With thanks to Kyr Yarislav the Persistent.
Esprit de Corps: The selfless and often enthusiastic
and jealous devotion of the members of a group or association of
persons to the group and its purposes.
-- Websterís 3rd New International Dictionary
Esprit de Corps is the most essential element of between
war activities. Any commander will tell you that Morale wins battles.
Anything that binds a unit together should be considered. It is
the dedication to and pride for the group that makes a rabble of
soldiers into an efficient fight company.
What follows is a brief commentary on each of these
elements designed to increase Warband pride and efficiency.
It is vitally important to a unit that it maintains
the cohesion of it command structure. Sometimes people join then
fade away. Sergeants and lieutenants, and even commanders will
become inactive from time to time. After every war the unit is
likely to experience some degree of apathy.
Get Past It.
A unit should have a number of reliable or Core
members that the troopers know and respect. Whatever structure
is chosen for the unit must be maintained from war to war. Regular
unit meetings should to be held at least once between each war.
Means for electing officers, promotions and communication need
to be established.
These are vital for building camaraderie and group
identity. Time spent between the wars putting these together is
Tabards and shields, emblazoned with the groupís
device, look good, give the unit a uniform look on the field,
and helps unit cohesion on the field.
The unit should have one really good banner for
public events. Unit signifiers like the roman eagles. Something
the unit can put pride in. Add a ribbon or something to it for
each war to begin developing a unit history. This is involved
with legend building.
Another element of display between wars is Unit
Awards. Usually the unit founders design these. This is a way
to recognize achievement of many types. Blackrune has a Mug of
Valor and a Mug of Service. The names of the recipients are etched
on them. In general only those people whose names are on the mugs
may drink from them.
Bonding is important. A unit should develop some
symbol of membership to encourage camaraderie. Blackrune has Household
rings that are symbols of Household membership. Sietch Persistent
has red and white hats. Many units have members carry favors recognizing
membership. Several units have a common ale horn that is passed
around the fire. All are good.
Fighting practices should be at least twice a month
if not on a regular day every week. If a regular fighting practice
is going on in the local area, attend it. Have your unit show
up in force at least once a month for regular war practice. If
the unit is a new, contact the Praetorium to determine which brigade
you are fighting in and attend the practices of the other units
within the brigade. There are several Kingdom War Practices every
year. Attend them in force. There are several events each year
that lend themselves to group fighting.
Attend events and do things there. Have group lunches.
Active participation in regular events, between wars, helps increase
name recognition of the group and device recognition on the field.
Encourage your fighters to fight in lists and issue challenges.
This is the best way to learn. Attend the practices of the other
units in the brigadeís fighting practices.
If your allies know who you are they are more likely
to respond to your need on the field and not attack you accidentally.
Hold office and be active in your local area. A
reputation for service to the kingdom goes along way toward building
respect for the unit.
Workshops are good for increasing the efficiency,
appearance, and visibility of your unit.
Armor workshops are for arming new fighters, repairing
armor, and upgrading armor towards periodness.
Woodwork workshops are for building chairs, tables
and other wood products.
Costume workshops are for sewing tabards, tents
costumes and other group and individual items.
This means the process of building a history. Stories
and songs about the unitís activities on the field, group persona,
or territorial area can build pride. As time goes on these songs
will become treasured parts of the unitís history. Songs like
"Freesword for Blackrune" and "Rhino Land" are examples.
These can make massively increase the esprit de
corps of the unit. Parties are good, especially for a new unit
so members can get to know each other. Movie night, beach trips
or camping trips.
Camping trips are especially good. Find a good campsite
with plenty of room. Fight during the day. Sing at night. Tell
Money is a fact of life. It is the lifeblood of
any organization. As such it will be needed. There are numerous
ways to raise money. Each unit should have a treasurer whose responsibility
it is to keep the groupís bank account. Be cautious about financial
arrangements because this can get sticky from time to time.
Passing the hat is a common way to raise money.
It is slow but steady.
Yard Sales are great ways to raise money if you
can get people to donate their junk to the cause. Make sure they
take back anything not sold unless you like to store there junk
Contact the local territorial group and see if they
mind if you raise money by selling lemonade or coffee at events.
They may or may not let you do this.
Some units sponsor a merchantís booth selling a
variety of goods. If the unit has a merchant member than this
can work out. Otherwise you are forcing several members to spend
their wartime sitting in Merchantís Row.
Unit drills are very import for unit efficiency.
A unit that does not practice regularly is dog meat on the field.
A unit that is comprised of fighters who rely on fighting ability
alone is not as useful on the field as a unit of beginners who
follow their training.
It is also a good morale builder.
The main distinction is unit designation. Is the
unit is a Line Unit or a Skirmish Unit. Cross training is a good
idea too. If a Warband has skirmish and line elements it is vital
that they practice these drills in conjunction with each other.
Other sections of the War College cover these drills
more fully. Refer to those documents for full details.
Closed Order: Shield edges are locked and over lapping.
Open Order: 2í or so between each shield edge
Skirmish Order: about 4í or 6í between each fighter.
March Time: A slow, determined walk.
Double Time: a slow jog about twice the speed of
Charge: Running speed while staying in sink with
Drills for Line
Marching: A simple drill, better when conducted
through trees, playground equipment, park benches as well as the
flats. This is fairly dull but it is essential. Any future exercises
will rely on this drill. This drill can be done in Closed, Open,
and Skirmish orders. There are several modifiers on the march,
both order and time, as well as oblique, wings and other movement
Charge/Reform/Stop Charge Drill: The levy marches,
then charges at an arbitrary point, regroups on command then brace
to resist a charge. This drill can be done in Closed, Open, and
Shieldwall/Ground/Withdraw Drill: Used to practice
covering each other as the unit withdraws. Good on broken terrain
this drill can be done in Closed, Open, and Skirmish orders.
Pulse Charge Drill: The levy marches then makes
a fast charge, a designated number of steps, stops, retreats and
reforms. This is good for frightening poleman. This drill is best
done in closed order. It can be done in the others but remember
that poleman are frequently much better fighters than the average
shieldman. They may stand and slug it out.
Door Drill: The levy must prepare for this extremely
useful action. The unit is in closed order. Two shields fold back
and fighters behind the lines charge out and attack. The door
closes behind them. When they are done they will retreat, usually
quickly, which ever shieldman are directly behind the retreating
fighters must door for them. This is a closed order drill.
Resist Missile Fire Drill: the levy simply takes
all manner of fire, advancing standing, returning fire.
Polearms Drill: shieldmen form one line, poles
another, with neither advancing, but the poles doing their work,
practicing against a wall, the shieldmen learning not to peek
Bridge Drill: designate a bridge, slug it out.
Alternate who advances and who retreats.
Shield-Pass Drill: In full armor, all shieldmen
form a line. One man runs down the line, hitting his shield against
the other shields, the stationary men doing their best to resist
his efforts. When he gets to the end of the line, the next man
goes down the line after him. This teaches you how to hit a wall
March and Replace Drill: The levy marches forward.
At some point a man is designated dead and must fall out. The
shield line reforms or reinforced from the reserves. It is very
important to learn this well since it is common for fighters on
the advance to fall to archery or pole fire.
Melee Meat-grinder: 3 fighters hold the field against
3 others; injuries are cumulative. No weapons can be changed.
Form Column / Form Wall: This exercise trains a
unit to change formation from advancing wall to advancing or charging
column. The unit, in any order, advance steadily. At the command
Form Column of 3 (or 2, 4 etc.) the unit begins to split into
groups of 3 and stacks these triplets on the march. This will
change a wall of 15 fighters with 9 support weapons to a 3 wide
column of 8 ranks. Great for penetrating enemy lines. If another
unit is available practice charging the unit and penetrating it.
Then, on the march, at the command Form Wall, the unit stretches
out to reform the shield wall.
This is a very impressive maneuver when done on
the field of war. It is worth doing well. Practice it when on
the march. When on the field, and a long way from combat, it is
a good maneuver to practice to show your Warband skills.
Break Right/ Break Left Drill: This drill is for
charging around a line unit and flanking an enemy to their rear.
This can cause an enemy unit to break.
Wide Right/Wide Left Drill: A skirmish unit leaves
the rear of a line unit and goes wide to the side. This forces
the enemy to act cautiously, assign troops to defend or to retreat.
Door Drill: This is the companion drill for the
Line Units. Here the skirmishers call door, charge out, engage
the enemy, retreat, and pass the shield line. Generally when retreating
the skirmishers are running backward.
Pursuit: One of the skirmishers duty is to hunt
down stragglers, lone "COWBOY" fighters, killing the wounded,
or broken units. Never leave a wounded foe behind you. In this
drill the skirmish units run from one point to another in succession,
imitating changing targets.
Flank Strike: This drill practices a skirmish unit
hitting a unit's flank when it is in contact with an allied unit.
The Line unit splits in two simulating two units in conflict.
The skirmish unit leaves the reserve area and rolls directly around
the edge of the oppose unit.
Return to Reserve Drill. This drill is performed
immediately after several other drills. It is the action of a
skirmish unit returning to the protection of the Line Unitís reserve
for Single Weapon and Florentine Forms
By Kyr Yarislav the Persistent
Descriptions of Strikes:
FLAT SNAP: rotating the shoulders and hips, this
goes straight to the head or body.
RISING SNAP: related to #1 but looks like it is
dropping, then suddenly rises to strike the head.
FALLING SNAP: the reverse of #2, falling to hit
BULLWHIP: also called a vertical snap, it is a vertical
blow thrown straight down at the upper body, getting power by
being pulled back at the same time.
BACKHAND: this is a recovery shot, thrown by twisting
the shoulders and hips as one pulls the blow backóa horizontal
FLAT WRAP: this is thrown with the back edge or
top of blade, the blade and wrist turning over halfway in flight.
FALLING WRAP: same as #6, but takes the leg.
VERTICAL WRAP: see t6, but this is thrown to get
over a shield.
RISER: same as #8 in reverse, a timing shot.
WRIST FLICK: this changes the side of the body attacked
by rotating the wrist quickly. It is not a power shot, but a quick
WAVY SNAP: this blow is aimed at one side of the
body (as in right or left) but turns over in mid-flight to attack
the other side.
OVERHEAD/CROSSOVER: this is a blow begun from behind
the shoulder with the thumb down and comes over your own head,
thrown almost as a backhand.
SLOT SHOT: thrown as a snap, this impacts in the
funnel or slot created by an opponent's helm and shield. A fast,
REVERSE SLOT SHOT: virtually identical to #13, but
this is thrown somewhat as an overhead/crossover and is used by
OFFSPEED-SNAP instead of throwing the shot as quickly
as you can, this blow begins and hesitates at the shoulder, then
continues, causing your opponent to block and drop his guard too
PUNCH thrown as a snap without flexing the wrist
and using the half of the blade nearest the hilt, for up-close