View Full Version : ridiculous excuses for losing the battle....

05-12-2005, 09:20 AM
just for fun, imagine your general has to report to his superiors why he lost the battle. what nonsense might they make up? here're a few of mine:

'the sun was in our eyes'

'i said go left. simpson asked, 'left?' and i said, 'right.' well, *he* tells 'em to go right....'

'my guys ate some bad powdered eggs and had the runs'

'*i* was told the battle was on wednesday, *not* tuesday!'

'all things considering, i think we did pretty damn good. i don't remember seeing any of *your* assses out there! the truth? you can't handle the truth! this whole court is out of order! just when i thought i was out, you pull me back in! at-i-ca, at-i-ca!'

'bad karma, dude, plain as that'

'i know it sounds crazy, but i swear God was on their side'

'you know, maybe it's time to rethink this whole war thing, whaddaya say?'

'there was this cricket that kept my army up, like, all night long'

'we're at war?'

'i'd left my lucky underwear in the tent'

'i don't know who makes our weapons, but they suck!'

'i think the term 'counter-intelligence' says it all. think about it'

'they smelled us coming'

'who made the shielding for our ships? seran wrap?'

'that country has the worst acid rain you've ever seen. it ate through *everything*'

'second-hand smoke'

'second-hand smoke signals'

'we actually killed them to the man, but their *ghosts* came back. you ever try to kill a ghost? not that easy'

'just our dumb luck an earthquake hit just as we were charging'

'cleaning lady? she said she was a mystic sent, uh, by you guys. yeah, that's the ticket'

'our mascot died and everyone was bummed out'

'everyone's paychecks bounced and they were demoralized'

05-12-2005, 02:03 PM
"A dog ate my orders."

'i know it sounds crazy, but i swear God was on their side'Actually Richard III of England supposedly refused to pray for victory the night before Bosworth Field, saying that if it was God's will that he should win, praying for victory would be superfluous, and if it wasn't then it would be blasphemous. His priests weren't happy about this - they weren't used to people mixing religion with logic.

05-13-2005, 01:53 AM
They say that before the (naval) Battle of Drepana (249 BC), the augurs advised the consul P. Claudius Pulcher not to fight the Carthaginians because the sacred chickens, which were used for divination, had refused to leave their cages and eat the grain at all. Pulcher, enraged, picked the sacred chickens up and threw them over the side, saying "If they won't eat, let them drink."

His fleet was then destroyed (losing 93 of 123 ships) by the Carthaginians under Adherbal.

Try explaining that to the Senate. Pulcher, who was fined and punished, could have used some good excuses.

05-13-2005, 02:02 AM
A huge alien ship came out of nowhere and beamed us all aboard. They poked us with all kinds of needles and stuff, and dumped us, dazed, on the battlefield in just our underwear.

05-13-2005, 05:02 PM
My favorites from French Military history:

"They were just Flemish town-rats with spears. I mean, how hard could it be just to ride them down?"
--Battle of Courtrai 1304, aka "Golden Spurs" because of the number of golden spurs taken from dead French knights.

"They were just a load of peasant scum with bows. One good charge should have sorted them."
--Crecy 1346.

"This time we did the clever thing and advanced on foot. How were we to know that the English would mount up and counter charge?"
--Poitiers 1368

Seriously, though, read "On the Psychology of Military Incompetence" which is the classic work covering why idiots lose battles.

05-18-2005, 07:52 PM
Just yesterday, I found myself with a totally new problem in my current manuscript. First of all, the new, inexperienced skipper of an enemy ship found himself nearly surrounded by five vessels and made the mistake of turning about in a storm. After consulting someone experienced with sailing, I learned that I was right about the likelihood of a disaster and have to let the characters find that ship capsized later in the story.

Meanwhile, I've got to reconsider the entire ending because that ship is no longer a threat.

05-19-2005, 01:43 PM
It's your story. Pick a new skipper, or have his more experienced crew frag him.

05-19-2005, 03:48 PM
Maybe the crew made it off in a life-boat and are now doing something sneaky behind enemy lines.

05-19-2005, 05:01 PM
Well, taking to a lifeboat would be great, but there's no time to take to one when your ship is flipped upside down in a storm. Also, there's a crew of over a hundred, but only one rowboat not meant to be a lifeboat on the ship. Also, most of the crew have only a few months experience. They used to be in the army.

Frag? We're talking swords and sails here. ;)

Regardless, thanks. I think I can manage to sort out a new ending. If not, I'll take out the storm and let matters proceed from there.

05-20-2005, 02:02 AM
Hmm - well, it doesn't matter if only a few of the crew make it to the boat I think - those few could still do a lot of damage if they are experienced and they wind up behind enemy lines when the enemy doesn't know they're there.

Or could the other ship find survivors and render assistance, and the survivors treacherously take over their ship?

And you can cut somebody into quite small fragments with a sword...

05-20-2005, 03:34 AM
Well, I might wish that was possible, but circumstances preclude that from happening. Besides, the enemy already tried that earlier, so repeating that kind of incident would lose the reader's attention.

05-20-2005, 04:26 AM
What kind of a threat would the now-defunct ship have represented, if it hadn't sunk? What kind of replacement-threat do you need in order to make the plot work out?

05-20-2005, 06:38 AM
Well, in driving off the threat that ship was supposed to present, the captain of one boat was going to be killed. That would have placed his merchant wife closer to an apprentice captain who is up to no good. It would have also made it possible for another captain to take the dead captain's place. However, getting some of those vessels into position for a battle in which they'd have the strength to drive off the raider was getting to be a bit too contrived. Now with the raider capsized, the threat is gone and when the word gets to the enemy about what happened, the enemy will realize that sending single raiders is simply ineffective.

In the meantime, this appears to be presenting me with some interesting ideas for letting the characters shape the story since there are some back issues taking place that can come to the front now. One character is honor bound by his guild not to kill another who switched sides, but was responsible for a raid in which the honor bound character's wife was killed. The character who switched sides was attacked by mistake (that's why he switched) by the one whose ship capsized. That made the raider sort of a condolence prize to the one that's honor bound. Now without that raider to fight, the inner turmoil can rise within both the honor bound and the one who switched since neither is satisfied yet.

The good thing about all this is the fact that I don't intend to resolve every problem. Some will be left open because that's how life is. Multiple problems simply don't all resolve at the same time, so some will be left to fester and cause other problems in a later sequel. Um, yes, this is a sequel itself. Some of the problems occurred before this book.

05-20-2005, 12:42 PM
OK, so the ship going down is really proving quite useful and you don't want to change that. It sounds like the only problem is that you need some other way for the captain of the other vessel to be killed.

In real life that could happen so many ways. He could trip coming down stairs and bash his head. He could have a heart-attack. He could eat some dodgy mussels. He could be mugged.

In fiction, if you wrote about this sort of thing that really does happen to people every day readers might say "That's not realistic: that's a plot device" so you need to kill him in some way that seems to grow from the story. Could you give him a few twinges of angina or bouts of breathlessness earlier in the story, passed off as due to excitement?

Or if they have canon or spring-loaded siege weapons you could establish several chapters in advance that one of these weapons was faulty and then have it blow up/fly apart at him. Or if the storm is a really bad one he could be blown overboard, or killed by a broken mast.