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Old 04-08-2024, 03:45 AM   #31
The Colonel
 
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Some of this depends on what the range is for hostile observers is for ceremonial magic, because 100 extra energy from friendly observers goes a long way. Aside from C3I, GURPS Magic has some very strong positional defense spells, such as mystic mist.
Not so much TL3, but you could imagine this sort of thing being behind something like the Zulu war chorus or something ... by chanting and performing a ceremonial dance, you have whole regiments feeding power to your magi. Actually, I could see the Romans doing that - perhaps with the aquilae serving as some kind of accumulator?
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Old 04-08-2024, 04:11 AM   #32
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Not so much TL3, but you could imagine this sort of thing being behind something like the Zulu war chorus or something ... by chanting and performing a ceremonial dance, you have whole regiments feeding power to your magi. Actually, I could see the Romans doing that - perhaps with the aquilae serving as some kind of accumulator?
And among other things, possibly disguising their nature as participants in a ceremonial ritual. A hundred grunts standing in a clump and chanting in unison, I'm going to put fire on that location. Three thousand spearmen chanting, and General Bumph may just well shrug and say to his ADC, "The wogs are nerving themselves up to have a go."


On the demographic front, meh. This is one people constantly muff when it comes to magic discussions. It's not whether one person in a thousand is a doctor or an engineer. The analogy is whether one person in a thousand is genetically capable of becoming a doctor or an engineer. Magery has to be damn common in a society to get one full-scale mage per thousand in the military.
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Old 04-08-2024, 10:32 AM   #33
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
Not so much TL3, but you could imagine this sort of thing being behind something like the Zulu war chorus or something ... by chanting and performing a ceremonial dance, you have whole regiments feeding power to your magi. Actually, I could see the Romans doing that - perhaps with the aquilae serving as some kind of accumulator?
Or for that matter a Catholic army holding a Mass before the battle. All kinds of groups have rituals aimed at raising spiritual power to aid them in battle, it's just that in this context the power has more dramatically tangible effects.


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And among other things, possibly disguising their nature as participants in a ceremonial ritual. A hundred grunts standing in a clump and chanting in unison, I'm going to put fire on that location. Three thousand spearmen chanting, and General Bumph may just well shrug and say to his ADC, "The wogs are nerving themselves up to have a go."
Why would they do thay? Raising magical power for the battle is just one of those things armies in a magical setting do, the general will know perfectly well what they're doing, he just can't really stop them, anymore than they can stop his side's ritual (unless the two armies are close enough for the hostile observer effect to kick in, but they won't be, because that would hurt both sides. More likely they're formed up just outside that range, the main force doing the rituals en masse while skirmishers try to locate the groups that contain the actual mages and disrupt their energy gathering,and others try to keep the enemy skirmishers away from theirs.
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On the demographic front, meh. This is one people constantly muff when it comes to magic discussions. It's not whether one person in a thousand is a doctor or an engineer. The analogy is whether one person in a thousand is genetically capable of becoming a doctor or an engineer. Magery has to be damn common in a society to get one full-scale mage per thousand in the military.
I don't really hold with "Magery as innate characteristic," but as also noted in the OP it doesn't matter where rhe mages come from. I chose 1 mage per thousand troops as the minimum level of magical prevalence that would have consistent, predictable effects on tactical and strategic doctrines. If mages are much rarer than that, any army that has them will take what they can get and shape their tactics around whatever specific tricks the mages they have happen to be able to do.

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Old 04-08-2024, 10:35 AM   #34
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

I would note that battle prep could be a big deal. Magic has tools that make fortifications easier to overcome, but it also has tools that make fortifications, particularly field grade fortifications, much easier to create.
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Old 04-08-2024, 10:37 AM   #35
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Why wouldn't opfor have their own Ceremonial group if they need one? If you're fighting anything close to a peer power, you have to assume they can throw similar resources at the fight as you can.
The aggressor has the benefit of choosing where and when to strike, so if they strike where you don't have a Ceremonial group set up and ready to go, you're out of luck. Of course, that in turn depends on what you need to set up a Ceremonial group. Is being 600 yards away enough to prevent hostiles from counting as hostile observers? If so, you can set up your group without being too obvious... but then again if the aggressor opts to have soldiers marching forward behind the giant wall of fire, they're going to be a lot closer when it's time for you to cast (and you need to wait until the fire is right next to you to finish the spell, as otherwise you're going to suffer that -1 per yard of distance... and your spectators may well have difficulty just using Do Nothing as the approaching wall of fire gets that close) and thus may well count as hostile observers. If not, you need something that blocks line of sight (like my suggested miniature siege tower... which the defender may need even if 600 yards is far enough, if the aggressor opts to march their soldiers behind the wall of fire as above), and that's probably not something you can set up on a moment's notice.

There's also the issue that you're basically looking at skill vs skill, and the aggressor is going to put their best Shape Fire mage on the job while you'll have to make due with whoever is closest (if you have multiple; if you don't, it's that much easier for OpFor to strike where you're weakest). So you're at best in 50/50 situation and may well be at a disadvantage. Better to use Rain, at least if you are able to get into position quickly enough to handle its full minute of casting time, as then it's not skill vs skill but rather a heavy rain (1 inch per hour is pretty heavy, enough to cause flash flooding) vs a fire, and a fire is unlikely to win that matchup.
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Old 04-08-2024, 11:01 AM   #36
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
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.
There is one caveat to your statement above:

BEAST SUMMONING (pg 30) Permits for double the cost - the ability to summon all of one specific beast - usually within 10 miles to the summoner. This spell is per minute, which is generally speaking, not sustainable for very long.

But if that Mage were my character, this is what I'd do if I were alone so to speak:

One college Power Stone enchanted to a decent power point level. Then I'd purchase a few healing potions. Someone who drinks healing potions when they're not wounded, replaces 1d6 fatigue with every drink.

Double the energy cost is 6-1 for skill 15, for a total cost of 5 fatigue. Then it costs 3 fatigue per minute to maintain. For a formation of horses that are in the midst of a charge - casting that spell at the right time would be bad for the cavalry formation.

Now give me an apprentice, casting lend energy, who also has one college powerstones (Healing college) - and he can lend my character energy, and drink healing potions as well.

Bad news is - there are no saving rolls for Beast Summoning. In theory, one could cast GREAT WARD - but only if the blocking spell caster also knows BEAST SUMMONING at skill 12+ (Not generally hard for someone with magery 2).

The only OTHER way to protect a horse from BEAST SUMMONING is if it has an IQ of 7+ at the time the spell is initially cast.

Now, imagine if you will - summoning the cavalry into a pit trap that is covered by an Illusion that hides its pit nature. Or have a prepared pit trap with camouflage done the old school way.

Now, the alternative is to utilize a magic item with Power set to level 4. The user of that item can summon the horses for a mere 2 fatigue, and is self-sustaining. I leave that as an exercise for you to debate...
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Old 04-08-2024, 12:35 PM   #37
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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I would note that battle prep could be a big deal. Magic has tools that make fortifications easier to overcome, but it also has tools that make fortifications, particularly field grade fortifications, much easier to create.
Decent earthworks will also help with that Shape Fire problem. If it gets out of hand you end up with a kind of reverse trench warfare, impromptu walls rising up in labyrinthine profusion to funnel troops hither and yon. And then straight into the fire, so probably less than that.

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The aggressor has the benefit of choosing where and when to strike, so if they strike where you don't have a Ceremonial group set up and ready to go, you're out of luck. Of course, that in turn depends on what you need to set up a Ceremonial group.
If a Ceremonial group is necessary for battle (it occurs to me that nobody has mentioned the possibility of Energy Reserves in discussing larger castings. If mages can have ERs Ceremonial casting is probably mostly a pre-battle thing, for prepping fortifications, summoning things if thats your bag, to let the mages reserve their personal energy for when the steel clashes), than any halfway competent commander will keep a detachment ready for that, especially if war seems imminent (usually invasions don't happen out of the blue, there's a period of diplomatic sabre-rattling beforehand). And that also gets into the whole matter of magical intelligence gathering. Even in IRL TL3, getting caught with your pants down so completely that the enemy is in combat range before you have 100 troops ready os a sign that someone has massively erred. If militaries routinely contain people who can read true omens of the future in the dance of flames or the fall of sparrows (Divination spells), take the minds or shapes of eagles and soar above the land with eyes that can see to the furthest horizon (Beast Possession, Shapeshifting. Actual scrying at a long distance is hard in RAW Magic, and as a bonus the literal eyes of a literal eagle aren't subject to Scryguard) or similar, getting an army close enough to fight you without you knowing about it gets pretty hard.

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There's also the issue that you're basically looking at skill vs skill, and the aggressor is going to put their best Shape Fire mage on the job while you'll have to make due with whoever is closest (if you have multiple; if you don't, it's that much easier for OpFor to strike where you're weakest). So you're at best in 50/50 situation and may well be at a disadvantage. Better to use Rain, at least if you are able to get into position quickly enough to handle its full minute of casting time, as then it's not skill vs skill but rather a heavy rain (1 inch per hour is pretty heavy, enough to cause flash flooding) vs a fire, and a fire is unlikely to win that matchup.
This is the kind of thing where the skill of the defending commander comes into play. The general's job is to know whether you've got a fire mage who's the best in the business or you're better off throwing rain as a counter, or maybe you've got an excellent combat engineer on your magical staff because you're out here to put in a new military road and the answer is to put a brand new stone wall between your force and the enemy fire.

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There is one caveat to your statement above:

BEAST SUMMONING (pg 30) Permits for double the cost - the ability to summon all of one specific beast - usually within 10 miles to the summoner. This spell is per minute, which is generally speaking, not sustainable for very long.

But if that Mage were my character, this is what I'd do if I were alone so to speak:
If you were alone, you wouldn't be part of an army. This trick only works if your side doesn't have any cavalry of its own. If there's walls of fire sweeping the battlefield, horses already won't be happy campers, and if you're at the point where Artillery spells are being broken out, it's gonna be a full-time job for a Beast-mage or several to prevent stampedes. It may be that horses have little place on a magical battlefield.

ETA:
Speaking of Energy Reserves, even if magery levels are fixed, Energy Reserves might be one of the things that distinguishes a new battlemage straight out of training (whatever that means lically) from a grizzled veteran in the same specialty, and makes it very advantageous to have the second one if you possibly can, and be another major factor in choosing a mage for the job. If the enemy is advancing on your position behind a wall of fire, say you can choose between(with slightly anachronistic terminology), your weather mage is 2nd Lieutenant Newbie Green, who is on duty because Major Storm went to his grandma's funeral, a leave you wouldn't have approved if you'd known General McFoe had concealed his march somehow and was about to hit you. Lt. Green knows loads of Weather spells, but he has ST 11 and no ER, and can barely muster a stiff breeze without a full chanting chorus. Second Battlion's [top] mage is Captain Torch, who's been lighting and fighting fires in this man's army since the gods were babies and has a personal Energy reserve of 60 before he even starts on his Fatigue (and he's fitter than you'd think a man his age could be), it's a batllr.of shape fire while Lt. Green gets the chorus together and tries to put some lightning into their casting circle if gods be kind they haven't got it under a bunker and are watching by Wizard Eye. If, OTOH, Captain Torch was reassigned and Lt. Spark is trying to cover for him, while Major Storm hearda disturbing rumor at rhe funeral and raced back on the winds, it's time to bring the rain. Lt. Green might end up doing the same job either way, if Storm is too busy with the fires to launch offensive moves.

Last edited by Dalillama; 04-08-2024 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 04-08-2024, 12:54 PM   #38
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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D(it occurs to me that nobody has mentioned the possibility of Energy Reserves in discussing larger castings. .
Battle Mages of even modest sorts are 150 pt to 250 pt Characters. The Energy rEserve that would replace even one use of a Spectator group is 300 pts more. When considering the use of 500pt Mages you're starting to approach territory where you ask "What do they need armies for?".

You can certainly have extraordinarily powerful Mages. I built a 1500 pt one in 3e and Gm'ed for a 400-500pt one in 4e but I tend to doubt that you'll see such characters in a support role on battlefields.

On the other hand the ERs that come with published Magical Styles tend to top out at 6 pts. I think those are mostly a matter of double-dipping on FP recovery.. They could let healer Mages maybe heal 50-100% more wounded but won't figure much in replacing Ceremonial casting with spectators.
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Old 04-08-2024, 01:46 PM   #39
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

Anything that would make logistics easier would have a huge impact.

For instance, being able to control the weather would be major. And undead armies can march where live armies can not.
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Old 04-08-2024, 01:46 PM   #40
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Default Re: Magic on the TL 3 battlefield

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Battle Mages of even modest sorts are 150 pt to 250 pt Characters. The Energy rEserve that would replace even one use of a Spectator group is 300 pts more. When considering the use of 500pt Mages you're starting to approach territory where you ask "What do they need armies for?".

You can certainly have extraordinarily powerful Mages. I built a 1500 pt one in 3e and Gm'ed for a 400-500pt one in 4e but I tend to doubt that you'll see such characters in a support role on battlefields.

On the other hand the ERs that come with published Magical Styles tend to top out at 6 pts. I think those are mostly a matter of double-dipping on FP recovery.. They could let healer Mages maybe heal 50-100% more wounded but won't figure much in replacing Ceremonial casting with spectators.
Fair point. I was literally thinking as I typed there. That said, fantasy battlefields having larger-than-life entities as a common part is entirely thematically appropriate. Ents or Ringwraiths are multi hundred point beings all the way back to Tolkien, although most of the events there are non ordinary even by Middle Earth standards, plus the wizards. Plenty of later fantasy has gone for that esthetic but done it up less mythical, where enta (or whatever) are a troop type themselves (D&D adjacent wargames and computer strategy games did a lot of that as well), and archmages on the battlefield as a commonplace is an established trope from Lackey's Mage Wars books in the 80s (90s?) to McLellan's Powder Mage series (which isn't TL 3, obviously, it's just the most recent thing that came to my mind)
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