Two Question on the Militaries of the Five Nations

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#1 - I know this obviously wouldn't have been stated explicitly anywhere, but do any (or all) of the Five Nations have General Staffs? It seems like they all have dedicated intelligence gathering organizations, and given their almost-modern nature in other aspects of their societies, this seems like a natural development that might have occurred (especially for nations who have been at war for 100 years). What do you think?

#2 - How large did armies get during the Last War? Again, this may not have been stated explicitly anywhere, but what impression do you have?
No opinion on #1, but in reference to #2:
I remember Keith' talking about his version of the world of Eberron to be a rather compact continent with only a few million inhabitants.
Therefor the armies were 2000 soldiers max. on each side, while Thrane threw in a lot more foot soldiers.
Shortly after the death of Galifar, the armies marching on Thronehold numbered about 3000 men, right?
No opinion on #1, but in reference to #2:
I remember Keith' talking about his version of the world of Eberron to be a rather compact continent with only a few million inhabitants.
Therefor the armies were 2000 soldiers max. on each side, while Thrane threw in a lot more foot soldiers.
Shortly after the death of Galifar, the armies marching on Thronehold numbered about 3000 men, right?



From the population quotes generally given, armies of 2000-3000 men seem pitifully small. I've heard the populations of the Five Nations as being somewhere between 1.5 and 3 million people each, which is about the population of 18th century Britain. They'd be capable of fielding armies of tens of thousands of men at least, minus constructs or undead troops.

Armies of 2000-3000 men apiece are more appropriate for small city-states with populations of a few dozen thousands, not nations of several million people.
I guess you have to factor in that a lot of the countries of Khorvaire wage war for quite a while AND on multiple frontiers. With magic thrown into the mix, a 10.000 vs. 10.000 + Fireballs would kill or severly injure a lot of soldiers beyond healing - or repair for that matter.
They couldn't keep this up for long. :-)
I guess you have to factor in that a lot of the countries of Khorvaire wage war for quite a while AND on multiple frontiers. With magic thrown into the mix, a 10.000 vs. 10.000 + Fireballs would kill or severly injure a lot of soldiers beyond healing - or repair for that matter.
They couldn't keep this up for long. :-)


In such a situation, tactics would simply change to accomodate the new weapons. If fireballs were available for use regularly, and were as destructive as you say, combatant armies would adjust their tactics very quickly to attempt to neutralize the destructive power of fireballs. For example, cover & concealment might become very important.
This is the kind of thread that makes me scurry downstairs to page through my books to try to find citations. I'm not going to do that today. I must resist.

Anyways. Jaster, your perception of the duties of a General Staff is a bit restricted. GS don't just handle intelligence; they handle and coordinate almost every facet of warmaking.

Now, you have it capitalized, so I assume you mean a centralized organ at the highest echelons of military organization. Perhaps similar to the Prussian General Staff (excuse the Wikipedia link, but it seems solid enough).  Granted, the Prussian/German General Staff had its problems, but that's not the point; the point is that when they had a General Staff, and the other side didn't, the Germans monkey-stomped them. The Prussian defeat in 1806 doesn't follow this, because a.) the Prussian General Staff existed only in nascent form, and b.) Berthier had, evidently, already established a stronger form of a General Staff in the Napoleonic armies.

To illustrate my point, though, take a look at the Wars of Prussian Unification.  After the establishment of the Kriegsakademie, the Prussian army began instilling its officers with a more-or-less standardized doctrine and approach to warfare. Furthermore, rather than trusting that these officers will "learn as they go", they ensured that the officers were prepared from the onset to command. Rather than hoping that a genius would arise at the necessary time to make up for inept lower-echelon commanders, the Prussians ensured that those subordinate commanders would be competant, and thus lower the chances of deadly mistakes happening. Furthermore, competent lower-level command and control allows the higher echelons to concentrate on future planning and preparation.

Anyways. In the 1864 war (Denmark v. Austria and Prussia), it dragged on because the general in charge (von Wrangel) didn't take advantage of the existance of von Moltke's General Staff, and the corresponding operational and strategic advantages. So, the war dragged on, and Prussia and Austria won.

However, the better illustrations of the usefulness of a General Staff are the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. The existance of the Prussian General Staff allowed for railroad mobilization and transportation schedules that enabled Prussia to move her army of over a quarter-million men to the border, and comence offensive actions almost immediately. While the Prussian generals at Koinnigratz seemed to eschew corps- and army-level maneuvering in favor of just getting stuck in, the Battle of Konnigratz saw the Austrian army shattered.

The Franco-Prussian War provides an even better illustration of the potency of the General Staff. The Prussians moved at blinding speed at the operational and strategic levels, simply because the General Staff allowed for effective coordination, planning, and execution among large (corps and army) units.

Ahhhh, if only I hadn't lost The German Way of War.....

I'll forgo talking about lower-level staff systems. For now. Maybe if the discussion gets going....

Anyways. Before I start talking about Eberron, remember that a General Staff does more than coordinate intelligence. It also coordinates training, logistics, and planning. Only in recent years have things like public relations, computers, and whatnot been introduced to the general staff.

Now. To address the question of General Staffs in Eberron, well....I guess I'd have to say that its one of the instances where the writers of Eberron show that they Did Not Do The Research. That seems odd, seeing as they wrote the setting, but knowledge of military affairs isn't something that can be taken for granted.  Given how the armies of Khorvaire performed in the Last War, and given that military developments seem to be lagging behind social and economic developments, I don't think Khorvaire has the equivilent of a General Staff. Some countries might have started developing nascent forms of General Staffs, but I cannot see any country having a GS.

Peversely enough, one of the reasons I don't see Khorvaire having General Staffs is because of the presence of House Orien. One of the main functions of GS is to coordinate logistics.  Orien, being the chief provider of landbound logistics in Khorvaire, would simplify that horribly complex process, and take that burden off of a commander.

Furthermore, most (all?) of the nations of Khorvaire do not have the professional officer corps that a General Staff requires. Karrnath may be the sole exception here, with the Rekkenmark Academy, but that appears to be primairly an "undergraduate" institution, similar to West Point or Sandhurst. It only appears to have "graduate" componants, similar to the Army War College or Army Command and General Staff College, as informal institutions, in the Order of Rekkenmark. Even that, though, seems to be mostly a prestiege organization.

If Karrnath did have a General Staff, the only way I can see them not ruling the world is if it was a weak institution, or subject to infighting by the Karrnathi Warlords.

Right. I'll let you guys chew that over. I'll check back in later. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Actually, I know what a General Staff does (I enjoy the exposition, however). Sorry if I gave the impression they only interpret intelligence.

What I was saying is that I believe that a dedicated intelligence organization would imply the existence of a General Staff to whom they report. But that's kind of an unfounded assumption. I'm aware of the history of the Prussian General Staff and it's effect on Prussian military efficiency; hence why I asked, since the existence of General Staffs would greatly increase the sophistication of warfare on Khorvaire.

My initial instincts were also that they did not possess General Staffs, which explains the seeming lack of any grand strategies or any decisive military outcomes in the various campaigns undertaken by each of the Five Nations. Especially considering the distances over which the Last War must have been fought, the lack of a centralized military bureaucracy would greatly hamper any decisive action.
Actually, I know what a General Staff does (I enjoy the exposition, however). Sorry if I gave the impression they only interpret intelligence.



Its all good. But, now other people know what a General Staff does, and, as GI Joe told us, Knowing is Half The Battle. (As another poster points out in his sig, the other half is violence).

What I was saying is that I believe that a dedicated intelligence organization would imply the existence of a General Staff to whom they report. But that's kind of an unfounded assumption.



Ohh. Yeah, I thought you were just talking about intel operations in general, not the link between dedicated intel organization (like the Royal Eyes/Dark Lanterns/CIA) and the military.

With that in mind, I can still see an informal organizational structure working. Somewhat haphazardly, but hey.

My initial instincts were also that they did not possess General Staffs, which explains the seeming lack of any grand strategies or any decisive military outcomes in the various campaigns undertaken by each of the Five Nations. Especially considering the distances over which the Last War must have been fought, the lack of a centralized military bureaucracy would greatly hamper any decisive action.



Good to see we're on the same page here. The thing is, though, that von Moltke effectively ran the 1866 war and the Franco-Prussian War from the end of a telegraph wire. I think for a while, Halleck did the same. With Speaking Stones/Telegraphs, it is possible to communicate at long distances; with the Lighting Rail (and other logistical aid from House Orien), it is feasible to supply and move armies at such scale and size.

On the topic of size, though, that's always been an irritant. Again, before the Boardpocalypse, Octavius had a thread showing how sparsely populated Khorvaire was given its 3.5 ECS statistics. Even if the population figures were inflated tenfold, there were still problems, IIRC. I can't remember how the 4e ECG changed things, but I think the biggest thing was that the map scale shrank? Meh. I just recall looking at Forge of War, and calculating a Mror regiment to be 72 dwarves strong, and promptly facepalming. I don't have FoW with me, though, so someone else is welcome to do the calculations.

Nevertheless, if one country was going to have a staff system, it probably would be Karrnath. After all, Rekkenmark Academy is the premier "undergraduate" service institution in Khorvaire, similar to West Point or Sandhurst. Furthermore, with the Order of Rekkenmark, there is a group with the necessary intellectual acumen to learn/discover the skills and functionality of a staff system.  Conceptually, the concept of a staff system could be born in an Order of Rekkenmark meeting, with a codified version of the staff system concept being taught as "graduate" classes at Rekkenmark. Having an academy teach "graduate" and "undergraduate" is almost exactly similar, to my knowledge, to the Prussian Kriegsakademie. Could a General Staff be Karrnath's biggest weapon in the Next War?

Nevertheless, the biggest problem I can see with Karrnath developing a staff system is the warlords.  Simply put, they are too autonomous and fragmented to be controlled and directed effectively. In fact, I may go so far as to say that this fractionalization is Karrnath's biggest weakness.  I can easily see warlords duplicating functional areas, withholding help, and in general politicking their way into disaster. One of the facets of Karrnath I wanted to use in my games was one warlord who ran the Office of Naval Intelligence (come on! the acronym is "ONI"!) politicking with a rival who runs another intelligence organ (or perhaps his own).

As for the other nations, none really stand out as having a possibility of having a staff system. Breland is marked by enthusiastic amateurs; they may be competant, and they may be incompetant.  The same goes for Aundair, to my knowledge. Cyre didn't have much of a standing army, so I can't see them having one, and Thrane, well, just no.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
I would say that one of Kaius' primary goals in preparing Karrnath for the Next War (I don't believe the hibbity about him being a proponent of peace) would be to reduce or eliminate the power of the warlords as much as he could, in order to make this sort of development possible (hell, he's a vampire; maybe he used his supernatural powers to "divine" the idea). All in all, Karrnath seems by far the best placed to actually dominate Khorvaire in any future conflict, since it makes up for it's manpower shortages with undead and is the only Nation with a nascent professional officer corps.
I would say that one of Kaius' primary goals in preparing Karrnath for the Next War (I don't believe the hibbity about him being a proponent of peace) would be to reduce or eliminate the power of the warlords as much as he could, in order to make this sort of development possible (hell, he's a vampire; maybe he used his supernatural powers to "divine" the idea). All in all, Karrnath seems by far the best placed to actually dominate Khorvaire in any future conflict, since it makes up for it's manpower shortages with undead and is the only Nation with a nascent professional officer corps.

Yeah, but each other nation has something going for it as well, and just like Karrnath, each has something going against it ;) It is what I love about Eberron. Each DM can run the next Great War the way he wants, stick to the core setting and get a completely different result. The rulers need the PCs to deal with the downsides, placing the players right in the center of the conflict as a good politically orientated campaign should be ;)

Quite true, MadFox. Its just that, to a grognard such as myself, the prospect of Karrnath developing a truely professional officer corps and staff system is...well, a big damn deal. I would go so far as to say that it is the biggest forseeable change I can see happening in the fundamental way war is waged in Eberron.

I mean....Aundair would...use more magic. Breland would....do something new. Thrane would...pray really hard. Sure, they may be more efficient than they were in the Last War, have newer or better toys/weapons/whatever....but I cannot forsee any nation having a fundamental revolution in military affairs. That is what I see Karrnath developing a staff system and professional officer corps as. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Allow me to setup myself on the opposite side of the divide from Ogiwan: That the professionalization of the officers corps and the rise of some manner of staff system was a inevitability due to the nature of the Last War, and that both happened long before the "present" in Eberron, circa 1000 A.K.

I'd actually go further than arguing professionalization was a result of the Last War, in fact. I'd argue -- and have run -- that it predated the dissolution of Galifar, with the Rekkenmark Academy having been explicitly founded by the crown for the purpose of expunging the national parochialisms from officer-candidates while creating loyal and learned professionals to lead the imperial army. The curriculum at Rekkenmark may well given rise to a nascent general staff, too, prior to 894. Whether it did or not is dependant upon what kind of staff is being envisioned.

When the term "general staff" is bandied about, it tends to refer to one of two things. The first is the sort already covered at-length by Ogiwan, that embodied by the Prussian Great General Staff, which tasked itself with writing "solutions" to national security problems and, in the leisure of peacetime, devising all manner of plans for a wide variety of contingencies and then pigeonholing them for just such an occasion. Jarot I's paranoia would seem conducive to setting up just such an entity to make sure Galifar had a war plan for any situation: In retrospect, it's almost facepalm-worthy that he did mandate the creation of such.

The other is the more technical definition of such a staff, bereft of its German historic connotations: "[A] group of officers and enlisted personnel that provides a bi-directional flow of information between a commanding and subordinate military units," as the All-Mighty Wiki puts it. Given the immense size of Khorvaire, the distances between theaters of operation and Thronehold, and the complexities imposed when the lines-of-supply and -communication are owned and/or operated predominantly by three separate magical cartels, it seems inevitable that some manner of staff system would have had to develop to keep Galifar's armies moving and fed following the advent of the lightning rail. (It was, after all, the invention of railroads IRL that provided the major impetus for the founding of most of the modern staff colleges.) At any rate, it's conceivable to see both a general staff of the Prussian variety, along with a more traditional staff arrangement at lower echelons, arising in Galifar prior to the death of Jarot I.

Following his death and the splintering of Galifar, it would seem likely that each of the Five Nations would attempt to replicate the military institutions of the fallen imperial state, with them evolving in tune with national characters as the war progressed. Ironically, I've always rolled Cyre as having the most adept and robust staff system, while Karrnath remained the most resistant to it. The latter because I tend to mate the Napoleonic marshal system to Wilhelmine constitutionalism: Between Kaius, his War Minister, the Military Cabinet, general staff, knightly orders, and the individual warlords, most of the time it's impossible to tell who has authority to do much of anything.
Juums, I really like that. While I think the Last War as described indicates that none of the Five Nations really had a General Staff (but possibly lower level staffs, just as any efficient army tends to develop on an ad hoc basis), I may have to edit my own version of Eberron to fit this model.

Part of the reason why Cyre could have lasted so long against attacks from all sides could have been that they had inherited the Imperial General Staff, which may have been a bastion of traditionalism and therefore whose members may have sided with Mishann in the struggle for the throne. If enough of the Galifaran officer corps went over to Cyre, it could have significantly drained Rekkenmark of experienced staff officers with which to teach the next generation. This, combined with what you described about Karrnath, could have ensured that Cyre really was the only nation with a General Staff and the means to train new members.
Re: the Imperial General Staff joining Mishann, I'd say that could be applied writ large to most of the military. Whatever one thinks about the circumstances of the succession following Jarot I, it's fairly clear that, at least initially, the military owed its fealty to Mishann. If we assume that the officer corps is professionalized to any meaningful degree, then, it would follow that their support would be passed to the time-honored successor of the late king.

I always thought the plight of the imperial army deserved better shrift than it got in Forge of War, as what they or did not do could well have changed the course of Khorvaire's history. In the personal history I've rolled for my games -- the good bits of which I really do need to post here, someday -- the army is the cause of the war. Following the initial abortive clash of arms between Mishann's loyalists and her siblings, she began securing the strategic approaches to Cyre so as to guarantee her power: When it came time to secure Vathirond, the lord-mayor -- an appointee of Wroann -- balked and denied access to the city to Mishann's forces. The imperial loyalists immediately besieged the city: The city's garrison, manned by the imperial army, not only would not give access to the walls to Mishann's forces but actively contested the siege. This "mutiny" against their nominal commander-in-chief set the post-Battle of Scion's Sound narrative: The army itself did not recognize Mishann as the queen of Galifar, even though most of the military bureaucracy had relocated to Metrol to be with her. The revolt of the garrison of Vathirond succeeded in shattering a growing consensus amongst the ruling classes that Wroann, Kaius, and Thalin were in the wrong while, simultaneously, granting them a newfound swell of legitimacy. It also provided justification for the more ambitious middling officers to offer their allegiances to the governor-generals of the respective nations where they resided, which would account for much of the withering and dismemberment of the imperial army in the following months. And the rest, as they say, is history.

To change topics, I'd like to touch on the issue initially broached about army sizes. I flat-out hate Forge of War in this department, for reasons that've been tread over a thousand times. It's a piss-poor guide for trying to gauge these things, as the largest army to take the field in the book is a 100,000-man force raised by Thrane in the 970s, while the "large" army of Breland at Cairn Hill was only on the order of 40,000. Assuming that the population numbers in the ECS are junk and can be increaded by 20-25x to provide reaosnable population densities, and given the decent-sized industrial base with which to work with, one of the Five Nations should at the very least be able to put into field a force of the size deployed by a major power of the Napoleonic Wars: During the War of the Third Coalition, the Grande Armee topped out at approximately 200,000 men, while the Austrian imperial army was nominally capable of deploying 233,000. If we assume reasonably sophisticated reserve systems, there's no reason to think that total army sizes couldn't rival the mobilized armies of the North German Confederation or the Reichswehr of August 1914, at just over a million men.

Of course, at that size, you really can't deploy the army anymore and have to an army. My general rule remains three corps to an army, and three divisions to a corps, at ~10,000 men to a division. Cut and dry, I suppose, but it works well enough. (Then again, I run around with a game that features the fact four Cyran armies survived the Mourning and are the "guests" of the halflings of the Talenta Plains as a plot point, so what do I know?)
Re: the Imperial General Staff joining Mishann, I'd say that could be applied writ large to most of the military. Whatever one thinks about the circumstances of the succession following Jarot I, it's fairly clear that, at least initially, the military owed its fealty to Mishann. If we assume that the officer corps is professionalized to any meaningful degree, then, it would follow that their support would be passed to the time-honored successor of the late king.

I always thought the plight of the imperial army deserved better shrift than it got in Forge of War, as what they or did not do could well have changed the course of Khorvaire's history. In the personal history I've rolled for my games -- the good bits of which I really do need to post here, someday -- the army is the cause of the war. Following the initial abortive clash of arms between Mishann's loyalists and her siblings, she began securing the strategic approaches to Cyre so as to guarantee her power: When it came time to secure Vathirond, the lord-mayor -- an appointee of Wroann -- balked and denied access to the city to Mishann's forces. The imperial loyalists immediately besieged the city: The city's garrison, manned by the imperial army, not only would not give access to the walls to Mishann's forces but actively contested the siege. This "mutiny" against their nominal commander-in-chief set the post-Battle of Scion's Sound narrative: The army itself did not recognize Mishann as the queen of Galifar, even though most of the military bureaucracy had relocated to Metrol to be with her. The revolt of the garrison of Vathirond succeeded in shattering a growing consensus amongst the ruling classes that Wroann, Kaius, and Thalin were in the wrong while, simultaneously, granting them a newfound swell of legitimacy. It also provided justification for the more ambitious middling officers to offer their allegiances to the governor-generals of the respective nations where they resided, which would account for much of the withering and dismemberment of the imperial army in the following months. And the rest, as they say, is history.


I love this concept. That is all.

To change topics, I'd like to touch on the issue initially broached about army sizes. I flat-out hate Forge of War in this department, for reasons that've been tread over a thousand times. It's a piss-poor guide for trying to gauge these things, as the largest army to take the field in the book is a 100,000-man force raised by Thrane in the 970s, while the "large" army of Breland at Cairn Hill was only on the order of 40,000. Assuming that the population numbers in the ECS are junk and can be increaded by 20-25x to provide reaosnable population densities, and given the decent-sized industrial base with which to work with, one of the Five Nations should at the very least be able to put into field a force of the size deployed by a major power of the Napoleonic Wars: During the War of the Third Coalition, the Grande Armee topped out at approximately 200,000 men, while the Austrian imperial army was nominally capable of deploying 233,000. If we assume reasonably sophisticated reserve systems, there's no reason to think that total army sizes couldn't rival the mobilized armies of the North German Confederation or the Reichswehr of August 1914, at just over a million men.

Of course, at that size, you really can't deploy the army anymore and have to an army. My general rule remains three corps to an army, and three divisions to a corps, at ~10,000 men to a division. Cut and dry, I suppose, but it works well enough. (Then again, I run around with a game that features the fact four Cyran armies survived the Mourning and are the "guests" of the halflings of the Talenta Plains as a plot point, so what do I know?)


I've had this thought as well before, which would make warfare on Khorvaire look more like the way that wars were (reportedly) fought during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods of ancient Chinese history. Massed crossbows, huge cavalry armies, and hundreds of thousands of infantrymen. I think one ancient source claimed that the standing army of the State of Q'in was over 1,000,000 strong.
I know I've seen claims that the ancient Chinese put a million men into the field. Such are probably worth taking with a grain of salt: After all, Herodotus made the same claim about the Persians at Thermopylae. But such is quibbling, as I agree with you that conventional warfare in Khorvaire is dominated by masses of infantry wielding repeating crossbows and fire team-deployed wandsmen.

And speaking of the Three Kingdoms era in China, I always thought that was a good model for the conduct of the Last War: Bouts of high-intensity warfare separated by markedly longer spells of low-intensity skirmishing or actual peace. Really, this is the only way I'd think you could get both the total war that is at times hinted at in the sourcebooks without everyone being materially and fiscally bankrupt in a decade. The interesting aspect of that is that most of the Last War was rather peacable in the grand scheme of things, with years or even decades going by on a passive front before it becomes active again. (A favorite example of this sort of thing that I've trotted out for my PCs before was that, in 948, Cyre attempted to amphibious assault on The Hilt: Given Sharn's removal from the major theaters of operation, the appearance of Cyran warships off the coast was a major psychological blow, which continues to haunt the city to the present, despite no further signs of Cyran aggression for the rest of the war.)

On another army size tangent, one of the things I thought never gets enough attention is the fact that army sizes, during the course of the Last War, probably ballooned. By Forge of War, army sizes at the close of the war are not much different than at the start. Which strikes me as incredibly silly: At the start of the war, Khorvaire's core human settlements have been at peace for the better part of a millennium, while at the end of the Last War they've been fighting each other for four generations. The military force required to accomplish a given task is bound to increase as the experience and quality of the two sides improves, as it is bound to do in such a long conflict: So it would stand to reason that the forces of the combatant powers would increase to provide it. To pay Forge of War a rare compliment, I think it gets the feel of the armies of the pre-900 or so Last War down fairly well, when the fighting was basically the War of Jarot's Succession and before both the kingdom had been shattered and the resources of nations broguht to bear on the conflict. Beyond that, though? It's birdcage lining.
I know I've seen claims that the ancient Chinese put a million men into the field. Such are probably worth taking with a grain of salt: After all, Herodotus made the same claim about the Persians at Thermopylae. But such is quibbling, as I agree with you that conventional warfare in Khorvaire is dominated by masses of infantry wielding repeating crossbows and fire team-deployed wandsmen.


I don't know about fire teams of wandsmen, necessarily, but only because the crafting of a magic wand by a man in a workshop wouldn't lend itself to those sorts of tactics very well; crafting a barely fit sword or a spearhead that only needs to survive a battle or two and some small skirmishes is very much easier. Also, I always avoid the repeating crossbows, because a real Chinese repeating crossbow couldn't hurt a fly without a poison tip. When I said masses of crossbows, I'm talking Hero style volleys.

And speaking of the Three Kingdoms era in China, I always thought that was a good model for the conduct of the Last War: Bouts of high-intensity warfare separated by markedly longer spells of low-intensity skirmishing or actual peace. Really, this is the only way I'd think you could get both the total war that is at times hinted at in the sourcebooks without everyone being materially and fiscally bankrupt in a decade.


I actually wasn't speaking of the Three Kingdoms period, I was talking about Warring States, as in pre-Imperial. Sun Tzu and Confucius, etc. The point is moot, though, since the style of warfare is similar to the Three Kingdoms (although the Warring States were all far more centralized and bureaucratic than the warlords of the Three Kingdoms period).
I don't know about fire teams of wandsmen, necessarily, but only because the crafting of a magic wand by a man in a workshop wouldn't lend itself to those sorts of tactics very well; crafting a barely fit sword or a spearhead that only needs to survive a battle or two and some small skirmishes is very much easier. Also, I always avoid the repeating crossbows, because a real Chinese repeating crossbow couldn't hurt a fly without a poison tip. When I said masses of crossbows, I'm talking Hero style volleys.



Re: repeating crossbows, I'm stuck in 3.x mechanics-speak, even though they had little bearing on real-life's Chinese repeating crossbows. I suspect I also have a bit different view on the tactical deployment of infantry masses: While I think massive crossbow volleys are an invaluable part of the general's toolkit, I always envisioned the armies of the Last War being drilled to prefer free-firing skirmish lines to minimize the risks posed by battlefield AoE effects. (Like volleys of arrows/bolts, for instance.)

Said AoE effects usually being provided by a fire team's wandsman, armed with an eternal wand of burning hands or color spray. By my original statement, I'd meant that a wandsman was incorporated into every fire team, not fire teams composed of wandsman. So a typical Cyran fire team of 993 A.K. might well consist of three crossbowmen and a wandsman, with two or three such fire teams to a squad. But that's because I always saw the Five Nations mass-producing folks with at least one level of magewright, expressly to provide a large enough pool of wand-users to allow such devolution.

I actually wasn't speaking of the Three Kingdoms period, I was talking about Warring States, as in pre-Imperial. Sun Tzu and Confucius, etc. The point is moot, though, since the style of warfare is similar to the Three Kingdoms (although the Warring States were all far more centralized and bureaucratic than the warlords of the Three Kingdoms period).



You'll have to pardon my horrible ignorance of Chinese history. What Chinese history I do know either comes from Koei's Rot3K games or from the past two centuries or so. I've always used the Napoleonic Wars as my reference point for describing the politics of the Last War, but there's relatively too much warfighting and not enough peace to make a good model.
Juums, I'd just like to say, "Welcome." I think you've found your place on these boards.

That said, I think that you have changed my position on the existance of professionalization and the staff system in Eberron. The suggestion that Cyre inherited the Imperial General Staff is nothing short of brilliant, IMO. Furthermore, as the war wore on, the staff officers trained at Rekkenmark declined in number, and officers haphazardly trained by those staff officers replaced them.

As for the other nations creating staff systems as well, eh, I dunno about that. It just doesn't feel right to me.

I dont know enough about Chinese history to comment on the Warring States period.  However, I wonder if, in Eberron, most of the activity was directed towards sieges. Kinda like in the Medieval period, or in the pre-Napoleonic period. The big goal was to take whatever fort/castle/city, and the armies only rarely met in open-field engagements. When a besieging army was threatened by another large army, the siege is broken off.

Of course, if you want that level of simmering combat, just have constant skirmishing. Armies are maneuvering to lay siege, but their recon/screening elements are constantly engaging similar enemy units, in order to a.) fight for information, and b.) deny information to the enemy.

edit: Oh, also: When did Aundair take control and lose control of Rekkenmark? I seem to remember reading somewhere that they had it for a long bloody time. If you figure that the bulk of the staff officers went to Cyre at the begining of the war, and any that didn't sided with Karrnath, it is quite possible for nobody to have been able to train staff officers for a big chunk of the Last War. Perhaps the whole staff concept is being rebuilt?

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
As for the other nations creating staff systems as well, eh, I dunno about that. It just doesn't feel right to me.



The Last War lasted for a century. It just seems impossible that such would not evolve in some form beyond Karrnath and Cyre, especially given that such a staff structure is part of the military tradition of Galifar. (If one opts to go with that bit of fanon, at any rate.) Whether such staffs would be any good is an entirely different question. Cyre and Karrnath were the only two nations whose staffs were competent and actually listened to, while I've always seen the Thrane general staff being a conflicted and ineffectual organization which suffers from permanent friction between its technocrats and crusaders; the Brelish general staff as being a thoroughly amateurish affair due to the institutional culture of the Brelish Army; and the Aundairian general staff as being perfectly competent but routinely having its sound reasoning ignored by the aristocratic generalship of that particular nation. Dysfunctional as they might be, I can't help but not imagine each combatant nation having built up something approximating one.

A better question, I think, might be whether the nations created by the Thronehold Accords have their own staffing arrangements. The most interesting to find out about, I think, would be Darguun. But that's because I've long been running an alternative Darguun, where Har'luuc plays the role of a Cyran-educated and -trained modernizer, a la Ito Hirobumi.

Of course, if you want that level of simmering combat, just have constant skirmishing. Armies are maneuvering to lay siege, but their recon/screening elements are constantly engaging similar enemy units, in order to a.) fight for information, and b.) deny information to the enemy.



I was thinking more on the grand strategic level than the operational one, though I agree that for good stretches of the Last War warfare probably resembled Eighteenth Century wars of maneuver. (To the point that I must resist the urge to write-up an episode featuring the Aundairian-Thrane equivalent of the Potato War.) To return to my previously citation of the Napoleonic Wars, Russia's experience really tracks with what I think the "standard" experience was of the Last War: It sat out most of the Wars of the French Revolution, only to briefly join the War of the Second Coalition in 1800, then back out of that on a whim because of the czar's madness, then intervene as a major combatant with varying degrees of success and bursts of peace following the Wars of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Coalitions, before finally achieving victory as a combatant in the War of the Sixth Coalition. The only power that I envision as having basically had to fight every campaigning season for the duration of the Last War was Thrane, and that's because it was surrounded on all sides.

I was thinking more on the grand strategic level than the operational one, though I agree that for good stretches of the Last War warfare probably resembled Eighteenth Century wars of maneuver. (To the point that I must resist the urge to write-up an episode featuring the Aundairian-Thrane equivalent of the Potato War.) To return to my previously citation of the Napoleonic Wars, Russia's experience really tracks with what I think the "standard" experience was of the Last War: It sat out most of the Wars of the French Revolution, only to briefly join the War of the Second Coalition in 1800, then back out of that on a whim because of the czar's madness, then intervene as a major combatant with varying degrees of success and bursts of peace following the Wars of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Coalitions, before finally achieving victory as a combatant in the War of the Sixth Coalition. The only power that I envision as having basically had to fight every campaigning season for the duration of the Last War was Thrane, and that's because it was surrounded on all sides.


Actually, I always took it that Cyre was the nation beset on all sides, but that's based mostly on the battles taking place right before the Mourning. I also assumed that, in a twist of historical fate, it would make sense for them to be the most under-pressure of the Five Nations (and surviving Cyrans might well attest this to the knowledge that the Cyran monarchy was the rightful heir to the throne of Galifar, and that the other nations continually attacked her out of jealousy).

From what I know of the Warring States period, the armies of that time greatly resembled the armies of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars moreso than the Kabinettskriege that occurred before, with massive armies of crossbowmen, supported by pikemen, screened by enormous numbers of chariotry and/or cavalry (the Chinese switched mostly to cavalry by the time Q'in started kicking ass, but chariots were never wholly abandoned; I could see Dwarves having a tradition of chariotry, honestly, because their stature must make it difficult to ride a horse). The conservative estimates of armies of the period still range into the hundreds of thousands, so the comparison with the armies of the combatant nations fighting Napoleon fits perfectly.

In fact, you can get a sense for the similarity of the military situation of the Warring States compared to the military situation of Napoleon's time by reading Sun Tzu and Clausewitz back-to-back.
Actually, I always took it that Cyre was the nation beset on all sides, but that's based mostly on the battles taking place right before the Mourning. I also assumed that, in a twist of historical fate, it would make sense for them to be the most under-pressure of the Five Nations (and surviving Cyrans might well attest this to the knowledge that the Cyran monarchy was the rightful heir to the throne of Galifar, and that the other nations continually attacked her out of jealousy).



Oh, you're quite right that Forge of War goes out of its way to belabor the point that Cyre was constantly besieged on all sides and was generally everyone's punching bag. The problem with that is Cyre's strategic geography calls bull crap on such, which either means that the authors of Forge of War are somewhat ignorant of military matters or that the Cyrans had the Idiot Ball welded into their hands. As Forge of War is rife with examples of the former, I'm inclined to believe this is another example thereof.

To make my point, let's check a map of Khorvaire. While it is true that Cyre is surrounded by hostiles -- at the start of the Last War, it was Karrnath, Breland, and Thrane versus Cyre and Aundair, with the first three sharing borders with Cyre. But Cyre's entire frontier with Thrane, and most of its frontier with Karrnath, is a water boundary: An arm of Scion's Sound in the west and the River Cyre in the east, which from both the 3.5e and 4e maps are generally wide obstacles that cannot be crossed without the undertaking of a major amphibious operation of the sort readily contestable by Cyran riverine forces. Pre-war Karrnath's border with pre-war Cyre, along what is nowadays the Talenta-Valenar frontier, does offer two viable invasion routes running above and below Lake Cyre. The route below Lake Cyre, aimed at Tronish, requires an army marching around the lake and across the northern tip of the Blade Desert, an unfavorable lengthening of your lines-of-supply and inhospitable terrain. The route above Lake Cyre is a straight-shot towards Metrol, which still requires fording the River Cyre while simultaneously attempting to invest one of the greatest cities in Khorvaire. The direct route is also so blatently obvious that employing it forfeits any hope of tactical, let alone operational or strategic, surprise. There is also the logistics issue that plagues marching below the lake, as your extended lines-of-supply and communication can be interdicted with relative ease by Cyran raiders.

Breland, though, has five avenues to invade Cyre from its pre-war borders: Above the River Brey, below the River Brey from the direction of Vathirond, through the great gap in the Seawall Mountains which Kennrun anchors, through the Marguul Pass, and across the River Korran from the direction of Korranburg. The last two routes are a tough road to hoe due to the poorly developed infrastructure that serve them and the amount of marching that must be done through lands filled with lots of (potentially) hostile goblinoids. Invading above the River Brey suffers from all the problems imposed by a river crossing, which makes it suboptimal. The Vathirond and Kennrun invasion routes are fairly open and the roads they march along lead right into the Cyran heartland: That said, they suffer from the problems associated with the invasion route above the River Cyre, in that they're obvious to the point that achieving any kind of surprise is nearly impossible.

...wow, that rant about Cyre's strategic geography kind of got out of hand, didn't it? It's because I've spent entirely too much time fulminating about it. Probably has a lot to do with the fact that, in Forge of War, it seems like Cyre's being invaded every other week. I'd also like to note that that particular book has it inverted as to when Cyre's at its most vulnerable: Cyre, at the beginning of the Last War, truly was surrounded by enemies on all sides and threatened with being snuffed out, with Thrane, Breland, and Karrnath in active collusion to conquer and subdue it. Once that initial coalition was sundered by the vagaries of royal politics, the direct threat of being overrun diminished. Sure, the nation would invariably be threatened by some combination of Thrane, Breland, and Karrnath, as well as eventually Darguun and Valenar for that matter, but it would never rival the raw forces at the disposal of the former three as they were actively making common cause at the start of the war. Cyre's problem during the bulk of the Last War was not so much one of national survival as much as that of strategic mismatch, with its available resources never meshing well with its war-time objectives.
I suppose I had never taken a serious look at the strategic geography of the Five Nations, since the maps never seemed very detailed or plausible to me. Thanks for the insight, though; it certainly has altered my view on Cyre's position throughout the war. It may be necessary, at this point, for me to write an alternate (broad) overview of the history of the Last War should I run another Eberron game in the future.

Back onto the topic of the sizes of the armies of the Five Nations, the last I checked even in 4th Edition the size of Khorvaire was approximately equivalent to Russia (even kind of looks like it, now that I think about it...). Going by your estimate of 20x-25x the numbers usually given for population to achieve the correct densities, I estimated that the population of the Five Nations would be somewhere in the range of 230-280 million; still a pretty low density, but certainly more realistic when considering that Galifar was supposed to be something approximating a federal state.

This would place the upper estimate for a nation like Breland (with the largest population) at around 75 million, and the lower estimate for a nation like Cyre (with the smallest population) at around 30 million. This would actually place their theoretical manpower capacity in the range of the combatant nations of WWI, although I would allow for the idea that at the beginning of the war reserve systems weren't in place since Galifar had no real strategic threats to warrant mobilization plans for millions of men.

Just an interesting thought; at the height of the Last War, the fighting may have been on a scale not generally suggested in most fantasy worlds. Even bigger than Warring States China, in fact.
Just an interesting thought; at the height of the Last War, the fighting may have been on a scale not generally suggested in most fantasy worlds. Even bigger than Warring States China, in fact.



Wait, Eberron-as-is or Eberron-as-us?

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Just an interesting thought; at the height of the Last War, the fighting may have been on a scale not generally suggested in most fantasy worlds. Even bigger than Warring States China, in fact.



Wait, Eberron-as-is or Eberron-as-us?



Eberron-as-us. Clearly it wasn't intended for anyone to extrapolate that the Five Nations could field million man armies. I think it's refreshing, though. Kind of reminds me of the Silmarillion, when he writes about the War of Wrath and how Morgoth's hosts "filled the whole of the North". I always envisioned that this meant millions of orcs swarming around in vast armies. It makes the battles more akin to WWI or WWII offensives (especially WWII on the Eastern Front), where even though they are fighting in close order with melee and short-ranged missile weapons, there are simply so many men involved that "battles" last for days or weeks instead of hours.

It also makes the effect that the Last War would have on the psyches of the inhabitants of Khorvaire all the more traumatic, since this went on for 100 years. Now, instead of thinking of the Last War as the sort of chevauchee raiding of the Hundred Year's War, I will be thinking of it in terms of vast offensives fought across huge swathes of territory. The casualties would be so high and the fighting so brutal that the fighting would be punctuated by long periods of inactivity.
Right. I was a little confused, 'cause I couldn't see how Eberron-as-is could support million-man armies.

Hmm. Now, do we need to differentiate between 3.5 Eberron and 4e Eberron? I don't really think we do, but 4e Eberron is smaller.....

Anyways. The thing is those "long periods of inactivity" would certainly help amortize Warforged units. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Right. I was a little confused, 'cause I couldn't see how Eberron-as-is could support million-man armies.

Hmm. Now, do we need to differentiate between 3.5 Eberron and 4e Eberron? I don't really think we do, but 4e Eberron is smaller.....

Anyways. The thing is those "long periods of inactivity" would certainly help amortize Warforged units. 



From looking at the 4e Eberron map, Khorvaire is still approximately the size of Russia. I got into Eberron with the 4th Edition, so I don't know how large Khorvaire was supposed to be in 3.5e (I have 3.5e books, but I never really studied the map). Was it supposed to be much larger? Or was Eberron as a whole supposed to be larger? Perhaps they just reduced the amount of ocean on the planet and the continents are all the same size. In any case, from the scale evident on the 4e map, it's still enormous and would still require some ~280 million people to even have a rural population density.

I think Forge of War would still be a good reference for figuring out the pattern of offensive periods during the Last War. Obviously, just before the Mourning was the last.
Considering the size of Cyre, and the fact that large part of it was wilderness under threat by goblins and worse things, its geography might very well be the reason it survived till the end. Furthermore, in a land rife with magic and flying mounts, water in itself posses less of a hindrance than it did in pre-airplane RL warfare. Another thing is that Cyre seems to lack mineral resources. Its mountains were goblin invested, and they also lost them later in the war. They might very well lack easy access to wood and metals.

Side note: Breland's plus points are its size, population and large productivity both for food and other products. Its climate is also much more favorable than other regions. It might not have the organization of Karnnath, but I can easily see any country invading it, facing the same issues Japan faced in China or German in USSR. At some point share numerical advantage is going to pose an problem. Not that this is automatically going to happen, but it is a possibility, especially if you have PCs fighting on Breland's side whose tactics seriously delay any opposing army.
Considering the size of Cyre, and the fact that large part of it was wilderness under threat by goblins and worse things, its geography might very well be the reason it survived till the end. Furthermore, in a land rife with magic and flying mounts, water in itself posses less of a hindrance than it did in pre-airplane RL warfare.



Water remains a major obstacle to the movement of armies, to this very day, though modern combat engineering and amphibious assault capabilities are more than up to the task. I will agree that water poses no real barrier to moving small numbers of men, such as an adventuring party: But in the real world, the same holds true for determined bands of determined infiltrators. Once you get onto the scale of moving thousands of men, and the baggage train required to support them on the opposite bank, it becomes exponentially more difficult. Not to say that it is, or should be, impossible. Just that assaults across major water obstacles such as the Rivers Cyre and Brey are likely to be shied away from whenever possible due to the difficulties entailed in breaching them.

Another thing is that Cyre seems to lack mineral resources. Its mountains were goblin invested, and they also lost them later in the war. They might very well lack easy access to wood and metals.



We really don't have a good enough picture of non-Mournland Cyre's economic or mineral geography to make such a statement. The extent of what we know is really confined to a couple of throwaway lines and here there, such as Eston boasting adamantine mines which collapsed during the Day of Mourning. The said, I think the "mountains = minerals" logic is a wee-bit flawed, to the extent that Eberron has sufficient earth-moving at its disposal to make pit mining viable and thus opening up areas not traditionally considered ripe for exploitation. I actually always saw pit mining as being the preferred way to harvest dragonshards: As Eberron dragonshards are always relatively close to the surface, digging exceptionally large holes in search of them always made intrinsic sense.

Side note: Breland's plus points are its size, population and large productivity both for food and other products. Its climate is also much more favorable than other regions. It might not have the organization of Karnnath, but I can easily see any country invading it, facing the same issues Japan faced in China or German in USSR.



Might I quibble with your history a little? I think I get where you're going, the troubles faced by the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War and by the Germans post-Barbarossa are really well-translated to the Last War. As the problem for both the Germans and the Japanese was an inability to bring sufficient force to bear at the decisive point: This was a function of their undertaking of multi-front warmaking and having their industrial base inexorably wittled away by Allied strategic airpower and naval control. (All right, that's a horrid simplification of the Second Sino-Japanese War, but that's because fleshing out all the nuances of that conflict relative to this would take days.)

At any rate, what I think you're trying to get at is conceiving of space as a medium of force. Twaddly as that sounds, it means using one's own immense interior reaches as a force multiplier: This kind of thinking was most prominently advertised by the pre-February Revolution STAVKA, whose default reactions after disasters like Gorlice-Tarnow was to indiffidently shrug and withdraw 150 miles deeper into Poland and then White Russia, content in the fact that every mile withdrawal was one mile closer to your supply bases, while the opposite was true of your enemy. The idea of sacrificing national territory so as to tire-out the enemy and guarantee your eventual recapture of it seems a profoundly Russian idea, come to think of it.

At any rate, given Brelish power is concentrated in the Wroat-Sharn corridor and is far removed from the frontiers where armies would be marching, I could very much see the Brelish crown engaging in such practices. It also further provides a reason for the falling out between Breland and Zilargo, giving the latter a reason to resent the rule of the former and to actively pursue independence. Whereas the kings of Breland have the vast prarie buffer north and east of Wroat with which to work with, substantive amounts of Zilargo's settlements lay between a rough line running from the Howling Peaks and Thurim Bay in the west and the Seawall Mountains in the east, with several major cities on the western slopes of the latter. Given that the Seawall Mountains delineated the border of a major enemy combatant, defense of Zilargo required vigorous and aggressive action at the point of incursion, something that would have clashed horribly with a strategic culture that used space as a medium of force. (Seeking independence due to the perception that Breland was dilly-dallying and dragging its feet in its defense of the Zil frontier makes for a better rationale such actions than what's presented in Forge of War, methinks, which constitued the Trust subtlety changing the name of who it paid fealty to and sage-nodding.)

At some point share numerical advantage is going to pose an problem. Not that this is automatically going to happen, but it is a possibility, especially if you have PCs fighting on Breland's side whose tactics seriously delay any opposing army.



I think this raises a good point: For all the talk we do about the size of armies, it really depends upon what you want your PCs doing. If you want the PCs to be able to decide battles and alter the course of the war, then small armies of the sort described in Forge of War seeking each other out and engaging in an hours-long pitched medieval battle work perfectly. In that kind of environment, the combat is simple enough and the numbers small enough that a small, intrepid band of special operators can engage in derring-do and win the day for their side by infiltrating the enemy's camp and setting fire to his baggage train, for instance.

But when you start getting into the size that has been talked about in this thread, with attacking armies numbering in the hundreds of thousands, things change. What can a party hope to do to directly alter the course of an offensive that's got hundreds of thousands of men moving forward across a front that's hundreds of miles wide? Sure, they can blow bridges, engage in guerilla warfare, or maybe even try a decapitation strike: The former two will, at best, merely slow down the unrolling of the offensive by a few hours or days at best, while the latter will not be capable of producing the desired results, because any organization capable of planning and unrolling such an operation has the organizational depth to replace whoever the PCs killed. At that point, the war becomes a backdrop or part of the scenery, rather than an event which the PCs can shape through their actions.

Personally, I'm a fan of the latter, because I like the adventurers-as-special-operators motif, in that they help win wars by doing things that the rank-and-file cannot, but at the same time they cannot win wars through their actions alone. And I like having the big, expansive, high-intensity war of the sort modern players can associate with as a backdrop for the markedly smaller things which are happening militarily in the post-Thronehold world.

I also always preferred the latter, Juums, as war-as-a-backdrop has a sort of desperate theme to it. I never really like the idea of a small band of heroes in a world such as Eberron decisively ending a war between nations such as the Five, who are obviously presented as heavily populated, centralized, almost-industrial nation-states. It strains too hard on my suspension of disbelief (I know, I know, it's a world of magic...).

Also, I like giving the players the impression that the ignition of the Next War is something they should want to avoid at all costs, because once it begins their role in the greater events of the war would be marginal, at best. So the events leading up to war become all the more dramatic as the players try desperately to prevent it from actually happening.
Juums, fantastic job with the reason for the Breland-Zilargo split. Such a difference in defensive priorities makes perfect sense.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Juums & Ogiwan, do either or both of you think it would be safe to say that, considering geography, the Thrane-Aundair Front was probably the largest front of the war?
Ehhhhhh.....maybe.  In terms of length, sure, probably. In terms of approachable paths, not so much. If you look at the topo maps in the 3.5 ECS, you see that there is a range of hills running north-south near the Aundair-Thrane border. That cuts the approaches down to about four; a fairly sub-par one vic Fort Light-Marketplace, one near Morningcrest-Ghalt (though that one is guarded by Tower Valient), one running along the Flamekeep-Lathleer Road, and one running from Dashkaraan-Fairhaven (guarded by Tower Valient). There also appears to be a small pass, guarded by the Tower Vigilent. That is just for the main AO between Aundair and Thrane; I'm not looking at the Thaliost AO.

Looking at the 4e map, we see Morningcrest connected to the rest of eastern Thrane by a network of secondary roads, as is Fort Light. Nevertheless, Aundair seems really built for north-south travel, and the only east-west travel is to the Eldeen Reaches. Thrane seems to be better set up for east-west travel, but I guess that logistical strength may be negated by the stated speed and strategic mobility of Aundairan troops.

Still, though, I can easily see the Thrane-Aundair front being the most heavily contested, which is why His Infernal Bovinity wrote a lot of tension and hatred between them. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
The longest front in the Last War, in terms of absolute distance, was probably the the Brelish-Aundairian one: After all, it encompassed the entirety of the southern frontier of the Eldeen Reaches, as well as well as a line drawn between Silver Lake and the Blackcaps. It's just that it was also one of the quitest fronts in the Last War, given that much of it was inhospitable to proper campaigning. I would concur that the Thrane-Brelish frontier was easily the most contested of the war, though, and it was really what gave rise to my comment either in this or the More Crap About Eberronian Warfare thread that the Thrane army was on the march every campaign season of the Last War.

One of the things I love about looking at the maps is trying to divine what operational plans were deployed during the Last War. Thrane offers one of the more useful cases for this, as its goals after 914 consist of reclaiming everything south of the Fairhaven-Passage lightning rail line which was occupied by Aundair and to, more generally, crusade in the name of the Silver Flame. I suspect that, as they never did recapture what they sought to, that crusading afar against the Brelish, Karrns, and Cyrans was opted for due to lack of success against the Aundairians.

We can visualize the Thrane-Aundairian front as being divided into four sector: A southwestern sector, a crescent-shaped engagement zone running between Vanguard Keep and Tower Vigilant; a western sector running from Tower Vigilant to Tower Valiant; a northwestern sector running from Tower Valiant to Wrogar Keep; and a northern sector running from Wrogar Keep to the River Aundair and beyond. The northwestern front was probably the most active sector on the Thrane-Aundairian front, because its well-developed road network best supports large maneuvering masses, as well as offering a strategic objective worthy of the expenditure of large amounts of effort in Lathleer, whose capture would have cut Aundair in half. As such would be patently evident to commanders on both sides, however, it would put Thranes into the position of the attacking Allies in 1915 and 1916: Attacking positions which the enemy had deliberately chosen to make his stand upon and which had been heavily prepared for such.

Such a strategic situation would most likely breed an impetus to conduct diversionary operations on other fronts to sop up scarce resources and more generally threaten Aundair's strategic position if left unchecked: Three such options readily lend themselves to such a campaign. The first would be a subsidiary attack in the western sector, aimed at besieging and enveloping Tower Valiant; the second would be to launch a thrust towards Ghalt from Fort Light, threatening to roll up the end western and northwestern sectors; and the third would be to march across the River Aundair towards Askelios, with the aim of cutting off Thaliost and the rest of the eastern and northeastern quarters of Aundair from Fairhaven. The profitability of such ventures really depends upon the DM, though I personally envisioned the Thranes as bereft of operational creativity, so most the effort exerted would be exerted in the northwestern sector with a sole subsidiary operation originating in the western sector. (I always rolled the 970s the the great of Thrane operational innovation, with them marking a shift in the center of Thrane operations against Aundair to the southwestern front, where the goal was to march a two-pronged offensive towards Ghalt and Arcanix simultaneously, using the Eldritch Grove as a wedge to keep the Aundairian defenders divided. It ultimately failed, due to the relevant commanders prioritizing the march on Ghalt over that on Arcanix, and with Arcanix prong downgraded to subsidiarity it ultimately bogged down in front of Larunor, where it became Thrane's Gallipoli.)

As has been implict throughout, most of this assumes that it would Thrane on the offensive. It's just hard to imagine Aundair, with its demography and preference for the magical, mustering sufficient force to go blasting about in a general offensive. Limited offensives and counterattacks are surely within their grasp and would have been part of the ebb-and-flow of the campaign. I just can't see them going on the strategic offensive against Thrane without the help of Karrnath or Breland.

First, I absolutely appreciate the thoughts expressed on this question.

However, what I was referring to by "largest" front was not geographical extent but numbers of personnel and equipment. I suppose saying it was the most contested probably covers this, but I just wanted to clarify.
Year-to-year, I would say more blood and treasure was expended on the the Thrane-Aundairian front. But that needs to be kept in context: I would say that the largest front in terms of actual army size would be the Thrane-Brelish front, given that both sides tread towards the quantity end of the quantity-quality spectrum. To give an example, let's say that every year Thrane budgets to maintain a 150,000-man army in the field operating on the Aundairian front against a foe half that size. Every five years it opts to deploy an army of 250,000 against Breland, with an opposing force numbering roughly as much. The Thrane-Brelish front will have ~500,000 men operating on it, while the Thrane-Aundairian front only has ~225,000, but the latter happens year after year, as opposed to once every five. (Or however you want to measure it; the numbers conjured here are only to make a point.)

In terms of equipment and heavy arms usage...that'd probably got to Cyran-Karrnathi front. But that's because I've always rolled that as being the home of all the logical conclusions of magical warfare: Gunships, advanced undead, chemical warfare, and the whole nine-yards. One of my favorite NPCs that my PCs got to meet once was a Cyran veteran of that frontier, describing the abject horror of seeing a wall of cloudkill descending and followed by a boneyard and waves of undead assault troops charging through it.
Bleh. Anybody worn a gas mask? I had to learn to put one on for my ROTC training, and....its fething creepy.

Anyways. The odd thing is that Forge of War has a strong Aundairan offensive into, and even occupation of parts of, Karrnath for a good chunk of the war. White Arch Bridge was destroyed in 928, but somehow, Aundairan forces managed to operate east of Rekkenmark for a while. Can't find out when. Hmm. Some sort of Portal ritual, perhaps? 

Gotta go. Dinner. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Anyways. The odd thing is that Forge of War has a strong Aundairan offensive into, and even occupation of parts of, Karrnath for a good chunk of the war. White Arch Bridge was destroyed in 928, but somehow, Aundairan forces managed to operate east of Rekkenmark for a while. Can't find out when. Hmm. Some sort of Portal ritual, perhaps?



If they were able to secure a bridgehead, I don't see why they wouldn't be able to continue operating across the river. I always thought the scale of the waterways on the published maps were oversized anyway, for clarity. I assumed they were normal-sized rivers.

If they controlled coastline, also, they could have resupplied by sea. I don't think we really have enough information about the structure of the militaries of the Five Nations to discount a strong Aundairian fleet. Especially if they occupied large portions of Karrnath, they might be able to utilize resources in situ. There are any number of possible options. Rivers are barriers, but not absolute ones.

From an in-universe perspective, it could very well be that such an offensive and occupation was mentioned in the text precisely because it was a remarkable feat.

Forge of War does have quite a few mentions of naval clashes up and down.....what is it that White Arch Bridge used to cross? Scion's Sound? Or is that somewhere else?

Also, I think that the waterway that divides Aundair and Karrnath is pretty big, hence why the White Arch Bridge was all big and important, and a big deal when it got blown up. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Forge of War does have quite a few mentions of naval clashes up and down.....what is it that White Arch Bridge used to cross? Scion's Sound? Or is that somewhere else?

Also, I think that the waterway that divides Aundair and Karrnath is pretty big, hence why the White Arch Bridge was all big and important, and a big deal when it got blown up. 



Yes, Scion's Sound. I never really liked the size implied by the official maps, though; it's outrageously large.
I must admit, I'm partial to the idea of the White Arc Bridge being the fifteen mile-long structure required to match the scale of the maps: It's the type of magical megastructure that adds some wonderment to the world and demonstrates the artifice that the Five Nations can undertake when they choose to do so. It also, as Ogiwan notes, provides a good reason why House Orien cannot rebuild it: Were it the piddly quarter-mile-long structure depicted in the art of the sourcebooks, House Orien could easly have built a woodem truss bridge of some variety to replace it by now. (Well, assuming the Karrns and whoever was owning the Thaliost peninsula at the time allowed it, but you get the point: The issue would be a political pissing match between House Orien and the states on the opposing shores of Scion's Sound, rather than an inability to rebuild it due to lack of capital.)

In the world I run, construction of the White Arch Bridge began in the 470s with the goal of completion in time to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Galifar's founding. As this predates the invention of the lightning rail by several centuries, for big chunks of the bridge's history is was used primarily by foot traffic. At fifteen miles, it is rather hard to cross the bridge in a single day, and very nearly impossible for a caravan of the sort that was intended to be the main user of the bridge. So there'd need to be some manner of rest-stop along the bridge: I always envisioned such a settlement arising at the midpoint of the bridge and growing into a modestly sized settlement. (And, in the age of the lightning rail, a veritable tourist trap.) The idea of armies marching across the White Arch Bridge having to fight house-to-house to capture Midpoint, or whatever the settlement would be called, always struck me as an amusing twist in the saga of the structure.
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