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Old 12-15-2019, 11:02 PM   #1
WaterAndWindSpirit
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Default [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

Hello everyone!

So I made up a tribe as a backstory for a character I made for an AtE setting (the end was brought by nuclear fire), and it lead me to wonder, as a fun experiment, how to build their ace in the hole as in Mass Combat.

The Crows would be a pretty normal AtE tribe that just wants to live peacefully but are more than willing to defend themselves with extreme prejudice, and play mind games with anyone who would want to attack them. They are known in the wastelands to worship crows (thus their name), and otherwise ask them for advice and protection, one of the many silly cults that popped up in the wastelands.

They do not actually worship crows. They have a business like partnership with nests of mutated, hyper intelligent crows, to whom they give food and shiny trinkets (yes, crows do hoard shiny trinkets like magpies) in exchange for said crows being their eyes in the skies, and they do play up their cult-like reputation to hide their symbiosis in plain sight.

So, the question is, how are nests of hyper intelligent crows that give recon reports (and yes, crows can mimic human voice IRL, and these crows being hyper intelligent means they can give actual recon reports that can be understood by a human fighting force) but do not otherwise take part in combat and are usually ignored by enemy combattants best represented under Mass Combat rules?

The food and shiny trinkets clause is easy enough to model (give them a cost to raise and an upkeep cost, and just say these costs represent shiny trinkets and choice bits of food they buy from traveling merchants or something similar), and then they could be given Slow Air mobility and a (support) TS and Recon type meaning that the accurate intel they provide helps the tribe but they don't fight... But would they qualify as C3I elements? How to model the fact that unless their enemies specifically target them, they can move around pretty much as they please? Are they just excluded from casualties unless specifically targeted?
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Old 12-16-2019, 02:40 AM   #2
Michele
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Udine, Italy
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

If the crows also serve as messengers between parts of the Crow army, then they do qualify for C3I. I don't see why they shouldn't. However, it might be better to represent this with a human, ground-based command element that just makes use of the crows as messengers. Say, the human command element works as a C3I element as long as there are crow elements present (which will only have a support TS for Recon).

If the crows are present on the battlefield, then it doesn't matter if they don't actually fight; they may appear among the Crows' casualties. Area effect weapons, suppression fire etc. can affect them anyway.
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Old 12-16-2019, 02:52 AM   #3
WaterAndWindSpirit
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michele View Post
If the crows are present on the battlefield, then it doesn't matter if they don't actually fight; they may appear among the Crows' casualties. Area effect weapons, suppression fire etc. can affect them anyway.
I figured crows in the 12-14 IQ range would be smart enough to avoid the areas that are under heavy fire, and "heavy fire" being a relative term most of the times anyways in an AtE setting where automatic weapons are clearly not the norm, and most explosives being improvised, which is why they only have a "support" TS, and unless the enemies knew about them or they made themselves too much of a nuisance to the grunts, the grunts wouldn't "waste valuable bullets" (bullets being the currency in AtE) on "stupid birds".
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Old 12-16-2019, 06:17 AM   #4
DanHoward
 
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Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

Treat them as surveillance drones or reconnaissance aircraft.
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Old 12-16-2019, 11:38 AM   #5
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

In wars where messenger pigeons and similar were used, they were targeted for attack to disrupt enemy communications, which would result in casualties amongst the intelligent crows. With the fact the tribe is known to have some degree of animal husbandry with crows, the concept they might be being used as messengers may occur to the enemy.

Of course, if large numbers of crows (possibly a mix of normal crows and the intelligent variety) circle the site of battle, as often happened with large-scale battles in the past, it will be much harder for the enemy to realize what's happening, particularly if the crows use a relay system (although that does risk distortion of the message, as anyone who has played "telephone" can attest to). Of course, this being AtE, there's the risk of troops with black powder shotguns (the ammunition for which would be relatively cheap) or similar blasting at the circling crows to try and get extra rations. Characters in AtE tend not to be very picky about where they get their calories.
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Old 12-16-2019, 03:05 PM   #6
mr beer
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

Super intelligent crows will definitely obfuscate the fact that they are flying down to Crow generals in order to provide real-time battlefield intel. They might for example use some kind of signalling system based on flocking behaviour or drop-deliver short coded messages - crows are capable of simple tool use.

Crows feast well after a gory battle. Maybe al fresco eyeball buffets are a quid pro quo for the potentially dangerous reconnaissance of active battlefields.

Last edited by mr beer; 12-16-2019 at 03:09 PM.
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Old 12-17-2019, 02:39 AM   #7
Michele
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Udine, Italy
Default Re: [Mass Combat] Super intelligent crows

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
Treat them as surveillance drones or reconnaissance aircraft.
If they're that, then definitely they are only Recon, not C3I.

However, if I were the general of an army having such an asset, I would definitely want them as messengers for quickly sending orders to my more distant units, and for bringing back reports from them. That's command, communications and control, too.
In this case, I'd set aside a handful of intelligent aides, used to interact with the crows, to handle the flow of information, and that would be my land-based C3I element.

Naturally, that's worth the effort if the Crows have a proper army, numbering in the hundreds, or if several separate engagements are going on at the same time.
Otherwise, if I only have a few dozen warriors and one small battlefield, I'm better off commanding all of them directly (with order relaying or field signals), judging the situation directly instead of through reports, and sending the aides into battle instead.
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