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Khan of the Crimea
Oct 21, 2002
Welcome to "Guess-the-Author"...the slightly misnamed place to critique anonymous writings by various forum members!

THE RULES...pilfered from Secret Master but edited quite a bit:
1) Actual story posts will only be submitted by me or the designated person in charge, to retain anonymity. Critical/guess posts will be made under your own nick.

2) This is what happens: First, the coordinator will choose a topic for authors to write about. Topics will be very broad and general, and will cover topics in (if at all possible) the EU games, HoI, and Victoria, so authors who own only one of those games (or, possibly, none) can still join the project.

3) Second, anyone who wishes to write on a topic must PM the coordinator and get approval. The number of authors writing on any particular topic will be limited to 4, or otherwise as designated by the person in charge, so it's important to inform the coordinator of your interest as soon as possible so you will be one of the first four. The coordinator will inform you of if you're going to write or not (ie if there are already four authors signed up).

4) Submissions will have a deadline that they must meet. This is to allow all the posts to be put up at once, so as to give "equal time" to them, in addition to keeping the manager of the project sane (actually, the latter may be a lost cause already :D). This also keeps the project rolling, even if one of the authors has unexpected problems.

6) Anyone may offer guesses as to the identity of the author and may post constructive criticism. Spam will not be tolerated, nor outright attacks, as per forum rules.

7) The list of authors will not be provided until a set time has expired. Then all will be revealed. (As our community has grown enormously, guessing the author should no longer be as big a priority as providing positive feedback.)

8) Posts that discuss writing in more general terms should be posted in the SolAARium, not here. Not that we don't want to read them, but everything has its proper place, from artillery to literary criticism.
HISTORY: The Original Thread (started by resident genius Secret Master)
The idea was originally conceived by Director
The project was rescued from near oblivion in August 2005 by coz1

Past Project Coordinators:
Hajji Giray I (March - June 2004)
Anibal (June 2004)
Hajji Giray I (July - December 2004)
An Unfortunate Hiatus... (December 2004 - August 2005)
coz1 (August 2005 - May 2006)
Hajji Giray I (June 2006)
J. Passepartout (July 2006)
[anarchy round] (August - September 2006)
coz1 (October 2006 - March 2007)
stnylan (May - June 2007)
Another Unfortunate Hiatus... (July - September 2007)
Hajji Giray I (October 2007)

Past Topics:
[Month - Topic - submissions begin at post #X]
March 04 - Losing a battle to rebels - #4
March 04 - Diplomatic insult - #51
April 04 - Description of a leader - #93
May 04 - Unsuccessful religious conversion - #112
May 04 - New technology - #134
Jun 04 - A humiliating peace treaty - #166
Aug 04 - Province defection - #199
Nov 04 - Assassination - #216
Aug 2005 - Declaration of war - #256
Sept 05 - A discovery - #293
Oct 05 - A battle - #327
Nov 05 - Returning home from war - #385
Dec 05 - A celebration - #436
Jan 2006 - Insane ruler - #463
Feb 06 - Treacherous noble arrested - #500
March 06 - Treason - #524
April 06 - Taxes - #592
May 06 - A sporting match - #623
Jun 06 - A new ruler - #670
July 06 - Gift to the state - #713
Aug/Sep 06 - Death of a ruler - #749
Oct 06 - Wlak stories - #786
Nov 06 - A peace conference - #818
Dec/Jan 06-07 - A great feast - #850
Feb/March 07 - Election as Holy Roman Emperor - #900
May/June 07 - Reinterpretation of a generic story by stnylan [#951] - #957

You can e-mail me at brianrein@gmail.com

- - -

In the past we have had many illustrious contributors, including (in no particular order) Amric, Stroph1, coz1, Valdemar, Judge, Alhazen, Prufrock451, J. Passepartout, Peter Ebbesen, stnylan, CatKnight, frogbeastegg, richvh, Fenwick, and dozens more. Guess-the-Author is one of the AAR forum's longest and most important traditions, and the teamwork it takes is evident not just in the staggering number of contributors we've had but also in the number of coordinators who have started up new rounds. But most important of all: the comments! Please read through the newest entries and critique them - after all, that is why we are here. Perhaps you could become one of our illustrious authors, too, no matter how long you've been in AARland. Guess-the-Author is proud to have been home to several stunning writing debuts and first-posts.

In this great community project and writing workshop, interest, participation, and friendly discussion are the keys to improving our writing.


This thread was started by Hajji Giray I
Last edited by a moderator:
Our "first" topic is: losing a battle to rebels.

Currently all four spots have been filled, and two complete submissions have been received. :)
Three complete submissions have been received. One more...


Author #1

"We're a diversion." Carmagnola nodded, squinting against the smoke. He'd known his share of betrayal over the years, and dealt it out as well. This, though, was a horse of a different color.

The Turks had overrun the Balkans with embarassing ease, starting in 1419. Barely five years later, they'd expelled the last of the Crusaders from Athens. They'd decided to finish the job of humbling the Italian states by landing at Rome. The Papal States had given up Emilia, but Florence and Parma had given up their independence. Venice had been quick to declare war, anxious to prevent the Turks rom outflanking them to the west. Now Carmagnola and his band of condottieri marched under the Turkish banner, holding Mantua while the Turkish main army beseiged Venice itself.

Marco wiped his brow, smearing blood and soot across his sleeve. He'd just returned from the north, still carrying the letter Carmagnola had written for the Turkish commander. The camp had been empty, the Turks had marched east. The Duke of Milan, who had allowed Carmagnola to march as a Turkish mercenary to humble Venice, had refused to even receive his messengers.

Now he was trapped with a few meager hundred inside Mantua, while eight thousand pikemen hammered on the city gates. He'd barely defeated a Venetian cavalry force, left with a bare two thousand men, when the Mantuans had risen up. For four months, he'd held out, waiting for the Turks to deliver him from the gruesome death that surely awaited him. Now, though, that last meager hope was gone. He allowed himself a sour grin - at least the Turkish puppet that sat on St. Peter's throne would not have him excommunicated.

A booming sound from the west. Carmagnola cocked his head and listened. A battering ram. That would be it, then. Fire roared across the town's western side, smoke blotting out the last red fingers of sunset. Carmagnola drew his sword, marching to the gate. Marco followed, and a few others behind. They issued no orders, said nothing. At this point, there was nothing left to say. They'd turned their backs on their blood, on their land, on God Himself. All that was left was the end.

The gates shuddered and cracked. The army outside the gates roared, the bloodlust pounding in their ears. His archers had abandoned their posts. Carmagnola paused to plunge his sword into the back of a fleeing man. Another surge of the ram, and the oaken doors splintered. A few arrows whistled through the narrow gap. One landed in the dust at Carmagnola's foot. He glanced at it lazily and knelt to pick it up. Professional, not the hastily cast arrowheads he'd seen on most of these projectiles. He wondered idly if that meant the Venetians were organizing this mob. He smirked to himself, chuckling. If the Doge had sent an army to Mantua, they'd likely have cut down the rabble themselves.

The doors crumbled and fell, and there was no more time for such musings. The blood pulsed in his ears, and the roar of battle seemed to fall away. There was nothing but the fight, nothing but the heft of the sword in his hand. Peasants rushing forward, with their clumsy pikes held out. Carmagnola parried a thrust, another. He followed the line of a spear in, ramming his sword into the gut of a peasant, staring into the eyes as they went dead. He wasted a moment pulling the sword free, barely in time to knock away another spear. A spear splintered against his shield, and the impact numbed his left arm. Another peasant behind him now, tripping him with a pike. He stepped down hard, snapping the pole. Another peasant charged in, and Carmagnola slapped the head aside. The peasant couldn't slow himself in time, and lost the fingers of his left hand before he could get out of Carmagnola's range.

The peasants were slowing now, staying just out of range. They learned quickly when their lives were at stake. They'd herded the last few mercenaries away from each other, ringing them with long spears. Carmagnola whirled about. There were six men facing him now, spreading out. He couldn't defend against them all, and they knew it. The fear leached out of their faces, replaced by a feral joy. Carmagnola knew that feeling, all too well. He'd worn that look in a hundred fights across the long decades of murder and thievery. It was time.

One last life, then. He shifted the sword in his hand. One last murder, one last theft. He plunged his sword into his heart. The pain of it... Carmagnola dropped to his knees, ice burning its way down his spine and screaming in his nerves. He gasped for air, the light fading. No glory for these men, though one would surely claim his head and the bounty that went with it. No, that was Carmagnola's. He'd been bested only by himself.

The light went out and Carmagnola began to fall.
Author #2

The Siege of Steiermark

The peg-legged man clomped his way into the inn. A patch covered his left eye; his face was a lacework of scars and wrinkles; his hair and beard, once black, were laced with gray.

"That's him." The barkeep pointed with his chin. "Buy Old John a drink, and he'll tell you more than you want to know."

"Draw a pitcher of your best, then, my good man, and have it and two
mugs brought to my booth." I placed a silver florin on the counter. "That should cover the refills."

I moved to intercept the old veteran. "I hear that you survived the siege of Steiermark."

"Aye, lad, but me throat's a bit dry."

"That is easily corrected." I waved to the barmaid and guided the Old John to a booth in the rear. We sat while the barmaid filled our mugs.

The grizzled veteran took a long draft. "Ah, that really hits the spot. Now, then, laddie, what do ye wish to know?"

"Why don't you start at the beginning?"

"It were in '33, methinks, that the King surrendered. The Sassenach had no use fer guid Scots soldiers, but the Emperor were hirin', so me an' the boys went an' offered our services to 'im. 'E put us on garrison duty in Venice, which warn't too bad, lots of pretty lasses, but ye dasn't go into town by yersel'.

"Round about then, we started to 'ear of this yer Adolf Greschenbacher raisin' a ruckus up in the mountains, claimin' tae be the rightful heir o' the last Baron of Styria. Didn't amount tae much at firs', but then the Emperor got in a war with the Infidels, and mos' of the other regiments were withdrawn, an' it was just us in the Scots Guards left tae try tae keep the peace in a' o' Italy. We war kept busy then, marchin' up an' down the length of the boot, from one hot spot to another, for the war warn't ver' popular, let me tell ye, an' we war about worn down to a nubbin when Adolf made his move.

"It looks like me mug is empty." I poured him another one. "Thankee,
laddie, now where war I?

"Anyways, we war doon in Naples puttin' down the riotin' when Adolf made his move. 'E must 'ave 'ad the support of the nobles, for 'e raised a passel o' militia an' put the guv'nor out o' the castle on 'is ear faster than ye can say 'Jack Robinson.' So there we war, an understren' reg'ment, marchin' the len' o' Italy fer the umpteenth time, an' ill-equipped fer a mountain campaign wi' winter comin' on, an' no
hope o' reinforcements anytime soon.

"'E mun 'ave 'ad a spy in uir camp, or else the best scouts ye e'er did see, for whate'er route we took into the mountains, there war an ambush waitin' fer us.

"We finally managed to fight uir way tae the stronghold o' the blighter just as the passes closed. Wi' supplies runnin' short, since so much 'ad been lost in ambushes and raids on uir supply train, that we 'ad tae try tae assault the place. That's when I lost me eye. We managed to carry the place, but lost 'alf uir men in the process, and it turned out that there warn't much more food inside than we'd 'ad outside, an' the
blackguard 'ad escaped uir noose an' war busy raisin' more rebels. We managed to hold out 'til spring, but at the end we war eatin' the boot leather, havin' caught all the rats. Not one man in ten who marched in wi' me e'er left those mountains, an' I lost me gam tae frostbite an' gangrene on the march out."

"Did you know Hamish McTavish, sir?"

"Aye, lad. A guid man he war, an' a guid frien'. We lef' him buried along the trail, wi' too many others."

"My name is Giovanni McTavish; Hamish was my father. I never knew my father; my mother married him in secret, and I was born after the war started. I have been searching for someone who could tell me what happened to him since I came of age."

We spent a teary, beery hour after that, I listening to his reminiscences of their times together in Scotland and Italy. Finally, I left him crying in his beer, and gave the innkeeper a gold florin.

"See he has something to eat for as long as that lasts." With that, I went to my room, a great weight off my chest at last.

(The author apologizes to all Scots for his mangling of their dialect.)
Author #3

General Petro Poretti planted his great standard into the ground with all the energy of a furious man. His life was crumbling before him. He must rally!

The General didn't know how it had happened. He had sent the cavalry forward to defeat the peasants, armed with little more than pitchforks. The cavalry returned, beaten. The captains gave word of formidable pikes and pitchforks jabbing horses and yanking riders off their steeds.

The infantry fared worse. The General was with them through the whole battle: they were winning, clearly. Yet the line crumbled, seemingly evaporated, and though he remembered every detail, every bullet fired out of the new "rifles", he could not recall how things disintegrated.

"Now is time not for reflection, now is time for victory!" he told himself, and began shouting to the soldiers fleeing around him.

"Fight for Siena! Will you not fight for the glories of Siena?"

"We will not!" came one grumbling reply. "We're tired. Can't we rest?"

"Tomorrow yes, but now...just ten minutes more, I beg you!"

The troops paid him little heed. Eventually he used no little bit of force to stop a full company of infantry and some riflemen to face the enemy.

The enemy came upon the hill and surged up. The angry peasants had, for reasons the rather clueless General still could not understand, a major lust for government blood. What did they have against him? he wondered, but abandoned philosophy in favor of fear when the raggedy-looking group ascended the hill and surrounded his little group.

Now all General Poretti knew was fear, and all he thought of was escape. Frantically he turned his horse, looking for an opening--and seeing one. He charged through it, but was greeted by a party of peasants jumping out from behind a tree.

The government of Siena would later fall in the face of this massive rebellion, which only continued to gain steam after the battle. Finally Siena was totally conquered by rebel forces who killed the Duke and installed a new choice in their place: a famous general who, in the face of death for his country, had instead chosen to change sides. Only a few years later, though, Duke Petro I was killed in a new rebellion. But that is another story...
Author #4

Proclamation of the August Norton I, Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico

We, the Emperor Norton I, Dei Gratia the ruler of this continent, have noticed a number of pretender governments, namely the so-called Federal 'government' of Licoln and the Confederate 'government' of Davis. We have issued several statements to the effect that the members of these organisations resign their posts. This has not come about. Furthermore, these parties have taken to fighting each other and generally disturbing our peace.

Therefore, we have decided that it is needed to provide for an army which will put down the unlawful rebels. All persons wishing to join the Imperial Army shall make themselves present at the lobby of the Grand Hotel in San Francisco.

Signed by our hand, Norton I Dei Gratia Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, December 17th, 1863


Some two thousand people showed up, which was a suprise due to the nature of this so-called emperor, and yet perhaps not suprising, as a great deal of people probably were there for the kick of it. Anyway, pretty soon the 'Imperial Army' had been organised into twenty regiments and put under the command of General Robert Trederr, Lord and Duke of Sacramento, raised to those ranks at the time of enlisting with the Emperor. The army began to march east, and the paper printed a funny story about the silly people who joined a madman's militia.

One of the recruits picked up the name, and quickly it spread throughout the whole regiment, and advanced even faster than the army did. This is why a minor United States officer by the name of Prickfield was given orders to detain and destroy the rebel group, which the orders refused to give legitimacy to by calling it even the Madman's Militia. Prickfield was a bit of a sissy, and had joined the army to show his acquaintences he was man enough. The only reason he had a rank was because his father had a bit of, shall we say, influence.

On the fifth of January the two armies sighted and began maneouvering about each other in Nevada, wondering when and where to engage. Prickfield was more concerned with when, and was constantly on the lookout making sure he wasn't being attacked, and wouldn't be attacked. Trederr was more concerned with where and was constantly repositioning in response to Prickfield's avoidence of battle. He was getting annoyed, but had the good sense that if you can choose when and where, you have a good sight of a chance of winning.

On the eighth of January, Trederr decided he was in the perfect position. And he was. He won in short order, and Prickfield retreated. News of this reached Washington quickly. Lincoln sent more orders instructing Prickfield not to lose this time. And so Prickfield, mildly more afraid of being fired than being beaten, held his position, a bit further east in Nevada than before, but holding none the less.

Two days later, after more maneourvering, Prickfield lost again. He decided to try and lose as little ground as possible in retreat, as he knew what he was going to hear from Washington.

On the thirteenth of January, battle was engaged again. Prickfield was getting rather annoyed at losing all the time to a small group of rebels. He said to himself, "we are going to win this time. We have the advantage of position, timing, trained men, we can't lose."


Prickfield's funeral was held on the second of February, in his home town in the Hudson River Valley. His family was in attendence, and so were a few family friends, and the church officials who were required were there, but no one else attended. Prickfield was not popular among his childhood acquaintences, and had no friends in the army because he was incompetent. Nevada was held by Norton I, Dei Gratia Emperor of the United States, Protector of Mexico.
Author 1 is Director
Author 2 is Mr. T
Author 3 is LD
Author 4 is Voshkod
It's impossible for me to pick who wrote the pieces what with all the wonderful writers now populating the fora. Amric does a fair job above and I'm inclined to agree with his choices.

As for the excerpts themselves, I think all were very well written. I particularly thought the second came at the project from an interesting point of view. With the man named John and use of dialect, it does tend to lead towards Mr.T. I must say, though, that it was slightly difficult to get everything that happened simply from the difficulty I had making out what the words were meant to say, and that was with speaking them outloud. Still, a unique angle to approach the revolt and it seemed as if it might lend itself nicely to a longer tale about the man finding out more of his life.

The fourth piece also tends to lead towards Voshkod simply because we know his love for the Emperor Norton. Obviously well written, though I felt it might have tried to include perhaps too many characters in such a small piece. I found myself having to go back and re-read a few times just to make sure I knew where everyone's loyalties were.

The first is difficult to tell who wrote it. It is quite descriptive and and does a nice job setting up the action, perhaps a bit too nice. It might not have been necessary to give us so much of the backstory, but it certainly fit with what happens later. The author does a nice job presenting the demise and Carmagnola's recognition that all was lost. I especially liked his thought that he had seen it before from his own hand. Nicely portrayed.

As for the third - short, sweet and to the point. I found it humorous, for lack of a better word, that Poretti had to struggle to remember how it had all gone wrong. And the last bit about it being a story for another day was a nice ending, though perhaps a bit quick considering the rest of the piece.

All four utilized dialogue well and have a great command of the language. Further, description was handled with the right balance and action was credible and seemingly researched or the practices written about were at least familiar to each. Anyway, that's my two ducats. Well done for all of you and I look forward to finding out who you are.
Very good stories! I'm impressed. This will take some thinking. Now, do we get any hints? ;)
Sure we get hints!

Amric scored a ZERO out of four.
One of our authors has been to another planet
Another one has a problem spelling names of characters out of books
And one is destined to raid Muscowy 65 times, and even sack the city of Moscow itself (this person is deeply honored by the fact that Amric thought he was LD)
The fourth is relatively new but scored a few big hits recently

(clues not in order)
I don't want to clutter this thread with useless posts, but one question - didn't the initial project provide at least a list of writers before hand? At least that way we would have an idea of who to choose from. There are just so many writers in general, it's difficult to tell as it is now. 0 out of 4, eh? Well, I'm stumped! :D
(the intent of this revival is to focus more on the "analysis and critiques" than "guess the author"...but you've already analysisified and critiqued, so I'll reveal the authors' names, but won't say WHO did each essay):

The four authors were:

richvh (relatively new)
J. Passeportout (couldn't spell "Passepartout" when he was registering)
Prufrock451 (wrote an Aliens AAR)
...and me.

Who wrote which?


However, I would like to say that I claim not having the book in front of me is a valid excuse, and that I am going to guess, at the moment only guess and not review, two entries. If I guessed three, it would be too easy for the rest of you to say "that other one is yours."

So, I will venture the guess that the author of the Stiermark one is Prufrock, and the Norton one is Haiji.
Let's see if I can get any of the writers correct:

1) Mantua: HG
2) Steirmark: J.Passeportout
3) Siena: richvh
4) Mexico: Prufrock451

Reviews later...

Great job done by all four!!!

*rolls on the floor laughing his head off*
Stroph1 said:
Let's see if I can get any of the writers correct:

1) Mantua: HG
2) Steirmark: J.Passeportout
3) Siena: richvh
4) Mexico: Prufrock451

Reviews later...

Great job done by all four!!!

Hajji Giray I said:
*rolls on the floor laughing his head off*
Give the man a break, Hajji - the country he assigned me to shares at least two letters with the one I really wrote about. ;)
The original thread did not give names untill the end, and then IIRc only in the final assignment and in an attempt to keep the thread alive...

The Idea as HG points out is not merely to guess the author but to analyse and give feedback on the writing...

one question HG, how detailed did you give the assignment? merely the "Loose against..." as you stated or did you give them time and place too?

I received no more instruction than the original "successful rebellion" assignment that Hajji originally posted here.

I, for one, would appreciate more analysis & criticism. coz1 is the only person to have actually done any, as opposed to wild (and wildly inaccurate) guesses as to identities of the authors.