Guerillas?

From: Peter Metcalfe (metcalph@voyager.co.nz)
Date: Thu 29 Jan 1998 - 07:51:26 EET


Steve Rennell:

>I've been recently reading a book on the techniques of Guerilla
>warfare. It's been quite interesting, and I have to admit that every
>half page or so I was thinking of how to apply this to Sartarites
>struggling to free Prax and Sartar from the Lunars.

There are several problems with conventional guerilla tactics:

1) The biggest problem is that Sartarites can't lay aside their
clan and tribal differences even if their lives depended upon it.
To a lesser extent, this afflicts the Tarshites - Sartar could
have been reconquered in 1625 after the rise of the Brown Dragon
*if* Fazzur had not returned home to sort out his domestic
problems (ie Moraides butchering his kin). IMO he should have
done a Sulla and done his duty *before* returning home to sort out
his domestic problems.

Thus guerillas who have the support of one group tend to become
identified with that group. Thus if you, Che Sartar, have the
support of the Malanni, you are very likely to get dobbed in to
the lunars if you start ambushing lunar patrols in Balmyr
territory. There is no unifying focus beyond the tribal groups
- - the House of Sartar is gone.

2) The lunars aren't the Glorious Free West and have little
in the way of news media to tell the Heartlands the atrocities
committed. Even if the Heartlanders hear about it, they are
not likely to give a fig for the Sartarites. Thus the lunars
are unrestrained in the tactics they can use. The best way is
to punish savagely those who collaborate with the rebels and
reward those who co-operate with the Lunars (and there are always
some). Thus the populace is gradually transformed into Lunar-
lovers. It is important to realize that this is a successful
strategy. Tarsh was originally as anti-lunar as Sartar is now.
Look at it now.

3) Prax is really a seperate issue as I'm not sure whether you
are talking about the Praxian Tribes or the people in the Zola
Fel river. The nomads aren't really concerned about the Lunars -
they can raid them any time they want. What they hate is the
Sable dominance in their holy land of Prax and thus their anti-
lunar depradations are mostly against the Sables. Since the
Tribes hate each other anyway, this makes little difference.

As for the farmers in the valley and the Pavisites, I think most of
them prefer to have Lunars in the region. Otherwise there will be
increased raiding by the nomads and the Uz, neither of which is
much fun.

4) Lastly without an opposing army, the Lunars can weather any
amount of guerrilla activity so long as the will to stay there
is present and outright rebellions. I'll give an example: the
Romans had a terrible time with Judea. The Prefect of Judea had
to send for troops from Syria four times to suppress the bandits
in the area. There were a couple of awful revolts (Josephus's
"The Jewish War" is grim reading and he switched sides!). Finally
the Romans expelled the Jews from Judea and resettled it with
Greeks and Syrians etc. The resulting province stayed Roman long
after Rome ceased to do so. Now the Lunars can do that with
Sartar if they are really fed up. But they're nowhere near that
level yet IMO.

>The main points seem to be that successful guerillas need to have the
>support of the locals. Even if only tacit support ('I don't
>necessarily agree with what you're doing, but I ain't gonna turn you
>in to the Lunars'). The rebels need to be able to hide amongst the
>locals so that they can't just be rounded up. If the lunars react by
>killing people who aren't rebels, or being harsh in their
>retributions, then they drive more people into supporting the rebels.

There was a debate not so long ago about precisely this type of
guerilla action. A group of PCs killed a Lunar Patrol while based
in some village. Some of the likely tactics of the lunars would
be:

a) kill the current clan chieftain or village headman and appoint
a lunar sympathizer in his place. The headman could then fink on
the lunars as to the best hostages to hold for reprisals (ie the
ones who are most sympathetic to the PCs). If the PCs don't give
themselves up then the hostages will be crucified. Do the PCs
give themselves up? Or do they harden their hearts?

b) Have a detachment of Char-un visit the village for a week or
two. This will encourage surrounding villages not to co-operate
with rebels or they can expect similar treatment.

>Primarily the struggle is not to beat the regular forces as much as
>to make the cost of holding the land unbearable.

Which matters little to the Lunars as they hold the Cities and
require friendly tribes to hold the land and bully around the
weaker tribes.

>If the Lunars want to hold the land (and they appear to) then they
>need to spread their soldiers out to stop the rebels living off the
>land, which means that the soldiers in any one place are not an
>overwhelming army. If the rebels can travel around looking like
>normal locals, then they can amass themselves to locally outnumber
>the Lunars (Look there's a lunar patrol of 14 guys, all we need is
>twenty in one place, and we can take them) even if there is only 50
>rebels in the area, if they can get local superiority of forces they
>can have victory, then they all bugger off and pretend to be farmers
>again, (hiding any wounds with healing).

Looking like normal locals would require that the rebels be dressed
in non-military garb - ie no armor, no shields and no swords. I doubt
that they could expect take out 14 armoured hoplites!

>If the Lunars clump together
>in unassailable lumps of a couple of hundred troops, then the rebels
>just go where the lunars are not and do sabotage.

And what do they sabotage? There's no dynamite. Admittedly the
rebels could take up the worship of Malia but I doubt the local
poplace will be pleased.

>Threatening a caravan or two would mean that the Lunars need to send
>escorts with them, which increases the cost of the caravan (and uses
>up troops who could be elsewhere).

I think caravans already have their own guards. Biturian Varosh
managed to hire guards while in prax despite being an Orlanthi.
Furthermore the market for many of the caravans is the tribes and
towns in Sartar (regardless of political views). I doubt that a
Tribal King will be very pleased to hear that because caravans
have been bushwacked in his area by 'rebels', no caravans are
visiting him. I think he would even take action in hunting down
the 'rebels' for they are really bandits.

>Have people in the towns where the troops are staying, if the troops
>go out on the beer, watch them, and if one steps out for a quick
>piss against a wall, slash their throat from behind and disappear.
>(You could probably get by with throwing an ax at his back and
>running - you don't need to kill them to make them scared) This stops
>the troops feeling safe in the town, and they stop fraternising
>with the locals, further alienating them from the locals.

But one violates Orlanthi customs of hospitality and bravery in doing
so. And runs the risk of being condemned as a Secret Murderer and a
Coward. Is this the future your PCs wish on Sartar?

>I'm slowly coming up with a plan to have the PC's take part in the
>liberation of Pavis, and Prax and (if they live that long) Sartar.

I'm not trying to discourage you from running a guerilla campaign.
I'm just pointing out that the odds are stacked in favour of the
Lunars.

- --Peter Metcalfe

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