"Keep digging that ditch. Once you've finished the ditch, dig another one."
— Emperor Edivus II to his soldiers, shortly before the siege defense of Marouka
The Belharans built many walled places around their empire, the remnants of a crash fortification program in the midst of the Godswar. It had mixed results during the war itself, but some of the mighty Belharan mural barriers do still stand around and inside Heartlander cities. Other fortified places remain empty, or have been occupied by bandits in the intervening centuries. For these fortifications, the imperials built monumental stone walls, often using blocks cut and fitted together by magic. Modern cities sometimes add onto the extant Belharan fortifications when necessary, but often let them slowly crumble away (or raid them for stone to build other things). It's not usually engineering knowledge that the builders of today lack, save perhaps a few of the more arcane spells and advanced math, but rather labor and resources. Under such constraints, a quick patch job, a wooden palisade, and a ditch are more than sufficient for most defenders' needs.
Ditches, walls, and other fortifications mean that armies rarely assault fortified places if they can avoid it. Few realms have the sort of resources to sustain a real army, let alone a proper engineering corps for their army to overcome such defenses. However, for those that do, like Khor'minos, attacking a walled fortification usually boils down to building a large berm, or mole, of compacted earth that fills in any ditches in front of a wall and reaches high enough to allow archers and mages to scale the mole and fire down on the defenders of a wall. After they clear the wall, it becomes safe enough for infantry to scale it with ladders and capture it. Of course, if there is anyone in the assaulting army who can fly above the fortifications, the task of clearing the wall becomes much simpler — another reason why Lumia's valkyries and Sorra's harpies are highly prized warriors in serious conflicts.
It is known that the ancients sometimes had other means of breaking into cities. They had some siege engines, although those few that survive mostly seem to have been used to clear warriors off of the tops of walls rather than breaking the walls themselves. Magic is also a possibility, but few spells have the sort of concussive power needed to seriously damage stone, brick, or earth fortifications. There are also literary references to undermining walls with tunnels so that they collapse, but in the modern era, few can manage such a feat save the myrmarcs of southern Belhar and the Minoans… and these masters of engineering do not share their secrets lightly.
Defenders, of course, have their own countermeasures. They can generally collect more food than their besiegers can, and have the advantage of fortifications to base their fight around. It may take quite a long time for an attacking army to even reach the main walls of a city, let alone overcome them and breach them, and they will be subject to sallying raids by the defenders at every step. The defenders have, in fact, so many advantages that apart from the valkyries and harpies and the legendary engineering prowess of Khor'minos, few in Savarra can reliably assault well-defended stone fortifications. As a result, most such places, if they fall at all, fall to treachery or sneak attacks, or simply negotiate terms with their attackers to avoid the hassle of a siege. A successful propaganda program can be critical to making the last solution viable; the Minoans, for example, often host envoys from foreign powers in chambers decorated with reliefs of the legions assaulting cities, an unsubtle reminder of what they can do better than most.
- The quotation and a Silly Mode reference in the text itself both unsubtly refer to the classical historian Roel Konijnendijk's series of YouTube videos for Insider.
- The codex entry describes a state of siege warfare immediately preceding the so-called golden age of sieges, which began in the historical Hellenistic era and saw a vast proliferation of besieging techniques and devices like the remarkable creations of Archimedes of Syrakousai and the infamous Helepolis of Demetrios Poliorketes.