Since the saga of the Books of GOR have started back in 1966 many texts have already been written and many persons have spent countless hours studying and sharing information to help others understand better what is GOR.
One of these persons is known as “Ubar Luther” who wrote a series of papers (most seem to be over 15 to 20 years old, but still very up-to-date in many topics) called the “Luther’s Gorean Educational Scrolls” that are still available in Gor-Now.net. I have tried to reach Luther for some time and the contact links seem not to be working, but will keep a look and hope he one day resumes his magnificent writing!
I’m going to share the information of his scroll regarding the Warrior Caste, dividing it into three Posts:
- Warrior Caste – Introduction
- Warrior Caste – Codes of the Warriors
- Warrior Caste – Sayings of the Warriors
The Warrior Caste is one of the five High Castes on Gor, though it is the least of the High Castes. Red , or scarlet, is the color of the Warrior Caste and Warriors often wear red tunics to denote their status. The usual garb of a Warrior is a scarlet tunic, sandals and cloak. The books do not explicitly state that there are any subcastes to the Warrior Caste but it seems reasonable that some do exist such as Tarnsmen and Tharlarion Cavalrymen. It can be difficult at times to differentiate between what would be considered an actual subcaste and what would simply be considered a different position. A City Guardsman may simply be a possible position and not an actual subcaste. It generally seems that subcastes possess certain skills that others may not. Being a City Guardsman does not really take special skills but obviously a Tarnsman would.
The Gorean term for a Warrior is “rarius” and the plural form is “rarii.” A rarius denotes any type of Warrior and not just a member of the Warrior Caste. The warriors of the Wagon Peoples, Torvaldsland and other such cultures are rarii. This term was never used to refer to a woman in any of the novels. A pride consists of a hundred Warriors. It appears to be an older term that has fell out of use by the timeframe of the novels. In Gor’s past, there were once Pride Chiefs who ruled rather than the Ubars and Administrators of today. It is unknown if Pride Chiefs still exist.
During the extensive training of Warriors, they learn many matters. It does appear though that this training can be accelerated if necessary. Tarl Cabot apparently completed his training in a matter of months, if not weeks. This may simply have been a plot device though and not indicative of the normal training process. The training is of a Warrior is both physical and mental. The training is similar to the training of an Assassin in many respects, mostly in the area of combat skills. Warriors learn much from teaching scrolls at special war schools. These scrolls are very similar in the different cities by virtue of the Sardar fairs where Castes meet to share ideas.
As a number of Warriors are illiterate, then it can be assumed that Warrior training does not require reading. It would though require excellent memorization skills, something most Goreans are quite adept at. Teachers may tell the students what they must know, probably repeating themselves often to instill the necessary knowledge. Much of this learning will entail the aspects of the Warrior Code. As the Code appears to be rather comprehensive, its memorization is a daunting task.
Warriors learn how to wield the weapons of a warrior: the gladius, spear, dagger, and crossbow. They are taught to use both arms to fight, in case their primary arm is disabled. They are trained in unarmed combat, similar to some of the martial arts of Earth. They learn the Warrior’s Pace, a slow jog that can be kept up for hours. A Warrior can usually make ninety pasangs a day alternating a Warrior’s Pace with a Warrior’s stride. Some Warriors can do even better. This Pace was created to be used even under the heavy weight of one’s weapons and equipment.
They are trained in acute observation and retention. They almost unconsciously size up every situation, analyzing where an attack might come from. This enables them to avoid surprise in many circumstances. Warriors also learn the virtues of concealment and subterfuge. A Warrior is not always direct in his approach to a problem as many might think. Circumstances dictate the actions of the prudent Warrior. They learn that if they move slowly, they will commonly convey the impression that they do not intend any harm. Quick movements often lead to defensive reactions from others. It is better to lull your foe into a false sense of security.
They learn the tactics of night fighting. Most of the time, in dark conditions, luck is the deciding factor in combat. But, there are certain tactics that can enhance your chances. Misdirection can be effective. You can throw pebbles or other small objects away from you making noise. This might make your foe move in that direction. The use of back kicks gives an extension to your striking ability but also provides minimum exposure of your vital areas. You might stab into the dark with a full arm extension, trying to get your foe to lunge after you, overextending himself. Most of the time, you will not be in complete darkness. There will be maybe starlight or faint illumination. In true darkness though, there would be little you could do except to rely on chance.
Warriors prefer to have the sun and wind behind their backs when they are fighting. The glare of the sun can distract a foe and also will wear on him after a time. The wind will help propel ones arrows or spear, adding momentum. Dust, sand and other debris are also more likely to adversely effect your enemy.
Warriors also learn much about the hunting and capture of women. They are encouraged to capture slaves from other cities. They are taught the capture knot, a special knot often used to bind a captive. Most Warriors can make this knot in less than three Ihn. The knot is done by flipping a thong or cord about a captive’s wrists twice and then turning a double opposite overhand with a twist following the first overhand. It is basically two simple loops and a double knot.
Warriors learn the virtues of patience.
“When men stalk one another with weapons it is well to have patience, great patience.”Priest-Kings of Gor, p.54
They also learn certain universal conventions concerning combat. To signify a truce or call for a parley, you place your shield on the ground and then place your spear atop the shield. If you wish to surrender, the shield straps would be broken and spear shaft also broken. During battle, you grant quarter by gesturing to the ground with your sword.
The most common weapon of the Warrior is the gladius, a type of short sword. The gladius is derived from the Earth sword of the same name. The gladius is of Spanish origin and was widely used by the ancient Romans. It is about twenty to twenty-two inches long, double-edged, and well balanced. It is heavy enough to have a considerable striking force in saberlike trajectories but light enough to have some of the swiftness and play of a foil.
The gladius is maneuverable enough to work its way behind the guard of a longer, heavier weapon. There are other benefits of a short sword over a longer blade as well. A gladius can clear the scabbard a fraction earlier and that can be vitally important. The short blade can also be moved with greater swiftness than a long blade. It allows you to work close to your opponent. If a swordsman with a longer weapon can not finish a battle in the first thrust or two, he will generally lose the battle.
In sword fighting, both strength and skill are significant. Strength is most important if a battle is prolonged. You can turn aside a sword with either skill or strength. If you use your strength, your foe must exert more effort to return his sword to a ready position. It is very difficult to strike a foe who is both competent and careful. It can be dangerous though over a long time to rely solely on defense.
“One who limits oneself solely to defense, and is unwilling to attack, obviously can never win. Too, sooner or later, it seems, he must be doomed to lose. There is no wall so strong that it will not one day crumble.”Rogue of Gor, p.190
Becoming highly skilled with the sword comes only with long practice and study. The best swordsmen are differentiated by:
“subtle differences, and dimensions and increments, which tend to divide masters.”Rogue of Gor, p.190
The speed with which one can draw a sword is especially crucial in many battles. In many combats, the first warrior to draw is often the winner. Warriors learn the habit of drawing their sword each day, ensuring that it comes out smoothly and without incident. This helps work on your speed. It is also done to test the scabbard to ensure that it has not swelled or such. An enemy might also have tightened or fastened your blade in the scabbard by a tiny wooden plug, shim or bit of wire. A quarter of an inch, where hundredths of an Ihn are involved, can be a considerable advantage. Some Warriors may partially draw their blade if they feel combat is imminent. Usually the scabbard strap is hung over the left shoulder so it may be easily discarded in battle. The scabbard is at the left hip to ease the swift across the body draw. In some situations, the scabbard is discarded to prevent it being a hindrance. Warriors also take care of their own swords, not relying on others to do so. They will be the only ones to hone and oil their blades.
A special type of Warrior, possibly even a subcaste, is the Tarnsman. Tarnsmen ride the mighty tarns, giant birds, also called the Brothers of the Wind. A tarn resembles a hawk but possesses a crest like a jay. It is surprisingly light for its size due to the hollowness of its bones. Despite its lightness, it is still an extremely powerful bird that can fly from the ground with a spring and sudden wing flurry.
It is a diurnal creature and a carnivore. They usually only eat what they catch themselves, commonly tabuks and wild bull. If enough food is available, they will eat half their own weight. But, near the end of the Gorean series, by the time of Renegades of Gor, some tarns have been trained to eat prepared meat. Tarns are trained by the Caste of Tarn Keepers, a low Caste.
A tarn is seldom more than half-tamed, and it is not unknown for a tarn to even attack its own rider. Tarns do not thrive well in captivity. It is said that:
“To live a tarn must fly, far and often.” and “Like its brother the wind when the tarn is not free it has no choice but to die.”Priest Kings of Gor, p.191-2
Tarns are basically fearless, fearing only the tarn goad. And only trained tarns will fear that. It is also extremely difficult to fly a tarn from the sight of land. If they were hooded and brought by ship to the open sea, they would be fine but they won’t willingly leave the sight of land.
The plumage of tarns varies and many are bred for their color. The most common color is a greenish-brown. Black tarns are used for night raids and white ones for winter raids. Multi-colored tarns are used by proud warriors who do not care for camouflage. There is even a jungle tarn, a rare creature, that is gloriously plumaged and comes from the tropical reaches of the Cartius. War tarns have their talons shod in steel. There are also draft tarns, used for transporting cargo, and saddle tarns, used as transport.
The capacity to master a tarn is thought to be innate. It cannot be learned. Warriors who wish to become Tarnsmen are taken to meet a tarn. The Warrior must be accepted by the tarn or he will be eaten by the mighty bird. It is unknown how many Warriors meet their death in this manner. A war tarn must be controlled by a strong master, and if that master ever gets weak or helpless, the tarn may kill him. Tarnsmen wear leathers though this is not really a form of armor but more a protection against the elements and against the bird. Tarnsmen have a few tools they use to aid in their control of their tarns.
The tarn goad is a metal rod, about two feet long, with a leather loop attached. It has a switch on the handle for on and off, and emits an electric shock in a sparkled of yellow sparks. It will hurt your flesh but won’t mark it if you are hit by one. It is used primarily to control the tarn and the goad is the only thing a tarn fears. A tarn goad may also be used to direct the tarn. One hits the bird in the direction opposite to the one you wish to go. But this is imprecise and there is a danger in using the goad too much as it will become less effective. A tarn whistle, also called a tarn call, is used to call specific tarns. It has a single, shrill note and summons only one tarn. If you lose your whistle, you have basically lost your mount so they are guarded well.
Tarns are commonly guided by a throat strap, to which are attached six leather streamers, or reins. They are fixed in a metal ring on the forward portion of the saddle. The reins are of different colors but you learn them by ring position and not color. Each rein attaches to a small ring on the throat strap and the rings are evenly spaced. One draws on the rein which is attached to the ring which most closely resembles the direction you wish to go. To land or lose attitude, use the four strap which exerts pressure on a ring beneath the tarn’s throat. To rise in flight or gain altitude, use the one strap which is on the back of the tarn’s neck. The six strap makes the tarn veer to the left and climb slightly. The two strap makes it veers to the right and climb slightly. The throat strap rings are numbered clockwise. Letting the reins hang on the saddle ring, with no pressure on the throat strap, is the signal for a constant and straight flight.
Tarn saddles have a five-rung leather mounting ladder, on the left side, which folds up at the side of the saddle. You strap yourself into the saddle with a strap, a saddle belt. Tarn saddles are wide enough to accommodate a bound female slave across it. There are other ways to carry a captive girl as well such as saddle cages and nets. Tarn saddles are rather large with saddle packs, weapon sheaths and paired slave rings. Tarn baskets may have guidance attachments to control the tarn from the basket, similar to the normal guidance from a saddle. There are many sizes and varieties of baskets. The most common basket is flat-bottomed, square-sided, and about four feet deep.
One of a young Tarnsman’s first mission is commonly to capture a slave from another city for his personal quarters. When he returns home with his new captive, he gives her over to his sisters. They will bathe, perfume and cloth her in slave livery. There will then be a feast where the slave will be presented to his parents, friends and Warrior comrades. As the music plays, the girl will be collared and later will be made to dance. She will then eventually offer her new master wine. Once he drinks, then everyone can commence eating and from then on, his sisters will no longer serve him. Thus, it seems likely that most Tarnsmen will own at least one slave girl.
There are several ways to capture a girl from your tarn. A tarn may grab the girl in its talons and then land. At that point, you can dismount, remove the girl from its talons, bind her and then fasten her to your saddle. A Tarnsman could also fly low and hit a girl with a wing so that she is sent sprawling. The warrior could then quickly dismount and capture her. A Tarnsman might also hit a girl with the butt of a spear instead of the tarn wing. Still other Tarnsmen will fly low and rope a girl using the braided leather ropes familiar to all tarnsmen.
Tarns can make a rapid diving descent. The tarn does not breathe during the entire descent until the point of impact or vicinity of the area if no impact occurs. Tarnsmen are trained to take a deep breath before such a descent and are recommended not to breathe during the dive. The descent velocity of a tarn has been estimated at about four hundred pasangs an Ahn, a little over 200 miles per hour.
A raiding tarnsman usually carry his weapons, rations, a compass, maps, binding fiber and extra bowstrings. They commonly use spears and crossbows from tarnback. A tarn can even carry a knotted rope of seven to ten men without difficulty. This is helpful in attacks on a city.
There are some excellent quotes about tarnsmen as well.
“The spirit of the tarn must not be broken, not that of the war tarn. He is trained to the point where it is necessary for a strong master to decide whether he shall serve him or slay him. You will come to know your tarn, and he will come to know you. You will be as one in the sky, the tarn the body, you the mind and will. You will live in an armed truce with the tarn. If you become weak or helpless, he will kill you. As long as you remain strong, his master, he will serve you, respect you, obey you.”Tarnsman of Gor, p.58
“Once one has been a tarnsman, one must return again and again to the birds.”Outlaw of Gor, p.130
“The element of the tarnsman is the clouds, the saddle and the sky; his steed is the tarn, his field of battle, strewn with light and wind, higher than mountains, deeper than the sea, is the very sky itself.”Captive of Gor, p.190
Tharlarion are a species of Gorean lizards, ranging from tiny hand-sized creatures to massive beasts. Certain types of tharlarion are used as mounts, especially by those peoples who have not mastered the tarn. Tharlarions have been used as mounts by Goreans far longer than tarns. Tharlarions have been specially bred for a thousand generations before the first tarn was ever tamed.
Tharlarions generally need far less water than tarns and their metabolism is slower. They seem almost impervious to pain, having a sluggish nervous system. Most of the larger varieties, such as war tharlarion, have not only a brain but also a smaller brainlike organ that is located near the base of their spine. They basically respond to voice signals but sometimes a strike with the butt of a lance is needed to move them. They must be hit around the eye or ear openings as they are a couple of the only sensitive areas on its massive body.
Tharlarion cavalrymen ride war tharlarions, a variety of high tharlarion. These cavalrymen may be a subcaste of the Warrior Caste. Unfortunately, the books only contain brief references to these Warriors. War tharlarion are huge creatures, several tons in weight, and they move on two legs. Their saddles are meant to absorb shock but Warriors still wear a leather belt around their waists to help keep them in place. Tharlarions move almost in a leaping fashion so a ride can be unsteady.
The cavalrymen also wear high, soft leather boots to protect their legs against the abrasive hide of the creatures. Nothing on Gor can face the mighty impact of a tharlarion charge. The best defenses are a series of ditches or pointed stakes/spears. The mobility of infantry units can also be important defensively as fast units can separate to allow the charging beasts between their lines, thus isolating and surrounding them.
The Alars are quite skilled tharlarion riders and some cities use them in their cavalries. The Alars commonly use the medium-weight, saddle tharlarion. Their saddles have stirrups so they can use a couched stock lance.
A mercenary is essentially a warrior who fights for money. They generally do not fight for a Home Stone or even honor. Most mercenaries on Gor are little more than armed thugs or cutthroats. It is often tough or even dangerous to try to control such men. They must be assured of receiving ample loot and promises of booty are a major inducement for recruitment.
A silver tarsk a month for a hired sword is a high price for such a man. Many would not receive such a wage. Their strategy and tactics are more indicative of organized brigandage than sound military theory. They do not wear uniforms though they might wear armbands, scarves, ribbons or plumes of certain colors to identify their employer. These though can be easily discarded or changed during a battle. Some have been known to turn on their employer.
Mercenaries generally form into mercenary companies, also known as Free Companies. There are dozens of such companies and they vary widely in size, skill level and trustworthiness. These companies obtain war contracts, sometimes by competitive bidding. They recruit men, usually willingly, though some have been known to impress men to meet their quotas of forces.
Impressment is the recruiting of men, against their will, through deception or force. Lure girls might be used for this impressment. Famous mercenary captains can easily fill their companies with men. Some companies will supply weapons for their men. If you own your own weapons, you may get a preference as it is assumed you know how to use them. Companies often number no more than one or two hundred men. A force of a thousand would be an unusually large force.
Many companies are disbanded during the winter. The Captain will retain only a cadre of officers and professionals. In the spring, the company will start over with training and recruiting, almost from the beginning again. They frequently move their camps to avoid being located easily by their enemies. Mercenaries in a battle may also be paid by both sides. Their contract may specify certain actions that must be taken but omit others.
The sides in a battle may begin a bidding war over the mercenaries. Another potential problem is that it is not difficult to infiltrate spies into mercenary troops. Mercenaries are men from different backgrounds, castes and cities. Little is asked of them other than their ability to handle weapons and obey orders. Few get questioned much about themselves.
So, why would you want to hire mercenaries?
First, there are some well respected mercenary companies that can be trusted. They are usually the more expensive groups.
Second, you might need a certain type of force you lack such as tarnsmen. Not all cities have armies of tarnsmen and such a force can aid a war effort thus a city may seek out to hire such a force.
Third, your own army might be significantly weaker than your opposition so you need an additional force to create more parity in your forces. Despite such needs though, it is always better to rely on men who fight for a Home Stone over those who fight only for money.
Some of the most well known mercenary captains include Raymond of Rive-de-Bois, Conrad of Hochburg, Pietro Vacchi, Terence of Treve, Oleg of Skjern, Leander of Farnacium, William of Thentis, Artemidorous of Cos, Ha-Keel and Dietrich of Tarnburg.
Terence of Treve helped Port Kar in their epic naval battle against the combined forces of Cos and Tyros. Terence agreed to store tarns on Port Kar ships and then release them in the middle of the sea battle. The tarns fought well, ignoring the fact they were far from land, and helped Port Kar prevail.
Ha-Keel of Port Kar was originally banished from Ar. His true origins are misted in legend. He wears a gold tarn disk of Ar around his neck. Some say he cut a man’s throat for the disk to buy silks and perfumes for a woman he loved. Allegedly, the woman ran off with another man. Ha-Keel pursued them and might have killed the other man. He then either sold the woman into slavery or never found her. Ha-Keel is a true mercenary and works for the highest bidder. He commands a force of one thousand tarnsmen. He has even worked on the side of the Kurii.
Dietrich of the city of Tarnburg is a legendary mercenary captain, probably the most famous captain on Gor. He is one of the most feared and skilled commanders on Gor, mercenary or otherwise. His victories are very well known. He has won battles on the fields of Piedmont and Cardonicus. He led the Forty Days’ March relieving the siege of Talmont. He crossed the Issus River in 10122 C.A. in the night evacuation of Keibel Hill.
He has been the victor in the battles of Rovere, Kargash, Edgington, Teveh Pass, Gordon Heights, and the Plains of Sanchez. His standard is a silver tarn and his force numbers about five thousand men, far larger than most such armies. His contracts are very expensive and his is choosy in which battles he will fight. His campaigns are studied in war schools throughout Gor. He is an innovative military leader and has created many new tactics and strategies for war on Gor.
There are numerous war scrolls concerning the practice, strategy and techniques of war. War is studied intently by many Goreans.
Two famous war scrolls are the commentaries of Minicius and the anonymous analyses of “The Diaries,” sometimes attributed to the military historian, Carl Commenius of Argentum.
Carl was rumored to have once been a mercenary. There are war schools that teach these subjects and to which Warriors can go for further education. These schools have libraries filled with scrolls of many diverse topics on warfare.
Most Gorean wars are small-scale events, confined to a limited area. Most wars occur between only a few cities rather than large alliances of dozens of cities. It would be rare for a battle to include more than five thousand men. Goreans would find Earth wars, involving millions of lives, to be nearly unthinkable. Most Gorean wars are more similar to a large raid rather than an open, pitched conflict. Mobility and surprise are common elements of such warfare, contributing to the small sizes of their forces.
War is generally performed by members of the Warrior Caste, professionals who are well trained and know what war entails. Only in large scale conflicts, especially when a city is endangered, do others besides the Warrior Caste join into the conflict. If a city is in dire need, they may arm any able-bodied man, of whatever Caste. Peasant levies, armed with long bows, are common. A city may even free and arm its male slaves in especially dire circumstances.
One of the most common reasons why wars begin are when one city raids the merchant caravans of another city. Sometimes these Warriors will don the uniforms and colors of another city to disguise their true identity. This will put suspicion on another city, commonly the enemy of the disguising city. Another reason a war might begin is over trade rights to a certain area. The ownership of natural resources such as silver mines may also precipitate war. Cities may also battle over their territorial limits, such boundaries being very fluid matters.
Warfare involves more than simply military considerations. There is a significant political aspect as well. Conquering a city or piece of land is but the beginning.
“Territory must be held as well as won.”Mercenaries of Gor, p.142
What good is winning if you cannot keep what you have fought and gained? Warfare may also be preceded by diplomatic efforts to prevent a war. Ambassadors, who possess immunity, will often try to resolve a dispute amicably before committing their resources to warfare. This alternative dispute resolution will continue throughout the length of the war, trying to stem the actual bloodshed.
Gorean infantry usually marches light, a factor of the nature of Gorean warfare. They commonly march at a measured pace, the counting of the cadence often kept by a drum. Forty pasangs, about twenty-eight miles, is an average da’s march. Thus, military supply posts have been placed at intervals on major roads, usually about forty pasangs apart. Such major roads are kept in excellent condition in case there is ever the need for an army to travel them.
The officers will march in the front of the infantry. A standard barrier will then march behind the officers but a step or two in front of the front rank of Warriors. Many Gorean standards are over a century old. To supply the army, the army may bring its own supplies, carried in bosk or tharlarion wagons. Tarns may also be used to supply the troops. Due to the abundant availability of game, many armies do not need to bring many supplies. They can often live off the land. In addition, they can levy the local villages for provisions if needed.
The phalanx used to be the most common infantry formation. A phalanx consists of several rows of men, each row holding a spear. The rearward rows held longer spears than the front rows. When a phalanx would charge, it would be quite the force to be reckoned with. No other military formation was able to meet it head-on. You either had to meet a phalanx with another phalanx or try to outmaneuver it. But, such a close-formed military formation is hard to maintain over rough terrain.
Thus, the Torian Squares eventually made the phalanx much less common. The Torian Squares possess superior mobility and regrouping capacities, even over rough terrain. The actual make-up though of the Torian Squares is not discussed in detail in the novels. The use of cavalry though drastically changed warfare. The Torian square is still used but the phalanx is almost obsolete. One defensive relic of the phalanx is still used, the Wall. The Wall is a group of massed infantry who remain stationary against a tharlarion charge. It is not a recommended tactic.
Dietrich of Tarnburg has been a major innovator in Gorean warfare. He was the first to introduce the “harrow” to positional warfare. The harrow is named for a large rakelike farming tool. In this formation, spikes of archers, protected by iron-shod stakes and sleen pits, are placed in front of the normal infantry Warriors. This formation is meant primarily against cavalry forces. It creates a deadly gauntlet that must be passed through to reach the main forces. But, once the cavalry is heavily wounded, the infantry can then surge forward and decimate the remaining cavalry.
Dietrich also introduced the “oblique advance” where large numbers of men are concentrated at crucial points while the balance of the opposing army is unengaged. This allows a smaller force to engage an army up to three times its size. It may be able to turn the flank of the larger force, causing chaos and rout. If the advance fails, you can retreat your men knowing that much of your force probably did not engage in the battle.
There are numerous defenses to tarnsmen attacks, depending upon the location of the attack. Within a city, tarn wire is often used, though generally only when danger is imminent. This is thin, almost invisible, wire that is stretched over the city like a net. It will slice a tarn that tries to pass through them.
Some tarnsmen may carry bladed hooks on long lines to sever these wires. In cities, towns and small villages an overhead network of ropes, cloths and tarnwire present a good defense. The network will present certain small holes that ground based archers can use to fire at the tarns. But the tarnsmen, due to the swift speed of their mounts, will find they have insufficient time to acquire a proper target for their own missile fire through the cover. Iron stakes on the ground will also help prevent talon attacks from tarns.
Out in the open, the most common defense to an aerial attack is the “shield roof” or “shield shed” which is similar to the old Earth formation called the “tetsudo” or “tortoise.” Shields are held to constitute a wall for the outer ranks and a roof for the inner ranks.
Dietrich was the first man to properly coordinate air and ground forces. He coordinated these forces so as to force his enemies into sturdy but relatively inflexible defensive squares. He would then advance his archers in long enveloping lines so they would present a much broader front for low-level point-blank firepower. The archery of tarnsmen is most effective against massed infantry or cavalry. It is much more difficult to strike a man or mount when he is wary of you and ready to evade your missile fire. Tarn drums are used to control the complex war formations of tarsnmen.
Gorean siege warfare, as it was in Earth history, is commonly unsuccessful. Starvation of a city is usually ineffective as they will generally have sufficient supplies to last a year or so. The city will also have siege cisterns for water. Statistically, the besiegers would run out of supplies first.
Most sieges will not last much longer than a few weeks before the besiegers will break it off. To directly attack a city requires often three times the force of the defenders. Siege weapons are also a necessity, requiring siege engineers to construct and maintain such equipment.
Some cities are surrounded by a moat that must be over come. The moat might be drained, bridges or small dugout pontoons used to cross it. Catapults and ballistae of various types are used, including chain-sling onagers and springals. They can fire spears, rocks, flaming naptha and more at the city walls. A giant chain grapnel may be thrown by such an item. The chain will then be drawn back with great force, attempting to rip parts of the walls down. This grapnel though must be used close to its target, thus being more vulnerable to attack by the besieged.
Archer blinds, movable wooden screens to shield archers and light missile equipment, are used as protection. Siege towers with battering rams may be used against city gates. Tunnels may be dug underground, trying to pass the city walls though the besieged city will dig their own tunnels to engage the attackers underground.
The besieged city may also use a grapnel derrick to topple siege engines close to the city walls. Dietrich was the first one to utilize mobile siege equipment in open warfare. By placing catapults and ballistae on wheeled platforms, they became field artillery. They could launch tubs of burning pitch, flaming naphtha, siege javelins, boulders, and more.
Most cities though fall due to trickery, bribery or betrayal. Dietrich has likely taken more towns with gold than steel. The Tuchuks conquered Turia through trickery. Cos conquered Ar through the betrayal of several key figures in Ar. Torcadino was taken by Dietrich through trickery. Several quotes support this proposition.
“He has sowed silver and harvested cities.”Magicians of Gor, p.188
“More gates are opened with gold than iron.”Magicians of Gor, p.188
“Any city can fall behind the walls of which can be placed a tharlarion laden with gold.”Mercenaries of Gor, p.101
“I can take any city behind whose walls I can get a tarn of gold.”Hunters of Gor, p.140
Spoils of War
The spoils of war are the usual fees demanded by a conquering city. These fees are meant to remove any potential future threat the conquered city will ever be.
The following is a typical set of such fees though it will vary depending on the desires of the conqueror.:
- The population is disarmed and possession of a weapon is made a capital offense.
- All of the officers in the Warrior Caste, and their families, are impaled.
- A thousand of the most beautiful free women are given to the conqueror’s highest officers as slaves.
- Thirty percent of the remaining free women will become slaves for the troops.
- Seven thousand free men will become siege slaves.
- All of the children under twelve years old will be randomly distributed to the other free cities. This seems to support that adoption does exist on Gor.
- Any slaves in the city will belong to the first man to recollar them.
As can be seen, such fees devastate a conquered city.
Written by “Ubar Luther” in Gor-Now.net