Author Topic: The War Compendium  (Read 34601 times)

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oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #40 on: March 09, 2011, 05:54:16 PM »
Yes, most armies could start with warriors and commoners, but with (a reasonable amount of) training they could be fighters instead. But they can't materialize spellbooks all of a sudden.
Define "reasonable". Fighters are faster to train than wizards yes, but they still take their time. And during war time is a very precious commodity.

NPC classes exist for a reason. They're the mass-produced dudes that were given a couple weeks training tops and then sent to war/work (or in the case of commoners no training at all). The actual grunt soldiers that will compose most of an army. Not a whole army where the lowiest soldier is either a fighter or crusaders or binders or marshalls or bard that would each need years to train.


Rejakor

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #41 on: March 09, 2011, 06:49:16 PM »
It takes 15 years and thousands of GP to train a 5th level wizard.  (doesn't actually cost that much GP if you use any of the magic item lowering abilities or feats or use any of the umpty dozen ways to get free spellbooks or limit the spells to the normal 2 (or 4 with Collegiate Wizard, i.e. the feat that mass-trained wizards would probably have cause they might have come from some kind of..college..)

That wizard can fly, be immune to arrows, and with a Wand Of Fireballs, kill thousands of warriors.  Who just cost population and 80gp per bow.

Then the warriors all spread out.  And the tightly packed shield-trained warriors/fighters of the side the wizard works for come in and start taking face and beating it against the wall.

Rinse repeat.  Hell, a 5th level wizard can rock up, spend his buff time limit setting people on fire, and then go home, and come back the next day, and do it again.  Even a 5th level wizard's phantom steed is uncatchable by mortals.  Or his valenar warbeast superstallion that the nation bought him cause they dun want him to die.

And this is 5th level.  Even a 3rd level wizard can use area effects to good example, or longer-range-than-bows stuff.  Even Burning Hands or Colour Spray is the equivalent of a guy with a flamethrower, which turns most of the main concepts of historical warfare on their heads.

Consider that for about 80gp with the right feats, you can make a construct that can spit acid, has 30ish hp, and 3 natural attacks.

Consider that for 25gp worth of onyx (or for free if you're level 5 and have the feat 'fell animate') per HD you can have all the undead your heart desires.


I'm not saying 'YOUR FUN IS WRONG BAD FUN'.  I'm saying 'Your handbook is called the War Handbook, and in DnD with magic and stuff war works differently than you are saying it does... you might want to add a note that your handbook is for people who are playing in low magic or no magic campaigns'.  Or if you are interested in more than historical warfare, you could expand the handbook to cover how magic affects war and whatnot... the different kind of tactics and strategies and army compositions and philosophies that could/would form in a world with magic and monsters and trainable giant crocodiles.  You know, create a resource for GMs that want their wars to be fantastical in their fantasy game.  Because other than Frank and K's Races of War, which goes to the step of showing how historical/traditional war falls apart in the arena of Cloudkill and Fireball but doesn't take the critical step of showing what would replace it, there's basically no good resources for GMs for wars.  IK is decent, but setting-specific.


To get back to my earlier point.  Yes, training a wizard takes time and effort.  Yes, buying a bow is very easy.  But when a wizard can set hundreds or thousands of bow armed commoners/warriors on fire and there is a small to nil chance he'll die doing so, nations are going to put in the time and effort to train wizards.  And wizard-hunters.  And the wizards are going to make Shield Guardians so they don't die.  And craft constructs in their spare time.  And Fyr The Bloody-Handed will pioneer the tactic of summoning powerful monsters to wipe out his foes (not risking anything other than the spell-slots of his wizards) which will be countered when he runs into the Abjurers College of New Hampshire at which point the Hampshirian Archivist Archer Brigades will whip out their ranger spells and blow the crap out of Fyr.  And banners that give SR will be countered by Ranged Sunder Arrow Demons and that will be countered by adamantine sheathing and do you see where this is going?  It ends with focused dwarven abjurers standing behind stalwart ranks of dwarven defenders countering spells using turning attempts while dwarven archery and ballistae wipe out flying foes/summons.  The technical term for this is arms race.  It happens when you start getting technology in warfare, i.e. when you move beyond beating people with rocks.  Magic supercharges arms races, making them more like cold war era craziness than medieval era 'slightly better armour'.  That's what it does.

As for inconsistent universes... if you have a setting where magic exists and the armies of nations don't use magic?  When a single 5th level wizard can wipe out hundreds of knights and yet all nations use knights and none use wizards?  You better have a reason for that.  One that makes sense.  Versimilitude is essentially 'realism' without the 'part of real life' component.  The world you create has to be self-contained and make sense.  If it doesn't it breaks suspension of disbelief in half and you end up with players metagaming and not treating the world as if it was real.  Which is where you get the best, and most interactive, games.

And if your reason is 'wizard are really rare' and yet you have them liberally scattered everywhere (i.e. any DnD setting), then, again, that breaks versimilitude.  Because you're saying two things, and they don't mesh.  Or, as i've literally had DMs try to say in the past, 'it just doesn't happen'.  Which is, again, something that makes the world less real and breaks suspension of disbelief.  It is an ironclad law that if something is useful in terms of warfare, it will be used.  The only times it hasn't been has usually been due to social pressures (samurai and guns) and those nations have often suffered as a result.  And not using magic, in DnD, when magic is available, is like not using aircraft and tanks and machine-guns when they are available.  To whit, what happens when polish cuirassiers with swords charge at tanks.  Generally, the tanks are going to win.

Talore

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #42 on: March 09, 2011, 07:56:54 PM »
Yes, most armies could start with warriors and commoners, but with (a reasonable amount of) training they could be fighters instead. But they can't materialize spellbooks all of a sudden.
Define "reasonable". Fighters are faster to train than wizards yes, but they still take their time. And during war time is a very precious commodity.

NPC classes exist for a reason. They're the mass-produced dudes that were given a couple weeks training tops and then sent to war/work (or in the case of commoners no training at all). The actual grunt soldiers that will compose most of an army. Not a whole army where the lowiest soldier is either a fighter or crusaders or binders or marshalls or bard that would each need years to train.


I'm not necessarily questioning this, but why does Heroes of Battle have every 1st level soldier as a fighter? This is genuine confusion.

Again, I'm not saying 'HIGH MAGIC BAD' either, but you must realise that everything is up to the DM's setting. It depends on how much magic there is, and really how much war has been developed. Perhaps only a few guys in all the realms actually took Craft Construct, and not all the hired sorcerers actually learnt the most optimal war spells. Perhaps flying mounts are scarce, or people willing to eat their XP to craft wands of magic missile are few in number.

I will cover all levels of magic.

Wizard guild armies are different from peasant levies are different from monstrous hordes are different than martial academy armies.

Also, as an aside, I maintain that an archer volley team can still be effective  :P You can target reflex saves instead of AC.

Progress: After I re-type the intro to magic levels in war, I'll try to finish up with the Leadership feats. Then I'll integrate content into the various unfinished sections from people that have contributed so far. Content is always welcome!
« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 08:26:14 PM by Talore »
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oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #43 on: March 09, 2011, 11:20:28 PM »
Yes, most armies could start with warriors and commoners, but with (a reasonable amount of) training they could be fighters instead. But they can't materialize spellbooks all of a sudden.
Define "reasonable". Fighters are faster to train than wizards yes, but they still take their time. And during war time is a very precious commodity.

NPC classes exist for a reason. They're the mass-produced dudes that were given a couple weeks training tops and then sent to war/work (or in the case of commoners no training at all). The actual grunt soldiers that will compose most of an army. Not a whole army where the lowiest soldier is either a fighter or crusaders or binders or marshalls or bard that would each need years to train.


I'm not necessarily questioning this, but why does Heroes of Battle have every 1st level soldier as a fighter? This is genuine confusion.
Really?

From page 59:

Infantry
The rank and file troops of the army are usually simply warriors, unless the army has a significant number of conscripts, but some infantry units are more heavily armed and more experienced, as well. The majority of the troops are referred to as regulars, and they march into battle with sword or spear, lightly armored and carrying a wooden shield. Professional soldiers are typically of the fighter class, and are better equipped, sometimes withmasterwork weapons.


You can also notice in the first pages warriors being mentioned left, right and center for basic infantry, while fighters are only mentioned as elite troops.

Again, I'm not saying 'HIGH MAGIC BAD' either, but you must realise that everything is up to the DM's setting. It depends on how much magic there is, and really how much war has been developed. Perhaps only a few guys in all the realms actually took Craft Construct, and not all the hired sorcerers actually learnt the most optimal war spells. Perhaps flying mounts are scarce, or people willing to eat their XP to craft wands of magic missile are few in number.

Wizard guild armies are different from peasant levies are different from monstrous hordes are different than martial academy armies.
Ok, but then you need to ask yourself how will the party itself not tear trough everything by themselves. Because the party wizard can get craft construct, and the cleric is geting his undeads, and they're both willing to eat exp to craft magic stuff. Heck, even a "nonmagic" frenzied berseker with supreme cleave will slaughter tens of thousands in seconds if they're clumped togheter enough!


JaronK

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #44 on: March 10, 2011, 02:48:32 AM »
See, and now we're back in silly territorry. Where are you geting that many crusaders again?

I did say "for elite units."  In other words, you take as many Crusaders as you can get in your army and make elite units of them.  They do not form anywhere near the bulk of your army... they are anvil units placed in key positions.  I would assume the bulk of your army is Warriors with a significant number of Commoners and Experts (which is why I talked about how to use those effectively). 

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Undeads/constructs/outsiders would like a word with you. They don't give a damn about supplies of any kind. Rings of sustenance for your elite troops that happen to still need to eat. You don't need stiking supply carts. If anybody complains they're hungry, make them join the wight or half-golem division.

Most undead abilities don't produce army scale units.  You need at the very least a 5th level Cleric to even start raising undead units (note that everyone else I was referring to utilized first level classes), and that guy can only produce perhaps 10 skeleton warriors.  A Dread Necromancer 8 can do better, but now you're using 8th level spellcasters, and that's still not THAT many guys.  You'd need Spell Like Animate Dread Warrior to actually produce large scale army units, and that's a very high level ability indeed, which is mostly inappropriate to the type of warfare talked about here.

JaronK

oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #45 on: March 10, 2011, 03:06:42 AM »
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Undeads/constructs/outsiders would like a word with you. They don't give a damn about supplies of any kind. Rings of sustenance for your elite troops that happen to still need to eat. You don't need stiking supply carts. If anybody complains they're hungry, make them join the wight or half-golem division.

Most undead abilities don't produce army scale units.  You need at the very least a 5th level Cleric to even start raising undead units (note that everyone else I was referring to utilized first level classes), and that guy can only produce perhaps 10 skeleton warriors.  A Dread Necromancer 8 can do better, but now you're using 8th level spellcasters, and that's still not THAT many guys.  You'd need Spell Like Animate Dread Warrior to actually produce large scale army units, and that's a very high level ability indeed, which is mostly inappropriate to the type of warfare talked about here.
1-Self replicating undeads. Wights are a classic, and at CR 3, not that unlikely from being found out there in the wilderness. A lv1 cleric can gain control of them with a little searching and luck. Once you have one, then they'll grow in exponential rate as you feed them criminals and enemy prisioners. You'll be turning lv1 NPCs into CR 3 monsters. What's not to love? Just make sure the main cleric is somewhere safe.
2-Altough we never got an "official" warforged crafting rule, we know they were easy enough to manufacture for armies to be made out of them. And they also don't need to eat. And won't produce new wights when defeated.
3-Altough they have LA, Aasimar and Tiefling have the same CR as base races. A planetouched warrior's CR is 1/2, the same of an human warrior. But the planetouched doesn't need to eat or sleep. I also like the chaotic one that can use Shatter 1/day as a SLA, a group of them can open the battle by blowing up the weapons of the enemy.

So, even if you discard wightapocalypse, warforged and planetouched are low-level armies that don't care about supply lines of any kind.

JaronK

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #46 on: March 10, 2011, 03:21:34 AM »
1-Self replicating undeads. Wights are a classic, and at CR 3, not that unlikely from being found out there in the wilderness. A lv1 cleric can gain control of them with a little searching and luck. Once you have one, then they'll grow in exponential rate as you feed them criminals and enemy prisioners. You'll be turning lv1 NPCs into CR 3 monsters. What's not to love? Just make sure the main cleric is somewhere safe.

Rebuke undead controls a specific set number of creatures.  You're assuming it lets you control a huge chain of them, but that's not really RAW... RAW says at any one time a Cleric may command a number of undead equal to his HD, and you're trying to control a heck of a lot more than that via a chain.  Many DMs would balk at that.  Furthermore, wight control is not telepathic... they just follow the orders of the higher level wight.  You'd need the entire chain on the battlefield to be able to order them around even if it did work.  A surgical strike against a higher up in the chain could turn a vast segment of your army completely uncontrolled.  Imagine what a single infiltrating Factotum with a Rod of Defiance could do to your army... especially if enemies can see who's giving the commands (since only a higher up in the chain wight could do it).  That's FAR nastier than a supply line raid.

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2-Altough we never got an "official" warforged crafting rule, we know they were easy enough to manufacture for armies to be made out of them. And they also don't need to eat. And won't produce new wights when defeated.

We don't know start up costs, required level, or anything for that.  Considering how useful they'd normally be in Eberron, and the fact that the other countries didn't make a lot of forges, I'd assume the cost to build a forge was very high indeed, at the country GDP scale.

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3-Altough they have LA, Aasimar and Tiefling have the same CR as base races. A planetouched warrior's CR is 1/2, the same of an human warrior. But the planetouched doesn't need to eat or sleep. I also like the chaotic one that can use Shatter 1/day as a SLA, a group of them can open the battle by blowing up the weapons of the enemy.

I would assume leadership gives you stuff based on ECL, since it's controlled by the player.  Besides, where are you getting all these Aasimar?  Such a race is usually far less common than Humans... and at level 1, that human bonus feat is amazing.

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So, even if you discard wightapocalypse, warforged and planetouched are low-level armies that don't care about supply lines of any kind.

If you can get them, perhaps.  Not a good assumption.

JaronK

oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #47 on: March 10, 2011, 03:44:45 AM »
Rebuke undead controls a specific set number of creatures.  You're assuming it lets you control a huge chain of them, but that's not really RAW... RAW says at any one time a Cleric may command a number of undead equal to his HD, and you're trying to control a heck of a lot more than that via a chain.  Many DMs would balk at that.  Furthermore, wight control is not telepathic... they just follow the orders of the higher level wight.  You'd need the entire chain on the battlefield to be able to order them around even if it did work.  A surgical strike against a higher up in the chain could turn a vast segment of your army completely uncontrolled.
Yeah, good luck breaking trough my wall of wights that turn casualities in more wights when all you have are CR 1/2 warriors. They have Int 11 and Wis 13, so they're damn good thinkers themselves, so of course the leader ones will take care to don't expose themselves.

If anybody will be performing devastating surgical strikes, it will be the wights themselves with their Hide+8, Move silently +16 and darkvision.

  Imagine what a single infiltrating Factotum with a Rod of Defiance could do to your army... especially if enemies can see who's giving the commands (since only a higher up in the chain wight could do it).  That's FAR nastier than a supply line raid.
Who's bringing high level characters with magic bling now? Of course an high level character with high level equipment will be far nastier than a supply line raid!:P

But guess what? Said high level character with high level gear could defeat the living army by himself just as easily.

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2-Altough we never got an "official" warforged crafting rule, we know they were easy enough to manufacture for armies to be made out of them. And they also don't need to eat. And won't produce new wights when defeated.

We don't know start up costs, required level, or anything for that.  Considering how useful they'd normally be in Eberron, and the fact that the other countries didn't make a lot of forges, I'd assume the cost to build a forge was very high indeed, at the country GDP scale.
They're also immortal, don't get sick and don't need to eat or maintenance of any kind, so they easily pay themselves in the long run.

After all, the cost of maintaning a living stand army isn't cheap either. And then the living army needs even more expenses on the form of vulnerable supply lines.

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3-Altough they have LA, Aasimar and Tiefling have the same CR as base races. A planetouched warrior's CR is 1/2, the same of an human warrior. But the planetouched doesn't need to eat or sleep. I also like the chaotic one that can use Shatter 1/day as a SLA, a group of them can open the battle by blowing up the weapons of the enemy.

I would assume leadership gives you stuff based on ECL, since it's controlled by the player.  Besides, where are you getting all these Aasimar?  Such a race is usually far less common than Humans...
Race demopgraphics will depend on the seting. Nobody says humans will be the most common.

and at level 1, that human bonus feat is amazing.
At level 1, Darkvision is quite handy as well, and the Tieflings do get +1 to hit with ranged weapons and AC over humans.

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So, even if you discard wightapocalypse, warforged and planetouched are low-level armies that don't care about supply lines of any kind.

If you can get them, perhaps.  Not a good assumption.
Eberron had whole armies of undeads and warforged ducking it out. Undead armies are actually a big staple of several D&D setings. So a pretty good assumption I say.

JaronK

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #48 on: March 10, 2011, 03:54:21 AM »
Yeah, good luck breaking trough my wall of wights that turn casualities in more wights when all you have are CR 1/2 warriors. They have Int 11 and Wis 13, so they're damn good thinkers themselves, so of course the leader ones will take care to don't expose themselves.

If anybody will be performing devastating surgical strikes, it will be the wights themselves with their Hide+8, Move silently +16 and darkvision.

  Imagine what a single infiltrating Factotum with a Rod of Defiance could do to your army... especially if enemies can see who's giving the commands (since only a higher up in the chain wight could do it).  That's FAR nastier than a supply line raid.
Who's bringing high level characters with magic bling now? Of course an high level character with high level equipment will be far nastier than a supply line raid!:P

Just getting a single controlled Wight requires a level 8 evil Cleric (to be high enough to Rebuke it).  A level 8 Factotum without a magic item (or a level 5 Factotum with the Rod) can completely destroy your army with a standard action.  Same resources being used here.

And to be clear, since there's a 6k item in MIC that makes you completely invisible to all undead with no save, that surgical strike is trivially easy to land.  Heck, any stealther can do it as long as they can take out a single Wight quickly (I picked Factotum because Opportunistic Piety will one shot TKO the Wight as well as a few around it).  Maybe not even a stealther... with the Shirt even a Barbarian could just walk past your army, find the commanders, and hack them to pieces.

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But guess what? Said high level character with high level gear could defeat the living army by himself just as easily.

Then perhaps you should come up with strategies that don't require someone capable of rebuking a 4HD undead. 

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They're also immortal, don't get sick and don't need to eat or maintenance of any kind, so they easily pay themselves in the long run.

After all, the cost of maintaning a living stand army isn't cheap either. And then the living army needs even more expenses on the form of vulnerable supply lines.

Without knowing the up front costs, we really can't get into this.  The simple point is that if they were as efficient as you say, the people who could make them would likely have made more of them.

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Race demopgraphics will depend on the seting. Nobody says humans will be the most common.

Still, in most settings outsiders won't be that common.

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Eberron had whole armies of undeads and warforged ducking it out. Undead armies are actually a big staple of several D&D setings. So a pretty good assumption I say.

It still required very high level spellcasting to get that done.  Try coming up with plans that don't require anybody above level 5 and you'll have army situations as portrayed in the books.  Heck, most of them stuck with level 1s in general.

JaronK

oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #49 on: March 10, 2011, 03:08:40 PM »
Just getting a single controlled Wight requires a level 8 evil Cleric (to be high enough to Rebuke it).  A level 8 Factotum without a magic item (or a level 5 Factotum with the Rod) can completely destroy your army with a standard action.  Same resources being used here.
First, you won't destroy the army. You will at best destroy the chain of command. Then you still have an army of angry wights thirsting for the living.

But you're right an evil cleric 8 is a waste of resources for geting that wight.

Wizard 1 with precocious aprentice(command undead), arcane thesis (command undead) and spellgifted (necromancy) can take care of it.

And to be clear, since there's a 6k item in MIC that makes you completely invisible to all undead with no save, that surgical strike is trivially easy to land.  Heck, any stealther can do it as long as they can take out a single Wight quickly (I picked Factotum because Opportunistic Piety will one shot TKO the Wight as well as a few around it).  Maybe not even a stealther... with the Shirt even a Barbarian could just walk past your army, find the commanders, and hack them to pieces.
Good, good, but that assumes I'm sending the commanding undead into battle. But how about if I do it like this:
-Feed criminals/prisioners of war/kobolds to your original wight, wich shall always be kept in the safest place possible.
-Order your original wight to choose one of it's wights as subcommander. All other wights are ordered to obey the subcommander.
-Then give lesser ranks to the other other wights, stablishing an actual chain of command. Each wight  is ordered to answer to another wight besides the original wight.
-Stablish contigencies for if a certain rank is destroyed. If the subcommander bites it, then the nearest lieutenant takes charge, and so on.
-You've now stablished a flexible chain of command that's not based on the actual enslavement ability of the wight. Wights in the field can be given the right to give orders whitout actually being the ones that spawned the other wights. As long as the original wight is kept safe, there's no critical point in the command chain.

During a war campaign as you spawn new wights:
-Wights are ordered to take prisioners alive whenever possible to send back to the original wight.
-Wights spawned during battle shall be used as frontline shock/suicide/vanguard troops so they're destroyed quickly and can't get out of control.
-If a single wight spawns a lot of other wights, then it is "retired", ordering it's minions to obey some other wight while being removed from the frontlines to a safe place. And by safe place, I mean entombed in a stone sarcophagus several feet under.

Contigencies for keeping control of the original wight:
-Order the original wight to order all it's new spawns to blindly obey the wizard.
-Otherwise keep the original wight out of contact from all other wights, locked in some dark place with chains.
-If for some reason you fail to keep command undead up on the original wight, then no trouble. Its spawns are still ordered to obey you and it can't take it's orders back (since as you pointed out there's no telephatic link for it to take it's orders back). Keep spamming command undead every day untill you get it back under control.

Well now here's a proper wight army, all based on a lv1 wizard and a CR 3 wight. Flexible chain of command based on the enslaver wight ordering it's spawns to obey other individuals, then making sure enslaver wight isn't in the frontline, makes sure there's no critical points for the oponent to strike in battle. It grows at an exponential rate, doesn't need to eat, sleep or even breathe (amphibious assaults!) and can easily match any oponent in numbers.


Then perhaps you should come up with strategies that don't require someone capable of rebuking a 4HD undead.  
See above. Lv 1 wizard will do it. Thanks for the incentive of properly fleshing this out! :D

Without knowing the up front costs, we really can't get into this.  The simple point is that if they were as efficient as you say, the people who could make them would likely have made more of them.
Even more? There's enough warforged in Eberron that they started their own city-state! And you can find them pretty much anywhere. How many more did you want?

 Try coming up with plans that don't require anybody above level 5 and you'll have army situations as portrayed in the books.  Heck, most of them stuck with level 1s in general.
Just did it with a lv1 and a CR 3 monster. Undead army is still more than possible and easily the scariest one out there if you use some clever thinking.

Felix Underwood

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #50 on: March 10, 2011, 09:43:12 PM »
Wait, are you guys competing over which army is better?, because I don't think that was the OP's intention.

If this is a discussion on what armies are valid, then all of your ideas should be included... one doesn't make the other obsolete.  If history is any example, even sucky armies are still considered armies.  ;)

Instead of saying why one army is better than the other, just describe your army and list the pro's and con's.  Folks can contribute, but it certainly doesn't invalidate the army.  A DM might decide to use such an army as an obstacle for the PCs to overcome.  Then it's up to the PCs if they can find the weaknesses, and react appropriately.

Since anything considering Leadership revolves around the DM's approval, I think it's safe to include a disclaimer about that (or assume one exists) with any advice around what type of followers to attract.

Also, note that Leadership is only one out of the fifteen chapters described by Talore.  A Leader doesn't require absolute, irresistable command over your minions (although, it's by far the sexiest option).  The DM can decree whatever flavor he/she desires as to why the soldiers obey their leaders.  Flavor-wise, sure Leadership is appropriate for a King/Duke/Baron/what-have-you, but if you have thousands of soldiers, some could be in it for the coin, motivated by genuine loyalty, in it for the glory, plunder rights, fear, etc...

That being said, some of the suggestions listed could also go in the Tips & Tricks section.


Felix Underwood

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #52 on: March 10, 2011, 10:13:50 PM »
Well, yes and no... to use K's Revised Necromancer Handbook as an example:

A second level Cleric could theoretically use Rebuking to command a Paragon Ghostly Visage. It would have a Save DC on its paralyzing gaze of 39 and completely own every monster you ever encounter for many levels to come. It doesn't even get a save, you just make a Turning Check and if you get a result that is capable of effecting creatures with at least 1 hit die less than your effective turning level, it's yours! Assuming of course, that you ever ran into one.

The problem is that this is basically Pun-Pun. If the DM happens to arbitrarily decide to give you power that is completely out of scale with your level, you'll have power that is completely out of scale with your level. So while there are all kinds of crazy things that you can control with Rebuking or create with Animate Dead, the fact is that in an actual game these killer combos are simply not likely to occur. The DM could have you find the Sword of Orcus and the DM could have you find the corpse of a Pseudonatural Great Wyrm Silver Dragon, but unless you're 14 the DM is probably not going to do that.

Necromancy therefore, is an ability with very little pre-game min/max capability. Whether you are controlling undead or creating them yourself, you are throwing yourself at the DM's mercy. Like how every fighter I've ever seen has eventually taken to using some magic weapon that was found as a trophy, only more so because D&D does not currently support an "available corpses by level" guideline.

You can only (command undead) a wight, if the DM allows one... which is fine, as long as this disclaimer is made.


edit:  Also, just to hit on a few topics raised:

Challenge for PCs:
Talore can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think "Armies" in general should be considered a "Reasonable Challenge" for a group of PCs.  If a DM is concerned about a PC wizard nuking his NPC army, then the NPC army can contain a wizard 5 levels higher than the PC to counter and quicken react.  If a DM is concerned about PC controlled constructs or undead, then the NPC army can be described as two or three times the size he/she originally intended.

The DM controls the NPC situation.  If he/she wants it to be an overwhelming force, then it is.  Huge hordes of low-level mooks help the NPC lord to control a much larger area.  When PCs get involved, that's when the "Reasonable Challenges" get introduced.  Also, if the armies are NPC vs. NPC and the PCs are choosing a side, then there is no need to make the forces even.  A reasonable challenge is entertaining for PC encounters, but armies do not have to be evenly matched.  A situation could be described like several Roman Legions squashing a small germanic tribe, or a Spartan host facing off with a bunch of rabble.

Training Time and very skilled soldiers:
This can be put in the pros and cons section of an army description.  A DM looking to describe an army can just as easily say they are trained at birth and their army developed over several generations.. as they can describe them as a quickly assembled mob or horde.  If you want to describe a force as all highly skilled PC classes or multiclassed, then go for it; just warn the readers that a lot of groundwork is required to build up the army.

Also, I think the OP was talking about Heroes of Battle on page 137.  In the Human Large Kingdom, the lowest private is a first level Fighter.

PC Level Required
I don't think the level required to pull off tricks as a PC should limit us.  For DM controlled armies, this doesn't really apply, but I agree that it's worth mentioning at what level a PC might do this.  Maybe it would help if we described some differences to the units involved at varying levels of the commander... 5th level, 10th level, 15th level, 20th level  (or maybe use intervals that make sense for the PC involved, 6th for Leadership, 8th for Dread Necromancer, etc..)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2011, 10:52:29 PM by Felix Underwood »

Rejakor

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #53 on: March 10, 2011, 10:55:42 PM »
They're not talking about 'if the DM lets you'.  They're talking about worldbuilding, and what it makes sense for a world to look like under the rules.

DMG demographics assume high level characters exist.  Level 15+ in metropolises etc.  In order to make nigh-infinite level 6 wizards, you need a level 6 wizard with the mentor feat.

They're kind of talking about two different things.  JaronK is making the argument that armies of commoners/warriors would be far more common than armies that involve high level casters.  Oslecamo is talking about how undead/constructs/planetouched armies would be easy to get and are better cause they don't need food/fight better.


As for your points, Felix.

1.  The idea of what i'm talking about, at least, is not whether or not the DM should make armies a challenge for PCs.  This isn't about PCs.  This is about creating versimilitudinous armies in a versimilitudinous world.  I.E. armies that exist in the DnD rules and also make sense.  As a bonus, are interesting and 'fantastical' (something that would be a good thing in a 'fantasy' game, eh?).

The DM can make anything a challenge for PCs.  This is... a pretty well accepted fact.  That's not really what I at least am talking about here.

2.  Training time isn't the only factor involved in creating armies/forces, but it certainly is one.  Having PC classes or whatever isn't really just a function of training time.  And that isn't why kingdoms and nations have 'PC' classes.  They have PC classes for the same reason people stopped building wooden galleons when the battleship started showing up.  Because one battleship can take down NI galleons.

3.  The point JaronK is making about this is that high level characters are far rarer than low level characters according to the DMG.  So, in an average DnD world, there aren't going to be plethori of high level wizards.

You only really need a bunch of level 5 wizards to make regular armies obsolete, and lots of nations made huge sacrifices to have relevant militaries (or they got destroyed).  Training up wizards or whatever or having a breeding program with dragons or spending lots of GP to raise a bunch of wyverns and train them is really NOT outside the realm of possibility.

oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #54 on: March 10, 2011, 11:20:49 PM »
You can only (command undead) a wight, if the DM allows one... which is fine, as long as this disclaimer is made.

A wight is CR 3. A freaking paragon ghostly visage is CR 16 +. I believe it is much more sensible to say you can find a wight out there than a near-epic monster.

Like Rekajor (and Talore himself) pointed out, we want a world that makes sense. Wights being out there makes sense. Paragon ghostly visages and wizards 5 levels higher than the rest of the party just hanging out there with every army however doesn't many any shred of sense.




JaronK

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #55 on: March 11, 2011, 02:30:25 AM »
Just getting a single controlled Wight requires a level 8 evil Cleric (to be high enough to Rebuke it).  A level 8 Factotum without a magic item (or a level 5 Factotum with the Rod) can completely destroy your army with a standard action.  Same resources being used here.
First, you won't destroy the army. You will at best destroy the chain of command. Then you still have an army of angry wights thirsting for the living.

But you're right an evil cleric 8 is a waste of resources for geting that wight.

Wizard 1 with precocious aprentice(command undead), arcane thesis (command undead) and spellgifted (necromancy) can take care of it.

Notice you can't actually make a wight to begin with this way, so you'd have to get lucky and find one.  But won't your chain of command fail utterly if the enemy uses this same build of Wizard (Wizard 1 with those feats), puts him in a shirt of Wraith Stalking, and has him go command one of your top commander wights?  Now your army is coming back to kill you!  I'm not sure I like this blindly obedient army with an easily controllable leadership.  If about 10 level 1 Wizards could completely take over your army and run you over with them, there's a SERIOUS problem.

But more importantly you can't actually make a wight with lower level characters.  Heck, the "wight-o-pocalipse" scenario is probably a good reason that the bounty on dead wights would be extremely high, and use of them would be considered much like biological weapons in this world... they're easy to go completely out of control, easy to be turned against you, and extremely dangerous!

JaronK

oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #56 on: March 11, 2011, 04:13:50 AM »
Notice you can't actually make a wight to begin with this way, so you'd have to get lucky and find one.  But won't your chain of command fail utterly if the enemy uses this same build of Wizard (Wizard 1 with those feats), puts him in a shirt of Wraith Stalking, and has him go command one of your top commander wights?
We're not talking about lv 8 WBL by now. There's a reasonable chance a lv1 character will ecounter a wight with enough searching. You won't however just find a shirt of Wraith Stalking lying there at lv1, nor can you afford it.

Plus by all means have normal guards guarding your original wight. And traps. And walls. Lv 1 wizards can't exactly scry and die. Good luck puting your wizard near the original wight.

 Now your army is coming back to kill you!  I'm not sure I like this blindly obedient army with an easily controllable leadership.  If about 10 level 1 Wizards could completely take over your army and run you over with them, there's a SERIOUS problem.
How exactly will you do that? You have your squadron of lv1 wizards, then I have a squadron of lv1 wizards as well. They counter each other, but my squadron has an exponential growing wight army while you insist on relying on the weak living as support.

Again, the original wight is being kept in some dark dungeon protected by traps, both mundane soldiers and wights and my own wizards. How do you break trough? Heck, how do you find it to start with? Shouldn't you be a little busy with the wights rampaging trough the villages of your side?

But more importantly you can't actually make a wight with lower level characters.  
Again, you can find one. Wandering monsters are part of every D&D setting, specially lower lv ones, and the wizard has the knowledge skills to know where to look up.

Heck, the "wight-o-pocalipse" scenario is probably a good reason that the bounty on dead wights would be extremely high, and use of them would be considered much like biological weapons in this world... they're easy to go completely out of control, easy to be turned against you, and extremely dangerous!
1-The first country to get its hands on nuclear weapons hardly hesitated on using them on civilian targets as a terror weapon to force the enemy to surrender. Then when another country got nuclear weapons, they proceeded each to stockpile them up and threaten each other with mutual destruction should any of them fire the first shot. Might makes right. The strongest countries right now are the ones with the biggest nastiest weapons, and they spend big resources developing even bigger nastier weapons. If only one side has super weapons and the others don't, then the other sides are screwed, plain and simple.
2-I could say the same thing about magic. Any wizard out there is a ticking time bomb that will eventually grow into godlike power. Yet your side has no problem mass-producing and using them like candy aparently. Easy to go completely out of control, turning against you and extremely dagerous when they realize they don't need you anymore. :P

EDIT:Ah, there is a way to get wights whitout even needing to search!

A character with negative levels at least equal to her current level, or drained below 1st level, is instantly slain. Depending on the creature that killed her, she may rise the next night as a monster of that kind. If not, she rises as a wight.


Now a Holy arrow is 360 GP, inside the WBL of a lv1 character with some experience. Or have the wizard sell his spellbook. Make an evil criminal (chained of course) hold it. Negative level. Rises as wight. Command Undead. Profit.

JaronK

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #57 on: March 11, 2011, 05:17:20 AM »
Notice you can't actually make a wight to begin with this way, so you'd have to get lucky and find one.  But won't your chain of command fail utterly if the enemy uses this same build of Wizard (Wizard 1 with those feats), puts him in a shirt of Wraith Stalking, and has him go command one of your top commander wights?
We're not talking about lv 8 WBL by now. There's a reasonable chance a lv1 character will ecounter a wight with enough searching. You won't however just find a shirt of Wraith Stalking lying there at lv1, nor can you afford it.

Plus by all means have normal guards guarding your original wight. And traps. And walls. Lv 1 wizards can't exactly scry and die. Good luck puting your wizard near the original wight.

We're talking the wealth of nations.  You can't afford to heavily equip every soldier on the battlefield, but a small strike force can easily be well equipped.  And you don't need to hit the original wight, just one of the higher up field commanders.

Quote
How exactly will you do that? You have your squadron of lv1 wizards, then I have a squadron of lv1 wizards as well. They counter each other, but my squadron has an exponential growing wight army while you insist on relying on the weak living as support.

I just need one clear shot on your field commander, if he's controlled you army now works for me.

As to weak living support, unlike your undead army, my living army can use Inspire Courage.  With Masterwork War Drums, it takes just 7 level 1 Bards to give an entire army +2 to hit, +2 to damage, +10d6 elemental damage, and +1 to will saves against fear.  Morale bonuses don't work for you.  So, the living army just vaporizes the wights almost instantly.  Consider volley fire from Complete Warrior... it doesn't use the BAB or to hit modifiers of the shooters at all, just one commander's Int+BAB-Range increment vs AC 5 (failure means the entire volley scatters a few feet).  Everyone in the area (the area being the same size as the firing force) must make a DC 15 reflex save or take one hit.  This means a unit of 400 level 1 commoners with Heavy Repeating Crossbows or Compound Greatbows (no non proficiency penalty applies to volley attacks) arranged 40X10 firing on a unit of wights arranged the same way will hit about 2/3 of them for 1d10+10d6+2 damage each, and can do this five rounds in a row (stopping a round to pop in a new magazine).  Scatter is so minimal that they can do this out to max range (1200' or 1300'!) with basically no difference in effectiveness.  That's 2/3 of your force dying each round... from untrained level 1 commoners (even Str 6 commoners will work!). 

And if one of your Wizard squads pops up, guess who happens to be in the first volley?  Stealing your field commanders is only one option... vaporizing everything is another.  Undead can't do this, because they can't have morale bonuses.

Quote
Again, the original wight is being kept in some dark dungeon protected by traps, both mundane soldiers and wights and my own wizards. How do you break trough? Heck, how do you find it to start with? Shouldn't you be a little busy with the wights rampaging trough the villages of your side?

No need to hit the main guy.  Just hit one of the field commanders.  Remember, wights don't have telepathic control, and you ordered everyone to follow whichever field commander you just put in charge.  If he gets controlled, everyone follows him.

Quote
1-The first country to get its hands on nuclear weapons hardly hesitated on using them on civilian targets as a terror weapon to force the enemy to surrender. Then when another country got nuclear weapons, they proceeded each to stockpile them up and threaten each other with mutual destruction should any of them fire the first shot. Might makes right. The strongest countries right now are the ones with the biggest nastiest weapons, and they spend big resources developing even bigger nastier weapons. If only one side has super weapons and the others don't, then the other sides are screwed, plain and simple.

But biological weapons?  That's not what happened there.  There's a reason the USA kept the nukes but ditched bio weapons, which wights behave like (they have back scatter issues).  Nukes in D&D are high level Wizards and such... wights are bio weapons.

Quote
2-I could say the same thing about magic. Any wizard out there is a ticking time bomb that will eventually grow into godlike power. Yet your side has no problem mass-producing and using them like candy aparently. Easy to go completely out of control, turning against you and extremely dagerous when they realize they don't need you anymore. :P

Not quite the same, really. 

JaronK

Rejakor

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #58 on: March 11, 2011, 10:16:08 AM »
So the Arch-Necromancers of Norn send their Wight Legions to wipe out the tiny hinterland nation of Enroen, and their armies are entirely wiped out by dragon-inspired bards and hearty mountaineers with longbows.  Then, somehow, the Vault Of The Chosen, housing the couple double dozen wights that created all the 'dependable' wights (non sacrificial fodder) in the Wight Legions is somehow penetrated by a young and daring wizard, who turns the wights to his side with a couple of wands and turns the Nornish armies on themselves.  It becomes a wizards and skeletons and zombies and 'loyal' wights vs the vast majority of the wights and ends in bloody massacres.

After that, the whole continent fears Enroen, which quickly builds an empire that is stopped by the commando armies of the elvish lands of Nortimbar and the silence-using whispergnome clans of Great Bangladesh.  And after the bards start infighting and the hearty mountaineers get too spread out to effectively control their lands, a groundswell of necromancers with popular support slowly push them back and blah blah blah.

And then the Greatships of the Artificer-Lords of Hroen arrive, and suddenly it's everyone vs constructs.

Or after the Enroen event, every nation starts feverish dragonbard research, which is overturned again when someone employs spell turrets of Silence and spell turrets of Magic Missile or Constructs.  Or when 50 casters make themselves really small and sit in a backpack on a Gargantuan guy with great cleave and move him about while healing and buffing him and he kills everything.

oslecamo

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Re: The War Compendium
« Reply #59 on: March 11, 2011, 11:18:48 AM »
We're talking the wealth of nations.  You can't afford to heavily equip every soldier on the battlefield, but a small strike force can easily be well equipped.  And you don't need to hit the original wight, just one of the higher up field commanders.

I just need one clear shot on your field commander, if he's controlled you army now works for me.
...
No need to hit the main guy.  Just hit one of the field commanders.  Remember, wights don't have telepathic control, and you ordered everyone to follow whichever field commander you just put in charge.  If he gets controlled, everyone follows him.
Not really.

Noticing someone is being dominated is a simple sense motive DC 15. Wraiths aren't mindless, so they will notice when one of them is being mind controlled. You mind control a wight, some of the other wight officers will notice and take it down. Prepare secret keywords to override command (with the exception of the original wight). All part of the flexible leadership chain.

As to weak living support, unlike your undead army, my living army can use Inspire Courage.  With Masterwork War Drums, it takes just 7 level 1 Bards to give an entire army +2 to hit, +2 to damage, +10d6 elemental damage, and +1 to will saves against fear.  Morale bonuses don't work for you.
Say hello to the Requiem feat from song and silence. My Bards can now buff my undeads with all that stuff as well!

 So, the living army just vaporizes the wights almost instantly.  Consider volley fire from Complete Warrior... it doesn't use the BAB or to hit modifiers of the shooters at all, just one commander's Int+BAB-Range increment vs AC 5 (failure means the entire volley scatters a few feet).  Everyone in the area (the area being the same size as the firing force) must make a DC 15 reflex save or take one hit.  This means a unit of 400 level 1 commoners with Heavy Repeating Crossbows or Compound Greatbows (no non proficiency penalty applies to volley attacks) arranged 40X10 firing on a unit of wights arranged the same way will hit about 2/3 of them for 1d10+10d6+2 damage each, and can do this five rounds in a row (stopping a round to pop in a new magazine).  Scatter is so minimal that they can do this out to max range (1200' or 1300'!) with basically no difference in effectiveness.  That's 2/3 of your force dying each round... from untrained level 1 commoners (even Str 6 commoners will work!).  
My wights can do it as well with Requiem. But they don't need supply lines or rest or any other logistic problems like your living armies. And they are actually pretty solid stealthers as well.

And if one of your Wizard squads pops up, guess who happens to be in the first volley?  Stealing your field commanders is only one option... vaporizing everything is another.  Undead can't do this, because they can't have morale bonuses.
Once more, my wights can do all of that, but better. Seriously, I would expect you to know one of the coolest bard feats out there. I'm disapointed with you. :p

But biological weapons?  That's not what happened there.  There's a reason the USA kept the nukes but ditched bio weapons, which wights behave like (they have back scatter issues).  Nukes in D&D are high level Wizards and such... wights are bio weapons.
1-The USA did kept bioweapons (plus a lot of other countries). They still have military bases filled with that stuff.  
2-Nukes are even worst, as they irradiate an area for decades.

Not quite the same, really.  
Oh yes they are. A wizard with fly and stiking cloud is the very definition of a bomber with biological weapons.