Mundane Attacks on a Covenant

It seems that in a few places there are mundane threats that the Order might face. Say stopping the Mongol Horde. But that... doesn't seem super hard to do. A good fire blast spell, a flight spell and its open season on Mongols. Say:
Fiery Needles 30
R: Sight, Dur: Mom Target: Group
100 needles of flame fly forth striking a group of people, up to 100 members. Each needle inflicts +5 damage.
Base +4 Sight+3 Group+3

It won't kill anyone in a single shot, but a few castings will leave them down for the count. A few more should leave them dead. With a decent vantage point (or flight) this can be done far before they get into range of the Covenant with even the best mundane weapons. You could do similar tricks with Aurum spells or whatever. Now they might have supernatural support, but protection from magic is fairly hard to do, if they can fight the Order, either blast them before the Order blasts back, or withstand the Order's magic they probably have the strength to slaughter mundane forces (just like the Order). So why bother with the the ground troops? Sure they might need to loot or keep the populace in line, but then it isn't so much an army as a band of tax collectors and police.

Anyone else get that feeling? I suppose there is nothing really wrong with The Dread Mongol Horde of Tax Collectors and the Highly Efficient Mongol Police Force Keeping Your Streets Safe. (Now if the Mongols ever show up in a campaign I'm advocating for the non-magic users to be brought along to do exactly that.)

Well, first, of course, who wants to lose a season's worth of work because they had to be on zappo duty? Days add up, and it doesn't take a lot to blow the season. Especially given the possibility of a siege, a known, common tactic in the setting. Second, if you use the "big guns" on little stuff, you will look like the bad guys, and Saints and wandering Holy men are quite common in setting, at which point your best hope is that he wades through all your magic stuff to lecture you. Good luck if he sticks around to help the oppressed in secret, and creates a Dominion Aura which overwhelms your covenant's Magic Aura........

It's rather like the Real world. We have nukes, but it's the regular army that seems to end up doing all the work. Why didn't we get rid of the Army? Because a lot of things don't rise to the level of Nukes, yes? And using Nukes doesn't have the social problems of "The Gift", either.

Off-topic, but I am quite sure that there are severe social consequences to the deployment of nuclear weapons.

Well, duh. I was trying to imply that the use of strategic spells would be, despite their smallness (compared to Nukes), be seen in the same light, thanks to the effect of The Gift.

Not necessarily, just because the Order's magic is flexible and applicable to many circumstances it doesn't follow that the horde's wizards are similarly (as a mass) generalists.

Because if the Mongol Horde is busy in Europe it is not under-employed back in the Mongol Empire (and hence a potentially troublesome source of palace coups, civil unrest, and other domestic problems). From the perspective of the Mongol palace, the best place for tens of thousands of homicidal maniacs is at the other end of the world killing barbarians.

Also, if you want to actually capture and hold territory you need boots/hooves on ground. C.f. modern US experiences at apparently attempting to hold territory with an airforce.

Nukes aren't close to zapping an army. Nukes are insanely destructive weapons that would lead to nuclear winter if used on large scale massive civilian deaths, and fallout. Bolts of flame that only target an army are more like sniper rifles, or machine guns or bombers. And we absolutely take full advantage of those.

Here would be a nuke magical nuke:
The myst CreoAu 25
Range: Sight Duration: Mom Target Individual
Creates a massive mist 100,000 paces across.
Base 1, Sun+2 Sight+3 Size+3
Acid Myst
Range: Sight Duration: Mom Target Individual
Turns a mist cloud into a corrosive gas, inflicting +1 damage per round. This cloud may be up to 100,000 paces across.
Base 1, Sun+2 Sight+3 Size+3

That's a nuke. Needling an enemy army with flame? That's just cutting down an enemy force. I doubt a Holy man is going to get very upset because you repelled an invader. Even if he does, there are more important things to worry about.

Which is why the companions or redcaps do the talking. "Why yes, we had our engineers/wizards/nuns deploy siege weapons/magic/divine wrath against those invaders. You're welcome." The Gift only has repercussions if they actually talk to the magi. (And even then, rego mentum spells can used to smooth a few things over.)

That is a point. IIRC, some of the crusades were designed for the same reason, at least in part. But still it isn't so much an invasion as an attempt at getting troublemakers killed. More of a paper tiger.

It looks a lot like an invasion if you are distant, hairy barbarians who are located on the periphery of the Great Mongolian Nation.

Well, no, Lamech. Nukes just hurt people, as opposed to the fires of Hell sending Souls screaming down into the Pit of your Master, which is far worse then any silly "nuclear winter". Thanks to the Gift, people don't like magi as a group, and once you start destroying armies with fire from the sky, no amount of "we meant well" from mind controlled face-men is going to stop the Crusade. Then there's the envy part of the equation. The surrounding kingdoms cannot send fire from the sky, and people being people, will stop at little to get a counter, which is going to lead to a magi arms race or, of course, a Wizards War against the Covenant that broke the rule against dealing with Mundanes and got everyone spun up...... And your Rego Mentum spells will, in canon, be stopped by the Dominion, which protects the leadership of Christendom and the Church, and trumps the Magic Realm. And the system notes are pretty clear that the protect increases depending on the power level of your game. Your game may vary, of course, but that's why it doesn't happen in canon, which is what you asked, yes?

I agree with the OP. Hermetic magic is too powerful for the setting, and one aspect of this is that defeating mundane armies - or, for that matter, angry peasant mobs, fortifications, or so on - isn't that difficult.

One response to that is that the Order prevents magi from doing this sort of thing. If that works for you - great. For me, it creates a game of legalese and annoying Quaesitors that symie the player's every move; I hate that. I also don't think it makes sense, not with Mythic History's all-too-mundane past. Such an arrangement might make sense in a high-fantasy setting where the Empire of Wizards crumbled in devastating internal squabbles and the survivng Order of Wizards was founded so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past; this is a common trope in D&D (going back to the earliest setting, Greyhawk; continuing with Netheril in the Forgotten Realms, and numerous other examples), but without it I find the Order's laws just don't really make sense in-setting and are annoying in-game.

Another response is that the Divine will sort you out. Really ? That holy man with True Faith and - oh, shudder - Magic Resistance 10 ? Even using the extended rules for holy supernatural traditions from RoP:D won't change this. I once statted up the Templars as an order of Mythic Companions using Divine methods and powers; bottom line - even with me fudging the rules in their favor, the Templars still shouldn't be able to defeat a strong covenant, let alone pose a threat to the Tribunal or the Order.

Now direct intervention by God himself trumps everything, yes. But this really just means direct intervention by the SG to desperately save his setting from breaking-up. I hate that even more than I hate the legalese. Barring direct SG intervention, holy men and their angel and saint supporters are just hedge wizards and petty spirits, no match for an Hermetic magus. The angels and saints can at least cower behind the Lunar Sphere to save their ass, and there are some broken mechanics (like archangels being able to duplicate themselves infinitely many ties...), but overall the Divine isn't a threat for Hermetic power. Not realy.

The same goes for the other Realms. Stellatus, the most powerful magical being this side of the Magic Realm, is agame for the season's hunt. Give a magus the True Name of one of hell's lieutenants, those Infernal Might 75 beings, and he'll summon it and Demon Eternal Obliviate is ass. Good thing Satan himself dones'nt have stats, or he'll be toast too.

And I haven't even statred talking about leveling cities, cursing kingdoms, and creating grain with magic...

Hermetic magic is broken. It's too powrful for the setting. You can ignore or legalese that and if that works for you great. If you want the setting to make mre sense power-level wise, with magi fearing mundanes and th Divine and all the supernatural hosts - the you should really greatly lower thep ower level of magi. By a lot.On multile lvels and aspects.


Edit: Sorry for the spelling errors; I'm writing from Internet Explorer, and it's giving me troubles.

Also - I once statted out the Mongols as led by diabolists. It works fairly well - the Mongols are basically stooges, and the REAL battle is between the clandestine diabolist coven and their numerous allies (forced or duped) and the covenant. The coven can actually do more than Divine magic can, including lots of Magic Resistance on a large scale. I published in Sub Rosa.

When the Mongol Horde invaded real world Hungary the first time, they couldn't take any of the stone castles, or stone fortified towns. It's also why the King of Hungary gave a heap of his lands to his great nobles on the condition they fortified in stone. Even after the Battle of Mohi (1241), where the Hungarians lost the power to field an army in resistance ot the Mongols and left them with free choice of sites to besiege, the Mongols had terrible trouble taking anything of critical value, and within a year after they had left, Hungarian was again successfully able to field armies against its neighbours, because all of its major towns, which were the centre of its economy, were intact.

In Russia, where they held on, their main method was getting Russian loyalists to do the hard work for them.

So, yes, Hermetic magic can probably wreck the Mongols, because frankly they are less tough than imagined, and because their war machine is based on horse archery, which can be opposed by simply destroying the grass for miles around, or fortifying.

The Order can defeat the Mongols without the sort of flashy "rain of fire" magic you are suggesting. All it really needs to do is put an avalanche or two in some of the key Transylvanian passes. Lacking that, all it needs to do is flood the Great Plain for long enough for the horses to die (say, a fortnight).

So, yes, IMO the Battle of Mohi goes a different way in ME, unless the Mongolsa give up on "All magicians and craftsmen are our slaves" thing. As worshippers of a Magical elemental god, facing off against the Order's atheists, there's a possible deal there.

The question in Ars is not usually "Can I do this?". With enough lab time, and vis, you can probably whatever it is. The question is "What does it mean for me to do this? Do I accept the consequences of this? Does it change the way the world works in an interesting way? Am I cuplable for the unintended consequences?" In that sense its a more intimate game than, say, D&D, which really is about killing bigger and bigger things.

The Order did do nukes once: the Battle of the False Sun was basically the analogue, wasn't it?

Wait an order full of mythic companions?!? And you weren't able to make them a threat to the Order? I direct you to the Ceremony ability. Get a few dozen people with decent ceremony and as many people with high (com/int/sta) as you can gather. You should start by granting absurd MR, immunity to damage, all the deprivations, the ability to pass through matter, and immunity to baneful effects under say... level 100. Then make yourself an army of might 200 divine creatures and start blasting random covenants.

Lord Marsune could whip a chunk of ice several miles across at a covenant. (create water Base 3 , +1 rego req +1 Touch +14 increased size)=15th magnitude. Not magical ice mind you, real ice created with the equivalent of a ritual effect. And then he can do it 9 more times. Or he could use the group modifier and launch mile wide chunks of ice ten at a time.
Spirits in the magic realm by in large can't even be targeted by magi. On the other hand, they are free to kill magi and attack by destroying the corresponding vestiges in the magic realm.
Infernists are even nastier than Divine people when ceremony comes out. Also corrupted abilities. I can build a companion grade character that with the help of a say a dozen loyal helpers can score arbitrary levels of ability.

I think its actually better balanced than a lot of the other things. Sure its powerful and can level cities. So can plenty of other things. However, I think magic trounces the mundane. That's okay. What makes me do a double take is when those same mundane forces are presented as anything approaching a threat. These are magi, if they the covenant is taken out by mundane forces they did something wrong.

The Gift doesn't affect people if they aren't in the presence of the magi. As long as the magi are kept out of sight the Gift is not a problem.

Yeah... that's not how I saw it, at least. As I recall, divine Ceremony is rather limited, divine Methods suck in that casting spells becomes very rare, and the guidelines suck in that good effects have prohibitive levels. And if you want to keep reasonable ability scores and reasonable Methods/Powers in the tradition, well... you end up with not-so-impressive supernatural powers. At least I did. Maybe I did something wrong, but I got Magic Resistance 40 (ok - something like 55 with faith points and what not), for example, not 100; Not that MR 100 would be such an insurmountable obstacle for the Order. And none of that "immunity to damage" uber powers.

Yeah, he can exploit the loophole in the magic resistance rules to throw (mundane) ice at you. And he can do some fairly powerful spells; up to level 75 - in ice only.

In my opinion - as a Might 50 creature Lord Marsyne should be defeatable by Hermetic magic, but only just barely. His Magic Resistance should be high enough to resist anything except archmagi bringing in the heavy guns (wizard's communion, sympathetic and arcane connections, and lots of raw vis). His magic should be able to mimic the Order's most powerful spells. His Penetration should be high enough to affect almost all magi - but low enough to be blocked by a devoted master of Parma. Higher-level (Might 75) creatures should be essentially untouchable by Hermetic magic, and much more powerful than Hermetic magi.

In all these things, Lord Myrsyne's statistics don't fit. His Magic Resistance (50) is so low a master-magus can probably take him down without even needing to pull any of the big guns. His magic can reach respectable levels, but not close to what archmagi can pull off (level 180 spells and more). His penetration is harder to evaluate, but that actually seems better - Parma 10 will block him, and so will lower Parma with some Forms, so that it seems roughly alright.

Bottom line - Lard Marsyne will fall to Hermetic magic too easily, and his magic is too weak in comparison with top-level Hermetic magic. Or in other words - magi's power needs to be brought down, and Marsyne's Magic Resistance needs to be brought up. In my opinion.

Yeah, the spirits can go hide in the Magic Realm and cry for their mamma while we toast their aspects for the evening's BBQ. ... :smiley:

Magic should not trounce the mundane, in my opinion. If the mundane forces aren't a threat, the whole setting becomes a farce. All those castles, all those knights - don't really make any sense, and all those histories that fill ArM books are useless.

Leveling cities is something angry gods do, not pissed-off apprentices. And there should really be only very few things with the power to do that. An angry mob should be a concern for most covenants, and an angry bishop even more so. A castle should be respected, an army feared, a crusade should be a nightmare to be avoided at all costs. Wizards should belong in the setting, being at low-enough power level to participate instead of overwhelm it. They can join an army, perhaps advise it; they should not replace an army, or destroy it. They can live in a castle; they should not erect one magically with ease, nor should they destroy their enemy's castle with a wave of their hand instead of a long siege. They may bargain with kings; they should not laugh at their meaningless "knights" and "armies" and ignore those crown-wearing fools.

Magi's power needs to be brought down. Or else - the setting needs to be seriously altered to make more sense; perhaps a High Fantasy setting will fit the current power levels.

Yes it should. I don't care about those castles. If I'm a magus, I only care about where I live, the vis I can acquire, the books I can read, and making sure I have enough silver or wealth to make it happen. It's about the magic. Now if, in a story, the troupe wants to play out what happens when the Mongolian Hordes come to visit, and there's time to prepare, then that's perfectly fine. If the choice is to rain down fire from the sky, doing +5 damage to 100 people at a time, that's going to prove to be pretty ineffective, to be honest. Yeah, one magus is replacing ~100 archers...

Then why are we playing in Mythic Europe ? If kings and knights and castles and so on don't matter, if the only important thing in the setting is the raw vis we can harvest - why not just play in a fantasy setting where we can go and kill monsters and take their stuff/vis ? Forget all those kingdoms mentioned in all those ArM books; they are meaningless.

Look - one can play your way. One pretty much has to, by the RAW. But I think it cheapens the setting and doesn't fit it. The setting works better with weaker magi, and conversely strong magi work better in a more fantastic setting, with powerful supernatural opponents for them to face/hunt.

You're mischaracterizing what I wrote as what I do. It's not my way, but it's not an invalid way. Mythic Europe is not Medieval Europe, it is whatever the troupe wants it to be. If you and yours don't find it believable, adjust it for yourselves, but let's not get into a "you're doing it wrong" argument. And that's what you're doing when you say that Hermetic magic is broken.

Let's go with the premise of the OP based on the RAW and the Setting as Written and not take apart the quibbles you have with 5th Edition. I like that my magi don't have to worry about mundanes in certain settings. In other settings, I will have to worry. Taking this specific spell, most of my characters would be what's the point. Can we buy them off? Bribing armies wasn't uncommon. Can we make our terrain less pleasant to go through? I'm not sure I'd have a PC design a spell that destroys huge swaths of armies, or even damages them. That just makes the PC a target, and how much effort do I need to put forth to destroy the army? One, two, six, eight seasons? Depending my specialty and personality, I'll make a choice that fits, but by and large, it won't be grinding an army into nothingness.

Sorry if I was getting to "You're having wrong, bad fun" territory. It's certainly not my place to tell you - or anyone - how to play, or what to like.

I think that we can agree that if we stick to RAW and sans direct divine (read: SG) intervention, Hermetic magic is powerful enough to obliterate or deflect any mundane army. Whether your magus will want to spend the time to develop the required spells or Arts is another question. Whether you, as group, like that routing armies with magic is a readily available option is yet another question. To each his own.


I think the point is to ask why would a magus do something. And what response he might expect. And let's be honest, the most dangerous enemies should be other magi! :smiling_imp:

By RAW, you total up the ceremony add it to the total. Subtract the number of people in the ceremony. Add each helper's method and characteristic to the total. You can have unlimited helpers. Helpers need not have the requisite method or ceremony, in which case they only add their characteristic. Note that each person with the relevant characteristic of +2 or more adds one or more to the total.
The ability itself isn't really well thought through. If I wander through a random university and get help I can probably find a bunch of people with com or int at +2 or more. Get a hundred people of these people and well... God mode. Its even worse with an group that initiates their people. Get a dozen people with ceremony at 6? Plus 60. Plus their characteristics. Plus any methods they might have.

Most blatantly in the "poorly thought through department" are the ceremonies with leaders. You get no bonus for your ceremony, no penalty for people, but have a maximum number of people equal to the leaders ceremony score. At best, this is the exact same as a leaderless ceremony. (You should probably do something like the infernal ceremony and have a required number of people. Say 13.)

Mongols were the greatest war machine the world has seen since the Romans and before Napoleon.

The Mongol thrust into Hungary was in large part a reconnaissance in force, in part to ascertain the suitability of Hungary as their European base; they certainly did not have the requisite amount of manpower to besiege the fortified points and nor were they particularly determined to do so. When they did, as they did in the Near East or China, castles and forts fell. In any case, like they found in Syria, their foray confirmed to the Mongol high command the unsuitability of both Syria and Hungary as their base.

Russia is an example of where they had (barely) the sufficient ratio of force to area to command obedience, much like the English were able to do in the Welsh Marches in much smaller scale. Really, do you think Russians would have made themselves slaves to the Mongols for couple centuries just because?

Mongol warfare was indeed dependent on horse archery, but not to the degree the previous nomads were. The Mongols knew how to use infantry as well and they had excellent commissariat. Both the Song Chinese and Koryo Koreans practiced scorched earth policy against the Mongols (with varying intensity in case of the Chinese) and the Mongols showed themselves equal of Caesar with methodical, brutish, unglamorous campaigns of attrition that ground those countries down (moreso in Korea where there was both national and political will to resist to very nearly the bitter end).

And if you throw in the magi, why not for the Mongols? In this case, YMMV, I find it absolutely ridiculous that the Order of Hermes should be better than anything the Far East can throw. In my game, Mongols would be aided by mystics or magicians at the very least equal to the Order at least in firepower. IMO, that should be way to go, or else you're just juxtaposing the 19th century Western dominance onto 13th century Eurasia, when the Song China was in fact the most advanced civilization in the world (it'd be all downhill for the Chinese after the brilliant Song zenith, after all). (In my game, I'd make Buddhists and Hindus Divine, and I'd make up a Tibetan Buddhist sect specialized in detecting and destroying magical phenomena. This would explain both why the Mongols would need an army and why Chinese magi couldn't save their land.)

You know, if you have the battle of Mohi go the other way, why not have Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa go the other way? Instead of Christian reconquest, you have instead Muslim reconquest. Or how about the Ayyubid navy defeating the Italians and taking over Cyprus and the Levant few decades (centuries for Cyprus) early?

If you want the Mongols to be a threat, just make them infernal or divine (IIRC those were the theories back in the day) and grant the basic trooper MR30 and MR up to 75 for the high end stuff. Suddenly magi might not get so cocky around them.

MR 50 is nothing really serious, though. A competent middle aged magus that has had some combat practice can beat that without arcane or sympathetic connections on a regular basis. At least in the sagas we have played. What is difficult is to deafeat a horde of MR50 creatures, but one of them only tends to be a "who shots first" situation with hermetics.

But if they do that and go around and kick out the Mongols from their backyard (like Timothy said) I can see the OoH facing a crusade against them, since they will have shown their true combat potential, and the other powers of ME will be really fearful of them. NOt the best situation for the OoH, really, even if they win.