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.
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.
Simple Ram ("Tulram")
A model example for a Ram is the so-called "Tulram", which is primarily used by the orcs. The trunk, the main wooden part, measures around one and a half peds in diameter, is about 20 peds in length and is made of the strong wood from the tulmine tree (also lending this weapon its original name). A simple steel cone is fitted over the top of the wood and attached, handels allow the attackers to grip the Ram properly.
With alterations to its length, width, and cap part, this kind of Ram is used by men, elves, and dwarves alike, though orcish warriors can achieve the best effects with this device due to their exorbitant strength.
The Rope Ram or Chain Ram ("Canichon")
The Rope or Chain Ram is more than a simple log operated by several men - it has a beam hanging in mid-air on ropes or chains attached to a supporting frame, a vehicle actually on small wheels. This Ram, once brought into place, can exert more force on a target as the heavy log itself doesn't need to be carried, but can simply be swung to slam against the enemy wall or gate. The log can be of much larger size as well than in the Tulram version. This type of Ram was named after its Erpheronian inventor, Aegil Canichon, who introduced it during SW II.
The Wheeled Ram ("Rolling Ram")
Finally there is the Wheeled Ram, where the log is not carried nor hanging on ropes or chains, but is firmly attached to a carriage, which is then moved against the obstacle. In this case the log can be much larger and the impact on a gate can happen with much greater speed, which makes this kind of Ram the most effective of all existing types. The Canichon and the Rolling Ram also commonly have protective roofs or leathered-covered side-screens to prevent that the Ram can be set on fire by the defenders.
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
Fighting Style. Depending on the kind of Ram in question, the device needs to be operated differently:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Information provided by Lucius Helvil and Artimidor Federkiel