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Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by brnicholas   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 8:20 pm

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PeterZ wrote:As I said, I don't totally disagree. My point was that Harshu faced two dishonorable choices. He could decline command and watch his men led into dishonor or he could take command and mitigate what he could. If he believed his Andaran honor bound him to guard his men...his responsibility...then declining command is dishonorable. He had a choice between accepting one of two dishonorable options.

While you hold that Harshu had an honorable option, I hold that he had only dishonorable options available to him. He chose the option that required him to act to protect what he could rather than passively allow harm, some of which he could have prevented, to come to those he was responsible for protecting.


And in my view thinking he had only two choices is Harshu's folly. He had at least two options other then the two you mention. One is mutiny. The second is send secret messages up chain protesting what mul Gurthik is up to and then drag his feet so that no attack happens before the orders arrive from New Arcana not to attack.

Nicholas
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:09 pm

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That is an argument which holds water. Given a lack of creativity, Harshu has an out. Absent either creativity or sufficient effort looking for an honorable alternative, Harshu has an excuse. If one doesn't grant him leeway for a lack of creativity or the option of putting in the effort towards findingan alternative, he is as you assert guilty of limiting his options.

brnicholas wrote:
PeterZ wrote:As I said, I don't totally disagree. My point was that Harshu faced two dishonorable choices. He could decline command and watch his men led into dishonor or he could take command and mitigate what he could. If he believed his Andaran honor bound him to guard his men...his responsibility...then declining command is dishonorable. He had a choice between accepting one of two dishonorable options.

While you hold that Harshu had an honorable option, I hold that he had only dishonorable options available to him. He chose the option that required him to act to protect what he could rather than passively allow harm, some of which he could have prevented, to come to those he was responsible for protecting.


And in my view thinking he had only two choices is Harshu's folly. He had at least two options other then the two you mention. One is mutiny. The second is send secret messages up chain protesting what mul Gurthik is up to and then drag his feet so that no attack happens before the orders arrive from New Arcana not to attack.

Nicholas
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by Keith_w   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 9:16 pm

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brnicholas wrote:

As regards to your suggestion that he would have moved slower without torture but the result would have been the same I disagree. I think if the Sharonan's had learned about dragons at any point earlier then they did they would have been able to stop Harshu cold. Any Sharonan effort to defend against air attacks would have prevented what happened and Harshu does not have the forces and reserves to dig out a couple of dug in Sharonan companies more then once or twice and even that would probably bleed him white. Personally I think if chan Tesh had known about dragons Harshu wouldn't have even been able to take Hell's Gate. (The fact that DW blatantly arranged things to prevent the Sharonan's from knowing about dragons, the coincidence of the wood cutting parties that prevented chan Tesh's scouts from seeing a dragon was a clear Deus ex Machina, argues he thinks so to.)

In summary, to succeed at all Harshu had to move fast and cut the Sharonan's communications (your point about following roads to find portals is a good one but I think the voice relays would be impossible to take by surprise that way), I don't think he could do that without torture.

Nicholas


I have to disagree with you regarding the Sharonans ability to stop dragons short of Ft. Salby. The conditions there were perfect for ambushing them in that they had a narrow front, the Traisium Cut, to defend and excellent intelligence about the dragon modes of attack as well as active intelligence about the cavalry. If the Sharonans had tried to defend any other portal, the dragons could simply have flown around them, and the Sharonans would be firing from ground level, not from above them in the cut, which would have allowed the dragons to use their maneuverability to avoid the anti-aircraft fire and lead to and Arcanan victory.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 10:44 pm

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brnicholas wrote:
As regards the "necessity" that Harshu use torture to get information. You may be right about what is theoretically possible although I doubt the speed that the combination of torture and truth spells permitted Neshok to get information is possible without that combination. Even so the theoretical possibility is not relevant if Harshu does not have someone who can make that possibility a reality.

While we don't have definite evidence and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and I don't trust Harshu's judgement. Still the fact that Harshu doesn't think he has another choice and another option is never mentioned by anyone, implies that he didn't have anyone who could use those techniques to get him the information he needed.

As regards to your suggestion that he would have moved slower without torture but the result would have been the same I disagree. I think if the Sharonan's had learned about dragons at any point earlier then they did they would have been able to stop Harshu cold. Any Sharonan effort to defend against air attacks would have prevented what happened and Harshu does not have the forces and reserves to dig out a couple of dug in Sharonan companies more then once or twice and even that would probably bleed him white. Personally I think if chan Tesh had known about dragons Harshu wouldn't have even been able to take Hell's Gate. (The fact that DW blatantly arranged things to prevent the Sharonan's from knowing about dragons, the coincidence of the wood cutting parties that prevented chan Tesh's scouts from seeing a dragon was a clear Deus ex Machina, argues he thinks so to.)

In summary, to succeed at all Harshu had to move fast and cut the Sharonan's communications (your point about following roads to find portals is a good one but I think the voice relays would be impossible to take by surprise that way), I don't think he could do that without torture.

Nicholas


Prior to Ft. Salby, Sharona didn't have anything in place to mount serious opposition. Ghartoum and the other forts were not only surprised, but outnumbered on the order of ten to one plus or minus. So while the element of surprise did cut down on Harshu's casualties, I disagree that it altered the outcome of the campaign. Had Harshu arrived at Salby even a few days later after chan Geraith arrived, he would have still been repulsed, even without the help of the prince. So the bottom line would have remained the same.

The encounter was a surprise for both sides. Arcana was able to strike first because of their ability to swiftly put a force in position to do so. That meant that Sharona's remote portal authority forts simply didn't have the time to gear up. And that was where Harshu had his success.

Don

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Mon Feb 01, 2016 11:02 pm

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You are supporting Harshu's need for speed, Don. Even with speed gained from using torture and truth spells, Sharona needed Janki's Talent to defeat the AEF. If Chan Geraith was present at Fort Salby armed with knowledge about dragons and the other Arcanan organic weapons systems, the AEF would have lost. As it was the AEF almost pulled it off even while fighting against Janki's Talent.

Harshu's read of the situation was accurate. He sacrificed his honor for a chance to gain his military objective. He failed by a hair and in failing Harshu fanned the flames of hatred in almost every Sharonan for Arcana and everything it stands for. His was a big risk, big return gambit that crapped out.

n7axw wrote:
brnicholas wrote:
As regards the "necessity" that Harshu use torture to get information. You may be right about what is theoretically possible although I doubt the speed that the combination of torture and truth spells permitted Neshok to get information is possible without that combination. Even so the theoretical possibility is not relevant if Harshu does not have someone who can make that possibility a reality.

While we don't have definite evidence and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence and I don't trust Harshu's judgement. Still the fact that Harshu doesn't think he has another choice and another option is never mentioned by anyone, implies that he didn't have anyone who could use those techniques to get him the information he needed.

As regards to your suggestion that he would have moved slower without torture but the result would have been the same I disagree. I think if the Sharonan's had learned about dragons at any point earlier then they did they would have been able to stop Harshu cold. Any Sharonan effort to defend against air attacks would have prevented what happened and Harshu does not have the forces and reserves to dig out a couple of dug in Sharonan companies more then once or twice and even that would probably bleed him white. Personally I think if chan Tesh had known about dragons Harshu wouldn't have even been able to take Hell's Gate. (The fact that DW blatantly arranged things to prevent the Sharonan's from knowing about dragons, the coincidence of the wood cutting parties that prevented chan Tesh's scouts from seeing a dragon was a clear Deus ex Machina, argues he thinks so to.)

In summary, to succeed at all Harshu had to move fast and cut the Sharonan's communications (your point about following roads to find portals is a good one but I think the voice relays would be impossible to take by surprise that way), I don't think he could do that without torture.

Nicholas


Prior to Ft. Salby, Sharona didn't have anything in place to mount serious opposition. Ghartoum and the other forts were not only surprised, but outnumbered on the order of ten to one plus or minus. So while the element of surprise did cut down on Harshu's casualties, I disagree that it altered the outcome of the campaign. Had Harshu arrived at Salby even a few days later after chan Geraith arrived, he would have still been repulsed, even without the help of the prince. So the bottom line would have remained the same.

The encounter was a surprise for both sides. Arcana was able to strike first because of their ability to swiftly put a force in position to do so. That meant that Sharona's remote portal authority forts simply didn't have the time to gear up. And that was where Harshu had his success.

Don

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by brnicholas   » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:31 am

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I disagree with both points.

If Sharona had known about dragons they would have taken steps to defend against them at and around the forts. Simply spreading the troops out into a network of bunkers distributed to provide mutual support against air and ground attack would have made the one pass yellow attacks, which took out the forts impossible. And even with the 10 to one advantage the AEF just does not have the fire power to take out dug in Sharonans without taking disproportionate causalities. And the AEF doesn't have the supplies or reserves to take out multiple forts when they are suffering losses at a rate of 2 or 3 to one in the attacks. In addition a warning may have led to preparations being made to raid Arcanan supplies if the forces were bypassed, which Harshu also can't permit.

As for Fort Salby if Chan Geraith had arrived but Janaki had not had his glimpse I think the AEF would have taken Fort Salby. The first pass by the dragons would have been a complete surprise and without any anti-air prepared the dragons would have got several passes before random fire from panicky troops woken from a sound sleep by the attack would have driven them off. Harshu would have seen the additional troops were panicked, gambled on a determined attack and routed them.

In sum, if the Sharonans had known about dragons the AEF would have had to take at least 20-30% causalities in order to get to Fort Salby. They couldn't afford that given the lack of reinforcements so they never would have reached Fort Salby. But, if the Sharonans had not known about dragons before the attack on Fort Salby even Chan Geraith's presence would not have been enough to stop the AEF from taking Salby. So, knowledge was crucial here and the speed collection of data to cut Sharonan communciations (as well as a lot of luck) was necessary to Harshu's success. Since he appears to have no way to get that information but torture I think that torture was necessary once he decided to attack at all.

Nicholas

PS - If I haven't made it clear elsewhere I think the decision to attack was extremely foolish.

n7axw wrote:
Prior to Ft. Salby, Sharona didn't have anything in place to mount serious opposition. Ghartoum and the other forts were not only surprised, but outnumbered on the order of ten to one plus or minus. So while the element of surprise did cut down on Harshu's casualties, I disagree that it altered the outcome of the campaign. Had Harshu arrived at Salby even a few days later after chan Geraith arrived, he would have still been repulsed, even without the help of the prince. So the bottom line would have remained the same.

The encounter was a surprise for both sides. Arcana was able to strike first because of their ability to swiftly put a force in position to do so. That meant that Sharona's remote portal authority forts simply didn't have the time to gear up. And that was where Harshu had his success.

Don

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Tue Feb 02, 2016 10:02 am

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PeterZ wrote:You are supporting Harshu's need for speed, Don. Even with speed gained from using torture and truth spells, Sharona needed Janki's Talent to defeat the AEF. If Chan Geraith was present at Fort Salby armed with knowledge about dragons and the other Arcanan organic weapons systems, the AEF would have lost. As it was the AEF almost pulled it off even while fighting against Janki's Talent.

Harshu's read of the situation was accurate. He sacrificed his honor for a chance to gain his military objective. He failed by a hair and in failing Harshu fanned the flames of hatred in almost every Sharonan for Arcana and everything it stands for. His was a big risk, big return gambit that crapped out.


What I'm saying is the way it turned out speed didn't matter. He actually gained his military objective since the way it was spelled out originally was to gain a portal whose access he could control against the Sharonians. I think attacking Ft Salby at all was a mistake since the obvious choke point was the gap. The point was to find the chokepoint to defend and to wait for reinforcements.

Where he crapped out was his failure to anticipate how fast Sharona could reinforce. Has he taken Salby, he wouldnt have been able to keep it with Chan Geraith coming up. Secondly, because he had poor intel on the Sharonians transport capacity, he failed to appreciate chan Geraith's ability to flank him. His key mistake here was pulling back Carthas who could have at least provide a tripwire to warn him what was happening.

The offensive was over at Ft. Salby, Janiki or no Janiki, even if Harshu had taken the place.

Don

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Tue Feb 02, 2016 11:52 am

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n7axw wrote:
PeterZ wrote:You are supporting Harshu's need for speed, Don. Even with speed gained from using torture and truth spells, Sharona needed Janki's Talent to defeat the AEF. If Chan Geraith was present at Fort Salby armed with knowledge about dragons and the other Arcanan organic weapons systems, the AEF would have lost. As it was the AEF almost pulled it off even while fighting against Janki's Talent.

Harshu's read of the situation was accurate. He sacrificed his honor for a chance to gain his military objective. He failed by a hair and in failing Harshu fanned the flames of hatred in almost every Sharonan for Arcana and everything it stands for. His was a big risk, big return gambit that crapped out.


What I'm saying is the way it turned out speed didn't matter. He actually gained his military objective since the way it was spelled out originally was to gain a portal whose access he could control against the Sharonians. I think attacking Ft Salby at all was a mistake since the obvious choke point was the gap. The point was to find the chokepoint to defend and to wait for reinforcements.

Where he crapped out was his failure to anticipate how fast Sharona could reinforce. Has he taken Salby, he wouldnt have been able to keep it with Chan Geraith coming up. Secondly, because he had poor intel on the Sharonians transport capacity, he failed to appreciate chan Geraith's ability to flank him. His key mistake here was pulling back Carthas who could have at least provide a tripwire to warn him what was happening.

The offensive was over at Ft. Salby, Janiki or no Janiki, even if Harshu had taken the place.

Don

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Yet the judgement on Harshu must be based on what he knew or suspected before the events unfolded. From that perspective, Harshu's estimate was accurate. If he accepted that he had to attack, then getting information as quickly as possible AND limiting communications via the Voices was essential. Could he have gotten that information as or more quickly by using more honorable means? I really don't know but suspect that he could not.

We know now that Harshu wouldn't have gotten enough reinforcements to hold Fort Salby even if he had taken it. Mul Gurthak wouldn't have sent reinforcements forward. He could have taken the fort had Janki not been present and that would have meant Carthos would have been covering the other chain acting as a trip wire.

Assuming that mul Gurthak would have sent reinforcements had Harshu taken Fort Salby, they may or may not have enough resources to hold the fort against chan Geraith. I suspect the AEF wouldn't have enough resources available at the end of their very long supply chain to hold the Fort. Even so, the cost would have been much higher to take the Fort from the AEF than Sharona paid in defending the Fort(excepting Janki's loss).

Because all of this is true, I tend to agree with Nicholas that the attack was foolish. They attacked before they confirmed the sorts of forces Sharona could bring to bear to defend against their attack. I believe mul Gurthak believed that the Sharonan garthan/animals could deliver a nasty punch to a suitably unprepared opponent. He could send out such an opponent and use the consequences for his plan. Of course, once the Mythal army and navy came to grips with the Sharonan barbarians, the magicless heathen would be dragon droppings.
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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by n7axw   » Tue Feb 02, 2016 5:19 pm

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I agree that the attack as it was planned and executed was foolish. Removing mul Garthak from the equation and substitute someone whose concern was peace and Arcana's best interests, the most that should have happened was the seizure of the swamp portal and reinforcing it securely enough to hold it while serious negotiators were sent forward with an honest agenda of getting an agreement.

Peter's point about Harshu being judged on the basis of what he knew is a good one.

But what did he know? He knew that he was up against another multi-universe civilization with its own set of advantages as well as some handicaps, particularly in the area of weaponry. So he throws a comparatively light force into Sharonian territory. I think he started out with about 30 battle dragons, some infantry dragons, enough transports to carry his force, and, of course, the gryphons, both recon and battle. My impression is that he had, at a guess, about 8,000 to 10,000 men.

Harshu was known as an aggressive commander and in this case he counted on his speed to be decisive which turned out not to be true. What truly happened here was that mul Guthak used his aggressive nature to manipulate him into being dumb.

I'm also wondering what sort of crucial info Neshok obtained that was so critical to Harshu's advance. "The portal is thataway, now please stop hurting me???" Was that really a quicker way of finding the portal than simply following the roads? How many pows could have reliably come up with numbers for how strongly held the PAA forts were held? Count me skeptical...

Don

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Re: Reflecting Upon RTH -- SPOILER THREAD
Post by PeterZ   » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:36 pm

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An obvious bit of intelligence is what the characters in a map mean. Find that out quickly enough and you can read almost all maps pretty quickly. Another pretty important bit is how many Voices both military and civilian are there nearby. Getting that information quickly enough speeds everything up remarkably.
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