Close-up: ‘You’re better clueless because the truth is horrible’
I’m going to stick in some more quotes from another Guardian article: but before I do so, a scenario that is simply waiting to be played out is…
- PC’s company attacks a rag-tag enemy outfit;
- PC’s come close to crushing said outfit;
- PC’s come face-to-face with said rag-tag soldier’s Big Brother, who is wayyy beyond the PC’s league.
Before the Referee sets this game up, he will have to come to terms with the fact that it’s perfectly likely that the PCs may well decide to die in place, rather than retreat like their officers are screaming at them to do from the radio.
If the Referee doesn’t want to play this way, it’s not too hard to have the PC’s be the rag-tag outfit. (And it could easily be accurate, too!)
As for the Big Brother… that is certainly a regular army, perhaps planetary, perhaps Imperial. If playing out the scenario as written, it’s not to hard to have the PCs fighting some TL 6 pro-Zhodani insurgency, come close to smashing it… and then have all these teleporting, teched-up Zhodani Consular Guard troops (with orbital support!) come out of absolutely nowhere…
To the Article:
Having fled from encirclement in the town of I______, their column of 70 armoured vehicles and hundreds of soldiers was ambushed and shelled, according to one soldier. “Our vehicles were colliding with one another and our tracks were running over our own fighters,” said T____ S_______, 28, whose 51st brigade was one of the units surrounded.
If the PCs haven’t learn to hate encirclements yet, now’s a great time to teach them to.
Fortunately, at about TL B+, most tanks are anti-grav, so you don’t have to be worried of being run over by your own side. You’re always going have to worry about shells though: High-explosive, burning White Phosphorous, Fletchette… Lasers aren’t much good as bombardment weapons (except against armour), but meson artillery is the bee’s knees!
Many died, some were captured, and about 100 soldiers survived, often “with legs broken or smashed, with shrapnel in our hands, legs, bodies, with smashed teeth and broken noses”, he said.
TV battles don’t handle medical issues much. The Referee should not let the PCs get away with the same thing. There really are serious consequences to having several hundred men try to kill you.
S______, who worked as a barman in the western [local] city of L___ before being recruited to the army, said he and his comrades rescued a [enemy nation] in an armoured vehicle they destroyed near the town. “He told us he served in 8th C____ brigade [...snip...] and he claimed he thought they were sent here for exercises,” S____ said, adding that the soldier was now being treated in a [capital city] hospital.
Unfortunately, most of the conflicts I write of in the Empty Quarter are nasty tribe-vs-tribe fights, where little or no quarter is expected or offered. Internal wars, brother’s wars, run-of-the-mill money fights, etc. have a lot more leeway for mercy and kindness across the lines, as both sides respect the humanity of each other to a certain limited-but-real extent. “Surrenders really are accepted, truces really are honoured, and honour is honoured.”
[Enemy naton] has flatly denied any of its troops are operating in [local nation], claiming a group of paratroopers captured by [locals] deep inside their territory were on a border patrol mission and crossed “accidentally”.
The ludicrous claims of certain great powers can be occasions of high comedy, if the Referee plays his cards right.
The Guardian has found the social network account of a soldier who appears to be fighting in [local nation]. In a post on the [R_V_] network, dated 31 August, K___ Z___ from [N___ N___] said he was determined to fight on out of a sense of duty to his fallen comrades. “You know, I will stay here. I cannot sit idly and watch our guys being taken home as Cargo-200s [a S____ codeword for coffins] …One day you say hello, talk to them, laugh with them, then the next day you find out it’s all over – they are no longer alive, heading home in a metal box.”
I tend to mock the claim that “war… war never changes.” If only because we have seen a huge number of changes in the last 200 years, and the rate of change is only set to accelerate.
But before the blunt fact above, though, I am forced to rescind part of my mockery. Because the simple fact is that some facts of war – the most important facts – never change.
The transports change. The weapons change. The organizations change.
But not the blood, not the pain, not the death, and not the permanent loss.
Not now. And not three thousand years from now, either.
He appears frustrated by the secrecy surrounding his mission and his close friends have no idea what is going on.
See what I wrote above. I don’t know how the PCs would handle the same thing: many NPCs should have the same feeling, though.
“You won’t see it on TV, hear it on radio or read it in newspapers. You won’t find anything on the internet that explains what is really happening where we are now. Honestly, you’re better clueless, because the truth is horrible.”
I wonder what kind of society allows the full face of war to show itself on TV, the internet, the radio…
“Without the troops and armour sent over the border, we would have taken back D_____ by the end of August,” he said.
Just like always, it’s at the very edge of victory that you have to be most observant… a lesson that military PCs should be taught. It’s when things look to be decisive when the unspoken rules get broken, the Emergency Forces get put on line, the Big Surprise comes out.
Sometimes, it works. And sometimes, it doesn’t. And sometimes – like Napoleon in Moscow – the PCs were simply being trolled right from the get-go.
Big Picture: Tribal Rule in a Desert
From Asia Times
There are four armed groups, of very different structure and efficacy, operating in [desert nation]. [...] a modern standing army; [...] a warrior cult reminiscent of monastic fighting orders of the distant past; [...] an awkward middle position between guerrilla force and conventional army; and [...] an insurgency with strong support from the populace. The clash of these four militaries is decisively shaping the future of the country and the borders of the region as well.
No, this isn’t the Empty Quarter of 993, but if you stepped back to about the 700s…
Of course, every military PC group needs to fight a proper warrior cult at least once in their existence.
A disciplined and dedicated recruitment base augurs well for military efficacy and confers critical advantages over less motivated rivals. In many respects, Salafism’s discipline and commitment parallel what military societies and organizations have long instilled – in Sparta, Prussia, Cromwell’s Puritan army, Cheyenne Dog Men, and the austere communist insurgents in the previous century. Such people are more willing to accept the privations of military life, the authority of commanders, and the hardships of war. They are also more likely to accept the prospect of death in battle as the supreme act of faith and purification.
By 993, its been a long time since the glint-eyed guys have really made a mark in the Imperial Empty Quarter. (But see the Sword Temples of the Hegemony of Lorean…)
The actual experience of the soldiery in the Imperial Forces in the Empty Quarter is NOT as described below below. But it was a lot more accurate, before the Hebrin Rebellion and the housecleaning that followed.
Perhaps the most serious fissure is the presence of [Tribe-A] troops under [Tribe-B] command. The [Tribe-A] are increasingly disaffected with the army and state and have recently demonstrated their attitude toward [capital world Nulinad] by deserting or going over to [Tribe-A] insurgent forces, underscoring that [the Imperial Empty Quarter] viability as a [stable area of Imperial Rule] is increasingly dubious.
An officer corps based on corruption, factionalism, and cronyism cannot rely on the respect from the rank and file. Soldiers in line outfits are less willing to take risks in combat. Tactical operations will meet with hesitation and anxious looks, not with assurance and instant responses. Even well led units will suffer doubts as soldiers wonder if sister units can be relied upon to come to their aid in difficult spots.
Many [Tribe-B] look upon local clerics with at least as much respect as they do their officers or elected officials in [Nulinad]. A mullah in [notable world] might speak more authoritatively and command more respect than a battalion commander or even a prime minister. This is all the more problematic as many [Tribe-B] units were once urban militias fighting the [Imperial Core outsiders], [Tribe-A] militias, or each other, and they have been unsatisfactorily detached from neighborhood clerics and perhaps [Religion-B] cadres.
If you really want to give a challenge to serving Imperial PCs, stick them in the Imperial Empty Quarter around the Imperial Year 680 or so… rampant in-house tribalism for the win! (With a bit of religious fanaticism for extra spice…)