Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Brutes (Background)


Who are the Brutes?

The Brutes are nomadic tribes of non-humans who inhabit the wastelands of Mars.  Descended from a variety of species and several lines of genetic manipulation, they exhibit a bewildering variety of forms, sizes, and capabilities.  Tribes of brutes are usually multi-species coalitions sharign a common culture and a lifestyle highly-adapted to the resource-poor enviornment and the murderous rivalries it breeds. 

Only the colonial humans call these creatures the "Brutes," as the Earthlings are notoriously xenophobic and untrained in the ways of Mars. The Free Humans usually call the tribes " nomads," and view them with a wary respect.  They engage in trade and diplomacy, despite the frequent Brute raids against Free Human settlements. The Brutes themselves refer to themselves by a variety of local ethnonyms, tribal designations, and other labels, but when they speak of their culture as a whole, they most often refer to their lifestyle, calling all nomads, regardless of species the "Followers of the Way." 

Brute Military Organization

As "Followers of the Way," the Brutes live a decentralized life-style of pastoralism, hunting and gathering. Everyday life is a struggle, marked by frequent raiding and conflict between the migrating bands.  Lowlevel warfar is endemic.  When it escalates into larger conflict, scattered groups of hunters and herders lay aside their normal pursuits for all-out battle.  Brute military organization thus flows naturally out of their typical social structure. 

The Warparty (Squad)

The Hunting or Herding party represents the lowest level of Brute social organization.  The parties consist of around ten to thirty adult or adolescent Brutes.   Females and males are both represented in the active parties; most Brute species are egg-laying with only limited sexual dimorphism.  The parties are usually homogenous in species, although some may have a small contingent of larger or smaller types. In peace-time, they are usually accompanied in their peregrinations by a small camp of dependants -- young Brutes, the elderly, caregivers, and so forth. When battle is expected, this camp is left behind in some safe location, and the Hunting or Herding party becomes a Warparty.

In game terms, we will represent such a formation (minus its camp) as a Warparty.  It will average 20 figures, typically consisting of a majority of one type -- Small Brutes, Brutes or Big Brutes  -- but with a few others mixed in if the player desires.  A Warparty usually lacks support weapons, unless these are attached from a higher-level organization.  Some Warparties are entirely mounted.

The Warband (Platoon or Company)

When Brutes fight a larger battle, they gather their Warparties together under a leader.  Typically, this leader is a lower-level chieftain representing the warparties involved.  In more authoritarian tribes, he may be an appointed representative or lesser relative of the ruling chief or king.  Warbands vary in size, depending on the number of Warparties belonging to the clan-group or sub-tribe represented in the area. Most warbands consist of three to twelve warparties.  It is difficult for any area to support more than this.  Warbands can only stay together for a limited period of time -- the land cannot sustain large concentrations for long, and the warparties themselves need to return to their camps and dependants.

In game, we will represent a small Warband as a platoon-level force of two to four warparties, plus support, and a large Warband as a company-level force of five to twelve warparties.  A warband of either size has an HQ squad in the form of a special warparty consisting of the leader and his bodyguard.  This HQ unit is typically 5-10 figures strong.  There may also be a secondary HQ, similarly constituted.

A warband may have weapons and squads in support.  0-3 support weapons per "platoon" or 0-9 per coompany -- typically smoothbore cannons, mortars, or captured or borrowed energy or projectile peices from the colonial or Free Humans.  Such weapons may be mounted on a Beast.  It may also have specialized warparties of larger Brute-types, of Beast-handlers, of cavalry, or squads of vehicle-sized Beasts.

The Tabor (Battalion)

In large battles, Warbands may gather together into larger formations that the colonists have taken to calling "Tabors" or "Kraals,"  after various formations among the native populations of their nation's Earthly colonies.  A Tabor (to use the French term) consists of several Warbands gathered under a high-ranking chieftain, perhaps the leader of the tribe as a whole, perhaps a powerful chieftain, a general or a noble.  Tabors are the military equivalent of annual or semi-annual gatherings of a tribe's scattered bands and parties, for barter, trade, marriage, or politicing.  Like these peace-time gatherings, a Tabor's time is extremely limited -- able to sustain itself for only a few weeks at the most.  Often they only assemble on the day of battle itself.

Tabors will rarely be represented on a gaming table, but if they are, they will consist of 2 to 5 Warbands, plus an appropriately increased scale of support.

A Brute against two Free Humans
The Tribe (Regiment or Division)

A tribe as a whole consists of all its scattered lineage groups, bands, parties and camps.  Tribes almost never gather in full, for either war or peace.  The logistical difficulties (and the danger) are simply too acute.  In the largest of conflicts, a Tribe will gather all its Tabors.  Depending on the size of the tribe, it may be able to field anywhere from two to ten.


If a region faces a threat a tribe is unable to meet with its full force of Tabors, it will form a coalition with other tribes. Such coalitions typically operate as widely-scattered groupings of Warbands and Tabors, but a large multi-tribal force might come together to attack a city-state or settled region.  Such a force would need to seize local crops to sustain itself, or soon disperse.

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