8
$\begingroup$

Runes are used to enhance the human body's capabilities. They are inscribed onto the skin through a ritual and work by the individual accessing the mana inside themselves. This mana is forced into the runes in order to activate them, creating the effect. The individual must shout an incantation as loud as they can, along with hand signals, in order to activate the spell. These incantations vary from spell to spell, and effects range from throwing fireballs to summoning sheilds to shooting lightning bolts from fingertips.

These incantations create a problem of announcing your intentions to your enemy. If you are yelling at the top of your lungs (Kaaaaameeeeehaaaaameeeee haaaaaaaa! no jutsu) or spending a long time forming hand signals (O Lord, mask of flesh and bone, all creation, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of man, truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws!" Hadou 48: Raging Light Fang no jutsu), it tells your opponent what you are about to do. This gives them a lot of time to form a counter attack or simply step out of the way.

In a war or battle, if enemy soldiers know what your plans are and how to counter them, it puts you at a disadvantage. Giving away that information is fatal to your success. How can I use these attacks without critically damaging my own strategies and tactics?

$\endgroup$
  • 17
    $\begingroup$ Does giving away your plans really matter if you're about to shoot a lightning bolt? $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Mar 7 at 20:39
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Me: "I'll be bringing my archers". You: "I kinda figured". Just because you know the attack of archers, horseman, artillery or whatever is coming does not mean you are protected. Worse still is that during combat things get hectic and you cant always see who's doing what or even if you can it can be hard to do the simplest tasks when your life is in danger. People seem to forget that when you are in danger you do not think like you normally would. You can see him charging a lightningbolt, but do you duck, lose all metal stuff on the ground, charge him? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Mar 7 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ Is this much different from someone holding a bow or crossbow, a trebuchet or someone carrying an actual shield? They are effective even if the enemy knows it's about to be used. $\endgroup$ – NotThatGuy Mar 8 at 14:58
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There is this brilliant scene in the movie Shazam where the antagonist is making threats but is really far away and cannot be heard. Do you think it would be any easier to hear somebody during battle with all the other screaming and shouting? $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Mar 9 at 4:16
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Also, wars and battles have already dealt with these problems. Not with people speaking words to cast magic but people speaking words to give out commands. Or otherwise giving directions. Seems to me that instructions are also vital information that the enemy can use to protect themselves. And yet here we are after a millenia of battles where people have shouted their intentions at the enemy and won. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Mar 9 at 4:19

12 Answers 12

46
$\begingroup$

Dilution is the solution to pollution.

You have a large corps of employees, with unkempt greasy hair and long robes like your magic users, who will periodically charge out yelling and gesticulating. These folks have no abilities magical or otherwise and nothing comes of their bellowing and flailing about. They do have a competitive spirit and each tries to outdo the others with novel movements and bawled gibberish.

People will get used to these folks and tune them out. When occasionally your actual magic user is in the bunch and he makes everyone's pants shrink 5 sizes, it will come as a surprise.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ +1 just for the inherent humour $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 8 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ You could have all your soldiers doing something like a Māori haka dance $\endgroup$ – marcellothearcane Mar 9 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ @marcellothearcane "Kame-te, Kame-te, Kamehameha!" $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Mar 9 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ Alternately, make your casters a pack of 2-year-olds. Screaming at the top of their lungs and flailing is what they were born for. $\endgroup$ – Steve V. Mar 9 at 18:23
36
$\begingroup$

One possibility is that the attacks operate beyond hearing range. For example they act like modern artillery. Forward observers report on the enemy, and the mage sitting back in camp executes the ritual, sending off summoned demons or long-range lava-balls or whatever.

Another possibility is to use them in cases where the enemy can not escape, and your intentions are obvious already. A typical example is siege warfare. Medieval trebuchets and early modern siege cannons did not allow surprise. The enemy detected their deployment hours (if not days, in the case of siege engines built in place, or elaborate firing positions being dug out) before they could begin firing. But walls can not dodge, and if you have more/stronger defensive mages than the defenders, you are mostly safe from counterattacks, too.

Thirdly, not all weapons need to kill to be effective: Your mage approaches an enemy formation. He starts to shout a spell (just out of crossbow range or defended by shield bearers), evidently about to summon a rain of hell-bullets. The enemy pikemen hear this, and hurriedly break formation and lie down to avoid the machine-gun effect. You send in mundane cavalry and massacre them.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ +1 for the combined-arms tactic of suppressing with magic then flanking with cavalry ! :-) $\endgroup$ – breversa Mar 9 at 9:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ … and if second time around the pikemen do not lie down, expecting the cavalry charge instead, the mage always has the option to complete the spell and do summon the rain of hell-bullets. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Mar 9 at 12:59
12
$\begingroup$

There are a few tactics you could use, but these would largely depend on the kind of battle you're fighting. Defensive battles could have mages throwing hand signs behind the walls, or mages shouting underground. Attacking battles are harder, and will largely depend on the element of surprise or confusing the enemy.

Buckethead
You could effectively put a bucked on the mages head (doesn't have to be a bucket, can be any kind of helmet that covers the mouth). The sound will be muffled at the least, or incomprehensible to the enemy at best. You can't prepare the right defence if you don't know what spell the enemy is using.

Swap language
If this is possible (depending on how your magic works) switch the language your mages use regularly. If it is just a couple of spells, it should be easy enough to remember without having to be fluent in the language.

Switcheroo
If it is hand signs you're using, send in a wall of pikemen with large shields, closely followed by (ducking) mages preparing long hand signs. As soon as they are ready, the mages pop out and rain hell upon your enemies.

Drown it out
Have the rest of your army shout battle cries or fake spells at the top of their lungs as well. The enemy won't know if actually something will happen, or nothing, or what is coming.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
7
$\begingroup$

Mustering a viable defence takes longer.

It doesn’t matter if I know you’re summoning The Rending Tentacles Of She Who Swims Beyond if I can’t bring up the Aegis of Destiny fast enough. Nor does it matter much how long it takes you to fling a fireball at my face if I can’t close the distance to stab you before the spell is cast.

So offensive spells are always cast out of physical engagement range, and only spells where the appropriate countermeasures will require equally long and ridiculous incantations to complete are ever employed.

Because those ones are impossible to stop in time.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of the common saying in D&D: "Bold words for someone within Fireball range" $\endgroup$ – Tobias F. Mar 9 at 9:16
5
$\begingroup$

Very carefully worded spells.

After all, no one would expect the following incantation to summon a meteor strike:

Does Everyone Agree That Happiness
For Really Old Monkeys
Always Becomes Obnoxious Very Easily!

The secret to becoming a successful mage is then not necessarily how powerful your runes or magic capacity, but how well you can convince people to let you finish speaking - wrapping the incantation into what seems like a normal speech, or even a diplomatic negotiation:

Verily, Outstanding Lord, Ceasefires Are Never Outdated

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Have you read Unsong, perchance? $\endgroup$ – Phil Miller Mar 10 at 0:20
1
$\begingroup$

Two words: Shield Wall

That's what we do in LARP (Live Action Roleplaying Games) with the mages or in rules systems where casting takes time and requires words and gestures. You simply position the mage behind a couple big guys with big shields whose job is to hold still until he's done and then step to the sides.

Hearing what exactly someone is shouting across a battle, beyond those shields is difficult to do, and the other fighters will make sure you can't concentrate on what may or may not affect you. And of course behind those shields you don't see what he's doing. The best you can do is understand that there's a mage somewhere near, probably over there, casting something.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

You largely already know your enemies intentions even without needing to announce a spell.

If your enemy is running at you with a sword, you know they are probably going to try to cut or stab you. If your enemy is pointing a rifle at you, you know they are probably going to shoot you.

Knowing what your enemy is likely planning to do doesn't matter if you can't make the necessary adjustments.

You may argue that needing to announce your spell gives more time than swinging a sword, but the counter argument is that if your spell is more powerful than a sword it probably takes longer to prepare a defense for it. Spells may also sound similar and take some time to identify which would also reduce the reaction time for it and in the clatter of battle its easily possible to miss hearing an important part of identifying the spell. Some examples:

"Look out, I'm going to shoot you with a really big fireball"
sounds similar to
"Look out, I'm going to shoot you with lightning"
until closer to the end at which point the spell is ready and if you misheard it as
"Look out, I'm going to shoot you..."
you don't know what to expect exactly

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Here are some ideas:

Slow magic

  1. Big radius

The spells take a time to activate but covers a very big area. In this case the enemies can't escape the radius of impact unless they themselves have mages

  1. Long range

No much to splain here the mage is far out range of the enemies.

  1. Ocultation

Invisibility or hides in a group of other people.

  1. Protection, Familiar

The mage has a personal escort that protects him until he finishes the spell. Or before going to battle, casts a protection spell on himself.

The familiar does the incantation while the mage focus on protecting himself..... or the other way around.

Quick magic

Magic is all about meaning, but you can achieve meaning without talking.

  1. Runes and kanjies

For example a rune that means fireball.

  1. Tatoos

You can actually tatoo a complete spell in that case why does the mage have to incant the spell if its on his body quite literally.

  1. Circles

Like the Metatron circle. There are a lot of circles that have diferent meanings.

  1. Unwords, chants and overtone

This are very interesting ways of doing magic. Unword refers to a way of speaking that is'nt imaginable by humans. Chants like the typical om of the monks. If you have more than one mage the totality of them could cast a single spell fast using some sort of collective magic.

Overtone is the ability to do more than one chant at the same time. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overtone_singing

  1. Mental conditioning

You can condition yourself to have an idea by seeing or touching something.

  1. Signs

But each culture has their own signs.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Overtone singing is singing more than one note, not more than one word. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Mar 8 at 4:17
  • $\begingroup$ I did'nt say anything about words. $\endgroup$ – jogarcia Mar 8 at 4:40
0
$\begingroup$

So in summary, the three components of the spell are:

  • Runes on the skin, inscribed through ritual
  • Verbal component, as loud as you can
  • Somatic component, no particular prerequisites

Yes, yelling out your strategies is a bit counterproductive in that you can be planned for if they know what you are doing. So the trick is to not let them know what you are doing. All three parts are obvious if you don't take measures to mitigate them, though the runes are likely the easiest to hide.

Study your Spells

This sounds really dumb to say in some ways, but if you are going to take the time to learn a spell, you should learn enough to be able to cast it in more than one way if needed.

Two shows here come to mind immediately: Bleach and Slayers. Their basic boom spells (Hado 31: Shakkaho and Fireball respectively) have an incantation and some hand gestures. The experienced casters with those spells don't use the full incantation and instead bring down the ball of hurt just by announcing the spell's name and a simple hand gesture.

For your world, how does this work if at all? Can you reduce or eliminate some of the requirements at a potential loss of power? What can your casters do with a spell that they have truly mastered? It would seem to me that this is a weakness that should be eliminated as fast as reasonable if one is going to use it on the field.

Alternate Attack Angles

If you can attack from outside their hearing range with a sniper-style spell, then you have the advantage of them being unseen and unheard. To use D&D 3.5 / Pathfinder 1E as an example, a high-level wizard can Fireball an army from over 1,000 feet away.

If you can have aerial casters, then you can rain death from above literally. Because let's be honest, how many people look up? Alternatively, digging a tunnel then dropping a big boom under the enemy is a much riskier venture, but something that is still within the realm of possibility.

Related is your spell choices. Sure everybody expects the fireballs and lightning bolts. They might be less ready for the swarm of minor demons to supplement your ranks. But how about a spell to equip your army with magical shields that protect your companions from their enemy's weapons? Not one giant shield, a thousand little ones, one for each soldier.

False Information

Sure, the enemy knows that there is a caster present and that they are expecting spells, but if you can feed false information to your enemy, then it is possible that they will not have the right defenses for the job. A lightning bolt will require a different defense than a fireball or summon horde as an example.

This can be as simple as your mage wearing robes typical of another magic type (such as a fire mage wearing summoner's gear) to a whole counter-espionage operation to make sure that their spies get incorrect knowledge so they prepare the wrong defenses in the first place.

Alternative incantations are another potential solution to the issue. Whether you do that in a different language, or use the incantation for the basic Light spell to launch a Fireball, the point is to obfuscate the information so it takes a bit longer to start the defense spell. If you can use your offense faster then they can raise the defense, then you invalidate a lot of their defense.

Hiding the skin-inscribed runes should be an obvious step to this. Preferably with something that will not generally interfere with the flow of magic.

Distractions

The idea of others making noise has already been mentioned so I won't elaborate -- I have nothing more to add there that would add to that general point

What I can point out is that you can make a two-pronged attack with mages. One mage boldly arrives and announces that there is a darkness beyond twilight and crimson beyond blood that flows. Sure the enemy knows this spell and can defend against this spell, but they can't perceive fully the other caster over the din of the attack and defense spell, which is your real attack prong. They don't even have to be casting an attack spell for the strategy to be effective. Making the enemy bunker down from the big boom spell while your other mage casts a giant enhancement spell on your own troops is a conceivable strategy

The trick is to make the first mage obvious and flashy. You want your opponents to focus on them and react to them. This can be a more layered strategy than two casters, and might have to be depending on your opponents

Anticipate Reactions

You have defensive spells too, and your side knows what they would use in the situations that you are throwing at them. If their typical defense is to put a wall up to block the spell, then fire arrows over the wall. Weaken the wall with blunt impact so that the spell at least partially makes it through. If the plan is to scatter to limit casualties, then send in skirmishers or cavalry to pick off the furthest away (or just shoot them).

Regardless, the plan here is to assume they know, and plan a counter-offensive based on the likely lines of defense using other troops to do so. Yes, this could include the distraction plan above -- The wall might do good against a fireball, but be less effective against a more concentrated lightning bolt.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

I have read this from Vedic stories of ancient warriors. The had the ability to summon various magical arrows - from basic homing arrow to most powerful nuclear arrows. They would imbue the arrow with the power of magical incantation and shoot the opponent. It would take a couple of seconds to perform the attack.


The power of magical arrows are invoked by reciting the hymn. The arrow is first purified with sanctified water. Then the warrior would concentrate and recite the hymn in the arrow. IN this way the magical power in invoked with the hymns and transferred into the arrow.

Magical powers of arrows are various. From most basic where arrow multiplies into many to the most advanced atomic arrows. FYI, only most skilful warrior could use such weapons. After all, the warrior has in his hands nuclear weapon n the form of an arrow capable of destroying entire armies.

In the same way, the hymns needed for invoking such magical power also vary in complexity and length. For mosts powerful arrows it takes longest time to recite the hymn and invoke such an enormous amount of power.

In this time the warrior is unable to fight needs to be protected from all sides. Therefore, flanks of defensive military force composed of archers, spear-men and chivalry are formed around him.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I’m not sure this provides an answer to the question?? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 8 at 1:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It doesn’t. “I read that someone did it” does not answer “how can I do it?” $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Mar 8 at 4:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ (1) Take the arrow. (2) Concentrate and recite the incantation while touching the forehead with your arrow. (3) Unleash the arrow at your opponent. The arrow will multiply into thousands of identical arrows and create a rain of arrows. This is the theory. $\endgroup$ – Marino Mar 8 at 14:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Marino That's a reasonable suggestion (priming or delayed spells) - you may want to edit it into your answer. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Mar 9 at 11:47
0
$\begingroup$

There is ultimately no problem

It's unlikely mages would be heard

You say that the enemy can hear what a mage is chanting and then act accordingly. I ask How?

Let's be clear - people speaking, even shouting, isn't THAT loud. Here is a shirt funny scene from the movie Shazam:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihkhjZnug3c

Transcript:

Dr. Sivana (antagonist): Enough games, boy. You think a pack of children can...

[Dr. Sivana speaking faintly in the distance]

Shazam (protagonist): Wait, what?

[Dr. Sivana] You will beg for mercy as I feast on your heart... slow.

[Dr. Sivana continues speaking faintly]

Shazam: Are you making some big evil guys peech right now or something? You're, like, a mile away from me right now. There's cars and trucks.

Dr. Sivana: I will have the world eating out of the palm of my hand...

Shazam: All I see is mouth moving. I don't hear any...

Dr. Sivana: I have the power to unleash...

Shazam: Ah, whatever. Screw it. [Flies forward to attack]

This is a funny moment in the film but it showcases that it's not that easy to hear what somebody would be chanting. It becomes especially hard if there are other people around.

Here is footage from the game Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator. The name is a bit of a joke but it allows you to deploy a variety of units in a battle and see what happens. It's not too realistic - there aren't many tactics or strategy but at least it makes for entertaining watch:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64ZFq7zkHsU

You'd notice that the armies are loud. Were there some make standing slightly behind one group, do you think the other group would hear exactly what the mage said?

Here are some scenes from movies:

https://youtu.be/RiCN9xdmo10?t=80

https://youtu.be/j-sqBsQQ9Ro?t=5

I don't know exactly how accurate these depictions are but I'm focusing on sound. My guess would be that a battle would sound similar. In that it would be loud and chaotic. And those are middle age battles. Here is an early modern battle from 1653

https://youtu.be/X8zCv0AHnCs?t=24

It's louder. A lot louder. Because there are cannons. Mages throwing fireballs and other spells are likely to produce similar level of noise perhaps even more. It would make it very hard to hear what they are actually chanting from the enemy.

It's easy to obscure them

Even with all the noise and chaos of battle, what if the enemy can still recognise what the mages are casting? Well, it's super simple to further obscure the mages:

  • block vision to them - just put the mages in a tent or even simpler - a sheet in front of them held by two polls. Done, now the enemy cannot see the mages.
  • obscure vision to them - perhaps for some reason mages need to be at least sort of seen. Maybe they need some line of sight. You can easily cut holes into whatever is blocking them but if there is need for anything more - you can hide them behind branches (either in bushes/forest or just get some and stack them in front) or put some smoke. This would not completely hide the mages but it would definitely make them a lot harder to see and thus discern what they are doing.
  • obscure the acoustics - we've already established that battles are loud. But perhaps you need an extra layer of auditory protection. You can have drummers, or horn players, or whatever. This can double as setting the pace for the soldiers and relay commands but the noise pollution would make hearing the mages even harder than it already is.

If they are seen or heard...so what?

Left this for last but it's actually not at all the least. It's a question that really needs answering. So...what?

Commands for armies can already be "overheard"

You need to order your men. You do that in a way they can understand - usually by shouting the commands (well, actually having many people walk around and shout the commands). This is already similar to mages. The enemy can hear that and react. Yet it's not been a constant problem since...forever. Or not - apparently people have still won battles and wars despite this disadvantage. So, it doesn't seem like mages would change things drastically.

Just in case you think "oh but I bet people could be REALLY sneaky with those commands. For example, how would the enemy know a foreign language. Or, wait, coded commands!" let me disappoint you - you can't hide military commands very well. Not if the enemy can hear them at least. If you have a large enough army you need to be as clear as possible when giving commands. You don't want your soldiers to stop and think "Wait, what was Klaatu barada nikto again - are we to advance, or fall back?". Also, with large armies you are likely to have mercenaries and/or people who don't all speak the same language. For example, that was the case with the Romans and later Eastern Romans (Byzantines). They'd instruct their troops in standard phrases, so everybody, regardless of what language they speak, would understand. Trying to vary and obscure that can't work well.

Also, very importantly:

Deserters would betray military intelligence

Sure, even if you have some good way to deliver commands that the enemy can't understand...that won't be the case for very long. There are always deserters. The enemy can just bribe them or soldiers might just decide they don't like this war. Fiction might lead you to believe that these (ex-)soldiers would be tortured for information or something but it's really not how it worked. Most times your enemy would welcome your deserters with open arms and even reward them for merely leaving. Be that with gold, positions, or just place to live. Any extra information would be welcome and deserters already don't have much loyalty towards you, so why not spill the beans for some extra rewards?

At any rate, deserters have always been a problem in armies because they can betray secrets. Some things are more secret than others but "what do your commanders tell you when they want you to attack/defend/hold/etc would be the first thing they'd be asked. Well, assuming that was valuable information. I don't really know if it was or wasn't but, again, considering people have won wars despite having deserters, I'd hazard a guess that the military commands weren't instrumental. There is a lot more valuable information like army position, troops, strategies, etc.

Enemies can already see war machines

Catapults, ballistae, cannons, siege towers, etc. I could even extend it to archers and even cavalry and other troops in some cases. It's all military tools that can cause a lot of damage and you can see them. You can see where they go - where a catapult aims is not that much of a secret, even if the exact target can't be pinpointed (well, both by people aiming the catapult and people being shot with it). Same with cannons. And achers are really more of a spray and pray but you give them a general location which is not hard to guess still. Cavalry or heavy troops may need some time to arrive but you can see where they are going.

So...enemies can already see where you want to strike. Yet wars have still been won despite this "disadvantage". Here is the thing - a battle is more than just being nimble, avoiding blows, and stabbing people. Even if you have the greatest soldier (even soldiers) that are invulnerable and untiring...that's not going to win the battle by itself. You need strategy and just being to jump out of the way of an attack is absolutely not that.

You can trick the enemy

Let's assume for a moment that the enemy can see/hear your mages and understand that your mage is going to drop a fireball with enough forewarning to manoeuvre away. Well, they might have played right into your trap regardless. You can easily have your mages cast spells only to break up formations or force an army to take the route you want. You may want to push them towards your cavalry and slam into them from the side. Or you may want to open up the enemy lines enough to drive a wedge between them, destroy their formation and ultimately rout them. Or you can manipulate them in any other way just using the threat of a spell dropping and making the enemy play by your rules.

And this is how Hannibal, widely considered to be one of (of not the) the greatest military commander in history, beat the Romans so badly so many times. He always forced them to fight on his terms. Strategy wins wars. It's a harsh lesson the early Romans bitterly learned. Hannibal was the greatest enemy they had ever faced and taught them how to fight.

So...let the enemy see your mages. What are they going to do - stand and take the fireball to the face or move and take your carefully planned attack to the face? In either cases you win.

Chaos in battle

I left this point for last. I wasn't sure where to include it but it could (it should) eye opening. This is a short excerpt of Game of Thrones (Season 2, Episode 5). The characters here talk about wildfire. In-universe this is a highly flammable substance - very heavily inspired from Greek fire. You can think of it as "napalm" for all intents and purposes - very flammable, very easy to deploy and cause devastation.

I'm linking the full clip from the beginning for a little bit more context but the important bit of dialogue spans from 0:52 to 1:45:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqMrgvy9uMA

Here is a transcript of (omitting more irrelevant lines):

HAYLENE: [...] [Wildfire] is fire given form. And we have been perfecting it since the days of Maegor.

BRONN: To do what?

HAYLENE: The jars are put in catapults and flung at the enemy.

TYRION: How much do you have?

BRONN: If you could get real soldiers to man the catapults, then maybe you'd hit your target one time in ten, but all the real soldiers are in the Riverlands with your father.

[...]

BRONN: I don't know if you've ever seen a battle, old man, but things can get a bit messy. 'Cause when we're flinging things at Stannis, he's flinging them right back at us. Men die, men s*** themselves, men run, which means pots falling, which means fire inside the walls, which means the poor c***s trying to defend the city end up burning it down.

So, this is more of a reason why not to use Greek fire. Wildfire in the show/books. It's difficult to deploy, it's easy to go wrong, it's hard to even aim properly, it's messy, the chaos of battle is really overwhelming and can cause accidents. That's bad enough with normal soldiers and equipment - somebody might drop a sword, an arrow, a spear, whatever. But with G̶r̶e̶e̶k̶ ̶f̶i̶r̶e wildfire an accident can cost your life, the life of everybody around you, as well as the city you are trying to defend.

I'd also like to note that Greek fire has historically been almost exclusively used for defence. It's so dangerous and hard to deploy that it's madness to try and bring it with you when attacking. At the very least it gives the enemy a nice target to aim and possibly burn your entire army. Also, it's very easy for you to just do this by accident without the help of the enemy.

Even when defending, Greek fire couldn't always be used - it would need favourable circumstances to be deployed. It was used very effectively against ships but you need good enough wind - if it's against you then you're really just burning your own ship.

Anyway, back to wildfire. Here is why I think this is important magic is also dangerous. Or at least most depictions of it are. Do you really want your mage to flinch from an arrow or something and set your own troops on fire? Or disintegrate themselves? There is chaos in battle. I've mentioned it a few times but I really want to hammer this point down. Battles. Are. Chaotic. Mages might be a great boon but if there is even the slightest chance of something going wrong, then trust Murphy's law, it would go wrong. Maybe not this battle, maybe not the next one but eventually they'd summon a demon they shouldn't have, or create a thunderstorm that devastates your own ranks, or unleash a plague that affects the commanders, or simply explode or whatever.

A big enough failure could cost you the war, despite how many battles you've won. What happens if the mage takes out your entire army by accident? Or kills the king or general? Or does whatever to make you lose a very key battle.

It's entirely possible that mages are too powerful and problematic to use on the battle field.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

It works in anime! :) No, seriously though why not have them learn an in language? They have their own spell sign language and spoken tounge one could also very by year a few words or more to stop spies from infiltrating too much into the mages so they can have a limited control if they were to do this. You need snappier faster words for shields but longer strings for build up but why shout? When the din of all the chaos around you drowns out ones own voice what good is it? Speaking at any volume should be good enough and what if you character goes mute midway through the battle after years of abusing their voice through shouting?

The enemy must counter you so it also depends on your opponent if they can counter the spell being hurled at them or can they smash your shield and you counter quickly?

If speaking is a must have skill you need to figure out if it matters if their voice degrades over a battle or days of shouting because it will. You might want to train your mages to speak super fast like auctioneers to get it all out fast enough.

You aren't giving much away beyond horns and flag signals did in the middle ages the enemy knows you want to break them that's really what old warfare was about breaking your enemy not slaughtering them to the man. As one poster suggested fake out is a nice tactic the mages scream one thing the enemy responses with a dodge and you run them over the a Calvary charge then the second time commanders see this the don't dodge and the mage was really summoning.

Another tactic is to group them with fighters so they can take time shouting and dancing while the warriors keep the enemy in range but risk being caught in the wrong type of spell as they will not be able to always hear the mages completely.

The enemy can only see as far as they've got advantage this is why some stories locked inside Gettysburg was so stupidly awful in outcome people either couldn't tell where the battles were or were blindsided by sneak ups that shouldn't have been such terrain played a role too everyone has the same goal here break the other side faster your men shouting isn't going to give away the intricate details inside the war tent you have weather, luck, terrain, and ever changing tactics to overcome shouting dancing mages is just one aspect extra to your field.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.