Rules Of War

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There is a perception on the Disc that Warfare is an art which must be conducted according to a set of agreed rules, otherwise it just degenerates into an unseemly messy brawl between two gangs. This is most distressing to those leaders in society who, in time of national crisis, automatically become leaders of Armies in wartime. War is (at least for those leaders) a gentlemanly art conducted acording to gentlemanly rules because, Gods damnit, we are gentlemen and as such are distinguished by being of higher rank and social ton. Such rules, or at least guidelines for the etiquette of conducting battle, do not necessarily have anything to do with the most efficient use of your manpower so as to win quickly with the minimum numbers of casualties. Nor do they have to do with common-sense precepts such as "never charge a large body of archers who have had time to prepare a defensive position over four hundred yards of open ground", or, as it is more commonly formulated, "Never try to win an arse-kicking contest with a porcupine" (attrib. Cohen the Barbarian). No, this sort of thing is for mere military technicians and tradesmen, the sort of people with no independent income who have to make a livin' at it, and who evidently aren't gentlemen.

The Rules of War, to a Ronnie Rust, might include:-

  • Klatchians will always faint at the taste of cold steel
  • Wide-open spaces are where we can practice the art of warfare.
  • That's how you settle these things. One decisive battle!.
  • That is how these things are decided!

However, to a General Callus Tacticus, they mean something else entirely - like how to win your wars while keeping your army intact.

The same applies to the famous Agatean strategist One Tzu Sung, or it might even have been Three Sun Sung, or maybe even some unsung genius, who codified the art of war in the Aurient into a set of rules and precepts for the guidance of the great family leaders and warlords.

The most important thing here is that whatever the disagreement between great Lords, the person of the Emperor must not be harmed in any way.

The Thirty-Six Precepts of Chinese general Sun Tsu ("One Tzu Sung") are summarised and discussed here.