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Author Topic: Dwarves and Military  (Read 638 times)

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Offline caesar193

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Dwarves and Military
« on: November 26, 2012, 09:01:16 PM »
Dwarves, like all societies, go to war. So naturally, they must have some sort of normal war tactic. Hollywood loves the image of the mass charge, every man for himself, try to kill off more of the foe than your buddies. This might work for the "barbarian" humans, but to me, the dwarves, being a serious, dour race, would take war a bit more "seriously." To me, the dwarves would take up a style of fighting like the Roman legion. That is, neat, orderly, timed switches for when the front rank gets tired and needs to go to the back for a break (a soldier has only enough energy to fight for about 15 minutes), holding each other's backs to provide support and to drag them back when they die or are injured, and so on. In short, I see them as using a Roman-legionish type of warfare. But these dwarves wouldn't take the exact, word for word, roman legion. No, these people are anatomically different from humans. To be frank, their shortness would lend them admirably for gurilla warfare, but there honor won't let them simoy fight long range. No, they use axes.

Again, I look at history. Which society liked using axes? Egypt. What are axes good for doing? In short, what is their advantage over other weapons? A swing from an axe will take out an enemy, and go through armor like a ballista bolt through a sheet of paper. But the main disadvantage of the axe is that you only get one swing- of you miss, your axe blade is somewhere near the ground, and your agile opponent has a blade at your throat. In fact, to take advantage of the axe's benefits and the versatility of the sword, the falchion was born, which was heavy like the axe to punch through steel.

So in summary of all this, here is how I see the dwarves waging war, based on the facts I have presented above, and what I feel dwarven virtues are.

The dwarves use their shortness for ambush. Hiding on with side of the road (perhaps covered in stones if given time to prepare in hilly terrain?), they wait till the enemy is between their forces. A signal will be sounded- perhaps a bugle, or drums, or a whistle, given by the commander. The dwarves, in triplets, will attack the flanks of the opponent. The first dwarf will swing the axe, if they miss, they second attacks. The triplet will fall back, and then dart in, and the second dwarf will sing first, and so on. Such an attack will take advantage of ther height, while still following their honor. It will also make up somewhat for the disadvantages of their chosen weapon: the axe. The technique could also apply to hammers, which is another weapon associated with the dwarves.


I would also be interested in hearing other ideas (and perhaps a little of th logic behind then) in this topic, as I would be interested in hearing critiques in this particular idea.

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Offline axlerowes

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Re: Dwarves and Military
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2012, 09:49:05 PM »
Your description tends to allude to a militant honor bound culture, perhaps with a bushido type code.  If one accepts that A) dwarves as we interpret them are based on the Tolken archetype B) the dwarves represented the materialistic, industrial, modern and pragmatic side of humanity (were as the elves represented religion, spirituality, traditionalist and intellectualism) than the perhaps the logical extension of the dwarven take on warfare would be pragmatism.   Maybe these dwarves would concern themselves more with logistics than battlefield tactics. 

 You allude to that by asserting that dwarves would adapt (pragmatically) to their small size.  Would being a foot shorter than humanity on average, but of roughly equal mass (based on D&D descriptions) on average cause a serious disadvantage in mass combat?   I do not believe that it would be, though the lack of calvary may be an issue.

Perhaps, you could consider these pragmatic dwarves would not have the same visceral reaction to warfare that they would to personal combat?  While many ancient wars were fought as grand duels between champions or ritualized combat the goal of which was defeat the opponent’s army, perhaps the dwarves would be the first to exploit logistics and collaterial warfare as the primary engine of war? Perhaps you might consider that these supply side minded, ruthless capitalist would conduct war by attacking first the resources of the opponent.  In this way dwarf war would become a system of sieges and maneuvers.  There would be battles for certain, but maybe not the gurellia style strikes you imagine.  If the dwarves have superior system of supply and organization compared their opponents then they may be able to get the battle first (despite being short) and get there with more boots and in better condition. 

Something to consider

Offline caesar193

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Re: Dwarves and Military
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2012, 09:00:37 PM »
Something to consider indeed.

Let's see... First errant thought on your thought: yes, attacking your opponent's resource generators would no doubt be a part of the dwarven military strategy. But I do no think it would be a main part, as you describe it. If the dwarves could get at a resource generator, they would either leave their own supply route open for the inevitable counterattack (only an idiot would leave their resources and supply route wide open for attack without preparing a trap). Think about it: the only way the dwarves would be able to get at a supply route is by bypassing the foe's army. And if they got at it, they would probably be leaving their own supply route open for that armies attack. And once that supply route is cut off, the dwarven army is trapped behind enemy lines without food, weapons, etc., and is probably going to be crushed. What the dwarves have lost: the supplies on the supply route, and army. What the humans have lost: whatever supplies were in the resource generator/supply train, the casualties of the battle with the supply train and with finishing off the dwarven army. The humans could easily reestablish the supply route when the dwarves are all dead.

Of course, this wouldn't be the situation 100% of the time. And in some situations, it would be easy for the dwarves to cut off the supply route without risk. Or they could use a small strike force to take it out and get back. But these situations, to my eyes, will be fewer than the situation described above.

Thinking like this, the dwarves wouldn't go for the resource centers as much as they would the ones they need to take. They would determine which of their options is theoretically possible, which are the better ones, and which of these options they should do. The amount of damage they would deal to the enemy would be considered, as would damage they would receive, whether or not it would provide them with more options (like taking the city located in the only pass through the un-scalable mountains), resources gained, whether or not this action would protect them, etc. They might concentrate more on resources than the next race, but it would only be one consideration among many.

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Offline Tauric

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Re: Dwarves and Military
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2013, 03:52:23 PM »
I too have always pictured something between the Romans and the Hoplites in dwarven warfare. I see, given the confined nature of the tunnels, a first rank of interlocking shields, with either gladius-style short swords or short spears using an underhand thrust, while the second and third ranks strike with spears overhand. Prior to melee, the second and third ranks would have been firing crossbows volley style, while the first rank knelt behind their shields (out of the way of both friendly and unfriendly fire).

They would keep these tactics on the surface, with adjustments for larger numbers.

Offline Murometz

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Re: Dwarves and Military
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2013, 04:11:52 PM »
Quote
I too have always pictured something between the Romans and the Hoplites in dwarven warfare. I see, given the confined nature of the tunnels, a first rank of interlocking shields, with either gladius-style short swords or short spears using an underhand thrust, while the second and third ranks strike with spears overhand. Prior to melee, the second and third ranks would have been firing crossbows volley style, while the first rank knelt behind their shields (out of the way of both friendly and unfriendly fire).

They would keep these tactics on the surface, with adjustments for larger numbers.

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Re: Dwarves and Military
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2013, 11:00:08 AM »
The first line of the dwarven army are the merchants and free traders.

War with the dwarves starts with economic sanctions, cutting off the flow of goods from the Dwarves to the offending party/nation. As tensions start to rise and negotiations fail, the dwarven cohorts move and start cutting off trade roads and supply routes. Given that most dwarves live in mountains, they are going to have first and best access to the mountain passes. Trade can still flow, through waterways, or by taking major detours around mountains, but it is going to be hindered.

There are no sneak attacks, no pre-emptive strikes. The dwarves are an honorable warfare race (unless we are dealing with honorless creatures) and the march is deliberate. A city will know it has become a target as the dwarven host approaches, clad in heavy armor, with chariots and axes, shield biting berzerkers in the front rows and many gleaming axes, halberds, and crossbows aplenty.

This is military theatre.

At night, dwarven sappers, engineers, and saboteurs have been working diligently. The gates are known and marked, weaknesses in the walls and defenses are known, and there will have been a systematic campaign of covert operations against the target. Random fires started, mercenaries, thieves and troublemakers paid to start riots or inflame issues in the city, and if the situation calls for it, poisoning water and food supplies. Horses are specifically targeted during this time, to weaken or even completely eliminate cavalry.

The city leaders see the army marching on their doorstep, and the thieves guild has gone to open war with the assassins guild, a third of the horses are sick or dead, and the tanner's ward and meat market are still smoldering timbers and ash.

By the time the army arrives at the city or the keep, the saboteurs have already moved on, starting the next round of operations against the cities, fortresses and other second round campaign objectives.

Being honorable opponents, the dwarves are not ones to sack and raze cities to the ground, going on murder sprees and rape-rampages. A city that surrenders is going to pay a tribute to the dwarves, and will be occupied and subject to dwarven laws and tax systems. The builders and engineers follow, and the damage done is rebuilt and repaired.


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