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    Canonfire :: View topic - Age of Exploration/Colonization?
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    Age of Exploration/Colonization?
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 06, 2006 1:43 pm  
    Age of Exploration/Colonization?

    In my university studies, I've learned a fair amount about European exploration and colonialism, and wondered if something similar might ever happen in Greyhawk. Something like that already has with the Flan and the Great Migrations, but I was wondering on a more global scale.

    I will admit that I would not want to see this happen, as I'd prefer to see the "other" cultures before they become conquered/run over/colonized by another power. As such, any interactions/conquest attempts would at worst be on fairly equal terms; the Sea Barons could no more conquer the organized states of Hepmonaland than they could Rel Astra and the Solnor Coast, for example.

    Why? Several reasons:

    -Lack of disease: In real life, the spreading of diseases like smallpox and tuberculosis had devastating effects on non-European populations. In a world where even lower-level clerics can cure diseases, that dramatically lessens the effects of a disease outbreak on a local population. Various different types of clerical professions-priests, shamans, etc.-can all cast magic to cure diseases.

    Metal weaponry: The human cultures of other parts of the world should know how to work metals, or at least acquire the weapons, through contact with dwarves and gnomes, or scavenge them from their humanoid enemies. Hence, the issue of wood and flint spears versus heavy armor never comes up.

    I am not saying, of course, that other cultures will be wearing metal armor. Nomadic/rapidly mobile cultures like the medieval Mongols, or some of the First Nations of the North American plains, don't wear heavy armor because it's dead weight in their hunting expeditions, making too much noise and weighing them down as they chase the animal. Suits of armor might be worn for ceremonial purposes, as sometimes happened when European fur traders gave aboriginals European military uniforms as part of the trading ceremonies, but not in everyday combat.

    The climate may also be too hot for heavy armor, but metal weapons can still be used. Why don't they rust? Well, keep in mind that this is a world where gold is very light (fifty to one hundred coins weigh one pound, for example), and the ecology can support a wide variety of deadly predators. Particular vegetable oils and compounds can be used to oil the weapons and keep them from rusting...possibly derived from the same kinds of plants that allow herbivores to breed quickly enough to support the dangerous predators higher up on the food chain.

    Firearms are not an issue, either; given that Greyhawk will never industrialize, we will never see a situation where spears end up facing guns.

    Magic: Even if it's from "sorcerers", all human cultures will have at least some knowledge of arcane magic. Other groups may have their own particular forms of spell books (cured buffalo hides, specially treated palm leaves, and light slate for the pages, and various other inks and dyes for writing the magical runes) that they use to record and learn spells, even if they normally do not employ writing. They may have created their own unique forms of magic, which can be a nasty surprise to any would-be conquerors...

    Those are my reasons why the same kind of things in real-life history won't happen in Greyhawk. Why do you think or do not think similar things will happen? Bear in mind that this is my version of Greyhawk, where demihumans and humanoids are spread around the world just like humans, and the world will never industrialize, never develop the internal combustion engine or the firearm, will never discover the industrial value of fossil fuels, etc.
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    GreySage

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    Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:25 pm  

    Why didn't the Great Kingdom ever conquer northern Hepmonaland the way the Romans conquered northern Africa? The Romans didn't rely on disease, didn't rely on gunpowder, their armor didn't seem to be a hindrance for them, and Aerdi battle-magic ought to be at least as good as Olman/Touv battle-magic - and the Aerdi were better organized than the Hepmonalanders and had proven expertise in conquest.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:45 pm  

    Maybe that was more of rhetorical question, but I'll bite.

    The Aerdi didn't conquer Hepmonaland because none of the Overkings wanted to add "Fasstal of This Here Jungle and Lord of That There Swamp" to his titles. Happy
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:20 pm  

    Couple o' comments:

    Gold is light in GH? Before we start changing the properties of metals - might we consider that the coins might be fairly small, adulterated or clipped? :)

    Otherwise though - I agree that would be Flanaessi colonial powers won't have it easy, though for subtly different reasons.

    I don't buy the no plagues in GH angle. This has been hashed out over the years and you'd need a lot more priests than there are typically to prevent an outbreak of plague. Mind you, this cuts both ways. One of the reasons why the Aerdi (or the Duxchaners for that matter) haven't colonised the jungles of Northern Hepmonaland is because of fluxes, fevers and agues (dysentary and malaria) - that and the hostile flora and fauna. I think it's likely that both groups sent expeditions down the coast and may even have had temporary settlements, but nothing concrete. The Aerdi lost interest during the Age of Great Sorrow (and the fall from power of the Atirrs). The Duxchaners probably kept up raid and trade contacts, but haven't been able or willing to establish a significant permenant settlement.

    Another factor to consider that parts of Hepmonaland not withstanding (and even they've had some historical contact with the Flanaess), the rest of Oerik is a contiguous continent. So domesticated animals and the diseases that zoonose to humans are likely to be common across large parts of the continent (within limits - but certainly not to the extent that the Americas were cut off from Eurasia). So the pestilence related mortality will cut both ways in all likelihood (thus favouring the more numerous natives).

    Now Anakeris on the other hand - might be more vulnerable to Flanaessi germs, though there would likely have been extensive contacts between Anakeris and the south-western Flanaess.

    Metal and tech will still play a role. More importantly though is the population and level of civlisation and sophistication that the Flanaessi will encounter. Again, they'll mostly be exploring other parts of Oerik, where it's very likely that there's equally advanced cultures. So it won't be a case of buying tracts of land with shiny beads. Think of it more like the way that European traders in late middle ages fetched up in Mogul India or Imperial China and Japan and found themselves very much at a disadvantage for centuries. A Keoish or Ahlissan Cortez is not going to overthrow the Rajas of Zahind or the Celestial Emperor with a handful of soldiers and a few cavalry. Even the Touv kingdoms seem well organised (though the dissent between them might encourage divide and conquer tactics).

    A Flanaessi Age of Exploration is going to be more like European explorations of the Old World than the conquest of the New World. Even then there's no guarentee that the Flanaess will gain the upper hand in industry and tech in the way that Europe did.
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Jun 06, 2006 4:36 pm  

    Disease
    First and foremost, most villages simply won't have a cleric able to cure the diseases available. So they won't be able to stop an epidemic.
    Second, immunity to epidemics builds up because survivors pass on a natural resistance. If you keep curing everyone, all you will do is increase the frequency with which they strike until they overwhelm clerical healing anyway.

    Metal Weapons
    You still need access to the metal deposits, the technology to work the metal, and the infrastructure to maintain it.
    The alternative, assuming that you will always have dwarves to fall back on to trade for metal weapons also ignores that they need a source of metal, and may not be so casually agreeable to such trading. That is another reason why I dislike having every race exist in every place.

    Magic
    Can explain some things, but it can not explain all things. Both sides will have magic, and it will usually cancel itself out, leaving us to default to more mundane factors.

    Overall, there is no reason to assume an exploration won't proceed in Greyhawk the same way it did in the real world.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:09 pm  

    I assume that clerics who cure diseases are countered by evil clerics who create diseases - leaving things, on balance, much the same as in our world.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:42 am  

    Since the Cataclysms:
    1.Available Land vs Population Pressure or lack thereof may be a factor why more exploration and colonization has not occurred.

    2.Economics
    The WOG is not the 21st century, and but it is not quite like medieval Europe with all that magic mucking things about. Common people might still be locked into the "social contract" or the three estates (Fighter, Prayers, Workers) thing. But it seems there economic mobility, within cities at least.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:43 am  

    Exploration should be unhindered, even advanced. Colonization is another matter entirely.

    Q1 - Do we want an Earth analog of colonization?

    Q2 - Would such be good for the setting and game?

    The peoples of Oerth are on a far more even footing than in actual history, given magic, particularly the divine, being more or less equally available. That would make conquest and colonization more difficult (when the other guy can fight back effectively and put a hurt on you back home (potentially) as well as on his own territory). Then there is the lack of a clear "breakaway" technology, like gunpowder or ocean going sailing vessels, or notably advanced metalurgy etc..

    Sure some areas outside the Flanaess will be backward enough to allow easy colonization but they will be fewer and beg the question - colonized by whom? "Nippon" etc.? The Flanaess does not have a corner on large powerful states. Indeed, by the Dragon Map, many of these other states of Oerth are larger and have already conquered areas larger than many Flanaess states.

    Maybe the "Nipponese" take Irongate? Or Blue? Or Narisban? Nothing says colonization could not go both ways or more ways.
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:19 am  

    GVD: "Q2 - Would such be good for the setting and game? "

    Well, there are the colonies in the Amedio. I am hoping the Savage Tide does some explaining. I think Mona recently referred to the as "failing."
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:34 am  

    A look at the Dragon Annual map might actually lead one to believe that the countries outside of the Flaness are more powerful than the nations we know, not less. I think the idea of them trying to colonize eastern oerik is more interesting than vice versa.

    A power stepping in from outside might find many easy pickings, as many nations are spread thin and in stalemate wars where they cannot easily recall troops.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:18 pm  

    I think you guys have stumbled onto an excellent campaign idea!

    Instead of other-dimensional aliens, a-la Feist, how about a large-scale, organised invasion from one of the periphery countries? Their mages or clerics could summon exotic, otherworldly critters ofcourse but the root problem would still be mortals from Oearth.

    Hmmm!
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:20 pm  

    warlock wrote:

    Instead of other-dimensional aliens, a-la Feist, how about a large-scale, organised invasion from one of the periphery countries? Their mages or clerics could summon exotic, otherworldly critters ofcourse but the root problem would still be mortals from Oearth.
    Hmmm!


    Or maybe just a mass migration of strange and powerful refugees from a civil war or something like that in one of those countries. Anybody else remember the Beysib "refugees" in the original Thieves' World books? It could make for some interesting politics.

    Imagine describing the scene to your players where the inhabitants of Gradsul or Hardby wake up one morning to find a fleet of the equivalent of Zheng He's "Treasure Ship" junks (400 ft. long, 9 masts) coming over the horizon.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:06 pm  

    After the carnage of the Greyhawk Wars, none of the nations looks like it will be invading some unexplored outlying land anytime soon for fear of exposing itís still soft underbelly to the ravages of ambitious enemies. The lands have simply not stablelized enough yet. Rather, I would say that instead of nations of the Flanaess exploring other realms, I think that it will be the other realms that are going to be discovering the Flannaes. Shocked

    A ship of immense size and odd design is sighted off the coast of Gradsul. After a time of nervous confrontation, the ship is allowed to dock by the Keoish navy and is found to be an armed merchant vessel from the southwestern empire of Zindia, looking for new trade venues(or so they say).

    And so on...
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:59 am  

    Anced_Math wrote:
    A look at the Dragon Annual map...


    Shocked
    Shocked

    Excuse me...
    Which Dragon Annual had this map Question I must have it. I must Exclamation
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:39 am  

    I like this much better...

    New adventure in the Flaness... Cool!

    Where would they strike? Most likely the most disorganized areas such as Pomarj, the Hold of the Sea Prince, possibly even the SB.

    Cool, if I wanted to leave the Flaness, i probably would go Planar.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:01 am  

    Refugees!!! Where will we find room to settle them? Wink
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 7:29 am  

    This has come up before:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=1293&highlight=mahdi

    (ahem). :)
    GreySage

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:42 am  

    NathanBrazil wrote:
    Excuse me...
    Which Dragon Annual had this map Question I must have it. I must Exclamation


    That would be the Dragon Annual #1.
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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 8:45 am  

    A few belated comments, mostly on things that have already been mentioned:

    Disease. It is canonical that spots in the Flanaess can become plague-pits, especially when the clerics have fled or are otherwise engaged (or do not care). Consider the description of Rauxes in Ivid the Undying.

    Magic. It is worth bearing in mind that while one might reasonably expect an approximate parity of magical prowess between would-be conqueror and putative conqueree, this is not necessarily so. Again, Ivid the Undying is helpful here, in its explanation of why the Oerids prevailed over the Suloise in making the Great Kingdom: their wizards went in for whizz-bang evocations rather than the subtler but less combat-effective spells favoured by their enemies. Moreover, they had more artifacts left than their opponents (e.g., the Machine of Lum the Mad). There is no reason why this has to play out in the favour of conquerors in the world at large, though. The brave exploratory party hoping to wipe out the inoffensive locals might easily run afoul of the local equivalent of Krovis the Sleeper, vel sim.

    Another limiting factor on explorations far from home is the possibility of mutiny. Unless the successes keep coming and the leader is intensely charismatic, the men are likely to get fed up with alien weirdness if it all drags on too long. Even Alexander the Great had to give up the idea of crossing the Hyphasis because his soldiers effectively vetoed it (Arrian History of Alexander 5.25 f.).
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:09 pm  

    Prochytes wrote:


    Disease. It is canonical that spots in the Flanaess can become plague-pits, especially when the clerics have fled or are otherwise engaged (or do not care). Consider the description of Rauxes in Ivid the Undying.


    To be honest - I think the outbreak of plague in Rauxes had more to do with the depravity of Ivid V and the collapse of effective government (along with sanitation, irrigation, roads and all the other things that the Aerdi did for us Smile ) and than the lack of cure disease dispensers...er...priests. Smile
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:41 pm  

    Yeah. While it does come down to a case of IMC as far prevalence of upper level characters goes, it is important to remember that lvl 5 necessary to cast Cure Disease and that's not low level, at least by the standards of the original GH material. Its also unlikely that, even if there is a 5th lvl cleric in the village (Hommlet and Keep on the Borderlands could be taken as justification for this), its unlikely he or she would have Cure Disease in memory at any given time. Thus, if someone did come down with a virulent disease, it might be a day before it could be cured. That would give some time to spread. Particularly considering that many diseases are contagious before the carrier is obviously sick.

    Not to mention how many people could be made sick by an immune carrier the likes of Typhoid Mary before anyone noticed. What if that priest is the one who succumbs? The spell description also mentions that some diseases are not subject to the basic application of this curative, nor does the spell prevent immediate reinfection if the subject is still exposed to it.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:24 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Yeah. While it does come down to a case of IMC as far prevalence of upper level characters goes, it is important to remember that lvl 5 necessary to cast Cure Disease and that's not low level, at least by the standards of the original GH material. Its also unlikely that, even if there is a 5th lvl cleric in the village (Hommlet and Keep on the Borderlands could be taken as justification for this), its unlikely he or she would have Cure Disease in memory at any given time. Thus, if someone did come down with a virulent disease, it might be a day before it could be cured. That would give some time to spread. Particularly considering that many diseases are contagious before the carrier is obviously sick.

    Not to mention how many people could be made sick by an immune carrier the likes of Typhoid Mary before anyone noticed. What if that priest is the one who succumbs? The spell description also mentions that some diseases are not subject to the basic application of this curative, nor does the spell prevent immediate reinfection if the subject is still exposed to it.


    Ah yes, I had forgotten about that. The point I wanted to make was that, with at least the possibility of curing the diseases, these problems won't necessarily be as decimating to vulnerable populations as they might be in real life. Also, if you think that the people of the Flanaess show at least some common sense about sanitation and hygiene (like I do) then the possibility of even carrying diseases is greatly diminished. From what I've seen, the reason European explorers carried so many diseases had to do with the sheer amount of garbage and sewage in European rivers and streets, the same places where people gathered their drinking water. Purifying food and water, which even the newest initiates can do, reduces the capacity for disease-carrying at least somewhat.

    It should be noted that, while Europeans did develop some resistance to diseases like smallpox and tuberculosis, it could still be lethal; almost all of the French King Louis XIV's family was wiped out by smallpox, except for the king himself and his great-grandson, who would take the throne after him. If Louis had lived in an era when bathing wasn't considered hazardous to your health (he himself only bathed twice, IIRC), then it probably wouldn't have been a problem. IOW, sanitation and hygiene, and clerics who can purify food and water, will probably put a dent in the number of diseases Flanaess residents could spread to new places.
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:39 pm  

    I'd love to see the Flaeness get invaded by an outside power. Could iggwilv have ensorcelled a foreigner ruler to come to her son's aid? Troops disciplined enough to fall back into tight ranks after a fireball shot down the middle of their formation?
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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:30 pm  

    Certainly there is no need to make the Flanaessi as unhygienic as medieval Europeans (at least some of them) were. But great plagues are hardly limited to the middle ages. The Spanish Influenza outbreak in the US just after WW1 caused something like 20 million people to get sick and something like 1 million to die. And that was just in the US. It became pandemic and killed like 25 million people world wide that year.

    Clerical healing magic should certainly have an effect on life in the Flanaess. It should be far less likely that "important" people die of disease, for one thing. But even if you argue that every "priest" is a spell casting cleric and there are as many such as in medieval europe (estimates of the number of clergy in 13th century England amounted to something close to 1 cleric per 50 people-though not all were full ordained priests), there are many diseases that would overwhelm the amount of healing available.

    Disease is clearly a major threat in the Flanaess. After all, a greater god (Incabulos) is behind it and disease is the motif of greatest of daemons. I think that would not be the case if it was readily defeated by clerical magic. Perhaps, just as we now have problems with antibiotic resistant diseases, there are magic resistant diseases on Oerth.

    I do think that the mass devastation that disease wrought in the New World would be unlikely on Oerth. There doesn't seem to be such an isolated population grouping on Oerth. All the continents seem to have some sort of contact with a part of Oerik.
    Master Greytalker

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    Thu Jun 08, 2006 6:35 pm  

    Tiernan wrote:
    I'd love to see the Flaeness get invaded by an outside power. Could iggwilv have ensorcelled a foreigner ruler to come to her son's aid? Troops disciplined enough to fall back into tight ranks after a fireball shot down the middle of their formation?


    She could have, though there is no reason to limit it to such. Zahind or other nations could be coming up through the Densac Gulf without needing to be ensorcelled to do so.

    As far as training men to fight after being hit by a fireball, I think that's perfectly reasonable. We've seen that men can be disciplined to march straight into cannon fire, machineguns, and the like. That's every bit as devastating as a few spells from a mage. At least with the mages, you know they'll likely have very little ammunition and your mages might be able to counterspell the enemies.
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    Fri Jun 09, 2006 1:58 am  

    I think any fantasy army is going to have some troops disciplined enough to keep formation and cohesion despite magical bombardment. It's essentially the same as facing cannon or machine gun fire (the French Imperial Guard at Waterloo/Charge of the Light Brigade/1st day of the Battle of the Somme/Omaha Beach, anyone?).

    Now I wouldn't expect a line of peasent levies to hold together after a fireball goes off in the middle of them, but mercs and standing soldiers should be able to take some magical punishment. That said - I think I read somewhere that most standard units start to lose cohesion and effectiveness after about 30% casualties.

    That said, counterspelling, illusion and magical concealment (as well as offensive magic) would be very important.

    That link I posted above mentions Iggwilv subborning the Khan of the Chakyiks (along with forces from the Ataphads) to stick it to the Weigwur and Perrenland. You could probably expand the scope of that to include Ekbir, Ket or the Vale of Highfolk (with raiders perhaps reaching as far south as the plains of Furyondy).

    There's also the possibility of the Madhi of the Steppes uniting the Baklunish lands and bumping up against Bissel and Keoland.

    For threats outside the Flanaess - the main direction to worry about is the south. There's rumours that the SB are already engaged in naval warfare with someone down there. If the Hydranians have the manpower and naval tech to hold dominions on the mainland, they might have enough power to make mischief in the Flanaess too. Suhfang and Hitaxa are probably too far away to cause much trouble to the Flanaess directly, but they are powers to be reckoned with.

    That said - mounting a major amphibous invasion from the Hydranian Isles into the Flanaess is probably not terribly effective or likely. A raiding fleet, yes; invasion, not terribly likely, given the distances involved. I'd see it more like naval Mongols or oriental Vikings.

    A better route for would-be Flanaess colonisers would be divide and conquer - putting economic and military weight behind a Flanaessi faction (say the Holders or the Pomarj) to spread (say) Hydranian influence. That's how the British won India. They never sent a vast fleet to invade the place - just small groups of soldiers and material and large(ish) money to train/buy local armies.

    An interesting dynamic is what if the SB has been serving as a bulwark for the Flanaess against the aggressions of Pearl Sea naval powers? Put that in the context of their losses around the Azure and the possibility of a nval alliance between the Azure Sea powers against Shar. What if by destroying the Brotherhood (or at least its fleets), Keoland, Ahlissa, Irongate, PoUlek open the flood gates for southern corsairs to sweep north and east to terrorise the Azure and Aerdi Seas? Might there be a situation where the SB find common cause with other Flanaessi states?
    GreySage

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    Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:10 am  

    Woesinger wrote:
    I think any fantasy army is going to have some troops disciplined enough to keep formation and cohesion despite magical bombardment. It's essentially the same as facing cannon or machine gun fire (the French Imperial Guard at Waterloo/Charge of the Light Brigade/1st day of the Battle of the Somme/Omaha Beach, anyone?).


    I don't know. Magic isn't just fireballs and Melf's Minute Meteors exploding in the air and spooking the horses. There are insidious spells that affect the mind from within, which are designed to break up formation and cohesion - spells like Confusion and Cause Fear where training alone won't help, unless by training we mean everyone in the army is high enough level to make their saving throws.
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Jun 09, 2006 9:47 am  

    Well, having used a system similar to Heros of Battle for a number of years... the simple number of soldiers to the number of mages makes magic significantly less effective on the battle field.

    Mages are amazingly powerful, but unless they are also numerous it becomes more a question of careful application. Fireballs are useful to scatter and demoralize troops, but the radius of a fireball gives it a max affect of 52 troops. Not an enourmous number if you have 5,000 troops.

    While there are arguments that can go either way the simple ratios become problematic. 1000 to 1 odds or worse can make for a really bad day for the mages. Add in a few opposing mages, and the effect can be canceled out pretty quick.

    This does not mean that mages are not powerful, but that they shine against 4 to 20 man parties. As I have fleshed out GM (which admittedly has a low number of spell casters of all sorts) i have a 6,631 spell casters of all types, including rangers, paladins, adepts. Of these, nearly half are apprentices as there is no school. So, 3500 spell casters, and of those only 317 are over 6th level.

    I suppose I feel that magic is less an issue in open warfare than in indavidual or small group combat. Add in that in war they are countered by opposing mages, and it really is IMO the charge of the light brigade.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Fri Jun 09, 2006 7:39 pm  

    Other nations have their own agendas, and their own powerful npc's to influence them. While Iggwilv is an uber-powerful creature, her interests lie mostly with the Flanaess and the outer planes.

    Others throughout the much larger, nay HOOGE even, western portion of the continent have room for more intrigue, death, and adventure than all the areas of the Flanaess combined x 3. The West is the great untapped oil reserve of Greyhawk. Except that there is infinitley more than just caribou roaming the plains there.

    The "merchant ship" is just one of many types of adventure hooks for pc's to go abroad, or to create intrigue right at home through the use of foreign visitors/diginitaties and so on.
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