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Military Actions Involving Spirits


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As alluded to in various histories (and the Board Game Dragon Pass) disembodied spirits seem to be commonly used as a troop type within a "central genertelan" military action roster.

Mechanistically, how would people suggest spirits are used in such massed military actions; such as the:

  1. Battle of Night & Day (Sheng Seleris)
  2. Invasion of Sartar
  3. Invasion of Prax (1608)

Is it a matter of Shaman types collecting (for want of a better mechanic) bags and bags of spirits that they open, release, and command to attack?

Do Praxian tribal founders (Divine Spell of Waha) serve as a nexus for such collections of spirits or purely as a tribal protective wyter?

Is it a matter of spending ones time collecting multiple spirits (conducive to your plan of action) that you then summon during your time of need - something akin to the Return of the King's Dead Men of Dunharrow - quite a _powerful_ ally of the 'good' guys.

Are military units able (with presumed ritualistic permissions) to summon long expired members of their unit to help either overtly, or defensively (against spirit or mundane attacks) - or is this how the tribal wyter/vexilla gets power to protect its charges.

Although a powerful troop, should it relatively easy to protect versus spirits? So whilst powerful they can be easily countered - such as by Spirit Block/Spirit Screen area affect spells or wyter protections.

Are Humakti against the use of such spirit 'troops' seeing it as something akin to the use of mustard gas, or to a lesser degree, the European knight angst with the introduction of the crossbow. 

Are Zorak Zorani for the use of spirits or do they prefer (or just specialise in) the physical body resource for zombie creation - leaving the spiritual to the Kyger Litor mothers.

With RQx (RQ, RQ2, RQ3, RQ-AiG, HW, MRQ, MRQ2, HQ, RQ6, ...) coming out, a good set of mechanics for the shaman will be really useful - something akin to Sandy's Shaman rules being my suggestion - but the need to address the POW economy follows as a necessity.  Maybe a Kickstarter stretch goal...

Thoughts?

Edited by Ebaninth
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4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Invasion of Prax (1608

Firstly  I'd suggest you look at the Nomad Gods Game:

Rules: https://www.chaosium.com/nomad-gods-rule-booklet-pdf/

Board and counters: http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Nomad_Gods

Game engine: http://www.vassalengine.org

that provides an excellent intro to how the Battle of Moonbroth worked with spirits in the Invasion of 1610 (1608 was very minor).

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Is it a matter of Shaman types collecting (for want of a better mechanic) bags and bags of spirits that they open, release, and command to attack?

No. Spirits can be allied by any counter visiting sacred sites (altars) and you may randomly get one (roll 5 or 6). Earth spirits can only be allied at the Paps. More powerful gods/spirits (Oakfed, Wild Hunter, Malia, and the Horned God) are acquired from specific altars and are gained by sacrificing a herd unit.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Do Praxian tribal founders (Divine Spell of Waha) serve as a nexus for such collections of spirits or purely as a tribal protective wyter?

Neither. Founders may be summoned at Altars by Khans 50/50 chance to do so. They are massively powerful beings with a physical and magical presence 3-4 times more powerful than a normal unit. Protectresses appear to defend lone Herds. Ancestors are normally present and can act independently, but when with a founder are much more powerful.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Is it a matter of spending ones time collecting multiple spirits (conducive to your plan of action) that you then summon during your time of need - something akin to the Return of the King's Dead Men of Dunharrow - quite a _powerful_ ally of the 'good' guys.

No you get them as needed.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Are military units able (with presumed ritualistic permissions) to summon long expired members of their unit to help either overtly, or defensively (against spirit or mundane attacks) - or is this how the tribal wyter/vexilla gets power to protect its charges.

Not with the Praxians.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Although a powerful troop, should it relatively easy to protect versus spirits? So whilst powerful they can be easily countered - such as by Spirit Block/Spirit Screen area affect spells or wyter protections.

It depends if your troop has inherent magical protection. Not all can do this.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Are Humakti against the use of such spirit 'troops' seeing it as something akin to the use of mustard gas, or to a lesser degree, the European knight angst with the introduction of the crossbow.

If they existed in the game I would not allow a Humakti unit to stack with a spirit.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Are Zorak Zorani for the use of spirits or do they prefer (or just specialise in) the physical body resource for zombie creation - leaving the spiritual to the Kyger Litor mothers.

There are no troll units in the game, but zombies exist in the Dragon Pass game. I would expect ZZ units to be able to raise zombies from a battlefield. There are likely troll spirit units available to troll units.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

With RQx (RQ, RQ2, RQ3, RQ-AiG, HW, MRQ, MRQ2, HQ, RQ6, ...) coming out, a good set of mechanics for the shaman will be really useful - something akin to Sandy's Shaman rules being my suggestion - but the need to address the POW economy follows as a necessity.

RQx is called RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha or RQG:

https://www.chaosium.com/blog/rqgnew-runequest-edition-to-be-known-as-runequest-roleplaying-in-glorantha/

RQG  has completely rewritten shaman rules, making characters now easily playable.

4 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Maybe a Kickstarter stretch goal

There is no Kickstarter for RQG.

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8 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Are military units able (with presumed ritualistic permissions) to summon long expired members of their unit to help either overtly, or defensively (against spirit or mundane attacks) - or is this how the tribal wyter/vexilla gets power to protect its charges.

If, by military units, you mean regiments, then all regiments, which would include those in the Lunar Army (and many of which predate the Lunar Empire), Yelmalion Templar regiments and Humakti Battalions, have some significant spirits in their regimental standards, and less powerful ones in their company/century standards (and in Lunar Vexillae standards). Some of these may be the founder of the regiment, spirits of long dead soldiers, or other spirits sent by the patron deity. Sartarite magical regiments of course have very powerful wyters, and doubtless some of the warlocks have access to powerful spirits of their own.

I believe there was a scenario by MOB where recruits to the Lunar Army obtained their own 'file' or 'platoon' spirit to inhabit their standard from among their own number - it wasn't very powerful, but over time....

Completely non-canonical, but my thoughts from my unofficial book:

The Standard

Standards are held in awe as potent symbols of the honor of the unit.

A regimental standard is inhabited by the guardian spirit, wyter or genius of the regiment. Each company (or equivalent) of a regiment usually has a lesser standard which carries a lesser spirit. The assembled company wyters or genii are celebrated and worshipped, in addition to the regimental spirit.

The cult of the regimental standard unifies the members of the regiment; soldiers make oaths upon it, and a recruit is initiated into its worship. When making their surrender, vanquished enemy leaders are expected to submit under the shadow of the victorious standards. A standard may be decorated with treasures stripped from their person: diadems, torcs, armrings.

The standard is important as a recognition symbol and rallying point, and a means of communication in battle. A trumpet or horn blast is often used to draw the attention of the troops to the standard which then directs the action to be taken. The standard-bearer lowers, raises, waves, or make some other motion with the standard to indicate or direct the movement, tactic or formation to be employed.

The standard is staked in the ground as the first act of setting up camp at the very heart of the camp itself, next to the tent of the commanding officer. When striking camp the standard is pulled from the ground. As the habitation of the regimental spirit the standard plays a key role in religious festivals, being anointed with precious oils and decorated with garlands.

In addition to the metal and stone ornamentation, a standard often carries a banner depicting either the patron deity or a religious icon.

Whilst Orlanthi warbands often carry a standard, it is rare, even for War Clans and Tribes to risk their wyter upon the battlefield. Instead, their standard may be inhabited by the allied spirit of their warleader, which is mostly far weaker than regimental guardian spirits.

Very few mercenary regiments and companies have such guardians, save for longstanding Yelmalion regiments and Humakti Battalions. Some Humakti temples retain standards for battalions long dormant, ready for their revival.

In battle Solar and Lunar standards often glow; Solar with a yellow aura, Lunar with a ruddy one. Storm standards crackle and spark with orange or blue lightning or may be surrounded by a blowing wind.

In regiments associated with a beast god the standard-bearers wear the animal skins of their patron animal over their uniforms and helmets.

Lunar standards often feature a bat with outspread wings, as a symbol of power and death. The Crimson Bat inhabits an important role in the mythos of the Red Goddess. The bat is also the Dara Happan symbol for Death. Yelm was slain when the bat, the shadow he cannot see, put its wings over his eyes so that he could not perceive the killing blow of the Rebel which sent him to the Underworld.

 

 

And from another chapter...

 

Standards

Almost all units have a regimental wyter and other spirits within its standards. These serve as a focus for the regiment, and even if they possess no significant offensive powers support cohesion and morale, and defend against magical attacks, including those by other spirits.

Regimental and company standards are inhabited by spirits associated with their patron deity. These spirits vary in power and origin. Company spirits are the weakest, often belonging to a deceased member of the regiment, who excelled in the qualities the regiment holds dear. Regiment spirits are more powerful, often spirits sent by the regimental deity, or even, in the case of lesser deities, the god themselves. Senior officers, such as generals often have their own standard, inhabited by a spirit almost as powerful as a regimental spirit.

Standard spirits usually have several powers, including the defense of the standard and its bearer, and a few offensive powers that often bolster the regiment’s capability in fighting a particular foe. However, even the most powerful are not in the same class as the wyters of magical regiments.

In addition to their spirit senses they can also feel, see and hear via their bearer.

A spirit inhabiting a standard has few physical abilities. They can tug the hands of their standard-bearer to lead them in a particular direction, or, if set in the ground, refuse to be pulled out, or, most inauspiciously, fall over. Such actions are viewed as potent signs by the soldiers of the cult of the standard. If a standard is unwilling to be pulled free it signifies that the spirit is unwilling to move; should it fall to the ground, the troops will become disheartened until the regimental priests appease the guardian spirit with sacrifices.

The loss of a standard brings both humiliating dishonor and deprives the troops of a focus of their devotion, seriously reducing morale. Soldiers will fight desperately to defend their standard or attempt to rescue the standard from profane hands. A captured standard is often placed in a temple so that the associated deity cannot see it. Often shamed soldiers will attempt to free their standard.

New standards can be established, requiring lengthy rituals. These successors are unlikely to be as powerful as the standard they replace, for like other spirits, a standard increases in power over time, unless destroyed.

 

And an example regiment:

 

Marble Phalanx

Type

Heavy Infantry

Armor

Bronze mail coat and greaves

Weapons

Long spear, large round shield, kopis

Morale

Regular

4

Patron Deity

Polaris, Urvairinus

Notes

Stonewall Phalanx

Magic Factor

Medium

4

Missile Factor

0

Melee Factor

5

One of the ancient Stonewall Phalanxes, this regiment has special magic for fighting against Darkness. The home city of this phalanx is Mesavos in the Oronin satrapy.

Their tunics and helmet decorations are scarlet and white.

Honathum the Shining God is the regimental genius who protects the regiment against cavalry as long as the regimental standard is secure.

The standard consists of a spear with a counterweight, set across the pole surmounted by a star medallion of Polaris with eight rays. Within the medallion there is a portrait of Urvairinus.

 

Please note: this material is not official.

 

 

Edited by M Helsdon
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9 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

As alluded to in various histories (and the Board Game Dragon Pass) disembodied spirits seem to be commonly used as a troop type within a "central genertelan" military action roster.

Mechanistically, how would people suggest spirits are used in such massed military actions; such as the:

  1. Battle of Night & Day (Sheng Seleris)
  2. Invasion of Sartar
  3. Invasion of Prax (1608)

Sheng wasn't involved in the Battle of Night and Day.  Individual spirits may have fought (such as the Ram Steed of Lokamayadon) or the spirits that the trolls sent against the invaders.  Most of the action was taking by the Gods (Kyger Litor, Nysalor and Daysenervus) rather than the spirits.

The troll use of spirits differs from the use of spirits in Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods in one way - the Trolls were using spirits to attack line-of-sight whereas the Lunar College of Magic and the Sartarite Magical Union were using them to attack foes at a distance.  Not so much "go forth and smite this city" but "go forth and smite the Bush Rangers guarding the cross-roads five hexes distant".  This, I suggest, is the new innovation that makes the magical units possible.  Not the mere massing of magicians together but installing them the capacity to target specific locations from a sight unseen but still within smiting distance.  

It's possible that Sheng could have done this.  It's also possible that he could have learned from the early Lunars or that the current Lunars could have learned from him.  It's also possible that the Praxians could have learned from him.

The biggest detail would be to convey the sense of instructions that the spirits can understand while avoiding mathematical navigation instructions.  Instructing spirits to travel along the four directions is fine.  Instructing them to attack a specific enemy is fine.  The best method IMO would be to develop scrying magics or soothsaying to systemically map where the enemy is and what they look like.  There should still be potential for confusion or deceptive tactics.  A massed spirit attack could be evaded through a scapegoat or a decoy: For example an instruction to attack the Crimson Bat could be evaded by the Lunars creating a large image of a bat, staining it red and watch with laughter as the spirits descend upon it to little effect.

 

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14 hours ago, metcalph said:

Sheng wasn't involved in the Battle of Night and Day.  

Woops...  1460 @ the Battle of Kitor where he was beaten by the Red Emperor Mask Magnificus (Rev 3.0)

14 hours ago, metcalph said:

The troll use of spirits differs from the use of spirits in Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods in one way - the Trolls were using spirits to attack line-of-sight whereas the Lunar College of Magic and the Sartarite Magical Union were using them to attack foes at a distance.  Not so much "go forth and smite this city" but "go forth and smite the Bush Rangers guarding the cross-roads five hexes distant".  This, I suggest, is the new innovation that makes the magical units possible.  Not the mere massing of magicians together but installing them the capacity to target specific locations from a sight unseen but still within smiting distance.  

It's possible that Sheng could have done this.  It's also possible that he could have learned from the early Lunars or that the current Lunars could have learned from him.  It's also possible that the Praxians could have learned from him.

Sheng would have taught the Lunars.  So presumably, trolls send spirits in line of sight whilst others can direct 'spirits'.

20 hours ago, David Scott said:
On 2/3/2018 at 8:07 PM, Ebaninth said:

Is it a matter of Shaman types collecting (for want of a better mechanic) bags and bags of spirits that they open, release, and command to attack?

No. Spirits can be allied by any counter visiting sacred sites (altars) and you may randomly get one (roll 5 or 6). Earth spirits can only be allied at the Paps. More powerful gods/spirits (Oakfed, Wild Hunter, Malia, and the Horned God) are acquired from specific altars and are gained by sacrificing a herd unit.

Could the spirits that 'collect' in these places be majority Herd beast spirits - that are attracted in death and swirl around the holy place.  You then visit the holy place and get permission to use them.  Do you have to direct them from the holy place, or can you take the summon focus to the battle site?  Trolls would then collect insect spirits, not necessarily the brightest, so that why the do not direct them.  Or are all these spirits ex-human/troll/elf ?

 

14 hours ago, metcalph said:

For example an instruction to attack the Crimson Bat could be evaded by the Lunars creating a large image of a bat, staining it red and watch with laughter as the spirits descend upon it to little effect.

Seems to support the herd animal option.  This would suggest that nomadic cultures are best at collecting multiple spirits - they get quantity rather than quality.

So, when the Lunars invaded Prax there strength was more in the protective magics rather that the spirit attack magics.

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15 minutes ago, Ebaninth said:

Could the spirits that 'collect' in these places be majority Herd beast spirits - that are attracted in death and swirl around the holy place.  You then visit the holy place and get permission to use them.

The Praxians specifically use the Peaceful Cut to send animal spirits back to Eiritha. Some will go to the Great Herd for a while. Nearly all will go back into the great cycle of rebirth immediately and nor hang around. The spirits that are available are those known to the Praxian tradition 

20 minutes ago, Ebaninth said:

Do you have to direct them from the holy place, or can you take the summon focus to the battle site? 

Once summoned as your allies, they act under your control, you don’t need to take them to where they are needed, you direct them.

21 minutes ago, Ebaninth said:

Or are all these spirits ex-human/troll/elf ?

Unlikely, unless your ancestors or you are an elf.  All spirit magic users use spirits that are either neutral or friendly to their tradition. It’s too dangerous otherwise. Shaman can access almost any spirits, and maybe able to coerce, bargain, or otherwise negotiate with other spirits for their help. Appropriate Troll insect spirits would likely have a swarm attack, spirits often do what they did in life.

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On 2/3/2018 at 4:07 AM, Ebaninth said:

Are Zorak Zorani for the use of spirits or do they prefer (or just specialise in) the physical body resource for zombie creation - leaving the spiritual to the Kyger Litor mothers.

The Zorak Zoran cult has its own spirit tradition based around enslaving or bullying spirits to do what you want. In general, ZZi have access to lots of smallish spirits to do things they find useful (fear, disruption, bludgeon, protection, etc - ie:"battle magic") but generally will have difficulty dominating larger "unit-chit" sized spirits, and when they do, are more prone to such spirits going rogue and turning on their summoners, given the least opportunity. 

Reliable control of really big spirits will def be more of a Kyger Litor thing, though even then, powerful underworld demons are never going to be terribly docile or predictable. After all, even the most friendly and well-meaning ancestors from the god time may not properly realize that YOU are mortal, and that killing and eating you is not just harmless fun anymore, like it would have been in wonderhome.

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14 minutes ago, boztakang said:

powerful underworld demons are never going to be terribly docile or predictable. After all, even the most friendly and well-meaning ancestors from the god time may not properly realize that YOU are mortal, and that killing and eating you is not just harmless fun anymore, like it would have been in wonderhome.

🤘

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It depends quite a bit on what you mean by 'spirits as a troop type'. 

In Dragon Pass, spirits are the game mechanic for how magicians attack at a distance. Its not necessarily indicative of either animism, or powerful individual beings that we would call spirits. Rather, it indicates that magicians who attack at a distance mostly do so by invoking some sort of powerful otherworld entity to do so (though discorporation may also be a factor). The magicians involved are mostly either Lunars who are part of the Lunar College of magic, or part of the Sartar Magician Union, and generally they combine a mixture of magical techniques to produce one massive ritual - but the 'spirits' involved are mostly a result of theist worship (or the Lunar equivalent of such), perhaps guided by the spirits of discorporate shamans or sorcerous perception spells. Without wanting to spoil the campaign, there is quite a bit of close up information on how such a magical unit is put together in The Coming Storm. 

And in Dragon Pass, some of those units aren't Spirits at all, but game conventions to describe other forms of long distance attack, magical or not, but this mostly applies to the Physical Magicians whose 'spirits' don't have a Magic Factor but have a Combat Factor - eg the Stormwalkers 'spirits' are mostly elementals, but the Cannon Cults 'spirits' are just a game mechanic for describing artillery (though some form of magic may be involved for forward observation). 

In Nomad Gods, the spirits there are much more like Spirits as we know them (even so, a single counter generally doesn't represent a single spirit, but more like a single great spirit and a large entourage of lesser spirits). When @David Scott describes what happens in terms of spirits in Nomad Gods he is correct, though a lot of things he says are quite misleading, because he is ignoring/confusing the Spirit units in Dragon Pass. 

On 03/02/2018 at 8:07 PM, Ebaninth said:

Although a powerful troop, should it relatively easy to protect versus spirits? So whilst powerful they can be easily countered - such as by Spirit Block/Spirit Screen area affect spells or wyter protections.

Just because they are spirits (which may be other forms of magical discorporate being) doesn't mean they can only attack using Spirit Combat. Powerful spirits are capable of using various forms of magic in their own right - for example, Oakfed spirits can start fires. 

But saying that - the existence of Spirit Block and Spirit Screen doesn't mean its easy to protect an entire unit with them. Some units will be trained in various forms of magical defence, and/or have magicians who are practiced in the necessary techniques to defend the entire unit, some will not. A wyter absolutely can protect, but only to a point versus a concerted assault. 

All this is indicated by the variation in the defending units Magic Factor. 

On 03/02/2018 at 8:07 PM, Ebaninth said:

Are Humakti against the use of such spirit 'troops' seeing it as something akin to the use of mustard gas, or to a lesser degree, the European knight angst with the introduction of the crossbow. 

Humakti aren't even opposed to ghosts! The Humakt cult has the Bind Ghost spell, and the spirits of dead Humakti are often part of the magical defences of Humakti! Humakt is quite clear - they hate undead such as zombies and vampires, but ghosts are just dead, their spirits have totally left their bodies. and so they are quite fine! That said, it is not a form of attack that Hunakti themselves would favour - their traditions are very much about being soldiers and hand to hand combat - but I'm sure they would be fine with them as defences, or with allies using such magic. 

On 03/02/2018 at 8:07 PM, Ebaninth said:

Is it a matter of spending ones time collecting multiple spirits (conducive to your plan of action) that you then summon during your time of need - something akin to the Return of the King's Dead Men of Dunharrow - quite a _powerful_ ally of the 'good' guys.

Its a matter of learning how to summon and talk to powerful otherworld beings, but not necessarily by animist means and not necessarily dead ones. Sometimes the spirits involved might be more like weaponised wyters. Or summoned demons. Depends on who your magicians are. 

On 03/02/2018 at 8:07 PM, Ebaninth said:

Are military units able (with presumed ritualistic permissions) to summon long expired members of their unit to help either overtly, or defensively (against spirit or mundane attacks) - or is this how the tribal wyter/vexilla gets power to protect its charges.

The answer is both can happen, but it depends on the unit, and other forms of magic are possible too. In Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods terms, this is dependent on the Magic Factor of the Unit - a high Magic Factor indicates a unit that is likely to have a powerful wyter/vexilla and other magical backup. 

On 03/02/2018 at 8:07 PM, Ebaninth said:

Are Zorak Zorani for the use of spirits or do they prefer (or just specialise in) the physical body resource for zombie creation - leaving the spiritual to the Kyger Litor mothers.

Read the description of what happens when the Zorak Zoran spirit of retribution, Hellroar, attacks, it provides active spirit support to the warriors rather than attacking, but that support is very powerful defence against spirits. So I don't think Zorak Zoran worshippers are likely to use spirits in the sense of a Dragon Pass or Nomad Gods spirit unit, that I don't think they use spirits as a means of long range attack like 'magician; units - but this doesn't at ALL mean they don't use them in battle, rather they use them as direct combat support, which might manifest as a Dragon Pass/ Nomad Gods sense units having a relatively high Magic Factor, and in RuneQuest terms as them preferring to use spirits defensively and in direct support. But as far as access to spirits and magical support, Zorak Zoran is stronger than the average - their priests have access to ghosts, shades and salamanders. If you fight Zorak Zorani, especially the rare relatively well organised ones, expect their berserks to have magical backup. And such a well organised group would probably recruit shamans to assist anyway. 

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On 04/02/2018 at 6:23 AM, metcalph said:

The troll use of spirits differs from the use of spirits in Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods in one way - the Trolls were using spirits to attack line-of-sight whereas the Lunar College of Magic and the Sartarite Magical Union were using them to attack foes at a distance. 

It is certainly true that normal trolls don't seem to be able to attack at range in Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods, that might just be because it doesn't show any troll full magician units. Cragspider has a spirit, and is able to attack at range like the LCM and SMU magicians. The trolls of Dagori Inkarth didn't take part in any of the major hero wars period battles that are covered by Dragon Pass or Nomad Gods - and I think if they did, they'd probably have ranged spirit attacks like any other shaman magician units, though admittedly likely neither as likely to organise themselves that way as the LCM or SMU, nor quite as effective. 

 

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39 minutes ago, davecake said:

It is certainly true that normal trolls don't seem to be able to attack at range in Dragon Pass/Nomad Gods, that might just be because it doesn't show any troll full magician units.

I was speaking of the troll spirits being sent against the good guys  Broken Council at the Battle of Night and Day.  What the Trolls have gotten up to since then is unknown but they have had the benefit of Arkat and Cragspider so who knows what they can do with their spirits these nights.  

 

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1 minute ago, metcalph said:

I was speaking of the troll spirits being sent against the good guys  Broken Council at the Battle of Night and Day.  What the Trolls have gotten up to since then is unknown but they have had the benefit of Arkat and Cragspider so who knows what they can do with their spirits these nights.  

 

That makes total sense, yes. 

I don't think really anyone new much about organised ranged combat magic in that era, but that it was something that was probably in use by the time Arkat and Nysalor met in Dorastor. There is an interesting Greg snipped in YBOT #6, an excerpt from Harmasts Saga, about Nysaloran scrying magic that might be relevant. 

 

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2 hours ago, davecake said:

even so, a single counter generally doesn't represent a single spirit, but more like a single great spirit and a large entourage of lesser spirits).

Reading the text, they are single spirits, no mention of an entourage.

2 hours ago, davecake said:

though a lot of things he says are quite misleading, because he is ignoring/confusing the Spirit units in Dragon Pass. 

I was specifically taliking about Nomad gods. The spirits in DP are bound to magicians and don’t work independently from their main unit only within its range. 

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16 minutes ago, David Scott said:

I was specifically taliking about Nomad gods

Yes, my point was you were answering a question about the Dragon Pass rules by referring to the Nomad Gods rules, and thus some of your answers were misleading, as they were incorrect in the context in which they were asked. 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

I don't think really anyone new much about organised ranged combat magic in that era, but that it was something that was probably in use by the time Arkat and Nysalor met in Dorastor.

I don't think so.  The practice has been specifically stated as being new to the Lunars in the past (although checking it up on the Guide the statements seems to be more nuanced).  If both sides were doing it in the Gbaji Wars, then the practice would have been well-known practice in subsequent ages (God Learners, EWF etc), making the lunar empire's supposed superiority superfluous.

 

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8 hours ago, davecake said:

It depends quite a bit on what you mean by 'spirits as a troop type'. 

In Dragon Pass, spirits are the game mechanic for how magicians attack at a distance. Its not necessarily indicative of either animism, or powerful individual beings that we would call spirits. Rather, it indicates that magicians who attack at a distance mostly do so by invoking some sort of powerful otherworld entity to do so (though discorporation may also be a factor).

No.  I think they are multiple spirits going into spirit combat vs individuals.  They are not a 'game mechanic', except from a Godlearner perspective.  Visually, you would see the spirits attacking the opposition, just like the Dead Men of Dunharrow.  I suppose I try to visualize, then try to get the rules to fit (RQ2 rules).

From discussions above, it would seem that:

  • Primitive/Nomadic Animism cultures use multiple smaller spiirts.
  • Barbarian/Civilized Theistic cultures move away from multiple small to more singular individual powerful spirits.
  • Civilized Sorcerous cultures use runes (embodiments [GL?] of great spirits/gods) "Erasanchula"

As you get further down the list, range increases.

In away it meets your explanation; but I don't like being dismissive of disembodied spirits.

 

17 hours ago, boztakang said:

In general, ZZi have access to lots of smallish spirits to do things they find useful (fear, disruption, bludgeon, protection, etc - ie:"battle magic") but generally will have difficulty dominating larger "unit-chit" sized spirits, and when they do, are more prone to such spirits going rogue and turning on their summoners, given the least opportunity. 
 

When comparing RQ2 to D&D, RQ Battle/Spirit & Rune/Divine magic always effects one target as a general rule.  This works perfectly, for the interpretation of casting bludgeon on your Heavy Mace or Fear on an opposing rune-level, as all RQ2 magic is simply summoning a suitable spirit that is then directed to evoke the affect on the singular target.  Then it follows that if you summon a larger "spirit" they can then begin to affect multiple targets at the same time, and the sorcerous cultures take this a step further, being able the manipulate the fire rune and cast "fireball" - which affects 20' radius.

 

On 2/4/2018 at 10:21 PM, David Scott said:

It might be easier to say which system you are using and we can run through an example of play with you.

 

RQ2.  So in Nomad Gods you cannot hold your 'spirit' attack till you want to release it.  You go to the holy place and just set it to attack, not being able to coordinate attack to the most opportune time.

 

##############

From the Redline History

The Nights of Horror

... and screaming shamans again called demons upon the hapless farms of First Blessed....

... Hon-eel alone halted the collapse of the right flank by destroying seven spirits in combat, ...

##############

Would any of this italicized text support the Dead Men of Dunharrow at Minas Tirith visual?  Multiple individual 3d6 POW spirits, wafting into attack individual soldiers of the opposing army?

 

 

 

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14 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

No.  I think they are multiple spirits going into spirit combat vs individuals

That is one possibility, but it’s really obviously not the only one. Lots of different types of magicians use this sort of magic, and having a lot of roughly human level spirits attack en masse only makes sense for a few of them. But if you want that scene to happen in a game, it’s certainly one of the things that does happen. 

14 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

They are not a 'game mechanic', except from a Godlearner perspective. 

This isn’t a God Learner perspective thing - what I’m saying is that the counters called ‘spirits’ in the Dragon Pass game are not always what would be called simply a singular spirit (though that’s the terminology in the rules), and probably represent a wide range of things, just as normal non-magical units represent a wide range of things, in ways not always obvious from their counter type. 

The ‘Physical Magicians’ of DP, have agents that in the rules function very similarly to ‘spirit’ counters, and are obviously a game mechanic grab bag for a wide variety of effects (from cannons to falling chunks of moon rock through to a horde of elementals), there doesn’t seem to any good reason to assume that all the non-Physical magicians (eg every magician unit whose spirit counter has a Magic Factor rather a Combat Factor) are identical either. In fact, right back in original White Bear Red Moon days we knew this - the SMU is described as a very motley collection of different types of magician even back then. 

We know quite a bit more about those units now, and its pretty obvious that the other magical units are almost as diverse in their operation as the Physical Magician units are, though most use a similar technique to combine their talents effectively (just as most melee troops use a system of officers and standards etc).

. For example Sir Naribs Company and the Snakepipe Dancers look pretty similar in Dragon Pass rules (5-5-5-5 vs 4-5-5-5, so magically identical), but the former is a group of mostly Pithdaran Sorcerers who summon a giant demon with a flaming sword riding a blue lion using an adamant nail, the latter Sartarites whose rituals mostly involve ecstatic dance and manifest their water as a flying draconic serpent. The only thing they seem to have in common that the warlocks of the SMU and the core magicians of the LCM have complex rituals that involve combining their consciousness into a wyter- so actually, kind of the opposite of a horde of small spirits. 

14 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

rom discussions above, it would seem that:

  • Primitive/Nomadic Animism cultures use multiple smaller spiirts.
  • Barbarian/Civilized Theistic cultures move away from multiple small to more singular individual powerful spirits.
  • Civilized Sorcerous cultures use runes (embodiments [GL?] of great spirits/gods) "Erasanchula"

Actually it seems a bit the opposite in some cases - the animists of Nomad gods are more likely to ally or summon a single great spirit. It might differ culturally. 

And sorcerous cultures seem to very often work their powerful war magic by summoning great demons or minor gods as well.

It’s more a matter of methods they use, rather than result - animists bargain and sacrifice, theists rely on ‘kinship’ to get allies associated their god to cooperate with them, sorcerers bind and command. And the warlocks of the SMU and the Illuminates  of the LCM use all those methods, with a lot of weird mysticism related magic to glue it all together into something greater. 

 

 

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18 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

I don't like being dismissive of disembodied spirits.

Not my intention. But:

1) magician units in the war games are a really diverse bunch when you look a bit closer, and I don’t think all work the same way at all

2) if anything, big wyters and other collective spirits seems a more common method, but that doesn’t exclude spirit hordes

and 3) ‘spirits’ is a much more diverse range of things than just ghosts, and are capable of a lot more than just spirit combat (for a start, most of them would be able to cast magic), especially with expert magicians to guide them. 

18 hours ago, Ebaninth said:

Would any of this italicized text support the Dead Men of Dunharrow at Minas Tirith visual?  M

I’d personally be inclined to associate the Dead Men of Dunharrow image with any cult that has magic to bind ghosts ( Ty Kora Tek, for example), but Ancestor worship is common enough any tribal group might be able to invoke a horde of ancestors onto the battlefield, especially if (as seems common in Sartar) their wyter is an ancient commander of men. In Argraths Saga, Argrath has The Army of Dead Heroes helping him at the battle of Dantolfol, and gets Broyan and his household (at this point dead for many years) to drive off the Crimson Bat. 

Edited by davecake
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While non-Gloranthan, I feel that the magic in David Gemmel's universe featuring novels like Legend is one of the few instances where literature has something coming close to the magic of the Dragon Pass magicians. Gemmel specifically has his warrior priests discorporate, then join up into an entity which exceeds the sums of the individuals. Their opponents are cruel horse warlords aided and at times controlled by ancient shaman mystics who forced the otherwise ultra-pacifist mystics into forming one such militant order, so there is quite a bit to loan for Sheng's guys there.

 

The Dead of Dunharrow are a different phenomenon, otherworld entities without a controlling agency (the magician unit), and comparable to the Ancestors of the major tribes in Prax.

Dead heroes that return to the aid of the living from whatever special Other SIde arrangement they have are a different proposal. Glorantha's capital H Hero status immortalizes a person's feats and to some extent the person even if the hero never made it to apotheosis and actual god(ling) status. If the Earth Twins of the Old Tarsh faction are indeed Arim's children, there is another case of such return, however they get divorced from their Earth Shakers magic, which rests with the priesthood unit of the same name.

The proficiency of the Tarsh Exiles magicians is at least as high as that of the Sartarites, and the question is who taught them? Argrath gets the honor (or blame) for the Sartar Magical Union, and the Imperial College of Magic precedes that by centuries, being more or less uncountered except for the struggles with Sheng and his hordes. So, how much of those regimental-sized spirits is common in Kralorela? Do they have exarch units which act like the magicians in the SMU?

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9 hours ago, Joerg said:

The proficiency of the Tarsh Exiles magicians is at least as high as that of the Sartarites, and the question is who taught them? Argrath gets the honor (or blame) for the Sartar Magical Union, and the Imperial College of Magic precedes that by centuries, being more or less uncountered except for the struggles with Sheng and his hordes. So, how much of those regimental-sized spirits is common in Kralorela? Do they have exarch units which act like the magicians in the SMU?

But which Argrath gets the credit?

Isn't there a vague "understanding" that real mystical/magical secrets in Kerofinela are pre-Time-originating women's business? I'm inclined to say that the secret of group magic is a "witch" thing that the Lunar Goddess opened up to all genders. After all, unified defensive magic is a pretty Earth magic/hearth based concept. This is just a gut feeling, but I think they are fairly helpful in Glorantha.

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8 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

But which Argrath gets the credit?

They all are one.

8 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Isn't there a vague "understanding" that real mystical/magical secrets in Kerofinela are pre-Time-originating women's business?

The bringer of illumination - whether Rashoran(a) or Jernotia/us or Metsyla - was androgyn, fluent, in-between, undefined or answering both definitions.

And the deepest root of magic, Change, is presented as a male principle, and as father of Kero Fin.

8 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

I'm inclined to say that the secret of group magic is a "witch" thing that the Lunar Goddess opened up to all genders. After all, unified defensive magic is a pretty Earth magic/hearth based concept. This is just a gut feeling, but I think they are fairly helpful in Glorantha.

I got the impression that the usual Female Earth concept is "find a (better) champion to bleed for you" and receive that blood gratefully in sacrifice. And if displeased, send a huge monster (pig) and however gruesome, make its destroyer your new champion after having made your displeasure known.

On the other hand, both Umath and Orlanth present the concept of the sanctity of their camp, the defense-worthiness, is named as their first "adult" deed. It doesn't go as far as to define defensive magic, though.

The entire concept of conflict and war only gradually develops through various "end of Green Age" experiences, and generally involves men/male deities. Obviously present in the formation of the Golden Age, it fails to be traumatic back then. Things happen, but they fail to mar  the participants, even if the losers disappear or find their roles turned over to the Underworld.

In this sense, there is the paradox of using a Green Age style unity to form an otherworldly agent of destruction to release upon a battlefield on mostly defenseless troops. It does require some form of enlightenment to combine both innocent unity and aggressive intent.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

In this sense, there is the paradox of using a Green Age style unity to form an otherworldly agent of destruction to release upon a battlefield on mostly defenseless troops. It does require some form of enlightenment to combine both innocent unity and aggressive intent.

Perhaps through the analogy of sowing, tending, reaping, saving the seeds... This is an innocent, self-replenishing process in the Cockaynian Golden Age, but as with Taker and Grower, involves things that become harsher and more violent as the God-time progresses. Thus, perhaps, the war-dance magic of the Great Sister's army - a dance is a pure manifestation of Peace and demonstration of physical finesse - except when it is also War. Thus also the women's magic of witchcraft uses women's tools - ladles, pastels, brooms, cauldrons, knives, herbs - that are beneficial things that might be turned to maleficia (in our world).

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41 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Perhaps through the analogy of sowing, tending, reaping, saving the seeds... This is an innocent, self-replenishing process in the Cockaynian Golden Age, but as with Taker and Grower, involves things that become harsher and more violent as the God-time progresses.

 

There is the irony that the cockaignian nature of Golden Age makes all these pastimes rather meaningless. The food is there regardless. Only when things start to break down, these activities become mandatory, and some of this breakdown is tied to the gradual arrival of Storm Age troubles.

I still think that the wyter approach, the manifestation of community unity as a spirit (or deity), describes this phenomenon better. But then that's a theory I have been suggesting for nearly 35 years now.

41 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Thus, perhaps, the war-dance magic of the Great Sister's army - a dance is a pure manifestation of Peace and demonstration of physical finesse - except when it is also War.

You have never seen a Maori Haka, have you? A beautiful dance, and not at all peaceful.

41 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

Thus also the women's magic of witchcraft uses women's tools - ladles, pastels, brooms, cauldrons, knives, herbs - that are beneficial things that might be turned to maleficia (in our world).

Anything can be demonized as a maleficium. The medieval church went for those things where its male and recently celibate priests had no foothold.

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