There are times where you are faced with humanoid forms from the briny deep, whether these tend more toward the fishy/scaly alien end of the spectrum or more toward the sleek water-breathing mammalian end, and whether they come about due to mutation, evolution, hybridization, experimentation, or importation. All merfolk share a natural affinity toward maneuvers beneath the waves, although there are certain varieties who pose a non-negligible threat upon land as well. We will not be discussing here those adversaries which are simply plain old humans wearing scuba gear and neoprene, but concentrate only on the ones who claim the seafloor as their natural home, whether they come trident-wielding or eldritch spell-casting against your sphere of influence. Despite the popular myths surrounding them, they are not invincible foes, not even when confronted in their briny home, and a well-prepared evil mastermind stands a good chance of besting their might.
- Military intelligence. The importance of knowing your enemy is nowhere more pronounced when it comes to the mysterious aquatic menace, hidden as it is by the dappled waves and the darkness of the deep ocean. Robotic or biological scouts can be employed, returning vital information on enemy numbers and emplacement and on mechanized battalions and monstrous leviathans, and attempting to tap key communications links, then relaying their findings to you via cyborg porpoises.
- Throw out the terrestrial rulebook. Classical flanking maneuvers, the concept of high ground, provisioning a fighting force off of the land: none of these apply in the middle of the ocean, where your adversary has full mobility in three dimensions. Minelaying operations also are more difficult than on the land battlefield or when facing conventional fleets which do not have the freedom to pass beneath the danger zones. Instead, it is best to visualize the field of operations as layers in an onion with your mission objective at the middle, and to deploy your forces with this in mind.
- Assault the sea from above. If you have superiority in armament you may gain the upper hand by launching depth charges, air-launched torpedoes, high-output sonar blasts, custom chemical and biologicals, not to mention the big stuff. By avoiding submarine and surface ship combat early on you can keep these forces in good shape for the endgame phase.
- Taking the deep dive. To annihilate the merfolk forces you will need to conquer them in their own element at some point, preferably after their main strength has been softened up by a lengthy campaign of bombardment. Logistics, however, may force you to move against their major regions of strength before you can be assured of maritime superiority, in which case you should try weakening them psychologically and spiritually by releasing noxious chum into the water, electrolyzing the sea with high current electric discharges, and casting aspersions on the merfolk command’s legitimacy to rule by broadcasting incriminating images involving underage manatees.
Strokes of genius
- Know your seasons. Many types of merfolk are liable to turn especially feisty during the part of the year when they engage in spawning. Others have a particular time when those of breeding age are burdened with caring for the very young. And still others will suddenly cease all military operations during the highest tide during the most sacred part of their liturgical calendar. Understand these tendencies in advance and come up with creative ways to exploit them whenever possible.
- Sea-dwelling allies. Other powers of the depths may tip the balance of power in favor of the merfolk or in your own favor, depending on the history of enmities and the effectiveness of bribes. If you can convince a giant cephalopod simply to sit out the duration of a skirmish, this may be enough to swing the tide of battle to your benefit. Conversely, an infiltration operation that was going well at first can become undone when a couple of unfriendly mako sharks intrude on behalf of the mer-army that adopted them. If your advance scout party detects unusual behavior on the part of the undersea denizens, vertebrate and invertebrate, it may be worth your while to designate a minion to concentrate on non-humanoid aquatic partisans in particular.
- Social engineering. Dating back to the days of Atlantis, many merfolk communities have relied upon a feudal society with a royal court at the top, lesser nobles, gentry, and peasants in descending ranks, living in a grand underwater city either with or without atmospheric oxygen. Your secret agents must undergo a rigorous cultural and tactical training in order to pass among their subjects and to penetrate to the seats of power, whether as spies, provocateurs, or disseminators of disinformation. Some have found that exploiting the inherent struggle against capitalistic hegemony and making use of the innate urge toward revolution gives them a powerful wedge in gaining access to the upper cadres of their antiquated class system.
- Shake them up. Merfolk who reside within an underwater domed metropolis may be vulnerable to undersea earthquakes not to mention sudden volcanic eruptions. If they are settled close to shore you may be able to achieve the same effect by arranging for a massive landslide of the coast, displacing water and causing tsunami force disturbances in their vicinity.
Traps for mere fools
- Negotiations. Merfolk do not commonly parley with their foes, who generally cannot make out their click- and grunt-based language, but will fight to the death particularly when confronted close to their undersea realm. Their traditional pride is both their greatest strength and their prime weakness, along with their alliance with the squidfolk.
- Flimsy rubber dinghies.
- Loose clothing. Also pretty much anything marked “Dry clean only.”
- Unmarked submarine cables.
- Magical sea hags. These poorly-understood potentates can wreak havoc with what should be an orderly plan of attack, causing morale problems among your rank and file.
Precious and needful
- Water wings.
- Electric eel-powered stun guns.
- Hip waders.
- Electrified submarine hulls.
- Earplugs. So as to avoid the tempting siren songs of their females.
- Side scan sonar arrays.
- How to avoid a gruesome demise
- How to clone an army
- How to deal with heroes and superheroes
- How to deal with invading aliens
- How to get over a crush
- How to tickle
- How to understand warrior maidens
- How to buy a used death ray
- How to create an evil menagerie
- How to get rid of a corpse
- How to make the voices of your victims stop
- How to lead barbarians to their doom
- How to cause a flood
- How to outfit a seventeenth century pirate ship
- How to steal an ocean liner
- How to write a ransom note
- How to get started with giant robots
- How to issue an ultimatum
- How to rule men's minds through sex
- How to roll with a gang of energy beings
- How to summon spirits of the dead
- How to give everyone their heart's desire
- How to run a virtual world
- How to release a kraken
- Image credit Creature From the Black Lagoon by carolyntiry
- Image credit Sat Eira Sean by Auntie P
- Image credit Batgirl and the Manta by edwick
Created by: . Last Modification: Sunday 17 of October, 2010 06:29:31 EDT by .