THE BATTERING RAM SIEGE ENGINE

DESCRIPTION - USAGE - FIGHTING STYLE - ORIGIN/HISTORY - MYTH/LORE

A Ram, militaristically spoken, in principle is a wooden beam used to batter down walls or gates of a fortified place. The large, heavy log, often endowed with a metal cap as well, is either carried by several people or is attached to some sort of vehicle. Either the men with their own strength or through the help of the machine are generating a force that is flung against an obstacle repeatedly until it breaks. Battering Rams are crucial especially at sieges, where they can literally constitute the "breaking point" of a turning battle, allowing the attackers to penetrate gates and infiltrate the enemy keep or castle. Simple Battering Rams are often used by orcs, more sophisticated devices were developed in the course of time especially by the Erpheronians.

The Simple Ram ("Tulram")

View picture in full size Picture description. This battering ram is made purely of wood, although primitive the ram achieved victory for the attacking army in this battle. Image from the game Mystical Empire, used with friendly permission, drawn by Faugar.

Description. Battering Rams all work with the same principle, though their appearances may vary considerably. In general one can discern between three kinds of Rams: the Simple Ram, the Rope or Chain Ram and finally the Wheeled Ram.

Usage. Inspired by the unpleasant reaction of an annoyed ram beast, the Ram as a military device tries to put all the might of a group of fighters into one single weapon, meant to harm the enemy at a neuralgic point: The only purpose of this weapon is to knock down the gates of a city, a keep or a fortification in general. During a siege these weapons therefore are absolutely essential - they force open the gates, breaching the enemy’s defenses and allow the attackers to stream into the enemy territory and the assault and melee fighting to begin. The orcs have taken a special liking to this kind of weapons, and use them often in their raids and attacks. Return to the top

Fighting Style. Depending on the kind of Ram in question, the device needs to be operated differently:

The Battering Ram

View picture in full size Picture description.The black Orcristh Orcs of Nybelmar operating a Battering Ram to breach fortifications. Image of the game Mystical Empire, used with friendly permission, drawn by Quellion.

At the Tulram multiple people hold the beam; the actual amount varies with the length and weight of the battering ram. But all operate under the basic concept. The beam is held at waist level, and is heaved to and fro into the obstacle. Sometimes, for extra power, the people run with the beam to and fro. The difficulty with this Simple Ram is that it leaves the attackers vulnerable to attack. Often rocks, hot water or even acids are thrown or unloaded at the attackers from above the gate. Archers can easily pickoff the attackers from nearby walls, slowing the attack. If the gates are breached, the attacker gains the upper hand, because the defenders are forced off their easily protected walls. Standing in the front line operating a Tulram therefore isn't a thankful job and strong support from the back rows in order to prevent the Ram operators from being eliminated is absolutely crucial. If a Ram operator is down, getting another one in place can cost valuable time.

Attacks with Canichons or Rolling Rams are maybe less dangerous for the attackers, but nevertheless still hazardous enough to make it an extremely risky undertaking. These Rams usually feature protections on all sides and can be shoved into place with the Ram frame protecting the attackers to a certain degree. Castle defenders will try to foil these assaults by throwing heavy obstacles into the Ram's straight path, by setting the vehicle on fire or by using grappling hooks to immobilze the swinging log. Return to the top


Origin/History. The true origin of the Battering Ram is still fiercely debated, but there are various indicators that Rams were used already millenia ago in the southernmost parts of Northern Sarvonia. Some historians believe that the Ash’mari barbarians perhaps first invented the weapon, back then using specially prepared logs to breach more or less simple wooden orcish structures. - Other scholars claim that it could have been the other way round as well - that it were actually the Losh-Oc orcs, living in the harsh hills of Oro north of the Tandalas, who conquered heavier fortified Ash’mari or even Kuglimz'torik settlements with the help of Rams. As a matter of fact Losh-Oc orcs often raid Ash’mari cities, so it is assumed that either the orcs copied the idea form the men or vice-versa to even out the disadvantage of not possessing such a tool when needed.

Battering Rams became common in Southern Sarvonia as well during SW I and SW II. The Erpheronians, being the driving force behind the development of siege engines, managed to improve the basic concept and eventually produced the Canichon (Rope or Chain Ram) and later the Wheel Ram, which were both effectively used for example during the Erpheronian siege of Milkengrad in 617 b.S. Other tribes (orcs, humans, dwarves) started to copy these ideas until all three known forms of Battering Rams were in use practically everywhere on the continent.

Nevertheless it seems quite obvious that Sarvonia didn't have the privilege of being the sole inventors of the Battering Ram. Very similar concepts appeared at other continents as well, like in Nybelmar to give an example, where the black Orcristh orcs,
living in the canyons along the Uiyujappa River west of the Zhunith Desert, seem to have developed Rams independently and made good use of them in several wars they led.
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The Simple Ram ("Tulram")

View picture in full size Picture description. A bunch of Caltharian warriors carrying a Quaerash Ram using the head of the monstrous lizard lending the Ram its name. Image from the game Mystical Empire, used with friendly permission, drawn by Faugar.

Myth/Lore. Oftentimes Battering Rams are more than just simple, but efficient tools to break through enemy fortifications. Throughout history we know of several occasions when warriors dubbed their successful Rams and put them on show when returning home from a victorious battle. The head of a vicious beast, be it giant lizard, drake, serpent, warg or wolf was often added to it, e.g. very common at the Ashmari barbarians, at first simply for demonstration reasons. Only later on they became also part of the design itself for different reasons.

Tribes like the Ashmari used such Rams to raise the morale of the attackers themselves by thus adding a blessed companion on their side, a once defeated foe reincarnated, whose spirit would now fight unsweveringly until the enemy's defeat. To strengthen this belief the Ashmari carved holy runes into the wooden beam, which should tie the spirit of the deceased monster to its new purpose: destroying its master's enemy. - At the same time bringing Rams with ferocious animal heads into battle implicitely was meant to intimidate the defenders, to show these heads as trophies and as a sign of warning - an effective means of psychological warfare. Other tribes, like the technically advanced Orcristh orcs in Nybelmar, constructed their Battering Rams as efficiently as they could by making a beast or monster head directly as a part of the siege engine's design, using e.g. steel to form a ram's or a dragon's head, which they attached to a wooden beam.

Famous Sarvonian Battering Rams are for example the "Zaerethain", the Wheel Ram used during the Erpheronian siege of Milkengrad in 617 b.S. featuring a horned drake's head fabricated from black steel, the Ashmari "Kan-Whu'ul", a Tulram using the head of an orcish commander - and the "Quaerash" Rams used by the ancient Caltharians with heads and tusks of the enormous quaerash lizards known to be living around the High Fores.
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Information provided by Lucius Helvil View Profile and Artimidor Federkiel View Profile