IAmAStik

Why weren't spanreeds used during battle in WoK?

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In "Way of Kings", why didn't Dalinar have spanreeds during his battle at The Tower where Sadeas betrayed him to be surrounded by the Parshendi? Of course, Dalinar didn't have any allies back in the war camps that could have come to his aid in time, but he could have at least written to Elhokar and the rest informing them of Sadeas' betrayal. At the least, he could have dictated a heartfelt farewell to Renarin and Navani. Is it established that spanreeds aren't used during battles because only women could read and write?
Spanreeds would be so much more efficient than runners in giving orders throughout an army, but was this addressed already somewhere? I suppose Tien was (supposed to be) a messenger in Amaram's army, so we do have some insight into this. Seems like an oversight of the Alethi; up to that point (in WoK), we've usually seen that they take whatever "tech" is available and use it to make war/fighting more efficient.

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Fights for gemhearts werent "normal" battles, they were more like raids - forces need to be quick and mobile. We know Alethi dont hesitate to take women and even children to war, and they used spanreeds before, even without scribes, just using on/off mode on reeds to comunicate via blinking code. So this isnt about war efford, this is about this specific warfare - taking scribes, women, anything what isnt soldiers slows down army. Alsothere are just few possible fight outcomes and there was no need to call for reinforcements practitcly always (I remind you, Highprinces usualy fought alone) and, due to spies, this type of message could be potentialy dangerous, because other Highprince could ambush them in the way. Also, Alethi pride.

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Yeah, as mentioned the Alethi don't treat the fights over gemhearts as proper battles where you prepare everything; it's pretty symptomatic of how their war effort has completely bogged down into a competition for monetary gain and glory instead of being an actual campaign with a specific objective. Even Dalinar, who wants to bring the war back on track, isn't thinking of the battle at the Tower in that sense and with what he was hoping to accomplish there bringing a scribe along didn't make a whole lot of sense.

It doesn't hurt that he incorrectly assumed from his recent vision that the Almighty was telling him he could trust Sadeas, so he had even less reason to treat the battle differently. As he saw it, it was going to be a quick raid with overwhelming force that would be a stepping stone to bigger things for the war effort.

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Thanks for the replies! I still see spanreeds as highly useful even for short skirmishes/raids, where changing conditions of a fight necessitate quick coordination across different groups.
But, then again, I am a stick. Difficult for me to change (views).

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On 1/23/2021 at 4:47 AM, IAmAStik said:

Thanks for the replies! I still see spanreeds as highly useful even for short skirmishes/raids, where changing conditions of a fight necessitate quick coordination across different groups.
But, then again, I am a stick. Difficult for me to change (views).

I think the fact that writing and combat are gendered arts makes bringing spanreeds into these raids impractical. In order to relay information you would need a scribe incapable of defending herself in the middle of the battlefield. It's one of the many reasons Vorinism's gendered arts are kind of stupid.

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On 1/23/2021 at 1:47 AM, IAmAStik said:

Thanks for the replies! I still see spanreeds as highly useful even for short skirmishes/raids, where changing conditions of a fight necessitate quick coordination across different groups.

As mentioned, the problem with this is that spanreed communication requires a stable writing surface to convey complex information and a party at each end, so you need a minimum of two people who will be occupying a semi-fixed position (at the very least, sitting down with some sort of lap board) and who are going to be helpless whenever they're communicating. That's not a big deal for a major battle where you can have a primary command center behind the lines and set up scribes and messengers to relay orders at other key points, but for a quick skirmish it's really not very practical.

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I do think that they may have been able to get a message or two back, but it would have been very unclear and chaotic to Dalinar's team in the warcamps. And I don't think it would have undermined Sadeas too much either way. Everyone basically knew what was up the moment he claimed that he *had* to abandon Dalinar and co. He just would have passed it off as people panicking in their final moments. I do think that if Dalinar hadn't made it back, messages from the Tower would have been discussed, but it just didn't end up being relevant.

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I think the main reason we don't see spanreeds at the tower is simply because you don't want to set up a spanreed on the front line of a fight.  Even if the Parshendi have no clue what it is, can you imagine a spanreed being activated just as a parshendi leaps into the area? A completely ignorant parshendi could hit the gemstone with a sword, turning the other half into a bullet traveling in a random direction, while a parshendi who knowns what it is could grab the gemstone and whip it around to ensure they injure everyone in the room.

Setting the danger aside, you also need a very stable, completely level setup. If the paper shifts at all (wind, soldier jostles it), or if one leg is 1/4" to short/tall, you get a garbled message at best and a ruined spanreed at worst.

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