Oitagter: Fence-Shields Military Formation in Wouraiya | World Anvil
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Oitagter: Fence-Shields

Image hand-drawn and article written both by Daskalarch



Fence-Shields come in single units of two people. While there is no official doctrine as to the composition of the unit, it is generally understood that the soldier more comfortable with melee take the righthand side, while the one more comfortable with ranged combat takes the lefthand side. As deployed, Fence-Shield battalions have two hundred units, or four hundred soldiers.


The signature equipment of the Fence-Shield is a large square barrier. Its counterpart on the predecessor unit was the width of a buckler and a meter long. Shields that were constructed to be larger tended to save their users from more blows, so larger and larger shields were adopted into the military. The shield used by the oitagter is so (comically) large and heavy that one person alone couldn't carry it. As a result, the shield serves as protection for two, and the two carry it to the battlefield. The shield is generally made from hard wood, though the later mobilized versions used shields of metal. The shields usually have a few small openings through which the carriers can see the battlefield from behind its walls. On both its sides are fixed stands on which the shield could lean during times of rest or times that required concentration.


The type of weaponry used is determined by the comfortability of the lefthand soldier in each unit and each formation, and it determines the modifications to the shield. If the left soldier prefers piercing arms such as pikes, holes are cut inside the shield for spears to pierce through. If the left soldier prefers hacking armaments such as axes or picks, the shield has a large divot in the middle from which the left soldier could strike from above. The righthand soldier has an unlimited arsenal available for use, since the soldier's righthand side enjoys unimpeded motion.

With the introduction of firearms, both carriers were given a long-barreled musket, and later a long-barreled rifle. The resultant shield formations carried only two square slits, through which each carrier could see and fire.


The oitagter was not a role for the skilled but certainly only for the strong. With the introduction of firearms, the training qualifications to become a deadly, formidable soldier in the Keyrit military lowered substantially. Because of this, the oitagter, even when its primary arsenal transitioned to firearms, remained an exclusive group. It faded into obscurity until self-propelled vehicles saved the formation from retirement and extinction. The self-propelled Oitag-Toiyer, argued by some historians to be the first instance of a tank in Wouraiya, provided just as much protection without requiring as much strength. Because the vehicles at that time lacked power, the motorized oitagter did not carry the soldiers involved. Instead, it was started, stopped, and guided by the soldiers while they walked on foot.


As a general rule of Keyrityi military doctrine, special units are supposed to take up no more than forty percent (two-fifths) of the national army composition. Amidst the wide array of Keyrit's experimental infantry, oitagter generally make up no more than ten to twenty percent of any army. Keyrityi doctrine allows experimental units that show exemplary promise or performance to be incorporated into the main component of the army, for use by the common recruit. While the oitagter was more empirically successful than most of Keyrit's other experimental units, commanders never found a need for more than a twenty percent ratio; that single fifth of the army was enough to protect the other four fifths in times of crises and was enough to be a formidable force on its own. So, while the oitagter earned enough credits to be promoted, it stayed behind as a special formation, gatekeeping the newer experimental formations by hogging up their space and potential.


While the original intent was protection, the shields became so large and impenetrable that their primary skill became positioning. Army leaders used them as mobile fortifications, rearranging the battlefield to fit their needs. If the enemy failed to act fast enough, they could be beset on both their flanks by walls, forcing their infantry down a corridor at the end of which lay Keyrit's vanguard elite. In more defensive tactics, a couple battalions of oitagter could shield entire armies from missile fire or assault.

Oitagter are particularly weak, however, to the movement of enemy cavalry. If the cavalry doesn't wish to engage, the oitagter cannot pursue. If the cavalry wishes to create an advantage, it's fast enough to ride around the oitagter battalion and flank them from behind, pinning the formation against its own walls. Even if the cavalry wishes to fight the oitagter head-on, the combined weight of a rider and ridden are enough to overwhelm any fence-shield, much more the two intended to carry it.

Artillery is rarely if ever used in combat in Wouraiya, so there is sparingly little data with regards to pitting artillery against oitagter. Hypothetically, though, the oitagter can move before the artillery could even calibrate its range and direction. The fence-shield can take one or two hits against a trained artillery; its resistance scales up with the effectiveness of artillery over time. If the oitagter uses a zigzag formation to approach a battalion of artillery, they could reach and surpass the artillery with minimal losses, though it might take a full day to get there.

The oitagter battalion is deployed to the battlefield for one reason and one reason only: to prevent the movement of infantry. To this effect, the oitagter rivals only Wlitowan pikes in its effectiveness. Axemen can hack away for minutes and make minimal progress. Spearmen can't pierce wood, and swordsmen can only slash marks on it. From behind the fence-shield, the two defenders can attack with relative impunity, dealing minimal damage while taking none in return. In addition, there are no ballistics that are reliably strong enough to penetrate the fence-shield. Because of this oitagter have one of the best survival rates in Wouraiya's military history.


Soldiers are expected to be able to use either a weapon of their choice or the battalion's standard equipment. General training in the Keyrit military will provide this understanding. The one remaining prerequisite is strength. Because the usefulness of strength is not relegated to the battlefield, soldiers are encouraged to help out with a variety of civilian tasks, such as farming or transport. Perhaps because of this holistic training, the various chapters of oitagter have developed a unique culture of chivalry. They are to fight for the common man, they are to protect their fellow soldiers, and, perhaps even as soldiers, they are to do no harm. They do not carry the pride of other experimental chapters, but they surpass the others with regards to their honor.

The respect the oitagter show for their fellow man is widely reciprocated. Despite their immense military potential, oitagter have unusually low recidivism into the military. They become workers, and respectable members of their community. A surprising number of local Keyrit mayors trace their careers to the oitagter profession. Oitagter when captured are often released behind the captor's lines. The regulars of most armies, even some special units, would gladly raid and burn enemy towns in the name of creating a better situation for Keyrit on the front lines. Oitagter, in stark contrast to nearly any other military unit in Wouraiya, will actively help the common folk of their enemy, and will do so until liberated or until the war is over.

One example is known by nearly every oitagter chapter. Just before the Eastern Uprising, an oitagter battalion was leased to Wlitowa to garrison the coastal city of Yattau. When the province rebelled against Wlitowa, the unit was charged with defending the governor's mansion. In the night, the crowd gathered torches and set their fence-shields on fire. When all was lost, one man from the group stood at the door. His raised hands quieted the crowd. "Ovagoi ta'ai yang atora aru'u'ai te; ovt'koi ter tyo. Otagor ta'ai wo ro vioto ya weraiyo," he said, so the legend says: "Do not harm the leader or his children; I do not wish it. Receive my life and service instead." Moved by the display of self-sacrifice, the crowd took him up on his offer. He worked the fields of the town dutifully, just as he promised. When Wlitowa came to reconquer the city, he ensured that no harm came to the people or the buildings therein. A statue stands in the town square in his honor, right beside the statue of Hut Rarei, the Tuhran war hero who was born on the outskirts of Yattau.


Keyrit’s pre-Doyog military reforms created most of Keyrit's pre-alkali elite units but not the oitagter. There is no evidence of anything similar being present at the Battle After Marriage. While certain chapters of Nettites did use shields, the shields they equipped followed a completely separate path of evolution, one that led to greater mobility for the unit. Bucklers were used in elements of the regular militia, but they grew in size only after the conclusion of the Tuhran War. Some historians have speculated, then, that the oitagter has ancestry in the defeated Tuhran military. Tuhran bucklers were significantly larger, and full-on shields were much more commonplace. Keyrit might have taken these elements home to their own military and benefited from their combat experience.

Even so, the oitagter took decades to develop. The Wlitowan military rejected the shield almost in its entirety; its wall of pikes was the only defense it claimed it needed. With the Tuhran military annexed, it was up to Keyrit to experiment with shield formations. Fortunately for the formation, Keyrit had fine-tuned military doctrine to a science. Formations of large-shielded soldiery were pitched against Keyrit’s best units, with the exception of the Royal Karioter, and several different battalions of ordinary militia. As per usual doctrine, the weapons were blunted and covered in cloth, while military advisors surveyed the battle scene from elevated platforms to the side. The shields fared adequately against the standards but lost every time to the elites. However, in all cases, the oitagter experimental units performed better in direct correlation to the size of the shield. The final test was the exception, when the shields were too cumbersome to use adequately. Some soldiers dropped their shields during combat in the hopes that they could better defend themselves; in that test, they were the last ones alive.

It was concluded that a specialized non-elite oitagter was only functional past the point of human strength. Most formations would have been scrapped well before this point, and large-scale conflict would not befall the island nation for decades yet. The Keyrit government was more interested in developing its new territory than pushing through new military formations. Surprisingly, they placed the oitagter on indefinite hiatus, for research at a later time.

A couple possible reasons explain this odd departure from normal procedure. Keyrit military research faculties had only focused on the oitagter and so gave it more attention and effort, perhaps too much attention and effort to throw away. One particularly invested officer in charge of the project, Irog Oango, would become known as “oitagtra’aru,” the father of the oitagter. He advocated strongly for the continuation of the project, and left the military shortly after it was placed on hiatus. The oitagter also held its own against the weaker elements of Keyrit’s military and so might have earned its permanency. Not all units, not even the majority of Keyrit’s forces required elite training, and Keyrit’s rivals were certainly less veteran. Even so, regular levies left Keyrit’s focus during peacetime, and a battalion derived from levies did not attract interest.

The next few years were less documented, but memoirs and folklore recollect the continued development of the oitagter in practical exile. Irog Oango wandered the mountainous countryside, traveling to the small pockets of rural community therein. He handpicked the strongest farmers of each community and convinced them to follow him. They would never see their hometowns again. In the years to follow, Irog cut himself off from the rest of civilization, either to train his small army in seclusion or to practice in live combat abroad; accounts vary wildly. Whatever happened, their next public appearance was in a courtyard in front of Keyrit’s royal palace. Caught unaware, Keyrit's military sent post-war guards to apprehend them. The oitagter pushed them away and secured the square, neither killing anyone nor taking losses themselves. Irog presented a speech to the king, whose interest had been piqued. An excerpt from the speech went as follows: “You have learned to innovate, but not to endure. There is novelty in perseverance, and use in repetition! What you tossed aside as trash now stands outside the king’s palace, ready to prove its worth!”

The king called for new military drills. The oitagter still had less experience than the war-trained elite still on Keyrit’s payroll. Even so, Oango’s Project, as they were called, won every single drill. Keyrit military doctrine promptly revived the oitagter. Their technique and equipment perfected, oitagter were implemented into most facets of Keyrit’s army. For his service, Irog Oango was made a noble. His force was made into a mercenary band, able to be leased to any nation. Over the centuries, Oango’s Project gained renown across Wouraiya, eventually becoming the first motorized mercenary force in Wouraiya. In honor of their founder, they never raised arms against Keyrit.

During the Eastern Uprising, Keyrit-commanded oitagter proved just as valuable against the Tuhrans as the other specialized units. They saved Keyrit’s army during the Gamble, and they protected overseas territories from countless raids in Raweto.

On the advent of alkali firearms, oitagter fared better than most. Kinetic projectiles could pass through the lines of picks and pikes more easily than they could pass through walls of wood. Even so, Keyrit’s own firearm divisions began to overtake the oitagter in both mobility and offensive capability. Oitagter, even those armed with firearms, would stand idly by in skirmishes, neither taking nor dealing significant damage. At this point, the formation came to a crossroads. Some chapters chose to “oturioi,” to retire themselves with dignity. They considered themselves to be too much of a burden to the army for their pay, and the chapter leaders were honor-bound to quit before Keyrit's military could officially retire them.

Other chapters, however, chose to adapt to the times. They tried to find ways to make the oitagter easier to move while still maintaining its weight and stopping power. Among these improvements were wheels, materials testing, and wind flow. Their efforts towards efficiency would speedily advance the development of the automobile when the motor was invented. In fact, one edition of the compact motor was first applied to the oitagter. In this way, the oitagter lived on in service and honor.

It was only a matter of time before the oitagter became fully motorized, carrying not only the shield and motor but also the two who were supposed to carry it. This, many historians argue, was Wouraiya’s first armored combat vehicle. It also dictated Keyrit tank doctrine; from then on, Keyrit’s tanks would fight alongside infantry to support and protect them. This contrasted with the Ugo-yt tank doctrine, which used armored and motorized vehicles for advance reconnaissance and independent operations.

The oitagter didn’t fade into obscurity. Rather, as they became a more efficient version of infantry fighting vehicle, they became indistinguishable from the other infantry fighting vehicles employed by Keyrit’s military. They became organized chapters of tanks, whose membership was a particular honor for tank crew and commanders.
Overall training Level
Assumed Veterancy

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Character flag image: Oitagter by Daskalarch


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3 Dec, 2021 02:23

This seems interesting. Can I ask a few questions? 1. What portion of the total military does this sort of unit take up? 2. How do they interact with other units when in the field of battle, such as cavalry or artillery? 3. Are these soldiers treated any differently from any others, either by their own civilian population or from the enemy, if taken prisoner? I think this is a pretty good article, about an interesting unit, and I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Happy worldbuilding!

Benjamin B
3 Dec, 2021 17:03

Thank you! I'll elaborate on those over the weekend, and reply to this comment when I'm done so that you don't need to worry about constant checking!

3 Dec, 2021 22:56

Nice! I can't wait to see

Benjamin B
5 Dec, 2021 05:23

All right, I have updated the article less than two days after! To answer your questions in short, in case you're not interested in rereading: 1. 10-20% 2. Very poor against cavalry, okay against artillery, exceptional against infantry, practically impenetrable against ranged 3. They maintain a very good reputation by friend and foe due to their activities outside the battlefield, and their culture of chivalry. Feel free to also check out Keyrit's Gambit, my military campaign submission, in which the oitagter prove their mettle in battle!

5 Dec, 2021 06:38

Thanks for adding the extra details, it really brings depth to the whole thing. If you don't mind, could you check out my article on a military formation, the 18th Corp? https://www.worldanvil.com/w/the-12-worlds-thearchmagos/a/the-18th-corps--sand-vipers--formation?preview=true