Jump to content

Warfare in the Duniverse


Davidu
 Share

Recommended Posts

The pre-Leto II period didn't seem that controlled. I mean I remember in the first book that inscription at the Arrakeen spaceport, sign that people were coming and leaving the planet. Also I remember Thufir (or Gurney) telling Leto that the natives are getting restless because of the number of people House Atreides was going to settle as they feared for the water supply. Arrakis is (again) a special place because it didn't have such a big population. Garrison villages are there to inforce the local house's power, but here they come in conflict with the theory of restricted troop number. If several tens of thousands of heavily armed troops can keep up against a few million unarmed civillians, how can they keep up against more populated planets? There must be planets in the Duniverse that after roughly 13 000 years have billions of people.

 

I think there must've been a parralel police force made out of natives, a sort of militia which was controlled by anyone who ruled the land, and the House forces would come in only if the militia failed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think there must've been a parralel police force made out of natives, a sort of militia which was controlled by anyone who ruled the land, and the House forces would come in only if the militia failed.

That's very logical and certainly has historical parallels, however I can't remember anything like that mentioned in the books.

I guess Arrakis was also special in the sense that people would come and go in search of opportunities there, kind of like the American frontier. These people were probably only a fraction of the total population of the Known Universe, along with the smugglers and such.

There's one more thing about population control: census. It is mentioned (in one of the Appendices IIRC) that only the Fremen were not subject to census, therefore their population numbers remained unknown (and the Harkonnens didn't bother counting them anyway). I also suppose that in order to travel, anyone would have to submit all personal information, and would be more or less easily tracked by the Guild and other authorities should the person in question be considered suspicious for any reason.

Social mobility was also limited by the faufreluche system. I think this could be more or less compared to the class system in Britain. It's not that one cannot change one's trade or social standing, it's just that if such things happen, many factors must contribute to it, and certainly this cannot happen against the interests of the whole society.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right. It's like in China you cannot buy a train ticket without your personal ID. I don't remember if home was like that... I mean we always showed the seller our student cards to get deductions but I don't remember if otherwise we needed our IDs.

 

Anyway, a certain number of locals employed as town guards or auxilliaries is very much possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was written with google docs, so I can export it in a number of formats. Attaching it here in a PDF format or something should work for the thread. Tossing it to Gob might not be a bad idea; he could put it somewhere more permanent if he thinks it is worthwhile.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've read the first part of your paper and I like it, it's accurate. My problem is with the weapons lengths. The 20cm long blade is, by my opinion, too short to be effective in forward combat. In ambushes and inflitrations, yes. Also, 30-35 to 40-45 cm long blades I'd see them as short swords, anything smaller is a fighting knife or a dagger, which can't usually be used to parry, but can be concealed.

 

What you said to be as 70cm is a normal length sword. Anything bigger would be a two-handed blade, and in the middle ages those were mostly used as pole weapons... to break a spearmen formation, etc. So anything bigger than 50cm would be unusable.

 

I should read the Assumptions part also before I post anything more :)

 

Assumptions:

 

flamethrower - there is a mention in one of the books where they talk about a Harkonnen outpost on Giedi Prime done by burning a clay building by flamethrower, thus making a single body, cheap and fast. Also in the first book when the Sardaukar invade the Palmaries of the South to kill Paul's first child they use the rocket fire of their ships as flamethrowers. This means that in the Dune warfare they are known and (sporadically at least) used.

 

armies - I think your estimate of the Harkonnen army is a little small, as I don't think the Baron would throw ALL his troops against the Atreides: he still needs to keep order in his fief and surely he has other enemies. So, maybe the upper 600 000 men is more likely. Also there is no differentiation between fighting and support units. Usually an army only has 30 - 50 % of its men as fighting force, the rest being support personnel: medics, drivers, cooks, administration, mechanics, military police, engineers, logistics, radar, etc. Then a fighting force of 250 000 makes sense if the total military is around 500 - 600 000. Remember a Major House has to impose its soverignity on its fief, not all houses command the loyalty House Atreides did, especially the Harkonnen who ruled with an iron fist. Therefore I think the Harkonnen would have a bigger army than others not only because they're rich, but as you said - paranoid. Not only that but if you use opression as a form of government, you need a strong army to impose yourself.

 

Also, is an army recruited from members of the House or from the subject populace? Or do they use the employment of mercenaries? As far as I see the need for loyalty the army would be recruited from the House members, just as the Duke's guard I remember was recruited from his close family members: cousins, uncles, etc. If I am wrong, please tell me. Therefore the total army numbers might be in perfect concorde with a theory that says a given community's military force in numbers is around 10% of its population. This would put Harkonnen around 6 million, and most other Houses around 2 - 4 million. With such a number I think a Major House IS possible to control its fief not only militarily but economically AND administratively. 

 

One more thing about armies (I also talked about this with MrFibble): the use of a local police / militia / territorial guard to keep the population in check. 

 

Aaaaaand for me the PDF stops at page 58...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where the length of the knives are concerned, the novel is pretty explicit. The Kindjals, which are described with frequent use both by the nobility and infantry, are 20cm long. So are the crysknives. They are referred to both as knives and swords, providing ambiguity as to the length of other swords that have no further description. It actually makes sense if you think about how much more difficult it would be to slowly place a longer blade inside the protective barrier of a shield. A shorter blade would be more effective for the less skilled.

 

For the length of a sword, over 70 inches would not be a requirement of a two handed sword. Two hands are generally a requirement of purpose and weight, not length. Historically, weapons named as short swords have had varying blade lengths, as it is mostly relative to the total category of used blades at the time, as well as based on purpose and technique used. For a few examples:

Green Xiphos (standard greek short sword): 50-60cm

Roman Gladius (standard roman short sword): 60-68cm

Roman Spatha (considered a "long sword" of the era, and very much a one handed sword just to give a non-shortsword for the era): 60-85cm

Arming Sword of the Norman era (probably derived from the spatha, and is the classic medieval "knight's" sword, and also one handed; as a non-shortsword, compare its length to some later shortswords below): 69-81cm

Swiss degen (short sword, 15th and 16th century): 40-70cm

German Katzbalger (15th to 17th century, considered a short sword of the era): 75-85cm

 

In fact, the Xiphos and Gladius are both frequently categorized as fighting long knives, due to their tensile strength compared to swords of later ages, and their design being centered around thrusting.

 

Further, simply because a blade is longer doesn't mean it isn't useful or used against shields. We see descriptive evidence of Rapiers used against shields for instance. Presumably, a skilled fighter would be able to use longer blades as I described.

 

Pertaining to the flamethrowers, you are correct. The quote you were referring to is the following:

  • "My Sardaukar used the attitudinal jets on their carrier as flame-throwers,"

I had recalled the passage, but not the details when the Emperor uses a simile--which of course betrays knowledge of such devices. I'll have to append that section a bit. Still, I would relegate them to the same status as other projectiles; not very useful given the presence of shields, but otherwise fairly efficient against crowds of peasants. The other scene you described I do not remember. Do you remember at least what book it is in?

 

Regarding the size of armies, I agree to an extent. Certainly the numbers would have to consist of auxiliary military personnel and wouldn't be all fighters. However, given rapid mobility (thus lacking the need for large supply chains), low technology of warfare (less need for repair depots and many specialized mecahnical, technological, communication and logistics) I think the number would be smaller than you're suggesting. I would add to that a significant number of spies, assassins and other non-direct fighting personnel that wouldn't appear in a deployment roster for open battle.

 

I didn't mean to suggest that the Baron would leave his planets defenseless, but the depth of his hate for the Duke would certainly have him leave no more than was needed.

 

For recruitment, we only have knowledge (ironic given how big of a secret it was supposed to be) about where the Sardaukar are recruited. Give the size of the militaries I would guess that the majority are professionals, meaning this is their job; they aren't conscripts. Give the caste system in place, I would further say that they aren't recruited, but instead that they may constitute a small privileged class of people, who are born and raised to defend their ruling house. Their loyalty might be greater or less depending on how their rulers treat them, but I wouldn't expect any of them to be about to begin a coup (it is amazing what a good "spy" network can do for you to keep a military loyal). In a time of great need, they may hire mercs, but I would suspect they would use alliances to help bolster their ranks (as the Harkonnen did) and conscripts only if it was really necessary (planetary defense for instance; it wouldn't be worth the cost to pay transport for them in an attack).

 

I believe you might be thinking of the Duke's lieutenants, not necessarily his personal guard:

  • Paul directed his attention to the cliffs, thinking: And it couldn't be Gurney . . . or Duncan. Could it be one of the sub-lieutenants? Impossible. They're all from families that've been loyal to us for generations--for good reason.

It is late here, so I'll have to come back to the local police question, but I would probably still stand by my military size estimates as deployable armies using what we have to speculate with so far. (A rough off the hand guess might place the number of spies and related personnel at at least the same size as the armies, if not larger; it is up to you weather you want to consider them part of the military head count or not)

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

About the flame-throwers: they could de effective in shielded warfare due to the fact they provide good visual cover (blinds the target with flames, also can create smoke screens by burning stuff) and it can most probably cook you inside your shield as you also said. Probably they're non-regular weaponry, I mean not sanctioned by the Great Convention, meaning they're used but in secret and in small numbers. Against population they're more than effective by the psichological effect: it's a better death on a tip of a sword than burned alive.

 

I really cannot remember the book, all I know it was one of the older ones, the one they talk about a Harkonnen town called Baronia or Baronial (a crazy social experiment stacking castes above one another so everyone is motivated to literally climb the social ladder and so keep them in check). And this outpost was somewhere nearby... I don't have the books with me and i read them in my native romanian so some terms might be a bit altered.

 

As for the armies you're right... lack of long campaigns and need for extensive repair would atrophy the support personnel's structure. And spies wouldn't be on the front line of a conflict though they'll be risking their necks as well. 

 

Anyway, great piece of material there ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pertaining to the flamethrowers, you are correct. The quote you were referring to is the following:

  • "My Sardaukar used the attitudinal jets on their carrier as flame-throwers,"
I had recalled the passage, but not the details when the Emperor uses a simile--which of course betrays knowledge of such devices. I'll have to append that section a bit. Still, I would relegate them to the same status as other projectiles; not very useful given the presence of shields, but otherwise fairly efficient against crowds of peasants. The other scene you described I do not remember. Do you remember at least what book it is in?
It's from Heretics of Dune, and the weapon in question is actually a lasgun:

Setting his lasgun on maxibeam, Teg pressed the trigger. A fiery arc swept across the slope below him. Trees burst into flame and crashed. People screamed. The weapon would not perform long at this discharge level but while it did the carnage produced its desired effect.

In the abrupt silence after that first sweep, Teg shifted his position to another screening rock on his left and again sent a flaming lance down the dark slope. Only a few of the drifting glowglobes had survived that first slashing violence with its falling trees and dismembered bodies.

More screams greeted his second counterattack. He turned and scrambled across the rocks to the other side of the no-globe's access cave. There, he sent sweeping fire down the opposite slope. More screams. More flames and crashing trees.

This was a "modern" lasgun BTW (the characters also had some antique Harkonnen weapons from the no-globe). The old ones had similar functionality though:

The Masters were spread out farther downslope than he had anticipated. Fearful creatures! Teg set the old lasgun on maxibeam and lifted himself suddenly from his protective cradle in the rocks.

He saw the arc of advancing Face Dancers in the light of burning trees and brush. The high-pitched voices of command came from behind the advance, well out of the dancing orange light.

Aiming over the heads of the nearest attackers, Teg sighted beyond the jumble of flames and pressed the trigger: two long bursts, back and forth. He was momentarily surprised by the extent of the destructive energy in the antique weapon. The thing obviously was the product of superb craftsmanship but there had been no way to test it in the no-globe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm. I didn't even notice that. I couldn't tell you why the exporter generated those extra "dummy" pages. The end of the text is on page 58, so you've read the whole thing. 

 

You were asking about how a House might go about enforcing justice in the general population earlier. I've given it a bit of thought, but I'm not sure I have much creative insight in that department that could add to the discussion. I suppose that I would imagine most of the security is done on a "guilty without a chance to be proven innocent" in most situations, and maybe a chance to prove innocent in some. If the population can't be a viable danger to the ruling cast, there's no need to placate them with a fair judicial system. It would be easier to simply rule by fear of example most of the time.

 

As a result, most places wouldn't necessarily need a full judicial system, or even separate police units. The massive spy network would work as the first line of defense, acting as a "secret police" force. Where necessary, the "big guns" of the military could be called in for extermination actions. Otherwise, a few abductions and arrests would usually take care of any situation. After 10,000 years of not being able to right such wrongs, the population would probably be pretty complacent. Especially if they're given a nice bland (engineered) peaceful religion as they have through the Orange Catholic Bible (example of the stagnation even in this part of the Imperium's lives) to keep them faithful that salvation comes at the end.

 

The source material provides very little evidence, except what we know of Salus Secundus and what we might creatively infer about how the Harkonnen handle justice (through vague references by the Atreides' lieutenants like Gurney that were imprisoned by them). Perhaps the best bet would be to find examples of how justice was handled historically in Autocratic regimes with hard caste systems. That might get us a bit further.

 

Another thought just occurred to me, that looking specifically at feudal societies might bear some fruit in this area. The Dune Imperium could probably be considered feudal, although at the very top we have some balance of power between the Emperor, Landsraad and Guild. Once we get into a fife, (I'm assuming) the ruler is absolute as long as the Imperial rules aren't broken. Likely, in such a caste system, there would be a level of administrators granted to administrating various regions and provinces. Each of those would doll out power to those in a lower administrative caste as well. Down and down this would go until you get to local thuggaries who enforce "law" on their immediate people (who, because of the division of power in a caste system would now qualify as a lower subservient caste). If the system is structured somewhat like this, there wouldn't be any need to have a planetary policing force, and the spy system would just need to make sure the tree of administration is being properly maintained. The military would only need to intervene if a local authority figure decided to try to grab too much power, or caused too much economic disruption as a result of his or her policies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The source material provides very little evidence, except what we know of Salus Secundus and what we might creatively infer about how the Harkonnen handle justice (through vague references by the Atreides' lieutenants like Gurney that were imprisoned by them). Perhaps the best bet would be to find examples of how justice was handled historically in Autocratic regimes with hard caste systems. That might get us a bit further.

I can't remember where exactly, but IIRC there's a quote somewhere in the books (I guess in one of the later ones) that says the Harkonnens created such a system where the soldiers in the Baron's service lived obviously better than anyone else in the general population. It's not very clear how the population of Giedi Prime sustained itself, but probably they could afford to import goods from other systems if there was little opportunity to produce their own. (There's an obvious contrast in the book between the Atreides and the Harkonnens that the former are an agricultural society and the latter an industrial one.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...