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kubera

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PostSubject: Theoretical siege warfare   Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:20 pm

When we talk d&d we automatically default to the medieval template of what is the norm in high fantasy, we never question that horses are the norm and some form of magical perpetual motion machine do not move the carriages or war machines of the rich and powerful.

We never consider that an overpowered decanter could be jet drive on a personal water craft, and as our long argument on the commercialization of magic showed many assume that centuries of accumulation of day to day magic stuff like light coins, rocks, disks etc would not eventually bring magic lighting to the middle class, or that industrious mages would not go into business as couriers or importers/exporters of high cost low volume luxury goods rather than risking battle or becoming a book worm.

What Id like to discuss this time is siege battles and whether lightening, fireball, earthquake, rock to mud etc, in addition to mechanical siege engines are equivalent enough in their ability to destroy tall stone fortifications and suppress fire from the wall to be equivalent to the effective large bore artillery that ended the age of the castles.

In our magic using high fantasy world are castles really appropriate or should the normal evolution to low stone walls, earth works, physical obstructions and defence in depth be the defensive construction style of choice?
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Wilhelm

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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Tue Nov 10, 2009 1:27 pm

I see it as a paper scissors rock scenario. All materials you would use to build a fort have a weakness to some form of magic. You can defend in one way but will lose in the other. There is no perfect defense in the face of magic. What form would a fortification take - nothing is safe - mobility could be the safest approach.

The desire to hide in a fortification is natural as magic use is exceptional and not normal even in our play area. They should hold against 99% of attacks - it's that one time a 12th level wizard shows up... Rock to mud is much more effective a weapon against a castle than a trebuchet. Liquifying a foundation vs throwing rocks - if there is gravity, it seems obvious.

Let's not even talk about walking in circles around a castle and blowing horns (a la Jericho).

Perhaps there are unexplored/unrecorded spells that protect castles from the use of magic against their fortifications. Spells that negate magic attacks but are ineffective against natural event like earthquakes, floods, fires, etc... (Nature is all powerful and must be allowed to take it's course eventually).

Methinks we are over-analyzing...

"Shaka, when the walls fell."
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:18 pm

I explored this years ago with my own world. The result I ultimately came up with is that magic is like nuclear devices ... it is ultimately supremely destructive when used for war, and therefore developes in to a 'cold war' of sorts.
Think about it: two side have access to magic and magic users. Why even bother with a seige, per se. Just have your mages and users of magic blast the sh!t out of the walls, towers, and/or leaders themselves... it escalates (or spirals downwards, depending on your view) until it is out of control and you have massive destruction on a near nuclear level...
Armies barely need to get involved except for clean-up and occupation.

So this is how I have governed it in my world... that there are a number of historical examples of magical war gone horribly wrong, and since few wish to risk such levels of carnage and destruction, was is (for the most part) kept on a 'civil' level of soldeirs hacking the heck out of one another. Magic plays a MUCH more subtler role in war....

my two cents...
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PostSubject: not what i asked   Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:43 pm

We know you don't allow magic in battle, (yet arent state sponsored adventures who blast everything in sight defying the spirit of this convention)

But if a world does allow magic in battle, is magic sufficiently powerful to nullify the validity of using high towers and castles in defense? Should magic used like artillery to move basic military architecture to the next stage where they become short, bulky forts not meant for habitation, that use layered defences such as moate , ditch, earth works obstructions, several sets of low walls to keep attackers out of range of the mega artillery (or magic)?

The age past the fall of Grenanda and Constantinople showed that high walls were
1. a big easy target
2. no up to the task of taking such big hits
3. too hard to repair if collapsed
4. crazy expensive

Vs Earthworks and low walls that were
1. much easier to repair under seige. (you can rebuild a earth berm quickly vs rebuilding a wall.
2. much cheaper than high walls
3. created defense in depth keeping artillery as far away from the final wall/barrier as long as possible, while leaving a huge killing zone before the defences.

a single rock to mud can collapse an entire wall, but several layers of berms are hard to collapse as they have little form to start with. Earthquake, little effect on earth works, dig, just quicky patch the whole or use your own dig to put it back.

So, which would be most effective vs a combination of spells and physical attacks?,

This all came up as I designed my castle and I realized that I could ditch, moat, berm and palisade the entire penisula for the money I would need to build a full castle.

By the way the 200k and change I have left from Cirda would only build the first level of what I designed, and it was not even that large by historical scale.
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Wilhelm

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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Wed Nov 11, 2009 11:16 am

Don't know about the rest of you but....

Defending a structure against magic looks allot like defending against cannons and gunpowder.
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Wed Nov 11, 2009 8:33 pm

I agree that access to magic would render medieval castles obsolete. A Dragon article discussed the defensive modifications castles might have in a high-fantasy world, such as sealed rooftops to protect against flying attackers, etc.

Castle designs that neglect to defend against magical forms of attack are of course highly vulnerable. Yet if they are the norm, it can be reasoned that magic has historically not been a factor in siege warfare. There could be several explanations for this:

Magic is rare;
Magic is expensive;
Magic hasn't been properly exploited yet;
Magic is taboo.

Becoming a specialist in magical siege warfare (or covert fortress penetration) could be lucrative. "Sire, we'll deliver the castle into your hands within 1 day--guaranteed, for a price of 50,000 gp. Remember, you won't suffer any losses. That's free.
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 12:50 am

I have some difficulty with the MU's=nukes argument. Thinking of the area of destruction of, say a fireball (a 40' diameter sphere), it really doesn't compare to a city levelling bomb (let's use the Hiroshima bomb as an example).
My feelings are that the use of high level MU's in combat (level 9+) as offensive weaponry is not common because of the cost. I think that a better comparison to real world weaponry would be control of the air. As long as there is parity betweeen the sides, there will be attacks against each others MU's, but should one side have superiority, then that side will more than likely end up victorious. There are still conventions of warfare, of course (like our Geneva conventions), and those who disregard them will more than likely suffer direct consequences of those actions. (A good example of this occured in Greyhawk during the wars with the destruction of Chathold by the Great Kingdom.)

Besides, nobody ever made a weapon that they didn't use.
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kubera

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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:20 am

No a fireball is closer to a 3 minute barage by a mortar team than it is a nuke, a death spell like a small concusive blast , a cloud kill a mustard gas canister. I think the boodey man spells of old like the burning rain or what ever the hell the suel used to torch an empire or what azzy used to eliminate portalia could seem like nukes but the stuff we use certainly don't

A rock to mud however is a game changer in that it can destroy a entire castles defences that would take days or weeks to achive with normal siege engies or even early cannon. Unless of course there are proceedures or spells that can be used in building to magically bind or protect the stone, (or perhaps a divine boon from ones pet goddess) Smile

So I take it you are saying that siege magic is rare enough to justify maintain the high fantasy castle design vs post medieval forts.

I guess even if you are rich or powerful enough to have 9th level mages at your beck and call, that most of them did not survive to that level getting within bow shot of castle wall they want to melt. I would do it as a character but I guess "Adventures" are heroic and more prone to crazy risk than most average mages

But as I said it is a moot point as that system for castle building is in no way affordable at our individual level of wealth. I need to free at least two more gods.

Perhaps we need to build another (deeper inland ) set of berms, moats, mottes, short wall with each of us having a tower or fortified house as strong points and anchors along its length.


Last edited by kubera on Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:24 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Wilhelm

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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:05 am

It seems to me that a structure like an underground cavern/tunnel used in WW1 would be fairly effective - especially if it's existence was concealed and entrance barred with magic spells.

Hey wait a minute... that sounds like a dungeon that adventurers would go into...
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:35 am

yeah, maybe we should have just moved into one of the dungeons we have searched. Maybe put a little chalet over the entrance.


Where we currently are is right on the ocean and with the excpetion of the hill I put the temple on, or way further upstream, we'd hit the water table if we tunnel. Mind you that also keeps the sappers away.
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:05 pm

Wilhelm wrote:
I see it as a paper scissors rock scenario. All materials you would use to build a fort have a weakness to some form of magic. You can defend in one way but will lose in the other. There is no perfect defense in the face of magic. What form would a fortification take - nothing is safe - mobility could be the safest approach.

The desire to hide in a fortification is natural as magic use is exceptional and not normal even in our play area. They should hold against 99% of attacks - it's that one time a 12th level wizard shows up... Rock to mud is much more effective a weapon against a castle than a trebuchet. Liquifying a foundation vs throwing rocks - if there is gravity, it seems obvious.

Let's not even talk about walking in circles around a castle and blowing horns (a la Jericho).

Perhaps there are unexplored/unrecorded spells that protect castles from the use of magic against their fortifications. Spells that negate magic attacks but are ineffective against natural event like earthquakes, floods, fires, etc... (Nature is all powerful and must be allowed to take it's course eventually).

Methinks we are over-analyzing...

"Shaka, when the walls fell."
Good points.

I agree that a conventional fortress will protect its defenders most of the time (primarily via intimidation, in my estimation), but the same could have been said during the advent of gunpowder and cannon in the 14th century.

If it costs more to field a conventional army with the sapper/miner/engineers necessary to construct mechanical siege engines and dig tunnels than it would to hire spelluser(s) with siege-spells, why would any warlord not use spellusers? (My earlier post speculated about this, but another reason could be that it is feared that spellusers would constitute an emerging dominant social class in the same way that the medieval aristocracy was based on the battlefield superiority of heavily-armoured, lance-wielding mounted warriors; yet nothing would really stop this, anyway.)
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:46 pm

Jonathan wrote:
I have some difficulty with the MU's=nukes argument. Thinking of the area of destruction of, say a fireball (a 40' diameter sphere), it really doesn't compare to a city levelling bomb (let's use the Hiroshima bomb as an example).
My feelings are that the use of high level MU's in combat (level 9+) as offensive weaponry is not common because of the cost. I think that a better comparison to real world weaponry would be control of the air. As long as there is parity betweeen the sides, there will be attacks against each others MU's, but should one side have superiority, then that side will more than likely end up victorious. There are still conventions of warfare, of course (like our Geneva conventions), and those who disregard them will more than likely suffer direct consequences of those actions. (A good example of this occured in Greyhawk during the wars with the destruction of Chathold by the Great Kingdom.)

Besides, nobody ever made a weapon that they didn't use.
Fireballs are more like flamethrowers (i.e., they project heat, not explosive force, into a relatively small area). Doug developed an explosion spell during high school, similar to fireball (i.e., d6 damage/caster level) but with a concusive rather than a heat-based effect. I always thought it was a great idea for a spell, even though it overlaps slightly with lightning bolt (i.e., each directs actual force at its respective target).

Jonathan, why do you think magical sieges cost more than conventional sieges? True, a spell-user is a trained professional, but he can only charge what a warlord is willing to pay. If no (local) warlord can afford the spell-user's prices, the latter has either overpriced himself (and makes no money) or he derives greater reward from other activities which, in effect, outbid the warlord(s).

What magical warfare conventions do you mean? Something like the papal ban on crossbows or papal efforts to reduce civil warfare in Europe during the Middle Ages (which were not conventions so much as unilateral decrees or admonitions)? I am skeptical that the Geneva Conventions have helped much; in fact, most such laws produce the opposite outcome because they stamp evil deeds with the imprimatur of legality: e.g., if one believes the Geneva Conventions are a good thing, gov'ts that commit atrocities with practical legal impunity are thus thought of as operating morally; thus the U.S. can continue to kill civilians and torture its opponents despite the existence of the various international conventions.
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 4:50 pm

kubera wrote:
[...]

But as I said it is a moot point as that system for castle building is in no way affordable at our individual level of wealth. I need to free at least two more gods. [...]
The system seems to be overpriced.

Maybe the number of castles in the WoG correlates with the number of deities.
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PostSubject: who knows   Thu Nov 12, 2009 5:38 pm

All combined we did have enough for a castle, but we did split is 6 ways after all. Laughing
Who's to say the system costs too much or we simply did not get enough gems? I don't know. I just know its not enough for what I planned.


Its at least partially the multipliers the system adds because we don't have access to stone/wood right at the sight, not close to a major settlement, terrain etc makes the stated costs in the book go up by 1.8 times, so nearly double the book. If we were in a swamp with slave labour it go up to like 4x or more, taking several million to build a small castle.

there are ways to cut costs and time with our neat, cool powers, As well as what ever powers of persauasion, motivation, organization that we bring to the work effort.

Each of us counts as one man week of labour/lev (rather than just one)


Each spell/ spell level castable counts as a man week/
stone shape, dig, grease, dig, healing workers, levitate, shrink, lighting areas so they can work longer hours etc. A high level mage can do insane amounts of work under this formula
Lysee alone would be worth like 15-18 men.


I have not calculated what we could all achieve together because I assume people would have their own projects to deal with over the hiatus. Studying, teaching the troops, being fed peeled grapes by Orion slave girls.

If I could assume Rotox, Arcturus, Lysee, and Ulthor would take part in building the castle, perhaps I could manage a scaled back, shorter than expected castle, at least until I make more money.

It would be like a barn raising as I'm sure others would also need help building at a later date.
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Wilhelm

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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Thu Nov 12, 2009 11:04 pm

Quote :
Doug developed an explosion spell during high school, similar to fireball (i.e., d6 damage/caster level) but with a concusive rather than a heat-based effect. I always thought it was a great idea for a spell, even though it overlaps slightly with lightning bolt (i.e., each directs actual force at its respective target).

sniff... he remembered... Sad

It was a good spell concept - more in line with a few sticks of dynamite than a MOAB or daisy cutter. It was not of the scale to be a great siege spell. It was good for hurting a few soft targets, removing a door or opening a hole to the level below. The idea came from what I thought was a strange omission of a spell that simulated gunpowder in the game. I seem to recall that the material components were salt peter (potassium nitrate), sulphur and charcoal.

Perhaps J. will allow this spell to come into use in our world(s) - as long as he doesn't use it against us. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Fri Nov 13, 2009 11:11 am

Quote :
We know you don't allow magic in battle, (yet arent state sponsored adventures who blast everything in sight defying the spirit of this convention)

Exactly! That's why, in Habbanya, especially, "adventurers" were frowned upon. Later, these groups had to 'declare' themselves (be named under a 'banner'). And when Azerak took over, he abolished them alltogether.

There is nothing worse for a ruler than to have armed and magically proficient people, who have sworn no oath to a lord, wandering around, robbing graves, raiding non-human settlements and generally stirring up trouble! HAHAHA Laughing

The first time this idea struck me of adventurers as bad-guys (in some eyes) was when one of the groups woke up the Terrasque and it rampaged across the country ...

OK, i get diverted... back to magic in warfare...

Quote :
I have some difficulty with the MU's=nukes argument. Thinking of the area of destruction of, say a fireball (a 40' diameter sphere), it really doesn't compare to a city levelling bomb (let's use the Hiroshima bomb as an example). ...

Taken literally, no, none of the m-u spells are nuclear in power ... but you missed my point. I was trying to infer that it's akin to a nuclear standoff in our world; incredibly potent power on two (or more) sides that threaten each other with minimal use of manpower. Sure, a fireball alone does little to a castle wall, but thrown into an oncoming army (remember your group defending a castle in Habbanya?...) get a few of those going and it's devestation! and that's only a 3rd level spell.
Now one argument says that more powerful magic is rare. on the contrary, with the exception of Lalanne's world, all our campaigns have shown that there are a fair share of high-level magic users out there. There are guilds for goodness sake! Training facilities for them! And what lord/king/ruler of a land is not going to exploit that power to his advantage. They are his citizens! "Fight for your country!"
(Read the two-novel series, "Mordant's Need" by Stephen Donaldson .. he writes a good back story on mages in that society in this regard...)

Rock to Mud, Earthquake, Meteor Swarm, Summon Monsters, Insect Swarm, Improved Invisibility in combination with Fly makes a groovy mage assassin, Charm, Evard's Black Tentacles, Dig ... these are just a few popping in to my head as I write...
Now, somone might say, "Oh, there are spells that could be brought in to effect to counter those".. maybe, but to defend against such stuff is hit and miss at best! (as Doug referred to in his rock,paper,scissors, analogy) ... But do you see where I am going with this?.. it escalates .. it has to ... if you want to win in a war that uses magic, you will use it to it's full destructive potential.

But I agree that there might also be put in place a 'convention of war' treaty of some sort to help define what can be done in war ... non-offensive spell use (protections, etc...).

Quote :
My feelings are that the use of high level MU's in combat (level 9+) as offensive weaponry is not common because of the cost.
Question not sure I understand that ... Just rip the darn spell off. If you need a valuable pearl or ruby, or whatever, it will be provided for (not endlessly of course), but what country has not gone all out to turn their economy in to one that is more favourable to production of war materials during such a time?... And that includes churning out new recruits to the mage guilds ... churn out hundreds of even low-level wizards can be devestating...
(wars are not (often) fought in a day ....)

Anyhoo. For me (and, yes, this has been well documented in my campaigns), that a magic war is an ultimately incredibly destructive one ... one that no ruler in his right mind would want to risk. It amounts to the modern equivalent of pushing a red button...

my two cents.... geek
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PostSubject: Re: Theoretical siege warfare   Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:30 pm

Regnar wrote:
[...] For me (and, yes, this has been well documented in my campaigns), that a magic war is an ultimately incredibly destructive one ... one that no ruler in his right mind would want to risk. It amounts to the modern equivalent of pushing a red button...
I do see a parallel between magical warfare in your world and nuclear weapons in the real world. Both threaten the politicians--both directly (they are at personal risk because their distance from the battlefield doesn't protect them*) and indirectly (if their subjects are devastated, their metaphorical nakedness will be revealed to all, which risks their rulership).

And yet this does not prevent the mass murder of civilians by nuclear and conventional weaponry when the enemy government is unable to retaliate. I think history proves this general rule.

Therefore, it seems that a ban on magic/nuclear warfare can operate only when both sides have the capability of waging it. We saw this during the Cold War. In addition to protecting the ruling classes of both warring states, a ban has another cynical purpose: to preserve the better-armed state's hegemony by denying these weapons to noncompliant states. This explains the persecution of Iraq (WMD), Iran, and North Korea.

In this view, your world's magical attack ban makes perfect sense.
______________
*Because medieval warlords typically fought on the battlefield, this observation doesn't quite fit the period. But magic does render any leader vulnerable at all times, which is riskier than entering the fray of battle.
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