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Old 04-06-2024, 12:44 PM   #11
Dalillama
 
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

Note: I'm deliberately ignoring Gate spells, they completely alter basically everything about warfare if they're widespread, and also economics.

Case 1: The battalion mage is rear-echelon support. They can pretty much always rely on 100 participants for ceremonial magic from the 'tail' of the army, and will only see personal combat in the event of rout or utter disaster. Primary spells will be Message, Pathfinder, and assorted Seek spells, to communicate between separate forces and locate the enemy and themselves. They will also ideally know Scryguard to stop the enemy doing that, and maybe Truthsayer for interrogation of high-value captives. Direct damage is unlikely. There's also the stylistic option of having them summon/create big elementals, giant demon things, or masses of the dead risen to fight again. If they're actually directly involved in the fighting, these are actually probably the best uses. Any given mage is likely to only be able to do one of these, but experienced archmages may fill both roles.
Effects on the battlefield: Plans involving coordination between separate forces are much more feasible. Armies will pretty much always know where they are and how to get where they're going. Siege tactics include giant horrifying monsters trying to climb the walls while defending mages seek to destroy/dispel/banish them. Open-field battles also include these. Assuming the sides have roughly equal numbers of mages, the net effect is likely be much higher casualty rates for the infantry, who are always the first to get it in the neck.

Case 2) There are still rear-echelon mages who operate much like the above. A decent-sized army will have one or more mages who purify the drinking water, Shape Earth into latrines and earthworks, and otherwise establish the camp and minimize people dying there (assorted Purify spells, Shape Earth). Regimental combat mages duel the enemy casters with Artillery spells and Force Domes and the assorted Mass Resist spells from Pyramid 3/4 . Monsters and zombies still stalk the battlefield, and Utter Dome and warding spells try to hold them off.
Effects on the battlefield: Sieges involve heavy magic use on both sides. Seige wizard is a separate specialty, and many such specialists are for hire rather than working for one government (viz historical parallels in the early modern)
Field fortifications are erected faster, but aren't as useful due to monsters and magical artillery. This will probably change the way fortifications are built in general (viz gunpowder Artillery irl), but I don't think star forts will answer here. Field battles involve troops clustering near their protective wizards and waiting for a gap in the incoming to drop the Force Dome and charge, hoping to get entangled enough with the enemy that their wizards can't hit you without being hit back. The regimental mage may want some personal combat spells, because the fighting will be coming to them one way or another. All sides are probably fooling with the weather.

Case 3) In addition to the rear-echelon mages (who now include Healers for battlefield casualties and disease cases that get past the sanitation measures, and possibly enough logistics mages to directly Create enough food to keep the army marching far longer and with less collateral damage than historical TL 3 armies, which is a pretty huge thing itself. The same goes for Essential food.). Diviners and scryers are on the General Staff. Over in Intelligence, they have Truthsayers and maybe Mindreaders, so Need to Know is serious business. Squad-level mages will be fond of Bless, (note here that as someone noted in another of these threads, 'mage' may well be synonymous with 'priest', and 'chaplains' is a very different office), and may specialize in. Body Control (to boost comrades' ST/DX), Protection (turning missiles is a favorite), or direct-damage spells operating as heavy-weapons support. There are likely to be experienced mages of utterly terrifying capacity involved in various roles.

Effects on the battlefield: Fortifications and Sieges are wildly different, I'm not sure. Armies march where and when they will, coordinating far-flung elements with ease.
The actual battlefield is rent by rains of lightning and fire, while towering elementals wrestle each other and obliterate unlucky humans who come too close. The dead routinely rise to fight again, and there's no way to know on whose side until they attack. Bands of skirmishers move across this space under cover of Force Domes until they reach each other, then clash in melee, sped and strengthened by magic, while fireballs and ice spears blast holes in their lines. The devastation of foraging armies is gone, replaced by the ruined battlefields of Ypres or the Somme. War is hell, and all the demons are loose on the field.
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Old 04-06-2024, 12:49 PM   #12
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

The range of the hostile observers rule is really important to create/shape fire, because something like a 3 radius is irrelevant, a 50 radius is not (if you then cast control fire you can move your fireball 200+ yards).
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Old 04-06-2024, 05:02 PM   #13
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Intelligence means scrying
Don't forget Beast Speech and Rider Within from the Animal College and Plant Speech from the Plant College for scouting.

Animal spells could also be extremely useful on campaign. Not only can a mage make their own side's beasts of burden more tractable, they can also make the enemy's animals unmanageable (e.g., casting Beast Rouser on an enemy general's horse).

Unfortunately, as you point out, GURPS Magic lacks the sort of "mass animal control/creation/summoning" spells that would allow Animal College mages to really play havoc on the battlefield, like summoning dozens of swarms of wasps or controlling entire herds of horses.
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Old 04-06-2024, 05:19 PM   #14
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
Case 1: The battalion mage is rear-echelon support.
Alternate battlefield roles for "rare magic mages": Bodyguards/guards for high value targets, Healers, Special Ops (especially for mages with Teleport)

Exact role depends on a given mage's skill set. If magic is rare, mages can't just be trained according to doctrine. Powerful mages might also be more or less left to do their own thing, like Gandalf in LOTR. Weak mages with relatively useless spells might not get any special consideration. ("Cool, you can light fires using magic, but we need spearmen.")

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
Case 2) There are still rear-echelon mages who operate much like the above.
At this level, it's possible that there are actual schools of magic and that mages can be trained for a given battlefield role. They take on the roles of other skilled specialists, possibly cooperating with their mundane counterparts. E.g., A Communication & Empathy mage of limited talent gets paired with a mundane signaler or scout.

It's also possible that the army screens for magical aptitude or trains suitable non-mages with basic spells.

For a "common magic" setting, low-level mages are assigned on the squad or platoon level, just like medics or radio operators are in modern armies. They have a small set of whatever spells the military thinks they need to do their jobs.

At this level, there will definitely be training programs for battle mages.

At any level of magic, don't forget that mages are likely to be a) smart/educated, b) literate, which puts them far ahead of your typical TL3 farm boy recruit. That means that it's really up to the commander as to how their talents will be used. ("Sure, you're a great food mage, but for the duration of the war you're an intelligence analyst).

Last edited by Pursuivant; 04-12-2024 at 05:09 PM.
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Old 04-07-2024, 12:10 AM   #15
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
For a "common magic" setting, low-level mages are assigned on the squad or platoon level, just like medics or radio operators are in modern armies. They have a small set of whatever spells the military thinks they need to do their jobs.
Quite. I've got a "casual military mage" template that presumes no better than Magery 1 and about a 75-80 pt character. Six spells at the max, all in one college. A medic might have Cleansing, Lend Vitality, Stop Bleeding, Minor Healing, Aid and/or Analgesic. A visual mage would have Light, Light Jet, Flash and Night Vision. And so on. Useful specializations, effective at squad and platoon level, and in a number of cases not visually distinct from any other ranker.
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Old 04-07-2024, 06:29 AM   #16
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
Or, What's a battle mage for anyway?
Case 1) Rare magic. There is roughly one mage per battalion, 1 in 1000 soldiers is a useful mage. What spells are most useful for this army?
If mages would be that rare, wouldn't they more likely be tasked to guard the most important thing on the battlefield - the king?

So, mages as royal bodyguards?
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Old 04-07-2024, 06:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
That's what the Shape Fire is for. You cast the Create spell next to you and then use the Shape to move it to where you need it faster than any formation of even lightly encumbered infantry. 300 yards per minute in fact.

Then if you start using Ceremonial Magic to get the 100 spectator boost you're talking really big running masses of fire with enough juice for maintaining that you can start them 600 yards or more away from the enemy.

It's not unbeatable but it's not going to go away with trivial counters and it probably seriously impairs any ability to fight in formation. That's a big change to the battlefield.
If you're casting this combo of spells 600 yards away from the enemy the mage is going to have to maintain the spells at least once. And to move the fire the mage is concentrating and as such can only take a Step. Also, where do you imagine that the mage is going to cast the spells? If he is going to move the area of fire to the enemy side I don't think he's going to be behind his own men, so it looks like he'll be in front or on either flank.

Setting up and casting is going to take some time and you're going to have a block of 101 persons just standing around, is the enemy not going to be doing any thing when they see that block forming?
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Old 04-07-2024, 07:46 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Žorkell View Post
Setting up and casting is going to take some time and you're going to have a block of 101 persons just standing around, is the enemy not going to be doing any thing when they see that block forming?
In one of the other threads, when discussing using Shape Earth to tunnel into castle walls, I suggested a siege engine that was something like a short version of the siege tower, to serve as portable cover for the mage and spectators (as well as block line of sight for the hostile spectators watching from the castle walls); it's essentially a large box, open on the bottom and behind, with wheels and beams the occupants can grab to push it forward. A similar device might work here, with the added benefit that you can probably get away with less coverage (if the spectators can just hold up shields to avoid getting hit by arrows shot over it - the mage and probably the first few rows of spectators would be covered by the wall itself - you might be able to get away with simply having the front of it, maybe with some truncated angled walls to make it harder to get off a shot from the side. Naturally, the enemy mages may well be targeting it in turn to prevent this one from getting off their spell.
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Old 04-07-2024, 08:27 AM   #19
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If you're casting this combo of spells 600 yards away from the enemy the mage is going to have to maintain the spells at least once. And to move the fire the mage is concentrating and as such can only take a Step.
The Mage has 100 spectators with 10 FP who can be used to maintain as well as cast. They could cast the Create/Shape combo and then Maintain it 4 times. That could be 5 minutes and 1000 yards total movement.

As for the Mage's ability to only take a Step, Where is it he needs to go? He's hiding behind a pavis and directing his Shape Fire through a view slit. Even if Opfor has archers who can shoot arrows 600 yards (ST24+ crossbows only) they can't penetrate the pavis anyway. 600 yards is long for siege engines too.

Opfor can send cavalry after the caster but now it's Opfor that doesn't get to act without meeting counters. Like archers and pikemen.

The createShape combo gives the cster's side the ability to determine when the battle starts and forces opfor to begin with an unsupported cavalry charge into a prepared position. Generally not a good idea.

Also, note that it isn't the damage done by the spell combo but the way it disrupts the battlefield and Opfor plans. This is worth doing when direct attacks probably aren't. It doesn't have to be Fire either. The French probably lost at Agincourt because their Heavy Infantry had to slog too far through thick mud. Rain the night before the battle will make all the mud you want.
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Old 04-07-2024, 11:13 AM   #20
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post

Alternate battlefield roles for "rare magic mages": Bodyguards/guards for high value targets, Healers, Special Ops (especially for mages with Teleport)
In terms of military advantage, none of those compare to scrying, communication and maybe weather.
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Exact role depends on a given mage's skill set. If magic is rare, mages can't just be trained according to doctrine. Powerful mages might also be more or less left to do their own thing, like Gandalf in LOTR.
One in 1000 isn't that rare. Fewer people are doctors or engineers IRL, and that's in the modern world, at TL3 those were even rarer
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Weak mages with relatively useless spells might not get any special consideration. ("Cool, you can light fires using magic, but we need spearmen.")
Those guys are irrelevant to the discussion; the defined cases refer to number of mages who are militarily useful, not mages in general.

Quote:
At this level, it's possible that there are actual schools of magic and that mages can be trained for a given battlefield role.
That's feasible in any of the three; there were medical academies at TL 3, and doctors were at that time ~1/10 as common as useful mages even in case 1.


Quote:
At any level of magic, don't forget that mages are likely to be a) smart/educated, b) literate, which puts them far ahead of your typical TL3 farm boy recruit. That means that it's really up to the commander as to how their talents will be used. ("Sure, you're a great food mage, but for the duration of the war you're an intelligence analyst).
Shades of MYTH Inc. In Action, although food is actually way more important to a TL3 army than intelligence analysis.

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Originally Posted by RGTraynor View Post
Quite. I've got a "casual military mage" template that presumes no better than Magery 1 and about a 75-80 pt character. Six spells at the max, all in one college. A medic might have Cleansing, Lend Vitality, Stop Bleeding, Minor Healing, Aid and/or Analgesic. A visual mage would have Light, Light Jet, Flash and Night Vision. And so on. Useful specializations, effective at squad and platoon level, and in a number of cases not visually distinct from any other ranker.
This is the kind of thing I was thinking of for Case 3, yeah.

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Originally Posted by Dr. Beckenstein View Post
If mages would be that rare, wouldn't they more likely be tasked to guard the most important thing on the battlefield - the king?

So, mages as royal bodyguards?
Maybe, maybe not. Depends if the king is actually at the battle instead of a Captain-general or retainer, if there even is a king ("Free Cities" in TL3 Europe were usually oligarchies ruled by a council of rich men, and sometimes had wars or stood siege, etc.), the perspective of the king and his retainers on the merits of personal bravery/ferocity, etc. In any case, the army is probably between 5000 and 30000 troops, so even if the leader wants a mage bodyguard there's still 4-29 other mages to allocate.

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post

The French probably lost at Agincourt because their Heavy Infantry had to slog too far through thick mud. Rain the night before the battle will make all the mud you want.
Keep in mind that Opfor has mages of their own, who also have all these considerations. If both sides bring the rain to muddy things for the opponent, it gets nasty all around, and is absolute hell on the local crops. Or maybe the weather mages mostly cancel each other out.
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