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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default The Slabs of Prowess

    The Slabs of Prowess


    In my travels throughout the land, I, Jahanda of Tarandi have seen many strange sights, and stranger people still. We Sentinels must fight and carry ourselves through dangers most paramount all across the realm and we must change to confront threats near or far. Some of my peers scoff at my idea, we are conquering heroes all, and the skill of our blades is legendary. Still, to ignore a source of martial wisdom is foolish, for if we draw all of our strength from only one source it will become stagnant. Brittle. Dead. Our training must be like fire. Fickle, ephemeral, dangerous, and constantly fed. And so I have begun the work of etching down manuals and instructions on different fighting styles, martial methods, and disciplines of warcraft in the world. Below is one of the stranger methodologies still, but I hope it will inspire other Sentinels, and the work can be informed from all corners of life.


    Name: Long Claw Short Hand

    Region of Origin: The Carrion Ward

    Description: The Scavengers of the Carrion Ward, strange as they are, are not without tradition or custom, and martial philosophy is no different to them. Among those I have vaguely been able to ascertain as their warrior caste, savage animals traveling in packs, many of them shared similar thoughts on handling violence, and in particular how to deal with armed combatants such as I. Though there are no structures or training grounds for such an art there is nonetheless enough similarity between what I have heard to collate a vague school of bestial savagery amongst their kind. A Scavenger by the name of "Amber-Lion-Born-Of-Mist" put it succinctly while I rested below a tree "There is one key difference between us. Long Claw, Short Hand." When confronting lone hunters who have wandered into the Ward or abroad the Scavenger first looks to close the distance. Constant movement is paramount in the fight, more important than the act of attacking itself, to negate the advantage of thrown spears, slings, and axes. The warrior is almost discarded entirely in the focus of the battle, the weapon is chief of all, and the Scavenger must dance to the song of singing swords. Focus points on the body include the wrist and ankles, to trip the opponent to deprive them of mobility exacerbating the differences in form, or lock their movement in combat, and most importantly disarm them of their weapon. With no weapon in hand they believe most people to be mostly defenseless lacking fang or claw.

    It is a lightning fast style. One that emphasises ending the battle as quickly as possible and with no room for error. Grapples and attacks to the genitalia are also frequently employed alongside kicking up dirt, snow, and other nearby foliage to create impromptu cover whilst leaving the other Scavenger's keen senses untouched. These are normally employed in pack tactics but Snow Leopards have noted to me that such ideas are common amongst their solitary hunts (with modifications for stealth or hit and run tactics). Many horror stories permeate from warrior to warrior of some hunter chasing down a Scavenger for hours or days until they are too tired or broken to resist and it has left an indelible impression in their martial psyche to eliminate such a scenario and fight or die as soon as possible.

    Notable Users: Amber-Lion-Born-Of-Mist, Wounded-Vulture-That-Nests-In-Skystruck-Tree, Newmoon-Hyena-Which-Cried-A-River, and Long-Leopard-Eats-The-Family were all recommended to me as significantly skilled practitioners of these combat ideals and their testimonies make a bulk of this transcription and these imaged moves below. Notably the great juggernaut of a lion, No-Pride-No-Death, does not seem to ascribe to these teachings, and was unhelpful when pressed for answers.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Halfling in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Fighting Arts of Shandolé

    I have spent a number of years now living in the mountains above the Shandolé valley, where the River Elves dwell. They live a mostly peaceful existence with many elves never taking up weapons at all and I have yet to see one River Elf raise arms against another, unless it were for sport or training practices. It surprised me then, when, upon further investigation, I discovered they had a number of rich traditions in martial arts and military practice. For over two centuries they have lived in peace, only using weapons for hunt and defense against predators and blightspawn, but still they preserve arts of war and duels. I tried to question where these traditions came from and the circumstances around their development, but was met only by cold silence and ruthful frowns. It wasn’t until I spoke to lore-master Lyndónah that I understood the reason the elves were so mysterious on this matter. Like much of their culture, these traditions remain from times before the False Dawn, histories and memories lost to the River Elves in the False Dawn Madness. No elf can answer from whence these traditions rose, nor speak to what times of war and strife conceived them. Like so much of their past, they simply cling to what remains with a dedication and adherence to perfectionism that boarders on religious zealousness. Nonetheless, whatever eras and events these arts formed from, they are worthy of note, blending physical strength and speed with mental focus and keen interplays of strategy. I think they will serve the River Elves well in tumultuous times to come and may indeed teach even the hardened Sentinel masters a thing or two.

    In Shandolé there are three particularly favored martial arts using weapons; long spear, twin tomahawks and rope weapons, called Sibat’Ka, Twirn’Tomahi’Ka and Yatcha’Ka respectively. Most Shándole warriors learn all three, though they will often pick one to become a true master with. Regardless of their favored martial art, all of Shándole warriors tend to favor the use of speed and movement with rapid strikes and a lot of footwork, as dexterity and speed are natural strengths of their species.

    ~ Roland, Sentinel of the Rosewood Stone



    Spoiler: Sibat’Ka - Art of the Long Spear
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    Sibat’Ka - Art of the Long Spear


    A Shándole Sibat is a long spear with a point that is also long and double-edged, suitable for slashing, as well as piercing. Its staff is often adorned with feathers dyed in bright colors of blue or red and leather fringe, which are not only used to denote the level of mastery the user has achieved, but also serve to help in maneuvers of misdirection and faints, as they will often draw the eye and may be used to briefly obscure a carefully timed shift in the elf’s stance or expression. Sibat’Ka is a more strategic and defensive art than other Shándole techniques and makes as much use of the staff of the spear as it does the point, blocking, back-end striking and swirling in way than defends large areas. The style relies heavily on faints and misdirection, tring to trick opponents into an opening themselves up, while maintaining an unbeatable defense. A master of Sibat’Ka is always working toward the perfect “Kai’la” the “Final Strike.” Defensive techniques are used, while the Sibat master gages their opponent, learns their style, strengths and weakness. Then the master will use what they’ve learned to plan and enact the Kai’la. Whether it be a death strike, or a strike that completely renders the enemy flat on their back, weaponless and at the elf’s mercy, Kai’la it is the ultimate goal and a Sibat master will sacrifice chances for immediate damage or small strikes, in order to maneuver the opponent into the perfect place to pull off this perfect final move. Sibat’Ka is well suited to solo matches, as the style can be flexible, gaging and countering a verity of opposing strategies, but it does require a lot of concentration, a keen eye and focus. In larger battles Sibat fighters often hang back behind their war beasts or as those using tomahawks and ropes barrage the enemies and then move in for a Kai’la, once their battle companions have distracted the foe or forced it into a compromised position.



    Spoiler: Twirn’Tomahi’Ka - Art of the Twin Tomahawks
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    Twirn’Tomahi’Ka - Art of the Twin Tomahawks


    Twirn’Tomahi’Ka is a completely different approach then Sibat’Ka. It is is highly focused on offence and in hitting the enemy as fast and as often one can, usually while screaming war cries as loud as one can. Rapid charges, run-by attacks and body slams will also be made use of, as the elf lays on a hard barrage of blows and slashes, before dashing out of reach again. The weapons are almost exclusively used offensively, and the elf will rely on their speed and agility to dodge and get out of the enemies reach, rather than blocking with their weapons. It makes very good use of an elf’s natural advantages of strength and speed and can be pretty overwhelming against an opponent caught off guard or easily intimidated. Generally, Twirn’Tomahi’Ka works best when multiple elves partner up, or with the help of a war beast, so the blows and attacks are coming at the enemy from multiple directions and may be timed together to screaming charging whirl of slashing stone and hammer blows. Ideally the tactic will force the foe into submission or a bloody pulp, before they can retaliate with any kind of concentration or strength. Nonetheless, it can be used effectively in solo combat, especially if the elf’s enemy does not have strength and speed to match an elf’s physical superiority.



    Spoiler: Yatchi’Ka - Art of the Ropes
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    Yatchi’Ka - Art of the Ropes


    Bolas and lassos are a favored tool for bringing down large game in hunts and continues to be used in war combat, along with flexible leather straps as whips. Without getting close, an elf will use ropes to trip and bind opponents and then by strength and speed drag them down and possibly across a good distance of rough terrain. Yatchi masters also use the lasso or whip to jerk or slap weapons away from their enemies, whittling down their opponent’s options and strengths. The key is for the elf to use their long ropes and flexible weapons, while making use of their excellent speed and agility to always remain well out of the reach of their opponent. The problem is that rope weapons by themselves don’t do much damage. Once they’ve entangled and/or disabled their enemies, Elvs are strong enough that they can use kicks and punches, to break bones, though may also move in and tightly bind an enemy, or take out a hunting knife or other bladed weapon to finish off an enemy that has been disarmed and well entangled. It best used in hunting and in battles where ropes will disable or hinder enemies making a clear opening for a Sibat master to get their “Kai’la” or the war beasts to charge and Twirn’Tomahi fighters to move in with overwhelming attacks against a disabled target.


    Last edited by Laura; 2020-08-10 at 08:13 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Combat of the Soreni

    ~ Fluff TBA ~

    Claw Style
    Soreni have natural claws, sharp and curved, hard as stone, black as night.
    Claw style revolves around fast and efficient strikes, and taking down enemies as fast as possible.
    This involves aiming for major weak points, incapacitating enemies before deftly killing them.
    Claw style also involves proper claw care, and claw sharpening.

    Fang Style
    Soreni have powerful jaws, strong enough to rip through flesh.
    Fang style is often paired with claw style, as it is less useful on its own.
    Most of fang style is about killing enemies with a single bite.
    Fang style also heavily prioritizes tooth care, though not to the same degree as claw style;
    Soreni can regrow teeth, and losing a tooth is an inconvenience, but not a permanent one.

    Tail Style
    Soreni tails are incredibly strong as fast, and can be just as much a weapon as claws and fangs.
    Tail style is about strategically breaking bones to incapacitate enemies.
    Tail style is often used to enable more deadly styles.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Spoiler: Al-Ashir Tools of War
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    Javelin - A throwing weapon consisting of a light shaft of palm wood with a narrow stone head and split chicken feathers for a tail. A looped braided cord or leather thong is affixed about the midpoint and held by two fingers, released last when thrown. Length: 5 feet. Weight 1.5 pounds.

    Meant to wound and distract rather than debilitate or kill, Ashirian riders carry three to five of these light javelins. These are spent first in a battle to soften up the enemy before dedicating to a higher risk lance charge. The first volley is directed forward, capitalizing on the momentum of a galloping horse. Subsequent, less powerful and less accurate throws are done at opportunity after the company dodges to move across their target. Javelins may be resupplied by riding to the outside flank of the company and securing them from the younger attendant riders.

    Lance - A pole weapon made from a sturdy length of palm with a broad sharpened stone head. A leather grip is glued a little behind the midpoint. Length: 12 feet. Weight 6 pounds.

    The principal weapon of Ashirian riders, meant to be durable enough for repeated use. The broad spearhead prevents the lance from sinking so deep into flesh that pulling it loose would be difficult. Typically carried underhanded and braced along the forearm for accuracy while relying on the speed of the horse for power, or overhand and overhead to deliver heavier blows if the horse has lost speed or the rider has been forced into close fighting with infantry. Frequently employed against retreating and lightly armored enemies, the lance is used to inflict shallow, but hemorrhaging wounds aimed at the glutes and thighs.

    Bolas - Two stone or lead weights affixed by a length of cord. Held overhead, spun, and thrown at the legs.

    An uncommon weapon on the battlefield, typically used for hunting ostriches or apprehending criminals. Lacking other weapons, an Ashirian rider may employ their hunting bolas in battle, either thrown, or wielded like a flail and held with a shortened grip.

    Knife - A short, gently curving stone blade of flint or obsidian. Principally utilitarian, these 4" knives are more often used for skinning game or shaving. While the Ashir prefer to deal with their problems from horseback, the knife may be used to kill from stealth, or when forced to fight in close quarters on foot.

    Shield - An oblong hexagonal shield, made of wicker with a stretched piece of leather on the outer facing. Held to the palm with a close fitting leather grip and not strapped to the arm, so that it may easily jettisoned. An effective defense against sling stones, javelins, and hunting arrows. Typically discarded once the enemy has exhausted ranged weapons.

    Armor - A corded mohair tunic or thin leather cuirass sometimes incorporating slats of palm wood affixed by drilled holes. A skullcap of similar make is sometimes worn beneath a patterned woven headscarf. The scarf is drawing tight across the brow to catch sweat, and across the nose and mouth to filter out sand.

    Horse - Both transport and war machine, the horse is the cultural and military linchpin of the Ashir. Bred for a robust blend of speed and endurance from a time long before the modern age, Ashirians are lighter and more intelligent than horse breeds found elsewhere in the world, though still considerably larger than some wild horses. They can be distinguished on sight by their high arched necks and bulging brows. Ashirian cavalry must travel light owing to the limited strength of the breed; as such, they do not utilize barding. The role of carrying provisions and tents falls instead to the humble dromedary on long campaigns.

    Tack - The current state of equestrian equipage is sparse and primitive. Al-Ashir riders make do with only a bareback pad instead of a saddle, consisting mostly of mohair batting sandwiched between sewn layers of goat hide and two broad strap for the animal's collar and lower chest. Reins and hackamore are employed for sudden correction, but steering is largely accomplished as the rider shifts their weight and applies varying pressure with their knees. In battle, the clever Ashirian breed mostly takes care of itself and its rider as it navigates obstacles and follows the horse in front of it. Lacking stirrups and rigid leather saddles, the Ashir compensate by devoting themselves to the art of riding and mounted combat.

    Rider - A man or woman between the ages of 16 and 60, or generally any able-bodied member of the clan. While not all the Ashir are active members in one of the roving war companies, almost everyone is expected to learn to ride proficiently and defend themselves. Gentle riding instruction begins at 7 years and moves to the basics of mounted combat by 12 when a child is strong enough to lob a javelin. At 14, the more talented riders are selected to participate as grooms in cavalry companies. By 18, they are considered full warriors and participate in all facets of clan life. Service continues until injury, or old age, at which point a rider retires to instruct future generations.

    When not scouting, hunting, collecting taxes, or escorting caravans, riders spend their most of their nights training. The typical training sessions consists of maneuvering a horse down a winding course while hitting quintains with blunted javelins and lances, simple strength training, and sparring. Nearly elevated to the point of sport is the practice of sparring with so called painted knives. Sticks emulating daggers are coated with a bright red mud and points are scored by leaving a mark on your opponent with an instant win for vital hits.

    Spoiler: Al-Ashir Warfare
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    Organization

    One Military Unit of Ashirian Cavalry constitutes a regiment, which is commanded by one member of the royal family: an Amir. A regiment consists of five core companies of forty riders each. Each company also includes up to twenty squires or grooms, younger warriors not yet deemed ready for combat. Grooms are tasked with resupplying javelins during battle, evacuating the wounded, and generally overseeing the camp and provisions during travel. A company is lead by a captain or Akaid and functions autonomously during battle.

    Tactics

    While seen by foreigners as undisciplined and chaotic, Ashirian cavalry is nevertheless brutally effective in an open field as each company follows a basic philosophy: create opportunity. Relying on their superior speed and maneuverability, every company has the simultaneous goal of harassing the enemy and attempting to draw their attention from every other company, and then committing to a charge once an opening exists. In this way, even disciplined infantry may be isolated and flanked. Put candidly, this means riding in circles, softening the enemy up with javelins, forcing them to wheel to maintain unit cohesion, and then offering another rider company the enemy's exposed flank.

    However, the Ashir prefer to avoid pitched battles entirely, particularly in their native desert, engaging instead in sustained hit-and-run tactics and nighttime raids to demoralize, exhaust, or starve the enemy.

    Combat

    On the individual level, combat means Ashir riders utilize superior speed to maintain distance when their enemy would rather they were close, and to be close when the enemy would prefer they were far away. It also means using the right weapon for the job. Slingers, archers, and skirmishers can be met with a direct charge with a raised shield and pointed lance. Armored and shielded hoplites are best engaged at a distance where the rider can weave a serpentine path, maintaining distance overall, but then turning inward to lend speed to his javelin throws. Normally reserved for hunting ostriches, the entangling bolas may be used against opponents with wide bronze shields. The horses themselves are trained to avoid people rather than crash through them, but Ashirians are also smart enough to recognize threats to their herd and their riders. Sometimes it is wise to let the thousand pound animal decide what your next move is. Sometimes that means hanging on while it stomps someone to death.

    Though warriors always carry two knives, these are a last resort on the battlefield after being unhorsed. Unarmed striking and grappling are seen as impractical or uncivilized. The horse and lance are symbols or the noble warrior caste. Using your fists is for barbarians and peasants.

    Somewhat ironically, the Ashir have no qualms about fighting dirty. Forced to defend themselves without weapons, their first move is to find anything else that could be used as a weapon. Failing that, it's down to sand in the eyes, a swift knee to the gut, and then kicking someone while they're on the ground until the groaning stops. The Ashir take insults lightly and don't rise to violence because of a few barbs. However, moving to strike an Ashir warrior almost certainly means that one of you will end up dead. Men who do not command their emotions and who attack you without clear purpose and righteous cause are no different than wild animals.

    Auxiliaries

    Due to the sharply limited size of the Ashir Clan (approximately 3,000 souls as of Turn 3) it may sometimes be necessary to raise auxiliary forces from the people they rule over.

    Vesparrese Skirmishers - 1 Unit consists of 1,000 men furnished with slings, javelins, and larger versions of the shields used by Al-Ashir riders. They are primarily employed to occupy space on the battlefield, providing a wide, salient obstacle for the bulk of the enemy line while the Ashir attack the wings. As they are drawn almost entirely from farming and herding villages, these men have little time to devote to training.
    Last edited by Nefarion Xid; 2020-10-19 at 03:59 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Alodite Martial Arts



    Spoiler: Art of the Black fist
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    A common form of bare armed combat among the Alodites, the art of the Black Fist is a martial art that focuses highly on strikes. Strikes are delivered via fast punches, or in some, schools kick, against the opponent's face, lower torsso, and knees. Proper footwork, bobbing and weaving are necessary for any practitioner of the art. In order to take advantage of their bursts of superior elfen strength, practitioners are routinely drilled to execute punches as quickly and efficiently as possible. Wasted movement during striking can seriously impact a practitioner's stamnia and durability over the course of a fight.

    Defensively, practitioners are encouraged to use their opponents momentum against them and to avoid direct hits as much as possible. Using footwork to dodge, or otherwise parry the force of devastating blows is another method to conserve stamina.

    The longer and more drawn out a fight is the less likely an Alodite is to win. The cost of their impressive strenght and speed is their subpar stamina. This leaves practioners especially vulnerable to grappling specialists. Under such conditions it is advised to aim exclusively for the opponent's face and eyes as quickly as possible.

    The Art of the Black Fist has a only 2 forms. While some consider this a lack of versatility, master of the art like Neferkare would insist this is due to a value on simplicity. Form 1 of the Black fist is based around boxing with fists, empathizing specifically tight well controlled strikes, good footwork, upper body blows and maximizing elfen observation. From 2 is a kick based form revolved around disabling an opponents legs, with special emphasis on delivering sharp kicks to the knee.



    Spoiler: Art of the Whistling Blade
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    On the battlefield the art of the famous Alodite skirmishers is the Art of the Whistling Blade. This refers specifically to the use of stone and copper headed arrows and javelins in battle. Alodites are trained specifically to fire in formation and maintain distance from enemy combatants. Alodites are trained to use their heightened senses to aim for the opponents vitals, while simultaneously firing as a formation. Key tenants include, synchronicous shots, maintaining proper distance, and combat with stone knives.


    Last edited by Lleban; 2020-08-18 at 08:57 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    The Bannanda in Combat


    Fighting of Henanda places a great focus on mobility. As a result, most combatants are only lightly armoured. With the principal armour available being hides or furs - which are both hot and restrictive of movement - most warriors do not wear meaningful body armour. Some, often older veteran warriors, will wear animal heads as helmets, sometimes with the rest of the pelt as protection, but this is fairly rare.

    Typical primary armament comprises a spear and a shield. The spear is tipped with copper where available, or with stone where not. The shield is generally oval, and around five feet in height, made from a lighter wood, sometimes of wicker, and occasionally with a hide stretched across it for extra resistant properties. In addition, warriors will tend to carry further spears for throwing, a hand weapon, and/or a sling and stones for ammunition. In battle, both sides start by keeping their distance, throwing spears and slinging stones.

    In close combat, typically warriors close with the enemy quickly to put pressure on them, stabbing at exposed spots with the spear. The eyes and face are a favoured target early in the fight, as inexperienced opponents will often panic and bring up their shield too high to defend, allowing an easier strike elsewhere, although against more seasoned foes less predictable strategies are adopted. Warriors will tend to spring from side to side and back and forth, searching for an advantage, hence why light armour is preferred. Used to fighting in rainforest, warriors also attempt to make use of the surrounding environment, taking advantage of trees, exposed roots, shrubs, or other features of the terrain which might inhibit their opponent, or provide them with something to stand on or take cover behind. In formal duels, often the ground is cleared to remove such obstacles, but it is also not uncommon for rocks or fallen branches to be deliberately left in place, so that the duellists have more opportunity to display strategic skill as well as pure spearmanship.

    If the spear is lost or broken, warriors switch to their secondary weapon. Stone and, more rarely, copper axes are used, but the most common weapon is a club of around three and a half to four feet in length, with a distinct knob on the end. These clubs are made of bulletwood or ebony and in some ways resemble a wooden mace. A good strike with these clubs is sufficient to break bones on an unarmed opponent and a blow to the head can easily be fatal. Because of the shorter length of these weapons and the need to swing them in an arc rather than thrust, it requires a different technique and rather closer combat, and at this point pushing and grappling become more common.

    To outwit one's opponent is considered worthwhile. How this is understood can be confusing to outsiders. Where a fight is agreed with certain weapons or other rules, to depart from that and secrete a secret weapon or make an illegal strike is considered dishonourable and depending on the context might be held as murder. However to use the available weapons in an imaginative way that has not been debarred, or to take advantage of external factors, is generally applauded for ingenuity. Feigned injury is perfectly acceptable, though feigned surrender is not. Taunts to mock the opponent into making a mistake are common, although this should really be understood as a strategy in the confines of combat and warriors are expected to show respect for a worthy opponent once the fight is over: a warrior who continues to mock and taunt an opponent after the battle is concluded will diminish his own reputation.

    When fighting other peoples - which has not happened often in their recorded history - the Bannanda have tended to be both bigger and stronger than their opponents and have been able to use this to their advantage, not only in their use of a larger shield and longer spear than their opponents
    could comfortably use but when combat reaches closer quarters they have an advantage in wrestling, grappling and other forms of unarmed combat. Against more monstrous foes bigger than them, such as bears, large blightspawn, or trolls, they would prefer to keep their distance, making use of throwing spears and slings and then their war-spear to attempt to inflict as much damage as possible without coming within range of their enemy's weapons.

    While they are fierce warriors, who prefer not to retreat once engaged, knowing when to fight and when not to fight is considered important for a warrior. There is little dishonour in refusing a fight against an obviously superior opponent, and outright recklessness on the field of combat is rare.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Two young Sentinels entered a small cave. In it’s shade they saw three orcs practicing combat. Two of them couldn’t be older than ten, while the third one had already reached an age many warriors never live to see. The children, a boy and a girl were wielding an axe and a knife respectively, while the older orc was unarmed.

    “You must be Thekr of the Rathox clan”, the Sentinel who entered first said.
    The experienced orc squinted at him. “I don’t recall telling you my name.”
    “Word of your travels to the Maw have spread. Idris of Sikar told us to observe you training these youngsters.”
    “Very well. Observe.” As if on cue, the boy tried to strike the hero with his axe, but was soon quivering on the ground from a punch to his abdomen.
    “How many times do I have to tell you? If you strike at me like that, all I have to do is to push your elbow and you’re wide open.” Next the girl made her attempt, but Thekr merely grabbed her by the hair and tossed her on the ground.
    “While your brother’s too brash, you’re far too timid. You need to be decisive. I had all day to grab you.”

    This forced a small break as the children recovered. From their bruises it was apparent that they had been at this for a while.
    “Easy for you to say when you’re so much bigger and stronger than us!” the boy lashed out. Thekr raised one of his eyebrow at him.
    “Do you expect to bring glory to your clan by only fighting opponents who are as strong or weaker than you?”
    “Says you!”
    “You think I consider this a fight? I’ll tell you now, there are those even I can’t beat with strength alone.” The boy gave no reply. The girl had been silent in thought for a bit, but spoke up now.
    “Should I cut my hair short?”
    “If that’s how much you doubt your ability, go ahead. But that won’t make you a better fighter. Again!”

    The children rose. This time the girl assumed a combat stance first.
    “Put your legs into it, make it count.”
    The girl thrust forward with her dagger, and Thekr had to take a quick step sideways to get out of harm’s way.
    “Much better. Now you. Don’t let me know how you’re going to strike before it’s too late.”
    The boy lunged forward, and struck from an angle Thekr wasn’t expecting. He couldn’t get completely out of the way and received a scratch on his arm, his first of the day. He grinned.
    “Good.”

    Spoiler: The Koxrrit way of fighting
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    The Koxrrit place great emphasis on using their empty off-hand in combat. With it they push, shove, grab and throw their opponents around trying to create an opening. In their stronger hand they usually wield an axe or a knife. They're most often made of stone, but copper is slowly becoming more prevalent. With their weapons the orcs show much less finesse: each strike is meant to take an opponent out of the fight.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    The Battle of Blood Field



    South of Kema, a stark ridge overlooks Blood Field
    Eighteen miles in length and four miles in width
    The tall grass growing waist high in the sandy ground.

    Torineti commanded the Army of Red
    While their hated enemy Logi had the Green
    Each army numbered one thousand, skilled fighters all.

    Charging from the ridge, Torineti led their troops
    They met the spear-wielding front line of Logi’s Greens
    Though the line held on the left, it broke on the right.

    The line broken, the battle fell into chaos
    Reds set upon Greens, the Greens disemboweled the Reds
    In heat of battle, some slew those on their own side.

    Most glorious of them all was Torineti
    A lion among sheep, they terrorized the field
    Slaying one after another with spear and axe.

    First to face them was Buhamid Kw’Muketi
    Torineti’s spear went through their mouth and clean out
    Impaling Buhamid like meat on a skewer.

    Then they killed Tewori, axe blow beneath the ribs
    The blade lodging into the bone of the fallen
    Torineti took Tewori’s axe and fought on.

    Though chaos raged like wildfire around them
    Torineti remained a calm eye of the storm
    Slaying hundreds with efficient spear and axe strokes.

    As night fell, the battle still raged furiously
    The grass of Blood Field choked with corpses of the slain
    And everywhere the ground stained bright red with spilt blood.

    Seventy Greens remained, crouching in a circle
    While ninety Reds remained under Torineti
    They withdrew to the edge of the plain to regroup.

    Torineti then commanded another charge
    The host of Reds swarmed forward like ants to honey
    Shouting as they ran, a terrible battle cry.

    As Torineti approached the Greens’ formation
    They hurled their spear through the eye of the lead fighter
    The flint tip broke inside their chest, bursting their brain.

    As they died, another warrior came behind
    Aiming their knife at Torineti’s fleshy side
    But were hurled to the ground by two Red warriors.

    Armed only with an axe, Torineti hacked forward
    Burying the blade between a pair of shoulders
    Pausing for breath, they snatched up the spear of the slain.

    But across the field, Logi was fighting fiercely
    Breaking bones with their enormous two-handed club
    Each swing shattered bones and smashed in mouths full of teeth.

    Yet of the two, Torineti fought the fiercer
    And at last the formation of Greens broke apart
    Logi was forced to retreat, leaving their troops dead.

    Yet the Reds had suffered previous casualties too
    Only three of their number remained on the field
    Torineti, Zanohiri, and Nefihi.

    The three of them approached Logi, weapons hefted
    Walking slowly, cautiously; no need to hurry
    For each footstep took two of them closer to death.

    Nefihi threw their spear, a clear shot at Logi
    But never struck home: Logi’s club knocked it aside
    Logi returned the spear, piercing Nefihi’s heart.

    Zanohiri reached the greatest of the Greens next
    Raining blows down on Logi with both hands
    Aiming for the eyes, the heart, the joints of the limbs.

    But like the fast-moving winds of the cyclone storm
    Logi’s spinning club blocked every single axe stroke
    Knocking the weapons from Zanohiri’s two hands

    Disarmed, the warrior tried a wrestle grab
    But that awful club came down between their shoulders
    Breaking bones and turning the brains into a paste.

    Their last ally slain, Torineti gave a roar
    And at last met their enemy to do battle
    Thunder cracked overhead as the heroes clashed.

    Torineti went on the attack, thrusting spear
    But Logi kept their distance and parried every blow
    So evenly matched were they that neither drew blood.

    At last Torineti tired of this deadlock
    Dodging Logi’s swinging club, they went for a grab
    They grappled on the ground, each struggling for their life.

    For ten long hours they grappled with each other
    Equally matched in strength as well as adroitness
    Until at last the sun rose above the mountains.

    The light of dawn revealed what night’s darkness had not
    Logi’s side had been cut open in the battle
    Opportunity for Torineti to seize.

    With one movement, they thrust their hand inside Logi
    And grasping their rival’s heart, pulled it from their chest
    Logi died with a look of surprise on their face.

    Torineti stood, sole survivor of Blood Field
    Throwing the heart aside, they walked up to the ridge
    And set off, for further glories, into the sun.
    Last edited by Gaius Hermicus; 2020-08-18 at 01:57 AM.
    Formerly known as the_brazenburn.

    Played New Bhule in Empire!4
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  9. - Top - End - #9
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Combat styles of the Vygra
    Hunters, Warriors, and Butho

    At a broad stone slab in the fields near Marut, the sentinel sits across from the Ahra daughter of the Vygra leader. Normally this slab is used in the threshing of grain from the nearby fields, but harvests have already come this year, and instead it bears a set of clay tablets, covered in Blemmyae lettering, and a few objects as the focus of the discussion. The expanse of short shorn stalks in the field bear the feet of warriors instead of workers. Fulji Aruni paces nearby, stretching in preparation, as her older sister Tapsehi begins speaking.

    "I will begin with a description of our tools of combat. Most common is the kunit," she gestures to the spears, sharpened river cane ten to twelve hands in length. "These are the most common among our hunters, and are used to bring down the aurochs when they are harvested, as well as other dangerous animals. Each hunter typically carries four, and groups of five to ten hunters will throw in rapid succession. It takes a number of impacts to bring down a larger beast, but the rapid and repeated strikes keep them from picking out a single hunter and charging until they are weakened and bled out. The kunit are light and break easily, but are also easy to replace - the river canes grow quite plentifully, so the loss of a broken kunit means little.

    "Near to the kunit in design is the kunsa. You can see that the copper blade is lashed into a split in the top of the cane. We have begun to make some shafts from wood, stronger and less prone to splitting than cane. These are used for thrusting, rather than throwing, and are the primary weapon of our warriors, used with the balu."


    Tapsehi picks up one of the shields, turning it in her hands to show it off from all angles. It consists of a thick hide stretched across a curved frame - the curved bone of an auroch rib forms the central spine of the balu, with river cane lashed on either side bent to form a pointed oval. From the front, the bone of the rib protrudes a hand's width top and bottom. The fronts of the shields are painted with black river mud in spiral patterns.

    "Lastly, we have the asca. This is used when forced into close quarters, or if the kunsa is lost or lodged in a foe." She indicates the long copper blades, and the sentinel picks one up to inspect it themselves. The wide base is fastened into a handle of bone or wood, narrowing down a straight-edged length to a sharp point. Nearly six hands long, the weapons are matched to the length from elbow to fingertip of the wielder.

    After the sentinel has inspected the various armaments to their satisfaction, Tapsehi directs their attention to her sister and the other ra nearby for a demonstration. Aruni first faces off against four warriors, recent volunteers still in training; blunted canes are used in place of the bladed kunsa. She moves rapidly between them, side stepping and shoving to keep them from surrounding her. Her motions center around two approaches: flurries of feinting and short jabs to draw an opening, or sharply bashing of shields to push the opponent off balance. The protruding spine at the top and bottom of the shield is used to catch the edge of the opponent’s shield to force it aside, leaving an opening for a killing blow.

    Following the demonstration bout, Aruni moves to the head of the larger contingent of Vygra drilling in the field, which quickly assembles at her orders into a simple formation. Arranged in a near rectangle, the facing edge of the troops is slightly concave, allowing warriors to more quickly move to surround enemy groups from the edges. “This we learned from the hunting of the aurochs, as we found it more efficient to limit their motions for both attack and escape.” Tapsehi leads the sentinel around the butho, allowing them to see how the warriors order and cover themselves. As they advance, the front line moves with shields outstretched at arm’s length. The line behind raises their shields above their heads, providing a barrier against thrown weapons while the butho closes with the opponents.

    “When two troops meet, the design is to charge and impact the opponent’s line with the balu to break up their cohesion and open them to attacks. Kunit are thrown from behind over the top into the middle of the enemy, to thin both their numbers and their resolve. Even a non-fatal strike will slow a warrior or beast enough that it cannot hold against the weight of the onward attack.”

    Once the drills have completed, Aruni joins the sentinel and Tapsehi again back at the stone table. “We are glad to share our ways of combat with your organization, as you have shared yours with us. We have committed these details to these clay tablets, and would be pleased for you to take them with you when you return.”
    "It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys."
    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

    Empire! 6 - The Vygra
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Kas-Mak held his hand up, the hunters behind him knowing to stop at the signal. One of the hidden entrances to the Kaon clanhold was ahead, where they'd taken the Seb-clan hostages. "Do not forget your skill.", he said quietly, "and do not forget this is hostile ground. They do not expect our coming or know that we know of this entrance, but this is their territory and they know it well. Be on guard." This back entrance was protected by a slab, easily moved, though not so easily moved quietly. They managed.

    Kas and the four men with him ventured into the darkness carefully, listening for sentries. No signs of them yet - but voices ahead. No, they'd ventured nearly into the heart of the clanhome; most of them would be out around this time of day, but a few would be relaxing in the halls. Not warriors, but too many to risk fighting with a small party. They turned into another corridor, searching for the cells.

    They found them quickly enough, a dozen young women and the elder Seb Noctrix tightly bound, most sleeping, guarded by only three sentries. Too easy. Kas and his men set upon them nearly two to one, wrestling them down and strangling them quiet with their sling-cords; they'd be more valuable captured than dead. The Seb Noctrix cleared her throat. "I see you have come. Did they even offer a ransom, or was it too great?" Kas smiled behind his war mask. "Nay, no ransom. Just kin crying for blood and vengeance. The Clan of Mak honors its friends."

    The Noctrix nodded as the men went and released all the captives from their bonds, waking the ones who had fallen asleep. They used the cords to bind the unconscious Kaon hunters - they'd be useful as captives themselves. "Come. We remember the way out, and if we move quickly we should be away before their hunters return." It was only one blow in a series that would soon bring the Kaon-clan to its knees, but taking three of their fighting men and denying them a dozen captives was grievous.



    Name: Segu-wor, “Stone-wrap Ways”

    Region of Origin: The Dannu-Gaon

    Description: Though not especially warlike, the clans native to the Dannu-Gaon certainly do fight, as individuals and in small skirmish-raids with the aim of taking captives. Though not a dedicated warrior caste, the hunters who perform these raids enjoy a certain level of prestige and favor among their home clans, as well as access to others of status who may teach them the Ways.

    Most hunters among the Dannu-Gao do not appear arrayed for war, carrying only knives and their sling-cord as weapons, along with a selection of river-stones. While techniques for the obvious use of the sling, to fling these stones to injure or kill enemies, are considered a part of the Ways, what makes the Dannu-Gao style unique is the use of their slings in hand-to-hand combat. Recall that the purpose of the raider is to capture, to take hostages back as leverage to demand concessions from a rival clan for their safe return; as such, the knife traditionally sees little use against other humans, to avoid unnecessary lethality. Killing during a raid is not considered honorable and only deepens the strife, rather than contributing to a hostage exchange to end these small wars on favorable terms.

    The Stone-wrap Ways include strangling techniques from ambush, using the cord to constrict the neck and cut bloodflow until the victim loses consciousness, without permanent injury if performed correctly. They include general grabbing and grappling techniques, including the cord as a means of binding limbs after achieving a pin or tripping, wrenching limbs, blinding, even partially strangling a target to more easily allow a pin to be achieved. They even include techniques to quickly knot a sling with a stone held in its pouch such that it will not fall, so that the stone-on-a-cord can be used as a flail while retaining some effectiveness as a tool to bind or strangle.

    The hunters of the Dannu-Gao are not renowned for their skill in open battle, but this does not mean they pose no threat. Under cover of the moon, to the isolated or unexpecting, there are few foes so dangerous among the world of men.
    Last edited by BladeofObliviom; 2020-08-31 at 03:38 AM.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Training with the Scrim has been both bizarre and enlightening. My hosts were nothing if not perfectly accommodating, but the constant sound of training through all hours of the night does tend to wear on one’s ability to sleep. Still, this is not so different from life at the Standing Stone in Swampum, even if the Scrim are hazy on the concept of rest… and of cooking. Several of them expressed confusion when I asked after a firepit or kitchen, and one openly laughed at me for wasting my time on the exercise of cooking my food. It has, I think, been worthwhile, though, and I like to think I have developed a mutual respect with the Scrim during my time here.

    Spoiler: Notes on Weapons and Training
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    The martial techniques employed in Thun are a source of continual fascination, and worth the hardships of rough living. Despite their near-perfect memories, the Scrim do still need to drill on their battle techniques, and watching these usually gentle giants engaging in training has been a worthwhile experience. (As it transpires, while memory is excellent for remembering techniques in the abstract, it actually takes more work for them to develop fighting reflexes.) Training is a day-long affair, and the Scrim only break for those rare occasions when they need to eat. It surprised me that many Scrim choose to use weapons, as I expected the weight of their stony fists would be sufficient for most battles, but I cannot deny their effectiveness. Where possible these are carved of stone, as the Scrim are more comfortable with such weapons, though where it compromises effectiveness then concessions are made to practicality and other materials are used.

    Melee fighters among the Scrim generally make use of one of three approaches. Some choose to train simply with their fists. This has obvious advantages, such as simplicity, but does limit reach and force. Being unable to be effectively disarmed, though, is very clearly useful. There have been days where I have deeply regretted that the circumstances of my birth did not leave me with fists that punch like a hammer. Some dedicated souls carve their hands specifically for battle, often shaping them to have a cutting edge or adding weight to increase the force of their strikes. Unfortunately, this is not very applicable for anyone without malleable stone limbs.

    Perhaps of more interest are those who do choose to employ weapons. I have seen an eclectic variety in what the Scrim use, but the most common two seem to be warhammers and axes. Their warhammers are simple affairs, a heavy stone bludgeon at the end of a handle, and it seems these are the weapons most often deployed when it is necessary for the Scrim to fight each other, to handle criminals or bandits, though such problems are rare. The axes, meanwhile, are the favoured tool for those fighting non-Scrim– the “children of Life”, as they call us. Scrim axes are also of primitive construction, often consisting of nothing more than something sharp hammered by hand into a length of wood.

    Of course, the Scrim are perfectly able to recognize the advantages afforded by fighting at a distance. Spears are the weapon of choice for many, though the Scrim approach to spearcraft is decidedly unusual. To make a spear, most would simply sharpen the end of an appropriate length of wood, or bind something sharp like flint to it. The Scrim do something similar, but when they are done, they bind a bundle of these spears together. The effect looks slightly ridiculous when seen, but they are an absolute terror in flight, as the bundle breaks apart in mid-air and scatters unpredictably. Conventional slings are like toys in their hands, so they build weapons that more resemble sacks than slings, and fling either small boulders or bundles of medium-sized stones. I have seen what a small stone cast from a skilled slinger’s hand can do to a man’s head, and I shudder to think what effect one of those would have in the same place.


    Spoiler: Notes on Strategy and Style
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    I have been told that the best way to understand the techniques employed by Scrim warriors is to try to understand the principles that guide their warriors. Apparently the soldiers of Thun take a somewhat literalist approach to the religion of the Scrim, and follow two major philosophies, that of the River and that of the Stone.

    River fighting, more formally the Way of the River Surging Triumphant, seeks to emulate the River of Scrim lore. In this way they are in constant motion, always probing for the weak point in an opponents defences. River-style fighting is about constantly changing and adapting to the flow of a battle, about harrying an opponent until they give in.

    By contrast, fighting on the Path of Unyielding Stone is all about strategically not moving. It takes advantage of the unique characteristics of the Scrim, and favours positions that keep the fighter low and hard to push. When the time comes to attack, the strike should land like an avalanche, with overwhelming and decisive force.

    Despite my initial assumptions, however, these are not two separate styles, with disciples dedicated to one or the other. The Scrim are expected to have mastery of both paths, and to know when it is the time to be like the River, in constant surging motion, or the Stone around which the River courses. In practice, though, these are high-minded ideals, a matter of philosophy rather than combat doctrine. The Scrim are by no means above copying those techniques they deem useful, and I have seen them try to use every tactic I have seen in my travels across Mamut, from the wrestling styles of the goliaths to the gore-and-toss of the Uzii. The Scrim do not have “elite” units, though some might say this is because every Scrim soldier is expected to be an elite fighter, versatile and powerful.

    Indeed, if there is one disadvantage to the Scrim training regimen it is that it is bespoke, and poorly tailored to training soldiers in large numbers. Thun is not exactly notable for having an entrenched martial culture, and many Scrim regard violence as a necessary evil that they do not wish to enact themselves. As such, there are not many Scrim willing to join the standing army of Thun. Many rulers would simply conscript or levy their citizens into the armed forces, but apparently this would be politically untenable for the Thunspeaker. Indeed, the expansion of the standing army over the past several years has been extremely controversial among the Scrimspeakers, who pass for nobility in the region. Even after the recent expansions, there are only one or two hundred soldiers serving in the army of Thun. And while the Scrim are hardier and stronger than most, they are by no means invulnerable, and I have already sketched out a number of ways that they might be overwhelmed by smaller fighters. It is my firm hope that the Scrim do not become our enemies, but if they do then it is my intent that we will be ready.

    In particular, my efforts training with the esteemed Scrimspeaker Tior have been particularly enlightening. They were most accommodating, and personally ensured that I was to have access to the soldiers to observe them during drills and such, though I suspect that this was in part to ensure I was kept under observation to ensure I was there for my stated purpose. Such mistrust is understandable, if regrettable. I like to think, though, that I have made a good impression in my time here.

    Firstly, the strengths of the Scrim fighting style, as I see them. The Scrim are deceptively fast for such large stony beings. While they usually move with precision and deliberation, as even a gentle slap on the back has great force if not made with care (a lesson that several Scrim learned at my expense—I still have the bruises to show for it), in combat every move is made with intent to harm, and no such care is taken. Physically, a Scrim is a match for any other being of Mamut, immune to pain, with fists made of rock, and fast enough to keep up with the rest. Their training is extensive, too, and they are well disciplined, able to continue fighting even through a distraction such as losing a limb. (This is more common an occurrence than one might assume. The Scrim are able to rebuild lost limbs, though it is a gradual process.)

    In personal combat, though, there are definite weaknesses. For starters, the Scrim are very poor at engaging multiple opponents simultaneously. Scrimspeaker Tior is notable among the Scrim for being able to take on two opponents at once. I could not say why this is- a quirk of whatever magic it is that animates the Scrim, I suppose. It is straightforward to take advantage of, though. Any two combatants could easily take down a Scrim, provided that they work sufficiently in concert. This does require some caution, as while the Scrim are poor at dividing their attention, they are expert at shifting it once a task is completed. It would be easy to try and flank one of them, only to find your companion crushed and the Scrim turning to face you.

    More generally, the biggest advantage others will have over the Scrim is that they are not used to fighting living things that can think complex thoughts. Few animals regard the Scrim as potential prey, so until fairly recently they have not even given thought to how they might defend themselves from the living. Certainly some principles carry over from their battles with each other, but these are few and far between, and the Scrim dislike dwelling on those unfortunate incidents. Training will only carry them so far. At a certain point, real combat experience is needed. Not all of the Scrim have adjusted to this reality yet, though some have learned better— Scrimspeaker Tior, in particular, has shown himself a quick study, and I suspect he learned as much from our training as I did— but the Scrim are set in their ways, and it may be a long time before they take the rest of Mamut seriously as combatants. Overconfidence could easily prove their downfall if this turns out to be the truth, and I believe their morale would prove poor in any situation where they find themselves outmatched.


    I will begin my travel back to Swampum tomorrow. I am sorry to leave Thun behind. The land has a certain cold, rugged beauty to it, much like the Scrim who inhabit it. I had the privilege of joining a Scrim hunting party on one occasion, and the beasts of the Northern lands have a beauty to them as well, muscle and sinew and an inner fire that I admire. Not that Swampum and its creatures do not have a beauty all their own, but the boggy terrain is less to my taste. Alas, my duty is done, and I must return.

    -Notes from Sentinel Arcor of Mamut.
    Last edited by Silent_Interim; 2020-08-23 at 01:36 AM.
    I go by them/they/their pronouns, but I'm comfortable with he/him/his or she/her/hers.

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    Yes... continue ignoring me... exactly as planned
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    Being terrible at being a wolf since always.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: The Slabs of Prowess

    Some of the beliefs and traditions of combat in Sangar

    Spoiler: General Techniques
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    General techniques
    When any aspiring warrior first learns to do is sing. There are a number of training songs Snagar uses, ranging from rhymes to stories, both risqué and charming. These are song constantly, during stretches, during drills and even in combat, albeit these are far simpler and improvised.

    The point of these songs are twofold. Firstly, they bring the Sworn, or any fighter in Sangar, into a sense of unity and camaraderie. If two warriors decide to spar both can easily pick up the same song and work from it, taking different parts.
    The second purpose is to ensure that no matter what, the fighter never runs out of breath. The constant exertion of their lungs ensures that the fighter can always control their breathing, and learn to exhale on the hit, and take their breaths and pauses only when they are able. This also means it takes far longer for them to tire.
    This does mean that many a foolish fighter has died trying to sing to a wolf, however, most use the songs as guidelines and training, especially when a sudden fight occurs. Yet even then, a few still sing in fights to help keep their rhythm, and utterly unnerve their opponent.




    Spoiler: Unarmed
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    Unarmed:
    Only a fool wouldn’t carry a knife, yet fools are often in the most fights, and for childhood brawls, and grudges, fists are the building block from which more refined techniques come.
    There are two major identities of unarmed contact in Sangar, although it would be unwise to call them developed, as no one devotes there lives to such techniques, more picking it up as their lives continue.
    The first is often known as ‘Hammer’ or ‘Mason,’ as it is more commoly used by the masonry families, who are some of the heaviest built of Sangar. It quite literally consists of hitting an opponent as hard as possible, as quickly as possible. This mostly involves straight punches at the head and body, but does often use a hand to grapple or bring in an opponent, as practitioner is often much stronger than their opponent. Any dodging is mostly left up to instinct, so a quick opponent can try and keep away as long as possible, yet it’s simplicity is its strength.
    The other is known by many small names, usually for the individual techniques, but is usually called ‘String,’ for its practitioners constant darting. Whereas Hammer is about strength, String leverages speed, darting in and then keeping back, almost as if dancing. This involves some kicking and jabbing, but more involves keeping an opponent back until the String can exploit a mistake for heavier blow, which usually gets the fight in their favour. As might be imagined, Pledges often have at least some of this in their background, and it is certainly more pleasing to watch, yet if the practitioner can be grabbed, that is likely it.

    Spoiler: Spear
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    Spear:
    The backbone of the Sworn, the spear is the weapon of the military minded, although it is indeed little more than a stick with a sharp end. However, this simplicity is it’s benefit, as it is instinctively easy to use. A Sangaran spear is traditionally a hand higher than the Sworn, to be used as an aid while walking, as well as a method to bash heads in if necessary. The Spearhead itself, is usually copper, and sharpened to a point, although a small weight or ball of excess metal is often attached just below the spearhead to help as a bludgeon against a rushing enemy. Usually, due to the great distaste for any decadence in Sangar, these spears remain unadorned, except for small grips woven in by the Sworn to help hold it better over the wood, usually coloured in blue or red.
    Usually, the spear is used in defence, to take an approaching enemy, and leverage the reach of the weapon. If forced, many would use the spear as a staff, although by this point, a knife would likely win out. In Sangar, the spear is traditionally held high, so that it can be lowered into an enemy, to either pierce, or use the bludgeon. Often, two warriors will pair themselves, one going for a stab, the other a smack so that they can quickly take out one warrior at a time.

    Spoiler: Sword
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    Sword:
    The weapon of those with some connection, the sword is a weapon of the Pledges, the richer Sworn and of those in outer settlements. Hard to make, only fools never take the opportunity to learn how to wield one if able. Sangaran swords are light, double edged blades, designed to cut and thrust with very little guard. Due to it’s connection with the Pledges, Swordsmanship in Sangar follows along similar lines to String unarmed combat, dancing in and out of an opponents reach, before finding an opening.
    As the weapon of the more elite, and almost always well trained, the sword is about the most offensive weapon Sangar has available, and its ability to competently take out enemies before retreating make it an ideal skirmishing weapon as well. It’s main prohibiting factor is that is so labour intensive to make, there are only so many at one time able to use one.
    While many use only one hand to fight with a sword, many more tend to supplement this with something else. A knife is a common addition, to help get in the guard of an opponent, or find a hole in armour. Others use the scabbard of the sword itself, although they usually have to give it enough weight for it to be of use for more than deflection. Besides that, small leather arm guards, slings, and rarely a spear have also been used.



    Spoiler: Battle
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    Battle

    While Sangar may not have the manoeuvrability with horses, nor the strength to greatly overwhelm an opponent, they do have a competent backbone to their armies of the Sworn, with a number of younger and aspiring fighters as auxiliaries. Usually, Sangarans will attempt to goad an opponent to charge them, and thus have them run onto spears, and possibly a few surprises left by trappers and scouts. Often, the sworn will take the second line of combat, behind auxiliaries holding woven covers, to discourage slingers and archers. these auxilieries will often fall back so that the Sworn can receive the charge, wherein they will help bash any who get within the reach of the Sworn ahead of them.

    Outside of those forming direct battle lines, slingers and trappers often join the war parties, and usually work together in foraging and skirmishing, most notably ensuring that they can keep track of any enemy.

    In combat, while Sangar certainly will not hold back from punching low, or attempting to surround an enemy, they draw the line at two things. The first is attacking an enemy unannounced, as that is the purview of bandits and blightspawn. The second is unesscessary cruelty to the dying. While a weapon or some armour may be taken as a trophy, for the most part anything not easily removable such as a chestpiece are left. Moreover, a fighter might be struck down where his is if he is seen torturing a fallen fighter outside of the haze of combat, as quite simply, it is an unnecessary end that can cause discordance for at the end of the fallen's song.
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  13. - Top - End - #13
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    In the jungles of Veramondo, warriors liken themselves unto the beasts they hunt, fierce predators in battle. Their weapons are effective against wild creatures, but also against their fellow men.

    Spoiler: Jaguar's Paw
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    The fighting style known as "Jaguar's Paw" is the primary defensive fighting style of Veramondi warriors. It centers around the use of the traditional Veramondi longspear. The longspear is designed for use against jungle predators, with a haft usually about twice as long as its wielder is tall, and sometimes a wooden crossguard a short distance from the blade, which is flint, or sometimes copper. The warrior plants one end of the spear against the ground, and points the tip at a charging enemy, with the intent to impale them before they can reach with their own weapons. Against an enemy who is not advancing, the spear is used to ward them off using quick thrusts. If an enemy gets too close, the warrior attempts to club them with the haft of the spear, or switches to a different style, better at close range.


    Spoiler: Bear Claws
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    The "Bear Claws" style is an unarmed combat style favored by some Veramondi warriors. The style focuses on using your own weight against the enemy. One and two-handed grabs are the basic techniques, used to hold the enemy and force them into position for your allies to finish off, to pin them to the ground, or to break their limbs. Even when outmassed, this style can still be effective. A warrior is rarely strong enough to lift his enemy, regardless of relative sizes, so the slightly smaller warrior can still pull his larger enemy down and pin him.
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Fighting Styles of the Blemmyae


    There are four primary styles of fighting among the blemmyae tribes. The oldest and most ritualized is the grappling Twisted Vine Style, in which the fighter attempts to pin their opponent to the ground and kill them, either with a knife or via suffocation. The Twisted Vine Style is rarely used on the battlefield, as the majority of the blemmyae do not wear armor and would be killed before managing to grapple their foe. Instead, it is used primarily to settle disputes in organized bouts. The two rivals circle one another in the ring, attempting to spot one another’s weaknesses, before one makes a move. Generally, initial grabs are made towards the arms, and occasionally the eyes are gouged.

    The most commonly used fighting style is the Two-Horned Goat Style. Warriors using this style are armed with a spear in their dominant hand and an axe in their offhand. They thrust with the spear, generally targeting the eyes, mouth, or the side beneath the ribs, while blocking counterattacks with their axe. If possible, they will attempt to hook the opponent’s weapon with the axe, pulling it away or breaking it. The flint-bladed axes break easily, but this is considered advantageous to the blemmyae: if they strike an opponent and the blade shatters, it embeds shards of rock into the body of the opponent in various directions, causing significant damage. They can always replace the broken weapon with one belonging to a slain warrior.

    Third among the fighting styles is the Thunderous Behemoth Style. It is the least often used, being too difficult for all but the best fighters to master, but can be the most deadly. Users of the Thunderous Behemoth Style are armed only with a club, carved from stone and incredibly heavy. Due to the weight of these clubs, the user does not have to aim their strikes carefully: a hit anywhere on the opponent’s body will shatter bones and cripple the foe. Those with the great strength needed to control such weapons also use them to deflect the strikes of their opponents: the greatest and most legendary of them reputedly blocked projectiles in midair.

    The last of the blemmyae fighting styles is used only by the Anigoli clan. Users of the Soaring Eagle Style (or the Craven Vulture Style, as it is known by its detractors) do not fight at close quarters. Instead, they kill from a distance with projectile weapons, generally slings or javelins. This style is looked down upon by most non-Anigoli, who consider it cowardly to vanquish their opponents without first facing them and competing honorably.
    Last edited by Gaius Hermicus; 2020-08-24 at 07:56 PM.
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  15. - Top - End - #15
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    Spoiler: Goliath "Knife" Fighting
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    The two new Brothers in Commune of the newly formed Redit’Anco Commune circled each other warily, each holding two copper swords.

    The metal could make fearsome weapons but such weapons could only be so long, at least in the hands of the novice Goliath smiths. A copper sword could only be elongated to around the size of two Goliath feet (that is 2.5 feet for the Modern reader) and such a long sword was often too brittle to handle the strength of a Goliath. Instead most Goliath copper swords were made to be one and half Goliath feet (About 1.875 Feet). Proportionally, a human holding such a blade would not even think of it as a Sword, let alone a Short Sword, the Human would think of it as a long dagger; and in the hands of a Goliath such a sword would not even look like a long dagger and instead would look like a small knife.

    These “Goliath Knives” usually came in two forms – the first was the simple double bladed “knife” while the other was the more common Farming Knife, which is a one bladed knife with a serrated edge.

    Given the Goliath’s propensity towards wrestling and brawls the fact that their swordsmanship had developed into a style of knife fighting should not be a surprise. The two Brothers each hold two almost two foot long “knives” in their giant’s hands. The left hand holds the “Sword” while the right one holds the “Farming Knife”. The “Farming Knife” is primarily used for thrusting and stabbing attacks, while the “Sword” is used for slashing attacks.

    One Brother Steps forward and lunges while the other bends low to the ground and tacks left to evade the blade. A couple of more actions back and forth and one could see how the style of knife fighting led to movements less interested in direct defense then they were designed to avoid the tip of the opponents blade. The Brothers grin and one of them throws his sword in the air and in that instance slashes with his Farming Knife, the serrated edge narrowly missing the other’s abdomen and then catches the Sword that was spinning in the air behind his back. The style of knife fighting naturally leading to deception and distraction. The other Brother uses both of his implements and attacks in a scissor motion; the all-important counter attack. The first brother rolls back dodging the blades.

    The fight went on, balance and keenness proving the dominate features and such features clashing with everything that the Goliath’s were. They were brutes. As such while there were daring displays such as the Brothers sword flip and the others tumble, most of the fight consisted of heavy handed slashes and thrusts and close calls as the other dodged. The Goliath’s often changed their grip on the weapons, not adhering to any real training other than to draw blood. The same ferocity that they would show in the cage they showed in this match, often using leg trips and shoulder tackles when they got close and couldn’t get a knife in the other’s ribs.

    The fight between the Brothers lasted for a long time considering the weaponry. They were both cut in many places and while they were bleeding profusely it was doubtful that they were in any real danger – this was a training bout, one of the Communal Father’s standing over them ready to intervene for any serious attack. Which might explain why the Brother’s did not fight like they would have in the streets of Kursaal, that is rush the opponent with the knives, throw one, tackle the opponent and stab them in the throat with the other. Real knife fights are short and grim, this one was almost acrobatic. Still there were important lessons to be learned and the street informed them in the training bout and the training bout informed them on the street.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Martial Practices of the Viskari

    It was with some consternation that I received orders to travel to the lands of the Viskari. I've never been comfortable inland and the idea of leaving my charge was not one I was looking forward to, even if Halcyone was to be my replacement. Nevertheless, I had facility with the rough tongue of the Dual-Blooded due to a series of misadventures that solidified my distaste for the landlocked regions of the world and so my destiny was sealed. Thus, with teeth gritted, I embarked towards Aran Viska, hoping against hope that Razash finally poked one too many bears.
    -Murchadh of Tarandi, Sentinel


    Spoiler: Viskari Tools of War
    Show
    My first stop within Aran Viska was at the hill fort of one Varash Nazana, a Nar, or chief. Really just a local strongman. Nevertheless, his hospitality was considerable and as he gave me a tour of his abode we inevitably ended up at the armoury. I asked him about the weapons in his possession and he was only all too happy to begin telling me the story behind each and every instrument of violence he owned. As much as it was fascinating to learn how his great grandmother slew four lions and an elk, I was still able to learn much about the equipment utilised by the Viskari.

    Swords - The most valuable and prestigious weapon in use by the Viskari. Forged of copper, Viskari swords push the limits of the material in terms of size. There are two main size categories of sword made:
    The larger or "greatsword" is a heavy weapon made to utilise the prodigious strength of the Viskari to great success. These blades are very costly to make and maintain and so only professional warriors make use of them.
    The smaller, just referred to as a sword with no identifier, is primarily used as a side weapon to fall back on and is better suited to thrusting than slashing. Almost all Viskari are able to afford such a blade and will pass them down through their families, father to son, mother to daughter.

    Axes - Easier to make, Viskari axes are usually made of stone and can be quite heavy for non-Viskari. They come in a number of sizes with the largest requiring two hands. Most however can he wielded with one hand and are other paired with a copper rimmed, painted wooden shield. Occasionally they are dual wielded, though this requires a considerable amount of training. Despite the prevalence of swords, for most swords are a treasured heirloom, easily damage and quickly blunted, and so the axe takes precedence as the weapon of choice for the common warrior.

    Spears - Of course, while an axe is preferred, all can agree that keeping distance with your opponent is infinitely wiser. Spears tipped with copper or stone are cheap to make and the extra feet of distance can make all the difference. Alas, the wooden shafts tend to break in the ferocity of combat forcing the use of the trusty axe or sword.

    Knives and Daggers - No loadout of weaponry would be complete without another backup. A pair of copper or stone knives, obsidian for those who can afford it, are considered an essential piece of equipment, though battles rarely get so far as to require them. As a result they are mostly used as either a convenient tool and status symbol.

    Claws - Consisting of a pair of leather gauntlets fitted with copper, obsidian or silver claws, these are a rarely utilised tool of war. While lethal when used properly, the claws are impractical and hard to use. They primarily fulfil a ceremonial or ritual purpose.

    Bows - Though much more suitable to hunting small game, the Viskari nevertheless make considerable use of their bows in combat. Any sort of protective clothing effectively negates the danger, but a hail of arrows nevertheless does much to break up formations and charges as those on the receiving end are forced to shield themselves.

    Javelins - While they lack the range of a bow, the physical strength of the Viskari allows them to hurl a javelin with great and lethal force. Tipped with stone or copper, warriors can carry as many as a dozen javelins

    Slings - The sling is usually derided among the Viskari as a weak weapon, merely a children's toy not suited for actual combat. Nevertheless, they are well aware that javelins and arrows run out, but stones can be found anywhere and having them thrown at you is both annoying and painful.
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  17. - Top - End - #17
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    Clann Solais: The Arts (and Crafts!) of War

    In my time among the Clans at Star's End, it did not take long to realize that their martial teachings are tied heavily to their culture. And in their culture, there are two kinds of conflict - the kind they do for business and fun, and the way more traditional to our thinking, though less common here: serious, for resources, self-defense, territory, or to redress some perceived slight through the death of the offender.

    I assume the first gets its name from how often it is used at the Great Fire - that is, every single time. It
    might be used elsewhere, but it is always an event when choosing a new Boss. The Way of Fire predominately uses the staff and club as weapons. Spears, knives, axes... in fact, most bladed weapons are not only absent from these techniques, but purposely excluded. Notably, lighting your club or stick on fire is not. The style is good for showing off, displaying feats of athleticism, or applying pain to your opponent, but not very effective at killing anyone. This is the point - it is used to settle disputes, not spill blood.

    For that, they have the descriptively named Way of Blood. This style has never felt the touch of a true weapons master, but it does incorporate every sharp and pointy tool the Children of Light have access to. Axes, spears, and even the occasional copper sword are included in the teachings of blood. They are developing teachings for bows as well, but it will be some time, I think, before their little stringed spear-throwers are a true threat to people their own size.

    The cliffs and slopes of Star's End are cold and treacherous, and the Children move about with the understanding that they cannot take their footing for granted. During combat, they stay low to the ground, usually with one arm dangling, even. They stay ready to roll, spring, grapple, or jump with the stability of three points instead of two. They will not place both hands on their weapon until assured of a critical blow. My old instructor would have a fit at the wasted motion and energy, but in my sparring with them I noted that it is abnormally difficult to drop them.

    And speaking of dropping: the most noteworthy thing about the Way of Blood is how even the most pacifistic of the Children have a keener awareness of what lies above and below them than nearly any other civilization I have visited. As it so happens, these mountains are full of deadfalls, pit traps, and even small stands that can be yanked on to drop logs down a pass, crushing those beneath. From a strategic standpoint, Clann Solais treats outright warfare the same way they would a massive hunt - usually with success, though their primary opponents have been each other for some time. They have the basics down: misdirection, ambush, numbers, harassment, and objective-based planning. Area denial, logistics, oceanic warfare, and true intrigue - of the kind I have seen in distant lands, where smiles are fake and drinks are deadly - are all new to the Children.

    My final assessment? Their unusual stance and of their mountain traps warrant a second look to add to our arsenal. Clann Solais can defend itself but presents no threat to us unless their military undergoes a drastic unification and revision.

    - Report to the Sentinels of Stone from Alakhus the Blackstaff
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  18. - Top - End - #18
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    I have found my posting amongst the Anbroch to be quite unpleasant. In addition to the low ceilings, damp weather, and nocturnal locals, I find there is little to do here for far as entertainment goes, unless one is willing to stay up all night or awake very early to take part in drunken brawls. Still, I suppose I should be grateful I’m not on a wilderness patrol, as I am afraid to report I have picked up a drinking habit that may make me less suitable for the trail. But perhaps that is quite enough grousing. I have completed the duty I was assigned: studying the martial techniques of the Anbroch dwarves and Luthrail natives.

    Surface Anbroch:
    Accustomed to skirmishes in uneven and restricting jungle terrain, the surface Anbroch’s military style has developed exclusively around the quad, and a battle mistresses' quad accompanies her even into duels. Thus, their capacity for true single combat is relatively lacking. However, they are quite practiced at skirmishing tactics. Typically the role of Quad members is to watch the back of and protect the battlemistress, allowing her to focus almost solely on offense. During skirmishes, a battlemistress will arm herself with a shield and sword, and fight with the quad in the front as part of a flexible unit, while in larger battles the long handled axe is the preferred weapon of the battlemistress, striking from behind the shields of her quad. Most battlemistresses also carry a blowgun for long-ranged engagements and ambushes. One of the most obnoxious tendencies of the Anbroch for human warriors is their knack for balling up into a tight group and charging together with their shields up. Due to the dwarves’ low center of gravity, there is often little humans can do but be knocked down and butchered on the ground.

    Subterranean Anbroch:
    The Anbroch battlemasters do not fight with a quad, but in small groups of other battlemasters. Accustomed to fighting in tunnels, their experience at single combat is greater than the dwarves of the surface, but their creativity and ability to handle surface engagements is somewhat lacking. Like the surface Anbroch, the battlemasters rely heavily on the shield, but tend to prefer spears to the swords and axes wielded by the women on the surface. (When I asked if this was because the women controlled most of the finances as the sellers of the products of the tunnels I received nothing but angry grumbling). Typically, a battlemaster will wield a spear and a dagger in the same hand, using the spear to keep enemies at bay and kill them in the one-dimensional combat situation of the tunnels, and the dagger to kill enemies that get too close. The shield is used as a ramming device even more than on the surface, as fighting dwarves attempt to push each other into narrow corridors where they can be flanked or outnumbered by multiple dwarves on the outside of the tunnel stabbing in. Any dwarves unable to engage the enemy in the front will support the pushing attempts of the dwarves in the front from behind, such that a battle in a narrow tunnel often resembles a reverse game of tug-of-war, as the front dwarves lock shields and both groups attempt to drive each other back until one group starts to lose its footing and is fell upon.

    Luthrails
    The human inhabitants of the region, while historically unsuccessful against Anbroch raids and skirmishes, have developed the closest thing to what I would consider a true martial art. Rather than rely heavily on the shield as the dwarves do, the traditional weapon of the Luthrails is a long, blunt wooden staff, used to strike with considerable power over distance. Typically, luthrail warriors will hold their staves in their left hand and harry opposing forces with javelins and throwing knives as they approach,using the wooden pole to deflect the projectiles of the enemy. When one side would run out of ammunition, they would then proceed to engage with the staff itself, though this was uncommon as typically a conflict would be decided quickly by the exchange of missiles. Unlike the Anbroch, true solo combat was common for Luthrail champions to decide a conflict, and their staff dueling techniques are intricate, bracing the staff against trees or the ground to block blows before counterattacking or retreating to use a throwing knife.
    Last edited by Potato_Priest; 2020-09-08 at 12:34 PM.
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  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Submission #2 for Slabs of Prowess

    Spoiler: Lamia Pack Hunting: Slabs of Stone Battle Tactics Bestiary
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    With the oncoming inclusion of the lamias of region 282 into the Nocturnal Hydra comes a whole new set of fighting skills entirely separate from the ways that the Night Elves have fought. Zora’s good reputation with the sentinels of the stone have convinced them to come to this relatively wild backwater to check on the fighting styles of these peoples personally, and while the culture and interactions are scary, the information gleaned was well worth it.

    Lamia Siren Corps are one of the most unique things these people have. Many of their warriors, even on mounts, use synchronized bursts of loud noises to scare their prey and intimidate their predators. It is usually a small number of them that go to an off-corner and shout out, scaring the herd in a panicked state right into the spears and nets of the larger force. This kind of simplistic maneuver absolutely could work on blightspawn too, though figuring out what noises would attract the blighspawn and which would repel the blightspawn would take experimentation, both are useful.

    The Lamia ride and die on Chocobo, similar to the more standard Horses many of the inlanders use. These Chocobo are far more dexterous in their turning however, and much more advanced when fighting on mountainous terrain. Especially hauling big rocks up to a high cliff and then rolling them down at enemies near the bottom. Once composite bow technology becomes ubiquitous this may become obsolete, but for the last century utilizing height advantage before a charge had been one of the best ways for people to make use of any ranged strike at all.

    One thing these people are very expert in is underwater tactics. Fishing utensils, nets, and knowledge of how to bind together rafts is very useful for the sentinels to study in and of itself, but the way they specifically use rivers and crossing points to separate themselves from enemies and create artificial choke points, wading foes chasing them down in the drink. Often they will lay in the water with spears completely out of sight, and wait for the specific notes of their own Pride’s bullhorns (heard distinctly even underwater, as loud as they are), to come charging out into the fray.

    A lot of their primary weaponry is composed of spears and swords. A few of them carry tiny throwing swords (especially the Sirens, whose primary weapon is their bullhorn), but most use regular sized swords to chop their enemies down. Their fighting style is rather primitive, swing metal bit, make chopped snek for dinner, and peeking at the sword tactics used from around the world has greatly improved their own knowledge of sword dancing as well.

    One classic hunting trick that they use on occasion is the art of the Chacuu Drop. Not super useful in their own combat, but this principle may be very useful on Blightspawn who don’t know any better. Gather Chacuu Feathers (which can be as long as ten feet and over half as wide), then dig a hole. Place the Chacuu feathers over the hole, with a couple rocks to hold the edges of the feathers in place to stop them from blowing away.

    This method is often used when combined with food bait to lure in simple minded Chacuus and would never work on thinking beings. But Blightspawn aren’t thinking beings, they’re mindless beasts. And constructing a moat with feathers atop it might be the thing to drop a couple dozen down should the sentinels have time to fortify a position.

  20. - Top - End - #20
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    Spoiler: On Troll Fighting
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    Chadham MacIntosh, First War Chief of the Free City of Ayrloch, eldest son of Leith MacIntosh and Mòrag Gatekiller, the most important single dwarf in Ayrloch, felt useless.

    Situated on a small knoll perhaps three hundred paces back and a half dozen standings above the rear ranks of the closest schiltron, the commander cursed the Clan Council and their tittering love of ‘decorum’. If he could not fight in the schiltron alongside his men - and they had made him swear on the honor of MacIntosh and his father and his father’s father that he would not - at least let him bloody well pace. The schiltron-chiefs had memorized the plans, and the backup plans, and the backups for the backup plans. Their wives were safely hidden, and the traps had been dug. The clans had been drilling through most of the summer. There was nothing for him to do, and it was driving him farking well mad.

    Trolls were expert ambushers and raiders in any sort of aquatic environment - this would be less of a problem for Ayrloch if not for the importance of rivers in trade, travel, and fishing, among other concerns. Mud, though, would still bog them down as much as it will any heavily armed warrior, however, and the transition from water to land is often where they are at their most vulnerable - neither protected by the water’s surface, nor able to use their bulk and momentum to scatter skirmishers like tenbones. Such was why they’d chosen here to deploy, with no rivers deep enough to hide a troll within three hours’ walk. Mud was as dangerous for the schiltron as it was for the troll, and it served only to make everyone more miserable to try it.

    The braidling Sentinel who had asked to be allowed to watch the battle must have noticed his discomfort, as she made a small sound of inquiry and the war chief realized he’d been worrying at one of his beardclasps. His scowl deepened, but at least she might serve as something to distract himself with while he watched his men fight and die and was safekept on this blasted hill.

    “Did ye want something, Stonesdaughter?” he finally said, after she repeated the sound, louder this time, unwilling to tear his eyes from the field to look at her. He could guess at her expression though. “This will be the ninth time I remind you my name is Pericleisia - ” “And tha ninth time I tell ye I cannae pronounce that, Stonesdaughter.” Her eye-roll may as well have been audible for the loudness of the pause.


    “Have ye ever seen a battle a’fore, Stonesdaughter?”
    “Only the chaos and death of slaying Blightspawn, and the aftermath of slaughter when I am delayed.”
    “Mmmm. Well, look ye close now. I’ll shave my beard and take oath to live baldfaced if this ever works against Blight beasts, but ye might learn somethin’ if ye’re eyes’re as sharp as yer tongue after three pints.”

    She did not respond for some time, and for what was probably also the ninth time, the war chief reviewed what he knew. The troll warlord Kengathraax had been bellowing about establishing a new kingdom, one to rival Lhungho Saar, and gathering kin-circles to himself for going on three years now with the promises of loot and new slaves. From the flood of refugees last winter, and the reports from the hunters, the last of the Drochaid League towns had fallen. He hoped the MacKearies had escaped - good people, them. Kengathraax appeared to have been busy since then, judging by the size of his host: nearly fifty trolls in all, with ten times that number in gaunt-looking elves and dwarves - slave soldiers, pressed into serving as fodder, wielding javelins and slings. Their weapons - and the ever present danger of slingtrolls were the reason the schiltrons were in tight formation at present - long spears at an angle, heads tipped with copper and gleaming in the sunlight, wood-reinforced wicker shields hanging from their shoulders by braided ropes and overlapping just slightly. Even now, he could see sling shot, like tiny, deadly dust, falling into the ranks of his warriors.

    The schiltrons themselves were robust, this year. The death wrought by Kengathraax had made trading hard, but they had plenty of healthy young dwarves hungry for shelter and revenge in equal measure. In all there were properly nine schiltrons - one for each of the presiding clans in Ayrloch - but at the moment they were grouped so as to present just five blocks of warriors to their foe. Clans MacTeine and Clachan were small enough that they would typically keep their schiltrons together even once this initial skirmishing was over, which was the cause of no small number of scuffles over divided glory, much to the frustration of everyone else. Each schiltron was required, by hard-learnt necessity, to be six ranks deep at the shallowest, and at least a dozen files across or more - and that was against maddened ferals, not trained war-trolls eating enough for two dozen men. Between the various clans and the reinforcements of the newest adoptions, they had perhaps nine hundreds on the field, and another four in Ayrloch proper to defend against any tricks. They were fortunate, MacIntosh knew, that only eight of their foe were in their prime, not counting Kengathraax himself. He’d heard the warlord had a dozen trained war-trolls - who knew how much of the difference had been hyperbole and fear, and how much was courage and virtue on the part of their conquered victims?



    The battle was little different from those he had commanded some two dozen times before. First, their slaves were sent in, reluctantly loosing their deadly armament at the assemblage of warriors. Oaths sworn between the Council and the Nieranagh elves who ran the buffalo trails to the north ensured, as always, that these wretches could not flank them. Chadham almost felt bad for them, as he saw bodies skewered and splintered by the leaf-ears’ honed aim (he’d learned, over the years, that they appreciated the hidden compliment in that particular denomyn just enough to overlook the hidden insult). He did pity them, truthfully, but when one of the shining copper helms in his schiltrons was hit by a sling stone and disappeared from view, he remembered why he strangled that pity each and every time without regret.

    After their skirmishers had exhausted their ammunition - and they could never retrieve more from their fallen, the elves saw to that well enough - the trolls themselves would advance, and a horn would blow in each of the schiltrons, and they would separate into their looser, widespread formation, as the Nieranagh melted from the field. Their task was done, for the moment - if the battle ended up lost, they would return to harry any pursuers so that some fraction of the warriors here now could flee with life and limb still properly attached.

    The elves had no need of the schiltron - he could only guess how they fought the blasted creatures, but long legs and the battle-fire that ignited in their hearts when battle came upon them gave them speed and strength enough that javelins alone had been sufficient to fell the unfull, on some occasions. Without the schiltron divide the fire of the slaves, though, they were oft outnumbered and could take many injuries in the process - and the same stillness of being that meant the last four generations of Ayrloch Councils had all dealt with the same Nineragh chieftain made wounds dangerous liabilities for lengthy periods, for nomadic hunting bands like the Nineragh. It was rare, and considered among them nearly a cause for celebration if he understood correctly, for the healing houses of Ayrloch to be empty of half-broken elves.

    First to engage the nimbler, more flexible formations of schiltrons now afield were the middling trolls - the ones with enough fat to feel safe putting limbs within stabbing distance, and enough hunger to think it a smart idea. Ferals would never risk a direct confrontation with a formed schiltron, and a true war-troll would rather poke and prod and try to exhaust their targets first with the strain of having to stay on guard against the possibility of sudden, terrible onslaught should they flag. Close set spears, just loosely spaced enough to allow turning to focus on the nearest beast, would compete with self-sealing flesh and angry sweeping club blows trying to break or shove aside spear shafts - the greater part of training was teaching recruits to keep a loose grip when the troll was out of reach, so that a smacked spear would be momentarily out of position rather than broken and useless, and to be ready to take it as firmly as possible against a frenzied charge. Unlike the elves, dwarves could not flee, and so it was only discipline, training, and ferocious resolve in the face of the enemy that could let them survive.

    Once the front lines of the schiltrons were beginning to tire - that was when the test truly began. The wisdom of the schiltron-chiefs in deciding when to rotate the ranks so that fresher arms and spears could bear the brunt of holding back creatures thrice their height, without the brief window of disorganization leading to a breach in the lines. The cruelty (or ignorance, preferably) of their foes in their hunt for any weakness, any frailty upon which to mount their unbearable assault. Without the benefit of numbers, or the capacity for close cooperation that the less monstrous races possess, trolls were reliant on their reach, power, and capacity to shrug off and accept as a matter of course the injuries they suffer to break through their opponent’s lines in open battle and turn the battle to slaughter as best they can.

    Frequently, the slighter trolls, with their lack of armor and simple weapons, would serve primarily to fatigue their lines, before falling back and pulling out great enormous slings to punish any attempt to surround their wealthier allies who would present the true risk. They did not even need to completely knock aside spears to charge through safely - between armor, their bulk, and their strength, they needed only prevent a vital organ from being punctured to be wiling to breach, and wreak havoc with those great sword-like flat toothy clubs, or their stone-tipped heavy-set maces. Already, Chadham could see a problem with the merged schiltron of the so-called ‘sibling clans’. Only one chief had called for the ranks to move at the right time after their foe had broken away - the other had hesitated, and so did the warrior. When the copper-clad war-troll reached them, they would not be set in their formation entirely, and -

    Disaster. Two of the others had been drawn to the wound, and it was only a minute more before one was able to lunge deeper, the exhausted dwarves unable to keep pressing them back with thrusts. Though the creature was impaled on several of the four-standings tall spears, none had found the heart or lungs, and the wheezing, pained laugh it belched like a war cry as it began to hack into the now panicked warriors of Clan MacTeine would haunt Chadham’s dreams for weeks, he knew. This, though, was the true crux of the battle. All along the lines elsewhere, the trolls were pressing hard, and Kengathraax bellowed his challenge, proclaiming the end of this needless death if only a champion would come to face him in single combat (of which like had only been accepted thrice in Ayrloch history, and won only once, through exceptional circumstances and the timely arrival of several very angry hippos), and only one had begun to petrify, their unavoidable animalistic instincts sending them into a doomed, fatal slumber rather than face a warrior’s death. If Ayrloch won the field, it would only ensure they could not flee from their executioners. He watched the other schiltrons waver as their comrades were slain, and the gap in their ranks threatened to spread, and rout the entire formation, all for the pride of squabbling Councilmen.

    It was then that the horns finally sounded, from beneath the earth. The doomwives, as many had taken to calling them - Chadham preferred their traditional name, the Chogaidhean, or war maidens - boiled out from their hiding places beneath the sodden earth, carefully crafted covers of moss and wicker flung aside to reveal the deadly warrior women of Ayrloch and their brutal armaments. Once, he had been taught as a child, they had been organized into larger squads, but now it was typical for war maidens to organize themselves into four-strong teams, each focusing on one troll at a time. They were marvels to behold, and he caught himself watching his own wife - she was recognizable even from four hundred paces, easily, that great shock of red hair that she wore in coils so that her head resembled a nest of bloodsoaked serpents during battle - rather than the whole of the engagement. It was the resolve, fortitude, and discipline of the men of the Ayrloch clans that was stretched and tested during these battles, yes, but it was the skill, teamwork, and near-suicidal bravery of the Ayrloch women that was tested, too, and they crashed into the rear of the trolls like an angry hive, a great battlecry resounding and bringing courage back to their husbands, who let out a mighty roar of their own and drove forward to try to meet their lovers speartip to speartip inside the hardening corpse of a troll.

    War maiden teams worked in fours, most commonly. The shieldmaiden, the hammerer, the lancer, and the cutter. Each had a specified role. None could succeed without the others. The shieldmaiden took the brunt of the creature’s attention with noise and spear, defending herself and the others alike. The lancer wielded great tapering javelins with flat wooden plates at the backs, which would serve as targets for the hammerer - she tossed them to embed as deeply as possible in the beast, and the hammerer would drive them home to pierce vital organs in the creature, often making use of the shieldmaiden’s namesake as a stepping stone to wield her great mallet. The cutter would keep the troll from being able to focus or use the fullness of it’s strength, using her axe to cut deep into vulnerable areas - joints, tendons, gut, even the face and eyes if given a chance - but more importantly, to topple the beast by breaking apart it’s ability to stand faster than the creature could put it together again. War maidens suffered a terribly high casualty rate when hunting trolls alone, but were just as terribly effective when they had both a team and a schiltron to drive the trolls into.


    Within twenty minutes, the battle was concluded. Perhaps three trolls escaped, Kengathraax not among them, out of the fourty-eight that had accompanied the warlord. The rest were dead or soon to be dead, with one war-troll bellowing and screaming in a way that set Chadham’s spine crawling, pinned to the ground by spears but unable to die and just free enough to move to make the mercy kill impossible to execute without risk of losing a limb to gnashing teeth. Next to him, Pericleisia let out a long, frustrated breath, clearly unaccustomed to hearing this sort of suffering and fury inflicted by one sapient upon another, and, drawing from a bundle of javelins next to her, each tipped with that strange black metal, took three steps forward and threw. It penetrated the creature’s neck and skull where, Chadham would later learn from those nearby, it had sunk two feet into the earth, and instantly killed the troll, thereby saving it from the rather longer death that had been promised it by the schiltron-men trying to find the thing’s heart by going through it’s intestines.


    There would be no punishment for the survivors of the schiltron that broke ranks. The trolls had been punishment enough, and the loss of their comrades would shame them more effectively than anything the City could do. Besides - the Free City of Ayrloch would need every hand it could get.
    Last edited by Rolepgeek; 2020-09-20 at 11:52 AM.
    Sincerely,
    Role P. Geek

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