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In the Middle Ages, countries are at war with each other and wealthy nations will often hire mages to aid in their battles. Especially during an intense combat situation on the field, both sides are charging into each other's defenses hoping to overrun the enemy with speed. The mages usually stand afar from the heat of the battle and cast their magical spells. (Both sides also rely heavily on catapults and handheld ranged weapons.)

Rule of magics

i) The magical spell can only deal 4 elemental damages (fire, ice, lightning and arcane) on top of physical damage to the enemy.

ii) Enchanted armors can provide resistance to certain or all 4 elemental damages as well as physical damage.

iii) Enchanted items can grant wearer the following abilities:

  • Able to heal from a non-fatal wound quickly
  • Greater endurance and stamina
  • Boost strength to lift or push object many times their weight
  • Ability to run at many times faster than their average times
  • Ability to cloak for a certain amount of time on command

iv) Only a mage can cast magical projectiles to deal magical damage, they do this by weaving hand signs with or without an incantation. e.g A fireball requires a certain sequences of hand signs in a specific order while homing fireball needs to be followed with an incantation.

v) It requires two or more mages to manipulate a weather element such as to command a thunderstorm over the enemy territory. The size of the storm depends on the number of mages involved as well as the length of the incantation.

vi) The shorter the distance between the caster and the magic, the stronger the effect.

vii) No magic can influence another's will or action.

viii) With experience, a veteran mage can quickly dispatch a small group of three well armed soldiers with ease. These group of elite mages consist of less than 1% of magic users.

ix) Mages account for less than 1% of population.

x) Enchantment on items is only active when the user is focusing, the effect is lost if that user is distracted, usually caught by surprise.

xi) Fire element inflicts damage over time, ice based attack arrests the movement of the target for a specific amount of time and deals the lowest damage comparatively, lightning inflicts the most damage overall however it has a tendency to miss the target due to its speed and, finally, arcane only works against non-living things.

xii) Mages can animate the dead(s) to fight in a battle, only arcane magic affects zombies.

xiii) The harder the concentration (mage needs time to concentrate), the greater the effect of the magic. Thus channeling spells are generally the more powerful type of magic.

Note

Channeling spells requires casters to remain stationary for a certain amount of time while reciting/performing hand signs in order to cast a magical effect. E.g., raising the dead, the mage needs to perform a ritual spell which usually last thirty minutes to an hour to summon multiple zombies.

These are some of the notable channeling spells:

  1. Raising the dead
  2. Summon thunderstorm, hailstorm, tornado, or any extreme weather phenomenon

Question

Since speed is of the essence in war, why does a mage still want to use a channeling spell during battle?

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  • $\begingroup$ Did you see Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell? $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 19 '15 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ Why would armor bother to have an arcane resistance, when it can't deal damage to living things? $\endgroup$ – Selkie May 15 at 19:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Selkie To stop them from casting Destroy Armor followed by something that could kill you. ;) $\endgroup$ – nick012000 May 16 at 11:05
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To me it seems non-channeling spells are akin to traditional firearms with more variety and channeling spells appear closer to artillery. Therefore, channeling spells become a complete tactical weapon.

Such large tactical weapons are part of the art of strategy. Imagine, for example, you have 5 veteran mages. As you say, they can each take out 3 soldiers each with ease. If you treat them as soldiers, they would each be performing to their abilities as individual mages. Let's say if it takes 5 minutes for each of these mages to take out 3 soldiers each, in thirty minutes your soldiers will have defeated 90 soldiers (.6 soldiers per mage per minute x 5 mages x 30 minutes = 90 soldiers).

However, if you treat mages and magic as a strategical weapon, you would have these 5 mages stay back behind the lines and complete a channeling spell. After 30 minutes, those 90 soldiers are initially still there, but now some immense magical event takes place. Let's assume that the enemy doesn't have any mages so we can observe the pure effect of magic (like an experimental control). If they summon zombies, they've effectively created unkillable soldiers that will relentlessly pursue the enemy, effectively winning them the battle, if not the whole war (if they really can only be killed by arcane powers, as you say). This is akin to infinite reinforcements. If they summon a a weather effect, they eliminate far more than 90 enemy soldiers in a fraction of the time. This is akin to an air strike or an artillery strike.

By removing the mages from the battlefield, not only do you prevent them from being attacked in the middle of battle (ignoring the potential of a siege), you also incomparably and exponentially increase the killing potential of your army. Two soldiers as infantry act like two people with guns, but put those two together in a tank and you have an armored behemoth that can annihilate far more than two machine gunners combined would separately.

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Channeled Spells would be Extremely powerful in war. No battle ends in seconds, and big battles may last for hours in the right conditions. That being said, There are 2 main uses of these kind of mages i can think of.

The first and best use is for surprise attacks. Imagine a Medieval army camped out in tents for the night in a field, resting for the battle to come the next day, when suddenly a Thunderstorm rapidly forms right above them, or better yet, a Fire Storm. If its fast enough, The army is going to take casualties while the mages would likely take none. The mages would have a lot of time to freely concentrate and cast their spell with a few elite guards to keep their presence a secret until it is too late. If 10-20 Elite mages can form a thunderstorm in under a minute after channeling for any amount of time, then you only need to keep a small group of people hidden for that time which is not unreasonable in most cases.

The second is in the battle itself. Mages would effective be treated like Catapults or Trebuches. They are in the back away from the enemy lines for safty, and they cast their best long range channeled spells. Mages with channeled Spells are artillery themselves effectively, as it takes time to attack, but attacks can kill many if aimed right.

Both of these assume the Elite Mages Channeled Spells are extremely powerful. If the Storms can not be controlled at all or kill at least a handful of enemies, then there is little point for having mages in the fight at all. They would be relegated to either enchanting armor and weapons before the fight, or be with the archers which can and frequently are quite vulnerable and not worth it. They would then be best used for elite subterfuge or infiltration missions only, probably as assassins or spies for their utility and ability to reliably kill small groups quickly.

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To supplement the previous answers.

If your mages can relay on maintaining effects, keep them in your castle to maintain enchantment on your army, giving every one regen/strength/speed socks (because nobody is going to stop and steal a pair of socks during a battle)

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Change the battlefield

Scouts arrive with the information about the enemy army and you start setting up the place where the battle is going to take place. Use your mages to change the terrain to reduce the efficiency of the enemy army. Examples would be:

  • Mainly Heavy Cavalry supported for some light troops and archers: Make snow, enough to stop any charge or the use of the heavy cavalry at any point.

  • Heavy armor footmans and light cavalry as support: Bring the sun out, the desert at midday. Cook them in their suits deplete their stamina, harass them to kill their morale.

  • Great archers with deadly volleys: Make it rainy and windy, water would turn the bows mostly useless and any volley would end up hitting even your own troops.

    Use them as a force multiplier for your own army, see what are your strenghs and what would work for you.

I remember an example of using magic that took time to cast, was hiding an army in the bottom of a lake after casting underwater breathing in everyone.

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  • $\begingroup$ To add to this, you could also create fog around your own army, preventing counter-scouting. Or you could create fog around the enemy archers and make it hard for them to hit you. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris May 16 at 7:38

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