Mundane Attacks on a Covenant

Source? Even were it true, it still doesn't make them any good at taking stone fortifications, at which they were profoundly unsuccessful in the Hungarian theatre.

That's just false. The Mongols knew the land was perfectly suitable as a base and offered a Mongol bride to the King of Hungary if he'd allow them passage into the country, to use as a base for attacks on Italy, before the invasion.

...and yet far smaller German armies were regularly successful in besieging places which the Mongols failed to take.

...and yet Attila found it a perfectly suitable base, as did the Arpads, and both used similar styles of horse warfare.

No, as I said they maintained their power by using local force.

...and yet none of this speaks to their inability to take fortifications in Hungary, which fell quite easily to the Turks slightly later, and the Greeks slightly before.

You could, but in the standard setting, the Order are the finest magicians on Earth. That's their core premise.

I think the secular nature of Hermetic magic gives it great advantages over, say Taoist magic.

I would be doing no such thing. If you ever do run the game, perhaps you'll find my articles on modelling Song-era magic in Ars Magica useful. ... ermes1.htm. The articles predate The Mysteries, but some of the ideas still work. They are in issues 10 and 11.

Weird to make the Tibetans your sock puppets when they are basically the source of all of the Jedi / Sith stuff in Star Wars, and so can hold their own with the Diamond Vehicle, but there you go. You obviously disagree.

I'd be quite happy for Muslims to take over early post-1220 in one of my games. The point from which historical diversion occurs in vanilla games is 1220, so Los Navas de Tolosa is kind of set unless there's an earlier start date in that game. If there was, I'd be entirely happy for it to go the other way. I mean, in one of my games the player characters turned up during the Normandy Landings in thr Second World War, and in another they discovered Stargates and fought aliens, so the idea of the Muslims winning hardly phases me, frankly.

Your sources to the contrary?

It's the absolute truth. What you're referring is before the invasion; post-invasion, they found out that the Hungarian Plains was actually inadequate to provide for their mounts. Nobody knows why the Mongols left so abruptly, but the most plausible one to me appears to be the inadequacy of Hungary as a major logistical base.

What are your sources for claiming that the Mongols tried to besiege Hungarian fortifications? Because none of my sources say that. They say that the Mongols spent the time garrisoning, foraging, and rounding up the civilians. I've got nothing on them besieging forts.

German armies? Are you talking about after the Mongols, or before? Because Hungary did not have very many forts pre-Mongols.

In any case, Mongols weren't in Europe long enough to engage in sieges. They were in Hungary for less than a year and during that time, their armies were dispersed throughout Hungary. Nor have I read anything to indicate that the Mongols had a siege train, which reinforces the reconnaissance in force thesis. Compare that to the 2nd Mongol campaign in the Middle East, where they had a siege train and took cities that deviled both the Crusaders and the Muslims for years. In contrast, the 1st campaign was like the invasion of Europe, where fortified points were bypassed rather than besieged.

Magyars had nowhere near the numbers that the Mongol armies had; otherwise, Magyars would've made a far more impression on Europe and state-building in Germany far more advanced to cope with such numbers. And Atilla? Apples and oranges. His armies were widely dispersed all across Europe, with only his core force permanently stationed in Hungary. His numbers were inflated with vassals, who were all over Europe.

And that was because the Mongols had sufficient number of men to cow the Russians. Had they not, the Russians would've thrown off the Mongol yoke much earlier.

Was it inability or unwillingness? At the very least, you have to show that they tried and failed to take forts in Hungary, as opposed to merely bypassing them. As for Manuel, my understanding is that prevalent castellanies at the time of Manuel were predominantly of earth and wood type, not that difficult for the sophisticated Byzantine siegecraft. It was during Bela III that stonework became common and a few cities were walled in masonry. And the Turks? Well, they're a bit out of range of my expertise, but I believe that by the time they invaded Hungary in earnest, they had cannons.

Where does it say that? Finest in Mythic Europe, yes, but the finest on Earth?

Just a general comment about your post, and then a specific comment. It seems awfully dodgy to turn around and ask someone else about their sources before providing your own when asked, first.

Yes. The nature of the game is that magi in the Order of Hermes are the finest, most powerful magi on Earth. And Earth is a pretty small place, past the middle east are the lands of the fae. That's the nature of Mythic Europe...

Because it was a dodgy question to begin with? Ask ten military historians who was the greatest and you'll get ten different answers...

It's a fair question for someone to ask when they know something to the contrary.

How is it fair?

And does he know "something" to the contrary? After all, he then continued with "even were it true..."

Well, the "even if it were true..." line suggests that the premise is factually wrong, but takes it on its face, and defeats it with some other point. Which you then pretty much ignored.

But he didn't defeat it--he has merely conflated absence with positive correlation.

Furthermore, I feel like you're playing me for a fool; how can anyone prove or disprove a subjective term?

My understanding, which isn't advanced, or current, or even rigorously academic is that the Mongols didn't take any major fortifications when they invaded Hungary. There is a reason they didn't take them, and I don't believe it's because they didn't want to take them.
And then there's the whole chasing down the king while he's bleeding the Mongolian army that I recall. But I'm not going to name a source, because it's been so long since I've read anything about it, and I'm not going to use Wikipedia as a source, either.

But going back to your first response to my question about your response to Timothy being dodgy, I ignored the issue you raised there. Yes, 10 different military historians will give you 10 different answers, but you're not even mentioning one.

But, and I might be giving Timothy a lot of credit, or maybe not enough. I think he did a fair amount of research about Hungary when he was working on a recent book, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt before I give you one. Now, don't get me wrong, authors aren't perfect, and I can disagree with them, too.

The problem is that the Mongols did take forts elsewhere, forts that Western Europeans either had difficulty or couldn't take at all. Hence, merely showing that forts were not taken in Hungary is not sufficient to show their incompetence in siegecraft in general.

Because there is no credible one. Established contemporary historians avoid subjective terms, especially something as loaded as "greatest," like a plague. Thus you won't find one. I can give you older ones, but to me, they're no longer credible, especially in something as fast-moving as military historiography. But I'll give you and you can take it as you will: Liddell Hart.

I have not done any Hungary-specific research, but I've read a great deal on medieval warfare and history, with some detours in East Asia. Everything I've read tells me that the Mongols had the greatest warmachine not seen since the Romans. The thing is, military history is something that moves at light speed, with things changing yearly it seems. Mongols has had yo-yo-y military reputation. From the inter-war years to the 60's, their reputation stood high, then they were taken down ruthlessly during the 70's to the 90's, with Prof Jones going so far as claiming that they were nothing different from previous nomads and unworthy of further study. Then in the late 90's to oughts their reputation began to be salvaged, alongside the rise of New Military History. It's an ongoing process. It's possible that they would get tagged with the "overrated" tag tomorrow again; who knows?

Now I'm done playing you.

Wow. Someone grabbed Minor Flaw Infamous in a handful of posts. :unamused:

Do you plan to get Strong Ettin Blood too? :mrgreen:

At first, I was thinking he had Judged Unfairly personality flaw.

That's not how making big claims work, lane. When you appear and say "X is the best!" as the person making the positive claim, you have to demonstrate that claim. The person saying "Well, maybe yes and maybe no." or even "No." doesn't need to prove the negative, in part because it's hard to prove a negative, and in part because that just devolves into definitional arguments ("Greatest in what sense?") Also, as a separate rejoinder, I'd point out to you that Clausewitz makes the point that Napoleon's great army was a far greater army when it was in France than when it was in Poland, or later Moscow. Just because the Mongols conquered the Song doesn't mean they had the same force profile at when they raided into Austria.

I made the statement that in Hungary the Mongols were less of a threat than many people think, provided you have Hermetic magic., and tried to argue that case. If your counter is that I'm wrong because the Mongols were the best until Napoleon, then you either need to prove that is both true and relevant, or to counter my points which are basically that the Mongols are fragile to environmental changes wrought by magic and didn't take stone fortresses.

You repeatedly have claimed that the Mongols turned up and were somehow surprised by the conditions on the ground. They discover or find out things post-invasion. That seems deeply implausible because we know from their own accounts that they sent spies into the territorites against which they planned campaigns. In this case it also seems unlikely because the Pannonian Basin (the bit of Hungary around the huge lake) is arguably the most fertile farmland in Europe at this time: if you can't make a logistical base in a place which is literally called "The land of bread" by all its neighbours (The "Pan" in Pannonia means "bread".) you have some serious troubles. Also, one of the main sources of income for the King of Hungary, who claimed to be the richest king in Europe at the time of the invasion, was horse-breeding, and one of the main exports from Hungary in period was horses (grain being the other big one, until the silver rush slightly later), so it's hard to see what was going wrong for them, in the logistical base stakes. Pannonia exports grain and warhorses...sounds quite useful.

In fact what happened was the Mongols took Pannonia, appointed a governor, and used it as their base for attacks into Austria and Dalmatia. The idea that they thought it was unsuitable so they pulled back to...what, the deserts of the Silk Road? is unsupportable.

What are your sources for claiming that the Mongols tried to besiege Hungarian fortifications? Because none of my sources say that. They say that the Mongols spent the time garrisoning, foraging, and rounding up the civilians. I've got nothing on them besieging forts.
Failure to attempt besieging Hungarian forts would not prove they could besiege Hungarian forts. I claim they -did not take- any of the stone fortifications. That they didn't bother doesn't prove they could. New Zealand has never attempted to invade Hawaii. That doesn't demonstrate that the Kiwis just don't bother.

My proof that they tried to besiege Hungarian forts, by the way, is that they burned at least a quarter of the wooden ones down, and rebuilding in stone was a key stated goal of the king following this, which led to a complete reworking of the way feudalism functioned in Hungary afterward. Foreigners were already in Hungary before the invasion, but they are drawn in, in huge numbers, by the demand for masons in the stone building program, and colonists of all sorts in the refortification programs in Transylvania, and so there are even huge demographic shifts in Transylvania because of the Mongol habit of taking wooden fortifications. I mean, this is when, depending on your historiography, the Vlachs enter the area, and create Romania. (for any Romanians playing at home, yes, I know this is contested by Romanians who claim they were there the whole time.) but even without that, the Mongol habit of taking the Hungarian wooden forts but leaving the German ones alone caused a big shift in Transyvania's demographics, toward the Saxons of the Seven Cities.

Both. They did have forts: they just didn't have many stone ones.

Are you suggesting the stone forts were in some way easier to take than the earlier ones the Mongols faced?

Hungary has lots of forts pre-Mongols. Not many stone ones, it's true, but quite a few wooden ones. Many of which the Mongols destroyed.

The Mongols had siege equipment. They used catapults at the Battle of Mohi, for example, to counter the European crossbowmen. They also didn't "disperse throughout Hungary" which would have been suicidal given their inability to pacify the economic core of the country. They maintained cohesion and crossed the Danube in the winter before their unexpected retreat. At the point that the news of the Khan's death arrived, they were planning to attack Vienna.

It's true they had fewer troops during the Hungarian colonisation, but "more effect"? The largest Crusading army in the Middle Ages was Hungarian, and the Hungarians created a permanent state. If your argument is that greater numbers have led to larger effects, where's Western Mongolia now?

The Mongol forces were inflated by Chinese, Kin, or Silk Road people, so oranges and oranges. Their habit of taking all unresisting, able-bodied Hungarian men as as slave soldiers clearly demonstrates they didn't have monocultural forces.

Respectfully, no, it was because the "Russians" didn't exist. The people who were there were not were not unified into a single cultural group. They did not "cow" the "Russians": a large group of collaborating people whose descendants would be Russians aided them against other people whose descendants would be Russians.

Given their willingness to take wood-fortified towns, and their willingness to take stone-fortified towns in other theatres of war, I'd argue that its incapacity. There's no good reason for them to leave the core of Hungary, intact, along their line of communication, resupply and retreat.

No, I just have to say "They didn't take any stone ones." My point was that Hermetic magicians can whistle up fortresses. It doesn't matter if your Mongols cannot or do not want to take stone fortresses. The effect's the same: anything magi don't want taken doesn't get taken.

So, you're saying the Mongols couldn't match up to primitive Byzantine siegecraft? Or they just didn't want to? Fine either way: magi can just make more primitive defences then.

Mythic Cathay is deliberately not described in the supplements: it may not even have any people in it. The silver going east goes somewhere, but there's a thesis among magi that its eaten by silver-eating monsters who somehow make silk.

Given that I was even more argumentative than lane when I first entered the community, I'm not inclined to be too harsh. 8) You young'uns just don't remember what a pain I was. 8)

Hence my feeling that this was an extraordinary claim, and asking for a source.

The Mongols can be the greatest conquerors of their time and still, in the Hungarian theatre, not be able to take stone fortresses in a cost-effective way.

I'd remind you: the effect of the Mongols on the Order is all I'm interested in here. Their victories against the Song are a different thing, which might not even occur on Mythic Earth, because it might not have a China in it.

Let me argue this another way: in the 1260 invasion, they were destroyed by the Hungarians, because the pass they wanted to use to get through the mountains was filled with snow, and the Hungarians used the geography to cut their line of supply and retreat. Fair? When I said you could wreck their invasion with some well placed avalanches, I was referring to this: a specific historical event.

You can have the greatest war machine in the world, but that doesn't mean you have limitless time, numbers, resources, and morale. They could still be really good at conquering the Song and not, in Hungary, be able to do whatever they liked. This means that regardless of how good they are in other places, in Hungary, if you are Judy Dench and Primus of Tremere, when you hear about them from the Cumans, you can make plans which have a goodly chance of success, in part because your ancestors settled the hash of the Hungarians, Kipchaks and Bulgars, all of whom did the same "horses and arrows" stuff as their basic military doctrine, and you have an army of ghostly Huns you can call up and talk strategy with.

Lively discussion! I can't compare too much with actual history, just relate what happened in our campaign when a Crusade was called on our Covenant.

This was basically 3rd edition morphed mostly into 4th as the campaign stretched a long amount of time. It was set in the Levant (before any official source material) and our Covenant was maybe a weak Summer. Suleimon sorcerors were part of the enemies we were dealing with and eventually due to entanglements that the Companion who ran the castle had, a Crusade was ultimately called against us. A large mundane army, a decent amount of crusading knights, at least one priest and attendants with Faith, and hidden amongst them were the sorcerors of Suleimon. Now at the time their magic was not hindered by the Divine so much, because as we understood it, magic was allowable among certain Arab societies and would work as a kind of science. At any rate, our players never quite figured out how they managed to do it, that was our theory.

My Magus was in charge of the covenant at this time and we had a small force of men and some companions (some mystic, some not), and one or two other magi who were not often personally there. We had a few groups of specialized turbs. Our hardest grogs were essentially Christian Vikings. Another group were basically Hashisan (or at least modeled off of them) we called that group the 'sneaky men'. Finally the rest of the Order in the Levant said we should pack up as much as we could and flee; do not fight the Crusaders. They even threatened us with a March if we did, but the real reason was that they figured they'd get the land, the resources and the library after we fled. So we had no other help.

At this particular time we felt we didn't want the invaders to know exactly what they were going up against and wanted to hide our nature, figuring if we threw fireballs from the tower we would be endangering our Sodalis and also ensuring a bigger army would come later. So we started with misdirection. They sent ambassadors to us and we'd mind control them, get info, and send them back to deliver a message that they should leave us alone. We did the same with any scouts or spies. As the army got closer we tried messing with the weather and figured at that point they had some kind of protection, because it didn't work very well, we only had one day of driving rain which didn't slow them down as much we'd hoped. We were initially going to make it rain for the entire time but couldn't do it for some reason. When they were camping near enough to the castle we sent out the sneaky men. They assasinated key people and caused other mischief like poisoning their food and water, but the poison didn't work. Again, we figured it was their own allies magic that countered it. But we also managed to figure out who were the chiefs in the army. Then we sent the more subtle magi among them and wreaked havok on their gear. Rusted weapons and armor, broken leather straps (that was especially good on the saddles), and we sabotaged the siege equipment so that it would fail spectacularly and dangerously.

The first actual combat went well for us. The sabotage alone cost them quite a bit, and our magical stone launchers behind our walls did well. It was after that when the Crusader aura hit us that we started having big problems. Magical botches were more common, the aegis would blink in and out, and spells were just not cutting the mustard. Our main victories after that were any time they managed to get in our walls; then we held nothing back but made sure no one lived to tell the tale either. Sappers tried tunneling in underneath...they met bad ends. We had summoned some Earth elementals to protect us from that and they just gooified (it's a word, shut up!) any sappers.

There were a few epic battles behind the walls. In the end I believe we finally turned them away with a couple victories. One, we made the Suleimon Sorcerors reveal their power. They'd been as mostly subtle as us, once we forced them to show themselves the Crusaders for the most part left. And in a straight up fight between our Magi and the Sorcerors, we had the advantage. For the mundanes, we wore them out. They got no sleep from the spells and mischief we caused. We started spoiling only their food, while leaving their officers just fine (their food usually got purified anyway) and that reduced morale, especially when sneaky men and magi started rabble rousing amongst them in disguise. Our Mentem expert kept sending dreams and hallucinations amongst them also til they were terrified to attack. In the end I think we also distracted them by sending word of lootable caravans which diverted some of their mercenary reinforcements and also took away the nobility of their cause. In the end they gave up and left.

At the Tribunal my character gave a big speech about how we fought off an entire Crusade and yet not a single living Crusader saw a single spell being cast, so we should not be convicted of any crime. I also pointed out that we had just fought off a Crusade...if you want us, come get us. It was a tie vote in the end, so we came through it.

Not to toot my own horn, but I think that was a good method that the Order might use to defend themselves. Yes, they can just blast them all. But there has to be reasons why they haven't done that. IMO it's because if there's one thing that men are good at, it's bringing down the tower. Just because wizards are in it, doesn't mean that it's unbeatable. And there are a lot more men than wizards. We (barely) fought off a small army. If we made ourselves a true, full on magical threat, we might have attracted a far bigger one.

Now, one other thing that makes this a bit like apples to oranges, was that it was 3rd/4th edition rules. A lot has changed since then. For starters, we didn't have very powerful wizards. We had only just converted to 4th, so couldn't yet take advantage of the favorable advancement that you could get in 4th. 4th and 5th ed Magi are far more powerful than 3rd edition magi.