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Khal Eazy

Why does the Night's Watch "range" beyond The Wall?

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So for the last couple thousand years the Night's Watch Rangers division is almost exclusively used for the purpose of scouting beyond The Wall constantly to give them intel on the wildlings. 

I can understand why they would do that when the Night's Watch was in it's prime and they had many thousands of men: ergo they could afford to lose a a couple dozen men without leaving the wall in jeopardy. 

Fast forward to the time period of ASoIaF and the watch is critically under-manned. They have been abandoning castles for hundreds of years because they don't have the men to garrison them so they just straight up leave them unmanned and undefended.  

Personnel, after food, has become the most critical need of the NW.

Yet somehow, the Night's Watch keeps sending out their most capable or promising warriors/scouts to "scout" for what the Wildlings are up to. 

Why?

What possible information could they tell the lord commander that is worth the lives of their most capable warriors? The wildlings are angry? A warrior chief has united them? They plan to attack the Wall (duh)?

Honestly, how is any of that information worth the lives of their small pool of men, much less their best warriors?

The Wildlings have no resources worth taking.

The Night's Watch needs to maintain their personnel to even hold the wall so why is it so important they have "scouts"? 

Seriously, no matter what happens, the endgame of any Wilding (or any Other enemy) strategy is to attack The Wall or go around it. The Horn of Joramund, if they even knew about it, is considered a myth, hardly worth taking seriously. Just like the Others. 

Geor Mormont took 1/3 of the entire Night's Watch's, a lot of their best included, to be killed for absolutely no reason. Jon didnt seal the gate and (most likely) killed Alliser and a few other scouts (good ones too so Jon says) for no reason. 

The lord commanders complain about being "blind" without their rangers. Blind to what? Blind to wildlings scratching out a meager existence while once every hundred years they decide to band together? 

TLDR: Wildlings have few to no resources and will try to pass The Wall through attack or stealth. Men on the Wall are ideal for spotting and defending both. What use are Rangers?

Edited by Khal Eazy

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They need to prepare against attacks tho, and to do so, they need to know whether they are going to attack or not.

Imagine what would have been of Mance's attack without ranging. The Watch is just there, doing nothing, when a bunch of freefolk attack from the south, caught them unawares, likely take Castle Black, and then a massive freefolk army, including skinchangers and giants, enters the north trough Castle Black and causes massive damage.

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I seem to recall something about Jaehaerys Targaryen, a sitting king, heading North in defense of the Wall.  Could be cloudy, but the point is that despite Westeros' lack of memory regarding the Watch and Wall, that frontier is vital enough to the North that there are rangers and scouts.  There are still noble houses who sacrifice their sons for the effort.  It is a rough land with even rougher people in the North.   The Wildlings by the simple fact they do not recognize the rule or exceptionalism of any lord or king are a threat to the rule of the realm.  They are brutal folk with strange customs the rest of the realm doesn't recognize any value in.  They steal women, that's daughters, nieces and sisters.  They have among them fearsome and magical people who worship strange gods.  They are as other to the 7 Kingdoms as the Others are to them.   You can't make too light of the socio political threat these people pose.  Just say there are 100,000 free folk.  Likely half of them are male with the other half being remarkably well trained fighters and hunters, possibly builders and rangers themselves.   That is 100,000 men and women you would have to beat off with very big sticks to protect your way of life.  The Nights Watch really is a (bad) lesson in rehabilitation.   A man's transgressions are forgiven and he in turn gives his life.  While we readers understand the greater threat of the Others the rest of Westeros is only concerned with a place to send their men no one wants dead and a Wildling free main society.   Jon took stabs for his efforts in seeing the Wildlings as people of the realm.   I think he may have been the first to recognize them in this light.  As we read this is a truly foreign sort of idea.  

Jeor's losses were not in vain, nor were the losses of great men like Quoren Half-hand or Benjen Stark.  Ultimately Jeor's action leads Jon to uncover dragon glass and Sam to use dragon glass and the end of Craster's Keep and all the evil done there.   

Yes, yes any exit from Beyond the Wall will have to come from over or around or from under, but that doesn't mean intelligence regarding "the enemy's" movements isn't crucial to preparing for that eventual movement.   Why sit up in a broken down old castle when you can adventure?  

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The true enemy are the Others. Tho their motives and intentions are debatable, the purpose of the NW is not. The Watch is continuing its ranging even tho it has mostly forgotten the enemy are the Other and not the Wildlings. Jon tried to change it. Tried 

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Im sorry but no matter what plans the Wildlings have made they still need to overcome or bypass the Wall. 

Rangers won't tell/be able to stop anything once it happens. Start one blast, you have the whole Wall, to defend once they've decided to do it.

Mance and the free folks aren't totally naive with the dragon glass. But that doest explain why wights and white walkers are familiar to NW. 

If anything, the northernmost South kindgoms are gonna get raped and pillaged so fast nobody will have time to wonder why the North was leading them down to the Neck. 

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12 hours ago, Khal Eazy said:

So for the last couple thousand years the Night's Watch Rangers division is almost exclusively used for the purpose of scouting beyond The Wall constantly to give them intel on the wildlings. 

I can understand why they would do that when the Night's Watch was in it's prime and they had many thousands of men: ergo they could afford to lose a a couple dozen men without leaving the wall in jeopardy. 

Fast forward to the time period of ASoIaF and the watch is critically under-manned. They have been abandoning castles for hundreds of years because they don't have the men to garrison them so they just straight up leave them unmanned and undefended.  

Personnel, after food, has become the most critical need of the NW.

Yet somehow, the Night's Watch keeps sending out their most capable or promising warriors/scouts to "scout" for what the Wildlings are up to. 

Why?

What possible information could they tell the lord commander that is worth the lives of their most capable warriors? The wildlings are angry? A warrior chief has united them? They plan to attack the Wall (duh)?

Honestly, how is any of that information worth the lives of their small pool of men, much less their best warriors?

The Wildlings have no resources worth taking.

The Night's Watch needs to maintain their personnel to even hold the wall so why is it so important they have "scouts"? 

Seriously, no matter what happens, the endgame of any Wilding (or any Other enemy) strategy is to attack The Wall or go around it. The Horn of Joramund, if they even knew about it, is considered a myth, hardly worth taking seriously. Just like the Others. 

Geor Mormont took 1/3 of the entire Night's Watch's, a lot of their best included, to be killed for absolutely no reason. Jon didnt seal the gate and (most likely) killed Alliser and a few other scouts (good ones too so Jon says) for no reason. 

The lord commanders complain about being "blind" without their rangers. Blind to what? Blind to wildlings scratching out a meager existence while once every hundred years they decide to band together? 

TLDR: Wildlings have few to no resources and will try to pass The Wall through attack or stealth. Men on the Wall are ideal for spotting and defending both. What use are Rangers?

I think of it as scouting.  They were being proactive in gathering intelligence.  I am sure a little intimidation against the wildlings doesn't hurt.  It sends a message to the wildlings that the watch is watching.

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4 hours ago, Khal Eazy said:

Im sorry but no matter what plans the Wildlings have made they still need to overcome or bypass the Wall. 

Rangers won't tell/be able to stop anything once it happens. Start one blast, you have the whole Wall, to defend once they've decided to do it.

Mance and the free folks aren't totally naive with the dragon glass. But that doest explain why wights and white walkers are familiar to NW. 

If anything, the northernmost South kindgoms are gonna get raped and pillaged so fast nobody will have time to wonder why the North was leading them down to the Neck. 

But knowing your enemy's plans helps in preventing them.

 

4 minutes ago, Aline de Gavrillac said:

I think of it as scouting.  They were being proactive in gathering intelligence.  I am sure a little intimidation against the wildlings doesn't hurt.  It sends a message to the wildlings that the watch is watching.

Good point!

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They need to know whats going on over there even more than they needed it in their prime. Actually they should rather forget about the wall (they're barely able to defend it anyway, it defends itself) than quit scouting the frontier.

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4 hours ago, Khal Eazy said:

Im sorry but no matter what plans the Wildlings have made they still need to overcome or bypass the Wall. 

Which is something that has been done as recently as 74 years ago with Raymun Redbeard's invasion. 

Every time the wildlings rally under one king, they become a threat, and one of the first things that we learn in Catelyn's very first chapter in the story is that there is a new King-Beyond-the-Wall. Mance is mentioned like a page or two pages in, with Ned telling Catelyn that he might have to call the banners and ride north to put an end to him. 

The NW has dwindled to a few men, so I think that ranging becomes even more important because the intel becomes even more valuable. Mance Rayder's strategy was to send men south of the Wall, kill the garrison at Castle Black and have the gates opened to I don't know how many wildlings. And that invasion would have been completely successful had Qhorin Halfhand not had Jon join the wildlings. 

If it hadn't been for those teams being dispatched to collect information, then they would have been caught with their pants down at Castle Black. 

I think that the bigger issue with the rangings is that the NW is not bringing back news of the Others because they're getting attacked and killed by them or the wights. Waymar was killed by the Others and Will by Waymar and we have no clue what Gared told Ned. Benjen's party seems to have been attacked by wights or the Others. The Great Ranging is attacked by wights. And for some reason, the wildlings that are captured aren't even giving up this bit of information that the Others have returned. Like WTF, guys! 

Edited by Alexis-something-Rose

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15 hours ago, Khal Eazy said:

So for the last couple thousand years the Night's Watch Rangers division is almost exclusively used for the purpose of scouting beyond The Wall constantly to give them intel on the wildlings. 

I can understand why they would do that when the Night's Watch was in it's prime and they had many thousands of men: ergo they could afford to lose a a couple dozen men without leaving the wall in jeopardy. 

Fast forward to the time period of ASoIaF and the watch is critically under-manned. They have been abandoning castles for hundreds of years because they don't have the men to garrison them so they just straight up leave them unmanned and undefended.  

Personnel, after food, has become the most critical need of the NW.

Yet somehow, the Night's Watch keeps sending out their most capable or promising warriors/scouts to "scout" for what the Wildlings are up to. 

Why?

What possible information could they tell the lord commander that is worth the lives of their most capable warriors? The wildlings are angry? A warrior chief has united them? They plan to attack the Wall (duh)?

Honestly, how is any of that information worth the lives of their small pool of men, much less their best warriors?

The Wildlings have no resources worth taking.

The Night's Watch needs to maintain their personnel to even hold the wall so why is it so important they have "scouts"? 

Seriously, no matter what happens, the endgame of any Wilding (or any Other enemy) strategy is to attack The Wall or go around it. The Horn of Joramund, if they even knew about it, is considered a myth, hardly worth taking seriously. Just like the Others. 

Geor Mormont took 1/3 of the entire Night's Watch's, a lot of their best included, to be killed for absolutely no reason. Jon didnt seal the gate and (most likely) killed Alliser and a few other scouts (good ones too so Jon says) for no reason. 

The lord commanders complain about being "blind" without their rangers. Blind to what? Blind to wildlings scratching out a meager existence while once every hundred years they decide to band together? 

TLDR: Wildlings have few to no resources and will try to pass The Wall through attack or stealth. Men on the Wall are ideal for spotting and defending both. What use are Rangers?

They are not just scouting, they are pursuing wildling raiders who scaled the Wall and committed crimes against the crown. Yes, they gather information from the non-hostile wildlings they encounter, but their primary objective is to prevent breaches of the Wall or bring justice to those who do. That is difficult to do when you have no idea what is happening north of the Wall.

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17 hours ago, Khal Eazy said:

the Night's Watch keeps sending out their most capable or promising warriors/scouts to "scout" for what the Wildlings are up to. 

Why?

I think there is an elite leadership group that knows the purpose of the Night's Watch is to fend off the Others. The rank and file of the Night's Watch are told that the purpose of their band of brothers is to keep the wildlings on their side of the Wall. 

Mormont knows that he needs Jon Snow's blood and his wolf to go beyond the Wall. He specifically mentions Jon's blood and wolf at the end of AGoT. I think he realizes that the Others are entering a new phase; efforts to appease them are no longer successful so the Night's Watch needs to recover the obsidian cache and that has to be done under a full moon at the Fist with a direwolf and with Jon Snow's heritage - maybe Stark; maybe from his paternal side, or maybe the mixture. 

For generations, the Night's Watch has kept The Others at bay. We see enough of Craster giving his baby boys to "the gods" that we suspect he is sacrificing his sons in a deal with the devil to keep his compound and his wives/daughters safe. What if the Night's Watch is doing the same thing?

We know that Mormont is aware of Craster's practices because he tells Jon to calm down when he reports the incident he observed in the woods near Craster's Keep. The Night's Watch looks the other way when Craster engages in this horrifying practice. We assume it's because the Night's Watch needs to impose on Craster's hospitality once in awhile when rangers are in that area. If you think about it, though, that seems like an uneven trade, allowing infanticide in return for a hot meal and a place to sleep? Recall, too, that there is not much room for the ranging group to sleep inside, anyway. Maybe Craster is working for the Night's Watch in their mission of deterring the Others. That seems like a more rational explanation for Jeor's tolerance of the sacrificed babies.

Early in AGoT, Donal Noye pulls Jon aside and tells him that he should stop showing off his sword skills because he had training from a Master at Arms and most of the raw recruits have no experience with a sword. Alliser Thorne tells the newcomers that they are all useless and will die. 

In other words, these hapless young men are all intended as sacrifices to the Others, just like Craster's sons. 

If we accept that the elite leadership of the Night's Watch is aware of the Others and is funneling low-born NW brothers toward the threat, hoping to maintain the relatively peaceful truce with the Others, this would explain another vaguely mysterious moment early in the books. Ned Stark executes the deserter, Gared, after a conversation with him that Bran doesn't hear or doesn't remember. We know that Jeor Mormont would prefer not to execute deserters from the Night's Watch but Ned does it anyway. The reader assumes that Ned is so devoted to the King's Justice that he follows the letter of the law in spite of Mormont's policy of leniency. But what if Ned beheaded Gared not because he cared deeply about carrying out a just sentence, but because he wanted to silence someone who might spread the word about the Others? It's ok for highborn folks to know about them, but not for the small folk to understand the threat. 

This might also explain Craster's antipathy toward Mance Rayder. We think it's because Mance is called the King Beyond the Wall, and that Craster is irritated by the hubris of this. But maybe Craster is worried that Mance is going to spill the beans about the Others. When Mance sends a messenger to Craster, inviting him to join Mance's growing gathering of free folk, Craster cuts out the tongue of the messenger and nails the tongue to the wall of Craster's Keep. Craster might also be worried that Mance would successfully lead all of those Free Folk south of the Wall, removing another source of human sacrifices for the Others. Craster has run out of sheep and baby boys are few and far between. He realizes he can't hold off the Others much longer on his own. 

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5 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Because they're the ICE of Westeros :rofl:

(for those who don't know, ICE=American Border patrol)

And yet another great point against the Others being completely evil beings that need to be killed. 

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Knowing the plans and movements of the wildlings when the Watch cannot man the whole extent of the Wall is probably even more important than in a better situation. If the black brothers cannot be everywhere, it is best to know where the enemy is going to strike. 

However, the ranging may also have other purposes than merely spying on the wildlings. 

Despite the claim that the Watch should know and remember a lot more than is apparently known and remembered, I have the feeling that - to some extent at least - experienced rangers know that there are more sinister creatures beyond the Wall than just wildlings. In the Prologue in AGOT, Gared seems to know more than what he dares to say about the dangers they are facing. Will recognizes the shadow as an Other and does not think what he is witnessing should be impossible. Ser Waymar (a newcomer), however, has no idea until he is confronted by the real enemy. Experienced rangers can probably guess (and maybe more than just guess) what Craster is secretly doing. Qhorin probably suspects that there is something behind the recent actions of the wildlings that is even more important than those actions themselves (although they are also important). The strange thing is that rangers don't speak about this knowledge. Each man seems to keep what he knows or suspects to himself as though it was some sort of taboo. Thus the new rangers, the stewards and so on will not know, and the information does not become collective knowledge. 

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15 hours ago, Rose of Red Lake said:

Because they're the ICE of Westeros :rofl:

(for those who don't know, ICE=American Border patrol)

They are also Men in Black who protects realms of men from aliens.

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