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In this world, magic is slow and intensive, often using multiple components. It requires intense focus, and spells and rituals can take hours to prepare. Nevertheless, it can be very powerful, and serves as the bedrock of this nation. Magic is combined with technology to form a kind of magi tech which is available to everyone. However, only women can access magic directly to create it. Culture strongly discourages women from military positions, believing them to be too valuable to society in general. This has led to soldiers being primarily males, serving on the front lines while women mostly being in supportive roles.

Ironically, the exception to this rule is the state church itself. The church is made up of priestesses that are the most powerful magic users in the nation. They specialize in a form of attack and defense magic that is much faster and stronger than traditional forms of magic. These spells take the form of incantations, which involve hand signals as well as words that must be spoken.

This form of magic revolves around four schools:

  1. Biomancy: the practice of powering up soldiers to increase their effectiveness. Increasing strength or speed, regenerating lost limbs, healing, hardening skin and increasing endurance.
  2. Pyromancy: Shooting fireballs, making firestorm to wipe out armies, raining down fire from the sky.
  3. Telekinesis: moving objects with the mind. Creating shields and barriers to block projectiles, using gravity offensively to crush enemies.
  4. Divination: reading possible futures to create strategies, determining movements of enemies and possible outcomes of events.

A few more points about this magic:

  • Performing a spell normally take 3-5 minutes, with the stronger ones taking up to an hour.

  • This faster form of magic is dangerous and hard to control. It requires more focus than regular, slower spells. Performing it unsuccessfully can severely hurt or kill the user.

  • This magic is physically and mentally intense, and drains the user over a period of time.

Based on these stipulations, what would be the best way to use these nuns strategically in a combat situation. What tactics should they employ to maximize their effectiveness?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by sphennings, Frostfyre, Azuaron, Hohmannfan, dot_Sp0T Jun 15 '17 at 23:59

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ You have provided a lot of details, but very vague on what those spells can actually do. The generic answer would be - "Whichever spells are the most effective". $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jun 15 '17 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ Have them start casting Instant Victory or Rout Enemy 3-5 minutes before the battle starts.. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Jun 15 '17 at 18:59
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    $\begingroup$ Forgive me if I don't see something obvious to you, but you seem to already answer your question within your question... their roles should be that of 'battle mages', the best way to use them would be to have them cast spells. I am really not sure what exactly more you expect from an answer :/ $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Jun 15 '17 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ Nuns can be violent: youtube.com/watch?v=ujxDA9VsQG4 $\endgroup$ – user11599 Jun 16 '17 at 2:22
  • $\begingroup$ Divination is tricky as possible futures change when someone thinks when looking at them. It's this divination able to give detailed battle plan? Or just a bit of advice? Telekinesis - can one nun crush entire army at once? Or one at a time? And do on, please give us some details. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 18 '17 at 0:46
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Your nuns are human artillery

Immensely powerful but slow-firing is sort of the general archetype of an artillery weapon. As such, they're going to be treated in much the same way. They will be placed in protected positions offering good visibility of the battlefield. They will be relayed orders about offensive and defensive spells and where to cast them. Some nuns will likely serve in protective roles for the rest, focusing on effective use of more basic, immediate spells to defend others casting more intensive magic.

To combat the "reload" time of the spells, the nuns will probably be grouped into spell groups and cast in waves. This will allow for more-or-less-continuous casting and increased battle effect. Larger groups will allow for nuns to rest more between casting. At least one group will also be devoted to purely defensive magic to counter enemy magic.

The nuns will also have significant resources devoted to training them to minimize injury and maximize efficiency. They will become a significant asset to the military, and will likely also be trained in self-defense (to allow more soldiers to fight, rather than defend the nuns). Depending on the tech level of your world (and the prominence of military might in your society), they may be granted an elevated social status similar to that of "knights" or even middle-ranking officers. They may also be under the direct command of the general or field commander, or be formed into their own special battalion and deployed as such.

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  • $\begingroup$ Ripple-fire Nuns! $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Jun 15 '17 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ @PaulTIKI See, now I'm picturing a row of Howitzers ripple-firing Nuns into the enemy. $\endgroup$ – Chris M. Jun 15 '17 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ Or num can create defensive shield. Like one that protects Howards in Battle of Hogwarts (Harry Potter) $\endgroup$ – Haha TTpro Jun 16 '17 at 15:49
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Biomancy and divination would be my bread and butter applications. Heal troops, see the future, all from extreme safety.

I'd use powerful spells, since they seem to have the best efficiency and lowest risk. Preparing before battle for a quick close, I'd evade armies too hard or spread out to KO via divination and reasoning. In a worst case, hold your ground situation I'd do what I could to pack the enemy like rats, trying to create snow and clearing trees to weaken guerrilla tactics and hope for the opportunity for conditions that synergize with magic to create large scale forest fires, sinkholes, rain, avalanches, etc.

I'd avoid any ability that lacked range, or exposed my nuns to danger.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding! If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. Have fun! $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jun 15 '17 at 21:09
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Given what you have lined out, I figure your Magic Battle Nuns would best serve you in a few ways, mostly in areas where preparation is allowed.

You have described a fairly slow system of magic. Sudden, on the fly kind of magic is out of the picture, so front line melee use is probably not going to be effective. That said, there are a number of ways they can set stuff up before the battle to give a heck of an advantage. Here are some ideas:

1) Level the battlefield for heavy cavalry. If the horses can run along and not trip or fall into pits, potholes, or muddy parts, they are going to hit the enemy line extremely hard.

2) Also for the cavalry, Unbreakable lances...don't need to drop them until you get a kebab of 12 or 13 pikemen.

3) Deflection of pikes. Either push them gently into ineffective angles or make them too heavy to lift high enough to threaten your advancing troops and horses.

4) You already mentioned various kinds of shielding, but how about Entropy shields? Instead of stopping arrows in flight, how about having them come apart at a nearly molecular level. Seems like it would take a lot less energy to reduce the arrow to dust than to stop it outright. That way the total kinetic energy is the same, but it's now spread out across 1000's of tiny particles.

All of these examples have some things in common. They can all be cast ahead of time, before the battle. All of them focus on subtle effects and should not be very energy intensive. Not being energy intensive means you can cast them more quickly and you can respond to changing situations.

As powerful as something like a storm can be, it would take too long to get going, cost way too much energy and if the enemy comes at you from a different direction you can't really adjust on the fly. Keep it subtle and efficient to make your Nun-Mages the most effective.

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    $\begingroup$ Unbreakable lances are an excellent to way to lose your entire cavalry. Fragility of lances is an entire point of having them in the first place. Go ahead. Conservation of momentum is a thing, you know. If you place unbreakable pole between you and enemy, you are going to be sent flying too. Immediately after skewering enemy with the pointy bit lances break specifically to prevent that. $\endgroup$ – M i ech Jun 15 '17 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ I did not know that. good point $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI Jun 16 '17 at 0:03
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Civilian / industrial sabotage

Fighting these battle nuns on a level playing field would be like fighting tanks. There will be no Agincourt with these battle nuns; they are too overpowered to throw regular soldiers in the mix. Unless you power up the regular troops also (golems, dragon riders etc) battlefield type battles will be nun vs nun type things.

But: the nuns are just individuals. People who pack a wallop. They can mix with regular people. They can go unsuspected into cities / harbors / grain repositories and then raise hell - taking down factories, cutting bridges, sinking ships, wreaking havoc and terror among the populace - then slipping out in the chaos. It would be extremely hard to defend against this sort of thing - even harder than it is to defend against terrorists in the modern day. Terrorists need bombs and guns but these nuns are just people.

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