Author Topic: Size of armies  (Read 8371 times)

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Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Size of armies
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2017, 06:11:22 AM »
Wow, that`s an eleborate reply; I definitely learned something new and will try to respond in Details.

But for the moment I just want to add that, now that I think of it, the opening of the Jaidor Talisman Campaign, the Siege of Myranor, displays an interesting mixture of "classical" siege enhanced by elite spellcasting forces, where the players' party comes in as special unit ;-)

Offline tanis

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Re: Size of armies
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2017, 03:04:24 AM »
Thanks! I'll be looking forward to your full response.

And that's absolutely the example I had in mind. I think you're right that it's one of the best and clearest examples of what full-on Khorasian warfare would look like.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Size of armies
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2017, 11:47:03 AM »
OK, now for my elaborate answer:

First of all, I want to point out (maybe repeatedly) that I'm mainly interested in my literal question: To which degree can historical battles be used as a model for fantasy battles?
I can easily accept, and be convinced by, any argument stating that the degree is very high - and still enjoy any discussion about how fantasy battles are staged.
What's good for the players and the GM is good for the game world, I never mean to argue against this.

Concerning the book I brought into play, I think it was intended as D&D source book, aiming at preventing some failures of inconsistency some GMs might fall into. Like assuming a world where the players and their opponents have abundant access to magic, but the society and the authorities seem to be rather conservative, if not outright oblivious, of the possibilities of magic (in the worst case - a setting where a simple invisibility spell might fool all merchants on the market, or even guards of a treasure chamber).
This one might very well be tied to the fact that the "spell section" in the PHB makes for a "balanced" (in metagame terms) use of magic as a tactical choice of character generation/selection, but for a poor conclusive summary of what magic can do and how magic would be employed within the background setting.

Concerining my mentioning of a "sniper": I totally agree that from character ability alone, it would take a very powerful mage to emulate the long-range precision killing ability of a modern sniper - and still than, he would be restricted when it comes to repeated application, as opposed to a sniper only limited by ammuntion (which is hardly a limitation) and reloading.
But I can't stop thinking like this: What if you cast a "levitate" spell on a batch of arrows/bolts? From a naive point of view (please see below), I might assume such projectiles travel in a straight line rather than a ballistic curve, only slowed down by friction within the surrounding medium, i.e. air resistance...aiming at targets would be completely different.
Now cast a "grease" spell on them...I tend to assume the distance for such a projectile to penetrate armor would be greatly increased, since speed would be kept along greater distances.

OK, gone that far, I admit my grasp of physics is unable to cope with what a "levitate" spell actually does. Keep mass, remove weight? If it would not keep mass, a projectile would not have any momentum suited to penetrate anything. Also, a levitating character's swung axe would be rather harmless. Interesting variant, but not how I understood the spell until now.
Going further...from what I know, acceleration and gravity are indistinguable - in a closed room, you cannot tell whether the room ist accelerating (gaining speed in one direction) or subject to a gravity field. Then again, why should a "levitating" projectile be accelerated by a bowstring, but unaffected by gravity?

But even than, just a "grease" spell cast on a projectile might greatly increase its likeliness to a modern "sniper" bullet. Maybe greased projectiles would be conical rather than having a pointed tip? Not sure how being "greased" would affect penetration ability.

Maybe now the question is: Can magic be "industrialized", i.e. is mass production of magic effects possible? At least that's the question that would be very prominent within my game world...
I guess for a nation like Duthelm, it would make perfect sense to think along such lines. They might not want peasants to achieve magic ability, but they might go to great lengths to get a huge non-magic working class to contribute to magic mass production.

In  modern times, a person with neither the ability to drive a car, neither any knowledge about combustion engines, could still be part of assembly line production of cars (or at least could, some decades ago)...that's how I understand Mr. Ford.
I'm not saying that fantasy worlds should go that way of integrating magic into their worlds..but such is the motivation I brought the question upe here.

I think you rightfully said that in the historical past, application of siege enginges was greatly limited by the availabyilty of operators..and I tend to assume that back then, engineers and operators of such engines where close if not identical.
If you seperate development, construction and application of war engines...well, I gues you get what I mean by modern warfare, and those are the implications I think about.
This would apply to historical siege engines as well as to fictional Magic.

But feel free to correct my thinking ;-)
« Last Edit: July 16, 2017, 11:50:42 AM by Drul Morbok »

Offline tanis

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Re: Size of armies
« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2017, 01:25:12 AM »
Well, the short answer is that I don't really think it's an either/or sort of question.

I don't see any reason why you couldn't imagine a scenario like you're talking about, though I would argue that something similar to how science fiction tends to work might be a good guide for application and development of such a concept, i.e. that you start with just a few simple changes to the existing world, then try to remain consistent with the consequences of those axioms, as well as with all the unchanged rules of the setting.

I think it depends on how ubiquitous you want powerful magic to be, and what limitations you think magic would have to have to make sense in the world, and ideally not completely break it by being overpowered.

But it's certainly not something I couldn't imagine you justifying.
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.

Offline Drul Morbok

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Re: Size of armies
« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2017, 01:46:17 PM »
Yes, it's not an either/or question.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - and any sufficiently described magic is indistinguishable from technology.
In between dwells fantasy ;-)

Offline David Roomes

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Re: Size of armies
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2017, 10:11:00 PM »
Wow. Fantastic discussion. You both make great points.

I think the game designers fail to appreciate just how much magic could be abused in a fantasy world and how much impact it would truly have on warfare, culture and so forth. I think a lot of this depends on how common magic and wizards are. Wizards of serious power should be rare. Any wizard who can have a significant impact on the way a battle plays out would be an incredibly valuable strategic asset. You wouldn't want to waste such a wizard. You wouldn't want to risk that person. But again, they would be rare.

Less powerful mages, while more common, are also going to be countered by other wizards. If one side has access to a couple of low powered mages, they other side probably will too. If each side has magic, they will deploy counter spells and such to neutralize the other side's magic. Most battles, I think, would be fought without the benefit of much magic.

Again, I think wizards should be rare. I even wrote up a page on that in the Magic section. In the example, in the nation of Arkalia, which has more than 9 million people, there would be less than 100 mages with enough power to influence a battle. 100 out of 9 million. I always think of the 1981 Dragonslayer movie when I think about how common wizards are. There's a great discussion in the early part of that film that puts it in perspective. Powerful mages would be so rare, that people would know them by name, like celebrities. People would travel a great distant to consult with such a mage. Keeping magic and wizards rare helps keep things balanced and prevents things from spiraling out of control.

Some game designers put WAY too much magic in their games. (I'm looking at you WotC!)  They think there is no such thing as "too much magic". That's why WotC game worlds seem positively crowded with spell casters - eldritch knights, arcane tricksters, barbarian shamans, paladins, druids, priests, etc. WotC has absolutely no concept of balance. This is one reason why I think D&D is a bit broken. It doesn't take these things into consideration. That much magic would profoundly affect the world - not just battles, but the very way cultures and nations would develop.


David M. Roomes
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