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Thread: Undead Legion

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    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    Recent discussions of warfare have reminded me fondly of many things I've said on the topic before, one of which I'd like to bring up again. The true strength of undead troops is not their morale effects on the battlefield (they never run away, and encourage others to run away sooner), but their immense strategic mobility. They do not tire, eat, sleep, or breathe. This means that they should, at a rough D&D mechanics estimate, move on the strategic scale six times as fast as normal units of their type, since they can double-time 24 hours a day instead of march at single speed for eight hours. Even zombies are faster than human infantry, because they can slowly shuffle without stopping for three times as long per day. They should cost less to move between provinces, because their logistical tail is lighter: they don't need food, clothing, shelter or medical care, so it needn't be paid for to bring along. They can cross rivers, lakes, even oceans by simply walking along the bottom. They can actually *bridge* rivers for the use of other troops, or even dam them, just by linking arms and walking in. You can even move them surreptitiously by shipping them in sealed packing crates, because they have no need or even desire for nutrition, light, air or freedom.

    All of these things apply equally well to constructs, so, for example, the magically-powerful and immortal-except-for-battle Sidhelien should have armies composed not of themselves, but instead of golems. It gives them all the same advantages without any need for necromancy.


    Ryan

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    Unless your undead legion is commanded by Intellegent undead I would think that they are limited in movement by the "life burdened" commanders that guide them. In most circumstances undead legions would likely not march any faster than human troops, save for say avoiding forced march penalties etc..
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dcolby View Post
    Unless your undead legion is commanded by Intellegent undead I would think that they are limited in movement by the "life burdened" commanders that guide them.
    On the contrary, the living commander can be carried in a carriage or palanquin for most of these (except the underwater stuff). Plus, since he pretty much has to be a high-level spellcaster, making his own food, water and air probably isn't much of a problem. Even so, "march that way as fast as you can, stop when you reach the ocean, and kill anything that tries to stop you" is a fine order to give, and then catch up with later via flight, teleportation, or sea travel (much faster than land travel).


    Ryan

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryancaveney View Post
    "march that way as fast as you can, stop when you reach the ocean, and kill anything that tries to stop you"
    While indeed the Undead would follow such an order that leaves the commander of such a force little in the way of situational control. The purpose of a commander is to adjust and react to changes in the tactical/strategic situation and provide direction and guidence to the forces he controls.

    Without on the spot "Living" and "awake" guidence the commander of an undead army is assuming a lot risk. Indeed the limit on undead mobility may be found in the requirement of a commander to make frequent "adjustments" to his orders in order to get the best deployment from his mindless troops.

    An army of Warforged (Self Aware Constructs)from the Ebberon setting would be the ultimate mobility army. Able to march without end and if commanded by other warforged able to adjust and react to changes in the situation along the way.

    My thoughts on the matter anyway...
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Two necromancers, one the mentor, the other his faithful appretice (of sufficient level to do the work, but hoping to "inherit" his master's source holdings) can each operate for 12 hours without difficulty, resting and then catching up to the army either by magical movement or swift animal (living or shadow).

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    Ok, Ok, I yield the point...grumble grumble...find me a "loyal" necromancers apprentice..grumble grumble..
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dcolby View Post
    Without on the spot "Living" and "awake" guidence the commander of an undead army is assuming a lot risk. Indeed the limit on undead mobility may be found in the requirement of a commander to make frequent "adjustments" to his orders in order to get the best deployment from his mindless troops.
    Easy fix, keep the enemy's "living" and "awake" commanders distracted by creating a catastrophe where they are, delaying responce to news of the column of zombies. Summon a fire elemental to wreak havok in the market place of the capital. Spread rumors about things that aren't happening so the "living" and "awake" commanders go running after wild geese while your mindless zombies march unopposed according to instructions.

    Apprentices are very good at being the "living" and "awake" presence, even if their only duty is to read the Message scroll and send the master word of the three paladins, cleric, and their company of knights that has just arrived. More advanced apprentices can take command of a small body of troops and give them new directions.

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    From the wiki....

    The legion of dead is mindless and entirely under the control of the caster. The caster must travel with the army at all times or the spell will be broken and the army will collapse.

    I unyield!! (Is that a word??) Since the caster must travel with the army and the legion responds to his/her orders I contend that the Caster must rest (Unless undead himself) and therefore the army moves slower than it could if unburdened by its necromancer.
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Senior Member Dcolby's Avatar
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    From the Wiki...

    Undead Legion Special + 8 - 22 3 1 (+ 6) - Fearless (cannot be routed), immune to subdual damage, mustered/maintained by realm spell

    While I do not concede giving Undead greater adjustment than being able to force march at will without effect. I do think that a move of 1 is very low and should be adjusted.
    Good Morning Peasant!!

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    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    An Undead Legion is powered by a realm spell. A necromancer of sufficient level can send a significant number of undead to mindless tasks as Ryan described ("march that way as fast as you can, stop when you reach the ocean, and kill anything that tries to stop you") without having to draw on the realm spell. As flexible as regular necromancy is, I'm not sure why anyone would use the realm spell, unless they are caster level poor and source rich.

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