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02-08-2005, 10:50 AM #1
This is a question about how much space does a unit take up on the battlefield. While not that important it does have a bearing on what spells can be used on the battlefield, and what their effects are.
For example, a basic infantry unit might have 200 soldiers. Assuming they are ranked 4 deep and have room to swing their weapons, then that unit could take up an area of (and I'm guessing here) 100 ft. by 20 ft. This would mean that a cloudkill spell (which in 2E was a destroyed result) would really only effect about 1/2 of the unit, rather than the whole unit.
The 2E battle rules simplified this to say that any spell that affects more than 25 individuals or had an area of effect greater than 400 square ft. automatically was consider to affect one unit or one battle area. Is this something we want to consider for the revision, or do we instead want to get a little more technical and decide exactly how much space a unit takes up and from there what spells do what? Obviously this doesn't apply to battle magic enhanced spells, but just to standard spells cast by a wizard without a battle caster feat.
Another question that came up recently was can you use standard spells to counter battle magic spells. I don't think so, but you could argue either way. It would depend if you considered battle magic enhanced spells to be metamagically enhanced in the same way as an empowered fireball for example, or if you consider them to be completly new spells that can only be counterspelled by other battle magic, or by a battle magic enhanced dispel magic.Let me claim your Birthright!!
02-08-2005, 10:54 AM #2
By the way if you do want to go with the area spell affecting more than 400 square ft. affect a unit, then that means that any area effect spell with a radius of 12 ft. or greater can be used in a battle situation.Let me claim your Birthright!!
02-08-2005, 11:24 AM #3
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Personally I think if we open that door then things quickly get way out of whack. The 2nd ed rules for battle spells regarding area effect just didn't work, IMO.
I always had trouble envisioning how a 1st level spell that affects an individual (or at most 5 individuals) could become a 1st level battle spell (Rain of Magic Missiles).
The 2nd ed rules regarding area effect left the door so wide open without any rationalization that it just defied all consistency. I'd say logic, but hey we are talking about magic here.
I personally prefer the more abstract battle system in the current BRCS where any offensive/defensive spell can have an effect on a unit with the effects "simplified" into easily used categories. The structure of a unit is itself abstract (and needs to be or else we will be tracking 200 individuals). The rationalization of the BRCS at least makes a reasonable attempt to capture how this works - by distracting, direct attack, etc.
The point of the battle caster feat was to point out that magic inand of itself is not exact and that in order to avoid affecting friendlies some "special training" is necessary - hence the feat. If we reduce this to area affect spells then the entire point of the feat generally gets reduced, IMO, since people will immediately start to argue about whether or not the major portion of the unfriendly unit is located far enough away that the spell can freely affect only that unit. Trust me on this players in general (at least very widely) will try to take advantage of any potential loophole in the rules and apply the benefits only to their characters.
I am also not real happy with some of the conversions of 2nd ed battle spells into realm spells instead and think we need to look at the mechanic again.
Also with the introduction of the "mass" spells some special applications need to be addressed. I am thinking along the following lines - that a mass spell can affect a unit (its benefits will be simplified and scaled based on the spell). The spell can be used normally outside of battle (i.e., without the battle caster feet) but in order to use the spell in battle on the intended target (i.e., no spill over on friendlies) the battle caster feat must be taken.
Having said that I want to go over Cry Havoc and Fields of Blood to see how they handle these things - both are pretty good mass combat systems and there is the upcoming mass combat rules from WotC to think about.Duane Eggert
02-08-2005, 12:41 PM #4
I don't know what Fields of Blood does, but Cry Havoc goes through the spell list and sets out the effects spells have on units. Of course, units in Cry Havoc are a generally smaller than in BR (10-50 creatures) so more spells can have an effect.
In a way it is similar to the way battle magic was handled in 2E. For example, here is what Cry Havoc has for Magic Missile.
Range: Medium (two squares + one square/five levels)
When used against a unit, this spell works like a ranged attack
that deals 1 damage factor per missile.
Damage factors is the hit points of a creature divided by 5 (rounding down). So a unit comprised of ten 1st level warriors would have 10 damage factors (1/creature).
Of course, Cry Havoc has 20 pages dedicated to magic on the battlefield, so has a lot of detail.
This is actually probably the wrong forum for this topic, as it applies to something that I don't plan to suggest be put the BRCS, but rather something I'm working on outside the whole Atlas and BRCS projects. I seem to be one of the few people who ever liked the old battle magic system, so what I'm doing is creating an acessory that reintroduces battle magic spells and properly sets out and defines the effects of various spells on the battlefield.
The easiest way to balance battle spells is to introduce a GB cost for each spell (1 GB/level would seem appropriate). If you look at something like Rain of Magic Missiles, which causes 1 hit/6 levels (but need additional casters for extra hits beyond 1), this spell could destroy a unit of infantry in two castings (for single caster, 1 for multiple casters) and would cost 1 GB/casting. For a single battle caster this means that he would need to spend the exact same cost as mustering the unit to start with (2 GB for 2 casting of the spell). Can't get move balanced than that. Something like a battle magic fireball could destroy a single unit in one turn, but cost 3 GB, which makes it very expensive, but useful if you don't have a lot of troops of your own, but do have lots of gold and a good spellcaster on your side.Let me claim your Birthright!!
02-08-2005, 01:00 PM #5
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Raesene Andu schrieb:
>This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
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> Raesene Andu wrote:
>For example, a basic infantry unit might have 200 soldiers. Assuming they are ranked 4 deep and have room to swing their weapons, then that unit could take up an area of (and I`m guessing here) 100 ft. by 20 ft. This would mean that a cloudkill spell (which in 2E was a destroyed result) would really only effect about 1/2 of the unit, rather than the whole unit.
>The 2E battle rules simplified this to say that any spell that affects more than 25 individuals or had an area of effect greater than 400 square ft. automatically was consider to affect one unit or one battle area. Is this something we want to consider for the revision, or do we instead want to get a little more technical and decide exactly how much space a unit takes up and from there what spells do what? Obviously this doesn`t apply to battle magic enhanced spells, but just to standard spells cast by a wizard without a battle caster feat.
Something to remember here is that the condition of "destroyed" does not
mean that every single member of the target unit needs to be turned to
dust or ashes by the spell, just that enough soldiers die or are
disabled that the whole unit dissolves and no longer exists as an army
That is similar to the "Rout" result, just that routed units still
maintained their cohesion and could be brought to battle again,e.g.
after returning to the reserve.
Destroyed could be, e.g. 1/3rd dead, 1/3rd disabled, 1/3rd fleeing the
field in horror as individuals.
Given the scarcity of True Wizards and powerful magic, especially for
mundane soldiers and NPC┤s, it would not surprise me to see soldiers
flee if even half of their unit is disabled by something horrible as
seeing their comrades roasted like toasted bread.
02-08-2005, 05:43 PM #6
How big is a unit? How big is a battle square (app. 1 unit in size)? IMC I've been working with an assumption that a battle square is approximately 100 yards square (300'. This is an estimation based on the idea that 50 men spread out at 5' per man (a typical line of battle formation) would take up about 250', leaving only a little bit of room at the outer edges. A 60-man line would fill the width of the square entirely, and it's probably impractical to believe that a unit would spread itself out any more than that.
If they were in a shield wall, they (50 men) could probably tighten up to about 3' per man, or 150' in width.
Loose skirmish formation could get quite large, though, which is an annoying exception to the basic calculations.
Main point: the battle square can only be approximately unit-sized, but needs to be large enough to accomodate the most common types of unit sizes and formations most of the time. It should be assumed though that a unit rarely fills an entire square, though they may spread to fill one dimension (width or depth for line or column respectively).
Generally, as far as area spells on units go, I believe that most offensive spells would have varying effects based on targeting, current target unit's formation (loose, tight, line, wedge, column, chiltern, etc.), and the spell itself. Here are some guidelines I might apply in thinking about this:
1. Area of the spell: is it a circle/burst effect? a cone? a wall? line? cloud? shapable area (like fire storm or blae barrier)?
-Shapable area spells would be the most effective, since they could be custom-formed to overlay the target unit as much as possible. There's a good chance a Fire Storm or Storm of Vengeance of sufficient area could wipe out an entire unit, though a morale save might be allowed to reduce damage to 2 hits (so a veteran+ unit might survive).
-Cloud spells with expanding areas would be the next most effective, so long as it's not a windy day. 2 hits of damage is pretty reasonable for such a spell, 1 hit on a successful morale save.
-Cones, with the right positioning and sufficient depth, are incredibly devestating spells against tight formations. A character using a Staff of Frost could singlehandedly wreak tremendous havoc on an army (as was done IMC...shudder). Such a spell could easily cause 2 hits of damage if well-placed.
-Walls are barriers, but of limited use as an offensive weapon (tho a fire wall through a unit, or a wall of iron falling on them, could certainly do some damage). Generally I'd say 1 hit of damage for such an offensive use.
-Burst spells, like fireball, and most mass spells (max. 30' diameter circle), would really only have limited effectiveness because they just couldn't hit all that many troops at once except in certain circumstances (like a densely-packed cluster of a unit). However, if they deal enough damage to kill every soldier they hit, they certainly could have a debilitating effect on morale for the surviving unit, and could provide a tactical benefit, like punching a gaping hole in an enemy formation through which your allies can then charge and capitalize on the unit's lack of cohesive formation. I would limit most of these spells to only 1 hit of damage, but always force a morale check with a penalty equal to the level of the spell used.
-Line attack spells like lightning bolt could be used to similar effect, especially if the caster is well-placed to shoot it down a line of battle.
-Single target spells like magic missile, rays, hold person, etc. would generally have negligable effect on an entire unit. These spells would mainly be effective if pinpointed against the unit commander and/or key officers - and this should be handled on a case by case basis, not assumed to be the norm. Generally, the effect would be to demoralize the unit (morale check) and cripple their unit cohesiveness and ability to obey orders at least until some other officer rallies them back into the fight (this could be like a "daze unit" function - they cannot take action for the rest of the battle round, and can only defend themsleves at a penalty).
Now keep in mind the real problem in all of this: we're talking about the effects of a single, normal spell on a battlefield scale. These usually take only a standard action to cast! What happens when the sorcerer drops 3 fireballs in a row on an enemy unit? Wham, bam, see ya' later man.
Mass Destruction (realm spell) is so over-rated compared to what a competent (L10+) wizard or sorcerer could do personally on the battlefield. Give any mage, or magician, rogue, or bard w/ Use Magic Device, a good wand or staff with dozens of spells available, and the potential devestation makes actual unit combat seem a bit pointless unless the spells run out before the enemy numbers do (assuming the remaining enemies haven't all routed already).
Of course, it all makes the spellcaster the BIG TARGET on the battlefield. As in "Kill that mage, or we're all dead!"
Assuming a battle round is approximately 10 minutes of time (100 rounds), there's not much balance here: battle mages are ridiculous given their rapid-fire abilities relative to the scale of the battlefield. The only thing that would suck up some of that time is the mobility factor (and if they have dimension door or teleport...ugh). And that only matters much for shorter-range spells, long range ones have incredible max. range (400'+40' per caster level - 600' or more for fireballs and lightning bolts).
02-08-2005, 11:59 PM #7
The time factor is one of the major problems when you look at magic on the battlefield. Battles can take hours to resolve, so the battle round = 10 minutes of time is accurate. However, a flying wizard armed with a fully charged wand of fireballs can effectively fly over the entire enemy army and wipe most of them out in a couple of battle rounds.
It is mainly the staffs/wands that are problems though. A wizard armed with just memorised spells can have little effect on the outcome of a battle, but a wizard armed with a wand that can cast large numbers of the same spell can cause devestation to the point where they individually win a battle. And with the craft wand feat any wizard of 6th level or above is going to have a wand of fireball. For a regent, the cost is negligible when compared to the effects on an army.Let me claim your Birthright!!
02-09-2005, 01:24 AM #8
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The thing is the battle rules are for armies fighting each other. Characters aiding in such a fight are supposed to be interacting on this level. This provides a major advantage, the unit commander can't order a unit of archers to aim for a specific character. Should a character act in normal rounds, then the surrounding soldiers, and leaders, should also be able to act in that time frame.
Imagine that mage getting out a fireball. Then the 400 nearby archers take an action. All 400 make spot checks, those that see the wizard fire. Should the commander see the wizard, he can start organizing the troops. Maybe 20 archers near the commander fire the 2nd round, 100 the second round and 400 the third round.
Even a stoneskin isn't going to help much as hundreds of arrows start flying at the mage. Most won't hit, but out of 200 shots, on average 10 will role 20's, which is how a non masochistic DM should handle it.
I would also say that a DM could consider the alternative rule which gives a chance of accidentally teleporting into the shadow world for any wizard who uses dimension door. Still worthwhile in an emergency, but not as part of a basic battlefield strategy.Build a man a fire and he will be warm for a night. Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
02-09-2005, 08:21 AM #9
The good ol' multi-barreled-wand-of-megadeath problem :-D
In addition to The Jew's excellent points for in-game rationalization concerning the abscence of such events, here are some meeta-gamic fixes I've used in the past:
1. Wands look puny and feel puny. I've limited them to Lesser magic only (and no divine magic in wands either!. Only staffs can have True magic, so that delays the problem for so many levels that it's out of hand for almost all spellcasters.
2. I've never liked items with charges, simply because they so unbalance the system where spellcasters are limited to a small amount of spells each day. I get this wision of wizards with the Quick draw feat and wands of Dispel Magic and Fireball in low holsters...I think it was Complete Arcane (and a couple of other non WotC games before that) which introduced permanents wands, which could cast 1-3 spells/day.
You could evne combine all of the above to limit wands to Lesser magic, make then have 50 charges, but only allow 3 charges/day to be used.
Just my 50 °re
DM of Ruins of Empire II PbeM
02-09-2005, 10:44 AM #10Let me claim your Birthright!!
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