Help my crush an army


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Scarab Sages

I've seen quite a few times it stated that a high level wizard can demolish armies (and I know Baba Yaga defeated the Linnorn Kings in cannon to establish her own kingdom) but I can't see how any established kingdom could lose to a single caster no matter how powerful. Laying aside the fact that the kingdom presumably has powerful caster/warriors of their own surely simple number would allow them to eventually drag down their opponent.

So I'm curious how people can see high level casters being able to take out kingdoms? Builds would be appreciated but also an explanation of how one person can take out a kingdoms armed forces without being defeated by numbers or heroes on the opposing side (assuming the kingdom fights realistically and doesn't conveniently divide their armies up in bite sized pieces who sit around waiting for the enemy to get to them).

Even in the AP's where kingmaking occurs it's army vs army not Tom vs Absalom.


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I'm far from an expert on theorycraft, I'm sure people will come along and explain this in more detail and with better ideas. Basically, the ability of a wizard to defeat a large opposing force (especially if they do not have similarly powerful casters at their disposal) is based around a few elements.

1. Wizards have many ways of defending themselves that cannot be defeated by mundane means. Wizards can fly, use greater invisibility, and employ all manner of abjurations to avoid enemies. They can shapeshift to get tougher or to hide. A wizard can base themselves on another plane, even their own demiplane, and attack via astral projection. All of this is to say that it is not so simple as surrounding them and drowning them in grunts' blood.

2. Wizards have many means of attacking without exposing themselves. On the simpler side of things, they could turn invisible/fly etc and begin to summon allies to help them. But they don't even have to be on the battlefield to command minions. They could dominate or otherwise control powerful creatures to go and attack their enemies. They could bind a powerful outsider. For example, a very high level wizard could, from the other side of the world, bind an Olethrodaemon and order it to greater teleport directly to the enemy's primary citadel and destroy it. Without some serious high level aid, a mundane army would have no hope of stopping it. Wizards can build simulacrums of powerful monsters, and can use astral projection do all of this from a safe, extra-planar location.

3. Even if you fight a wizard in person, they have many means of retreat and escape. Teleport, plane shift, contingencies, even time stop/wish, means that getting the drop on a wizard may not be enough, unless you can end the fight before they can act.

In practice, it's just too hard to pin down a well-prepared wizard and they can too easily fight from any number of defensive locations with little diminution of their offensive power.


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Think of it more like this. The caster doesn't kill the whole army. Instead they assassinate the leadership and march in with their own army...

Of simulacrums, of themselves. And the Tarrasque.

Theres no need for a specific build.

The general speaking outside of specific important individuals, there are rarely people above level 6 or so. These are also the people the caster is subsequently going to start assassinating.

Trying to kill a whole army would probably cause the caster to lose if they tried to do a straightforward and standup fight. But they, because they don't need to.

Scarab Sages

Claxon wrote:

Think of it more like this. The caster doesn't kill the whole army. Instead they assassinate the leadership and march in with their own army...

Of simulacrums, of themselves. And the Tarrasque.

Theres no need for a specific build.

The general speaking outside of specific important individuals, there are rarely people above level 6 or so. These are also the people the caster is subsequently going to start assassinating.

Trying to kill a whole army would probably cause the caster to lose if they tried to do a straightforward and standup fight. But they, because they don't need to.

Thing is the canon example is Baba Yaga who is a witch and beat her opponents solo no simulcrum, no tarrasque just herself and is stated as having taken on the armies not assassinated the leaders.

That's what's giving me problems even assuming there aren't 20th level casters on the otherside (counter to the demographics blocks) I find it hard to picture a solo being defeating entire armies. Eventually the odds are going to favour the army in bringing them down.

Edit
Scratch that she had followers afterall apparently. Still a single caster is powerful but my Point remains I find it hard to believe a kingdom couldn't counter them. For one thing they'd run out of spells before they ran out of targets.


Senko wrote:
That's what's giving me problems even assuming there aren't 20th level casters on the otherside (counter to the demographics blocks) I find it hard to picture a solo being defeating entire armies. Eventually the odds are going to favour the army in bringing them down

If the army does not have powerful enough caster of their own I'm not seeing how they will bring down the guy that can fly all they long and teleport to his onw plane in case something goes wrong.

Does the cannon said how baba yaga defeted the army? With enough time a single plane-binded solar (HIgh AC, SR, regeneration) could wipe out an entire army.


Senko wrote:

Edit
Scratch that she had followers afterall apparently. Still a single caster is powerful but my Point remains I find it hard to believe a kingdom couldn't counter them. For one thing they'd run out of spells before they ran out of targets.

Hardly. there is always plane shift to their own demiplane where time goes slower in the inside. The spellcaster rest all what he wants and come back to finish the job.


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Senko wrote:
Claxon wrote:

Think of it more like this. The caster doesn't kill the whole army. Instead they assassinate the leadership and march in with their own army...

Of simulacrums, of themselves. And the Tarrasque.

Theres no need for a specific build.

The general speaking outside of specific important individuals, there are rarely people above level 6 or so. These are also the people the caster is subsequently going to start assassinating.

Trying to kill a whole army would probably cause the caster to lose if they tried to do a straightforward and standup fight. But they, because they don't need to.

Thing is the canon example is Baba Yaga who is a witch and beat her opponents solo no simulcrum, no tarrasque just herself and is stated as having taken on the armies not assassinated the leaders.

That's what's giving me problems even assuming there aren't 20th level casters on the otherside (counter to the demographics blocks) I find it hard to picture a solo being defeating entire armies. Eventually the odds are going to favour the army in bringing them down.

Edit
Scratch that she had followers afterall apparently. Still a single caster is powerful but my Point remains I find it hard to believe a kingdom couldn't counter them. For one thing they'd run out of spells before they ran out of targets.

Baba Yaga also happens to have 10 mythic tiers, making her flat-out immortal unless you have an artifact on hand and letting her rest for 1 hour to fully recover all her spells. That, a few diseases to ravage the citizenry, plus the demiplane trick guarantees her victory against any kingdom.


Is the question "How to mass murder a bunch of level 2 warriors without retribution?" Because I think that's Fly, Invisibility, Fickle Winds/Wind Wall/Protection from Arrows, and Wall of Fire/Widened Fireball. Maybe summons if you want them diced instead of roasted. Once the warriors are dead you focus on the dangerous ones, who are presumably much lower level than you. Is... is this really a question? I could do the same thing with an invulnerable rager with the stalwart line for DR 20/-, maybe the cleave line or whirlwind to speed up how many minions they kill a round.

If you're asking how a spellcaster solos a kingdom with an equal level spellcaster, well, clearly they don't. But the given example of an army general NPC is a level 11 fighter. Assuming the spellcasters aren't more powerful than that I'm pretty sure a level 20 spellcaster can take out multiple level 11 ones with a little bit of prep work.

Sovereign Court

You can't compare Baba Yaga to all the poor souls out there. Baba Yaga has 10 mythic tiers, she is CR 30 (same as the most powerful Demonlord before they become gods). She only needs to rest for one hour to get back all her spell slots. Also Baba Yaga has been alive for so long, she created her own spells and have arcane version of divine spells, including Miracle, she created her own artifacts and custom magical items. Yeah Baba Yaga can cast arcane Miracle meaning she can do whatever she wants with one snap of her finger, not asking from a god or whatever, just her our own power.

++++++++

But anyway even if we take generic high level mage with 10 mythic tiers as well...yeah he can just rest for 1 hour as well to get back all his spells and spend his time in his demiplane, after devastating the enemies in the first assault and come back to do more damage after 1 hour of rest.


Simply put - many ways of protection and then area damage/crowd control. Plus armies usually consist of not very high level soldiers prone to panic if they start taking heavy losses. Face off a single harmlessly looking old lady and lose a whole unit in one turn and the others don't want to come near.

So yeah - crowd control and panic and theres no army


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Use magic jar and get the army to destroy itself.


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We're going to assume that there are no 'heroes' on the other side, nor an equivalent caster, for starters. If there are that changes the situation entirely.

Strategically, these are the Wizard's major advantages:
1. The army virtually has to be spread into these "bite sized" pieces. A kingdom is a big place, with lots of positions to defend. The army cannot be everywhere at once. And this is because...

2. The Wizard chooses the time and place of each engagement. He can go hunting for targets at his leisure. While I'm sure the kingdom will be patrolling the countryside looking for him, Teleport makes the world an awfully big place to hide in. If, however, the army does withdraw into a single area to concentrate numbers, this simply means that the Wizard is free to accomplish whatever goals he has for the surrounding population. This can range from experimentation to subjugation to mass murder to allowing them to make an exodus on their own. Without the armed forces to enforce the will of the leadership, the peasantry is pretty much under the Wizard's control and/or protection. And partnered with that...

3. The Wizard is far more mobile. A tenth-level Wizard can cover a thousand miles in about three seconds with Teleport. An army is nowhere near as fast. Add in Overland Flight for the other fifteen hours and fifty-nine minutes of his time awake and he can go even further.

4. An army has significant weaknesses that need to be defended. Primarily these are logistical-- what does the army do when the Wizard starts throwing Fireballs at their grain stores? At the least, this forces the army to scavenge for food from the countryside (which does not tend to endear an army to the peasantry) and bring in more food from elsewhere (which exposes that food, in turn, to more sabotage). At best, this forces the army to disperse from land which can no longer support them.

These can also be personnel. Kings, generals, and other leaders need to be defended at all times; Scrying -> Teleport -> Dominate Person is too great a danger otherwise. If the army has high-level people who aren't full casters (which, statistically, should be the majority of the population of high-levels), this is where they need to be.

5. The Wizard has the informational advantage. Divination is a powerful tool that can be used to obtain a great deal of tactical and strategic knowledge.

6. The Wizard has force-multipliers in the form of summons, simulacrums, animated undead, and the like.

Thus, as a Wizard intent on overthrowing an army I would be engaging on a campaign of guerrilla warfare, sabotage, strategic Domination, and the like. A few tactics:

1. The combination of Invisibility and Firefall to attack the army at camp. Firefall's range-- 800' at level 10-- and area of effect-- 60' radius-- combined with the excellent terror weapon that is attacking an enemy with his source of comfort make this a safe and effective tool of both physical and psychological warfare. It can be done several times per night (minimum, twice) every night at level ten-- possibly to two targets a thousand miles apart.

Now, individual soldiers have to deal with either making camp without fire (and thus, no hot food, no protection from cold nights, no ability to see in the dark) and potentially being burned alive by their own campfires. Generals have to choose between only placing detachments inside buildings that might block line of effect to any kind of fire or accepting these losses every night.

For bonus points, I'd be looking to Dominate (or similar; Triggered Suggestion is a nasty spell) any sentries on my way in or out. These men would be ordered to kill random soldiers (ideally, a soldier they in particular don't like, to make it more palatable to them), reinforcing the terror aspect. Individual soldiers aren't going to want to go on sentry duty, certainly not alone, and a soldier who has been on sentry duty isn't going to be trusted by his comrades.

Do this for a week or so and you can destroy an army's morale.

2. If the enemy army does choose to start finding buildings, replace Firefall with summoned Earth Elementals. Order them to simply come up underneath the building and start wrecking havoc-- or even work on collapsing the building.

The objective of these two modes of attack is to pin the enemy in place and make the common soldiers fear the Wizard. They can also do a great deal of individual damage-- Firefall is likely to kill every soldier within sixty feet of a campfire (that's a lot of men), and collapsing a building is a very lethal form of rocks fall, everybody dies.

3. Locate the enemy's treasury and loot it via the good old Scry-and-Teleport tactics. Should that prove implausible, instead look for individual units' cash chests(I.E., what they pay their soldiers with) and steal those. This money will be used to survive as well as to assist in crafting-- see #4 for that. If the Wizard is heroic, he may give some supplies to the oppressed peasants.

4. Crafting. Pearls of Power will be particularly prized for extending the Wizard's operational span each day, as will defensive items. Scrolls are an alternative to Pearls if we think the campaign will be shorter in length. Karma Beads are also a solid option; ideally an Arcane version but UMD is a thing if need be.

5. Shrink Item mated with Fly (and Invisibility, probably) can be used against hardened targets. All free third-level spells at day's end should go to shrinking heavy objects-- cannonballs, boulders, whatever is at hand-- and storing them. After a week or so of this (and terror options #1 and #2), pinpoint a well-defended target, Teleport high above it, cast Fly to stay high above it, and begin dropping your heavy objects on it. Bonus points if this well-defended target has an Antimagic Field.

At this point I would expect desertions en masse. The soldiers are being killed by each other, killed at camp, and now killed in their fortresses, and the Wizard has never had to come close enough to offer them a target. This is truly how a Wizard can beat an army, by taking the fight out of it. If the forces are made of sterner stuff we can move on to tactics less about terror and more about raw lethality. I can expand on those options too if you'd like.

Note that I'm not using a 20th level Wizard here. Instead, 10th was the assumption. A 20th-level Wizard, up against an army of level 1-5s, can actually take to the field rather easily. Keep in mind combat ranges: a Long-range spell, for a CL20 Wizard, has a range of 1200'; which is into the eleventh range increment of a longbow-- the Wizard can unleash a Tsunami or two from that range and utterly devastate wide swaths of an army. The Wizard can do a massive amount of damage before the enemy even has the opportunity to fire back. Force multipliers are in full effect; a Dominated dragon or two can utterly slaughter a large force of low-level opponents.


Senko wrote:
I've seen quite a few times it stated that a high level wizard can demolish armies (and I know Baba Yaga defeated the Linnorn Kings in cannon to establish her own kingdom) but I can't see how any established kingdom could lose to a single caster no matter how powerful.

Wish. That spell can do literally anything. "I wish that the armies of the King of Example were all turned to gingerbread men."

If you don't like the cheap and easy answer... high-level wizards can develop custom spells that do whatever they like.

If you don't like that answer, either.... The tsunami spell can easily destroy an army, and there are other spells out there with suitably massive effects. Cursed earth can depopulate a city overnight. World wave can de-equip an army and leave them vulnerable to normal attacks. Gate can literally bring in a god to fight for you.

Scarab Sages

I suppose what I'm choking on is the assumption there won't be heroes/high level characters to stop them. Given standard adventure fare and the nature of the world it just seems wrong that one person can take out an established kingdom if it's designed/run realistically.

Edit
I made a mistake on Baba Yaga it doesn't say how she carved a kingdom away from the Linnorn Kings but she did have frost giant's serving her.


Senko wrote:
I suppose what I'm choking on is the assumption there won't be heroes/high level characters to stop them.

Well, the question is whether there are enough characters of high enough level.

If you're looking specifically at Baba Yaga,.... as pointed out, she's a 20th level character with 10 mythic tiers. No PFS-legal character could do a thing to stop her. All of Pathfinder Society together couldn't do much to stop her, any more than an army of 2nd level warriors could do much against a 12th level wizard.

There aren't really any guidelines about the number and availability of high-level combatants. I mean, if you really establish a kingdom "realistically," the highest level spellcaster is zero, right? (Who's the most powerful wizard in France today?) If you want to run something on the scale of the Forgotten Realms, where every village tavern is run by a retired 25th level adventurer, things are a little different. I'm not sure you can really say what is "realistic" in terms of the amount of wizarding might available to an army.


High level characters are a rarity. And if we assume that there's an equal distribution of high level characters among all classes, only about one in four high level characters are full casters. Thus, the odds are actually pretty good that there's no single high-level caster to oppose us. High-level characters also have responsibilities, and with responsibility comes restriction. As noted, the 11th level Fighter is probably the army general. Does that make him tougher than my hypothetical 10th level Wizard in a straight fight? Certainly. Does that mean he can actively duel with my Wizard in a 1v1 fight? No way in hell. He's not going to be able to fight on his own, my Wizard is never going to get into a situation where a straight fight is on the table, and in point of fact my Wizard is going to do his damnedest (based on tactical advantage #4, above) to ensure that as many of his higher-level subordinates are also clustered around him and around the king to stop me from hitting one of them with a Dominate Person.

A flat-out adventuring party is full of too many unknowns to effectively gauge and account for, unless you're willing to actively fill in the blanks. But really, you asked about dealing with an army. Adventuring parties are not part of armies. Dealing with both at the same time is the height of folly. We bait out the adventurers and kill them, then we start throwing tsunamis on the army in the field.

Sovereign Court

For a typical kingdom? Realistically no, most high level adventurers especially in Golarion are doing their own things or are part of organizations that have nothing to do with the well being of kingdom, like most adventurers don't care who is in charge as long as they can keep doing their adventuring. If a tyrant comes in and prevent them from exploring a dungeon, yeah we have a problem.

Now if you want to compare with specific kingdoms, the story is different.

The lands of the Linnorm Kings have kings who become elected official because they have slain a Linnorm in one on one combat. Still tho, as far as I recall all the linnorm kings are melee combatants. The high level mage still has the edge but can always use to be careful mainly of the main ruler, the army is whatever.

Kingdoms like Geb, Thuvia or Jalmeray are obviously not the kind of kingdom, a wizard will go one on one against. Their magical defenses are reinforced to the max, same with an army of the most unusual races, like an army of Drows. Drows are very unusual because that is all they do, they breed and form a society around being the strongest and they all spell resistance, combined with assistance from demonic forces etc...


Keep in mind some basic assumptions of the game. The majorities of people are 5th level or lower. A kingdom will have a handful of characters between 6th and 12th level. These will be the leaders and other movers and shakers of the kingdom. Characters above 12th level are supposed to be extremely rare, with a hand full in the entire world. These are the baseline assumptions of the game.

I would also suggest that martial characters are probably more common than spell casters. So your big bad general of the kingdom will be a martial class between 6th and 12th level with NPC wealth by level. His spell casters will probably be 5th level or lower. The court wizard and high priest will probably not be in the field with the army, but rather back in the capitol advising the king.

So let’s look at the numbers assuming the army is composed of elite veteran they will be about 3rd level warriors with about 24 HP. Normally I would say that most troops will be 2nd level warriors with about 14 HP. Assume the leaders of the army are 5th level fighters with 49 HP. None of the troops have any magic items but the leaders may have some minor items. Assume there are about 100 troops and maybe 5 leaders.

Take a 14th level wizard with an intensified, widened fireball. This is a 7th level spell so will use one of his highest spell slots. It does 49 points of damage or 24 points if they make their save. It will cover a 40 foot radius spread. This will be wide enough to cover the whole army with a single spell. Any of the troops that fail the save are outright killed. If they make the save they are reduced to 0 HP and will probably die anyways. The leaders who fail the save will also be reduced to 0 HP and in danger of dying, those that make the save are severely wounded. All mounts are also killed and most of their equipment is either destroyed or damaged.

Keep in mind that the armies are not going to be composed of PC level characters. They are much lower level and not anywhere near as well equipped. Even a standard 3rd level fireball will be devastating to a normal army. 35 point is enough to kill off most of the troops and severely weaken any who do manage to make the save. High level characters are rare so the opposing army probably does not have casters able to match the PC class characters.


To be fair, 100 troops is insanely small for an army. But trading a 7th level spell for a company or so is a fair bargain, and you can do more than that.

Scarab Sages

I suppose if your a character designed for combat which anyone attempting this would be. I guess I've just gotten the impression from AP's, modules etc you can't swing a cat without hitting a high level being.


Simple? Artillery. Fireball has a max range of 1200 feet, Composite longbows have a maximum range of of 1100. Fly, fireball, problem solved.

Not enough? Improved invisibility, protection from arrows, stoneskin.

Want more than artillery? See above. Want less than level 20? At level 7 she can win any campaign given enough time. Improved invisibility, dimension door, overland flight, contagion, and scry. She will hit the enemy army with a plague, they will die in diseased misery, and they will never even see her. Small amounts of destruction or tainting of food and water are a mere bonus.

Hell, you can fake the plagues of Egypt with some creativity and the right spells.


The widened fire ball can probably take out around 500 troops without too much trouble. There are a lot of spells especially higher level spells that can devastate an army. Control weather has a 2 mile radius area of effect so would be able to cover almost any army. A few summoned creatures can cause massive damage especially if they have special defenses or attacks. A shadow demon could probably tear through an army that did not have magic weapons. Illusions and enchantments can wreak havoc with tactics.

Also most armies are not going to stick around when things they can’t handle start happening. PC’s can and usually do face seeming impossible odds on a daily basis. An army is likely to retreat when a single attack destroys a large portion of its forces. The widened fireball that just took out ¼ of the army may cause a rout.

Also most high level casters have defenses that are going to make it hard for the army to effectively attack them. Wind wall will shut down archers and crossbowman completely. As multiple people have stated fly puts you out of melee range, so the only way to attack is with magic. A lesser globe of invulnerability will shut down spells lower than 4th level, which is about all the army will probably be able to muster.

The whole point is that an army without a high level spell caster of its own can easily be overcome by a high level caster. Most armies are not going to have the high level caster available to them. The PC’s are supposed to be hero’s not just employees.


It is asymmetrical warfare at it's finest.

Grand Lodge

When it is army vs superbeing, there is little contest (see any super hero or villian vs the local army).

In Baba Yaga vs the Linnorn Kings, you can reasonably expect the kings at level 13-17 (standard for royalty). BY is, as has been pointed out by others Caster 20/Mythic 10 meaning she could easily take on any of the kings in 1v1.

When vs the main army, the 1000s of soldiers, they will likely only be 2-4 HD. VS any of BY's spells, they have a 1 in 20 shot to save, and even then they could still die from many evocation spells.

Charming the leaders, slightly more difficult but far from undoable. These leaders could then tear through their own troops.

Add in Frost Giants, winter wolves, the occasional Jarl Frost Giant and white dragons, a couple dozen is all it would take to rip apart a few legions.

The only real question is how BY does not get bored and find something else to do mid battle.


In Forgotten Realms, it's improbable. Everybody and their brother is a magic user, and every nation has between two and a dozen 20-40 level casters. At that point it's merely a matter of story convenience if a single magic user can defeat an army (like the Simbul seems to every couple months).

Golarion doesn't work off of the expectation that powerful magic users are lurking behind every corner. Basing your understanding of the world on PC levels of power will make it difficult to comprehend because the PCs are meant to be exceptional.

As for how it could be done, long range divination will have the caster aware of the army's movement long before the army can have any hope of retaliation. At that point, Planar Binding can be used to call in a minion or two to harass, wear down, and stymy the enemy. A creature with DR/10 of nearly any alignment will be almost invincible against an army of non PC level wealth. Alternately, you could use sly minions, that can use invisibility, flight, and spread pestilence and curses among the army. Either way, by the time the army reaches you, it will be much weaker than when it began.

You use the time before they arrive to set magical traps, prepare scrolls and magic items, and forge a battle plan. By the time the army arrives, they are forced to fight you on your terms, in deadly ground. Lead with quickened extended summon monster, even three from the summon IV list will make a big impact. Use wall, AoE, movement controlling spells like black tentacles, and protection spells, all while constantly remaining mobile through flight, dimension door, teleport, and other effects. Supplement with illusions or compulsions for extra fun.

A 20th level arcane caster against an army can be quite doable. Then again given the setting I'm thinking the enemy army might have one 12, two 10s, a half dozen 4-7, and about 95% 1-2 level NPC, and only the 12 might have anything near PC wealth.


Another point about Baba Yaga, she still stopped. She carved out a kingdom, but she wasn't able to conquer ALL the lands of the Linnorm Kings, so presumably even with all her power and her mythic tiers she reached an extent of her powers. Presumably it was the Linnorm Kings' own asymmetric warfare skills, or the implicit threat of it. Or the threat of alliances with other powers. Presumably she took a few armies out with minimal risk, faced a few high-level characters (They're around) with higher risk but lucky/skillful success, and then shored up and settled down instead of continuing to try her luck against other high level characters.


Why are people talking fireballs instead of cloudkills? Nothing wipes out armies (or especially cities) quite like Cloudkill.


True enough.


mplindustries wrote:
Why are people talking fireballs instead of cloudkills? Nothing wipes out armies (or especially cities) quite like Cloudkill.

Longer range for a fireball, which can keep you from being hit by 5% of the arrows shot by the Duke of Earl's First Archery Division. Of course, the real answer is that there are lots of ways for a high-level mage to slaughter an army.


a 15 oracle of juju mystery (with the right revolutions) +5 levels as brother of the grave, can have 150 hd of undaed under his total control +many more he can use his comand undead revoluton to add to this. and juju zomnbies keep their class level. every zombie and juju zombie he brings come with full hp and get treated as if risen under decscrate spell. beside the other class abilities and spells.

send them to fight and any that go down replace with the fallen living ones. even just picking 150 skelies as an army can be more then enough to bring a wave of darkness over a land.(if you keep getting more risen.)

Dark Archive

A high level caster can wander in, cast a few Heightened Greater Contagion spells and then wander off.

If they were a high level Mythic character then Contagion can effect everyone in a 1 mile radius!


Given that high level spell casters are thing it seams that armies should be smaller.

I think that most kingdoms can swing an 11th level arcane and divine caster. That is basically a nuke. As long both sides have that then armies are pretty useless. Any army is still useful for brigands and monster hunting. One will also need a police force of some kind.

If one removes the nukes (high level characters) from a kingdom an army will be need to hold the territory.

This thread made realize that the tippyverse need not happen because it claims that teleport circle allows huge armies to move anywhere so only hyper concentration can defend against it.

Really who cares about that. 1 high level caster teleports to the invasion and kills the army. I guess launching many assaults at the same time could make life difficult then that works in our world to.


Mathius wrote:
Given that high level spell casters are thing it seams that armies should be smaller.

Smaller than what? Armies of hundreds of thousands or millions didn't really become a thing until the 20th century in the real world. One of the largest medieval battles, the First Battle of Tannenburg, involved something like 20,000 men on either side. (By contrast, the 1944-5 Battle of the Bulge involved a roughly a million on each side.)

Most of the threats facing a kingdom will not involve high-level spellcasters, and having an army of a few thousand men is a great way to provide border security and deter random skirmishes and brigandage. The availability of actual nukes during the Cold War didn't reduce either side's reliance on conventional troops.

Quote:


This thread made realize that the tippyverse need not happen because it claims that teleport circle allows huge armies to move anywhere so only hyper concentration can defend against it.
Really who cares about that. 1 high level caster teleports to the invasion and kills the army.

Well, if your high level caster can stop my high level caster, there's still a huge army that I need to deal with. So the Tippyverse is still an issue unless you can assume that you have total caster superiority.

Your nuke analogy is pretty good -- and it shows that, while casters can obliterate armies, they can't replace them.


How about a simple Greater Glpyh of Warding with a level 20 Control Winds (to boost up to Tornado wind force instantly)? Let a low level mook infiltrate the army (as just another trooper) with orders to trigger glyph when he gets in a good position (like right in the middle of the army).

Area of Effect: 800 ft radius / 1600 foot diameter @caster level 20.
Everyone in the funnel cloud: 1d10 rounds of being tossed about for 6d6 damage/rnd. Approximate average damage: 30d6 (5 rnds @ 6d6 per round) per person. Added bonus: major destruction of buildings, etc.

Beat that, fireball...

So, yes, a single caster, with the right spells, can pretty much nuke an army (or a town/city) in a single round. You could cast this directly (putting yourself in the eye and then teleporting away via Contingency), or use multiple glyphs, etc.


Mathius wrote:

Given that high level spell casters are thing it seams that armies should be smaller.

I think that most kingdoms can swing an 11th level arcane and divine caster. That is basically a nuke. As long both sides have that then armies are pretty useless. Any army is still useful for brigands and monster hunting. One will also need a police force of some kind.

If one removes the nukes (high level characters) from a kingdom an army will be need to hold the territory.

This thread made realize that the tippyverse need not happen because it claims that teleport circle allows huge armies to move anywhere so only hyper concentration can defend against it.

Really who cares about that. 1 high level caster teleports to the invasion and kills the army. I guess launching many assaults at the same time could make life difficult then that works in our world to.

While every kingdom probably does have a handful of high level people present (and may include spellcasters or both divine and arcane natures) there are only a handful. These are the creme de la creme of the kingdom. They aren't out fighting with the regulars. They're in charge, orchestrating the entire kingdom.

And also well known by any spellcaster who would plot to take the kingdom from them. They would be avoided or preemptively assassinated by a 20th level spell caster.

An army is necessary to keep order because even a 12th level caster can't be everywhere all the time, and coupled with their responsibility it keeps them tied down to certain places. Now, a 20th level caster has similar problems too, they just have a lot more spells at their disposal to help cover it. Also, taking the offense is much easier than posturing a defence. You have to defend everywhere equally well or defend only a few places superiorly. But any place undefended gets quickly destroyed by the opposing high level caster. Other nations armies, brigands, roaming (low level) monster are the realistic threats a nation faces. Hell, a group of adventurers of 14th level is probably enough to take down most nations in Golarion if pressed to it. But it's maintaining a nation afterwards that is the problem.

If you want a real life example look at the United States involvement and failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was certainly easy for us to roll in and topple the existing government/regimes and institute change. But keeping our changes in effect and defending the new government from insurgents and guerilla tactics has proved to be a nightmare. It is easy to conquer, but difficult to rule and defend.


Orfamay Quest wrote:
Mathius wrote:
Given that high level spell casters are thing it seams that armies should be smaller.

Smaller than what? Armies of hundreds of thousands or millions didn't really become a thing until the 20th century in the real world. One of the largest medieval battles, the First Battle of Tannenburg, involved something like 20,000 men on either side. (By contrast, the 1944-5 Battle of the Bulge involved a roughly a million on each side.)

I think the 50,000 - 70,000 Roman dead at the Battle of Cannae would like to have a word with you. Ditto the dead and captured (upwards of 100,000 depending on source) from Caesar's Battle at Alesia.

Ancient battles, and we have LOTS of real world examples, often had very large armies. I'm not even going to get into some of the ancient Chinese historical battles. To say that large armies didn't become a thing until the 20th century is just patently false.

However, from a more Golarion perspective, I think we have to take into account the size of the countries, etc, that could be involved in large scale warfare and their ability to field large armies. I would suggest that the presence of spell casters would radically change the battle field to look a lot more like modern warfare than anything found in our own ancient or medieval Earth military history. You just don't cluster your men together in a Roman-esque formation if you are about to eat a Fireball (or worse).


If you want a real life example look at the United States involvement and failure in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was certainly easy for us to roll in and topple the existing government/regimes and institute change. But keeping our changes in effect and defending the new government from insurgents and guerilla tactics has proved to be a nightmare. It is easy to conquer, but difficult to rule and defend.

This pretty accurate.

When I said smaller I meant that an army would not be a primary offensive force. It is still needed for border control and deal with threats that do not raise to the attention of wizard.

It helps that until 15th level divination can see when and where crap is going to go down. Even with mind blank it can be hard to hide things like this. Basically I say that once some one else can make a choice that person can seen with divination. Unless you can wipe things and leave no witnesses for even an instant then it can be detected. You can not be seen but your effect on the world can once it impacts intelligent beings.


The troops are not a problem at all. Morale is how you defeat an army. Scare the crap out of them, make them feel they have no effective way to fight back and watch it melt away.

Wizards have so many ways to kill, poison, scare and otherwise shatter the regular troops morale it isn't even funny.

The opposing hero's, monsters and enemy spell casters are the real problem. Just like any AP he will need to isolate the dangerous ones, so in discord and kill those he has too.

The trick is to do that before the enemy does the same to your army.

Step 1) Sneak in poison some troops, let loose some elemental/summoned forces, kill a medium level hero. Disappear.

Step 2) Wait for them to assemble for a council and send in minions, summoned creatures and hit them with survivable magic.

Step 3) Draw them into an ambush as they chase you and kill the leaders.

Step 4) Come in and fireball some troops and watch them run.


Dracovar wrote:
Orfamay Quest wrote:
Mathius wrote:
Given that high level spell casters are thing it seams that armies should be smaller.

Smaller than what? Armies of hundreds of thousands or millions didn't really become a thing until the 20th century in the real world. One of the largest medieval battles, the First Battle of Tannenburg, involved something like 20,000 men on either side. (By contrast, the 1944-5 Battle of the Bulge involved a roughly a million on each side.)

I think the 50,000 - 70,000 Roman dead at the Battle of Cannae would like to have a word with you. Ditto the dead and captured (upwards of 100,000 depending on source) from Caesar's Battle at Alesia.

Not really. Or perhaps the word isn't what you would expect it to be. Something to remember about ancient battles -- aside from the obvious issue that classical Rome wasn't "medieval" -- is that the casualty rate was extremely high. The total number of Romans at Cannae is estimated at less than 100,000 -- but, as you point out, more than half of them are believed to have died. Still short of the "hundreds of thousands or millions" that one saw routinely in the First and Second World Wars.

Ancient battles, and we have LOTS of real world examples, often had very large armies. I'm not even going to get into some of the ancient Chinese historical battles. To say that large armies didn't become a thing until the 20th century is just patently false.

Quote:


However, from a more Golarion perspective, I think we have to take into account the size of the countries, etc, that could be involved in large scale warfare and their ability to field large armies. I would suggest that the presence of spell casters would radically change the battle field to look a lot more like modern warfare than anything found in our own ancient or medieval Earth military history. You just don't cluster your men together in a Roman-esque formation if you are about to eat a Fireball (or worse).

Depends on how often eating a fireball comes up, and we're back to the question of whether we're in the Forgotten Realms or Middle-Earth.


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Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

My transmuter, Haylannar, slew approximately 700 foes in approximately 5-10 minutes at 10th-level.


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Ravingdork wrote:
My transmuter, Haylannar, slew approximately 700 foes in just over 5 minutes at 10th-level.

From the link...

"Once the screams of their dying brethren rang through the army chorus like a chainsaw through a parakeet..."

"Like a chainsaw through a parakeet" - Ravingdork, thou art a wordsmith indeed...


I think control winds might cover the biggest area of any city killer spells.

Combine with a rod of widen and can cover an area more then half a mile wide. I know that a tornado may not destroy a fortified building but I think that even a town with only stone or brick buildings would be torn up by all the flying debris. To make it worse the wind stays on for and hour and half and you can change the direction repeatedly so that you come at things from all directions.

Without freedom of movement you gonna die.

Put the glyph on chest, make it invisible and have summon carry it in to town (invisibly).


Mathius wrote:

I think control winds might cover the biggest area of any city killer spells.

Combine with a rod of widen and can cover an area more then half a mile wide. I know that a tornado may not destroy a fortified building but I think that even a town with only stone or brick buildings would be torn up by all the flying debris. To make it worse the wind stays on for and hour and half and you can change the direction repeatedly so that you come at things from all directions.

Without freedom of movement you gonna die.

Put the glyph on chest, make it invisible and have summon carry it in to town (invisibly).

You'd need about two to pretty much wipe out London in the 1300's - and kill the balance of 80,000 people. Arguably, many cities in Golarion could probably be razed by just a single use of Control Winds.

For reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_London#Norman_and_Medieval_London_. 281066_.E2.80.93_late_15th_century.29

Includes a nice scale map of London in 1300 - approx. pop around 80k. Compare that to most cities in Golarion for population (and extrapolate how much area such a city would take up, if we use London in 1300 AD as an example), and Control Winds is pretty much THE nuclear option.


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First, kudos to Ravingdork for publishing his story.

Second, there are two conversations here.

Question 1: How can a being that can break the laws of the world defeat an army of conventional weak beings who cannot break the laws of the world?

Answer 1: Any way she wants to. As Ravingdork's story shows, an army unable to predict, defend against and engage a caster of even mid level is just a bunch of walking corpses as long as the DM approves. The only thing they can do is kill the wizard's allies while the wizard hunts them all down bit by bit, if they spread out into suicide squads.

Question 2: How can a being that can break the laws of the world defeat an army of conventional weak beings who also can break the laws of the world and have massive wealth and planar contacts?

Answer 2: Hard to say if she can. A few scenarios are below.

Case 1: The nation being attacked worships a pantheon-tier god, who is invested in the nation surviving.

Result: Wizard loses unless the DM let's her win. Every trick the wizard can pull can be pulled better by the god and the god is also allowed to break the rules of Pathfinder, in addition to the rules of the world. The god can literally show up in your undetectable, unenterable super plane of respite and straight kill you whenever and however it wants to. The god has basically infinite miracles, infinite wishes, infinite resources and infinite time.

The wizard was probably killed before they were ever born (the Pun Pun defense). Imagine how many adventurers never even existed because of godly meddling.

Case 2: The kingdom has planar contacts and vast wealth. This is the stuff fantasy novels are made out of and a common story of how tieflings came to be:

"Pressed by the relentless vengeance of the Archmage Thanosa, the rulers of Thyreem made a blood-pact with the Arch-Devils, gating a horde of them into the material plane and dooming their nation to slavery."

Result: Now the wizard has to deal with 20 advanced pit-fiends and their impressive selection of spells, items and minions. This is a more fair fight.

Case 3: The wizard wants to rule and to do so needs only supplant the rulers. The rulers do not know she is coming.

Result: Likely a new queen, whom all will love and despair and who will eventually face a band of plucky adventurers who grew up on the impoverished streets of her poorly managed kingdom. It's the Pathfinder circle of life!


I guess you need CL 18 to get to tornado on a still day but 12 is enough on a any windy day and 9 will cut it if cast during a storm. Still how difficult is CL 18 to get for and 11th level caster with the wealth of a nation behind him.

ioun stone + beads of karma + death knell + spell focus + CL 11= dead city on clam day.


Not sure how likely 1 is but a you get close with Cheliax. It turns into 2 but done preemptively. Without another nuke they can not win. A nation in PF should be able to get those nukes. PCs deal with the North Korea or terrorist situation.


Gevaudan wrote:
Result: Likely a new queen, whom all will love and despair and who will eventually face a band of plucky adventurers who grew up on the impoverished streets of her poorly managed kingdom. It's the Pathfinder circle of life!

And here we see Gevaudan winning the thread. Well done.

Liberty's Edge

While not a true game mechanic the "greater" magics need rituals to accomplish so a truly strong magic user could in theory make spell traps on the field of battle of there choice to say take the minds of a group of people that walk on top of it or summon elementals in the middle of a army to raze havoc. Ritual magic is very strong but takes time and alot of resources. So the magic user may not even be seen on the field. But all the traps and spells they laid can kill them out right.


fictionfan wrote:
Use magic jar and get the army to destroy itself.

^^^THIS!!!

Magic Jar is an army breaking spell if used cleverly. It lasts for hours, can be used to repeatedly assault & supplant the souls of enemies with little way for them to defend themselves or retaliate against it. Although it could be used to some extent in the heat of battle to sow confusion and chaos amongst the ranks, it works best against entrenched armies at rest. Simply hide your body in a safe place, cast the spell at dusk and entrust the gem to your tiny, stealthy familiar. The familiar then sneaks through the encamped army under cover of darkness; surreptitiously bringing the gem within range (though not necessarily within line-of-sight) of slumbering soldiers. Possess one, quietly commit suicide, rinse and repeat. The few soldiers who succeed on the saving throw are hard-pressed to identify the source of the attack and can be assaulted repeatedly until they fail their saving throw. Since the spell lasts for hours this tactic can be attempted every few rounds for an entire evening. Come morning the bulk of the army lies dead or is fleeing for the lives.

This spell is almost biblical in scope; it turns you into an invisible and nigh unstoppable angel of death drifting through enemy ranks, reaping souls as you pass by unseen. I tried this tactic once to break an army of giants in the Rise of the Runelords AP which our party would have been hard-pressed to assault conventionally in the light of day.


Pathfinder Pawns, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ambrus wrote:
fictionfan wrote:
Use magic jar and get the army to destroy itself.

^^^THIS!!!

Magic Jar is an army breaking spell if used cleverly. It lasts for hours, can be used to repeatedly assault & supplant the souls of enemies with little way for them to defend themselves or retaliate against it. Although it could be used to some extent in the heat of battle to sow confusion and chaos amongst the ranks, it works best against entrenched armies at rest. Simply hide your body in a safe place, cast the spell at dusk and entrust the gem to your tiny, stealthy familiar. The familiar then sneaks through the encamped army under cover of darkness; surreptitiously bringing the gem within range (though not necessarily within line-of-sight) of slumbering soldiers. Possess one, quietly commit suicide, rinse and repeat. The few soldiers who succeed on the saving throw are hard-pressed to identify the source of the attack and can be assaulted repeatedly until they fail their saving throw. Since the spell lasts for hours this tactic can be attempted every few rounds for an entire evening. Come morning the bulk of the army lies dead or is fleeing for the lives.

This spell is almost biblical in scope; it turns you into an invisible and nigh unstoppable angel of death drifting through enemy ranks, reaping souls as you pass by unseen. I tried this tactic once to break an army of giants in the Rise of the Runelords AP which our party would have been hard-pressed to assault conventionally in the light of day.

Anyone passing a save against magic jar automatically succeeds at all future saves against your spell.

Without special feats, magic jar also possesses people more or less randomly, so assassinating key people via possession-suicide is right out. (Though you could possess someone else, then attempt to sabotage the enemy or assassinate one of their ranking officials in the traditional sense; then try, try again if you fail.)

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