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  1. #1
    Senior Member The Swordgaunt's Avatar
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    The Gorgon's Legions

    The description of the Anuirean culture says that it's a mix of Ancient Rome and medieval Britain. This leads me to think that the armies of tha Andu would have been organized around a legion-model (granted, Haelyns weapon of choice is the longsword, but in a world that alowes true heroes, personal combat would have been emphasised). In the post empire Anuire, no Realm can field a true legion, so the medieval army-model is the obvious choice.

    The Gorgon, however, was present at Deismar, and would be intimately familiar with Roman-style warfare. To me, it seems unlikely that he would use ill-trained men-at-arms when he knows the eficiency of a legion.

    Now, I've given this some thought, and I believe a late-medieval legion would be equipped with platemail armor, large shields, long-spears and shortswords. I also think that such a force would be able to stop a mounted charge.

    Imagine the Legions of Evil. Goblin auxilliaries an masse, used to weaken the enemy. Auxilliaries of dwarves and men to form units of archers and cavalry. Finally, legions of Orogs (or men) to anchor the centre or deliver the chrushing blow to the enemy.

    Any thoughts?
    -Harald

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  2. #2
    Senior Member Sigmund's Avatar
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    The only thing I might question is the plate mail armor, because of it's expense. Admittedly, the Gorgon is very rich, but I'd still spec banded for regular legions and reserve plate for heavy/elite legions. Otherwise, I agree with you. I also imagine that the dwarves of Mur-Kilad could field legion-style units, as I imagine them having the discipline. Orog legions are frightening... It's fortunate for the good people that the elves are strong in magic, because I couldn't see much else stopping a large number of Orogs with the training and discipline to fight in the Roman style.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Sigmund's Avatar
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    Ooo... you've got the imagination going I'm seeing goblin skirmishers/javelin-throwers. Ogre/Hill Giant support (kinda ala LotR), perhaps even acting as highly mobile artillery with their rock/giant javelin throwing. Imagine Ogres tossing around clay pots of Green Slime.... ack. Of course there's also the cliche (but still fun) goblin warg-rider cavalry... dwarven engineers, human and dwarven crossbowmen. Oodles of fun.

  4. #4
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    As someone who was able to rally a substantial army at Deismaar on the grounds of his royal blood / force of personality and is now the first in line for the throne (unrecognised due to certain minor technicalities) I would also see him as served by more than just humanoid rabble - not every loyal knight would desert him after Deismaar over trivia such as attempted deicide. Black knights of Kal-Saitharak anyone?

    Of course if you're going to take a fantastical approach to things I've always had a fondness for wyvern-riding goblins with a brace of oil casks held in each claw...

  5. #5
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    Just that dwarves would make a better anchor in my
    opinion...they are the less mobile of the forces and
    have better armor generally because of their
    technology level.

    I say this primarily because I don`t recall Orogs
    being all that disciplined in set piece battle (being
    used to fighting mostly underground) and not very many
    humans at all serving the Gorgon who aren`t
    mercenaries or such as that.

    Only thought I have.


    Anthony Edwards

    --- The Swordgaunt <brnetboard@BIRTHRIGHT.NET> wrote:

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    > message forum.
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    >
    > The Swordgaunt wrote:
    > The description of the Anuirean culture says that
    > it`s a mix of Ancient Rome and medieval Britain.
    > This leads me to think that the armies of tha Andu
    > would have been organized around a legion-model
    > (granted, Haelyns weapon of choice is the longsword,
    > but in a world that alowes true heroes, personal
    > combat would have been emphasised). In the post
    > empire Anuire, no Realm can field a true legion, so
    > the medieval army-model is the obvious choice.
    >
    > The Gorgon, however, was present at Deismar, and
    > would be intimately familiar with Roman-style
    > warfare. To me, it seems unlikely that he would use
    > ill-trained men-at-arms when he knows the eficiency
    > of a legion.
    >
    > Now, I`ve given this some thought, and I believe a
    > late-medieval legion would be equipped with
    > platemail armor, large shields, long-spears and
    > shortswords. I also think that such a force would be
    > able to stop a mounted charge.
    >
    > Imagine the Legions of Evil. Goblin auxilliaries an
    > masse, used to weaken the enemy. Auxilliaries of
    > dwarves and men to form units of archers and
    > cavalry. Finally, legions of Orogs (or men) to
    > anchor the centre or deliver the chrushing blow to
    > the enemy.
    >
    > Any thoughts?



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  6. #6
    Senior Member The Swordgaunt's Avatar
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    On a different note

    Another thing I've been contemplating is the fortificaions in a fantasy setting. Normally, whenever a castle is described or depicted, it follows the real-world convention. Is this really plausible? The fortifications of medieval Europe were built to stop siege engines and medium sized soldiers, while a fantasy castle might have to deal with entirely different threats.

    If we look at the forces mentioned so far in this thread, we have Dwarves whose sapper skills would shame most medieval engineers off the field. The Orogs are also exeptionally adept at tunnel-fights, and together this would form a dangerous force of sappers.

    Then we have the Giants. What good is a ten meters high wall if the attackers can climb it as easily as a man climps a fence? Not to mention how fast a couple of Giants can move a battering ram up to the curtain wall.

    Andrew Tall mentioned Wyverns, whitch brings an entirely new factor into the problem. No medieval castle I've ever heard of has any Anti-Air measures, in fact, they are totally defenceless against such opponents. Imagine a wizard mounted on a flying creature, raining fireballs and other area affecting spells down on defenceless defenders (no pun intended). Or worse, how would a castle defend itself against a dragon?

    And then there is magic. Stone to mud can be really destructive to a castle wall, and the fireball can be equally effective from the ground. Granted, a wizard on the walls can be destructive for the attackers, but it's easy to conceal a spellcaster among your troops and have him clear a section of the wall long enough to get the ladders raised.

    Some measures I can think of are thick, sloped walls, akin to those built after the introduction of cannons on the real-world battlefields. The ramparts and towers would also have to be protected by roofs covered with metal or wet hide to defend against spells and breath-weapons, as well as spikes to prevent flying creatures to land (like the spikes on ledges to stop pidgeons from roosting). A solid net could also stop these creatures from landing inside the walls. As for the Anti-Air, ballistae and wizards could do the job, but in the case of the former, they would have to be mounted on rigs alowing for swift and accurate aiming.
    -Harald

    Today, we were kidnapped by hill folk never to be seen again. It was the best day ever.

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  7. #7
    Site Moderator geeman's Avatar
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    At 06:47 AM 11/10/2006, The Swordgaunt wrote:

    >The description of the Anuirean culture says that it`s a mix of
    >Ancient Rome and medieval Britain. This leads me to think that the
    >armies of tha Andu would have been organized around a legion-model
    >(granted, Haelyns weapon of choice is the longsword, but in a world
    >that alowes true heroes, personal combat would have been
    >emphasised). In the post empire Anuire, no Realm can field a true
    >legion, so the medieval army-model is the obvious choice.

    I think the ancient Rome reference is more of a nod toward the
    current Anuirean culture having a similar background to that of
    medieval Britain rather than a more 50/50 mix. Medieval Britain had
    a lot of Roman influences ranging from Hadrian`s Wall to the
    vocabulary of empire. There is a school of thought, in fact, that
    says one can`t really talk about any European culture without finding
    a lot of Roman influence. In BR, even the Vos use terms (czar,
    czarina, etc.) that are in the real world derived from the Roman empire.

    If considered more carefully, though, I don`t think the Rome/Britain
    comparison is really all that apt. Unless we`re talking about some
    empire from Aduria about which we know nothing, the only empire in
    the background of the BR setting is that of the Anuireans, and that
    one is IMO more aptly compared to the Carolingians in terms of size,
    culture, influence, etc. than ancient Rome. Charlemagne, of course,
    had his Roman influences and ambitions, but if we picture the great
    one without a Roman empire in his historical and geographical
    proximity, we get what I think is a more accurate idea of what
    Anuirean culture would be like.

    >The Gorgon, however, was present at Deismar, and would be intimately
    >familiar with Roman-style warfare. To me, it seems unlikely that he
    >would use ill-trained men-at-arms when he knows the eficiency of a legion.

    I`m with you on this one, if for slightly different reasons. While I
    don`t think the Gorgon`s background is really Roman per se, he would
    have memory of a much greater time in Anuirean military history when
    troops fought in numbers equal to legions, and he is himself a rather
    radical militant dictator, so he`d be involved in the training of his
    troops in a way that is more thorough than nearly any other Cerilian
    ruler (only one or two of the other awnsheghlien come to mind.) When
    it boils down to it, there are a lot of things that might negatively
    impact the morale of the Gorgon`s troops, but lack of training is
    probably not one of them. The Gorgon would be the kind of task
    master that`d make Patton look like a surfer dude. His troops would
    be drilled constantly if for no other reason than as a tribute to his
    titanic ego, and their discipline would likely be
    unquestioning. Imagine if the general in command could kill with a
    glance while troops were on parade? That`d certainly influence how
    carefully individual soldiers marched in step.... As a commander,
    though, the Gorgon does seem the type to delegate rather than be
    involved personally (which is really something of a neutral factor
    given when one adds up the plusses and minuses) so he his soldiers
    would probably only experience the negative aspects of his attention,
    like dropping dead from his stony glance.

    >Now, I`ve given this some thought, and I believe a late-medieval
    >legion would be equipped with platemail armor, large shields,
    >long-spears and shortswords. I also think that such a force would be
    >able to stop a mounted charge.

    Pikes, pikes, pikes. Pikes are an issue in any system of large scale
    combat, and we occasionally address them around here. When it comes
    to specific equipment for the Gorgon`s troops, though, I don`t see
    them as being all that well armored, except for the dwarves,
    especially those meant to wield pikes. It`s hard enough to run
    around with one of those things without being covered in metal plates.

    As a sidenote: Historically, there are really four ways to deal
    effectively with heavy cavalry of the type that appears to be the
    ideal in Anuire before the appearance of firearms:

    1. Pikes.
    2. Missile weapons (usually longbows.)
    3. Light cavalry with missile weapons.
    4. Fortifications.

    Arguably, #2 and #3 are the same, but I list them separately in order
    to note that the tactics employed and equipment are really very
    different. Archers are usually pretty static troops. They line up
    and fire as a unit. Light cavalry is geared towards hit and run
    tactics. The Mongols are the classic example of such units in
    military history, but I always think of the horse culture of various
    native American plain tribes as a purer reflection of the concept
    because they relied more heavily on the tactic than did even the
    Mongols who are so famous for that type of warfare. The Mongols,
    after all, had wagon trains with siege weapons backing them up.

    Of course, in a fantasy setting, we must add another category:

    5. Magic.

    Really, that`s the big one.... In BR, a unit of pikemen is probably
    cheaper than hiring a wizard with a Wand of Fireballs, but since the
    magic weapons are so much more effective than conventional ones the
    general who ignores magic would do so at his peril.

    >Imagine the Legions of Evil. Goblin auxilliaries an masse, used to
    >weaken the enemy. Auxilliaries of dwarves and men to form units of
    >archers and cavalry. Finally, legions of Orogs (or men) to anchor
    >the centre or deliver the chrushing blow to the enemy.
    >
    >Any thoughts?

    For some reason, I picture dwarves as point troops.... It`s not
    really reflected by the rules, mind you, just an image in my head or
    from my Tolkien fetish. "Run away!"

    In the Gorgon`s army one should probably take into consideration that
    the troops might be lined up not only in order of their effectiveness
    but also according to their racial enmities. While they would
    probably be very disciplined in normal circumstances like training
    and review, once deployed on the battlefield troops like goblins
    might turn on their dwarven "allies" in the midst of battle. The
    same might be said of any combination of goblin or orog troops with
    dwarven ones. Keeping human units between troops of those types
    might be the default way of organizing them.... At least, it`s a
    consideration that goes to their culture not just the military
    tactics, which could be defined as the essence of role-playing at the
    large scale combat level....

    Gary

  8. #8
    Site Moderator AndrewTall's Avatar
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    > 5. Magic.
    > Really, that`s the big one.... In BR, a unit of pikemen is probably
    > cheaper than hiring a wizard with a Wand of Fireballs, but since the
    > magic weapons are so much more effective than conventional ones the
    > general who ignores magic would do so at his peril.

    It's worth remembering how rare magic is in Birthright, whereas a castle in the Forgotten Realms must be able to defend against the village archmage, in Birthright very few spell-casters exist who can cast L3 evocation spells such as fireball. Also good thick walls are still about the only defence against magic, the alternative is large numbers of small (and cheap) forts, which would be vulnerable to conventional troops.

    Of course if one could hire a wizard with the legendary wand of fire then few fortifications would be safe - but a prudent ruler would keep such a rare and valuable resource to defend their own walls.

    I would note finally that wizards tend to have relatively poor armour classes and respond badly to being pincushoned by a few dozen arrows, any wizard who gets close enough to the walls to cast passwall, stone to mud, etc is either certificable or suicidal. Given that only a Khinasi/elven regent might have more than one or two such wizards in their entire realm it is likely that the general who squanders his wizards in such a way would rapidly find himself without their assistance.

    Defences against magic could include draft-proofing (stops gaseous foes), thicker walls (a wall to mud may make a small breach but not penetrate), water / sand bags for dealing with sudden fires, canopies over the walls for arial attacks (sloping to deflect such attacks outside the walls), internal walls to stop fireballs, etc expanding through the defences, etc.

    > If we look at the forces mentioned so far in this thread, we have Dwarves > whose sapper skills would shame most medieval engineers off the field. The > Orogs are also exeptionally adept at tunnel-fights, and together this would > form a dangerous force of sappers.

    One word, moats . Most castles will have water on at least three sides (a river bend for example is the classic European location for a town/castle, alongside local hillstops). Water is very effective at stopping tunneling (as long as you don't have aquatic dwarves). Also it should be noted that sapping takes a lot of time - even for dwarves, and if the tunnel entrance is too close the the castle it can be attacked - incidentally even dwarves would need a surface exit as the excavated earth/stone needs to go somewhere, not to mention ventilation requirements.

    >then we have the Giants. What good is a ten meters high wall if the >attackers can climb it as easily as a man climps a fence? Not to mention >how fast a couple of Giants can move a battering ram up to the curtain wall.

    True, but then at least the walls will slow the giant down and give defenders a chance to introduce them to the concept of boiling oil. Its worth remembering that giants would need fairly substantial hand/footholds to climb as well - cracks between castle wall blocks would be of as much use to them as the fine lines between bricks of a marble wall to human hands. Of course the giants can always stand on each other to get over walls too large just to hurdle.

    >once deployed on the battlefield troops like goblins
    >might turn on their dwarven "allies" in the midst of battle.

    And vice versa, certainly if the Gorgon was elsewhere I can see the dwarves of Murkilad happily watching while their Markozor 'allies' are cut to ribbons, or even 'accidentally' carving their way through the goblins and orogs to get to their 'real' opponents. Certainly any goblin forces who made a 'tactical withdrawal' could expect little sympathy from the dwarves who would only be too happy to call the withdrawal desertion from the field of battle and punish the goblins on the Gorgon's behalf...

    The limitation I see in aerial troops is the fact that they tend to be lightly armoured and vulnerable to archers/ballistae, and dropped rocks/etc are notoriously inaccurate when the bomber is fast moving unless they either slow down or get very close.

    I don't think it is possible to build a castle that can defend against a dragon / archmage. But it should be realised that a ruler defends against known, common threats - a castle is great against conventional troops and makes a firm statement of power to the local population, not to mention the fact that a lord needs somewhere to live and that someehere must be quite secure.

  9. #9
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Short version: If I can buff characters, why can't I buff my fortification?

    Long version:
    I'm not sure that a fireball does any damage at all to stone fortifications. If we look at real world stone, its already been subjected to greater heat and pressure than a fireball. Fireballs bother people because people don't like to be burned. Whether that damage is injury, exhaustion, or something else doesn't matter, the d20 damage systems take both into account without serious distinction. I can easily imagine that threat of dragons, flying wizards, or just catapults with buckets of burning oil, might be sufficient to eliminate wood as a fortification building material. So aside from wood, what would a castle look like? Anti-aircraft springs to mind, but generally I think its unneccesary. Unless you imagine that flying wizards or dragons have an unlimited loiter time and vast amounts of fire to fling, all a castle really needs is a "bomb shelter" handy for its defenders. Most places that actually experience aerial bombardment get by with just shelters. Anti-aircraft is generally reserved for places that expect sustained bombardment. But are fireballs so easy to come by that they can be analogized to artillery high explosives or air dropped bombs? I think that bombs and shells for an industrial society is measured by the ton.

    If fireballs don't do terribly much damage to stone structures, and they are only available in single or double digits to an attacker, they don't seem terribly important. Or their import is how vulnerable the people standing outside the castle besieging it are to a fireball thrown from the walls.

    Also, generally, we find in war that defense is pretty closely aligned to offense. At various times one or the other gets the upper hand for a generation before the other side figures out the counter-measures. If this can be expected to exist in BR (and why not?) then defenses to walls should basically counter all magical attacks of the same magnitude. If a castle has three mages prepare a castle by setting up triggered counter spells or dispells in such a way that they don't tie up spell slots for more than a day (their are enough ways to do this that detailing them all is a tactical analysis beyond my present purpose) and an attacking force has three comperable mages, they should find attack no easier than anyone else. As long as my three defending mages can apply defenses, we have a perpetual stalemate until the one side can alter the balance of mages on either side.

    Before a siege, fighters will look over the fortification to determine where last minute repairs or additional defenses need to be undertaken. Likewise, mages will do the same thing just in the metaphysical realm (so to speak) while fighters deal with the physical realm.

    If the focus in battle tactics are all physical, mundane and magical, and defenses are limited to the physical, mages and clerics will appear to be far more powerful than anyone else. Obviously the reverse would be true if we confine ourselves to magic back and forth in the magical realm and one spellcaster hires a peasant to walk over and hit the other guy in the head with a rock. Because we have intimate knowledge of the material world, we tend to make all kinds of assessments about how this or that effect it, but does it not make sense that if mages exist, their real enemies are other mages. Certainly a look at spells show that there are lots of spells that, like arcane lock and knock, presume spell vs spell. Scry and Obscure Object perhaps even more so, because fighters don't bust down anything. Desecrate and Sanctify, &c, &c.

    Why not assume that defending spellcasters set up magical traps on the battlefield to warp the wood of siege engines, or assume that spellcasters have a Protection from Energyy version that can be cast on a building, section of wall, or object, rather than just people. The original is a 3rd level spell.

    Perhaps the conventional view is that one guy Disintergrates a section of my fortress wall and I throw up a Wall of Stone to counter that. Another interpretaion would be that I could have enhanced the raw statistics (hardness, hp, &c) or the save bonus of my fortification. I don't see spells that are designed to protect buildings, but its only natural to assume they could exist by extrapolation for similar spells designed to buff characters.

  10. #10
    Senior Member RaspK_FOG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck
    I'm not sure that a fireball does any damage at all to stone fortifications. If we look at real world stone, its already been subjected to greater heat and pressure than a fireball. Fireballs bother people because people don't like to be burned. Whether that damage is injury, exhaustion, or something else doesn't matter, the d20 damage systems take both into account without serious distinction. I can easily imagine that threat of dragons, flying wizards, or just catapults with buckets of burning oil, might be sufficient to eliminate wood as a fortification building material.
    Actually, that's wrong: stone had once been subjected to heat; it's current form is what it looks like after it cools down, and pressure is what packs it tight, whereas a fireball is pure heat, and extremely potent at that (enough to melt even stone, according to the theme behind the spell). In fact, I find it mistaken that people generally don't reduce wall and floor hit points whenever fireball is used: to common people, fireball is no less than hellfire unleashed! Remember, though: stone suffers only half damage from heat, does not catch on fire, and its durability is very decent (8 hardness, 15 hit points/inch [consider that exterior stone walls reached 2 feet of thickness, or 360 hit points for each 5'×5' section!]), which is, in the end, the main reason people don't take such damage into account.

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck
    So aside from wood, what would a castle look like? Anti-aircraft springs to mind, but generally I think its unneccesary. Unless you imagine that flying wizards or dragons have an unlimited loiter time and vast amounts of fire to fling, all a castle really needs is a "bomb shelter" handy for its defenders. Most places that actually experience aerial bombardment get by with just shelters. Anti-aircraft is generally reserved for places that expect sustained bombardment. But are fireballs so easy to come by that they can be analogized to artillery high explosives or air dropped bombs? I think that bombs and shells for an industrial society is measured by the ton.
    I consider the average flying-by-and-still-fire-volleying wizard or dragon rare enough as not to be such a great matter of consideration in most castles, if any at all...

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck
    If fireballs don't do terribly much damage to stone structures, and they are only available in single or double digits to an attacker, they don't seem terribly important. Or their import is how vulnerable the people standing outside the castle besieging it are to a fireball thrown from the walls.
    There are many things to consider; in the end, my above notes show that breaching a 5'×5' section is possible, yet fireball is not your best option. Higher level spells are great, but allow me to remind you that disintegrate is not normally allowed to be used with floor panes or wall sections (your DM may rule that you can affect 1 portion of it, but that would take way to much time).

    Quote Originally Posted by kgauck
    Also, generally, we find in war that defense is pretty closely aligned to offense. At various times one or the other gets the upper hand for a generation before the other side figures out the counter-measures. If this can be expected to exist in BR (and why not?) then defenses to walls should basically counter all magical attacks of the same magnitude. If a castle has three mages prepare a castle by setting up triggered counter spells or dispells in such a way that they don't tie up spell slots for more than a day (their are enough ways to do this that detailing them all is a tactical analysis beyond my present purpose) and an attacking force has three comperable mages, they should find attack no easier than anyone else. As long as my three defending mages can apply defenses, we have a perpetual stalemate until the one side can alter the balance of mages on either side.

    Before a siege, fighters will look over the fortification to determine where last minute repairs or additional defenses need to be undertaken. Likewise, mages will do the same thing just in the metaphysical realm (so to speak) while fighters deal with the physical realm.
    Check out the rules on magically reinforced walls in the DMG.

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