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Old 04-09-2008, 09:26 AM   #31
Jürgen Hubert
 
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Default Re: Yrth technology

When considering what mages can and cannot do for the armies of Yrth, we should remember that mages are still rare and training a mage for a specific specialty of spells is not a trivial task. So skilled battle mages who can do specific magic tricks will probably have quite a reputation - and their presence in a specific military unit will be one of the first things that spies will try to find out.

Sure, illusionary terrain will be nasty, and other kinds of magical tricks will be nasty as well - but if you know that a specific battle mage is among the enemy unit, you can prepare for such tricks. Possibly by sending an assassin after him.

Which leads to another problem. Your battle mages are probably pound for pound your most effective combatants - but how do you keep them safe from the enemy? Sure, magic can help with that as well, but all energy the mages use to defend themselves is energy they can't use to attack the enemy, reducing their effectiveness. And once they start casting spells, they will immediately become one of the highest attack priorities for all enemy units within range. And if they are dead, all the years you spent training them will be wasted.

Frankly, for the most part it's probably wisest to keep mages off the battlefield entirely and use them as support units - they are just too expensive to squander. That won't entirely protect them from assassins, but at least the risk is much reduced.
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:00 AM   #32
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Default Re: Yrth technology

Several chapters in the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell involve a magician commissioned by the British government to assist the army during the Napoleonic Wars. The magician is at first unsure how to best use his powers, especially as General Wellington is dubious as to the practicality of magic in warfare. He has to go by trial and error, with some stunts more successful than others.
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:01 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by quarkstomper
Several chapters in the book Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell involve a magician commissioned by the British government to assist the army during the Napoleonic Wars. The magician is at first unsure how to best use his powers, especially as General Wellington is dubious as to the practicality of magic in warfare. He has to go by trial and error, with some stunts more successful than others.
What does he end up doing?
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Old 04-09-2008, 11:36 AM   #34
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Default Re: Yrth technology

If people are going to discuss "potentials" for magic and society, I would suggest that they also keep in mind, that mageborn are a limited resource, and that for each "effect" any given individual discusses is possible for society, that it removes the potential for other possibilities.

An enchanter for example, not only needs to have magery 2 - which is a finite resource socially speaking, but he also has to have at least two of his spells at a skill level of 15+ to create many of the enchanted items involved. An Enchanter who spends time learning to cast armor enchantments for example, is highly unlikely to also be one who will specialized in food enchantments that produce "boxes of preserve food".

Battle mages who specialize not only in combat spells, but also in defensive protective spells, are likely going to need magery 2 or better, which in turn creates an intense competition for limited resources in the enchantment field.

In game worlds where Magery is an inborn talent that can be improved (which to my mind makes me ask why call it a talent if it can be improved?), the number of mageborn who have magery 1, 2, or 3 will be subject to a constant flux as each mageborn strives to attain a higher level of magery capability. If a GM stipulates the ratio of mageborn who are magery 1, and stipulates a lower pecentage of the mageborn population who have magery 2 - the question becomes one of "What is the reason for this ratio between magery 0 and magery 1?" If anyone can do it, then EVERYONE will probably do so. Why? The holy grail of Magery 3 is that it provides mageborn with the potential for Unaging related immortality. There is also the economic impetus imparted to the mageborn to improve their magery capabilities as certain high value and high demand spells are limited by magery 2 or higher.

In game worlds where Magery is an unchangable talent (except perhaps via great wish or via divine intervention), then things grow even more interesting. Lets say for the sake of argument, that each level of magery is 10 times less common than its preceeding level. Magery of any kind as per GURPS BANESTORM only occurs in 2% of the population. A population of 3 million people will therefor have only 60,000 mageborn. That may seem like a lot, but if there are only 6,000 mageborn with magery 1+, and of those, only 60 have Magery 3, and 600 have magery 2 - then you begin to realize just how much of a bottleneck magic aptitude imposes on society in general. If half of those with magery 2 or magery 3 become enchanters, you now have only 330 enchanters in all of those 3 million people. If each enchanter has an average IQ of 10 (they won't if player characters, but if magery mirrors the general population as far as IQ goes, there will be on average, an IQ of 10 for most enchanters) - then it will take on average for a Magery 2 individual, some 4,160 hours of study to learn 10 spells at all to skill level 10 or 11 at 1 point per, and Enchant to skill level 15 (ie 26 character points). It will take another 16 character points to attain a skill 15 in another spell (or if raising one of the requisite spells taken to attain enchantment in the first place, another 15 character points).

Those requisite chains plus magery plus limited numbers of mageborn can and do severely restrict the "potential" effects that magic can have on society in general. Couple the fact that most magic items have a HIGH economic cost such that only well to do individuals can afford them, and many of the "potentials" of magic upon society tend to be limited. In fact? It is because of the high cost of magic that people will attempt to turn to more mundane technology in order to achieve that which magic is supposedly so superior for. What is even more interesting? Once society attempts to limit what technology can achieve, there will be issues arising where "natural" progression will be viewed as suspiciously as "imported" progression from Earth itself. Suppressing technological advances will take up much of the magical resourses that would have otherwise been free for improving society itself.

If Yrth wanted to have 1 mage/physician per 1,000 people, it would require for a society of three million people, a total of 3,000 mageborn with magery 1. That is HALF of all available magery 1 individuals.

One thing I think should be considered for technology available on Yrth would be the following criteria:

How much effort goes into suppressing "imported" technology?
How much can local technology improve before being suppressed?
How much cheaper (money wise) can technology produce an effect over magic?

Those things will likely be the driving force for determining just what technology Yrth will have overall in a "realistic" setting. If fantastical and the GM doesn't care, then of course, the sky is the limit.
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Old 04-09-2008, 01:37 PM   #35
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I had never really considered the implications of magic in an army before. Well, beyond tossing fireballs at the enemy. I can't help but think that things like illusory ground would be nicely countered by mages on the other side though. Or as Raymond E. Feist once put it, "First mage casts a spell, second mage casts counterspell, third mage helps the first, fourth mage helps the second, and so on and so on until the army comes and chops up all the mages."
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Old 04-09-2008, 01:47 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by talonthehand
I had never really considered the implications of magic in an army before. Well, beyond tossing fireballs at the enemy. I can't help but think that things like illusory ground would be nicely countered by mages on the other side though. Or as Raymond E. Feist once put it, "First mage casts a spell, second mage casts counterspell, third mage helps the first, fourth mage helps the second, and so on and so on until the army comes and chops up all the mages."
Which is why I've always advocated using mages as the intelligence gatherers, communications experts, fortication specialists and logistics aids.

If ceremonial casting is allowed, it doesn't take all that many mages to feed an army on the move, which makes it incredibly mobile. If a mage or two is capable of scrying, the information available to the general will be dramatically better than that available to nonmagical enemies. And if one mage with each part of the army can use communication spells, the speed by which the general can coordinate his forces is multiplied.

And all of these functions allow the mages to be kept behind the front lines, much safer than the so called 'battle mages' that some naive dreamers would have in their armies.

As long as competent mages are rare (at least as rare as doctors, lawyers and research scientists today), they'll be much too valuable to waste in fighting directly.
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Old 04-09-2008, 01:55 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by talonthehand
I had never really considered the implications of magic in an army before. Well, beyond tossing fireballs at the enemy. I can't help but think that things like illusory ground would be nicely countered by mages on the other side though. Or as Raymond E. Feist once put it, "First mage casts a spell, second mage casts counterspell, third mage helps the first, fourth mage helps the second, and so on and so on until the army comes and chops up all the mages."
Imagine how much fun you could have if you were told "You have a budget of 20 mageborn for a legion containing 5,000 men. Grand total, you may use up to 2000 character points, with no one mage using less than 25 character points, and no more than 250 character points to build those 20 mageborn".

Then try to build those mageborn with the limits imposed of "No more than 4 of those mageborn may have Magery higher than 1 and no Magery 3 mageborn"

What would those 20 mageborn look like, and what would those spell lists be like? I think you might be surprised at what Mageborn can and can't do under those circumstances. When designing a mageborn contingent for your armies, the more Magery 1+ mages you employ in the military, the less you have available for civilian use ;)
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:01 PM   #38
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But this can certainly be explained by magic. What I don't understand is why things like street lamps aren't handled by magic. Refrigerators replaced with boxes with the Preserve Food spell, bathrooms featuring magic toilets, etc. I know in some of the Forgotten Realms based video games you see the magic street lamps in large fantasy cities (I don't own any of the Forgotten Realms D&D books, so I don't know how accurately the setting is being represented).
Because if you run the analysis, there will not be enough magicians to make it work. In pretty much any RPG magic system, a mage able to cast a useful technology substitute spell has put at least as much effort into getting that good as a modern professional, so you are talking about at best a couple of people per thousand. Often a lot fewer, because RPG spell lists tend to start out pretty tactical - you have to hit high levels (or long prerequisite chains or whatever) to get enchantments or spells with permanent durations or otherwise lasting effects. And they can't do it very often - a few times a day maximum, often a few times a *year* for enchantments.

For Yrth for example, 1 in 1000 gives you about 40,000 of these guys. Figure 20 spells each (20 points is a *lot* for a professional skill), divided by the just under 1000 spells in magic, and on average there are about a thousand of them who know any particular spell. By and large 1000 enchanters, pumping out a handful of items a year each for the entire continent, is not going to be enough to meet demand for anything even vaguely mass market.

To be sure there sometimes are lasting spells that are enough easier they should have *some* effect (Shape Earth in GURPS, Continual Light in AD&D) but they're always in much more short supply than the "we can substitute magic for technology" proponents postulate. They have to be, RPG magic must be cast at rates analogous to craft production in order to have any balance against other character classes, and handicraft production is simply not fast enough to substitute for a common technology. You after all pay a premium for handcrafted anything now.
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Old 04-09-2008, 02:41 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by malloyd
To be sure there sometimes are lasting spells that are enough easier they should have *some* effect (Shape Earth in GURPS, Continual Light in AD&D) but they're always in much more short supply than the "we can substitute magic for technology" proponents postulate.
I don't believe I ever said that magic can substitute for technology; the disruption it causes is usually more complex than that (using magic for things that can be done at a reasonable cost through mundane methods is usually not worth it; it's where doing it by mundane means would be very expensive or impossible that magic jumps in). However, there are extremely disruptive effects that don't require very many magicians, and instant fortifications tend to be one of them.
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Old 04-09-2008, 04:25 PM   #40
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Historically that "nearly mythic" heavy calvary was what knights were. Horses are expensive, so are tanks. Its the reason why knights had land in the first place, so they could afford their equipment/mount. They primarly charged with lances couched for shock effect to break infantry formations. One the lance was lost/broken they would then fight from horseback with sword, mace, flail, axe, etc. They tended to fight on foot only when unhorsed, in a fortified/prepared postition, attacking a fortified/prepared postition, or heavily outnumbered. Take a look at the Crusades for a good model of the Knight in medieval combat...
You might note that I didn't say Heavy Cavalry was nearly mythic, but rather that the Heavy Cavalry Charge was nearly mythic. Cavalry has always been a harassing force. For the sole reason that no matter how hard you try, you cannot train a horse to charge a solid formation. For that matter you can't even train a horse to charge a bead curtain, unless it's short enough for the horse to jump over.

Now once an enemy force is starting to scatter that's a great use for cavalry, especially heavy cavalry. Charging an enemy formation that is holding their ground just won't work. You don't send the heavy cavalry in to break formations, you send the heavy cavalry in to scatter and mop up a formation that has already been broken. That is the problem I have with it.
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