Decimation Tradition / Ritual in The Sagas | World Anvil


All those standing before you are guilty of betraying the legion for cowardice and will be punished for their crimes, these men are hereby sentenced to death, but only some shall die today, commence with the decimation. - Legatus carrying out a decimation
  Among the Imperial Legions of the empire there are a series of laws and rules that they must follow to prove themselves worthy of being a Legionary. Whether it is following the teachings of the Codex Legionis or obeying the laws of the empire they sense that they are worthy of their position in the legions. But those who find themselves failing to uphold their roles to great lengths or if any of them are they will often be punished for it. But out of all the punishments that the legions have to offer, the decimation is considered by far one of the worst punishments imaginable as those who fail will meet death at the hands of their comrades.


Punishing the Unworthy

  As the importance of the Vatian military grew with the rise of their kingdom, it began to become a part of their culture as they became more militaristic with at least one person from every family in the kingdom being a member of the military at some point. Meaning that when the time came for a Vatian to do their duty they did it to the best of their abilities. With the legions of the kingdom defending its lands from threats of barbarians and other states valiantly. But some were not cut out for the soldier's life and would not be as successful. Leading to some desert the legions and others disobeying orders for certain reasons that they thought unreasonable or even turning on their officers in some cases. There were also the times where legions would meet defeat in battle and believed that the fault soldiers or the leadership in question. This would lead to the punishment of decimation something that only those who have disgraced their legion would receive. A first this method was used on any units who were caught for cowardice in battle or deserting the legion in large groups. This would result in them being put to death by crucifixion for their crimes and would be left to die and be made examples to ensure that no one else did it.   However, the time and effort needed to bring up fresh recruits took time and that was not a luxury a legion had as they were often at the head of conflicts as the enemies of Vatia were many and every fighting man was needed to turn tided. So a simpler method was created that would lower the number of deaths for dishonoring the legion and ensure that those responsible would never try and do it again. This punishment involved the Legionnaries kill one of their own Contubernium, often a random by them and them alone. This had a physiological effect that as men of a Contubernium lived and sleep in the same tent together for years and to kill some they knew personally was something they could never forget. This would be done as many times as possible the same way depending on how many were caught for their crimes. This proved effective at the end with those who lived and they would learn to obey orders and ensure that they listened to their officers and continued one fighting no matter what.  

Modern Practices

  Decimations are still committed today but are often in small numbers by a few legions only. This is due to reforms in the legions that came over time and saw that the method was outdated. Many agree that it waste of manpower and that it often left mental scars on those who have been a part of the method, affecting their well-being. Some legions still believe that the method should still be used to remind the legions of their responsibilities and any type of disgrace to the legion should be met accordingly. However, the method of the death penalty of those chosen to die has been restricted to only a few methods, often beheading and hanging to ensure a quick death. But the likelihood of the act being done is low due to the domination of the Vatian Empire as its legions remain some of the greatest fighters in the world.


Chance of Fate

  Depending on the number of men that are held responsible for the misfortunes of the legion they will be brought forth with their Contubernium often in their tunics only. It was here that they would be given ten straws that they had to pick one. This would be done by one of the officers and not even they would know which straws were which. Once each one drew their straw they would see who had the shortest one as that was often the one that meant death for the one holding it. It was from here that the condemned would be taken away and the rest men would follow him. It was here that their death would be seen by all others who had committed their crimes against the legion. It was from here that the rest of the Contubernium would proceed in killing them. The method of how it is done is different with every legion with clubs being used to bludgeon them to death to whips to hear them scream in agony as the flesh is stripped from their bone with each blow. The result is always the same as the condemned is dead and those that remain and horrified about what they have done to a man they once called their brother. This will be done over and over again until all those responsible for the disgrace to the legion are properly accounted for only until then do they have to watch every moment before it finally ends.

Components and tools

Straws: A group of straws used to be picked for a man to draw from each one has a different length and no one knows what each of their lengths is. The shortest of these are considered the "death stick" as the one who draws it will be the one who dies.
Related Organizations
Related Ethnicities

Officer's Punishment

  Decimations are not solely for the common soldier, no officers can meet the same fate as well if they prove unable to lead their men in battle or are negligent in their duties. This will result in the legion taking matters into their hand if their officers do not take responsibility for their actions. It does not matter what status they have in the empire, they must be punished accordingly to ensure that they never bring harm to the legion. Unlike a regular decimation, the officer held responsible for their action will be put on trial with anyone subordinates that they have under their command. It is here their action brought forth and depending on how severe they so are the number of officers that will be killed in it. When the trial of complete and the officer is found guilty they and any other officers will be stripped of their officer uniforms where legionnaires will carry out the sentencing. Depending on the charges their death will either be quick or painful, with the quickest way being a beheading while the most painful being stabbed multiple times across the body and avoiding major organs to ensure that doesn't die quickly. Their head will then be branded for their crime and will be sent back home for proper burial.  

The Chart of Shame

  For every decimation committed by a legion, they will have a list that will hold the names of all those who were a part of it. It is often used as a reminder to the legion of those who have failed it and that it will never be forgotten. Those who live after it will often be reminded of the shame they had committed to the legion and that it will live on long after they are dead. Only by doing an honorable or courageous act will their name be crossed off the list. It will also be used on the descendants of those who were involved in the decimation that their family has brought great dishonor to themselves and only they can correct it.  

Types of Decimation

  Quick Death: Decimation that is done relatively quickly once the sentence has been committed. The weapons used in it will often kill the condemned in a matter of minutes depending on if the weapons do enough damage that is.   Slow Death: One of the worst deaths one person can receive from a decimation. The weapon used will kill the condemned slowly and those carrying it out are told to do it slowly to ensure that they suffer until they die.   Punish All: Despite the condemned dying in the ended those who are carrying out the act are punished as well. Often they receive scars from swords and whips several times to remind them of what they did.


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