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Old 06-14-2019, 01:07 PM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Default [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

In GURPS Magic, it seems that ceremonial magic is nearly useless on the offense, but extremely powerful on the defense. This is because the presence of any significant number of individuals opposed to the casting ruins the spell. So with a few exceptions (Bravery is a notable one), big ceremonial castings of area spells only make sense before the battle is joined, when you expect the enemy to come to you. Once they do come to you, if there's a big area spell waiting for them, there usually won't be much they can do about it if the defenders used Spellguard and put extra energy into the spell to boost skill for purposes of resisting Dispel Magic. Ceremonial casting of Dispel Magic so the attackers can get their own skill boost doesn't work as long as the defenders stay put to oppose said ceremonial casting. Waiting for the spells to expire and opposing attempts to ceremonially recast them can be countered by recasting spells at unpredictable times from behind non-magical fortifications, and possibly illusions that obscure what's going on. What spells do you do this with? The single most powerful one is probably Mystic Mist. Other similar long-duration area spells include Alter Terrain, Glow, Nightingale, Wall of Light, Watchdog. Avoid and Lure are limited by their one hour duration, but have the potential to be very effective if cast just as the enemy is marching on your camp.

Of course, you can always try to wait out the defenders just as you would to deal with any other enemy in a fortified position. But being able to establish an impregnable magical fortress with minutes of ceremonial casting rather than doing the much more time-consuming work of erecting physical barriers seems like a big deal. Unless I'm misreading a rule somewhere, or have some other flaw in my logic. Thoughts?
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:36 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

The range for "present" at a ceremonial magical ritual isn't defined in RAW (AFAIK). The stadium example is probably the most extreme, but that's still under 100 m/yd radius. It's certainly not just being aware of the ritual, or LOS. So it's not obvious that the "doesn't work as long as the defenders stay put to oppose said ceremonial casting" assumption holds. Even if the defending mages were inside the range limit to count negatively on the ritual, it seems quite possible that erecting a barrier like Spell Wall or a NMZ between the hostile spectators and the ritual would block the magical effects of the hostility.

And beyond range, it also seems possible that the intent of the ritual designer matters -- if they didn't want you included, you're not, even if you're standing right there in their ritual chamber. Wouldn't stop a hostile mage from physically interfering, or even casting hostile spells. But if the hostile mage weren't invited into and made part of the ritual (as spectators are during, say, religious ceremonies, by being assigned necessary actions, chants, positions, etc), then those hostile mages are likely irrelevant, for magical success purposes of subtracting energy.

The big advantage the defenders have is time. Assuming the owner of the fortress can spend the money required, they'd have years to prepare, compared to an army that just shows up and starts the siege cold. A siege could, in theory, also last for years to match the defense prep, but sieges generally don't. On the other hand, if we're talking magical fortresses substituting for physical ones, you don't have those real-world constraints on low-tech sieges like the logistics feeding the besiegers and disease.

The prepared warlord also might just have mages show up with the products of their massive multi-year attack rituals Delayed / Linked / Hung. As long as his target has been fortifying, he's had his mages working on their ritual assault.
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Old 06-14-2019, 01:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

The disadvantage the defenders have is that there are a plethora of different ways of attacking with magic, and the defenders have to defend against all of them, while the attackers only have to succeed with one of them.
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Old 06-14-2019, 04:16 PM   #4
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
The range for "present" at a ceremonial magical ritual isn't defined in RAW (AFAIK). The stadium example is probably the most extreme, but that's still under 100 m/yd radius. It's certainly not just being aware of the ritual, or LOS. So it's not obvious that the "doesn't work as long as the defenders stay put to oppose said ceremonial casting" assumption holds. Even if the defending mages were inside the range limit to count negatively on the ritual, it seems quite possible that erecting a barrier like Spell Wall or a NMZ between the hostile spectators and the ritual would block the magical effects of the hostility.

And beyond range, it also seems possible that the intent of the ritual designer matters -- if they didn't want you included, you're not, even if you're standing right there in their ritual chamber. Wouldn't stop a hostile mage from physically interfering, or even casting hostile spells. But if the hostile mage weren't invited into and made part of the ritual (as spectators are during, say, religious ceremonies, by being assigned necessary actions, chants, positions, etc), then those hostile mages are likely irrelevant, for magical success purposes of subtracting energy.
Magic refers to "Each spectator who opposes the casting", which doesn't sound like they need to be invited to participate or anything like that. They just need to be in a position to, well, spectate.

[QOUOTE]The big advantage the defenders have is time. Assuming the owner of the fortress can spend the money required, they'd have years to prepare, compared to an army that just shows up and starts the siege cold. A siege could, in theory, also last for years to match the defense prep, but sieges generally don't. On the other hand, if we're talking magical fortresses substituting for physical ones, you don't have those real-world constraints on low-tech sieges like the logistics feeding the besiegers and disease.

The prepared warlord also might just have mages show up with the products of their massive multi-year attack rituals Delayed / Linked / Hung. As long as his target has been fortifying, he's had his mages working on their ritual assault.[/QUOTE]

Looking at the fine print on the meta spells you mention, it looks like Hang Spell is the one you really want on the offense. Delay and Link appear to mostly require you specify a target in advance, except that Delay can be used to create traps. Hang Spell appears to give you much more flexibility, as the wording seems to imply that the caster can chose a target when the hung spell is triggered. That is a big deal though, which I admit I failed to consider. It actually makes high-level GURPS magic play a lot more Vancian, to the extent that I'm surprised people don't talk about it more. Because it does look perfectly valid to, say, use Hang Spell with a ceremonially cast 100 FP Rain of Fire spell.

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
The disadvantage the defenders have is that there are a plethora of different ways of attacking with magic, and the defenders have to defend against all of them, while the attackers only have to succeed with one of them.
This is not wholly obvious. For one thing, defenders can return fire, they just do so from behind pre-cast defensive spells.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:08 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Magic refers to "Each spectator who opposes the casting", which doesn't sound like they need to be invited to participate or anything like that. They just need to be in a position to, well, spectate.
So anything that blocks line of sight will do the job. Also, spectators (on both sides) are limited to 100 total energy, so if you have additional mages you can just overwhelm the penalty.
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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Looking at the fine print on the meta spells you mention, it looks like Hang Spell is the one you really want on the offense.
Under RAW it's usually Delay, actually; cast it on a rock, set the trigger condition as something like touching the ground and the target as 'my hex', lob it over the wall. Reflex can also be viable, though the duration of the reflexed spell is a problem.
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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
This is not wholly obvious. For one thing, defenders can return fire, they just do so from behind pre-cast defensive spells.
The problem is that you don't really know what they're going to use until they do it, and your time to react is likely to be very short. The solution sets for the various ways of sneaking up (invisibility, gate magic, illusions, shapeshifting, burrowing with earth magic, etc), potential nasty summons, various area magics that are cheap enough that you can cover the entire fortress from outside LoS, indirect attacks, and so on, are appreciably different.
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:38 PM   #6
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
So anything that blocks line of sight will do the job. Also, spectators (on both sides) are limited to 100 total energy, so if you have additional mages you can just overwhelm the penalty.
Having "additional mages" is not a trivial requirement. It potentially greatly limits the amount of FP you have for ritual magic.

Quote:
Under RAW it's usually Delay, actually; cast it on a rock, set the trigger condition as something like touching the ground and the target as 'my hex', lob it over the wall. Reflex can also be viable, though the duration of the reflexed spell is a problem.
Ah, okay. I'm still getting used to the fine-print on these meta spells. I failed to see that Hang Spell has a limited duration, as does Delay, so I don't think Anaraxes' idea of preparing the attack for years works, but you can certainly prepare an hour before the battle. Though now I'm puzzled, if you want an "esoteric" trigger condition based on, say, Sense Foes, do you need to keep maintaining Sense Foes? If Sense Foes or whatever takes on the duration of the linking spell, it makes them much more useful for creating traps.

Quote:
The problem is that you don't really know what they're going to use until they do it, and your time to react is likely to be very short. The solution sets for the various ways of sneaking up (invisibility, gate magic, illusions, shapeshifting, burrowing with earth magic, etc), potential nasty summons...
So far Mystic Mist works pretty well on most if not all of these

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...various area magics that are cheap enough that you can cover the entire fortress from outside LoS...
Is that with Delay, or some other means? Normally for area spells the rule is "If you cannot touch any part of the affected area, apply a skill penalty equal to your distance in yards from the nearest edge of the area" (Magic, p. 11).
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Old 06-14-2019, 05:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Is that with Delay, or some other means?
No. Just cast with a large enough radius that it envelops the target from where you currently are.
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Old 06-14-2019, 07:22 PM   #8
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post

So far Mystic Mist works pretty well on most if not all of these

Speaking of fine print, the Item section of Mystic Mist includes an affordable and Always On Item that negates Mystic Mist for the wearer. I wouldn't depend on Mystic Mist v. the well prepared.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:36 PM   #9
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Speaking of fine print, the Item section of Mystic Mist includes an affordable and Always On Item that negates Mystic Mist for the wearer. I wouldn't depend on Mystic Mist v. the well prepared.
At TL3 that amulet is going to cost you at least $8,000. That's more than any armor loadout you can construct with Basic Set, and is quite significant even compared to more expensive armor prices found on Low-Tech. For example, the Third Crusade European Laodout in the Low-Tech loadouts book is $8,868, meaning that amulet is nearly doubling the cost of your gear.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:54 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Magic] Using ceremonial magic to create an unassailable magical fortress

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
At TL3 that amulet is going to cost you at least $8,000. That's more than any armor loadout you can construct with Basic Set, and is quite significant even compared to more expensive armor prices found on Low-Tech. For example, the Third Crusade European Laodout in the Low-Tech loadouts book is $8,868, meaning that amulet is nearly doubling the cost of your gear.
At TL3, a lot of magics are likely to be priced out of the average budget. But if people have magic, they probably have money, too.
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