I was thinking about designing the definitive warrior for a NPC norse heir when I saw that virtue and I thought: what about picking Ways of the Land with Battlefields?
The virtue currently gives +3 to rolls explicitly involving combat and one botch dice less in the appropiate terrain. Warriors with that virtue would also be great with battlefield combat tactics, but I can't see much more benefits to it, for example it wouldn't work in a one to one combat, which seems fine, as the virtue shouldn't mean a +3 freecard in any combat situation.
Also boosting people's combat skills tend to make these characters' lifes shorter, as they use to engage more in combat and a botch is still a botch (well: these character would need two...), but what do you think? Too munchkinie?
One way to cool it would be to replace it with Ways of the Plains, given that battlefields tend to happen in plains (you need some room to put your army properly after all), but the problem then would be that it would give the character more benefits in plains than the character fitting ones (I can't figure him saying 'I'm the son of Heroes and I'll go to Valhalla and so I'm pretty good finding streams and edible wild plants in plains!').
One issue I have is that pinning down what a "Battlefield" is tends to be harder than pinning down what a "Forest", or a "Swamp", or a "Desert" is. Sure, the field of a large ongoing battle is a battlefield. But a skirmish? A duel? How about a battlefield where a battle was fought yesterday? A year ago? A thousand years ago?
The second issue I have is one of aesthetics. Ways of the (Land) tends to be about a specific environment, rather than a specific circumstance. Would you accept Ways of Winter? Ways of the Tribunal? Ways of the Wizard's War? Ways of Love?
Finally, I'd say that "Ways of the Plains" is not terribly well defined, and if interpreted widely is rather wider than the canonical "Ways of the Steppe" or "Ways of the Forest". That said, there are battles taking place on hills, mountains, castles, at sea etc. so I do not see "Ways of the Plains" covering all environments in which a battle might take place.
Traditionally in RpG, combat has been the most common conclusion of an adventure. So any combat-related bonus was/is seen as bigger than bonus in any other area. However, in Ars, combat tend to be least preferred course of action for many reasons. And the obligation placed on the Order not to meddle with mundane really tone down the potential of this virtues - even when taken by a companion since mages are never far and might be dragged sooner than later in the companion heroic battles.
So the way this Major virtue is presented, I would be willing to let a player have a go. Whether it is a seasoned captain, a heroe fated to lead a big army or a restless mercenary like Solomon Kane, it has potential to define nicely a character beyond the simple mechanical bonus granted by the virtue.
I believe Ways of the City has more potential for abuse - in a different context, but I would still be willing to test it.
Well, I'd go the strict way defining it: a Battlefield should be a place were a battle is going to be fight or was recently fought, and should require two standing armies facing each other. So a skirmish or a duel (or an ambush, or a tabern fight, or a raid) wouldn't be. A battlefield where a battle was fought yesterday would help to certain rolls (Awareness, Leadership, Proffession: Soldier or Army Leader to figure out what happened, how the battle was fought and such). That bonus could be spanned even more, like let's say reading some church records about an ancient battle and figuring out how the actual battle was despite reading it from someone who had no clue about tactics. But I wouldn't definetively let the character a +3 bonus to his combat skills by carrying around a book about classic Roman battles against the barbarians and reading it aloud when he goes through a forest fighting bandits, for example. And about a battle fought months of years ago, I guess the virtue would help the character make a good guess about where armies could had stand and general information deducted from the terrain and so, but nothing more. I'd say that once the corpses are removed (or rotten), the battlefield is over.
None of them. Battlefields tend to happen in specific environments, as I understand them...
Neither would this Ways of the Battlefield: a hill may hold a battle (a quite unfair one if one side it's on the upper side, I think), but not a mountain (there is no way to place two armies properly between cliffs and slopes) and definetively not a castle: I'd say that an attack to a castle is a siege, not a battle, and thus this virtue wouldn't work (though there could be a Ways of the Sieges that would work there, but not in open battles, and that would seem reasonable for a grog or companion specialized in castle fights: he would be a quite good garrison leader or attack commander, instinctively recognizing weak spots, archers' blindspots and such). Same for naval battles, which are a definetively different issue (and if there is Ways of the Town and Ways of the Sea I would find a Ways of the Ship even easier to allow, giving bonus to sailing, life aboard and naval battles).
That's the idea! The virtue is thought more to give flavour to a character than to ease the fight with the Big Boss, which at least in our Saga doesn't use to be an army, but that demon you fight in an undergrown cave, or that fae in the forest, or that dragon in his lair...
In fact I mentioned the I though of this virtue as one a NPC would have. Maybe after meeting him and knowing why he tend to win more battles than expected a player character may think about getting it for a companion of his own, and I think it could work, but I'm pretty sure the virtue will be pretty much combat-worthless than let's say getting the Warrior + Puissant Single Weapon + Affinity with Single Weapon combo. I don't know how many actual battles you use to put your characters into in your Sagas, but given the Code, the magi issues with the mundane masses and the small size of grog companies following magi around, I never actually saw even one.
My instant reaction was a knee-jerk "NO!".
But the more I think about it, the better I like it, to model the "battle mind" condition that I've seen and heard to many sources speak of.
Also, it' a Major virtue, for just a +3 (and one less botch die). Puissant (martial ability) adds +2, as long as you can use your favoured weapons group, and that's a minor virtue.
so I answered. Note that my entire post was stated subjectively: I don't like the proposed Virtue, because I have issues with its fuzziness and aesthetics. I'm no sacred guardian of the one and only way to play
To the same extent as Tribunals do, I'd say!
Actually, a large number of crucial battles have been fought for control of mountainous terrain - a small force holding a mountain pass against a stronger force is a staple of narrative (and military doctrine). Similarly, one should not confuse besieging a castle with storming a castle; the latter is definitely a battle, and again, a staple of narrative.
That's a biggie. In a large number of circumstances, you have a single botch die to stress rolls. Way of the Battlefield can remove that single botch die, in a wide set of situations in which it can be literally the difference between life and death. Let me stress wide. That's one huge advantage of Ways of the Battlefield over Cautions with Ability: you need a lot of Abilities to succeed on a battlefield, and Ways of the Battlefield covers them all, both with the botch reduction, and with the +3 bonus that stacks with Puissant Ability/Affinity.
Still, the more I think about it, the more I realize it's not about balance. It's a very powerful Virtue, but hey, it's a Major Virtue. It's just that I feel it perverts the original spirit of Ways of the (Land) into a Ways of the (Circumstance) -- and the latter leads to a slippery slope.
I had many of the same thoughts and reactions. As long as "battlefield" is quite specifically a place where armies fight, or just finished fighting. As long as there is a time limit as to how long ago battles were fought in the place for it to count, and that it doesn't work for duels or skirmishes.
I'd be tempted to allow it to cover a castle siege as well.
How about Ways of the Tribunal then? If the above major virtue is good for the epic warrior, under very limited circumstances, how about the politican-magus?
The 'battlemind' concept I wanted to cover, specifically and explicitly includes duels, but that's kinda irrelevant here I guess.
Not having a time limit to how long ago such a battle must have occured would be... let's just say that Europe holds a great many battlefields.
Of course I asked and I'm glad to hear all kind of opinions: I posted it here instead of doing it right away because I have my concerns about it.
Right now I'm worried about mountain warfare. Fortunately the NPC is one of the norse inhabitants of the Isle of Man, and the highest mountain is a small one.
Were armies fight, just fought or are going to fight: the bonus should apply to previous maneuvers like troop formations and the prelude of battle, I guess. But after the fight I'd say it could just be over.
I can definetively imagine a meddler Tytalus having such a virtue.
If a magus wants to spend 3 precious virtue points in that I would definetively allow that.
I can see where you're going with 'battlemind' and it seems cool. Something that works during battle, for all things battle-related. Not something dependent on the site of a battle, so how long ago the battle was becomes irelevant.
It sounds comparable to a magus' 'Special circumstances' for a bonus in a limited situation to a (potentially) broad spectrum of feats. I know the warrior can take Puissant Single Wpn or Leadership, but having a single virtue covering them all...or stacking with them...
Yeah, that might work. Awfully specialized, but also sort of cool. I could see it work for the concept of a Debating magus, perhaps someone wanting to delve into bringing changes to the Order using the mechanics on Transforming Mythic Europe - the 4th estate.
To the extent that battle changes the landscape, as does a town or village, I could see it. You could walk through either camp unmolested by watchdogs, ravens ignore you, and so forth. Obviously it would not apply to sudden quick skirmishes or the like, and would persist a few days after a fight on a field littered with the dead or still impacted by the battle which was there.
I wouldn't make it prospective though. A battlefield would have to be a place where two armies fought or are fighting. A place where armies might fight in the future isn't yet a battlefield. I would allow it to apply once the armies were in place with the intention of fighting.
I think I would let it last for as long as an equivalent Arcane Connection. So, assuming that people died there, I would say a place would remain a battlefield for "decades" after the actual battle (but not usually "centuries"). If significant terrain changes occurs any time after the battle (forest burnt down, town built, castle demolished, river moved, etc.) I think it would cease to a battlefield any longer. But would be a GM judgement call on whether the terrain change was "significant".
Definitely, would also need to be a military engagement involving armies. The exact definition of "army" could be a bit loose (GM judgement). But it wouldn't usually include groups as small as the turb (unless the turb is very large). I wouldn't want to get too specific about numerical requirements for an army.