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Wounded Ronin
From a role playing perspective, how can someone who has never served in a military portray a military character who is living and working in the military (as opposed to being off duty) in a way which is, if not realistic, at least not blatantly wrong?

In the past some friends of mine and myself have thought to run military style campaigns for SR. We all had fun enjoying the tactical and objective based style of gaming but I think that most of us didn't really have a good idea of how we should act in terms of character interactions, lingo, and even group attitudes and outlooks.

The thing is I've read several Vietnam War memoirs and I've absorbed certain ideas from them but I don't feel like I had enough info on boring day to day details to pick up on the things that the memoir writers didn't feel was worth mentioning. In other words, I learned certain striking or interesting things, like how during the Vietnam War the majority of the officers seemed insecure and abusive (which lead me to wonder if the military chose officers by some perverse process which was more likely to find bad leaders), but I think I missed the bigger picture on things like how, say, a sergant or a lieutenant acts differently (or not) from the other men in an ideal situation where he's an effective leader and NOT an insecure weirdo. The memoir writers generally conveyed the most interesting or unusual dialogue between personnel but not enough volume of mundane conversation to know for what passes for a normal conversation and a normal concentration of lingo in a military setting.

So, for those of you who know stuff about the military: if you had to tell someone who has never been in the military how to pretend to be in the military for a day, what would you tell them?
krayola red
Drill sergeants are all perpetually angry, chain smoking manly men with volume control problems, who always refer their trainees as "maggots." They also must've fought in Vietnam and lost a buddy there.
Fortune
A couple of sources that might be available to you ...

The short-lived tv series Over There

The mini-series Band of Brothers

The recently released movie Jarhead

All of these, in my opinion, show squad interaction well. Obviously not everything action-wise is accurate, as it is Hollywood, but they are still good sources for inspiration.
Derek
QUOTE (Fortune)
A couple of sources that might be available to you ...

The short-lived tv series Over There

The mini-series Band of Brothers

The recently released movie Jarhead

All of these, in my opinion, show squad interaction well. Obviously not everything action-wise is accurate, as it is Hollywood, but they are still good sources for inspiration.

Ack! God no!

Over There is so cliche ridden, it is entirely unrealistic, both in the interaction between the characters, and the actual action.

Band of Brothers is actually pretty good, and relatively spot on.

Jarhead is not so good. The book is decent, the movie sucks.

And yes, I have been "Over There", twice now, not as an infantryman, but plenty of time out on patrols with infantry. Also, I was in during the first Gulf War, and while I wasn't there, plenty of people I work with were, and Jarhead (which takes place during GW 1) the movie doesn't fit at all with their stories, while Jarhead (the book) does.

If you are interested in good referencdes, try books before you try movies or TV. The books are usually better, and more realistic. A good one as "Bravo Two Zero", about British SAS in the first Gulf War. Also, there are a good number of books out about OIF and OEF, fresh off the presses. I'd also recommend anything by Thomas E Ricks (Making the Corps, Fiasco, and others) Good journalist and novelist.
Fortune
QUOTE (Derek @ Oct 13 2006, 12:01 PM)
Ack!  God no!

Over There is so cliche ridden, it is entirely unrealistic, both in the interaction between the characters, and the actual action.

Band of Brothers is actually pretty good, and relatively spot on.

Jarhead is not so good.  The book is decent, the movie sucks.

Fair enough, but I did qualify my recommendations with the Hollywood warning. That being said, I still think that they can serve to portray an example of squad interaction. I would have mentioned the book, but having not read it, it didn't occur to me. There are tons of Vietnam War books of varying quality dealing with inter-squad relations to some extent or another.

In all else, I defer to your hands-on knowledge, due to the fact that I am not a hypocrit. smile.gif
toturi
QUOTE (Wounded Ronin)
So, for those of you who know stuff about the military: if you had to tell someone who has never been in the military how to pretend to be in the military for a day, what would you tell them?

One thing about the military: If someone barks an order at you, you do something. You might not actually carry out the order, but you do something, even if it is to get on your feet and bitch to the corporal that gave that order.

Another thing is that when in doubt and without any orders(standing or otherwise), military men conserve their energy ie sleep. I have never seen so many sleeping beauties as when I was in the army.

Bear in mind, my experience in the military is limited to my country and so is accurate in so far as a non-voluntary citizen army goes.
Trax
Sleeping is the passtime of all soldiers when they don't have to work or doing something else. Mostly because you never know when it will be in short supply.
krayola red
Hmm, sounds just like college.
Dranem
QUOTE (krayola red)
Drill sergeants are all perpetually angry, chain smoking manly men with volume control problems, who always refer their trainees as "maggots." They also must've fought in Vietnam and lost a buddy there.

Considering that Vietnam happened almost a century ago come SR4 timeline... having lost a buddy in that war would normally not work anymore... wink.gif
Fortune
Unless they're Spike Babies! biggrin.gif
krayola red
Unfortunately, my considerable military expertise applies only to the today's world.
Dog
My real-life exposure to things military is, admittedly, the watered-down kind, but my last character had a military background. I played him as a bored kid from a white-collar family who bought into the recruitment ads for adventure and excitement. Then, when he got a taste of the day-to-day drudgery stuff, he bolted. The training that was most useful to him is not the textbook stuff, but the word-of-mouth tricks of the trade. I also emulated a trait I see common among the reg-force guys that I've met: absolutely no tolerance for bullshit.

My players have even less RL knowledge of military lifestyle than I (with perhaps one significant exception.) For them, it is more than sufficient to play up the stereotypes and hollywood version of such things.
Dranem
Not to be picky, but isn't dropping out of the forces before the end of your contract/service a criminal offence?
Dog
I imagine in most places it is. Which is partly why the character fled from his home nation to the campaign city. His not being able to safely return home or get help from his influential family is a significant plot point.
Dranem
That's a neat character hook... adds flavour to your background:
Can't go home as the first thing waiting for him there is a court martial for going AWOL.

I had an SR3 character the the Dark Secret flaw. She was an ex-operative with CAS intelligence (their version of the CIA), working under an assumed identity. Got the idea from watching too much Femme Nikita and Alias grinbig.gif
Would be fun to see if I could play that character again.. I never actually ran with the character, as runs that I started with on IRC with her never seemed to finish. frown.gif
mfb
the fictional account i've read that comes the closest to portraying realistic people in the military is Sharkman Six, by Owen West. i really recommend it to anyone who wants a peek inside the mind of a military man, for the specific reason that it is written from the viewpoint of someone who thinks he isn't a military man.

some things that stand out in my mind about military... life? personalities? not sure what to call it. anyway: military humor is generally dry as a bone, and deadpan as a... pan that is, uh, dead. there's a lot of in-jokes, maybe as a way of dealing with the sudden absorption of a fuckton of vital information. for instance, the terms "go" and "no-go" are used to note whether a subject has passed a given test in training. so when someone fucks something up, they'll probably hear something like "private, you are a no-go at this station." in BCT, we got finished with a range one late afternoon and were packing onto the busses back to the barracks (at Jackson, they cut down on the road marches during the riflery portion). the last bus took off, and there were still three drills and half a platoon of us left. one of the drills turned around and, in the same hard snarl she used every time she opened her mouth in our presence, ordered, "platoon! you will run behind that behind that bus at a high rate of speed until you are thin enough to fit!"

as far as commissioned and non-commissioned officers go, there's an unspoken balancing that takes place. basically, you're trained to respect authority. nominally, authority comes from rank. but i've never seen a lieutenant that's ballsy enough to order a sergeant-major around in the same tones he'd use on lower enlisted. part of that is simple division of duty; lieutenants are very rarely in a position where they need to give a SGM an order--SGMs take orders from majors and colonels, generally speaking. an ideal lieutenant acts as a controlling interface between his enlisted men and his superiors. he listens to the enlisted, especially the NCOs, because they know more about their jobs than he does, then tries to match up what they tell him with what his superiors have ordered him to do. his job is to get the enlisted to do what his captain wants, and get his captain to do what the enlisted want.

90% of what you see of military life is... i don't want to say it's for show, but it's not real the way a conversation you might have over a beer is real. when a drill gets in your face and shouts, most times he's not mad at you. that's just how drills are supposed to communicate with privates. he shouts so you'll listen. he'll shout so that you'll be intimidated--and so that you'll become used to being intimidated, and will be able to act correctly while somone in command is intimidating you. but mostly? seriously? he shouts at you because his drill sergeants shouted at him. the same goes for everything else; you don't salute officers because you actually respect them (most of the time), you salute them because that's how you greet officers. it's basically set up so that people with different backgrounds, experiences, and personalities can be snapped together like legos into a group that can solve problems.
Critias
Ooo-rah!
mfb
heh, speaking of Marines. just thought of an example that might kinda highlight what i'm trying to get across.

Full Metal Jacket. Gunny Hartman, Private Pyle. why'd Gunny pick on Pyle so much? because Hartman liked Pyle. Hartman thought Pyle had what it took to be a Marine, capital M. if Hartman hadn't wanted Pyle to be in the Marines, he'd have just let Pyle flunk out and be done with it. instead, Hartman forced the other recruits to force Pyle to keep going. because FMJ was intended to say certain things about the war, it painted Hartman as a sadist. he wasn't; sadists stop tormenting you when they get their fill, whereas Hartman was on Pyle's shit 24/7. and Pyle was just too much of a dipshit to hear what Hartman was saying. to wit: "fit in, and you will do great things because you will have people to help you."
Derek
Well, I'd differ on some of the aspects mfb talked about. The relationship between officers and enlisted really, really depends on the specific officer, and the group of enlisted. Some officers deserve respect, some don't, but they all get listened to. The degree of respect determines on exactly how well, and how quickly the job is done.

Also, the lingo is really determined by the service. As an example, the Marines call a bathroom the "head", the Navy the same, Army calls it a "latrine" and the Air Force calls it a bathroom. Thats just one specific example, there are many, many others. Us Marines don't use th3e term no-go (or at least not very often)

The point of that is that you can make up some lingospecific to your character, and use it consistently, and that will make him sound military.

mfb is right about the officer saluting; it has become a thing that you are required to do, and not out of any actual respect, unless you actually know the officer involved. Also the high ranking enlisted and officer relationship is interesting, and as varied as the officer and enlisted involved. Junior officers generally know enough to trust their senior enlisted, but there are always some that have a slightly superior attitude. They usually get changed quickly, sometimes physically. Also, the high ranking enlisted usually report to a higher ranking offer rather than a junior officer. So, if you are a Lieutenant, and you piss off the Sergeant Major, you'll be speaking with your Colonel shortly. Not because the Sergeant Major complained to the Colonel, but trust me, the Colonel will find out.

When I have time, I will try and write more; I've got 13 years enlisted experience, and 5 years (so far) officer experience. However, there are so many nuances of military life that I often find it hard to put down specifically in writing.
mfb
yeah, i wasn't sure how to get across the fact that the relationship between officer and enlisted greatly differs depending on the people involved. i've had one LT who had no problem hitting the clubs and getting smashed with us. it worked for her; everyone under her respected the hell out of her. other LTs kept it strictly professional, only chilling with other officers and higher enlisted. it's... well, okay. there's how the military is supposed to work, according to the regs, and there's how interactions between people actually work--the whole gamut, from office romances to schoolyard bullies to drinking buddies to wise elders handing out life lessons to young scrubs. dump those together and shake 'em up, and you get how the military ends up working.
Kagetenshi
QUOTE (Derek)
Also, the lingo is really determined by the service. As an example, the Marines call a bathroom the "head", the Navy the same

I should hope so, given that both are ostensibly nautical.

QUOTE
Army calls it a "latrine"

No, they don'tóthey call latrines latrines (well, either that or they're wrong). Latrines are a specific type of toilet facility, specifically communal.

QUOTE
and the Air Force calls it a bathroom.

That's because they actually get bathrooms smile.gif

I'm sure there's a lot of service-specific lingo, but when people call different things by different (and generally accepted) names, I at least can't agree with calling that "lingo".

~J
mfb
nah, we really did call all bathrooms latrines.
Shadow
When I was in there was a lot of joking around. This is during and post Gulf war. A lot, and I mean a lot of fa.. homosexual jokes. A lot of jokes about pulling out the vasaline etc. Enlisted men always think they are getting it in the you-know-what unless it is leave time. Then they arn't getting enough leave and they are getting reamed again. Considering the ranks E-1 through E-4 do the bulk of the grunt work in the U.S. Army, it is our patriotic duty to complain. Also a lot of drinking, a lot of drinking. We would be released form Duty at 5pm on Friday, I knew guys who were passed out smashed by 5:15. Were talking slamming a gallon of Vodka like that. People join the millitary to get away from things, family, girls, etc.

Also when there was a large number of women in the unit there was a lot of sharing bunks. I never saw it (or experienced it) but I knew people who were always getting busted for it. My whole unit ended up on a month of KP for it. The whole time I was all "but why am I here?"

QUOTE (Kage)

No, they don'tóthey call latrines latrines (well, either that or they're wrong). Latrines are a specific type of toilet facility, specifically communal.


Second that, we called our Barracks latrines.. uh latrines. It is just what you call the bathroom in the Army. Like the M-16' are rifles, not guns.
Kagetenshi
QUOTE (mfb)
nah, we really did call all bathrooms latrines.

Can't you let me keep my illusions?

~J
Trax
At my unit we just call them shitters, or toilet if we're out in public and need to be "presentable". If we're out in the field and the portables are around, they're Blue Rockets.
mfb
QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
Can't you let me keep my illusions?

your whats? oh, you mean your morale-oriented cognitive artifacts?
Kagetenshi
Yeah, those.

~J, futilely campaigning for the preservation of expressiveness in English
mfb
well... expressiveness is nice, and all, but there's not much use for it in the military. that's part of what i'm trying to describe, i guess--the fact that there is a single standard term for "place that people go pee-pee and poo-poo" makes it easier for lots of people to 'fit in', in the military. expressiveness is for individuals.
Kagetenshi
Yeah, I grudgingly accept that, I just wish they'd invented a new word instead of misappropriating a specific one and making it general.

~J
mfb
haha, well, i'm sure someone just forgot to bring that up at the Army Lingo Planning Conference.
Grinder
QUOTE (Shadow)
Also when there was a large number of women in the unit there was a lot of sharing bunks. I never saw it (or experienced it) but I knew people who were always getting busted for it. My whole unit ended up on a month of KP for it. The whole time I was all "but why am I here?"

You ended where for doing what? question.gif
wargear
QUOTE (Shadow)
Like the M-16' are rifles, not guns.

Most militaries utilise a small range of weapons. Commonality of parts and ammo being far more important as far as supply is concerned. Another easy roleplaying tip is to pick one pistol, one rifle, one s.a.w., etc as the weapons your character favours. They are the signature weapons of his previous military service, and an easy cue for other interested characters, npcs, yadda.
Critias
QUOTE (Grinder)
QUOTE (Shadow @ Oct 13 2006, 07:40 AM)
Also when there was a large number of women in the unit there was a lot of sharing bunks. I never saw it (or experienced it) but I knew people who were always getting busted for it. My whole unit ended up on a month of KP for it. The whole time I was all "but why am I here?"

You ended where for doing what? question.gif

He (or rather, his entire unit) ended up doing KP (there are several duties that are often received as forms of punishment in the military -- unpleasant jobs need to be done, and someone's got to do them, so why not people that need a little correction -- like meal clean-up, latrine duty, etc), because some members of his unit were "sharing bunks" with female soldiers.

You know. "Sharing bunks." You see, sometimes, when a girl and a boy love each other very much, they want to be close to one another. So close that a part of the boy goes inside part of the girl, and...
Grinder
Thank you, Critias. For explaining english (military) slang to a german - and for making me laugh loud.

biggrin.gif
emo samurai
Is it true that the military makes up a large segment of the RPG'er population?
Fortune
QUOTE (emo samurai @ Oct 14 2006, 01:53 AM)
Is it true that the military makes up a large segment of the RPG'er population?

Depends on the specific RPG, but I'd say that is a fairly true statement.
Critias
QUOTE (emo samurai @ Oct 13 2006, 10:53 AM)
Is it true that the military makes up a large segment of the RPG'er population?

Not likely any more than any other group, except by coincidence. I mean, if you're really wanting to know who's gonna steal the biggest slice of pie were you to chart out "the RPG'er population," look no further than a college campus. The simple fact is most gamers are males from, say, 15-35 years old. Oh, hey. Males, from 15-35 years old? Doesn't that sort of overlap with the military's demographics pretty heavily?

That aside? I can tell you we had an origami guy in my barracks turn sheets of notebook paper into little cubes, that we then numbered 1-6 and put to work. I ran a "3d6 instead of d20" D&D game for the better part of a month, replacing my PHB and DMG with that squishy grey computer inside my skull. So, uhh, there's about four military gamers, right there, that I crafted myself.
mfb
yeah, i wouldn't necessarily claim that military guys make up a huge slice of the RPG market... but i will say that it's pretty easy to find an RPG group, in the military. for one, it's not hard to get bored, in the military, so at the very least, you stand a better chance of suckering in some newbie players.
eidolon
QUOTE (Fortune @ Oct 13 2006, 10:03 AM)
QUOTE (emo samurai @ Oct 14 2006, 01:53 AM)
Is it true that the military makes up a large segment of the RPG'er population?

Depends on the specific RPG, but I'd say that is a fairly true statement.

I would say that within the military, there's a significant population that plays RPGs as when compared to other population groups, but I'm not sure what kind of overall market share they represent.

As to playing a military person, you'd be surprised how much of it is slang, jargon, acronyms, etc. There's also, as a general rule (of course there are exceptions), military folks tend to have a little bit more confidence in their day to day dealings with people. Maybe not a private, who's used to being yelled at all the time, but once a person has been in for a while, you sort of develop the ability to talk to just about anyone without too much trouble, for example.

In some specialties, you can run into a lot of "I'm a badass" complexes (not always undeserved), such as Combat Arms guys, spec-for (deservedly, although the ones I've dealt with have been really laid back and super cool), etc.

It's just...a different attitude somehow. Hard to really quantify. Confidence, no hesitation to jump on a problem and try to fix it, willingness to learn new stuff.

Let me give another perspective actually. I'll tell you what qualities I liked in my soldiers as an NCO (Intel field, so it might be a bit different from other folks' lists).

To me, a good soldier has a willingness (if not a determination) to learn, confidence in his or her abilities and the ability to admit when those abilities are lacking, honesty (especially when it's going to hurt them in some way), and wants to get the job done. All of that comes across in a (good) soldier's attitude and dealings with other people.

That's my .02 anyway.

edit: Something mfb was talking about (that I had missed) made me think. He's talking about how the military discourages individualism, and that's certainly true to an extent. It ties in to ability to take orders, because if you don't act immediately and obey an order, it could mean people dying. But, I'll caveat, that's different in different parts of the military.

In the intel field, for example (more strategic than tactical, here), a willingness to speak up is actually a good thing. There's too much at stake in certain jobs to "just blindly follow orders", because sometimes a supervisor isn't seeing something, or hasn't thought of something. A good supervisor in a strategic location understands this, and is willing to hear what his subordinates have to say. Now, the supervisor still has the final say, and the soldiers are expected to abide by that, but it's much more acceptable to have open dialog in that field than say, infantry. Again, just my experience here.
lorechaser
My experiences are all second hand, but they mirror what eidolon said.

My father was an army mechanic. His time there seems to revolve mostly around fixing stuff, and doing what he was told, and then getting in to trouble while not assigned to a task.

My boss was a cavalry scout (I think) - basically army intel. His time seems to have revolved around learning to use a ton of different pieces of equipment, doing bizarre things with codes, and talking to his superiors. And getting in to trouble while not assigned to a task.

My boss, when he runs in to another person in the military, will immediately change his speech slightly, and begin to drop any number of acroynms and phrases that he never uses.
KarmaInferno
QUOTE (wargear)
QUOTE (Shadow @ Oct 13 2006, 03:40 PM)
Like the M-16' are rifles, not guns.

Most militaries utilise a small range of weapons. Commonality of parts and ammo being far more important as far as supply is concerned.

I think he was referring to the fact that while many non-military refer to rifles and pistols as "guns", most military folks more properly use "guns" to refer to artillery and other large bore cannons.


-karma
Cleremond
Lots of good information in this thread for the OP.

I was active duty U.S. Army for 6 years. There is a general military culture that gets adhered to, but there are many....MANY...subdivisions of that general culture. Many rivalries within a specific service and between services themselves.

Keep in mind, that just because a person was in the military doesn't mean they were a combat soldier. The Army is divided pretty much by job and how that job interfaces with the big picture on the battlefield. You have your Combat Arms type jobs, ya know Infantry, Armor, Artilery.....the folk who actually do the fighting. Then you have the Combat Support type jobs.....your Engineer, Aviation and Medical units. Then you have your Service Support type jobs......your Supply, your Cooks, your Administration type stuff. Then you have your Special Forces.

For every fighting man on the battlefield there is about 5 or more other soldiers behind the scenes keeping that guy on his feet, keeping him fed, keeping him healthy, keeping him equiped, keeping him trained.

There is a seperation between enlisted personnel and commissioned officers that is difficult sometimes to understand for non-military folks. Many people don't even understand that there is a separation between them to begin with...they are all just 'Military people'. The best example I could tell a non-military person to watch is from the "Band of Brothers" HBO series. It give you a good idea for how the responsibilities are set up, who does the work, who cracks the whip, and who asks for the whip to be cracked.

"Never put yourself in a position where you can take away from these men."

So much to tell about my time in the service and just not enough time to tell it in. Some immediate things come to mind though.

"Mission First, Soldiers Always" - The creedo of the U.S. Army Sergeant

Acronyms.....everything has an acronym. SAW, KP, MRE, TOC, OP, STX, etc. etc. It never ends.

Nonmenclatures......every item has a alpha numeric name.

"Hurry up and wait."

"Man I love how much this sucks! I wish it sucked even more than it does right now!"

Military life, particularly in Combat Arms, is a much less dramatic version of how its portrayed in "Band of Brothers"......for those interested in a mildly realistic portrayal should definitely watch it. Also....."Gunner Palace" is a extremely realistic portrayal of modern day army units, how soldiers interact with each other, and the things they are having to deal with on a daily basis when deployed to a hostile area.

Ultimately, its hard to communicate how it really is for those people that don't really have an appropriate frame of reference. If yer in Law Enforcement or another similar profession where your life is quite literally in the hands of the guys yer sittin' next to.....they you have a pretty solid frame of reference for how military people are. Its kinda like the "Matrix" though.

"No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."

Until you've served, you just won't really know what its like.
Butterblume
QUOTE (emo samurai)
Is it true that the military makes up a large segment of the RPG'er population?

In Germany, we still have conscription. Theoretically, that means that most males have been in military service.
There is the option to do alternative service, 'Zivildienst', community service, when someone isn't comfortable with the idea of military service.

At the time I was drafted, 2 of my friends already had choosen the zivildienst, 2 others were going to the military, one had a bad knee and was therefore ineligible, and one other had volunteered for the THW, Technisches Hilfswerk, which would translate as Federal Agency for technical Relief. One of those who were going to the military reconsidered after he got word he was going to be a sniper, and choose Zivildienst instead.
(to be on topic, I played RPGs with all of them. Alltough the remaining military guy quit...) [edit: shame on me, I forget the friend who was blind on one eye after an accident, and therefore also ineligible]

At my current gaming group, three are girls, three (myself included) were military and one was a third son (they don't get drafted).

I could tell more, if anybody is interested nyahnyah.gif.

On a side note: except for the guy with the bad knee, everyone was or is a student at the university, which makes them the prevalent group in my eyes biggrin.gif.
lorechaser
Third sons in particular, or is it just that you can only have 2 sons drafted?

"We'll take 1, 2, 4, and 5. Oh no, we don't like 3rds...."

eidolon
It sounds, and I might be wrong, like a policy similar to the old "can't send the last living son to war" policy. It's so a whole family can't be wiped out.

Of course, the U.S. Army has since done away with that...
Sandoval Smith
Did a policy like that ever exist in the first place?
*edit* Apprently yes there is/was.
Only Son page on Snopes.
knasser
QUOTE (eidolon @ Oct 13 2006, 03:30 PM)
It sounds, and I might be wrong, like a policy similar to the old "can't send the last living son to war" policy.  It's so a whole family can't be wiped out.

Of course, the U.S. Army has since done away with that...


I guess for as long as the US government is pretending that going off to fight a war isn't going to result in casualties, that sort of policy would be a bit undermining of PR.

I don't know much about the US military, though I did meet someone on a greyhound bus once who was going through boot camp. What I remember most about him (aside from being willing to follow any hair-brained suggestion I made like "I bet you can't fit in the luggage rack" biggrin.gif ) was the inordinate amount of pride he took in being dumped on. He was boasting about being made to clean out the latrines by hand, I remember that, but I think there was quite a litany of abuse and domination. The impression I walked away with was that they'd got him so conditioned that he thought his ability to put up with being abused said something so great about him that he was virtually begging for reinforcement of his role.

Now I'm not saying this is absolute, but I recall an interesting step-by-step comparison of entering a cult and entering the army, from isolating from friends and family, redenderring powerless, humiliation, introducing a strong reward-punishment structure and enforcing identification with the organisation above the individual. I would guess one distinction in role-playing heavily militarised characters would be that they have this... I'm going to invite the flames and use the word... "damage" to their self-identity and a conditioned loyalty to their army and / or country.
kindvixen
Okay, my experience comes from two summers of working for the military as a manual laborer, and having a lifetime of a Lieutenant dad.

The military, at the core, is all about removal of individuality. One of the reasons that drill officers yell at you like goddamned apes is because they want to break you down, and then paste a proper military grunt personality over yours.

Most 'grunts' respond by behaving like god-damned ten year olds at best, and drunk ten year olds at worst. I've seen monkeys who are more disciplined than the average private who's not being yelled at by a superior.

Though it is, as said, very much a game as well. Your asshole superior yells you deaf because he's supposed to do so. I experienced this in a slightly indirect way, when I was treated like goddamned horseshit by all officers, since they equalled people around my age within military grounds with privates. When I got one of them suspended from work for threatening me (i AM a civilian, they lack the right to do so with me. but for some reason, they have that right with privates), they started treating me like a person.

I learned, fast, that in the military there are only three ways to get something done.
Go to someone more superior than your superior.
Yell loudly enough at someone under you.
Or do it yourself.



Yeah, not too flattering a view of the military. But whatever. This also comes from what my father, who used to work as a drill instructor for a while, has told me.

Basically, to roleplay military people: Just use some lingo and squad tactics in combat. That ought to do it. If not, yell at people smaller than you until your lungs feel sore, salute anyone higher than you and act like a monkey when you're around people of your own rank.
Slump
Theoretically, most civvies are higher ranked than most military. The officers yelling at and threating you were, effectivly, yelling at and threatening their boss.

I have a friend who was in the air force for 2 years (programming in oklahoma, no less), and the civillians were to be treated as high ranking officers at all times. Of course, it probably helped that the civillian programmers were much better than most of the military ones.

One thing the military did do, though, was to make things 'fair' for the programmers.

They had a day shift and a night shift. Each shift was divided into 2 groups. Every 60 days, one set of groups was swapped between day and night. Every 60 days, the day shift was swapped with the night shift. These swaps were staggered, so that every 30 days your schedule did a 180, or your worked with a different group of people, or both.

If you've done group programming, you know that this is the absolute worst way to generate code. But it's fair, right? Even if nobody wanted to change shifts, it's fair. I promise.
mfb
QUOTE (knasser)
The impression I walked away with was that they'd got him so conditioned that he thought his ability to put up with being abused said something so great about him that he was virtually begging for reinforcement of his role.

guys like that are conditioned before they ever get into the military. basic training is not a life-changing, traumatic experience, though it may make you aware of a few things you weren't before (mostly revolving around how far you can actually push yourself, as opposed to how far you think you can push yourself)--and not everybody gets even that. you get out of the military exactly what you put in.
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