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Thyatian Tacticsby Jamie Baty
The Thyatian legion is disciplined and efficient. An exceptional legion runs smoothly- every member from the newest legionary to the legate knows his job and knows he can rely on his brethren to do theirs. Training is standardised, and field operations are remarkably similar, regardless of the legion and its commander. As a result, a legionnaire can be placed in any position on the line, or be transferred between legions, and immediately be able to execute his duties.
While tactical situations vary, and may alter the finer details, most legions operate a variation of a standard order of battle. Each legion is deployed in two lines of 5 cohorts each, with Cohort I stationed in the first line on the right. The velites and archer/slingers form in front of the cohorts, cavalry is positioned on the flanks.
The legion opens battle with missile fire, supplemented by field artillery (usually a ballista known as a "scorpion"), and magical area attacks if available. This often will get the opposing force to begin moving towards the legionary lines (or better, flee). As the enemy approaches, the archers and slingers will reposition themselves on the flanks to offer support to the cavalry and the main legionary line. The velites will move forward to hinder the enemies approach. The main legion then begins to move forward at brisk pace. Once the main line is within 50ft, the velites withdraw through the gaps between the mantiples, and the legionnaires throw their pila at the enemy lines, draw their gladii and charge as a unit into the enemy line.
Legionnaires are taught to thrust and stab with the sword rather than slash. This is for the following reasons 1) Stabbing is more efficient- a 2" stab wound is more likely to be fatal than a 12" slash wound 2) Stabbing allows the legionnaire to target the weak points of the opponents defence better- the neck, groin, armpit typically- while minimising exposure to one's own weak points. Typically stabbing has a better chance to penetrate armour than slashing 3) The compact action of thrusting allows the legionnaires to stay close in the line, each gaining some measure of cover from his neighbour's shield on the unprotected sword arm 4) Stabbing expends less energy than slashing, an important consideration when battles can last for hours.
The right side of a legion will try to overwhelm the enemy's left side, and roll into the enemy centre and right. The legion's left typically tries to hold ground long enough for the right to rout the enemy. The cavalry first tries to remove the enemy cavalry, then the enemy archers and missile troops, and then attacks the rear of the enemy. They also pursue routed troops.
Communications are standardised on the field. Trumpets and bugles relay commands from the legate to the signifiers, who use their standards to help signal the centurians of the legate's commands. Centurians relate their commands to the troops through high-pitched whistles. In multi-legion armies, the legate may have Scrolls of Communication to stay in contact with the army's commander.
The legions usually build fortified camps every afternoon after a march when on campaign. The main defence of the camp is an earthen ditch and rampart. The ditch is about 10ft wide and deep. The outer edge is vertical and the inner edge is about sloped 45 degrees. The rampart rises 10ft and is reinforced with sharpened wood stakes. The enemy attacking the camp usually sees the slope to the rampart and charges headlong into the ditch. Once realising the difficulty of getting up the rampart in the face of legionary resistance, the fleeing enemy is then trapped against the vertical wall preventing their escape out of the ditch.
For camps that will be occupied for an extended period of time, the legionnaires will add "lilies" in front of the ditch. A lily is a concealed, shallow pit containing a wicked iron spike. They are deployed in "fields," one every 5ft in a checkerboard pattern. Anyone entering a square with a lily must make a Reflex save vs DC 18. If failed the victim suffers 1d4 damage, 4 dexterity damage and moves at half speed until the damage is healed. If a victim knows the square contains a lily and he moves at half speed, the Reflex save DC is 12 (14 if moving normal speed). Lily fields are a minimum of 20ft deep, but may be as much as 150ft deep when used to help defend a Thyatian city.
Thyatian legions are expertly trained to carry out siege operations. Most baggage trains carry the parts needed to construct siege artillery of various types and there are many siege engineers within the ranks to oversee field construction of siege mines, siege towers, earthen moles, and additional artillery. Many legionnaires have rudimentary training in carpentry to help build these pieces in the field. They will harvest wood from nearby sources as needed for the additional pieces. For extended sieges, the legion will build its own siege works to envelope the city, and to protect its own troops from a possible relieving force.