling" or "Machine Gunning" and your opponent should count all of that as one or maybe two hits.

It is usually not necessary to hit hard at all. When fighting an unarmored and unarmed opponent, an easy tap will do. You only need to apply enough pressure to make sure your opponent is aware of the attack.

"Turtling' or hiding behind an impenetrable shield (with little more than your head showing) is not allowed! Anyone using a shield in such a manner could be subject to warnings from the marshals and if necessary, loss of the shield skill. Shields in our game are not all that realistic, and as such you are artificially limited in what you can do with them. In real life you could overbear someone who was hiding behind a shield, but such contact is not allowed in our game.

So I stand by what I said, under rules like that, you really aren't going to learn much about real world combat. Sure flanking can be devastating - that is certainly a thing. But you can get a distorted perception of how it actually works with all those safety rules. If you can't hide behind your shield, can't charge, can't touch, can't get too close to your opponent, can't aim at the face, can't shoot a bow or a crossbow... can't even fully extend your arm in a strike, I again would suggest this is about as similar to combat as flag or touch football (maybe).

G

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 09:11 AM
(I concede they may have bows and crossbows in LARP but the safety rules mean that these aren't going to be particularly long ranged or accurate)

https://s.hswstatic.com/gif/larp-6.jpg

Brother Oni
2018-08-30, 09:36 AM
The only contact allowed during battle is by weapon. Any other type of fighting contact such as grabbing someone, hitting, or kicking is strictly forbidden. Violation of this rule is the shortest path to disciplinary action.

Any weapon shaped in such a way as to trap weapons (whether accidentally, or by design) is expressly forbidden. "Trapping" occurs when one weapon is used to hold another weapon so that it becomes useless. A weapon with multiple tines for instance can be used to grab and twist the opponent's blade, thus "trapping" it.

Any weapon that is reported as trapping weapons will not be allowed in game. A marshal has the right to reject any weapon for this reason.

During NERO combat you must never come into physical contact with your opponent. If you are crowding your opponent so much that she or he must step back to avoid body contact with you, you are Charging. Anyone who is reported for excessive charging will be pulled from combat for being unsafe. Any contact in NERO combat must be with weapons, not bodies.

One thing you must remember: you are only trying to make contact, not hit a home run. Do not reach back, wind up, and take a huge swing at your opponent. On the other hand, you can't just tap the person a hundred times a second like a hummingbird wing in flight; you have to give some swing to your strikes.

A general rule is that a swing should progress between 45 to 90 degrees. The swings must be controlled and must not hit too hard. If you are swinging so fast that you cannot announce the damage fast enough to keep up with the swings, then you are "Drum Rolling" or "Machine Gunning" and your opponent should count all of that as one or maybe two hits.

It is usually not necessary to hit hard at all. When fighting an unarmored and unarmed opponent, an easy tap will do. You only need to apply enough pressure to make sure your opponent is aware of the attack.

"Turtling' or hiding behind an impenetrable shield (with little more than your head showing) is not allowed! Anyone using a shield in such a manner could be subject to warnings from the marshals and if necessary, loss of the shield skill. Shields in our game are not all that realistic, and as such you are artificially limited in what you can do with them. In real life you could overbear someone who was hiding behind a shield, but such contact is not allowed in our game.


Holy crap, really?

I do more contact than that when I'm being a punchbag sparring partner for 5 year olds at my karate club.

I wonder how much of it is due to the use of foam weapons encouraging people to have no control?


(I concede they may have bows and crossbows in LARP but the safety rules mean that these aren't going to be particularly long ranged or accurate)

From looking it up, they have a draw weight cap of about 30lbs. From experience, a recurve bow of that draw weight will push arrows out to about 30-40 yards but no further - the bow simply doesn't have the power and the arrows will simply drop out of the air as if hitting an invisible wall (ignoring clout for now). I'd expect a longbow to have about half that range.

I can't say how much further those top heavy foam heads or arrow quality will reduce the range.

Max_Killjoy
2018-08-30, 09:38 AM
(I concede they may have bows and crossbows in LARP but the safety rules mean that these aren't going to be particularly long ranged or accurate)

https://s.hswstatic.com/gif/larp-6.jpg


Which reminds me of another issue I've run into regarding bows and crossbows in RPGs... the guy who says "I hunt with bows and crossbows, and the ranges they give them in RPGs are completely fictional, you can't get a kill even on an unarmored animal at more than X yards away!" (Where X will be something between 25 and 50.)

The layered problems with that statement treated as an absolute parallel to what's going on in an RPG make my head hurt.

Modern hunting bows and crossbows aren't weapons of war, the heads aren't designed to pierce armor, etc.

The goal in hunting is to score a clean fast kill, to prevent the animal from getting away, and for some/many hunters, to minimize suffering. That requires the hunter to be close enough to hit a precise small part of the animal, and punch in deep with a direct shot.

Being closer also reduces the odds of mistaking something you don't want to shoot for something you do want to shoot, particularly in areas with cover (tall grass, woods, etc).

In a battle, a wound is often enough, sometimes even more effective than a kill, because a wounded soldier still often leaves the battle, might draw off others to help, might impact morale if he's reacting to the pain, etc.

Fire can be indirect, and massed, and has a physical and psychological effect even if it's not scoring instant kills -- which extends the range at which the archers can engage the enemy.


HOWEVER, the sort of combat that characters in RPGs get up to is very often NOT massed battles, which just complicates the issue further. And that reminds me of the whole "spear vs sword" discussion that comes up, and how the use of the spear and similar weapons in massed battles is taken as "proof" that the sword is "over-rated" in RPGs.

DerKommissar
2018-08-30, 09:48 AM
Thanks for the quick replies :) that answers my questions!

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 10:33 AM
I can't say how much further those top heavy foam heads or arrow quality will reduce the range.

A lot! LARP arrows have big fluffy marshmellow like tips which slow them down to a gentle pace through the air.

Back when I was doing padded sword combat (not larp, just kind of a fight club linked to the local punk scene), we used real hunting bows with tennis balls on the tips, but even that slowed down the arrow enormously, enough that you could fairly easily bat arrows out of the air with a 'sword' or even catch them in your hand. It still hurt though.

LARP "swords" or other weapons by the way, have to be very light in addition to being thickly padded. I think 6 ounces to maybe 1 lb?

Of course some LARP's are different. The SCA is basically a type of LARP, much more violent. But they still have so many odd rules and misconceptions (like "hitting hard enough" to cut through mail armor, for example, which is essentially the basis of SCA heavy combat, or two weapon "Florentine" fighting) that have come to influence RPG's especially early ones like DnD that everyone copies over and over in RPG's and along with say, Monty Python and Hollywood in general helped create the very strange Tropes that guide modern perceptions of any pre-industrial culture anywhere in the world, and in particular of medieval Europe.

And I think that kind of stuff is precisely what this thread is designed to help people see past, if they want to. The truth is most gamers couldn't care less about any kind of realism, verisimilitude or plausibility let alone history or culture (martial or otherwise) and in fact openly prefer the now comfortably familiar and empowering conventions of DnD etc.

For those in the minority who either do like realism and actual history, mythology and culture for it's own sake or who recognize it's utility as a resource for creating better fantasy (as all the original Fantasy genre authors like Tokein, Lovecraft, Jack Vance, Michael Morcoock, Fritz Leiber, Robert E Howard etc. definitely did) this long-lived forum thread is hopefully a resource.

G

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 10:36 AM
That's how the infantry of the Late Warring States Qin Dynasty were organised:

A unit leader with 4 men formed a Wu of 5 men
2 Wu formed a Shi of 10 men under the control of another officer

This carried on up for 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 men sized units, each with a separate officer commanding at that level.



This base ten formation system is also how the Mongol Army and most Steppe Nomad armies were organized for nearly 2000 years (I assume lifted from the Chinese? Or was it the other way around?). So it was probably a pretty good way to manage military organization especially for cavalry, given the outstanding military successes of Atilla, Ghenghis Khan, Tamarlane, Osman etc. etc..

G

Brother Oni
2018-08-30, 10:52 AM
Modern hunting bows and crossbows aren't weapons of war, the heads aren't designed to pierce armor, etc.

I'd argue that the difference between an armour penetrating bodkin point and a target archery field point is largely down to materials rather than shape:

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Bodkin1.jpg
https://ae01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1Mj03IFXXXXXRXXXXq6xXFXXXr/222191414/HTB1Mj03IFXXXXXRXXXXq6xXFXXXr.jpg

Both aim for the smallest diameter (not larger than the shaft), although I concede needlepoint bodkins are more specialised for penetration.

As for the guy who can't get a kill on anything more than 50 yds, he should try using a more powerful bow - depending on US state laws, the minimum draw weight can be as low as 40lbs for deer, far below the lowest numbers for a English warbow (upwards of 90lbs to 150lbs or even more).


This base ten formation system is also how the Mongol Army and most Steppe Nomad armies were organized for nearly 2000 years (I assume lifted from the Chinese? Or was it the other way around?). So it was probably a pretty good way to manage military organization especially for cavalry, given the outstanding military successes of Atilla, Ghenghis Khan, Tamarlane, Osman etc. etc..

Probably lifted from the Chinese since the very early Steppe Nomads like the Beidi and Hu didn't keep good records, plus it all gets very fuzzy since the early Chinese had a habit of paying off some of the barbarian tribess to fight the other barbarians, so they didn't have to and even worse when the Steppe Nomads became the Chinese (most famously the Mongols becoming the Yuan Dynasty, but some of the earlier kingdoms also got taken over by Steppe Nomads).

I suspect that the base 10 structure for the Mongols was an ideal and injuries/recruitment shortfalls/etc meant they had more or less personnel at any one time. From your experience, can I ask whether that's also the case with modern militaries? Modern NATO fireteams are either two or four, depending on the force (I believe the Chinese PLA have three), while the more organisationally focused squads/platoons/companies structures are again fairly flexible numbers; It's not until you get up to battalions and upwards that numbers tend to be rounded again.

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 11:10 AM
Which reminds me of another issue I've run into regarding bows and crossbows in RPGs... the guy who says "I hunt with bows and crossbows, and the ranges they give them in RPGs is completely fictional, you can't get a kill even on an unarmored animal at more than X yards away!" (Where X will be something between 25 and 50.)

Modern hunting bows and crossbows aren't weapons of war, the heads aren't designed to pierce armor, etc.

The goal in hunting is to score a clean fast kill, to prevent the animal from getting away, and for some/many hunters, to minimize suffering. That requires the hunter to be close enough to hit a precise small part of the animal, and punch in deep with a direct shot.

(snip)

Fire can be indirect, and massed, and has a physical and psychological effect even if it's not scoring instant kills -- which extends the range at which the archers can engage the enemy.


HOWEVER, the sort of combat that characters in RPGs get up to is very often NOT massed battles, which just complicates the issue further. And that reminds me of the whole "spear vs sword" discussion that comes up, and how the use of the spear and similar weapons in massed battles is taken as "proof" that the sword is "over-rated" in RPGs.

QFT

We should also keep in mind that modern hunting (or even 'tactical') bows and crossbows are quite different from medieval weapons. This is particularly true with crossbows. Modern crossbows are essentially just bows laid on the side and mounted to a stock. They still shoot arrows, just slightly shorter ones. They have a long power stroke (8" - 16" or even more) and the string notches onto the arrow typically. Draw weight is two or three times what a bow has (say 150-300 lbs) but the bow is also shorter, which more or less evens out. The only real advantage over a bow is that you can aim as long as you want without straining your muscles.

https://beckettcrossbows.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/carbonxtraclswithacudraw.jpg

Medieval "military grade' crossbows were a completely different beast.

http://www.themcs.org/weaponry/crossbows/Switzerland%20Zurich%20National%20Museum%20crossbo w%20C14-15%20158.JPG

They have a short powerstroke and very powerful prods (the bow part) which ranged from around 400 lbs for the lightest military grade weapons to easily up to 1,200 lbs for the most powerful 'field' weapons and up to 2,000 lbs or more for the huge 'wall crossbows'. They don't use a normal bow string like a modern crossbow but instead have thick powerful cords that strike the bolt when they are shot. They don't shoot arrows but rather bolts or 'quarrels' which are short, heavy, thick projectiles.

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attachment.php?attachmentid=51528&stc=1

They are spanned using formidable devices like the cranequin which is a steel reduction gear device similar to the jack you use to lift up your car to change the tire.

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f6/8b/1f/f68b1f6772acc18fcae1a683e152950a.jpg

And according to medieval documents they should be able to hit a mans face from 50 paces with the bolt dropping no further than from his eyes to his chin, and should be able to still hit with enough impact to kill a horse at 380 meters. In fact we have dozens of anecdotes and records of people being killed and severely wounded (Henry the V being shot in the face with the bolt embedded 4" for example) at greater distances than that. We know that at town-sponsored shooting contests the targets were typically positioned up to 100 meters away and were no larger than a human head.

But here is the thing - we don't actually know how they made these things and are probably only half-way to figuring it out. Modern reproductions don't come near this kind of performance. We don't even know precisely how to make the composite prod ones (they have done serious academic studies on this but so far with no success) and the steel prod ones don't work as well, possibly due to either the bolts used or the 'string'.


We know one researcher shot one of these things (a 1,200 lb draw medieval antique from Genoa) across the Menai Straits nearly 450 yards (https://books.google.com/books?id=EwBGDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA71&lpg=PA71&dq=ralph+payne-gallwey+crossbow+shot+Menai+Straits&source=bl&ots=Z58GEFxvuD&sig=1H2tjNmsbN5IbulqxCJJhr2Bpk4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjn8cijkZXdAhVHbKwKHXsNBTgQ6AEwA3oECAcQA Q#v=onepage&q=ralph%20payne-gallwey%20crossbow%20shot%20Menai%20Straits&f=false) back near the turn of the century. Most of the surviving 500 year old examples we have today are too risky to actually shoot.

So the whole thing is still quite a mystery.

Less of a mystery is the formidable power of weapons like the English longbow and the various types of Steppe nomad recurves and composite bows. These weapons are not as comfortable to use because they don't have the pulleys, and therefore require some special training and the build up of certain muscles but they do have quite impressive performance. Again the range is well beyond 300 meters though hitting an individual target is hard anywhere near that distance. For some stats on longbows the the English Warbow society is a superb resource

http://www.theenglishwarbowsociety.com/

We also have re-enactors and other researchers doing very valuable work on the recurves.

This fellow Lajos Kassai's accuracy is remarkable to say the least - sufficient that his pal will hold a target while he shoots it from horseback.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0opKAKbyJw

rrgg
2018-08-30, 02:53 PM
I think we've talked about medieval crossbows before, but much of the reason their design is so confusing is the short power stroke, which in most ways seems to make everything way less efficient. Energy equals Force times Distance, so if you make a crossbow with a 7 inch powerstroke then it needs 3 times the draw weight just to equal the stored energy of a regular bow with a 21 inch powerstroke. Additionally you need to be careful with the comparison to modern hunting weapons since while a traditional bow's draw force tends to increase close to linearly as you draw it back, many modern compound bows utilizing pulleys are able to ramp up the draw force very quickly and keep it there for longer, storing more overall energy under the curve.

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-3a5768d7f400dc3c80c53ca5c9334ef6-c

Regarding leathality, while a bodkin is a very efficient shape for penetrating and will easily kill or incapacitate if it hits the right spot, it's probably fair to say that they were far less "leathal" overall than round bullets, at least a shorter ranges (in the late 16th century the maximum distance for inflicting serious wounds against unarmored men or horses seems to have been considered up to about 400 yards for the arquebus/caliver and 600 yards for the heavier musket).

There definitely are numerous sources from the late middle ages which considered crossbows good at penetrating armor. Pietro Monte is one who continues to list the crossbow as an armor piercing weapon alongside lances and handguns. There are also a lot of sources which emphasize crossbows' range or accuracy. Montluc's memoirs describe him being able to use volleys of crossbow shot to keep spanish cavalry at bay while conducting a fighting retreat in the 1520, similar to how firearms would often later be used.

What I'm curious about though is how many crossbows could achieve very high penetration and very high velocity at the same time, since it becomes way easier if your goal is primarily to achieve just one or the other. For raw power you ideally want to shoot an extremely heavy bolt since that results in far less energy wasted when moving the bow's heavy arms and string, but this results in a projectile moving relatively slowly. Overall accuracy on the other hand during this period tends to be most closely associated with the weapon's "point blank range", or roughly the distance the projectile will travel in a straight line before hitting the ground. A very high initial velocity means that you don't have to worry as much about carefully estimating distance and elevation, which tends to be nearly impossible under battlefield conditions anyways, and it makes it much easier to hit moving targets such as a horseman or a bird if you don't have to lead them by very much. Fourquevaux on the other hand seems to have considered crossbows about on par with bows, able to match firearms in effectiveness at only up to 200 paces or closer and only able to pierce the meaner sorts of armors.

For a long time this seems to have been a trade off with early small arms as well to some extent. For most of the 16th century, especially the first half, the most common arquebus calibers seem to have been very small, around 30 gauge or lower, with a very long barrel length relative to bore diameter. The French, Germans, and English called all these weapons "arquebuses", but the Spanish and italians during the first half of the century at least differentiated between the larger "arquebus" and the smaller "schioppo"/"escopeta". As explained by Tartaglia Niccolao in the middle of the 16th century, the Schioppo firing a half ounce lead ball could shoot in a straight line 400 paces, while an arquebus firing a one ounce lead ball would only shoot 300 paces "[the] Schioppo doth shoote more straighter and more farther at a levell marke, or in a right line, than an harchibuse can doe" but "the Harchibuse will be to more effect, and pearce farther into an object placed within a common distance, than the shioppo can doe."

As aside it might be that what differentiated the new "musket" of the 1540s over earlier large caliber weapons used with a fork rest was that the musket introduced a much longer barrel, combining both a large caliber and a high velocity.

Anyways, what i suspect is that in the late middle ages most crossbows would be designed either for velocity or power, or would have to compromise somewhere in the middle, in addition to any design constratints regarding portability, safety, cost, etc. Perhaps some crossbows allowed the shooter to switch back and fourth between light bolts and heavy bolts, and there probably were at least some extremely powerful siege crossbows able to shoot both extremely far and with a lot of force, but I don't think that was the norm.

rrgg
2018-08-30, 03:21 PM
Regarding warlike games. I do think that if you handed the average american today an assault rifle, he would probably figure out how to use it sooner than if you handed one to a medieval peasant, due to prior exposure to media.

It does seem though that during the early modern period as gunpowder weapons took over, most people were no longer able to gain much "hands on" experience through play. While any peasant during the middle ages could pick up a stick and pretend to use it as a sword or spear, and simple wood bows and arrows were cheap and reusable, acquiring guns and gunpowder to practice with was really expensive if you just wanted to do it for a hobby. Even among members of the militia during elizabeth's rule this was a frequent issue. If the soldiers were required to pay for all their own bullets and ammunition, they simply wouldn't ever practice.

While you'd sometimes afterwords find hunters or backwoodsmen who already had experience with firearms, I think this is where you start really getting the huge divide in skill difference between militia and conscripts vs well-funded, professional soldiers and mercenaries.



Yes, but the thing is flanking and facing are such huge considerations was my point originally. Reproducing my results in real world would basically require a single line of soldiers trying to hold off a larger force in a narrow pass and a single soldier finding a way behind them without their noticing.

OR, as in my case, virtually untrained troops not properly preparing or improperly relaying the information that a flanker was circling and coming from behind.

As would be the case with say ashigura spearmen.

Yeah, I guess I didn't really explain myself too well. While both are examples of "flanking", the actual mechanics at play can be very different if talking about a small skirmish vs a large battle due to scale. In your example it was the physical damage you were able to do which was important. If the fight was scaled up from 30 on each side to 3000, then even if you and a bunch of your friends got around the flank, there's no way you'd be able to quickly stab 300-600 people in the back before anyone noticed and turned around. In that situation the effect of your flanking attack is going to be psycological, sowing fear and confusion, causing the rear ranks to press inward if they aren't disciplined enough leaving the enemy front ranks less room to fight effectively and potentially even crushing the ranks in the middle.

Brother Oni
2018-08-30, 03:42 PM
I think we've talked about medieval crossbows before, but much of the reason their design is so confusing is the short power stroke, which in most ways seems to make everything way less efficient. Energy equals Force times Distance, so if you make a crossbow with a 7 inch powerstroke then it needs 3 times the draw weight just to equal the stored energy of a regular bow with a 21 inch powerstroke.

While correct, it is only true if both the crossbow and the bow have the same brace height. Crossbows prods tend to be under a lot more tension, so you need a lot more force to draw the first inch that you would with a bow.

Using your graph, a 500lb crossbow with a 6" draw length would have a nearly vertical line from 0m,0N to ~0.15m,2200N.


https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-3a5768d7f400dc3c80c53ca5c9334ef6-c

Looking at the graph some more, there seems to be a misconception that there's no force stored when the bow isn't drawn (that's the only reason I can see why it cuts off at 60 cm draw, which is only ~23.6 inches rather than the more standard 28-30"). This isn't true as when the bow is strung, it is under tension at it's brace height, so it already has some stored energy in it, which is why you can twang a bow string.

rrgg
2018-08-30, 04:12 PM
While correct, it is only true if both the crossbow and the bow have the same brace height. Crossbows prods tend to be under a lot more tension, so you need a lot more force to draw the first inch that you would with a bow.

Using your graph, a 500lb crossbow with a 6" draw length would have a nearly vertical line from 0m,0N to ~0.15m,2200N.



Looking at the graph some more, there seems to be a misconception that there's no force stored when the bow isn't drawn (that's the only reason I can see why it cuts off at 60 cm draw, which is only ~23.6 inches rather than the more standard 28-30"). This isn't true as when the bow is strung, it is under tension at it's brace height, so it already has some stored energy in it, which is why you can twang a bow string.

The net force at the brace height starts at zero, since it's being canceled out by the tension of the string. With certain bows pre-stressing can cause the overall force to start ramping up a bit quicker, which is what makes recurve bows more efficient than straight bows, but it still tends to be fairly linear overall. This is more of an extreme example but here's an example of a replica manchu bow from this site:

http://www.manchuarchery.org/bows

http://www.manchuarchery.org/images/fdcurve-manchu.jpg


The graph i posted earlier I just pulled off google but yeah it doesn't really clarify things too well. It's showing a compound hunting bow, not a crossbow, and is showing completely different draw weights. With a traditional 40 lb. longbow or recurve, 40 lbs. is the amount of force acting when the arrow reaches full draw, with a 40 lb modern compound bow the force quickly rises to 40 lbs after you start drawing, stays there for a bit, and then suddenly goes back down so that the string is easier to hold while at full draw.

My point is that with a traditional bow the force draw curve always ends up looking like a triangle give or take. By contrast, modern compound bows can sometimes achieve almost an actual square. Storing almost twice as much energy overall than a triangle can.

http://uploads.tapatalk-cdn.com/20150619/fc992699af6336894b705e86debd38c5.jpg

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 05:03 PM
What we can say definitively about the medieval crossbow is that they actually started with a more conventional design, (i.e. with a bowlike prod and a bowlike string and a longer bolt that was really an arrow, and a long powerstrike) and then they moved away from that and toward the short powerstroke, very high draw weight, mechanically spanned weapons which according to just about every eyewitness - including foreign enemies like the Mongols and the Ottomans- were extremely formidable weapons.

As I said, they can't reproduce this with modern replicas, in fact the last time a university made a major effort at making some composite prod crossbows of the late medieval type they couldn't get 3 shots out of them before they lost power. So we obviously don't understand how they worked yet.

But given the fact that they clearly knew about the simpler long powerstroke type of bow, and that in spite of the extreme inconvenience and hazards associated with a weapon you have to span mechanically, they kept going further and further down that road. They had recurve and recurve composite bows, they had longbows, they had the older type of crossbows (which were still used as light hunting weapons all through the late medieval period) and yet nearly every army was using the hard hitting arbalests and statchel arbalests. So I assume (dangerous to assume, but I think I'm on firm ground here) that they had a good reason.



As for Early Modern military theorists like Forqueveaux, I tend to take them with a grain of salt, as they typically take conventional reality as they know it and bend it toward their theories, which are often outlandish and were rarely implemented. Also being in France - and writing in the mid 16th Century - he's not really relevant so much to crossbows and well past the tipping point on guns where they have decisively taken the forefront. We are into the wheelock era there.

Monte is different to me because he was a fencing master himself and though yes he was selling a book, it's an earlier time period and in Italy which is the center of for example fencing theory in his time. I would say the same for guys like Piccolomnini and Machiavelli and so on (more or less). They did have an axe to grind too needless to say but were writing for a different, better informed audience that was familiar with everything they were talking about. It's a different type of book from a different era in other words.

G

Epimethee
2018-08-30, 06:50 PM
Regarding warlike games. I do think that if you handed the average american today an assault rifle, he would probably figure out how to use it sooner than if you handed one to a medieval peasant, due to prior exposure to media.

It does seem though that during the early modern period as gunpowder weapons took over, most people were no longer able to gain much "hands on" experience through play. While any peasant during the middle ages could pick up a stick and pretend to use it as a sword or spear, and simple wood bows and arrows were cheap and reusable, acquiring guns and gunpowder to practice with was really expensive if you just wanted to do it for a hobby. Even among members of the militia during elizabeth's rule this was a frequent issue. If the soldiers were required to pay for all their own bullets and ammunition, they simply wouldn't ever practice.

While you'd sometimes afterwords find hunters or backwoodsmen who already had experience with firearms, I think this is where you start really getting the huge divide in skill difference between militia and conscripts vs well-funded, professional soldiers and mercenaries.

An interesting little fact give credence to your argument: in Switzerland, the first mention of training organized by the authorities, as opposed to the organisation of festivals and competitions, are dated around the Thirty Years War. It is coherent with the adoption of fire weapons as the main means of war.
But the new drill needed to organize the fire is quoted as the reason of those training sessions, and not the cost of equipment. Both are plausible and surely interlinked.


Also I wonder if something should be said of the creation of more and more sophisticated games to play with war, from the cheap tin soldiers of the XVIII century to the wargames, coherent with a more and more technical war and thus difficult to experiment without a bigger make-believe system. Don't know, mostly spitballing something half formed here...

Galloglaich
2018-08-30, 10:36 PM
Actually I think there is some earlier mention of that.

First pike drill specifically that I know of is of Berne training some of their subject (non-citizen) peasants who had not customarily been called up to fight, to prepare for war. Apparently they did some pike drill with them and organized some shooting ranges and so on. I believe this was during the Old Zurich War in the 1440's, though it may have been actually triggered by the Dauphin of France loitering around the vicinity of Berne in Alsace with 25,000 mercenaries from the 100 Years War, who were so mean they had been given the nickname "écorchers" (skinners). But that didn't go well for the French and the levee from Aargau wasn't needed.

The second starts in the 1470's or 1480's depending on who you believe, when soon to be Emperor Maximilian I starts to train dirt poor Swabian peasants to become Swiss-style infantry. To do this experienced Swiss Reislauffer Feildweibel and Hauptmann were recruited, and they started mass-drilling the Swabian peasants to get them rapidly into shape. This was the origin of the first Landsknecht companies.

After the Landsknechts demonstrated some useful capabilities, these same men were then imported into Spain to train what became Tercios.

My suspicion is that the training style used for the Landsknechts and the Aargau peasants was actually known by medieval polities, it just wasn't used much since levee's were considered ineffective.. the innovation of the Lansknechts is that they were raised up to the status of a free warrior by being given dispensations on sumptuary laws (hence all the colorful clothing) and being allowed to elect their own officers and hold their own courts and so on.

Training conscripts to be one the one hand effective while on the other hand still keeping their status down near serf level was a neat trick. Certainly this had been mastered by the 30 Years War. I am not certain of the status of the Tercios and especially troops like Rodoleros in Spain but i gather they didn't have a high status, though they did have at least the potential for some social mobility.

I think by the later 16th Century they were training conscript type troops in many places.

G

Epimethee
2018-08-31, 06:06 AM
We may be talking about two slightly different thing. I was referring to the Swiss militia, the army of actual citizens, who would have only by the XVII century a regular training organized by authorities.
What you say about the Zurich war is not contradictory but drilling quickly some levee is not exactly the same as regular and organized training for the citizens.

Also, the battle of St Jakob an der Birs was actually an heavy defeat for the Swiss army (1500 young men against 30'000 armagnacs) but so heavily contested that the French feared to go further.
The Swiss refused to surrender and were killed to the last man.
Interestingly, it was also the battle that demonstrated the vulnerability of infantry, and especially pike formations, against artillery fire.

A cursory glance to my sources, mostly the DHS, does not give me the event you are referring to. So if you have a source I would be glad to read it.

Then about the landsknecht... Yeah, of course, but that would tie well with the subject of the professionnalisation of war. Actually I think Swiss mercenaries and early landsknecht would be the first steps of this huge process, linked also with the creation of national armies.
The aim was not to rapidly give some measure of effectiveness to a temporary levee but to actually create a formation of seasoned professionals. The social mobility of landsknecht and the specific rules applied to them is the best clue of this new frame of mind. Also Maximilian had political goals in mind, mostly undermining the nobility.
The tercio is also a professional force.
In both cases training is obvious.

As much as the Swiss way of war is at the origin of the process leading to the tercio, the drill and the possibility of combined warfare authorized by the professional warriors would make Swiss warfare and formations less and less effective, thus leading to new ways of training by the XVII century. This fact is certainly a clue that something is changing, as the traditional ways, so effective a century and half ago, need to be updated.
The thing is, in this new kind of combined war, with fire more important, the coordination needed between each formation would not permit a simple levee to be as effective as it was in medieval time with only basic training.

Conscript troops are still regimented troops and their level of training and drilling increase clearly between the XVI and XVII century. Again, that's not contradictory with what you wrote.

Mike_G
2018-08-31, 12:21 PM
Fair points Mike, and I certainly agree that generally speaking doing games and simulations can help you understand various types of fighting, combat and war. It is how we prepare for war and it's certainly how they prepared in the medieval context.


But some do this better than others - I would definitely agree paintball from your example, is indeed a good (limited, but good) training for an actual firefight. For one thing, getting hit with a paintball hurts. You are fairly motivated to avoid being hit. For another, while the FPS isn't as high as real firearms, paintball guns can hit you at a fairly good distance and still hurt. They shoot rapidly and fairly accurately. Your opponents in the game can target any part of your body.


For these reasons, I don't think paintball is a good analogy for LARP. If you introduced a paintball gun to a NERO LARP it would be met with horror and outrage. The level of pain alone would be beyond the pale. A better correlation would be a nerf gun fight. Can you learn about combat from that? Sure, but not nearly as much.


G

Oh, I agree that there are better and worse comparisons.

But, having done a lot of combat sports and recreation and training, I think that even NERO LARP is going to give some insight to a guy whose only combat knowledge comes from World of Warcraft or theoretical discussion. People are at least trying to hit you with something, you're trying to hit them and not be hit. It can give some enlightenment to people who have never done any more realistic training.

It's similar to how I repeatedly have to defend sport fencing on this forum as being valuable. It's not great, but you will learn something that looking at books won't give you.

LARP is about safety and fun and often allows fairly young kids, so I get the whole desire to avoid either driving people away or getting sued. I actually got my scalp cut through my fencing mask at HEMA. (It was the mask itself that cut me, the sword didn't go though, but it taught me that a foil mask isn't up to longsword sparring.) I shrugged it off, mopped up the blood and kept sparring, but I could see a lesser man dropping out of the club. If I were the club's lawyer or CEO I might have felt a bit concerned.

lacco36
2018-08-31, 01:22 PM
I actually got my scalp cut through my fencing mask at HEMA. (It was the mask itself that cut me, the sword didn't go though, but it taught me that a foil mask isn't up to longsword sparring.) I shrugged it off, mopped up the blood and kept sparring, but I could see a lesser man dropping out of the club. If I were the club's lawyer or CEO I might have felt a bit concerned.

Which reminds me, I'm joining a HEMA group in October :smallbiggrin:

Knaight
2018-08-31, 02:12 PM
Oh, I agree that there are better and worse comparisons.

But, having done a lot of combat sports and recreation and training, I think that even NERO LARP is going to give some insight to a guy whose only combat knowledge comes from World of Warcraft or theoretical discussion. People are at least trying to hit you with something, you're trying to hit them and not be hit. It can give some enlightenment to people who have never done any more realistic training.

I'd agree with this, and also point out a few things about LARP, based on what I've seen. For one, the rules as stated and the way people actually play tend to diverge pretty significantly. As an analogy here most trampolines have safety instructions to the effect of "one person at a time, bouncing straight up and down in the center of the trampoline, doing no flips", which is a use case I'm not entirely convinced actually exists at all - the same thing applies to LARP to some extent. There's also the matter of how LARPs tend to coexist with general roughhousing by their members - Amtgard, for instance bans most non-weapon physical contact, and in the context of an actual Amtgard match that usually holds. After the day is over though, or if people are waiting around? There's a mix of unarmed sparring, sparring that blatantly breaks contact rules (locally "knife wrestling" is a favorite), so on and so forth. Then there's groups that are at least LARP-adjacent and do foam fighting where the rules are much higher contact. You can straight tackle people in Dagorhir and Mordor, for instance, and all sorts of grabbing, tripping, etc. is allowed. Said systems also don't do magic, use heavier weapons, and bring in a bit more pain (granted, this is based on a local group that I did some fighting with which had a tendency to fail weapon safety checks whenever they went to big events; still I've broken three fingers doing that, and that particular group generally had people out with broken fingers at any given time, which suggests that the safety factor is exaggerated a bit).

That's not to say that safety doesn't still bend fighting all over the place. Projectiles are generally less effective, which throws things off a lot. There's still no risk of death, which makes people fight differently, and targeting rules really alter how people fight - just look at how people hold their shields in LARPs with no-headshot rules, compared to how they hold them in the SCA, where lower leg shots are banned (which, as someone who does mostly spear, is an incredibly frustrating restriction).

There are even a few aspects where I'd argue LARP tends to be better than HEMA. HEMA's by far the best option for simulation of duels, but it also tends to focus pretty tightly on them, with big fights being comparatively rare. In my experience HEMA fighters tend to be very capable duelists, while having pretty bad battlefield awareness, and often also clear inexperience in dealing with more than one opponent in pure weapon skills.