Saturday, February 16, 2019

Balic Weapons and Tactics

A common soldier would not use metal.
This article is a collection of notes I had written for myself. I did not plan on posting these, but then I realized that another dungeon master might find them useful. I hope that is case.

Balicans regard the sword as strictly an auxiliary weapon, one that would never supplant their battle-proven reliance on the spear. The spear enables the heavily armored infantrymen, or hoplites, to stand together and protect each other within the close formation of their phalanx wall of shields and spears.
Infantry foot-soldiers, the Balican hoplites (from the Balican word hoplon, or armor) forms the military backbone of the city state. Hoplites are recruited mainly from the nobles and free middle classes, and bare the financial responsibility to arm themselves. Leather armor, sword, spear and shield all have to be provided from solely private means. Hoplites are not full-time professional soldiers whose only life is war. They volunteer to serve their state only in times of war, and, if they survive, will return afterwards to their civilian roles. The hoplite is a true manifestation of the Balican ideal of shared civic responsibility.


A Balican infantryman’s main battle weapon was the spear, or doru. Measuring around 2.7m (8.8ft) in length, it is held in one hand, while the shield (aspis) is grasped in the other. The spearhead is leaf-shaped, socketed and made of bone or, less likely obsidian. At the butt of the shaft is a sharp spike, or sauroter (“lizard killer”), which could be thrust into the ground for added stability. In extreme circumstances, when the spearhead is broken, the sharp spike can be flipped around and used as a weapon of last resort.
A serious soldier.
Derived from the Balican word phalangos (meaning “finger”), the hoplite phalanx is made up of a tight formation of spearmen, armed with large, concave shields that rest on the soldier’s left shoulder and protect the man next to him, thus forming an all- enveloping, locked curtain of defence. The phalanx is typically about eight men deep, with the front ranks projecting their spears forwards. The key to the success of the phalanx is the ability of the soldiers to keep together and not break the formation. This is not always easy, especially for the first few ranks, who are the main combatants, as the rear ranks’ main purpose is to continually push their phalanx forward and maintain its shape.
Balicans never regard the sword as a main battle weapon, it plays a purely secondary role. Once the spears had been thrown or lost in battle, swords are then engaged to finish the conflict in a decisive manner.
The main battle sword of the Balican military is the gladius. It is comprised of a straight, double-edged, leaf-shaped blade of around 65cm (25.6in), and is particularly effective at slashing and stabbing.
Mounted Balican cavalry uses a curved sword, or makhaira (meaning “to fight”). It is a large, slightly curved falchion and is designed to deliver a heavy slashing blow at speed.

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