Re: immortal power

From: Sandy Petersen (
Date: Mon 13 May 1996 - 19:10:12 EEST

Frank Rafaelsen
>Well if my memory isn't failing me, I seem to remember that gun
powder is an old >invention, but using it for guns is pretty new.
        Tragically, your memory appears to have been failing you.
The Nidan dwarfs fielded a musket and pike unit during the Second
Age. Unless that counts as "new". So far, the _only_ dwarfs in
Gloranthan known to have guns are the Nidan mountain group.
        The Dwarf of Dwarf Run has cannons, but he is known to be a
heretic, innovative, and highly dangerous. And he is the only dwarf
in Glorantha known to have cannons.
        Most dwarfs use other weapons, and use them well. Dwarf
innovations are rarely along the line of brand new inventions, but
rather improvements to old weapons. Thus, dwarf crossbows are
self-repairing, repeating, and shatter when captured. Adapting whole
new tactics, or types of weapons goes against their genes. The
dwarfs are plotters, not innovators.
        The major reason that firearms replaced crossbows on Earth
does not apply to dwarfs -- handguns were easier for an untrained
user, and cheaper to make. Since dwarfs have centuries of training,
and cost is no object, handguns are only useful if they can do
something that crossbows cannot. They have a shorter effective
range, no better armor-piercing, and are less accurate. One great
virtue of both handguns and crossbows is that they are often
best-used as a big unaimed volley at a large target (like a whole
enemy regiment). Dwarfs, with their inferior senses, like this kind
of thing.
        BUT ... the Dwarf of Dwarf Run uses gigantic bombards,
launching 30-60 inch diameter stone balls that often are hollow and
contain Bad Stuff inside (so far not gunpowder, but gnomes, acid,
gas, gremlins, hot lava, etc. have been used) He is known to have
created and fired a cannonball Jolanti on at least one occasion (no,
it didn't unfold like a transformer -- instead, it was able to
shift its weight to control its bouncing and then when it lost all
velocity, it could still roll around like a huge bowling ball). Most
dwarfs regard The Dwarf as not only eccentric but probably broken.
        Also, most all dwarfs use disorder kegs (small barrels of
gunpowder). They are known to sell these to _very_ good friends,
along with instructions (To Use Disorder Keg: cast Ignite). If the
friends are _very_, VERY good, they might even tell them how far
away to stand when casting the Ignite :(

        Dwarfs have the worst senses of any major Elder Race. Their
eyes are inferior to Dark Trolls, and are comparable to modern Uzuz
(ancient Uzuz, from centuries ago, many of whom are still alive,
are often blind). At least they're not colorblind. They are
seriously short-sighted, and I doubt most dwarfs can make out the
silhouette of a cow against a bright skyline at over 200-300m.
         Their sense of smell is keen enough, but restricted to
certain scents. The stink of decay or fragrance of a rose are
difficult for them to sense, but the metallic reek of copper or rust
carries for kms to their nose.
        Sense of taste may have been okay once, but has been dulled
through centuries of bland, tasteless, spiritless food. Kind of
like the English ;)
        Sense of hearing is all right. Comparable to human.
        Earthsense is their primary sense. It is basically a sense
of touch usable at a distance, but it declines rapidly over range.
Close-up, a dwarf can sense his surroundings far better than any
human or troll, but at any distance, he is terribly handicapped.
        Of course, dwarf units always have leaders with Project
Vision and Project Earthsense to peer around and permit the unit to
maneuver in response to distant enemies, but reacting to such
movements is a very different matter from closing with them.
        Hence, dwarf armies alone on the surface are very
vulnerable. Look at the history of the Elder Wars -- several times
large dwarf forces were ambushed by trolls and completely wiped out,
for all their iron armor, repeating crossbows, and disorder kegs.
        Dwarfs make bad generals -- they like things to be
well-organized and to fit into patterns. The randomness and fluid
nature of warfare offends and disturbs them. When a dwarf battle
plan goes well, then it is a triumph. But, when something goes awry,
the dwarfs are all at sea. The closest comparison I can think of
amongst humans is WWII at sea -- the Japanese admirals typically
evolved enormously complicated plans to trap and destroy the
American fleet. But when any part of the plan went wrong, the whole
plan went down the tubes. In one important battle, the Americans
came from the "wrong" direction -- a direction the Japanese had
dismissed because that approach would lead to an American disaster.
But the Americans were just lost -- they didn't know where the
Japanese were. In the end, the "wrong" approach proved a battle
winner -- the Japanese hadn't provided for it because no sane
admiral would have used it, hence it was not disastrous for the
Americans after all -- the Japanese hadn't even bothered to set
search planes to spot for a US fleet down there. The Japanese were
still far more flexible and adaptable in their plans than any Dwarf
army would ever be.

        Iron Dwarfs are best-used as forces of immediate
retribution or quick strikes. They rush out of a dwarf tunnel, march
as quickly as possible to the target, hit hard, then rush back.

>I still belive Loskalm is a bit underrated though.
        As a "2", you mean? Well to be fair -- given a reasonably
long war, the Loskalm forces would _quickly_ improve -- their army
is composed of courageous, innovative, and well-equipped forces.
Their raw material is quite excellent, and would make class "4"
soldiers if given proper training and leadership. This just hasn't
been done so far.

>I'm inclined to think Dwarves possess the most advanced military
technology on >the lozenge and are by nature inquisitive, innovative
and creative
        Well. I'll just paraphrase Trevor Dupuy -- a new weapon
technology does not make a difference in itself until tactics and
organization catch up with it. And I doubt their tactics and
organization are any good. I'm also not so sure about their being
creative. After 600 years of polishing the same bolt, I bet their
right-hand brain gets a bit stunted.

Sandy P.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.7 : Fri 13 Jun 2003 - 16:31:25 EEST