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VonKatzen

Prax Ostrich Combat Jockets = Terrible IRL

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12 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

The inspiration for this comes from a post over on Facebook about real ostrich riders, where someone mentioned that the Praxian ostrichriders are in fact very small people. I can see where the idea comes from - jockeys - but this is in fact a terrible idea. In fact, very small people in melee combat is almost always a terrible idea, unless they have superhuman powers to offset their obvious size, reach, mass, leverage and power disadvantages.

I suspect the original poster has never ridden an animal 

The ability to stay on is related to come strength not being able to bench press.

Being small can help, your centre of gravity is nearer the centre of gravity of the mount

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The ostrich riders are presented as skirmishing cavalry, avoiding contact while peppering slow enemies with missiles, whenever possible from the flanks. If they use javelins, their javelins might have leather slings attached, making them effectively atlatl missiles, compensating for lack of arm length. When firing at a mass of bodies, whether bison or enemy troops, you aim to cripple or slow some of them to take them down after they have been weakened.

Other avilry has more fearsome mounts than ostriches, but from what I have seen in ostrich riding, 70 kg riders appear to be manageable by those beasts at least at short distances. Dragonewts use atlatl-like throwing techniques, too, or slings.

 

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3 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

aesthetic gibberish

...

meaningless noise that comes out of an air conditioner

....

gum-flapping disguised as speech

Umm, why the rudeness? It's really not necessary.

Your argument seems to be entirely based on the disadvantages of smaller size (e.g. strength, which is in any case highly debateable) ignoring any benefits of small size (e.g. speed and nimbleness).

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Since it seems to have gotten lost in the general melee, I'll reiterate with some extra detail: The chimpanzee (Pan Troglodytes) stands 1.2 meters tall and the male weighs 40-60 kilos, yet is twice as strong as a human adult. Thus small size does not necessarily imply weakness even in the blue sub-hell. In our own Glorantha, there are furthermore numerous less materialistic factors to which we also can appeal against such oversimplified reasoning.

 

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9 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

That would solve the draw length problem, but not the strength problem. The poundage of normal human bows would be too much for them to fully draw, even a short little Hunnic bow. I would agree with you if we were talking dwarves - who are little bodybuilder tree stumps, and could make excellent use of extremely heavy composite bows to compensate for a short draw. But in the case of a very small human that's just not true.

In RQG, each weapon has a minimum STR and DEX to use. Ostrich folk have the same STR and DEX as other humans, so they can use a Composite Bow in the same way as any other Praxian Tribe. 

There have been many discussions about the use of bows on many D100 forums and a lot of people make the same arguments as you have, regarding poundage of modern bows vs ancient ones. However, those subtleties are not reflected in the RQG rules, as they are an abstraction.

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14 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

And, in fact, this would actually be reflected somewhat in the rules: they should have a smaller SIZ and realistically STR, and thus should be easier to knock off their horse, do inferior damage, use weaker bows, etc.

Actually, very few pygmies described in RQ have reduced STR. Whether that is something you would prefer to houserule or not is up to you. But, it does seem that some of your arguments are based on what you think stats should be, rather than what they have been written up as.

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5 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

In actual game terms, magic is technology. It has repeatable, predictable effects and can be employed by sufficient resources, wealth and intellectual merit. It's basically an imaginary form of technology.

From a rules point of view, you are absolutely right. Magic is just a form of personal or cultural technology.

5 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

If your players have any kind of ability to plan and strategize, they will treat it exactly like science, too. Means/ends cannot be eliminated.

Again, I agree with this, as PC use their magic as weapon enhancers, armour enhancers, means of healing and so on.

However, I don't agree with most of the rest of the statements in the post. Whilst magic may be reproducible and could be described as a science, religion is slightly different. Sure, in Glorantha, the Deities are real and have predictable magic, so belief isn't about "Does my Deity exist?" but rather about "What can my Deity do for me?" and "What does my culture believe in?", although these are very practical questions, so do tie in with your general line of thought.

I think that a lot of people want the "magic" of a setting where belief is important, where magic happens and where mysticism is important. The whole of God Time is a mystical place in many respects, although you can go there and participate in events, or even change them.

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16 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

The fact that the ostrichriders are primitive nomads makes things even worse. Training, organization and technology can help to offset inferior size and strength, allowing tiny little Roman manlets defeat the 'giant'* Celtic and Germanic people. But if they don't have massive, well-trained, professional armies they are probably going to get stomped all over: it would be as though the Romans were not only massively superior in equipment and professionalism, but also were twice the height of the Gallic people.

Stepping back from details and looking at the big picture, the population numbers of these tribes are more telling.

image.png.2eac7776042046a02793d5f7fb5a5334.png

These are based on the 1621 numbers in the Guide and reflect the effects of the Windstop, Moonbroth II and the siege of Pavis. Ignore the preciseness of the numbers and round.

Focusing on just the Bolos and Ostrich folk, their numbers are small in comparison to the great tribes. At the Dawn they weren't with the Covenant at the Paps, where each of the now great tribes had roughly 20 families (a clan of 500)each, they were in their blasted ancestral grazings in the Wastes with only 7 families a piece (about 175 individuals each). In the following 1625 years their populations' are still tiny, they suffer a great deal of attrition from their way of life. They mainly survive as part of the Two-Legged Alliance, an ancient pact with each other and the Morokanth.

Another focus of their "problems" is that they are not Eiritha's children, they were given to her care by Ernalda. She has little power in the Wastes and so they are always going to be minor tribes.

So overall, for many reasons, the Ostrich and Bolo folk are always going to be the underdogs, tiny in numbers and suffering greatly as a result. 

 

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Ostrich riders are nomads whose herd animal can eat almost anything and can run for 30 minutes at 60 km/h (40mph). In our Glorantha they don't need to defend ground and don't try to. "He who sights and runs away, lives to run another day". They hunt wild herds and stray stock from other tribes but don't raid in strength. Having said that, one of our clans got wiped out by a broo bloom, so being weak in combat is still a disadvantage. That's life. If you can't take a joke, don't initiate to Waha.

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10 minutes ago, Byll said:

Ostrich riders are nomads whose herd animal can eat almost anything and can run for 30 minutes at 60 km/h (40mph). In our Glorantha they don't need to defend ground and don't try to.

They do in the breeding season. If Praxian ostriches are anything like African ostriches, they'll defend their communal nest for the incubation period of 35 to 45 days. If they don't the eggs will be predated.

The ostrich tribe and bolo-lizard tribes probably shared this vulnerability, which may be a factor in their lesser population and status.

Edited by M Helsdon

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17 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

Nah, I don't buy it, they would get plastered in melee. Also, smaller mounts may be more nimble but they're also slower and have less power as impact cavalry, compounding the problem of an already weak and tiny rider with tiny, short weapons. In fact, a tiny version of a normal animal could well be slower than a normal human on foot, due to stride length. Humans can easily outrun most small animals traveling in a straight line, and a giant plateau (where these nomads live) is not exactly good terrain for avoiding direct, heavy cavalry/infantry.

Top speed of:

Impala = 80kph in a zig-zag, Giant Sable Antelope = 57kph, Bison=56kph, Giraffe=60kph, Ostrich= 70kph, Zebra=64kph, Horse=48kph. Human=45kph.

The advantage of humans isn't in their sprinting, but in their long distance running where they are superior to nearly every other animal due to the human ability to perspire as well as pant to shed heat. In a dead sprint over 100m a great human athlete can beat a horse, as horses take a while to build up momentum, but most people can't do this.

Obviously these speeds decrease with the mount being burdened.

As to smaller peoples getting plastered in melee, everything says that is the case.  Nobody is debating this.  Pygmy riders use bows to good effect as a result.  Their better tricks are about using superior speed to zip in on the flank and cut saddle straps, turning cavalry into isolated infantry.

Edited by Darius West

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2 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

They do in the breeding season. If Praxian ostriches are anything like African ostriches, they'll defend their communal nest for the incubation period of 35 to 45 days. If they don't the eggs will be predated.

The ostrich tribe and bolo-lizard tribes probably shared this vulnerability, which may be a factor in their lesser population and status.

Up to a point Lord Copper, Praxian ostriches may differ, but despite the cock bird fighting and/or distracting predators approaching a nest the terrestrial ostrich looses 80% of nests to predators or to other causes of abandonment*, and 60% of eggs laid singly in the bush (as opposed to a communal nest) are also lost. This may be why the dominant cock and major hen of a communal nest father chicks and lay eggs in neighbouring nests, as well as in the one that they caretake. As little as 30% of eggs in a nest may belong to the dominant pair. Praxian covenant ostriches have the benefit of riders who can make carrying panniers for eggs potentially cutting 6 weeks off the stationary nesting / rearing time. An egg is less than 1% of adult ostrich body mass and there are typically 25 or so in a nest, so riders might be able to arrange to remain mobile. Chicks reach full size in a year (only 15% survive to this age in the wild), and are sexually mature between 2 and 4 years of age, 

* Ostrich, Edgar Williams,  Reaktion Books, 2013

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In Glorantha, the human members of the Ostrich Tribe would help guard the ostrich nests and prevent predators. After all, an ostrich is another herd animals and needs to be protected as such. So, I would think that far more would survive to be born than in the real world.

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12 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

In actual game terms, magic is technology. It has repeatable, predictable effects and can be employed by sufficient resources, wealth and intellectual merit.

In actual game terms, well yes. For better or for worse.Mostly because it's written that way. There is really very little difference, functionally, between having a cranequin on a crossbow or casting a Strength spell so you can pull back the string. But the methods do matter. Just like someone could ride a horse, or fly in an airplane might transport someone from point A to B. The end result might be the same, but there are differences between the methods.

 

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It's basically an imaginary form of technology.

I think that's an over generalization. It's like saying an apolgy is a a way of getting what yo want, or that a boat is a type of horse (as both are used to transport people). 

 

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And, in fact, I think that's how magic was conceived of by many ancients, i.e. a means-ends relation based on conceptual rather than mechanical relationships.

I think it was more of a means of dealing with things that were outside of their control. Either as an explanation, or as something someone can do to have some degree of control over something that is beyond their control. Much like how some people pray to a higher power for help in a tough situation.

 

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The idea of magic as non-rational is really a modern invention, to distinguish it from science and engineering. Likewise, alchemy was philosophy and fake chemistry, not theosophical mystery religion. Magic was false science, not anti-science. And in game words, it is real science, because it has statistics and calculable ratios. Whether or not that's what's intended, that's the case. The whole idea of magic as a non-rational force is completely useless in a game with rules, even if it's in the fluff, it's objectively not true.

Yes, sowehat. It's just that the rational behind a lot of magic isn't logical to modern ways of looking at the world. Many things that people used to consider to be of importance, like similar shapes or materials, aren't, and many things that they dismissed (i.e. thunder and lighting being seperate things) are in fact linked.  So it's not that magic was irrational, just that the rational behind it was flawed to the point where most of it was nonsense.

 

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If your players have any kind of ability to plan and strategize, they will treat it exactly like science, too. Means/ends cannot be eliminated.

Yes, but I think that has a lot of do with modern mindset and RPG thinking. Modern mindset encourages "problem solving" thinking and that creative thinking can find new solutions to problems, and RPGs in general tend to present adventures as a series of obstacles to be overcome, and everything in the game is treated as tools towards that end.

It's why most spells in RPGs tend to be combat related. If you think about it, it would be out of combat where most magic would be most useful. Imagine just how good Heal 1 , Glue, Repair and Mobility could be in day to day life. 

 

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Talking about 'non-rational worlds' is literally meaningless, in that it's not just 'unexplained', it is instead a non-sentence with zero content.

Literally meaningless isn't necessarily meaningless. It's possible something could have a meaning that we are not aware or or don't understand, or even a meaning that we are incapable of understanding. 

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Whether anyone likes it or not coherence is a property of everything that exists, and if fictional worlds deny that they're just wrong, even on their own terms.

You would have to prove that. In real life there are plenty of things that people do that are not coherent, but that they still  do. Or things that they do because of beliefs that have than cannot be proven. The fact that they cannot prove their beliefs doesn't prove that those beliefs are wrong either, just unproven. 

 

Edited by Atgxtg

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4 hours ago, Byll said:

Up to a point Lord Copper, Praxian ostriches may differ, but despite the cock bird fighting and/or distracting predators approaching a nest the terrestrial ostrich looses 80% of nests to predators or to other causes of abandonment*, and 60% of eggs laid singly in the bush (as opposed to a communal nest) are also lost. This may be why the dominant cock and major hen of a communal nest father chicks and lay eggs in neighbouring nests, as well as in the one that they caretake. As little as 30% of eggs in a nest may belong to the dominant pair. Praxian covenant ostriches have the benefit of riders who can make carrying panniers for eggs potentially cutting 6 weeks off the stationary nesting / rearing time. An egg is less than 1% of adult ostrich body mass and there are typically 25 or so in a nest, so riders might be able to arrange to remain mobile. Chicks reach full size in a year (only 15% survive to this age in the wild), and are sexually mature between 2 and 4 years of age, 

* Ostrich, Edgar Williams,  Reaktion Books, 2013

Unfortunately the motion of being in a pannier would affect the development of the embryos, having an adverse effect on breeding success (the effect is known as addling). There's a reason why eggs of most species of bird are laid instead of being brought to term inside the mother. Therefore, guarding the nest sites would be beneficial.

Edited by M Helsdon

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This might be irrelevant to the issue of individual character stats and combat effectiveness, but if they are smaller, then they need less calories to survive, which either means they can live where other groups can't, or they can gain larger numbers - both of which can be leveraged as advantages in certain situations (firing with five relatively weak bows instead of three or four reasonable strong ones means that even if you can't penetrate the enemy's armor, you can cover another angle that they might not be able to protect.)

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19 hours ago, VonKatzen said:

The supernatural, defined as something undelimited and without causal relationships, is a non-definition, a non-concept, a non-statement. I don't regard such utterances as being anything other than the sort of meaningless noise that comes out of an air conditioner. Anything which is not logical, in the strict sense, does not exist, and it doesn't matter what you call it or how it works. If it works at all, if it exists at all, it is logical and therefor a science and a technology. I reject the premises of supernaturalism, which is not a premise, but gum-flapping disguised as speech. If magic exists, in reality or in fiction, it is logical and it is technical.

Are you sure Glorantha is for you? 

There is literally an entire second age Empire based around the idea that magic is logical and can be treated as a predictable technology, and they all died horribly because of it. The message about assuming magic works that way in Glorantha is not subtle. Assuming that magic is logical and predictable works to a point - but only to a point, and then it goes terribly wrong, and this gets demonstrated not only with the fall of the God Learners, but over and over again. It's not that magic is illogical per se, it is more that the rules are both subtler and deeper than is easily known, and subject to creative change, and is as much art and religion as technology. 

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In battle, numbers count. In Prax, the real competition is competition for food, and food for mounts, not battle. Different mounts need different food sources, and different amounts of it. 

A giant of double the height would surely easily defeat that opponent only half their height. But that giant would also have eight times the mass, and probably require 8 times the food. Would that giant defeat 8 opponents all half his height, and armed with missile weapons? Probably not.  It's usually not that extreme, but maybe that is a hint why the Impala people, who often outnumber their opponents two to one, survive in battle. Not only do they require less food, but the type of grazing lands they require for their impala are easier to find. The differences between the animal food requirements, both in type and quantity, determine the balance of power between the tribes as much as anything. And also the shifting alliances, because the tribes are not all competing for the exact same lands. 

And if you aren't competing for the same exact grazing lands, then if you have the advantage of speed you can usually avoid confrontation if you want to. 

But yeah, the Ostriches and Bolo Lizards are at a big disadvantage, but mostly because they do not share the same full blessings of Eiritha and so their animals do not thrive, and they must eke out a living around the edges of the other tribes. Maybe their tribes will become extinct in a few centuries, or maybe their tribal magic will keep them from quite disappearing. But its mostly NOT about who would win in a direct battle, its about who thrives in the wastes. 

 

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4 hours ago, davecake said:

In battle, numbers count. In Prax, the real competition is competition for food, and food for mounts, not battle. Different mounts need different food sources, and different amounts of it. 

A giant of double the height would surely easily defeat that opponent only half their height. But that giant would also have eight times the mass, and probably require 8 times the food.

Which may be the real reason for not deploying the Bat to Prax. It's logistics corps are also its emergency food reserve; which would rapidly deplete in Prax.

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1 hour ago, Rob Darvall said:

Which may be the real reason for not deploying the Bat to Prax. It's logistics corps are also its emergency food reserve; which would rapidly deplete in Prax.

Yes. Deploying the Bat to Prax becomes extremely problematic if all the nomads simply do the sane thing and run far away. There are only so many oasis folk. 

Edited by davecake

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5 hours ago, davecake said:

In battle, numbers count. In Prax, the real competition is competition for food, and food for mounts, not battle. Different mounts need different food sources, and different amounts of it. 

Yeah, and that also why you don't see mounts past a certain size. To get horses past a certain size you need to feed them on more energy rich grains, and not let them forage on grasses. The same probably holds true for other mounts. So Praxian animals are probably the same. So the smaller size and ability to feed of what grows in Prax are both advantages in that environment and more important than raw size. 

5 hours ago, davecake said:

A giant of double the height would surely easily defeat that opponent only half their height. But that giant would also have eight times the mass, and probably require 8 times the food

That depends on how realistic you want to be. Said giant would also have to carry that weight on his two legs, his heart would have to pump blood twice as far, his lungs would need to oxygenate that blood, and so on. Past a certain point the giant wouldn't be able to function. And past another point and his body wound't be able too support his weight. His armor would be much heavier, and he's big an easier target for missile weapons. 

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6 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Said giant would also have to carry that weight on his two legs, his heart would have to pump blood twice as far, his lungs would need to oxygenate that blood, and so on. Past a certain point the giant wouldn't be able to function. And past another point and his body wound't be able too support his weight.

Yet 15m tall giants exist, so these things are obviously not an issue for a mere 4 m tall giant. Let us not bring science words like oxygenation into it. 

7 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

His armor would be much heavier, and he's big an easier target for missile weapons. 

That much is clearly true though. Everyone knows the smart way to deal with (at least a moderately sized) giant is barrages of missiles from a distance until you get a few criticals. 

(the brave way is a lance charge, but you better not miss or role low damage dice). 

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Just now, davecake said:

Yet 15m tall giants exist, so these things are obviously not an issue for a mere 4 m tall giant. Let us not bring science words like oxygenation into it. 

And these 15m tall giants (or at least one individual, Boshbisil) have a very strange diet of one big pile of meat and on another occasion one as big pile of vegetable matter once a year. This does suggest that they are already more of a genius loci manipulating the substance of that place than an organic entity - not exactly lifting complete hill-sides when rising as Krisa Yar, but a similar control over what makes them themselves.

Just now, davecake said:

That much is clearly true though. Everyone knows the smart way to deal with (at least a moderately sized) giant is barrages of missiles from a distance until you get a few criticals. 

(the brave way is a lance charge, but you better not miss or role low damage dice). 

Traditionally, the smart way to fight a giant is to trick it into harming itself.

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6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Traditionally, the smart way to fight a giant is to trick it into harming itself.

Perhaps the only way of fighting giants that has the potential to become a tradition. 

6 hours ago, davecake said:

Yet 15m tall giants exist, so these things are obviously not an issue for a mere 4 m tall giant. Let us not bring science words like oxygenation into it. 

But it does open up the way for other questions about Glorantha creatures and living.. If the giants are somehow able to exist in defiance of the know physical laws of Earth, and many other creatures as well, then we must conclude that Glorantha must operate under somewhat different physical laws. And that opens up a Pandora's box of trouble as far as working  stuff out logically. Everything said about "jockey" sized riders, might not hold true. It's quite possible that they could be stronger than would be expected for their SIZ.

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8 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

But it does open up the way for other questions about Glorantha creatures and living.. If the giants are somehow able to exist in defiance of the know physical laws of Earth, and many other creatures as well, then we must conclude that Glorantha must operate under somewhat different physical laws. And that opens up a Pandora's box of trouble as far as working  stuff out logically. Everything said about "jockey" sized riders, might not hold true. It's quite possible that they could be stronger than would be expected for their SIZ.

Perhaps you will have to accept that demigods exist in more than just the physical reality with its laws and limitations. We know that e.g. the Grotarons are interacting with spirit mammoths that leave no trace in the Middle World. With giants, there may be some instinct level interaction with a similar realm.

Boshbisil's diet plan is too weird to be explainable by biology.

Other giants are less reticent to embodying the hunger implicit in the Darkness Rune. It doesn't matter much whether they need to eat as much or often as they do, they simply enjoy eating, much like the trolls do.

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