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Old 03-20-2012, 07:42 AM   #41
Witchking
 
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Default Re: Ceremonial Magic used to support an army.

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Originally Posted by ErhnamDJ View Post
I suppose that would really help with identifying who has Magery, which is a big problem otherwise.
Umm..Aura, Magesight, and probably more from the Information/Divination lists...

of course in a low tech fantasy setting...if I am a mage...why do I wish to train up competitors...

an apprentice or three to 'use' for fatigue and menial servants perhaps...stringing them along as long as possible without actually teaching them anything useful...

or a formal guild to limit compitition and regulate mages for the crown perhaps??


There are some ways in low tech to find mages...the questions are is anyone looking, how hard, and why? (material components??)

A lot of setting decisions...if you are making a campaign...enjoy...but I have yet to see any 2 campaigns make the same assumptions...a lot arent even close...
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:02 AM   #42
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Default Re: Ceremonial Magic used to support an army.

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Umm..Aura, Magesight, and probably more from the Information/Divination lists...
Aura. That's the one I missed. I had skimmed the Knowledge college and looked at the ones I thought would do it. Is that supposed to mean that it can show what level of Magery someone has as well?

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of course in a low tech fantasy setting...if I am a mage...why do I wish to train up competitors...
Because the king needs them and he's paying. And if you don't do it, then you won't have an easy time of it in his country any more. I think those are pretty safe to assume if we're looking at what wizards could do in an army.

Also, there's the issue of learning the spells. I don't think a realistic wizard could know all that many spells. If one guy wants Youth, he's going to be spending a large portion of his life learning it. So he won't be the guy Creating elephants on the battlefield. And that guy won't be doing Mind Control. And that guy won't be doing enchantments. And they're each going to want lots of apprentices trained enough to help with ceremonial castings. Division of labor at work here. And if you're going to be doing big battles between nations employing these wizards, then you have all sorts of incentives to have as many trained wizards as possible. Someone's going to have to be teaching this stuff too.

Depending on the incidence of Magery, they might have to find everyone born with it to meet their needs. And they'll probably want to nab everyone with it to keep the other kingdoms from getting their wizards.

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I have yet to see any 2 campaigns make the same assumptions...a lot arent even close...
Well, I think that's in large part due to the complexities of the magic system itself, and all the little nuances. If we were to accept it 'as is,' and place it in some TL 1 or 2 or 3 society, it would be close to impossible to figure out the ramifications. So of course everyone's guess is different. And that's probably not even their goal, like ours is here. They probably have some aesthetic preference for how their setting works, rather than it being to model how a world in which the GURPS magic system is in use would look.

Myself, I do think we could get some really interesting results, for running a game in, by looking at this and changing some of the more world-altering parts of the system (such as removing specific spells, raising energy costs for others, limiting the number of people with Magery, and so on). So, on the one hand it's an interesting intellectual exercise, and on the other I get the feeling that it would really help to have some idea how a world with these rules in effect would look. I think that's one of the big problems people have with the GURPS magic system: they don't know how the world with it would look. We have rules and a list of spells, but we don't have an example world showing how all of this works together. It's not like other games with their magic systems where there's novels showing characters using it, and published game settings where they at least pretend that they thought through these sorts of questions.

It's really hard to look through all of this and figure it out for your own game if you're allowing more than a few spells.

Last edited by ErhnamDJ; 03-20-2012 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 03-20-2012, 08:35 AM   #43
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Default Re: Ceremonial Magic used to support an army.

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Because the king needs them and he's paying. And if you don't do it, then you won't have an easy time of it in his country any more. I think those are pretty safe to assume if we're looking at what wizards could do in an army.
Of course if I am a Mage...I have resources...why do I want to stay in his country...particularly with any degree of rarity for mages I am in demand.

I can go anywhere and make a living.

A king who tries to muscle mages into his army could very well end up with a kingdom UNDER represented in magery.

If the king pays above market rates for mages I would say it has a better chance of working...but the balance point where the money spent on mages would be more effective paying for x more companies of guys with spears might come up soon...

A lot of interesting questions...with a lot of interesting answers.

FYI the last mage I played in Gurps had as his backround (in a low tech fantasy work with rare to rarish mages) that he HAD been a mage attached to the military.

However in most cases mage "units" (2-3 mages with 6-9 apprentices and attached bodyguards) were attached at legion (divisional) level as support units.

My guy was differnet because he attached himself to a commando company and fought out the 2ish year war in (or behind) the front lines...
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:10 AM   #44
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Of course if I am a Mage...I have resources...why do I want to stay in his country...particularly with any degree of rarity for mages I am in demand.

I can go anywhere and make a living.
I guess so. Or maybe these people are slaves. How would this have all gone down in Sparta? Or the Roman Empire? Maybe the mages aren't slaves, but are legally forbidden from leaving the country. Who knows? Too many setting assumptions here. Or maybe they're free to wander around and do as they please, but the very expensive texts they need access to are all owned by monarchs and emperors, and the mages are driven not by desire for pay, but by access to ancient tomes which they are not allowed to copy.

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If the king pays above market rates for mages I would say it has a better chance of working
If this is a low-tech society, they're probably not going to have a whole lot in the way of markets. I imagine it being Pharaoh or nothing. No one else would be able to afford to train these people. You're looking at years and years and years of them sitting around learning until they can finally cast their spells like they're needed. That's very expensive to support in a low-tech environment. Because you have to hire someone to teach them. And how much does that cost? I think anyone willing to take on the expense of training these people is going to expect to get to use them. That leaves politicians, wealthy merchants, and other wizards being able to shoulder that burden.

But then we're looking at population percentages. If eighty percent of the people are slaves, and people are born into slavery, then we're probably looking at most of the wizards being slaves as well. And then the king is probably testing all of the newborn slaves, and claiming legal dibs to them. So those are out. And the rest of them who are free are going to either be born into freemen who are part of the political class already, who will want to work to further their own nation's goals. So they're staying local as well. That only leaves the small percentage who are born free, but with no particular ties to the local community. They might be able to offer their services around, but that's only if they get training and are legally able to do so, which doesn't seem likely to happen.

What I would expect to see here is most of the wizards working for whatever political rulers there are where they are born, either through direct slavery, political responsibility, or other legal reasons. It doesn't seem very likely that any of these people would end up both free and trained. Even if wizards themselves are the rulers, they're going to keep themselves on a tight leash. It would be both too costly and too dangerous otherwise.
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:12 AM   #45
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Default Re: Ceremonial Magic used to support an army.

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of course in a low tech fantasy setting...if I am a mage...why do I wish to train up competitors...
You don't. You want to train up minions.
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Old 03-20-2012, 10:15 AM   #46
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You don't. You want to train up minions.
Right. You're the grand vizier. You want to rule the world. You need more wizards to do it. So you make more.

It's like asking why a mercenary would want to train other mercenaries. Because working together you can do things an individual can't.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:06 AM   #47
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Excuse me? I am the army-shattering mage responsible for keeping your kingdom intact, and you expect me to stay your slave? I do have a spell here somewhere that says otherwise, 'Your Majesty'. :)

Seriously, absent from some mind control (which might mess up with magic), this is a very bad idea. Just take a look at Janissaries and Mamluks to see what happens to Caliphs and Sultans who rely extensively on elite slave armies. Also, can you imagine a slave revolt, but this time with your elite mages leading it, instead of some illiterate peasants?

Granted, if you have something like a theocracy, it might work, assuming that the God-King is really in favor with his 'Dad in the Sky'. But that is a pretty special case, and then we are talking more about priests (or at least mage-priests) than pure mages.

As for my campaign, I have not yet had any problem with this, since I am not really encouraging it. In fact, at the minimum I'd require some prior training in Thaumatology/Occult/Theology before letting people to help (like has been suggested on this thread), and I might also require them to have Magery (maybe contributing Magery+1 mana to the spell?). I find individual mages already powerful enough for military needs: magical scouting, communications & command, sneaky stuff...

I'd also be enforcing pretty spectacular crit fails, too. The kinds that wipe out your own army/castle if you happen to be unlucky. Heck, isn't a powerful Elven ritual going haywire the canonical reason for the Banestorm, or do I misremember?
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:45 AM   #48
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Default Re: Ceremonial Magic used to support an army.

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Excuse me? I am the army-shattering mage responsible for keeping your kingdom intact, and you expect me to stay your slave? I do have a spell here somewhere that says otherwise, 'Your Majesty'. :)
I would expect three responses to this.

1) The aristocracy will have powerful magic items which would help them prevent an uprising. The king and his family are decked out in who knows what all sort of magical equipment. Look at the prices you get in Magic. Those are nothing for a Pharaoh.

2) The wizards allowed to learn the most dangerous spells are aristocracy themselves. Remember, ten or fifteen percent of your wizards are going to be members of the political class. They're the children of senators. The nieces and nephews of viscounts, and so on. They're taught the spells that can bring down empires. And those spells are very closely guarded secrets. The higher up you are, the more dangerous the spells you get to know.

3) There's always a knife at every wizard's throat. There's hundreds of the king's most loyal (potentially mind controlled, but not necessarily) men with crossbows pointed at each one's throat. They don't get to learn Missile Shield. These people are slaves. They've been raised from birth to their station. Depending on the amount of wizards you have, these people are only allowed to know their one spell and its prerequisites. A slave might know Create Animal, but he's not going to know how to dodge a hundred crossbow bolts. I'm sure there would be individualized ways of keeping these slaves in line. Maybe move their families to remote villages and let them know they'll be killed if they ever try anything. The elites have communications abilities. Some lowly slave with Explosive Fireball doesn't. He might be able to kill fifty people, but that's all he'll ever do. And other than that, there's really no reason to treat the slaves poorly. You do need them to work for you, after all. They just have to know their place.

And everyone is going to have their place. Even if the princess knows Enslave, her guards are going to be trained to take her out if she uses it on anyone of import.

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Seriously, absent from some mind control (which might mess up with magic), this is a very bad idea. Just take a look at Janissaries and Mamluks to see what happens to Caliphs and Sultans who rely extensively on elite slave armies. Also, can you imagine a slave revolt, but this time with your elite mages leading it, instead of some illiterate peasants?
You only allow your elite people to become elite mages. Then you have political squabbles, not slave revolts. I imagine a slave revolt where the masters are armed like modern soldiers with their magic, and the slaves are trying to sharpen sticks. Slaves revolting would have no chance of success.

All of this would require effort to maintain, but not much more than keeping other slaves. You just don't teach the slaves anything dangerous. At most they would ever get one spell off before their handlers killed them or incapacitated them. That's all you'd have to plan for.

It does make it a rather expensive proposition, raising wizards. As I imagine it would be, anyway.


The goal of the rulers is to maintain their own power. Whenever magic is discovered, since it has to be discovered to get to anything that looks like TL 1 or 2 or 3 with it, then they immediately take control of it. Once this political system is in place, then we can start looking at what can be achieved through the use of Ceremonial magic with armies.

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I'd also be enforcing pretty spectacular crit fails, too. The kinds that wipe out your own army/castle if you happen to be unlucky.
I guess they'll be keeping Bless on all of their wizards.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:52 AM   #49
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Magic use provides such advantages that it would not take very long at all before society divided primarily into two classes: magic users above an non-magic users as a permanent underclass.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:08 PM   #50
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Magic use provides such advantages that it would not take very long at all before society divided primarily into two classes: magic users above an non-magic users as a permanent underclass.
Maybe. It depends on a lot of factors. If you don't have enough wizards to keep all the different spells in rotation, then that might not happen.

The Youth spell is in incredibly high demand. Always and forever, everyone wants the Youth spell. More than can ever be met, let's say. In a population of two million people, the demand for it is two million successful castings a year. You can't meet that demand. So, the incentive for the wizards with Magery 3 is to learn the Youth spell. They can make significantly more money with that than through any other means. I could very easily imagine a scenario where every single person with Magery 3 casts nothing but Youth and that's all they do. If they're not learning other spells, and all they know is Youth and its prerequisites, then there's no reason at all that Alexander can't still rule the world. Phalanx beats Youth spells any day of the week.

And then you look at the Magery 2 guys and see what they end up doing. And then Magery 1.

Yes, there will be lots of things they could do, but probably won't end up doing. I don't know what the Magery 2 spell would be that's in such incredible demand that all the wizards do is cast that one spell, or the Magery 1 one either, but I imagine we could see something like that happen.

It might be that no one bothers to learn most of the spells, because the opportunity cost is too high. They'd rather cast Youth that many more times than learn some other spells, because Youth is the best spell. Any other spell provides significantly less utility.
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