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Thread: Vos tips

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Vos tips

    Discussion thread for Vos tips. If you would like to add a comment, click the Post Reply button.

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    OK, I hacked out a very draft page of tips for Vosgaard, it needs work, but really someone who knows the cultures better - its hard for me to say how to play a Vos ruler when I have no real knowledge of Russian culture.

    At the moment it is also fairly light on practical tips - I've outlined the canon comments on difficulties and differences, but not gone in to how to pick a realm, rule, etc.

  3. #3
    I can't say that all my rant can serve as Vos tips, but here are some statements about ancient and medieval Russia which are true for Vosgaard also:

    Your land have harsh winters, and at midwinter simple folk usually can do nothing to better their lot. Even simple trip into the forest for firewood will be challenging enterprise for you - a few feet of snow will slow you down, and sudden blizzard or pack of hungry wolves can finish you for sure. So here is tip #1: if it seems you can't do something useful - do nothing. They call this approach fatalism, y'know At winter only one thing is better than at summer - rivers are frozen, so you have great road network, absent at other times. This is good for regents and warlords - and quiet opposite for small folk. Tribute form your subjects and vassals was usually collected at winter. You can collect also from your neighbours - by the means of raid.
    (I was shocked, when my girlfriend returned last year from linguistic expedition to the settlement of some siberian natives and told me same thing about their hamlet. They were connected with the big world by helicopter or at winter by the truck train via frozen river. )

    Any agriculture is possible only for several months in the year (latitude and climate depended) But at higher latitude lighthours at summer are much longer than in warmer zones - so all your crops can grow fully (you hope). So you must do all sowing/reaping in two short periods (russian term for those two periods - "strada" - is derived from the verb with meaning "to suffer", "to endure").
    This means frenzied activity for several weeks. And much less activity in between. So here is tip #2: If you must do something difficult - do it as best as you can and 'till it's done. You can sort all these "little inconveniences" and "inevitable incidents" later. Life is harsh but you're ready for that.

    If you play characters from more developed provinces (3-4, I think) - you can have all the cruel traits of Belinik-worshipper. If you can exploit big number of "weaklings", you never run out of food or resources. Characters from less populated provinces should be more cooperative and helpful to each other. In small settlements cooperation literally is a key to survival. If you help your neighbour, he will help you later - and you both will live another year. This also leads to fact, that rural hamlets usually have great measure of self-government. No boyar will take the role of leader of barely surviving community. It's much simplier to ride there with your band and say: "This winter I must find here 20 sacks of grain, 4 sacks of squirrel pelts and one keg of mead. Or else...". How these villagers should obtain these items is up to them.
    So here is tip #3: if your character belongs to wealty townsfolk from prosperous province, he knows how to take from others and likely to define himself by his leader ("I'm man of tsor Kuzma!"). And he's more inclined to revere Belinik. If your character was born in remote hamlet, he's much more inclined to cooperate and likely to define himself by his hamlet or province (I'm from Veshki! We, of Nicolai forest are best hunters around!) And he must have much respect for Kriesha (no early frost, please!). Where are the rules, there are exceptions, of course. And boyar (3rd son, for example), personally helping and organizing life in remote village should have gratitude and full support from the inhabitants - not to mention full tribute.

    Land of Vosgaard have great territories only sparsely inhabited. Any warlord, putting too much strain to his subjects should expect serious problem. Part of his subjects (most likely young and resourceful part) will pack their belongings (how few they are) and run in different province. There they can settle and try to start new life. So here's tip #4 (for rulers): Push your subjects, but not too far - for strongest of them can rebel, and smartest of them can flee. No subjects - no taxes - no armies - you're as good as dead.

    I'm somewhat tired right now, so my apologies for bad English and my other suggestions will come soon...

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    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    Beautiful!

    Would raids be practicable in winter? It would be a great example of belinik and Kreisha working together if she froze his warriors roads down which to raid! Not sure how easy it is to move with deep snow though, England (the south anyway) shuts down after an inch or two...

    I like the stuff on having to work together, I've been trying to turn the Vos philosophy from 'evil' into 'ruthlessly practical', similar from an external viewpoint perhaps, but more usable in my view, so Kreisha weeds out the weak because in the small tribes everyone needs to be able to contribute and the weak can't - not because she just likes inflicting suffering.

    I've added your stuff to the wiki - change anything I got wrong.
    Last edited by AndrewTall; 01-19-2010 at 08:16 PM.

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    Vos have winter crops.

    For raiding there are varsks.
    Although horses and a sleigh work fine in snow.

    And, why not dogs (if there are any) in frozen tundra/on frozen lakes?

    After more than 1500 years they could have thought of something to keep themselves warm. Town walls would help, like Grovnekevic forest keeps the blood freezing wind from the north.
    And true, the small communities would keep together. No one wants to be cut off. And every household could be in charge of a different duty/service/food.
    Rey M. - court wizard of Tuarhievel

  6. #6
    About horses.
    So-called "local breeds" (I don't know english term) are (relatively) small beasties, adapted to regional climate and diet (IMO to cerilian sub-regions). They can plow through snow up to their knees without much difficulty.
    Mongol horses are even better. They adapted for extreme cold of mongolian winter and they can dig grass from under the snow. Their only disadvantage is their size.
    Dogs can be used only if you have steady meat or fish supply.
    Ski (hunter's ski, short and relatively broad, with fur on working surface) is another useful device. Even better, you can march on ski through dense forest, where horse risks to broke legs, and dog can't run through rough relief consisted of fallen trees and shrubs covered by snow of various depth.

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    Member Caelcormac's Avatar
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    I can offer some advice on cold plains and mountains as well from my army arctic weather training in Alaska:

    I'll echo the idea that skis are much better than horses in snow. While a horse would do well on known roadways that might be covered in snow, you are begging for a broken leg or split hoof if you go off road. As skis aren't the most common form of cold weather footgear for ancient people though, meshed snow shoes would be better. They can be created from tree branches easily enough. I see Varsks with their lizard like feet being VERY good in all forms of snowy weather, almost slithering through the snow like a snake in water. I can almost picture them slithering through the snow with only their heads slightly above the snow, their rider leaning heavily into their neck until right before both spring up in a surprise charge! That would be awesome!

    Dogs with sleds work REALLY well on frozen rivers; horses aren't bad as long as their is a solid covering of snow on the river, but really the rivers would work really well with sleigh-carts (hand pushed sleds on runners) so long as the pusher had some spiked strips on their feet (made easily from nail bits forced through leather straps).

    The primary thing to remember in the winter is the dark...lots and lots of darkness. Because of the location of Vosgaard, I don't know if it is as dark as the more northerly regions of our own world though. I picture it more along the lines of where Mongolia is; which means in the deepest winter there are still several hours of daylight.

    For fighting in the winter, hit and run raids are best...and primarily just before dark. When attacking an enemy, you hit them just before dark and then fade away into a darkened path of retreat you know well; but that your enemy has no way to track because of the darkness. By the time the light comes again, you are miles and miles away...and the stronger night winds may have well covered your tracks with blown snow. Of course, most people in Vosgaard would expect this very tactic; so absolute surprise would be the primary goal...avoiding detection. Again, Varsk mounted soldiers would be best here because the white Varsk with their white-clad riders could move quickly in the snow to hit a target with minimal visibility.

    Frozen bodies of water again become very prominent in winter fighting too. Whereas in the summer the forests might restrict movement for fighting and marching through soggy ground...in the winter the rivers would allow raiding parties to move quickly and attack river villages and such. It would also make it far easier to make an escape with looted goods because even the crudest sled (made of broken barrels lashed with rope even) would slide easily along a frozen river. It also makes it easier to pull fallen comrades away on little more than a grain sack.

    With the limited resources of winter, village infighting might be common; especially if nearby villages each sport their own warlord. Particularly harsh winters might bring worse than roving wolf-packs...as wild Varsk would become hungry and perhaps stalk smaller settlements.

    Vosgaard was one of my favorite places in all Cerilia, and I was very sad when it didn't get a better layout and description.

  8. #8
    Member Caelcormac's Avatar
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    In the final years of his life, the brutal Vos Warlord Barak (who always referred to himself as a King) left to his sons the following; with the command that the seventeen of them were to fight to the death and the last one standing would inherit the armies of their father. He left this letter prior to his death because years before he had lost the ability to speak after an arrow from an Elven archer had pierced his throat. It should be known that Barak was a true Tyrant among the Vos people; but a cunning and educated man that had travelled to the lands of Anuire and Khinasi in his search for war knowledge in his youth before returning to Vosgaard to take control of first his family, then his tribe, then his entire kingdom before old age finally did what no other had been able to do: kill him.

    Allow me to remark on this subject many call the “Art of War” to be used by a King.

    There is no art in war, no justice, no long lasting testament to the glory of any kingdom. There are only some few truths that any man should hearken to if he plans to lead a nation and endure until death does claim him in his bed from old age as will happen to me soon.

    First and foremost is the rule that “He is best secure from danger who is on guard even when He seems safe.” Any monarch that trusts anyone is already lost. Myself, I would not even trust my own mother, the Gods save her soul, if she were still alive.

    Second, and nearly as important is the fact that if a King does not strike first, he will instead be the first struck. Preemptive attack upon a foe, whether real or possible, is far better than building defenses in the vain hope that they will not be overcome. It is true that none can wage war on all fronts without exhausting both warriors and supply; but with proper prudence and judgment, a solid balance can be had that allows you to pick the right enemy at the right time.

    Many say that the sinews of war are infinite money; I say they are fools. Money is no good to any man save as a means of barter. Instead say that excess men are the sinews of war; for having a constant supply of fresh warriors to replace your fallen is far better than to have no men to arm with the weapons and armor just bought with your infinite money! So make sure that you have the manpower needed for any task you set out upon; as well as a steady supply of recruits to replace the fallen. A careful balance of recruitment and expansion are needed to ensure that your generals have both ample warriors for their tasks and enemies that can be overcome without exhausting your manpower. Mercenaries are no substitute for your own warriors as they come and go as their whim demands.

    So many “civilized” monarchs, as well as others, remark that a King should carry himself with the utmost dignity and honor. Of course, then they go on to tell you that their notion of honor and dignity are the way a King should rule. I say they are fools. I say that to a true King, nothing is inconsistent which is expedient. Only the King of a nation should have the right to lie and deceive; for a King is responsible for the well being of his entire people and is not accountable to the mundane drudgery and restrictions that lesser men are held accountable to. In war, truth is the first casualty; and so too in ruling a nation. This does not mean that a King should lie and deceive at all turns; for such a man would soon find his Kingdom surrounded on all sides by foes seeking to crush him instead of fellow Kings that respect his rule. Simply put, a King should cultivate friendship with his equals, crush his inferiors, and feign subservience to those stronger than he until such time that the role might be reversed in the future.

    It is a fact that men grow tired of singing, dancing, sleep and even love far sooner than they tire of war. It is the nature of mankind, particularly, to make war upon those surrounding him; so that his will is made supreme. Knowing this, always know also that even a peaceful neighbor will seek war against you if weakness is perceived in you. The saying “a bad peace is even worse than war” applies in this instance as well; for even an enemy that has been crushed and forced into service to your cause will seek to rise against you if conditions favor it. Because of these things, learn to instill fear in both friend and foe alike. Let them hate you, as long as they fear you. A man fearful of his master will not raise his hand against him; because his fear will weaken him and keep him restrained against you more so than any shackles or forced tribute that might weaken him.

    Once war comes to you, believe in the adage that He conquers who endures. Surrender is not an option for any King who wishes to ever have fear in the heart of his enemy. In war you must be fast, strike hardest and never show any signs of remorse, hesitation or doubt. It is far better to suffer numerous defeats and finally be victorious; than to never fight at all and thus be defeated by your own heart.

    Many Kings know how to gain a victory, but few know how to use a victory to gain further conquest. Do not pause in your bloody works against your enemy once war is joined; a man defending his lands can do nothing against you in your own. Each time you gain victory over your foe, he should have little time to even consider countering your conquests because he should still be involved in defending yet another part of his kingdom against you or your confederates.

    Your armies may march divided; but to your foe it must seem like your armies fight with single purpose and concentrated solely upon him to crush hope or aspiration for victory from his chest. As he sees you constantly on the attack upon his lands, while your own nation’s provinces bask in the glory of peace and prosperity, desperation only for survival will clutch at his mind. He will seek some great victory to rally his forces; and thus force his men into positions of little hope. His armies will not only be demoralized, but he too will see that his efforts are for naught and soon he will be defeated in his heart long before you slaughter the last of his forces upon the field of battle. The desire for safety stands against every great and lasting enterprise; including victory and conquest; while the outcome of war corresponds less to expectations than anything else. Be adaptable and ensure that no rigidity exists when you make war; either in your wide ranging assaults upon the enemy or in your own desire to be careful and make no mistakes.

    Despite all these things, it is best to remember that the greatest events result from trivial causes. Be mindful of all news that comes to you. Find the heart of every matter and expose it to the light of truth so that you may know most clearly the intents of all your foes and friends alike. It is good to see your foe struggle, but it is best for your friend to struggle as well! He that is in need and on the edge of defeat is the ally that can be most trusted as he fears defeat and needs your strength to lean upon. Always come to the aid of your allies if you can spare strength to do so; but not in the defense of his lands. To defend an allies land is to spend your warriors without gain. Instead, make war upon the soil of your ally’s enemy in pursuit of conquest. This will force your ally’s aggressor to become a defender, and thus be defeated in his initial aims. To defend is to know defeat.

    Make sure that your forces are ruthless; with little thought toward glory and honor. The man who runs away when ordered will fight again, while war spares not the brave; which I call the foolhardy. Even the bravest can be frightened by sudden terrors; but steadfast resolve and fear of failure are far stronger motivations than simple gallantry and honor. Even a cornered rat can kill its predator; but the strongest lion will flee insurmountable odds. So instead of courage, teach discipline through deprivation and structure to your forces. Few men are born brave; but fearless men may be created. A brave man may have a glorious death; but a disciplined and motivated man will have victory. Maintain the motivation of your forces in bloodlust and dreams of riches; simple ideology can be crushed from a man when his lands are being plundered and his women raped by the enemy. Your warriors should care nothing for the people of their own nation; but crave in their hearts the slaughter of their enemy. When one side has the stronger morale, whether from hatred or discipline; then the enemy, as a rule, can’t withstand them.

    When your enemy is at last conquered, woe to them that stood against you and dared your wrath. Their lands should be plundered, their soldiers slaughtered, and their people enslaved, one in ten, to the will of your designs for them. Gentleness will instill hope within them; but a firm hand that is fair after the end of war will see them come to respect you. Instill in a conquered people that it is better to be now subject to the victor of war so that they too may enjoy such victory in the future instead of ever giving a sign of weakness through some sort of apology or reparations for the faults of their former leaders. A defeated King should be dealt with in the harshest manner; his entire lineage erased from existence. Leaving a defeated foe alive only means that some day he will seek vengeance because of his humiliation. True victory is not had by simply defeating a man; you must kill him to make sure you leave no enemy behind, and stamp out his seed as well so that no pride may grow in the heart of any who might someday think they have the “right” to gain vengeance upon you. Have all the blood of the defeated King on your own blade so that no upstart within your own ranks may claim that blood and rise later against you.

    I say to you that these things are true; and only those Kings who have followed this path, or those similar to this one, have prospered and made their people great. So called “Civilized Honor” is a weak principle instilled within the hearts of men who are too weak of mind to ensure their own safety; it is a principle of soft rule that is too easily exploited and broken. Instead, aspire to firm but fair rule; ensuring that you are respected, even if you are ruthless. Give no quarter to your enemy; but reward your friends and warriors handsomely and you will become the better in any comparison between yourself and some piteous King who seeks honor, chivalry and glory instead of lasting victory, power and peace. Only in final victory can peace be had; and only the obliteration and death of a foe brings true peace between two adversaries.

    Whichever of my sons emerges as the victor amongst you, rule well my son. Leave no brother alive; nor after them, any enemy.


    King Barak

  9. #9
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    This is a good effort, but kind of looks like you've mixed something up.

    The King helps a hard pressed ally, but attacks his weak neighbor. Then he rewards his friends, but wants his sons to kill each other. Thus, he destroys himself and makes a job easier on his enemies which, in his opinion, should all be crushed to never have a chance to retaliate. So, which help from his friends he can use to crush his enemies if he destroys his family and neighbors?

    Also, I had trouble comprehending some of the sentences you wrote, but it's ok, I got it.
    Rey M. - court wizard of Tuarhievel

  10. #10
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    I think the idea is that you help the ally by attacking their enemy, thus winning you land and also a debt from your ally.

    I'd expect that the sons bit is specific father's wisdom - some kids just don't get along - normally I'd expect more of a proverb heard a while back: me and my son against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, me and my cousin against the world...

    But great stuff too, I'll add it in via an also see page.

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