James Bond:I’m posing as Koskov’s friend to see what leads I can get from her. You know he bought her a cello in New York called “The Lady Rose”.Saunders:A cello with a name?James Bond:It’s a Stradivarius. They all have names.
— “The Living Daylights” (1987)
[Publius] Decius Mus [was an early] Roman [Republic consul] who, when faced with an impossible battle, vowed himself (according to an old ritual of human sacrifice) to the infernal gods, along with whoever he killed and who killed him. He then charged the enemy line singlehanded and opened a hole the Roman Army under the other consul (Rome in those days sometimes took the field with both presidents) then used to defeat the enemy.
— Legions of Hell, General Glossary
Now that is patriotism.
[Palpatine] ticked his fingers one by one. “I have kept the secret of your marriage all these years. The slaughter at the Tusken camp, you shared with me. I was there when you executed Count Dooku. And I know where you got the power to defeat him. You see? You have never needed to pretend with me, the way you must with your Jedi comrades. Do you understand that you need never hide anything from me? That I accept you exactly as you are?”
He spread his hands as though offering a hug. “Share with me the truth. Your absolute truth. Let yourself out, Anakin.”
“I—” Anakin shook his head. How many times had he dreamed of not having to pretend to be the perfect Jedi? But what else could he be? “I wouldn’t even know how to begin.”
“It’s quite simple, in the end: tell me what you want.”
Anakin squinted up at him. “I don’t understand.”
“Of course you don’t.” The last of the sunset haloed his ice-white hair and threw his face into shadow. “You’ve been trained to never think about that. The Jedi never ask what you want. They simply tell you what you’re supposed to want. They never give you a choice at all. That’s why they take their students—their victims—at an age so young that choice is meaningless. By the time a Padawan is old enough to choose, he has been so indoctrinated—so brainwashed—that he is incapable of even considering the question. But you’re different, Anakin. You had a real life, outside the Jedi Temple. You can break through the fog of lies the Jedi have pumped into your brain. I ask you again: what do you want?”
“I still don’t understand.”
“I am offering you…anything,” Palpatine said. “Ask, and it is yours. A glass of water? It’s yours. A bag full of Corusca gems? Yours. Look out the window behind me, Anakin. Pick something, and it’s yours.”
“Is this some kind of joke?”
“The time for jokes is past, Anakin. I have never been more serious.” Within the shadow that cloaked Palpatine’s face, Anakin could only just see the twin gleams of the Chancellor’s eyes. “Pick something. Anything.”
“All right…” Shrugging, frowning, still not understanding, Anakin looked out the window, looking for the most ridiculously expensive thing he could spot. “How about one of those new SoroSuub custom speeders—”
“Are you serious? You know how much one of those costs? You could practically outfit a battle cruiser—”
“Would you prefer a battle cruiser?”
Anakin went still. A cold void opened in his chest. In a small, cautious voice, he said, “How about the Senatorial Apartments?”
“A private apartment?”
Anakin shook his head, staring up at the twin gleams in the darkness on Palpatine’s face. “The whole building.”
Palpatine did not so much as blink. “Done.”
“It’s privately owned—”
“You can’t just—”
“Yes, I can. It’s yours. Is there anything else? Name it.”
Anakin gazed blankly out into the gathering darkness. Stars began to shimmer through the haze of twilight. A constellation he recognized hung above the spires of the Jedi Temple.
“All right,” Anakin said softly. “Corellia. I’ll take Corellia.”
“The planet, or the whole system?”
“I just—” He shook his head blankly. “I can’t figure out if you’re kidding, or completely insane.”
“I am neither, Anakin. I am trying to impress upon you a fundamental truth of our relationship. A fundamental truth of yourself.”
“What if I really wanted the Corellian system? The whole Five Brothers—all of it?”
“Then it would be yours. You can have the whole sector, if you like.” The twin gleams within the shadow sharpened. “Do you understand, now? I will give you anything you want.”
The concept left him dizzy. “What if I wanted—what if I went along with Padme and her friends? What if I want the war to end?”
“Would tomorrow be too soon?”
“How—” Anakin couldn’t seem to get his breath. “How can you do that?”
“Right now, we are only discussing what. How is a different issue; we’ll come to that presently.”
Anakin sank deeper into the chair while he let everything sink deeper into his brain. If only his head would stop spinning—why did Palpatine have to start all this now?
This would all be easier to comprehend if the nightmares of Padme didn’t keep screaming inside his head.
“And in exchange?” he asked, finally. “What do I have to do?”
“You have to do what you want.”
“What I want?”
“Yes, Anakin. Yes. Exactly that. Only that. Do the one thing that the Jedi fear most: make up your own mind. Follow your own conscience. Do what you think is right. I know that you have been longing for a life greater than that of an ordinary Jedi. Commit to that life. I know you burn for greater power than any Jedi can wield; give yourself permission to gain that power, and allow yourself license to use it. You have dreamed of leaving the Jedi Order, having a family of your own—one that is based on love, not on enforced rules of self-denial.”
“I—can’t…I can’t just…leave…”
“But you can.”
Anakin couldn’t breathe.
He couldn’t blink.
He sat frozen. Even thought was impossible.
“You can have every one of your dreams. Turn aside from the lies of the Jedi, and follow the truth of yourself. Leave them. Join me on the path of true power. Be my friend, Anakin. Be my student. My apprentice….”
— Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Chapter 15
The novelization truly redeems the film. Anakin is not a petulant man-child but a young man who is tormented by having seen too much war and having foreseen his wife’s death. Palpatine’s seduction occurs over years. This is the moment where the Lord of the Sith overtly tempts him.
The essence of all martial arts and military strategies is self-protection and the prevention of danger. Ninjutsu epitomizes the fullest concept of self-protection through martial training in that the ninja art deals with the protection of not only the physical body, but the mind and spirit as well. The way of the ninja is the way of enduring, surviving, and prevailing over all that would destroy one. More than merely delivering strikes and slashes, and deeper in significance than the simple out-witting of an enemy; ninjutsu is the way of attaining that which we need while making the world a better place. The skill of the ninja is the art of winning.
— Ninjitsu, p. 3
The author makes ninjitsu sound so appealing. Yet another grand master asserting his martial art is supreme. 🙂
Although military historians have tended to confine their attention to the formal engagements of the war [in the Low Countries], to the sieges, battles and major manoeuvres, these events formed only the tip of the iceberg of military conflict. Beneath the interplay of the big battalions, at least until 1590 [C.E.], smaller parties of troops fought, intrigued and killed ceaselessly for the control of villages. Spain’s piecemeal reconquest of the areas in rebellion in the first phase of the war created a jagged “floating” frontier, running from one fortified town to another, from one village to the next. Until 1594 the frontier ran from Groningen in the north down to Liège and then westwards to the Flemish sea-coast. All along this invisible line hostile parties of troops conducted a gruelling war of skirmish and surprise. In this situation…war became a matter of “fights, encounters, skirmishes, ambushes, an occasional battle, minor sieges, assaults, escalades, captures and surprises of towns”. It resembled a series of uncoordinated guerilla conflicts rather than a single full-scale war.
These localized dog-fights, this guerre aux vaches, was a highly intensive and exhausting form of warfare. It called for troops with an unusually high degree of endurance and experience. In battles or mass manoeuvres a commander required from his men corporate discipline, good order, careful drilling in certain collective movements and above all stoicism under fire. By contrast, for the skirmish and surprise of guerilla fighting, discipline and unit-organization hardly mattered: the critical qualities were independent excellence and complete familiarity with weapons.
Sixteenth-century commanders and military commentators naturally realized that these different forms of warfare required different types of soldier: one for routine garrison duty and mass manoeuvres, the other for guerilla action. On the whole they agreed that it was more difficult to find troops who excelled in skirmish-and-surprise, in what the English called the “actions” of war. For that veterans were required. The duke of Alva always insisted that some trained troops were indispensable for success in the Low Countries’ Wars because “One cannot fight any ‘actions’ with other troops—unless it comes to a pitched battle where entire formations are engaged.” To the duke’s mind (and he had a lifetime of experience to draw on) any troops could fight a battle but it required trained veterans to win a skirmish.
— The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road 1567-1659, pp. 12-13
Shall we say “adventurers?” 🙂
[El Cid confronts the soldiers taking Prince Alfonso to the dungeons of Zamora.]El Cid:Will you give me your prisoner, or must I take him?Guard Leader:[incredulous] There are thirteen of us, and you are alone.El Cid:What you do is against God’s law. Were you thirteen times thirteen, I would not be alone!
— “El Cid” (1961)
That last line is a declaration of a D&D paladin, if there ever was one.
Narrator:That year, at dawn of the twenty-first day of the tenth month—the month without gods—the main armies clashed. It was in the mountains near Sekigahara, astride the North Road. By late afternoon, Toranaga had won the battle and the slaughter began.Forty thousand heads were taken.
— “Shōgun” (1980)
The year is 1600 C.E.
The book and television mini-series are a fictionalized account of the events leading up to this historical battle which de facto unified Japan.
Lamont Cranston:You know my real name?The Tulku:Yes. I also know that for as long as you can remember, you struggled against your own black heart and always lost. You watched your spirit, your very face, change as the beast claws its way out from within you. You are in great pain, aren’t you?[Cranston leaps at the Tulku who magically avoids the attack.]The Tulku:You know what evil lurks in the hearts of men, for you have seen that evil in your own heart. Every man pays a price for redemption; this is yours.Lamont Cranston:I’m not looking for redemption.The Tulku:You have no choice. You will be redeemed, because I will teach you to use your black shadow to fight evil.[Cranston continues to violently resist but only succeeds in exhausting himself.]Lamont Cranston:Am I in Hell?The Tulku:Not yet.
— “The Shadow” (1994)
An unique and fascinating concept: a holy man forcibly redeeming an evil man—a lost soul, really—through both great compassion and (implied) harsh discipline.
…[The Native American] self bow and the seventeenth-century musket had comparable effective ranges (50 yards optimum, 100 to 150 yards at the outside)….
…For Amerindians, because the bow or the musket had to serve in both war and the hunt, something in the technology had to satisfy the needs of both pursuits…. A musket ball was less likely than an arrow to be deflected by vegetation, and it also had a greater kinetic impact on the target. A deer hit with an arrow receives a very deep wound…, which, though eventually lethal, might require the hunter to pursue the bleeding deer for some distance. In contrast, a musket penetrates flesh, shatters bone, and creates a larger wound cavity. It “smacks,” whereas an arrow “slices….” A military musketball at 50 yards hits a target with 706 foot pounds of kinetic energy. An arrow from a typical modern bow hits at 50 yards with 50 to 80 foot pounds of energy. This is more than enough to penetrate flesh and tissue and produce a killing wound, but it is much less likely to drop an animal in its tracks.
The musket has similar advantages against humans. Much of a human target is limbs, especially when walls or trees are used to cover the trunk of the body. An arrow wound to the leg or arm is rarely lethal, although it can be debilitating. But a musketball strike to the arm or leg may shatter the bone and is more likely to carry debris into the wound, lead to infection, sepsis, and death.… In the immediate term, a man with a shattered leg or arm, flung to the ground by the weight of a musket shot, also makes a better target for being taken prisoner…. Unable to flee, he becomes vulnerable and may hold up his fellows trying to carry him away from the field…. More obviously, bullets cannot be dodged, whereas arrows in flight over any distance (especially on an arcing trajectory) can be seen and dodged. Modern film footage of the Dani people’s arrow and javelin battles in New Guinea shows this process clearly, and numerous European witnesses commented on the Amerindians’ ability to dodge arrows.
— Empires and Indigenes, pp. 56-58
Players of fantasy RPGs should note the quoted effective range for bows. Many games have much longer distances, but those are derived from battlefields where archers are loosing volleys at large enemy formations. Gamers should further note the ease of dodging an arrow at anything beyond short range.
The Ancient One:Matter is energy which is all around us. Sorcery is simply the art of wielding that energy….Control the forces around your hands, and limitations become irrelevant.
— “Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme” (2007)
Not eliminated. Just irrelevant.
Yoda:Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it; makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you: here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere….
— “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
Emphasis mine. This is the original, understated spirituality of the Star Wars saga.
Jean [de Carrouges]…held the rank of squire. Rather than the “gallant youth” this term often brings to mind, he was a battle-hardened veteran already in his forties, one of those “mature men of a rather heavy type—knights in all but name.”
By 1380 [C.E.], Jean…commanded his own troop of squires, numbering from four to as many as nine, in the campaigns to rid Normandy of the English. In war he sought to burnish his name and enrich himself by seizing booty and capturing prisoners to hold for ransom, a lucrative business in the fourteenth century. He may also have sought a knighthood, which would have doubled his pay on campaign…. [A] knight’s daily pay on campaign was one livre, while a squire received half that.
— The Last Duel, Chapter 1
A squire would not be knighted if he could not afford to maintain that higher station. Thus the drive for booty and ransom.
…The country [of tenth century Castile] is high and bare, though it may have been more thickly wooded in the early Middle Ages than it is today….
…Large tracts of land were still untamed, roamed by wild pigs and cattle, wolves and probably bears…. They were roamed also by voluntary or involuntary drop-outs from human society such as hermits or outlaws….
It was a rough, stark world where status mattered, justice was uncomplicated, and war never far away.
This sounds like a great setting for a fantasy roleplaying game.
Guerrilla warfare is as old as mankind. Conventional warfare is, by contrast, a relatively recent invention…. The first genuine armies—commanded by a strict hierarchy, composed of trained soldiers, disciplined with threats of punishment, divided into different specialties (spearmen, bowmen, charioteers, engineers), deployed in formations, supported by a logistics service—arose after 3100 [B.C.E.] in Egypt and Mesopotamia….
Considering that Homo sapiens has been roaming the earth for at least [150,000] years and his hominid ancestors for millions of years before that, the era of conventional conflict is the blink of an eye in historical terms….
Throughout most of our species’ long and bloody slog, both before the development of urban civilization and since, warfare has been carried out primarily by bands of loosely organized, ill-disciplined, lightly armed volunteers who disdain open battle. They prefer to employ stealth, surprise, and rapid movement to harass, ambush, massacre, and terrorize their enemies while trying to minimize their own casualties through rapid retreat when confronted by equal or stronger forces. These are the primary features both of modern guerrilla warfare and of primitive, prestate warfare whose origins are lost in the mists of prehistoric time…. Guerrillas therefore may be said to engage in the world’s second-oldest profession, behind only hunting, which draws on the same skill set.
How about hobgoblins and orcs fighting like this?
Jamis:May thy knife chip and shatter.
— “Dune” (1984)
This is a common Fremen taunt. In a magical world, this could be a proper curse—speaking it to make it happen.
“Rung ho!” Narayan Singh shouted again. A tremendous overhand cut knocked his opponent back on his heels; the Lancer took the instant to pull a Khyber knife from his girdle and flip it through the air toward King.
“Here, huzoor—for you!”
It flashed through the air; a genuine Pathan chora, a pointed cleaver two feet long with a back as thick as a man’s thumb and an edge fit to shave with….
Such a brief but vivid description.
Philip [of Macedon], Alexander [the Great]’s father, said that it is better to have an army of deer commanded by a lion than an army of lions commanded by a deer; Alexander himself told his men that their greatest advantage was that their leader was Alexander. Alexander lived and practiced what modern (Western) military theorists teach to their pupils as the principles of war. The principles were developed out of an analysis of Napoleon’s campaigns and today are supposed to guide military officers in the practice of their profession and to guide historians in their analysis of campaigns and leadership. The principles are (in order of importance): the objective, the offensive, surprise, mass and economy of force, security, unity of command, maneuver, and simplicity.
— With Arrow, Sword, and Spear, Afterword, p. 273
The number and order of the principles varies across countries and cultures. For a sample, see the Wikipedia entry for the Principles of War.
Attention is selectivity applied to perception. It is an inward decision, usually made unconsciously, about what is worth perceiving and what isn’t. Attention both finds meaning and creates meaning. When we adopt the principle of “separate the subtle from the gross,” we are deciding on purpose where we want our attention to go, temporarily withholding it from what is obvious and bestowing it instead on what is inconspicuous and elusive.
In the world of spirit, attention is the equivalent of physical movement. It carries us toward the knowledge and acquaintances we seek and away from influences that we have determined to be harmful or useless. If you can’t control your attention, you can’t move properly, can’t get where you want to go when you want to go there. To the extent that you allow your attention to be jerked around by whatever happens to be manifesting most insistently, you look to other spiritual beings like a spastic. Control of attention is thus the first skill an aspiring magician must master, and perhaps the most important.
— On Becoming an Alchemist, pp. 52-53
The Mongols even resorted to supernatural means to assure their success. They asked Tenggri, or Heaven, for his favor on the battlefield, in the same way that Muslim and Christian armies appealed to their god. But the Mongols also employed other supernatural tactics, of which the most important was weather magic, conducted by a shaman known as the jadaci.
Several accounts mention the use of weather magic. The jadaci used special rocks known as rain stones, thought to be imbued with the power to control weather, in order to summon rainstorms, or even snowstorms in the summer, which caught the enemy ill-prepared. The Mongols, who had lured their opponents away from their base, took shelter during the storm and then attacked while their foes were disoriented. A prime example of this tactic was recorded during the war against the Jin after Chinggis Khan’s death. Bar Hebraeus relates that Ögödei resorted to using rain stones after he saw the size of a Jin field army. After he had lured the Jin away from any support, he called upon his jadaci to summon a storm. The ensuing downpour, in the normally dry month of July, lasted for three day and three nights. The Jin army was caught in the open and drenched while the Mongols donned rain gear and waited the storm out. They then turned around and ambushed the Jin army, annihilating it.
Other sources indicate that Tolui, rather than Ögödei, was the general involved in this episode. Tolui had retreated after encountering a much larger Jin force, and after the Jin had attacked his rearguard he summoned a Turkic rainmaker to perform his magic. Rashid al-Din recorded that ‘this is a kind of sorcery carried out with various stones, the property of which is that when they are taken out, placed in water, and washed, cold, snow, rain and blizzards at once appear even though it’s the middle of summer.’ The rain continued for three days, changing on the final day to snow accompanied by an icy wind. The Jin troops were exposed to this severe weather while the Mongols found shelter. After four days of snow, the Mongols attacked and destroyed the bewildered and weakened Jin troops.
This is the first explicit reference I have found of the use of magic in warfare.