Saturday 10 June 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #161: A Misplaced Company

Thirteen hexes north of Alakran.


As I'm reading through Norman F. Dixon's On the Psychology of Military Incompetence, it brings to mind the terrible, terrible leadership and strategy surrounding the Fifth Company of Shasari.

Blame, above all, its captain, Aggatishwa, known as the Colossal Onslaught -- an epithet of his own invention and promotion. Broad of chest, he cuts a fine figure with his luxurious beard, his bronze lamellar armor that an orderly must polish at sunup and sundown. His appointment had everything to do with being the grandson of Governor Washuru's aunt Hashalli the Overhanging Branch, a formidable court power broker.

The west of the province needs no defense; it is protected by the Scarp. But Aggatishwa requested and got this posting, far from the threatened frontiers. His venal reasoning is that his company will only see battle as reinforcements, arriving in glory to sweep the battlefield when the frontline forces are in tatters.

Nobody dares tell him that the company is more usefully deployed on the eastern border, where a gap in coverage allows a band of ogres to roam unpunished. The Fourth is distributed among two fortresses to the north and barely stirs from its walls. The First is bound to defend the palace and the Second in Shasari, though more deployable, has to look south as well as east. Could the Fifth and Second pinch the ogres from two sides and have done with them? The Second's captain, Talis the Shouting Poet, thinks so, and hates that he cannot even suggest it.

To justify his stance, Aggatishwa asks his troops to be on the watch for implausible "spies from Wahattu" who presumably have flown or levitated over the sheer sides of the Scarp. Any strangers caught in the district will face the third degree and likely imprisonment in the company stockade. It hardly need be said that the Onlaught is a disaster in command, and even practice maneuvers or parade ground drill will see him insisting he gave orders he never did, expecting his troops and officers to read his mind, and ordering charges more bold than pragmatic.

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