Lanius's bad reputation is undeserved

Discussion in 'Fallout: New Vegas Discussion' started by Apollyon, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Apollyon

    Apollyon It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 29, 2017
    Hey everyone,

    Legate Lanius gets a bad reputation in Fallout New Vegas, often being depicted as a leader who would destroy the Legion should he be left in charge. In this thread I will argue that this reputation is, at least in part, unjustified.

    Firstly, before meeting Lanius in person, a consistent picture is being drawn of him as a barbarous brute, devoid of reason and filled with blood lust. However, when one finally comes eye to eye with him, this isn't exactly what we encounter. Lanius seems cruel and fanatical, but he is no dumb brute. He is very well-spoken, coherent and reasonable to a degree. Nothing like the image I had of him beforehand. As with many things in New Vegas, opinions that are expressed by characters in-game rarely line up with the game's reality. Critics of the Legion like to quote the vagueries and proze of Ulysses to no end, so they should give the Legate more credit in this regard for he is much more coherent than Ulysses.

    Another argument often presented, is that Lanius is a military leader and lacks political skill or the capacity to run an empire rather than an army. This is a very shallow argument, because running a successful military is complicated and multidimensional. It requires a strategic mind, organizational skill and great charisma. In fact, many of history's greatest leaders were military generals. I will concede that when all one has is a hammer, every problem becomes a nail, but that brings me to my next point.

    When resorting to the mentioned argument about a lack of political skill it is often left out why a leader of the Legion needs political skill in the first place. The Legion does not maintain complicated diplomatic ties with any faction. Its foreign policy is extremely straight-forward. I struggle to imagine any sort of complicated political landscape in the context of Fallout, where might makes right. Complicated political landscapes are something of the modern, internationally intertwined world and certainly the simple politics of the Wasteland are not beyond the comphrension of a military general.

    Lastly, it deserves mentioning that Caesar himself calls Lanius's ability into question. However, his account of Lanius, like those of many others, hardly coincides with the actual Legate himself. The way Caesar describes Lanius as "not a great man" I found rather strange and struck me as a stab out of jealousy rather than sincerity. I find it likely that Caesar fears Lanius, since he is perhaps a more complete embodiement of what the Legion stands for than Caesar is.

    Well, there's that. Please share your opinions.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2019
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  2. AureliusofPhoenix

    AureliusofPhoenix Kahnum of Outworld and 4 INT Legionary

    Jun 25, 2018
    First off, I love it, and I think you provided a fantastic analysis, from one Legionary to another.

    However, as someone who would rather see Vulpes or Lucius in charge, I’m honor bound to argue with it.

    1) In regards to Lanius’ well-spokeness, I really have no argument. What I will say is that every member of the Legion is more articulate than your average wasteland degenerate, and to have Lanius be an exception would seem... odd, considering the state of the other Legionaries. As for Ulysses, I feel that time alone in the Divide, lusting after what could have been, has warped his mind so thoroughly that his coherence was always going to be a detractor to his arguments.

    2&3) You said it yourself. All Lanius has is the hammer, and while the embodiment of the Legion to an extent, Lanius isn’t what the Legion could be. Caesar very clearly wants the Legion to be a cultural as well as military powerhouse, and what you see as jealousy is perhaps rather disdain for Lanius’ straightforward, excessively violent methods. Another leader, Vulpes for example, would be able to balance the covert with the overt. There is no way Lanius could seriously make great use of the frumentarii, and in doing so the Legion would lose its eyes and ears.

    While there is certainly more to Lanius than meets the eye, in the end his likely failure to make effective use of the Legion’s intelligence network would cripple it.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  3. Apollyon

    Apollyon It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 29, 2017
    I agree that Vulpes Inculta is a great, perhaps even the best, replacement for Caesar. More so because the subtle and indirect approaches of infiltration, psychological warfare and guerilla warfare seem to strike at the NCR's Achilles' heel.

    Though, I wanted to specifically invalidate the common idea that Lanius is a bad leader whose leadership would ruin the Legion.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  4. AureliusofPhoenix

    AureliusofPhoenix Kahnum of Outworld and 4 INT Legionary

    Jun 25, 2018
    Ah, I see. Well, my mistake. In that case, my fear isn’t so much that Lanius will ruin the Legion as send it backwards and not use it to its full potential; Lanius certainly won’t destroy the Legion if appointed Caesar, but it will bring the Legion farther from Caesar’s intended purpose for it.
     
  5. NMLevesque

    NMLevesque Commie Ghost

    Jul 2, 2016
    Primary strategy: waves of cannon fodder with a side of terrorism

    Methods of recruitment: kidnapping children to brain wash them, the threat of torture or death for able bodied young men

    Demonstration of organizational skill: ?

    Caesar organized the Legion. Lanius was put in command. And the Legion does not require strategy or charisma of any kind. As far as we know he also leans on those under his command. He's most often described as a symbol and a warrior, not a leader.

    So were a lot of history's worst leaders. Ulysses S. Grant comes to mind, especially given his own candor on Presidential shortcomings.

    Ulysses accurately predicts how to talk Lanius down. I'd say that was insightful. So does he get anything in particular about Lanius wrong? And do other characters describe Lanius more accurately?

    If we're going to dismiss what he says it should be based on the merit of what is said, not the character of who is saying it. Intelligent characters can make stupid decisions (House on so many counts). Characters that are literally demented can be insightful (No-Bark Noonan knows more about what's going on than most of the clear-headed Novac residents).

    Either way, a case for Lanius should have examples. It should go over what we can actually see first-hand in game.
     
  6. Apollyon

    Apollyon It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 29, 2017
    NMLevesque,

    Lanius holds the rank of Legate and therefore commands the cohort. Contrary to the picture you sketch, a man in charge of several hundred men, divided into units, does not sit around twiddling his thumbs and smoking cigars all day. He is in command of the overall movement, deployment, maintenance, morale, and many other matters. Additionally, he coordinates and holds responsibility over the operations conducted by the units under his command, therefore the successes achieved by the Legion in crippling the NCR in the Mojave can, in part, be attributed to his ability to lead the cohort. Who commands the Centurions? It is Lanius, not Caesar. The Legion is a well-oiled machine and this would be an impossibility were it not for the Legion's superb leadership. The Legion asks much of its soldiers, and yet they carry out orders without question.

    Secondly, the Legion's battle tactics are not as simple as you sketch them. All across the Mojave the Legion shows great strategic prowess, staging ambushes, raiding and cutting off supply lines, conducting effective guerilla warfare. These are complicated military manoeuvres that don't just "happen", as you make it sound. They need to be planned, on multiple levels, in order to be successful. Additionally, they carry out these operations with generally inferior equipment, though their survival skills and ability to make do with improvised weaponry is in part what reduces their reliance on supply lines and grants the freedom of movement required. There's a method to these things. A thought-process that needs to be maintained. What equipment do the troops need? What kind of training is required? What does the doctrine look like? How will terror be used to the greatest effect? etc. Questions that concern generals.
    Furthermore, it is short-sighted to look at Hoover Dam and accuse the Legion of using "bad tactics". Were the Allies bad tacticians at Normandy? No. The circumstances allowed for no other course of action than a frontal assault, and those are won with numbers, even more so when conducted through a bottle-neck. Whether the assaults on Hoover Dam were a great strategic idea is questionable, but such were Caesar's orders, and not something Lanius approved of, as you know. Ironically, this suggests he is in fact more strategically capable than Caesar.

    On the topic of recruitment, you make it sound as though it is easy to brainwash and forcibly beat soldiers into obedience. Clearly it is not, and such a method would readily result in much resentment among the ranks. Yet, Legion-wide we see not fear or resentment, but pride and conviction. That does not echo a simple, brutal coercive method. However deplorable one may find the methods, they are effective. Instead of resulting in a grudge-bearing Legion that could rebel at any moment in order to exact revenge on their oppressors, we see the exact opposite.

    My point about Ulysses is not that he is wrong, but that he is vague and somewhat deranged. Lanius is coherent and crystal clear. Yet people take what Ulysses says as gospel and regard Lanius as a brute. It's a double standard.

    Finally, I'd love to give you more examples of Lanius's actions in-game, but sadly there are really too few to build an accurate picture of. We're all lovers of the franchise here, and I would say it is unfair to limit our imagination (though it should equally not be a carte blanche), especially since the Legion is woefully unfinished and mostly antagonized. It would lead to a clear bias.

    Thanks for your contribution.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  7. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    It's actually the NCR that is doing poor warfare tactics and throwing soldiers at the enemy until they win (one example being Helios One). The Legion wins with intelligent tactics and great use of their inferior equipment.

    And yes, there seems to be a sense of pride to be in the Legion in many of its soldiers. Many are willing to sacrifice themselves at any moment for the Legion.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 2
  8. Veers

    Veers Fire when ready.

    Jan 3, 2017
    Lanius taking over and being a total failure always seemed weird to me. Firstly, Caesar has a super intelligent, super strategic thinker who's his right-hand man, genuinely believes in the Legion, and plays the Legion's Mojave enemies like a fiddle, but the tribal with poor strategic skills is the one who gets to inherit leadership? And secondly, Caesar talks about having other Legates and a government structure. Would he really think Lanius taking the reigns would be best when he's probably got a ton of other competent leaders out there?
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  9. AureliusofPhoenix

    AureliusofPhoenix Kahnum of Outworld and 4 INT Legionary

    Jun 25, 2018
    That was certainly odd to me as well, and incentive to save Caesar from his tumor; the last thing any Legion supporter wants is for it to collapse.

    But that’s what I was also saying earlier - Vulpes is likely the best choice for the Legion inheritance, and yet... Lanius. It’s a strange detail that I can’t help but feel was put in place because there’s something I’m missing, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  10. Apollyon

    Apollyon It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 29, 2017
    Veers,

    What indicator, other than his reputation as a brute, is there that suggests Lanius's poor strategic skill?

    One of the few meaningful interactions the player can have with Lanius shows that he possibly has greater strategic insight than Caesar. I am referring to the Barter/Speech dialogue checks in which Lanius expresses that he does not agree with Caesar's plan to occupy the entire Mojave which would bind most of the Legion's manpower. It seems to me that Lanius's bad reputation is a result of repeating the same questionable assertions about his intellectual merit, both in-game and by fans, but what facts or logical deductions are there to back them up? Isn't this just a case of repeating the same false assertions over and over until they become the truth?
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  11. AureliusofPhoenix

    AureliusofPhoenix Kahnum of Outworld and 4 INT Legionary

    Jun 25, 2018
    I honestly believe that the jabs at Lanius’ intelligence are just NCR propaganda that’s taken root. Think about it; everyone sees the Legion as barbarians, and animals, but they’re far more articulate than your average NCR trooper or wasteland profligate.

    So why does everyone think they’re stupid? It’s a Hell of a propaganda war on the NCR’s side that keeps people thinking that Legionaries are dumb, or gay, or any number of things said in a derogatory fashion towards them that are accepted as “fact”.
     
  12. Risewild

    Risewild Venerable Relic of the Wastes
    Modder Orderite

    Jun 14, 2014
    Lanius is smarter than average ingame. He has 6 INT.
    It's obvious that the devs thought he was a smart though cookie.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  13. Apollyon

    Apollyon It Wandered In From the Wastes

    Apr 29, 2017
    Perhaps it is propaganda, or perhaps it is by simple virtue of the Mojave being primarily populated by the Legion's enemies. Somewhat understandably, the dominant perspective in the Mojave is anti-Legion and we're never really shown the other side of the aureus.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  14. Eshanas

    Eshanas Where'd That 6th Toe Come From?

    Jul 6, 2016
    Lanius is short-sighted. That's the problem. But the problem also rests on Caesar, who refuses to share his dream and vision with anyone else. All his slaver army knows is that he wants this city, he's the son of Mars the War God, and that's about it. They can't rebuild Rome if they don't know what Rome is, Lanius doesn't know, and Lanius is just fixated on bashing things in front of him. It's why Caesar hired him in the first place. Thus when Caesar dies, the mythos and dream of the legion crumbles. Lanius has no legitimacy other than 'I was close to Caesar' - which itself doesn't mean much because of the Burned Man - and so the Legion is doomed to fall and break apart into a dozen or eighty odd Romanesque Tribes. Which, meh, still a net positive over what came before.
     
  15. BigGuyCIA

    BigGuyCIA Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Oct 26, 2016
    This isn't bad tactics - it's literally your only option in warfare when facing a bunch of entrenched nuts toting laser machine guns and Power Armor. If they didn't care about the objective then sure, they could have just shelled the hell out of it. NCR had to deal with the same ordeal during the first BoHD and the Legion's only option was to funnel through this narrow pass.
     
  16. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    It's pretty much the common tactic they use at the time of New Vegas, they just throw every soldier with no semblance of strategy until they win and the Legion is taking advantage of that. And it is a pretty poor tactic because you will eventually run out of soldiers if you keep using it.

    I even recall some the NCR soldiers criticizing the higher ups for using such a tactic so often.
     
  17. BigGuyCIA

    BigGuyCIA Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    Oct 26, 2016
    WW2 Soviet Union and Korean War China must have missed the memo. Play to your strengths.
     
  18. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    Sure it's working given how strained they are becoming because of the lack of soldiers (one of the reasons anyway), to the point they just recruit whatever to fill their ranks at the time of New Vegas. Specially when they are trying to hold so much territory in their goal to control the whole wasteland.
     
  19. AureliusofPhoenix

    AureliusofPhoenix Kahnum of Outworld and 4 INT Legionary

    Jun 25, 2018
    It’s the same tactics Grant used in the ACW that got him labeled a “butcher” by the Northern press. As much as I am loath to defend the NCR, I have to say that whenever your strength lies in superior manpower, taking advantage of this will always get you Monday Morning Quarterbacked, as it were. People love to hate on those who use human wave tactics, for valid reasons, but they also aren’t in the situation where those tactics are their only choice, as the NCR is.
     
  20. Norzan

    Norzan Vault Senior Citizen

    Apr 7, 2017
    I'm not saying it's not a valid tactic, the issue is that the NCR uses it far too much. There's a place and time for every type of valid tactic, but NCR tends to rely on one that costs them a lot of soldiers.

    And i will still say that is a pretty poor tactic if you are fighting a long term war, which they are.