Economics of war


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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GavMania,
I don't know of any GMs that use perception as written. Ordinary guys with no special rifle sites engage individual targets at around 500 meters pretty regularly. I only use -1 perception per 10 feet in the absolute worst conditions, like a dark dungeon. Everywhere else I apply a multiplier to -1/10 ft. A normal person, for instance, with a clean line of sight, can see a campfire from like 3 miles away.
However, for identification of a particular individual that you DON'T know, the average person can only do 100-200 feet, which actually is ok for the perception rules (these are from identification in a police lineup).


I believe the "320 feet" rule you're quoting may well be in reference to detecting specific creatures or objects. Certainly, you could see a large group approaching you from a much longer distance off, but you'd have difficulty telling anything specific about them besides "lots of things are coming closer".

You could also easily see a village from a distance - but could you make out the people scurrying from house to house? That child kicking his ball around the corner? The exact shade of green of the house third from the town entrance on the left side of the road?


Fluffykins,
Ordinary people with no particular skill can see well enough to determine and engage targets at 1500 feet or more without special sights. Just not well enough to pick them out of a police lineup afterwards if they didn't know them to begin with.


Well enough to engage targets is all we need. It's safe to assume that that large mass of people marching (or running) towards you is the enemy, so being able to fire bows and spells when they come into range is doable, no perception test needed except in difficult circumstances (Low Light, atmospheric conditions, concealment, etc.).

In modern warfare, I recall hearing that most small arms firefights take place at about 100' (I think, or it may have been 100M) because targets remain concealed until then. This is more consistent with the perception rules, but is only relevant if our warfare begins to look more modern.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

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The 320 feet estimation is a pretty funny rules artifact. The idea that a kicker might not see the goalposts in the end zone....

I've observed artillery fire and I can attest that you can see Huge or Gargantuan size vehicles at ranges of up to around 4 or 5 kilometers from a good vantage point in open terrain, even with the naked eye. Unless they are trying to be stealthy, you can see individual infantrymen, as well, at ranges still in the kilometers.

On the other hand, anybody who's fired on a military popup target rifle range will be able to tell you as well that the 300m target is pretty hard to see and sometimes you might not notice it at all, even if you have 20/20 vision.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The thing many people are missing is that the perception DCs relate to "fine details". The big problem I have with them is the "notice a visible creature" DC, which many interpret as "detect the presence of...", when it's not actually that (I'm having a hard time actually defining what it does mean, though, especially in my very short afternoon break at work). It's closer to "pick out a specific visible individual creature", in my opinion. Simply knowing there's some creature there is much easier, but not defined in the rules.


Don't think about things in terms of "reality" and "fantasy" or game mechanics. Think about people, motives, and history.

You could hire the band of mercenaries that's from a land that's historically been at war with your land. Because they're cheaper, perhaps, or have better skills. But do you *really* want to do it? It's not so much a matter of outright betrayal; there are issues of reliability, conflict with other elements of your native forces, morale and discipline issues involving not only the mercenaries but your own native forces, etc. etc.

It's rarely a question of straightforward economics when it comes to war.


Sure, but then you would hire mercenaries you do trust. If you want a particular troop type and don't trust the existing ones, create your own (IIRC the Holy Roman Emporer created the Landsknecht because he didn't trust Swiss mercenaries).

In the long run, as war evolves, historical loyalty would not be an impediment to war. The only question is, is it cost effective? Hence the question.

Of course There will be variations among armies; some will rely more on Silent Image; others on hasted Light cavalry (or knights); yet others on massed fireballs or Testudos or Shield walls. The question of cost effectiveness determines how much magic will be deployed (with more powerful magics costing more than an entire troop for one use, would they be used at all?)

Also the question of availability arises: If a nation has large numbers of heavy Warhorses available, It will use lots of Knights and buff them. If it is a nation with few horses, much Infantry will be used with interspersed Mages (possibly with a shield wall or Testudo formation); If they have lots of Light warhorses a Light cavalry skirmish army would develop with hit and run tactics, etc. If it has generations of Longbow training, large numbers of Longbowmen will be available (Like the English of 100 years war and the wars of the roses), otherwise maybe large numbers of crossbowmen.

But the queastion remains, what role would spellcasters play in war and how would it affect the way warfare develops?


I suspect any cavalry not using flying mounts is just not viable at the levels the GMG and Codex indicate are common. Stone Fall will mess up a close order charge and unless you're pursuing fleeing infantry that's about the only kind that's effective. A loose charge against steady infantry is asking for defeat in detail. An infantry force is always better at magic than a cavalry force because mounted casters have to slow or stop their mounts to cast without concentration checks.


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Using the information from the Game Master Guide we can get an ideal of the level of spell casters and the number as well. Table 7-36 gives the level of spells you can pay to be cast based off of settlement type. The table on page 203 of the GMG gives a population range for the settlement types. Using a per 100,000 format you get an ideal of the level of spells and the number of casters that can cast each level of spell.

I am going to go with an army of 1,000. You would have at least 50 spell casters. 16 of them could cast 2nd level spells, and 5 of them could cast 3rd level spells.

Using the information on the table in the GMG we can figure out the level makeup of the population. The highest level of you are likely to find out of a 1000 people is level 12. Which is very close to the level given for a general which is level 11(GMG pg.287).

To get above 3rd level spells you need to be looking at a very large army. You would only have about one spell caster that could cast a 5th level spell in an army of 5,000. For 6th level spells you are looking at an army of 10,000.

So unless you are dealing with armies of over 1,000 you are not likely to be seeing higher than 3rd level spells.

A knight needs to be at least 4th level in order to have the money to buy the full-plate, if you are using NPC wealth and not PC wealth guide lines.


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If it weren't quite so messy and likely to result in broken fingernails and inconveniently knotted hair succubi would dominate any prime-material battlefield.
We still end up being employed quite frequently in espionage and liaison capacities.


Again, as I pointed out up thread, the idea that an army is only 1000 people is really really off. Historically, armies were 10,000 to 200,000 armed combatants.

The roman legions had about 5000 men... per legion, about 200,000 as their standing army.

Even under modern armies, people underestimate the size. At the end of WWII, Russia had about 12.5 million people in the army, and if you count all the paramilitary, military, and reserves they're close to twice that now (not standing, just available if they needed it, and numbers are 3-4 years old).

The Persians could field 200,000 men to attack the greeks. That's a lot of people. Nothing by todays standards, but still 200 times more than people seem to estimate on these boards.

1,000 men are not an army. 1,000 men are at most a division of an army. If your army consists of 1,000 men, you are going to be losing a war. At best 1,000 men might be how many men a baron puts on the field in a dispute with another baron. In other words, 1,000 men is not a war, it's a border skirmish.


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If we're going for historical accuracy, it was extremely rare to see any more than 8,000-10,000 men in the field at any given time, because it was extremely difficult to feed that many men on the march. They had a tendency to eat the countryside bare as they went along.

One of the reasons Napoleon was so successful was because he developed means to multiply the number of men he could field at a time dramatically (by splitting them into smaller armies and having each of them march within a distance they could easily support each other). The same principle can be seen applied in antiquity by the Romans: smaller armies of 5000 men apiece, combining when necessary.

For whatever reason, countries in East Asia just didn't give a crap and are recorded to have fielded significantly larger armies (albeit, likely not for any campaign of significant length, or they would've starved to death - especially since rice can be a very fickle crop). Though that might just be poor record keeping on their parts, or misinterpretations on ours.

Using the example of Greeks vs. Persians, the Greeks mustered an army of some 5000-11000 men in response to the Persian invasion. You also have to consider the difference between having a soldier present (the vast majority of those Greeks were equipped to a significantly higher standard than the average Persian soldier was, who'd typically be thrown a shoddy spear and a shield made out of wicker and told to charge) and just amassing armed peasants.


mdt wrote:

Again, as I pointed out up thread, the idea that an army is only 1000 people is really really off. Historically, armies were 10,000 to 200,000 armed combatants.

The roman legions had about 5000 men... per legion, about 200,000 as their standing army.

Not in the middle ages. Modern armies are huge, as were (some) classical armies, but medieval armies were fairly small. The Battle of Golden Spurs involved only about 8,000 people on each side and was considered a major battle. Most battles, of course, were not major and didn't involve huge clashes of men.

Quote:


1,000 men are not an army. 1,000 men are at most a division of an army. If your army consists of 1,000 men, you are going to be losing a war. At best 1,000 men might be how many men a baron puts on the field in a dispute with another baron. In other words, 1,000 men is not a war, it's a border skirmish.

... which is what most medieval "wars" were.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
mdt wrote:

Again, as I pointed out up thread, the idea that an army is only 1000 people is really really off. Historically, armies were 10,000 to 200,000 armed combatants.

The roman legions had about 5000 men... per legion, about 200,000 as their standing army.

Not in the middle ages. Modern armies are huge, as were (some) classical armies, but medieval armies were fairly small. The Battle of Golden Spurs involved only about 8,000 people on each side and was considered a major battle. Most battles, of course, were not major and didn't involve huge clashes of men.

Quote:


1,000 men are not an army. 1,000 men are at most a division of an army. If your army consists of 1,000 men, you are going to be losing a war. At best 1,000 men might be how many men a baron puts on the field in a dispute with another baron. In other words, 1,000 men is not a war, it's a border skirmish.
... which is what most medieval "wars" were.

Yes but would a fantasy army face the same problems a mideval one does? Midevil armies were small because europe was fractures after the fall of the roman empire. And because concepts of resources and logistics were thrown to hell in the turmoil.

Fantasy armies theoretically have clerics that can literally provide water to the whole army, supplement food stores, they can have bads of holding to carry insane amounts of supplies very easily. You literally dont have logistical problems. They can field very big armies, the only limit is population, which given excellent medical care(cleric), magic to help with and supplement farming, could be very very high. I mean heck. Magic could very easily supply alot of infrastructure. Even things like sanitation could be solved very simply with basic magic items. And while the poor couldnt afford these, governments could, and to keep things like plague away, good and lawful aligned nations probably would.

Not to mention, midevil skirmishes between barons were small, but actual wars in the middle ages were big. Something like 12,000 men laid siege to jeruselum in the first crusade. Sure only like a thousand of them were 'knights' but there was more then 10,000 men at arms. Most of the border skirmishes just involved a few local lords not whole countries. But when things really came to grips, the armies were quite big. The battle of Crecy in the early 100 years war included 30,000 to 40,000 men between both sides. That sounds like a bit more then 1000 soliders to a side no?


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Good points, Kolokotroni.

So this brings us to another question. What is the motivation for these wars?

If a Barony already has access to unlimited water/food/supplies/etc. due to magic - geographical resources become much less important.

The reasons for going to war would have to be different. And in a high-magic world you may be approaching something like Cold War era Mutually Assured Destruction.

In a world where someone could teleport to your capitol, summon angels, create plagues, charm gatekeepers, and harness the elements - war is a terrifying prospect.

Would a conventional battle even make sense?


Democratus wrote:

So this brings us to another question. What is the motivation for these wars?

If a Barony already has access to unlimited water/food/supplies/etc. due to magic - geographical resources become much less important.

The reasons for going to war would have to be different. And in a high-magic world you may be approaching something like Cold War era Mutually Assured Destruction.

In a world where someone could teleport to your capitol, summon angels, create plagues, charm gatekeepers, and harness the elements - war is a terrifying prospect.

Would a conventional battle even make sense?

Well, it depends on how high magic a world you have. A high magic fantasy universe will not look anything like the Dark Ages or the High Middle Ages; it will look more like Starfleet. A low magic fantasy universe will look like the Middle Ages, but will also have all of the problem associated with the middle ages, such as the need for peasant labor and inability to feed armies larger than a few thousand people in the field.

Basically, if your priests can create infinite numbers of MREs for your soldiers, they can also create infinite numbers of MREs to feed your civilians, and farming is no longer necessary. If anyone can take a level of cleric and get that ability, then everyone will -- and there will no longer be any peasant farmers.

Ergo, if you postulate a world that has peasants, you're also assuming a world that has supply problems.


Kolokotroni wrote:


Not to mention, midevil skirmishes between barons were small, but actual wars in the middle ages were big. Something like 12,000 men laid siege to jeruselum in the first crusade. Sure only like a thousand of them were 'knights' but there was more then 10,000 men at arms. Most of the border skirmishes just involved a few local lords not whole countries. But when things really came to grips, the armies were quite big. The battle of Crecy in the early 100 years war included 30,000 to 40,000 men between both sides. That sounds like a bit more then 1000 soliders to a side no?

It does, but you're specifically cherry-picking the high end of the medieval battles and claiming they were the norm. 12,000 men laid siege to Jerusalem in the biggest battle and, essentially, the climax of the entire war. In the first and second world wars, 12,000 men was a single division -- and division on division action would have been a "minor skirmish." Something like 150 divisions were arguing over the Somme in WWI, and the casualty figures on both sides measured in the hundreds of thousands.

A more typical "battle" would be something like the Battle of Haelyn, which was a WWI battle that only involved about 5000 people per side. In any war, the big battles get all the publicity, but most of the battles are much smaller and involve mostly tactical issues to set up for the big, decisive push.

You can't gauge a typical medieval battle by the siege of Jerusalem any more than you can gauge a typical WWI battle by the Somme. Even commentators at the time noted that the Somme would have been called a "campaign," not a "battle," in any previous war.


Peasants exist in Golarion, but I'm not sure they make sense. They seem more of a writer's fiat than something economically needed in a setting with such powerful magics.

The entire social fabric of "medieval, yet brimming with magic" makes little sense. We keep it just for the sake of the trope, as much as anything else.

But the default setting for PF looks to be fairly high magic. There are magic weapons, wonderous items, sorcerers, wizards, witches, clerics...an entire encyclopedia of sources of miracles.

Is this discussion of the Economics of War assumed to take place in default PF - or are we assuming a much more low-magic setting?


Democratus wrote:


But the default setting for PF looks to be fairly high magic. There are magic weapons, wonderous items, sorcerers, wizards, witches, clerics...an entire encyclopedia of sources of miracles.

Existence isn't the issue. If you think about what kind of things exist in the the world today, you'd say that Uganda is pretty implausible, by that line of reasoning. The more important issues are scarcity and affordability. In a world where a "great" musician earns about 500gp a year, a magic sword that costs between four and five years' salary is not a part of your everyday life.

The prices reflect this. A first level spell -- literally fifteen minutes work for a first level cleric -- costs a minimum of 10 gp, while a zero level spell, which are available in literally limitless quantities, costs 5gp at a minimum. If anyone at all could be a cleric, and everyone did, then spells of Cure LIght Wounds would be available at every inn from the barmaid who just happened to pick up a level of cleric.

I'd argue, therefore, that the default setting for PF is low magic; magic exists and is available on a piecemeal basis, but is rare and expensive. It's therefore NOT available for things like "let's make an entire infantry division of bards."


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Democratus wrote:


But the default setting for PF looks to be fairly high magic. There are magic weapons, wonderous items, sorcerers, wizards, witches, clerics...an entire encyclopedia of sources of miracles.

Existence isn't the issue. If you think about what kind of things exist in the the world today, you'd say that Uganda is pretty implausible, by that line of reasoning.

Not at all. There are poor countries and rich countries. It is very dangerous for two rich countries to go to war with each other - as the Cold War demonstrates.

If a rich country declares war on a poor one, the results are likewise disastrous for the poor nation.

So if the discussion of the economy of war is referring only to wars between two poor countries (ones that can't afford high magic) we should specify this as a restriction of the discussion.

But so long as at least one participant in a war is wealthy enough to afford high-magic then the issue of quickly escalating horrible destruction remains.


Democratus wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Democratus wrote:


But the default setting for PF looks to be fairly high magic. There are magic weapons, wonderous items, sorcerers, wizards, witches, clerics...an entire encyclopedia of sources of miracles.

Existence isn't the issue. If you think about what kind of things exist in the the world today, you'd say that Uganda is pretty implausible, by that line of reasoning.

Not at all. There are poor countries and rich countries. It is very dangerous for two rich countries to go to war with each other - as the Cold War demonstrates.

If a rich country declares war on a poor one, the results are likewise disastrous for the poor nation.

So if the discussion of the economy of war is referring only to wars between two poor countries (ones that can't afford high magic) we should specify this as a restriction of the discussion.

But why should we assume that any countries are "rich"?

More formally, if you assume that any countries are rich, then the Pathfinder Golarion universe as described cannot exist. Therefore, if you're playing in Golarion, no countries are "rich."

If you assume that your universe looks like the 20th century, it will not look like the 13th.


The given numbers for how many and what level of each class exist in the world make it high magic. If you have a cadre of clerics and wizards you are rich - from a power projection point of view.

The default PF rules have magic abounding, to the extent that adventurers can find magic items littered across the countryside. And in modules, those in power wield immense power and have many PC levels.

Are there many countries in the Golarion setting where the king, high priest, archwizard, etc. of most nations aren't powerful beings with PC classes in their own right?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Democratus wrote:

Peasants exist in Golarion, but I'm not sure they make sense. They seem more of a writer's fiat than something economically needed in a setting with such powerful magics.

The entire social fabric of "medieval, yet brimming with magic" makes little sense. We keep it just for the sake of the trope, as much as anything else.

It's only "brimming with magic" from the adventurer's point of view. the common man sees little if any of what PC's encounter as standard fare.


I took the view that in order for a spell to have impact on a battle it has to be able to be deployed consistently across the entire battlefield. This means that

a) It has to be useable to multiple spellcasters (which means 1st level spellcasters)

b) It has to be cost effective (i.e. it shouldn't cost too much to deploy)

This effectively bars higher level spells (i.e. about 4th+) since they are rare and expensive. This doesn't mean they are not there, it just means they have only a minor impact due to their scarcity. (How many 4th levl or higher spells are going to have an impact on 20,000 people?). Of course this doesn't preclude the idea that say an 11th level wizard goes with 1,000 men into a minor battle, where he would have a major impact, but this would be a minor battle -and not typical of how war develops.

Magic exists in the PF world, and will be used, but to what extent? How will it affect warfare? Given that the majority of combatants are lower level, even a few spells can make a difference. 50 spellcasters casting fireballs can kill 500 people in 2 rounds (50 x 5 x 2)- that's half the enemy (assuming no countermeasures, 1000 person force size, etc., but it scales up to larger forces). When both sides are killing half the other side before melee is even reached, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the one with the most spellcasters wins. that leads to an arms race to deploy the most spellcasters (and an incentive to assassinate as many as possible before war starts). Also countermeasures start to be deployed (Testudo formations or Shield walls, troops with Evasion or stealth, buffed troops with Resist Energy, communal and/or the use of silent Image).


Gavmania wrote:
I Given that the majority of combatants are lower level, even a few spells can make a difference. 50 spellcasters casting fireballs can kill 500 people in 2 rounds (50 x 5 x 2)- that's half the enemy (assuming no countermeasures, 1000 person force size, etc., but it scales up to larger forces). When both sides are killing half the other side before melee is even reached, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the one with the most spellcasters wins.

If you work out the economics of that, it's a pyrrhic victory at best. 100 375gp scrolls comes to 37,500 gp, not counting the wages of the 1000 peasants for a week comes to 7,000 gp, of which half survive to be used in a second battle You're spending more than five times as many resources on this battle, which means that you should be able to win under any circumstances at all.

You should be able to beat me if you can outspend me five to one. The problem is, for how many battles can you afford to do that?


sorry, that should be "not counting the mage's salaries; the wages of the 1000 peasants."


When one in 20 is a spell caster I would say magic is fairly common. PF is a high magic game, it says so in the GMG.

Even with this high level of magic you would only have about 5 spell casters that could cast 3rd level spell per a 1,000 troops. So you are looking at 10 to 15 fireballs a battle without spending gold on scrolls or wands. And that is if you use all of their 3rd level spells on Fireball.


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Another thing we have to bare in mind when discussing how prevalent magic would be: Societal ethics. The idea of the battlefield as a place to test your personal honor was shockingly tenacious - it survived from antiquity (we can see clear examples of it as far back as 390-400 BC when the Gauls started pestering Rome. Battle was an extremely personal thing for them - and I'm certain this trait existed for thousands of years prior amongst their societies) and it managed to survive even as simple firearms and artillery began to become more and more common on the battlefield.

The armies of a state as viciously pragmatic as Cheliax would probably have no trouble deploying wizards to decimate their foes (I think, in the Forgotten Realms settings, the Zhentarim regularly employed wizards with Flying magic to do the same thing), and I suspect the nations surrounding them would have been forced to adapt to do the same - or else take significant measures to curtail their abilities.

But when you get to nations of people who are large and physically imposing like the Ulfen, I think their commanders would scoff at the very idea of it. The Ulfen are your stereotypical Iron Age raiders. They even have a direct analogue to the Varangian Guard - straight down to their right to pillage the palaces of Miklagard.

I also doubt the Mammoth Lords would be too terribly keen on the idea of wizard armies. But then again - when you've got a society of people that rides triceratops for fun, do you really need fireballs?


Gavmania wrote:

I took the view that in order for a spell to have impact on a battle it has to be able to be deployed consistently across the entire battlefield. This means that

a) It has to be useable to multiple spellcasters (which means 1st level spellcasters)

b) It has to be cost effective (i.e. it shouldn't cost too much to deploy)

The first assumption is wrong. It was brought up earlier that Kingmaker has typical armies composed of 3rd level soldiers.

That means that unless you're emptying out schools your wizards, like the rest of your army, are going to be 3rd level or higher. If 5% of your population are casters of at least 1st level 5% of your army will be casters of at least 3rd level. The same selection process means you'll get more than 1/1000 5th level wizards. That's the ratio for 5th level wizards in the entire population, not the population of people already at least 3rd level.

And that changes everything because Shrink Item is the last of the creative spells and it has a duration several times as long as a wizard's spell recovery frequency.


@Mr. Fluffykins

In my own homebrew there is an eastern continent (asian flavored), and one of the big things there is that magic is considered 'secondary', it is your skill in arms that is primary. There is also the idea of 'not stepping out of your place'.

What this ends up doing is warriors disdain spellcasters, and even the spellcasters go along with this due to society (It is one of the places in the world where Law vs Chaos is more important than Good vs Evil, lawful good and evil will work together to defeat chaos, and vice versa).

This results in a situation where combat tends to be ritualized, grunts don't fight warriors (IE: you don't attack someone more than 4 levels higher than you), and in turn, you are beneath the notice of a true warrior (you don't attack someone that much weaker than you). So you bring a retinue with you, and the grunts fight it out while the big boys duel with each other. Magic users fight magic users.

Any magic user that starts attacking his betters ends up being the focus of everyone's attacks, enemy magic users, enemy warriors, sometimes even their own side will attack them. And if you're stupid enough to attack your betters (a lowly pikeman attacking a samurai) then the samurai kills the pikeman and makes an example of him.

My players are currently exploring the continent, and are finding it both bizarre and fun. Although they are magic heavy, so it's a little annoying too. They've hired on as retinue for a 15th level Sword Saint Samurai Ronin who's working on earning his own land.

So the idea of culture dictating that magic has very strict limitations in combat actually doesn't seem all that far fetched to me obviously.


LazarX wrote:
Democratus wrote:

Peasants exist in Golarion, but I'm not sure they make sense. They seem more of a writer's fiat than something economically needed in a setting with such powerful magics.

The entire social fabric of "medieval, yet brimming with magic" makes little sense. We keep it just for the sake of the trope, as much as anything else.

It's only "brimming with magic" from the adventurer's point of view. the common man sees little if any of what PC's encounter as standard fare.

Kings, generals, high priests, archmages, chieftains, shamans...these aren't "common men". But they are the people who will be present in a war. They will be bringing their abilities (and their wealth) to bear in a major combat.


Democratus wrote:


Kings, generals, high priests, archmages, chieftains, shamans...these aren't "common men". But they are the people who will be present in a war.

But these aren't the people that are filling out the ranks of the 8,000 foot soldiers on the battlefield. They're not even the commanders of the individual 100 person skirmish units.

Quote:


They will be bringing their abilities (and their wealth) to bear in a major combat.

Yes, which is why the High Mage and his four apprentices are probably going to be there, possibly bulked out by two of his former apprentices if this is a major enough undertaking to justify calling them in. The Archbishop des Carres Noirs will be there to bless the troops and ride at the side of His Majesty, but he won't have brought 2000 parish priests with him as shock troops.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Yes, which is why the High Mage and his four apprentices are probably going to be there, possibly bulked out by two of his former apprentices if this is a major enough undertaking to justify calling them in. The Archbishop des Carres Noirs will be there to bless the troops and ride at the side of His Majesty, but he won't have brought 2000 parish priests with him as shock troops.

That's not borne out by the PF modules I've been reading, including the Kingmaker adventure path. Mid-high level PCs are as common as chips.

Tournaments have multiple subjects of the king show up that are in the double digit levels. Sorcerers and clerics of great power abound.

This is exactly the kind of demographics that would be involved in a war. Dozens, if not scores, of people of major power.

Just one group of them could be clever enough to eliminate the enemy general with a scry and fry, a stealth mission, or any other imaginative approach. Any time someone takes forces out into the field - it is highly likely that they will be killed before the battle even starts.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Gavmania wrote:
I Given that the majority of combatants are lower level, even a few spells can make a difference. 50 spellcasters casting fireballs can kill 500 people in 2 rounds (50 x 5 x 2)- that's half the enemy (assuming no countermeasures, 1000 person force size, etc., but it scales up to larger forces). When both sides are killing half the other side before melee is even reached, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the one with the most spellcasters wins.

If you work out the economics of that, it's a pyrrhic victory at best. 100 375gp scrolls comes to 37,500 gp, not counting the wages of the 1000 peasants for a week comes to 7,000 gp, of which half survive to be used in a second battle You're spending more than five times as many resources on this battle, which means that you should be able to win under any circumstances at all.

You should be able to beat me if you can outspend me five to one. The problem is, for how many battles can you afford to do that?

I agree, I was merely posting to show what could be done with Magic, not necessarily what would be done.

In fact there are 3 parts to this:

(i) With the enemy casting Resist Energy, communal before coming into Fireball range (which they can do on every one of those 1000 men, but they wouldn't) Fireball becomes much less effective. It may kill the occasional individual, but most often it will damage but not kill. It is still cost effective at this stage, but see (ii)

(ii) As has been pointed out, a scroll of Fireball costs 375gp. If the enemy troops it is used upon are all peasants armed with clubs, you have just used a (very expensive) hammer to crack a nut. In order to be cost effective, Fireball has to take out its own value in troop types, If Your opponent is casting Resist Energy, communal to protect their troops then you have already won the cost effectiveness battle, but if they have not, then assuming it can cover 5 people at a time (of which say 2 save and survive), then it kills 3 people per shot. 375/3=125 so to make it worthwhile, each one must have at least 125gp worth of gear> that's Heavy Infantry, armoured bowmen, most cavalry (especially armoured cavalry). In other words, most professional troops.

This limits targets. Since some would be largely immune to Fireball anyway (Testudo formations and shield walls particularly), that further reduces the number of viable targets.

(iii) If it becomes likely that all enemy targets are being covered by Resist Energy, communal then an interesting tactic is to save your Fireball scrolls. Congratulations, your opponent has just spent 75gp per person for (nearly) nothing.

The question becomes what would you have spellcasters do if they are not casting Fireball? at a range of 600' there is not a lot of spells that work (I did make a list, but my children seem to have lost it for me).


It seems to me that if Fireball is off the menu, there is not a lot (other than Silent Image) that a spellcaster can do that is effective at long range. (If anyone finds a useful long range spell, please let me know. It would be helpful to discuss their impact on the battlefield).

But Silent Image should not be discounted; at 600' you can produce an image that covers 500 square feet; that's 5 people in skirmish order or 20 in close order (such as testudo or Shield wall). 50 spellcasters casting 5 people each can produce an image of 250 cavalry or 1000 Close order Infantry - an extremely sizeable force given that this is 50 spellcasters (minimum) per 1,000 troops. Congratulations, you just doubled the size of your army.

A number of tactics present themselves to me:

(i) The bluff. have your fake troops attack e.g. the right flank of your opponent. he will (hopefully) commit his reserves, meanwhile you are really striking his left flank.

(ii) The double bluff. have your fake troops surround your real troops and attack one flank. Your opponent will send out spoiler attacks to confirm that your troops are illusions, so they will not reinforce that flank so that when your real troops reveal themselves they will be able to turn that flank.

(iii) The Dragon Gambit. Before battle, have your spies spread rumours that You have a dragon on your side. Have one section of your camp heavily guarded with whatever accoutrements suggest the presence of a dragon easily visible. When battle commences, have a caster produce an image of a dragon flying at the enemy just before your troops reach them (it would have to launch from behind a hill or something). Watch and laugh as they run away.

If anyone else can think of a good tactic for this (or any other long range spell), let me know. Alternatively, a convincing, cheap way to determine if a troop is real or an Illusion quickly and easily would be useful for commanders.


Gavmania wrote:
If anyone else can think of a good tactic for this (or any other long range spell), let me know. Alternatively, a convincing, cheap way to determine if a troop is real or an Illusion quickly and easily would be useful for commanders.

Shoot them with a few arrows.


Gavmania wrote:
I took the view that in order for a spell to have impact on a battle it has to be able to be deployed consistently across the entire battlefield.

I think this is where you make your mistake. That's not how battles work, especially medieval ones. A basic tactical principle, for the ages, is that you hit the enemy at a weak point in the line with overwhelming force, punch through, and then move out to exploit. (This is basically the whole idea behind the strategy of the First World War, except that there were so many men involved that a "breakthrough" needed to be ten km wide to move 100,000 troops through.) A typical medieval cavalry charge, for example, would have a few hundred soldiers riding stirrup-to-stirrup, typically in a flying wedge formation, against a specific point in the line. This point would be overwhelmed, and the bulk of the cavalry would be free to raise havoc behind the front lines -- and the rest of the troops would be free to follow through the gap.

Although I describe this in terms of cavalry, the wedge formation originated in classical times (the Greeks called it the embolon, for example) as an infantry tactic. It's the same principle; put overwhelming force against a single point in the line.

The point, though, is that any reasonable attacker can't achieve overwhelming force anywhere, but it's practical to achieve overwhelming force somewhere.

So anything a wizard that can do that will reinforce that point will stop the flying wedge and potentially turn the tables on the battlefield. A single Wall of Force, for example, is a game changer. Similarly, anything that the opposing wizard can do to harden the wedge would be a potential game-changing spell.


Which just points out that Magic means the idea of bunched up lines or charging formations goes out the window.

Again, think a much more modern type of battle. Small units, quick on their feet, spread out over a small area to avoid area of effect spells (just like modern units stay spread out but within support distance to avoid artillary strikes and grenades taking out the whole group).

Honestly, other than a seige, magic is going to be primarily used in a support context. Divination especially. The big big big thing is intel intel intel! You can take on a force 10 times your size if you have the right intel. Walls and fireballs and such are all really flashy... and they really won't matter in the long run. Outside of sieges you won't see flashy spells being used for the most part, because it's a waste of a resource. It'll be things like healing your people to keep them up (Witches excel at this with the healing hex), divination to suss out what the enemy is doing (you can't hide an entire army from divination), Battlefield Control spells (obscuring mists, darkness, light at night, etc), Walls of Force or fire on occasion to help a defensive position (situational).


mdt wrote:
Which just points out that Magic means the idea of bunched up lines or charging formations goes out the window.

No, because one can also use magic to harden the wedge. It's actually more efficient, because you only need one spell to harden the wedge, but you need defensive magic everywhere. Put an antimagic field at the point of the wedge and the troops ride right over whatever defensive spells you thought you had in that area.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
mdt wrote:
Which just points out that Magic means the idea of bunched up lines or charging formations goes out the window.
No, because one can also use magic to harden the wedge. It's actually more efficient, because you only need one spell to harden the wedge, but you need defensive magic everywhere. Put an antimagic field at the point of the wedge and the troops ride right over whatever defensive spells you thought you had in that area.

You completely missed the point. There's no point to a wedge because there is no line of troops for it to charge. All creating a wedge is going to do is make the wedge a giant target, between archers, summoned elementals (who dig out a trench in front of the charging wedge) or conjuration spells that conjure stones above the formation and outside the AM field, or just summoning 1d3 elephants to charge into the point itself, which again, has nothing to charge. There are no lines of men to charge. There's only hundreds of small units spread out under cover. And the small units let the charge go past and start picking off the stragglers. The only way this works is if you have a ton of men to lead into the gap (making them prime targets for enemy fireballs in the back field) or if you are attacking a point that must be defended (ala a seige, which as I stated earlier, does support conventional large groups milling about).


mdt wrote:

Which just points out that Magic means the idea of bunched up lines or charging formations goes out the window.

Again, think a much more modern type of battle. Small units, quick on their feet, spread out over a small area to avoid area of effect spells (just like modern units stay spread out but within support distance to avoid artillary strikes and grenades taking out the whole group).

Honestly, other than a seige, magic is going to be primarily used in a support context. Divination especially. The big big big thing is intel intel intel! You can take on a force 10 times your size if you have the right intel. Walls and fireballs and such are all really flashy... and they really won't matter in the long run. Outside of sieges you won't see flashy spells being used for the most part, because it's a waste of a resource. It'll be things like healing your people to keep them up (Witches excel at this with the healing hex), divination to suss out what the enemy is doing (you can't hide an entire army from divination), Battlefield Control spells (obscuring mists, darkness, light at night, etc), Walls of Force or fire on occasion to help a defensive position (situational).

You can't rely on having witches. You can't have witches unless the patrons cooperate.

What you can get are alchemists, who aren't very good at it. You can maybe get clerics if you have an organized religion on side, but you can't organize any other non-wizard-like casters very well unless you have a long running sorcerer eugenics program.


Atarlost wrote:


You can't rely on having witches. You can't have witches unless the patrons cooperate.

What you can get are alchemists, who aren't very good at it. You can maybe get clerics if you have an organized religion on side, but you can't organize any other non-wizard-like casters very well unless you have a long running sorcerer eugenics program.

Either magic exists and is available, or it isn't. Can't have it both ways.

Pick one or the other, left side of road safe, right side of road safe, middle of road, squish.

Magic exists, or magic doesn't exist, either safe. Magic exists when it doesn't interfere with cinematics - Squish!


mdt wrote:
Atarlost wrote:


You can't rely on having witches. You can't have witches unless the patrons cooperate.

What you can get are alchemists, who aren't very good at it. You can maybe get clerics if you have an organized religion on side, but you can't organize any other non-wizard-like casters very well unless you have a long running sorcerer eugenics program.

Either magic exists and is available, or it isn't. Can't have it both ways.

Sure you can; in fact, the standard fantasy trope is that magic exists but is rare and expensive, enough that it's used by special types for special circumstances (e.g. adventurers) but isn't available on a large scale.

Witches are "available" in the sense that there are a few of them around, but not enough to field a unit of them (or to put one in every platoon) and most of them aren't really suitable for military service. This isn't that unusual an idea -- for example, it describes steam warships during the approximately 60 year period between 1800 and 1860. While it was certainly possible to build an armed steamship in 1800, no one actually did until the 1820s, and they weren't universal until the 1860s.


Interesting that we should see talk about focusing offensive force against defensive weakness.

From a magical point of view it seems to me that the battlefield is the least useful place for all this spell slinging.

The real battle is the magical assault on the command and control elements of an enemy army. Kill/charm/dominate/eliminate the leaders and the battle is won without all that messy mass combat.

Line up all the fireball-throwing, wand-wielding mages you want along the front. If the enemy general is killed by a flying/teleporting/invisible band of intruders before the battle begins then that's the whole shebang.

The addition of magic to a battle is most significant on this small scale. Each side should be marshaling the majority of its supernatural resources on offense/defense of the general/king/commander/etc. When these forces end up being expended without a decisive result you are back to a rather normal battle with the occasional magic trick on both sides.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder PF Special Edition, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Democratus wrote:
The real battle is the magical assault on the command and control elements of an enemy army. Kill/charm/dominate/eliminate the leaders and the battle is won without all that messy mass combat.

That's assuming of course you can FIND the command and control center. And your opposition isn't doing things like camouflage or even better, putting up a number of fakes for you to find. Over centuries of war, the easy mistakes do get weeded out.


Orfamay Quest wrote:


Sure you can; in fact, the standard fantasy trope is that magic exists but is rare and expensive, enough that it's used by special types for special circumstances (e.g. adventurers) but isn't available on a large scale.

Nope, if it's rare, you don't have magic in combat. Nobody wastes that rare a resource in a battle. You're not going to stick your 1 wizard in the kingdom out on the battle field. He's going to be in a tower, way back home, casting scrying spells with 50 elite trusted guards to keep assassins away from him.

Either Magic is common enough to be useful on the battlefield, or it isn't. Pick one. You can't have it both ways. If it's common enough to make it on to the battle field, then it affects the tactics and your wedge with antimagic is useless (because there's no bunched up enemies to use it on), or it's useless because the anti-magic field has no magic to be used on because it's so rare.

Orfamay Quest wrote:


Witches are "available" in the sense that there are a few of them around, but not enough to field a unit of them (or to put one in every platoon) and most of them aren't really suitable for military service. This isn't that unusual an idea -- for example, it describes steam warships during the approximately 60 year period between 1800 and 1860. While it was certainly possible to build an armed steamship in 1800, no one actually did until the 1820s, and they weren't universal until the 1860s.

So, I could put 5 or 6 of them into the chirurgeon's tent yes? They could then each hit every person that came in with a heal hex, one per round. Anyone they couldn't fix up (because of too much damage, or they already healed today) could go to the adepts or clerics. yes? So in other words, if even a handful of witches are available, they can do the work of 30 or 40 clerics in a day.

Doesn't sound like a bad deal to me, sounds like I'd rather have even one witch with heal than 3 or 4 adepts or clerics for healing.

Your idea about steamships only makes sense if witches have only existed for a short time. If they're ancient traditions, then the way they fit into combat will have been figured out over the 6000 previous years of combat.


LazarX wrote:
Democratus wrote:
The real battle is the magical assault on the command and control elements of an enemy army. Kill/charm/dominate/eliminate the leaders and the battle is won without all that messy mass combat.
That's assuming of course you can FIND the command and control center. And your opposition isn't doing things like camouflage or even better, putting up a number of fakes for you to find. Over centuries of war, the easy mistakes do get weeded out.

It's still more useful than popping off fireballs on fields of battle where there are no bunched masses. And even if you can't target the command, they can suss out the provision trains, the army itself, find out if the army is split in half, scry defensive works for weaknesses...

All much better use than throwing fireballs and lightning bolts around.


Democratus wrote:

Interesting that we should see talk about focusing offensive force against defensive weakness.

From a magical point of view it seems to me that the battlefield is the least useful place for all this spell slinging.[
The real battle is the magical assault on the command and control elements of an enemy army. Kill/charm/dominate/eliminate the leaders and the battle is won without all that messy mass combat.

I'm inclined to agree, but this is also where the magical defenses will be concentrated as well. Really, what magic does is it extends the battlefield to cover everywhere instead of just the limited "front line." But that's not really that modern; artillery extended the front lines back ten miles, and paratroops and air cav extended it back as far as the planes could fly.

At this point, it becomes another game-theoretic question; if the wand-wielding mages are at the front (and the magical defenses are at HQ), you can open a gap and have your cavalry storm HQ and win. If he puts his defenses on the front lines, you can teleport over them and do a surgical strike against HQ. You need the capacity to do both, and you need defenses against both.


mdt wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:


Sure you can; in fact, the standard fantasy trope is that magic exists but is rare and expensive, enough that it's used by special types for special circumstances (e.g. adventurers) but isn't available on a large scale.

Nope, if it's rare, you don't have magic in combat. Nobody wastes that rare a resource in a battle. You're not going to stick your 1 wizard in the kingdom out on the battle field. He's going to be in a tower, way back home, casting scrying spells with 50 elite trusted guards to keep assassins away from him.

Either Magic is common enough to be useful on the battlefield, or it isn't. Pick one. You can't have it both ways.

Certainly I can have it both ways. Rarity is a continuum, not an on/off switch. The question is whether the value of magic justifies the use of an extremely rare and expensive commodity. Heck, we've seen this ourselves in actual warfare. There were two -- TWO -- atomic bombs available to the United States during the second world war; they were used precisely because the opinion of the commanders was that their use was justified in some very high-profile incidents.) In the second world war, the German Fallschirmjäger were used mostly in penny packets to take specific high-value targets (Fort Eben-Emael, for example), but the first time they were use for a mass operation (Crete) they were slaughtered and never again became an effective airborne fighting force.

If I have one mage for the entire army, he's probably staying back at HQ casting scrying spells (or back in his tower doing the same, and sending messages). If I have 10,000 wizards for the army, I can indeed put one in every platoon and create a flying squad of artillery on broomsticks. Somewhere between those two lies a point at which magic is useful on the battlefield in certain circumstances, but expensive and risky and not something that you want to overuse.

Quote:


So, I could put 5 or 6 [witches] into the chirurgeon's tent yes? They could then each hit every person that came in with a heal hex, one per round. Anyone they couldn't fix up (because of too much damage, or they already healed today) could go to the adepts or clerics. yes? So in other words, if even a handful of witches are available, they can do the work of 30 or 40 clerics in a day.

Yes. 5-6 healing specialized witches could indeed fill the role of 30-40 clerics, who in turn would probably be more effective than several hundred mundane physicians. And if you have 5-6 witches healing-specialized witches, that might be a very good use of them. If you've only got two witches, they're probably still very effective as healers.

But notice that even with 5-6 of them, you're not putting them "into the field" as combat medics, and for very good reason -- if you have only six of them, you can't afford to lose any of them.

Similarly, if you have a single fifth level wizard available to you, she can, all by herself, turn the cavalry charge and give you victory on the battlefield unless the enemy is prepared for her. But you run a great risk of losing her. (She could also be part of your cavalry charge and greatly strengthen it, but at the same huge risk.) If you gave each of your high-level unit commanders a single mid-level wizard to play with, this would open a huge range of tactical options to them (both offensively and defensively).

Basically, we have agreed that if you have 10,000 wizards, the wizards will rule the battlefield, but I deny that Golarion would produce that situation. If you have only one wizard, I agree that you keep her as far from harm's way as possible. If you have twenty wizards, though... I think you can afford to use them if you do so intelligently.

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