Big Magical Fights?

Noliar, please stop reading till after next week. & anyone else in my game.




So, lets assume that 8 Stonehenge Magi (Quasitors and Flambeau) are doing a mass Wizard War against Horsingas Covenant. Stonehenge has a campaign supply of 35 pawns of vis (in addition to whatever the Magi are carrying from personal stores) and 20 extra Blackthorn Grogs who can see in the dark. Horsingas has 35-50 Grogs, 20 pawns of vis, a defensible Covenant and probably a level 25 or 30 Aegis. And 6 Magi.

So, first thing - whats the best way to represent a mass-magical contest with 14 magical combatants? Spells will be flying every which way, and lots of them will be Pilums of Fire or Finessable missiles or pits. Also I dont want to stat up every combatant - the more important thing is determining who wins, what impact the PC can have on the course of the battle, and how they fare.

At the beginning, the impatient Stonehenge Flambeau are going to want to march on Horsingas on the first day and start throwing Fire and Perdo. The quasitors will probably counsel letting the Scots sweat it out a few more days on maximum alert before moving in.
However, Horsingas has a lot more practice at war and is more united than the ad hoc Stonehenge punitive force - I can see them tricking the Stonehenge Magi into some kinda trap - any thoughts there?

Have you had any magical battles in your games? What happened and how did you handle the carnage?



If either side can defend against more spells from the other than vice versa, major advantage.
Otherwise the basics is that whoever starts "shooting" first is most likely to win.
If both sides need to spend Vis boosting penetration to punch enemies out, it becomes tricky.

Whoever can ambush or surprise the other side has a great chance, at the same time, if one side can fool the other into "ambushing" illusions or a false position, wasting fatigue and/or Vis that could be just as decisive.

That sounds like the Horsingas knows they´re about to be attacked. If so, rashness will definitely kill you.

Oh dear, my old illusion specialist maga would have loved this... Hotheads rushing head over heels into someone elses home area, easy picking. Playing with their perceptions and have them walk over cliffs, into water, around in circles, or why not just have them attack a fake Horsingas or some fake magi?

Aside from that, since i dont know what the defenders can do its not easy to make plans really. But overall there´s 2 general ways of approach, if they have spells that can be left independent, like say something that makes a tree skewer the next person to move past it close enough..., with a Sun Duration, someone casting those(or something with the same basic effect of "minefield" style) randomly ahead of the attackers, there might not be any attackers left soon, pretty much doing a guerilla style warfare...
OR they can go for the "BIG BOOM" way and essentially try to smack down all foes in a single big attack. An example of this is the classic that happened in a game here, when a player used her character to move a whole lake from one side of a mountain to the other, drowning an army(a BIG army). Since the water was nonmagical the moment it was "released", all the fancy magic defenses of the army were totally void and useless.
The lovely part was that the player had developed the spell for a different stated purpose, anticipating its use just thanks to knowing the basic terrain, and totally surprised the poor SG who was suddenly left without a big chunk of the opposition. :mrgreen:

It is a big battle, play it out (or have the others send in someone who says they are willing to accept certamen - one duel - or one tournament - to solve the issue before war starts, or to remove combatants and lower fatalities).

Wizard's War (attacker):

  1. I'd write the declaration of wizard's war early (or destroy its property as a signed Arcane connection) before sending it, so it can't be used against me.
  2. I'd choose the month in which the Aegis ritual is due. If that's not possible I would PeVi the Aegis before entering. This forces the defender to spend vis on casting the ritual twice (or leaves him without an Aegis)
  3. I'd try to get fixed Arcane connections (including horoscopes etc) of the enemy before I declare war.
  4. attack right after your evening Parma ritual (before they can recast day duration defense spells like wizard's sidestep
  5. prepare to see through illusions (by buying items)
  6. general: prepare before the enemy knows (4 weeks is too short for the enemy to learn spells/enchant items). You on the other hand can learn customized spells or build customized items (Aegis killers, arcane connection range spells that wound or kill)
  7. Have the weakest magus at the covenant stay neutral (so you can stash your possessions in his sanctum). He can still help you indirectly, e.g. by healing or casting support spells.

Wizard's War (defender):

  1. Cast a second Aegis ritual that ends a different day if the attack comes during the time when your normal ritual ends.
  2. Get arcane connections
  3. Get a niktophylax (HoH:TL - Tremere virtue: someone whose parma ends at noon/midnight, rather than dusk/dawn
  4. Fight at home (remove brittle stuff) or somewhere where your aegis works
  5. Prepare to storm the enemy covenant after you beat them (get a PeVi anti-Aegis spell)
  6. take out PeVi experts first
  7. cast spells to make walls transparent (you can see them, but they can't see you - good targetting)
  8. hassle them with illusions
  9. prepare for invisible attackers by keeping water everywhere (to dowse invisible attackers) and putting sand on the floor (makes footprints visible). Use directional light (to create shadows)
  10. do not assume the shape of a chair unless you can end the effect at will
  11. Create Hellish conditions at home (e.g. blistering cold): You can prepare for them your enemy can't.

Both sides:
Recruit rustic magi or other magi that cancreate last minute charged items in less than a season (year duration for max. penetration)
Use CrVi effects to make all attackers look like magi

In our saga, Our magi would be rushing to the aid and defence of our old allies and friends and foster covenant....

However The simple truth would be that the magi would need to become highly defensive

If faced with the situation as Horsingas as an ST I would have Ceonwolf, Guiseppe and Edwin basically would this into a seige and try to hold out as long as possible and whittle the enemies forces while the others went for help. I would also say that there are a few tricks that Witburgh could play. She could allow late declarations of wizards war from all of her allies in loch legan and or basically offer favourable adjudication at the next loch legan tribunal for assistance. Being the only quasitior in the tribunal is a LOT of power.

Would this be valid. Simply put. If a dozen scottish magi come to fight back and then under dubiously exectued wizards war fight back. As this is all being done on loch legan territory, I would say that the claims for poor execution of wizards war would have to be made to the local loch legan territory. If Whitburgh survives, this WILL be a very hostile court.

If Whitburgh flees or is helped to escape (easy enough to do) then she could bascially turn this into a very nasty fight. A single message to the gathered army that she has escaped and is about to come down en masse with every local hedge magician, magi and soldier would give the even flambeau pause to think about this.

The trick here would not be force of arms. Horsingas would do a LOT of damage and then loose. So knowing this, they would use the assets they have. One of which is having the only quasitor (and therefore complete control of the local law) in their grasp. If Whitburgh could get together enough local covenants to make a tribunal, she could march the entire invading army.

The trick in any uneven seige is to make it obvious to your attackers that you may win, but the costs are too high. By pushing the threat of war between too tribunals, this could make the situation very merky. Afterall, Stonehenge may have all it's hoplites, but Loch Legan will too.... Plus if you're going by lion of the north) ananoranan and Gruagachan and a whole host more.

This is our journals home page put together by our ST. It's set in loch legan and is filled with the sort of Shennanegans that loch legan magi may get up to. The journal 1238 ish) and bits on Mythic Northumberland may be of particular interest.


Well my impression is that Horsingas doesnt do allies much - they are hated by the other Loch Legean covenants for being English, and while Whitburgh might be the only Quasitor, she hasnt used her power in the past to make friends either- the gruagachan might welcome the possibility of her death with the thought then there would be NO Quasitors left in Loch Legean to tell them what to do. Plus blackmailers dont tend to have many friends when the law catches up on them.

A siege is interesting, but with low level, high pen Terram spells gradually ripping open your caves (the shacks will go down to Ignem), I'm not sure its something that's going to last more than a few days. I'm thinking at some point joined battle will have to be presented, in which case you want your forces concentrated and not dispersed.


Get all those WW declaration letters, fix them as ACs and shot a wizard communion PeMe effect (instant, AC range) at the offenders with a few dozen pawns of vis. Suddenly stonehenge might be one of the least combat capable tribunals of the OoH, and one that has the largest number of vegetable magi out there. Or throw a big CrVi at them and have half of them lost in twilight for a while. Kill the others.

Attacking a whole covenant with a WW is a BAD idea if they are combat capable like Horsingas.

If you do not plan to use hermetic artillery and go for the swashbuckler approach, I would say that the Horsingas magi have the advantage of terrain and the attackers of numbers. I would run it with the mass battle rules from Lords of Men. Each magus and attached grogs would count as a whole unit. Grogs would count as a pair of units if left all by themselves, and horsingas' grogs would count as 3 units. Run the events in the climatic approach used in LoM and see what happens. I found those rules to be interesting, but have not played with them, though. It might be a way to simulate what you want to achieve.


I dont actually see the declarations of Wizard War being Arcane Connections - nothing seems to say that the Magi has to write them themselves - a scribe could do that. And if there is a standard form letter for Wizards War, then they dont really need to compose it- just fill in the blanks.

Also, since letters have a duration of weeks, you could write it a month ahead of time, so its an expired AC when the target finally gets their hands on it.


Guess your players are not as paranoid as mine. We have a room in the covenant that is basically a magic proof freezer that stores ACs to half the important people and locations in the British isles. Been a standard feature of our sagas for 15 real world years or so...

If they could teleport I can see them storing ACs to your covenants during the month before the war. It is easy for a ferret bjornaer to come and go unnoticed even by hermetic traps if she does not use Parma.

Even if you do not factor that in, I would still use the mass combat rules in LOM to determine the outcome of the fight and how your PCs can interact with the general fireworks parade :slight_smile:


Why are you all keeping saying "wizard's war letters"? After all, if i were a magus, i would ask a scribe to write them for me. Problem solved.

Oooh, fun: get a redcap to do the scribing for you and protect him with a strong Parma Magica behind a big Aegis. When the ping off the Parma Magica happens then even if he wins the Wizard's War he gets ripped apart at the next Tribunal for assaulting a Redcap. :slight_smile:


I rather doubt a Redcap is going to write your letter for you, unless they can put a big P.P. or Per procurationem next to their signature. After all a Redcap doesnt have a parma and spends their time moving between Covenants so they are not going to be hiding behind an Aegis for most of the month.

Anyway, we diverge from the point of this thread. Big magical battles, spells flying across the field (or from the fortress), Grogs hugging to a magus to defend them and being blown away by area effect spells that bounce off from the Magi's parma. (with multiple Magi opponents, you dont want to be sharing your parma). You might see some circular wards to protect against fire or wooden missiles carved into high ground as stong points - perhaps even ditches and earth walls carved with Rego Terram as quick fieldworks. Horses, while making you mobile, are probably a liability as they can be so quickly destroyed by magic - unless your horse is also your familiar.

Given this, I think such a magical battle would be fairly short - Grogs would be the first to die, then Magi with melee skills would move in kill undefended Magi who dont have melee skills - those Magi either flee or die.



Mmh it is not so easy...

The grogs die... but what if they are covered with parma by the supporting magi, which are far from the battlefield, and have a bunch of sight spells, with finesse and stuffs to kill the enemies. With eyes of the eagle, you may be 2 km away and still get sight on the event.

Your magus take weapons... unless they are talisman, they will be soon destroyed by any kind of magic : a fire ball on you may not touch you, but if the enemy is not aiming you but your sword...
If those are talisman, they are arcane connection to you, and any wound done by an item is an arcane connection to that item. Easy to use the killed magi to have an arcane connection to you.

If you are fighting, the supporting imaginems and mentem magi will play their strength and let the weaker magi attack the not weaker.
Yes you have a wizard's war with them. But did you have a wizard's war with your ally? No? How will you prevent him to stabbing you? Too late, the time that you think about it, an enemy sneaked up on you and stabbed you with his ice dagger. Real ice man, sorry, your ward against metal/stone/corpus failed as your parma.

You are casting your big spells to the grogs? but the grogs are illusions. The real grogs are attacking your campbase while some magi are playing with you.

You used 30 pawns of vis to penetrate their aegis? How unlucky! They cast three aegis the day they received your letter.

You gathered the vis for your casting? Too bad, their fastcaster magi just teleported your vis in their aegis. Thanks for the supply!

You are doing your parma? What are those earth shaking? An earthquake, you must run or die! Oups, who is that man following you? Oh yes, an enemy. OUps, where is your parma? Dead.

You are doing your parma in the forest? Bad luck, the forest went on fire. Yes, a magical fire. Yes, the forest is a a boundary. Oups.

You see those 21 "enemy target"? One is real. Which one? Bad guess. dead

You see those 2 "enemy target"? Which one is real? This one? bad luck. That was the species of your friend whose parma imaginem was lacking... Yes, you just killed him. Oh by the way, while you did that you have been stabbed.

Wait, you don't see me because of the fog? An impenetrable one? Quickly, an InAu. What? you never learned that spell? Will you really tire yourself?

Oh, a balista bolt. No problem I can manage that bolt! Bad luck, it was not a bolt of metal, only a reagent of acid covered by a momentary muto imaginem spell. Bad luck.

The earth is shaking! "it's nothing you say, we have parma"? Yes, sure. But however, it was a perdo terram on the subterannean eart. Talk about disorganisation! Wait, what are those erupting rocks? Yes. Surprise? A little MuIm to seem to be rock while a earthquake. dead

"Our aegis is powerful!" "you are right" ReTe big rocks x10. Let those drops.Oh, by the way, yes, they are MuTe(Au) while we move them above your head; too bad you only had InIm to see through our illusions. "TIMMMBER" dead

"You did take supplies I hope?" "yes, we bought wine in summer" "oh, I thought about others. I had a bowel disease invented in that one" dead

And so forth, and so forth.

Hi, as many others have said already, intelligence (of the military variety) is key: can you find/detect/target your enemies?

Simple invisibility spells can make a big difference, so all combat magi need a method of detecting/countering this. Shapechange, being somewhere else with arcane connections to view the battlefield, etc, are also ways of hiding from your enemies.

How magically powerful are the combatants? As soon as you have magi with a battery of decent spells, either known or from items, then grogs become useless - you're better off leaving them at home because they will die quickly and without achieving anything. Better to use magical allies (elementals, faeries, spirits) especially ones that can reform or that you don't need to keep alive. I recommend faeries. Horsingas should have a lot of these, unless they have offended the local ones - in which case, they should be available for the attackers to ally with instead! Likewise, the gruagachan.
(Weak magi will probably need to use grogs.)

Jeanmichelle said: '6. take out PeVi experts first'; conversely use PeVi to take down magical defenses. One decent targetted anti-parma spell, with a high penetration, could easily be the difference between who wins and who loses. I'd favour the attackers winning since they have the only PC involved, and it is more fun to 'win' than to 'lose' (but see my extra note below). Now, if I were the PC involved I'd be at home, using an Arcane Connection carried into the correct area by some totally innocent passerby (not necessarily human) to view Horsingas, casting Perdo Vim spells on everything followed by a lot of large area destruction spells (which did not damage my AC due to what it was made of eg paper, rego'ed out of the destruction spells - after all, I want their books!) which would not need high penetration. From items. Multi-castings or multiple items/friends casting all at once through their own ACs too. Of course, low powered magi would find this hard, so would probably have to be physically present, but the principle of dispelling the defenses while my allies do the killing still stands. Large area ritual PeVi? Followed by large area ritual strikes? From hiding?

Obviously, there are faults/deficiencies/ways to defend all this, but it is a starting point. (As a defender of Horsingas, I'd have tried to acquire one or more Giants, or a spell to animate the entire hillside/mountains nearby - read the methods used by Dav'nalleous to fight the Ordo Miscellanea.)

'Winning' or 'Losing'? Win the battle, lose the war! The political fallout from this should be immense! Horsingas might lack local political allies, they might lack Stonehenge political allies, but they might well have former apprentices/masters/favours owed by other magi eg in Normandy who would love an excuse to step into this and demand vis/retribution. The Tytalus cabals have past history in claiming vis sources in Stonehenge/Hibernia/Loch Leglean immediately after big battles, and if someone senior was the former master of one of the dead Horsingas magi, they could well declare that "such cross-Tribunal raiding needs to be punished, regardless of the rights and wrongs of the case otherwise the whole order is at risk" and claim all the spoils from Horsingas "because they started the raiding" and a whopping fine from Stonehenge for not going through a Grand Tribunal "as is right and fitting" (if there is a Grand Tribunal coming up soon, they would try to get authorisation for this action first; if not, give most of the spoils acquired to the Grand Tribunal to "distribute as decided by that Tribunal" (ie legitimate bribes to approve their actions) and keep the bits they wanted the most. Other political events may follow/replace all this! It's your saga, after all.

Normandy might use this as an excuse to claim total control of "these wild, unquorate, and un-Hermetic Tribunals" and their vis sources, since "they are unable to behave in accordance with Hermetic Law". I believe that you will need to resolve the major problem of the cross-tribunal raiding somehow, and it should cause a major change in how the rest of the Order views both Loch Leglean and Stonehenge, and that Normandy should play a big role here - remember that England and France are at war too. Anyway, have fun!


Nice overview Exar... I think you underlined what i tried to get across VERY well there.

Edit: Btw, you could try looking at LE Modesitts "Spellsong cycle" and "Shadow Sorceress" series, he´s one of few authors i´ve seen try hard to actually think about magical warfare(and he writes it from the PoV of nearly all sides which is a bonus here). His Recluce series has it as well, but not nearly as much in as few books.

I guess I'm kinda thinking of the Battle of Pale from the Malazan series "Gardens of the Moon" when I think of mass Wizard War.

I would actually suggest cheating. The amount of options and possibilities is so large that anything goes, so trying a "simulation" is pointless. Instead, try to decide on a narrative structure for the combat scene - how the scene develops dramatically, in broad strokes. Then work up a list of possible resources of both sides, and plan out what they will actually have and how they will use it to make this narrative structure come to life. But keep that full list on hand! The players are sure to come up with tactics and die rolls you did not expect, and "ruin" your carefully laid out plan. No worries! Just whip out more resources and events to navigate the story back to the narrative structure you decided on (or, alternatively, adopt a new one if that seems more fun).

Based on all the above, I would suggest the following structure, that concludes in Stonehenge winning:

  1. First Wave Attack: Massive PeVi attack on Horsings, from outside it (through Arcane Connections, probably). Followed immediately by a horde of spirits and other allies to scout the area and pick off easy targets.
  2. Riposte: Horsings destroys or engages the horde, possibly launching a counter-attack on nearby or arcane-connected magi.
  3. Engagement: Stonehenge magi engage the magi of Horsings at the covenant site, lots of casualties and dirty tricks on both sides.
  4. The Great Trap: Horsings unleashes a trump-card that threatens to destroy Stonehenge forces in it, using its home advantage.
  5. The Surprise: Stonehenge too has a surprise up its sleeve, that trumps the Great Trap. Perhaps a specific counter-spell, perhaps reinforcements, illusion - something. Horsings forces decimated.
  6. Aftermath: A few Horsings magi flee, and set off final "traps" and surprises along the way. The Stonehenge magi scatter for protection and start to look for the fleeing magi (staying at Horsings' ruins is probably too risky).

Well, big fight is tomorrow...

Should be interesting.