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47 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

The slight height advantage is surely offset by presenting a far clearer target?  I can only imagine it being a significant advantage against formed foot with no missile support and poor upper body armour.

Any advantage in battle is useful.

48 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

As for stability, it depends on whether you are targeting an individual or a mass of troops.  For a duel, yes.  For a battle?  As I say, unconvinced.

Stability aids accuracy.

48 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

The difference between the Thessalian Sarrisaphoroi and the Kataphraktoi is quite significant, since the former were all but unarmoured and armed with the 13 - 20' long sarissa, whereas the Kataphrakt has the weight of their body armour and the far shorter kontos. 

True, though both used a saddle and no stirrups. However, Sarrisaphoroi (sic) were usually scouts or flank skirmishers and armed with a shorter spear than the infantry sarissa.

54 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

We are also trying to compare the abilities of a RW horse rider with those of a magically augmented Gloranthan.  I know who my money would be on!

As there's only the historical terrestrial model to base things on, and Gloranthan troops often closely follow these in terms of equipment and tactics (despite magical augmentation), it's the only thing to do.

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I suppose that stirrups really help with a rigid wodden saddle which makes it more difficult to hold the horse, for heavy armored warriors to get onto the mount, to do some accrobatics like taking something on the ground without dismounting or dodging -and probably for the pathtian shot as well, even if of course feasible without stirrups-, to pull and hold a target entangled in a lasso (and not getting dismounted instead !), and probably to stay hours sitting on the horse and relieve your bottom (especially if you are heavily armoured).

There is also a difference between the simple leather laces from ancient times probably essentially made to help getting onto the horse (there was sometime only a single  one of them) and the broad iron stirrups made for day-long work on horseback while standing, like in Mongolia, Spain of the Camargue.

Anyway, using the full potential of stirrups and all the tricks they allow requires IMHO a rigid saddle, in order to share the pressure over the full surface, which allows 1- to hold the saddle stronger (it does not rotate when standing on one stirrup or getting onto the horse) and 2- push the stirrups downward e.g. by standing on them without injuring the horse. Rigid woden saddles appeared in the 4th AD in Central Asia. That may be the reason why the stirrups spread among steppe nomads before among other nations ?

We could imagine the same for Praxians and Pentians spending all their time on horseback and doing tricks with them vs. settled cultures who have a more limited way to use their mounts and may not have recognized (or found) the insterest of rigid saddles and stirrups. But in the time of the Heroes War, there has been enough contacts to spread these over all the nations.

 

My 2 pence.

 

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5 minutes ago, Zit said:

We could imagine the same for Praxians and Pentians spending all their time on horseback and doing tricks with them vs. settled cultures who have a more limited way to use their mounts and may not have recognized (or found) the insterest of rigid saddles and stirrups. But in the time of the Heroes War, there has been enough contacts to spread these over all the nations.

There's another factor that applies in Glorantha more than the real world: cultural conservatism.

Most of the Third Age cultures appear extremely cautious regarding innovation (the Lunars being the obvious exception) following the disasters at the close of the Second Age following the rampant experimentation of the EWF and God Learners. It may also be that magic also has an impact - if your battle magics rely upon traditional rituals, adopting something new could be disastrous (there is mention of regiments carrying things they can no longer use in combat, but must have because their magical traditions require it).

Almost all of the 'new' technologies are ancient, from before Time or shortly after the Dawn with very few periods of successful innovation: even shieldwall and phalanx warfare is derived from ancient models. Again, in the Third Age only the Lunars (and later Argrath) seem to experiment to any degree with military magics, techniques and technologies.

Something different, that might seem fairly harmless to us, like a new type of plow, or saddle, or stirrups, might have all sorts of ramifications, and present a potential hazard. Adopting something new probably requires a Heroquest, and even then might not be widely adopted.

 

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Unfortunately, my concerns go unanswered.

      20 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

The slight height advantage is surely offset by presenting a far clearer target?  I can only imagine it being a significant advantage against formed foot with no missile support and poor upper body armour.

M Helsdon:Any advantage in battle is useful.

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Oops, sorry about that, premature posting, nasty thin to happen to a 56 year old....

      20 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

The slight height advantage is surely offset by presenting a far clearer target?  I can only imagine it being a significant advantage against formed foot with no missile support and poor upper body armour.

M Helsdon:   Any advantage in battle is useful.

Indeed, but you say that without paying attention to the concomitant disadvantage.

 

Ali the Helering said:

As for stability, it depends on whether you are targeting an individual or a mass of troops.  For a duel, yes.  For a battle?  As I say, unconvinced.

M Helsdon:  Stability aids accuracy.

Precisely my point, actually.  Mass archery is seldom a matter of accuracy, but more a matter of putting as much death in the air as possible.

 

Ali the Helering said:

The difference between the Thessalian Sarrisaphoroi and the Kataphraktoi is quite significant, since the former were all but unarmoured and armed with the 13 - 20' long sarissa, whereas the Kataphrakt has the weight of their body armour and the far shorter kontos. 

M Helsdon:  True, though both used a saddle and no stirrups. However, Sarrisaphoroi (sic) were usually scouts or flank skirmishers and armed with a shorter spear than the infantry sarissa.

I am unaware of any depiction of the sarissaphoroi (the contemporary term for the Thessalian lancer) with a saddle rather than a basic blanket, I have to admit.  If you have such evidence I would be greatly interested.  Indeed the Sarissa in question was shorter than that of the infantry, which is why I specified 13'-20' rather than 16'-24'.  Even at a measily (!) 13 feet it was significantly longer than the kontos.

Ali the Helering said:

We are also trying to compare the abilities of a RW horse rider with those of a magically augmented Gloranthan.  I know who my money would be on!

M Helsdon: As there's only the historical terrestrial model to base things on, and Gloranthan troops often closely follow these in terms of equipment and tactics (despite magical augmentation), it's the only thing to do.

Actually, we can take into account such things as glue spells between buttocks and horseback, Mindspeech between rider and mount etc, which would make for a far more stable firing and impact based cavalry.  If you are playing in a magical world, I do not think that ignoring the effects of magic are truly "the only thing to do".

 

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22 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Actually, we can take into account such things as glue spells between buttocks and horseback, Mindspeech between rider and mount etc, which would make for a far more stable firing and impact based cavalry.  If you are playing in a magical world, I do not think that ignoring the effects of magic are truly "the only thing to do".

 

If we consider battle magic -like Glue (*) or Mindspeech (**)- as in Runequest, which is supposed to simulate the gloranthan basic magic, it cannot play a big role during a battle : spells are to short lasting (2mn) and consume power, which prevents from casting them again and again. Battle magic is usefull for the first shock only and some is probably kept in reserve to flee if needed. Rune Magic, unless exception (e.g. Humakt's Morale) has generally an effect limited to a single being and is very rare. So I think that mundane skills and equipment play basically a very similar role than in RW for the mass of the combattants.

But may be the new version of the rules will contradict this vision.

(*) does not work in living tissues

(**) works only with sentient creatures able to understand the caster's language

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36 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Indeed, but you say that without paying attention to the concomitant disadvantage.

Not really: a horse archer is likely to have at least as good a range as any enemy archers, and is presenting a very brief target of opportunity. Given that light cavalry have mobility, if they are fighting infantry this gives them a distinct advantage.

38 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Precisely my point, actually.  Mass archery is seldom a matter of accuracy, but more a matter of putting as much death in the air as possible.

Yet horse archers often were individually excellent archers. They can fight in two distinct modes: quick inaccurate 'death in the air' and accurate targeting.

40 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

I am unaware of any depiction of the sarissaphoroi (the contemporary term for the Thessalian lancer) with a saddle rather than a basic blanket, I have to admit.  If you have such evidence I would be greatly interested.  Indeed the Sarissa in question was shorter than that of the infantry, which is why I specified 13'-20' rather than 16'-24'.  Even at a measily (!) 13 feet it was significantly longer than the kontos.

The sarissophoroi were light cavalry, and there's very little period material on their equipment, other than their lance, which is assumed to be a shorter version of the infantry Sarissa.

If they were using a long spear, then a basic blanket would have been insufficient to keep them in their seat. Unfortunately the one item that might have provided evidence about how the Macedonians kept their seat using a long spear from horseback (admittedly of later Roman manufacture but possibly based on a lost Hellenistic Greek painting), the Alexander Mosaic is damaged and the saddle detail is missing. So there's little period evidence, but plenty of experimental re-enactor evidence that using a long spear effectively from horseback is impractical without a firm saddle.

54 minutes ago, Ali the Helering said:

Actually, we can take into account such things as glue spells between buttocks and horseback, Mindspeech between rider and mount etc, which would make for a far more stable firing and impact based cavalry.  If you are playing in a magical world, I do not think that ignoring the effects of magic are truly "the only thing to do".

For Mindspeech you'd need an intelligent horse, and whilst they exist in Glorantha, most Gloranthan horses are as bright as real world horses, so talking to them mind-to-mind would get you no further than shouting a command. Now a war horse can be trained to obey commands, but there's limit to what they can do. [I believe Mindspeech is being deleted from the new RuneQuest.]

 

23 minutes ago, Zit said:

If we consider battle magic -like Glue (*) or Mindspeech (**)- as in Runequest


 As you note, Glue has a short duration - fine for a few uses in combat, but to Glue two objects (non-living) together, they must be at relative rest to one another and not moving. So you'd have to have the horse stand still, Glue your trews or whatever to the blanket or saddle, and then go for the enemy. I don't believe that's entirely practical in battle, and if you try something impractical in combat, you may not survive it...

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Unfortunately, the evidence one often wants is lacking.  Assuming a saddle because one cannot see the lack of one is hardly reasonable, while the general lack of them (especially for light horse) in this period seems to suggest a blanket being more reasonable.  There are many suggestions concerning stabilising a lance during a charge without stirrups, but not being a rider I feel unable to comment on which would produce the best effect, let alone the success which it obviously had, historically.

Short term magic use is limited, obviously, but still real.  Applied to the trouser seat and to a strapped-on blanket, glue would be most effective for the charge-to-impact.  In the period thereafter when, if historical indications are followed, the lance was used for 'long-range fencing', you would not want it to be in effect anyway!

I don't think the myths must be followed in assuming the actual characteristics of ordinary warriors, or else I could cite the examples of Robin and his Merry band of outlaws for the obvious superiority of foot archers.

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5 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

Unfortunately, the evidence one often wants is lacking.  Assuming a saddle because one cannot see the lack of one is hardly reasonable, while the general lack of them (especially for light horse) in this period seems to suggest a blanket being more reasonable.  There are many suggestions concerning stabilising a lance during a charge without stirrups, but not being a rider I feel unable to comment on which would produce the best effect, let alone the success which it obviously had, historically.

All we basically have, for an obscure form of cavalry is a name. We know little to nothing of their equipment or their tactical use.

I'm also uncertain why sarissophoroi are even relevant, when we have canonical illustrations of Praxians using high horned saddles where useful, and blankets.

 

5 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

Short term magic use is limited, obviously, but still real.  Applied to the trouser seat and to a strapped-on blanket, glue would be most effective for the charge-to-impact. 

Except for the need for both Glued objects to be at rest, relative to each other - something improbable for a rider in motion.

5 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

I don't think the myths must be followed in assuming the actual characteristics of ordinary warriors, or else I could cite the examples of Robin and his Merry band of outlaws for the obvious superiority of foot archers.

As most of the sources for Robin Hood date to around the 14th and 15th century, when the capability of the longbow was demonstrated at Sluys, Crecy, Poiters and Agincourt, the context of the story is apparent...

Edited by M Helsdon

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Reposting some stuff that Jeff Richard and Sandy Petersen both said about stirrups over in the Gods War Kickstarter, in a Glorantha QandA session. Although some of you will have already seen this, I'm sure that some won't have:

Quote

Jeff said:

I have to admit, I don't buy Lynn White's claims about stirrups being revolutionary. There's plenty of archaeological evidence that the stirrup was known to the Parthians, Sakas, and the Chinese, and a fair amount of speculation that it was known to the Scythians and others. 
So we have some stirrups in Glorantha - we know the Praxians use them. I suspect for the bison and high llama Riders, they are most important as a technique to get on and off their mount (they are awfully darn hard to mount without something like a stirrup). 
I don't think stirrups are used in the West though. They aren't feudal knights.

Quote

Sandy said:

Stirrups: we know stirrups exist in Glorantha. A number of cultures charge with couched lances. It's clear to me that stirrups are used in Pent, and among at least some Praxians, and doubtless the Six-Legged Empire had them.

In contrast to Jeff I DO think the West has stirrups. They're not feudal, but the Jonatings certainly rely on heavy cavalry, and after centuries of contact, and world travel & trade i can't see how the relatively simple concept of the stirrup wouldn't have become near-universal.

I agree with Jeff that cavalry was plainly effective pre-stirrup (Alexander the Great & Hannibal seemed to field fine cavalry), and the claims for its necessity may be exaggerated by military academics. Still stirrups are useful, cheap, and easy to copy, and in the second age Glorantha had a LOT of criss-cultural exchange. I bet everyone who could benefit from stirrups knows of them in the Third Age.

Quote

Jeff said:

 

Stirrups: My take on them is that they are likely to found in Prax, and likely made their way around in the wake of the Second Council. I'm inclined to think that stogie fogies like the current Seshnegi *don't* use them, because not using them is one more hindrance towards anyone else trying to a horse-riding warrior (restricted to the horal caste). They definitely do use shock cavalry - and have since the First Age.

I personally tend to think that the modern Rokari don't tend to use the stirrup for the simple reason that the Brithini don't - and also because I find the "stirrups are necessary for couched lance attacks" argument specious. The Seshnegi cavalry are heavily armed cataphracts with good saddles. If they also attack with sword and other weapons, then they probably have stirrups. Otherwise, they mount their horse by standing on top of an inferior caste footrest. :D

Quote

Sandy said:

I have what I conceive to be powerful & cogent reasons that stirrups are widespread in Third Age Glorantha. Jeff has a different take. The result is, I feel, that players can adopt their own prejudices on the matter. It's hardly a core underpinning of the world, after all.

Jeff - gonna send you my argument pro-stirrup privately. I think you will find them plausible, at least.

 

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