Author Topic: Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX  (Read 913 times)

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Offline X-Tornilen/SM (Alexander)

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Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX
« on: November 10, 2009, 07:39:12 pm »
Bjørn has mentioned to me that he was planning to revise the Summon Army spells, so I though we could get a bit of discussion going and give him some player input(s).

From the regent guide:
Summon Army I
Conjuration (Summoning) [see text]
Caster level:   Sor/Wiz 1
Components:  1 GB
Regency:  1 RP/unit
Casting Time: One free action (1 day)
Range: Medium
Effect: 1 hit/caster level
Duration: 1 turn (1 week/caster level)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
Description: Flavor text
Description: This spell summons one or more units of outsiders (creatures from another plane) that joins your army. The number of creatures in each vary depending on the unit type. While a unit of small animals might have 500 or more, the unit of elder elementals would have no more than ten.
Spell Effect: Choose a 1st - caster level army unit from the summon monster table below. All units must be of the same type.
When you use a summoning spell to summon air, fire, water, earth, good, evil, chaotic, or lawful creature, it is a spell of that type. For example, summon army I is a lawful and evil spell when cast to summon units for dire rats. The summoner can give orders the summoned creatures, provided he can make himself understood. If not given orders, the summoned units will tend to act according to race and alignment for the duration of the spell.
Unless a special monster is summoned the units created can be assumed to have the below fighting characteristics. The example monsters are the most typical a wizard will know how to summon. Note that the animals are outsiders and are typical of either celestial or fiendish type.

Summon Army II
Caster level:   Sor/Wiz 2
Components:  2 GB
Regency:  1 RP/hit
Spell Effect: Choose a 2nd - caster level army unit from the summon monster table below. All units must be of the same type.

Spell LevelMoveMoraleCohesionDefenceMeleeChargeMissileSpecialExample
1362102---Animal, Small
2364123---Animal, Medium
3366144---Animal, Large; Elemental, Small
4368165---Animal, Huge
53710186--+2 Defense to non-magical attacksElemental, Medium
64711207--+4 Defense to non-magical attacksElemental, Large

(and so on, let's just say the level 7+ summons are UGLY to face in battle).

So, on the obvious level we have a contradiction in the spell descriptions - one mentions that it costs 1 RP/unit, the other that it costs 1 RP/hit. With 1 hit / caster level it's not that expensive, but nobody will be summoning a lot of higher level units.

What Bjørn has mentioned to me: He is planning to revise it so that it summons a number of units equal to 1 + 1/x level (like 3 levels). I'm typing from memory here, so correct me if I'm wrong.

The duration of 1 turn means that it's not a spell for creating a standing army, that's what domination spells are for. It's an emergency or surprise spell, when you need an army right there right now.

The units produced by the spell are weird and I imagine they will wreak havoc with any battle simulator. The follow their own pattern, which is cool, but cumbersome. Lvl 1 summons are pushovers even for scouts, lvl 3 starts to get interesting with 6 in cohesion and around then they actually start doing damage. Then it just goes crazy with level 5 wiping the floor with pretty much any other unit and anything above that is just a nightmare. Level 7 means you die, each one is the equivalent of several knight units.

Effect
So... let's assume that the spell summons 1 unit + 1/3 levels above the requirement. A level 12 casting Summon I would get 1+3 units that are essentially no better than levies... not enough oomph. Casting Summon VI means 1 units that is fairly powerfull, but still not enough power for a lvl 6 spell. So let's set it to 1 unit + 1/3 levels.

So lvl 12 caster summons 5 creatures of whatever level he is casting, keeping the same regency and gold cost that means:
I: 5 units, 10 RP, 2 GB.
II: 5 units, 20 RP, 4 GB.
III: 5 units, 30 RP, 6 GB.
IV: 5 units, 40 RP, 8 GB.
V: 5 units, 50 RP, 10 GB.
VI: 5 units, 55 RP, 12 GB.

For the VI version, that is a lot of regency and gold... for 5 units that are somewhere around armsmen and lancer strength (fast, very very tough, don't break, not a lot of damage).

Comparisons
The most similar spell we have available is Celestial Siege Train. Cast at the same level it summons up to 12 ballistae for an entire year... at the cost of 12 RP and 1 GB. That seems unbalanced.

Legion of the Dead summons 3 units of undead, costing 30 RP 6 GB. They are roughly the equivalent of lvl 3 summoned units. More cost for fewer units though.

Army of the Damned will summon 4 units of Wights. Costing 40 RP and 6 GB, they can potentially turn any battle completely around. Hit someone at nighttime with these monsters, even better hit their auxilliaries... then it is over. Your baggage train becomes a undead legion attacking your rear, any unit not as tough as armsmen a liability... Hell, just split them up and have them attack the countryside, sending the newly created undeads at the enemy. That would devestate pretty much any realm not capable of mustering 4 armies to pursue each unit of wights and their legions...

So, let's revise. I am thinking that Celestial Siege train is going to be revised as well. It seems insanely powerful, especially in the hands of a moderate to high-level caster. In my eyes the undead creating spells should have a little more raw power, as one needs to consider the social ramfications of creating undeads. Creating undeads should IMO be a temptation for any wizard powerful enough, but also a sure way to make everyone your enemy. Perhaps giving them a duration higher than one turn, giving us zombie apocalypses lasting more than 3 months.

If each of these spells should have a purpose, I suggest the following:
Summon Army I - IX: Creates a fairly powerful army right here, right now, but only for the duration of one turn.
Undead Legion: Creates an undead horde with roughly the same power as summon army, but for a longer duration. It gets the longer duration for free as it is eeeeeeevil.
Army of the Damned: Same as undead legion, but more powerful. Perhaps drop the create spawn ability, that can get crazy fast. Just make them tough, resistant to normal weapons and with huge advantages for fighting at nighttime. THat would be bad enough.
Celestial Siege Train: Create a moderate amount of siege engines, with a fairly long duration.

I am thinking that the way to go with this would be to change the units that are summoned by Summon Army. Keep the cost, duration and 1 unit + 1 / 3 levels. Make lvl 1 the rough equivalent of levies, lvl 2 the equivalent of regulars or archers, level 6 the equivalent of knights. Then tie them thematically and color-wise into the setting. Summon Army I would summon the Baying Hounds of Fire, the Rats of Ice or the Badgers of Doom. Summon Army III would give you the Miniature Mercenary Pikers of Frozen Stone and so on. Create 2-3 units types for each level that is the equivalent of something from the unit table... with crazy stuff like giants and dragons appearing at higher levels. It makes sense for the wizards and sorcerers (and priests) of Cerelia to have developed some good tribes or legions of elementals, infernals and celestials to summon units from. Perhaps even throw in some interesting special abilities - at the cost of raw power - at the different levels. Flaming Ravens anyone?
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Offline X-Bellam & BC/TB (Bobby)

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Re: Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2009, 08:39:02 pm »
I'd suggest keeping some of the character-level spell's style and having the option of getting more units from lower on the chart.  You might get 1 unit / 4 levels of the top level, but 1/2 units from a few levels down.  Thus, if you're a caster with no personal army, you can summon a horde of Wargs to defend your lands, but if you're working with a landed regent you can just pull up two units of Giants to smash battle lines and castle walls (see the recent fighting between Boer and Avan).

Offline X-Haelyn's Aegis/RK (Andy)

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Re: Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2009, 06:03:18 pm »
I presume that the wizard can choose to summon fewer units, or weaker units to save costs / hide their strength?

What is the chance of control?  Summoning high-level nasties from the shadow world shouldn't be safe for anyone - and powerful monsters may be far more interested in following their own plans than fighting some-one else's battle, they might not leave on cue either...


If you want a spell to have duration, then I'd suggest giving it maintenance cost to keep it in-line with 'normal' armies which have muster and maintenance costs.

So undead could be maintained through RP spend (depreciating for random trogging) for a while - and random shadow world incursions which created a leyline to the shadow-world could support some of the undead after the initial surge, until the leyline was severed.
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Offline X-Osoerde (Alan)

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Re: Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2009, 06:14:10 pm »
What is the chance of control?  Summoning high-level nasties from the shadow world shouldn't be safe for anyone - and powerful monsters may be far more interested in following their own plans than fighting some-one else's battle, they might not leave on cue either...

If you want a spell to have duration, then I'd suggest giving it maintenance cost to keep it in-line with 'normal' armies which have muster and maintenance costs.

Since Summon Army has a duration of 1 turn, I would just as soon give them 100% control.  Of course, Summon Army may call creatures to you, there is nothing that says the spell returns them once done.

Usage of this spell, gives a llot of opportunity for numerous story arcs and/or random events.
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Offline X-Tuornen/LF (Geir)

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Re: Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2009, 09:53:43 pm »
Summoning goodies’ too can be fun after. Will they start examining their new “allies”, and maybe finding these to be a bit on the dark side… could get real fun.

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Offline X-Tornilen/SM (Alexander)

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Re: Realm Spell: Summon Army I through IX
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2009, 02:34:41 am »
Let's keep the discussion on the summon army spells. I know I brought the other's up, but we should also focus on what people actually have and know in the game. I know of several PC casters capable of the summon monster spells, I am pretty sure that no PC mage is in a position where he/she would ever consider the necromancy spells. I may be wrong though :)

As written, there is no chance of loosing control, though the units have a morale score and as such can be broken in battle... I assume the long term result of that would be to have the unit be dismissed forcibly. Changing this around could be interesting, but may be a lot more trouble than it's worth. I think it should be kept on the level of random events - if a realm or regent is due for a random event and someone just happened to cast a realm summoning spell... a few things slipping through the veil would definitely be appropriate.

I have no problem with casters being able to summon lower level monsters as well... there is still a reason to learn the lower level versions as you can't be sure of the source you have access to.

If the higher level units are worth the reduction in numbers, then summoning a few bad ass units is definitely cool. The thing is that the higher level version of the same spell should be more powerful than the lower level, assuming the mage casts it at maximum effect, regardless of what the caster level is. Fx. Horrid Wilting is always more powerful than Fireball, no matter the level of the caster. That is my opinion though, that is one stance to take on spell design, but I think the spells in the guide generally follows this philosophy.

Allowing casters to summon more of the lower level units with the higher level spells may actually solve this issue... The problem comes from the fact that casting Summon Army at your highest level is almost always worse that casting the version two levels below, as your highest level (that you can learn) will only give you 1 unit, whereas the other will give you two units. Of course, the level I units are arguably so bad that 2 of them are worse than one level III units. The level VII units might be so good that one of them equals two level V units. That's assuming you summon 1 + 1/3 levels above requirement.

Letting you exchange units 1/2 downwards would actually make Summon Monster (level+1) a lot more powerful than summon monster (level), especially once you get 3 or 6 levels above the minimum requirement. Funky, but borderline doable.

I'm getting a little theoretical here. I'll try and make a new version soon, so we have something concrete to look at. More feedback is definitely appreciated.



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