Yet More Crap About Eberronian Warfare

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Specifically, I have been thinking about Breland's floating fortresses. I was reading the Forge of War and I remembered a passage where it speaks of the Goblin revolt and the establishment of Darguun. It tells of the Goblins destroying one of the floating fortresses. My reaction to this was a long gasp, confusion, and a big "BUT HOW?!"

Without heavy weapons of any sort, no gunpowder or explosives or any kind, how in the hell do you stop one of these suckers? Traditional fortress siege techniques can't work because the thing is mobile. It'll just move through your siege lines, slowly but surely. And what's to stop the Brelish from applying the same technique on a smaller scale, creating the equivalent of an elementally powered armored personnel carrier (with some decent speed)? How can armies with medieval hand weapons and very light missile weapons defeat such techniques?
Without heavy weapons of any sort, no gunpowder or explosives or any kind, how in the hell do you stop one of these suckers? Traditional fortress siege techniques can't work because the thing is mobile. It'll just move through your siege lines, slowly but surely. And what's to stop the Brelish from applying the same technique on a smaller scale, creating the equivalent of an elementally powered armored personnel carrier (with some decent speed)? How can armies with medieval hand weapons and very light missile weapons defeat such techniques?



This is why Forge of War is my least favorite Eberron book: In the course of trying to be a sourcebook for the Last War, it invariably succeeds in fouling up almost everything it touches by introducing truly mind-boggling amounts of Fridge Logic. (And the fact that Cyre's the book's favorite punching bag, but that's not particularly pertinent.)

The simplest answer to this conundrum is that armies have far more at their disposal than simply swords and bows, or at least by the later stages of the Last War, at any rate. The sky's really the limit as to what one can do in terms of giving the world non-mage "heavy" weaponry: In my current game, my PCs have encountered widespread usage of alchemical grenades, up-CLed eternal wands, and elementally infused special weapon materials, as well as the odd vehicle-mounted eldritch dragonshard cannon. In other threads, arcane artillery and magical landmines have been discussed to one degree or another. An alternative interpretation is that magic replace convetional heavy weaponry: I'm not a particular fan of this interpretation, though all manner of fun can be had with it. My favorite has been instituted as a recurring detail whenever I run the setting, which is that cloudkill was an invention of middle of the Last War and a major impetus for the transformation of the way wars are waged. (This is more of a 3.5e than 4e rationale, though: A proliferation of cloudkill preparatory bombardments provides an impetus for a soldier capable of withstanding and fighting in them without protection, which poison-immune 3.5e warforged could do.)

As to the specific question of how the Darguuni forces managed to take out a floating fortress, it really depends on your imagination. My own preferred explanation was that the goblinoids couldn't have done it without Cyran help, but that's because I read a lot into the military topography of the Marguul Pass, the battle for which the floating fortress was destroyed in. Between 894 and 970 A.K., Cyre presumably created its own analogue to Sterngate to anchor the inevitable chain of fortifications created at its end of the Marguul Pass. These fortifications would need to be reduced or bypassed in order to proceed into the Darguuni heartland to Haruuc's little revolt and the Cyrans who presumably maintained them would be unlikely to allow a Brelish army to march by them peacably, so reduction is necessary. (Incidentally, fortress reduction actually provides a legitimate excuse to deploy a floating fortress, thus allowing the Brelish military who championed the expedition to not look like total idiots.)

At any rate, in due time the floating fortress would be committed to reducing the Cyran fortification belt: Such a reduction would, presumably, entail it settling down and remaining relatively immobile as a base of operations for the investing Brelish army. Once it stops moving for a prolonged period of time, all the Darguuni insurgents would need to do is blow the pass behind it to trap it and render it vulnerable to conventional besieging or whatever else they may have up their sleeves. (Up to and including simply dropping rocks on it.) True, it's not easy to blow a pass when you've got no explosives, but there's easily sufficient magic out there to do it: Where that magic may come from is another question, but my own explanation would be that it would be provided by Cyre as part of a safe passage agreement to repatriate the Cyran garrisons of the fortification belt.


I remember reading somewhere that the goblins basically lured the fortress into a canyon and boarded the sucker from above.
I remember reading somewhere that the goblins basically lured the fortress into a canyon and boarded the sucker from above.




Yeah, I was remembering something similar.

The Brelish entered Marguul Pass, the most direct invasion route from Breland into the Darguul heartland, and the Darguuls were waiting. I can't recall whether the Darguuls disabled Veldarren's locomotion, or if poor Brelish tactics got Veldarren jammed up in rough terrain. (I know there's quite a difference between the two, and that that's the point of the OP). Once Veldarren was disabled, the Darguuls boarded and occupied it.

In the novel The Doom of Kings, the protagonists visit the (immobile) Darguul-occupied fortress it has now become.

What happened to my post count? It seems the more I post, the more it drops. Is that how it's supposed to work?

Yeah, I remember the floating fortress getting boarded. I guess, hypothetically, the Brelish support may have gotten separated from the fortress, surging ahead, perhaps, to try to catch "fleeing" goblins. When the fortress had nobody to "scratch its back", as it were, the gobbos just swarm up on it.

Alternately, while Eberron has no gunpowder or explosives, "siege staves" (staves, as in the plural of staff) do exist, and these apparently have vast destructive power.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
I remember reading somewhere that the goblins basically lured the fortress into a canyon and boarded the sucker from above.

So that is four people remember reading it (including me), though were I cannot remember. I remember it to be a mix of tacitcal blunders by Breland troops (most importantly underestimating the number and skill of the enemy, and not realizing that if you are in a high narrow pass it is surpprisingly easy to jump down on the fortress), and gobling brilliance (luring the enemy in a realy unfavorable situation, getting inside the fortress and disabling the floating/steering mechanism before Breland forces could recover).

In any event, considering the fortress is still in use I doubt that many siege staves were used ;) It is also really conveniently located, and a prime location for the defence of Darguun. Hence, it is unlikely that if there ever was a Cyran fortress chain here that much is left of it, but to be honest, I doubt there ever was anything big. The mountains have always been a big dangerous wilderness infested with goblins avoided by most civilized people, and the Cyre province that is now Darguun were sparsely settled. There were easier access routes into the country, and sending armies through mountains, even non-monster infested ones, have never been good idea.
Quick question... where is this fortress located? I don't see it on the map of Eberron, but I think that a downed mobile fortress now inhabited by goblinoid would be an awesome adventure location...
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It looks like I overlooked the possibility of them actually boarding the fortress, which obviously means they didn't destroy it. Silly me.

The reason why I was never terribly excited about the possibility of eternal wands and siege staves is that, as wands and staves, they would require skill at magic to utilize, which necessarily limits their use to a (relatively) small pool of specialists.

In contrast, war machines (even magical ones) such as the floating fortresses or airships are potentially far more strategically significant in comparison to the rarity of personnel capable of operating them. 10 artificers piloting 10 floating fortresses are far more significant a threat than 10 artificers operating 10 siege staves, and so in my mind this still places an enormous advantage in the construction and use of these magical war machines since there are not enough heavy weapons to balance against them.

I may not be entirely clear on my point, so if my syntax is a little weird-sounding just let me know.
Why do you automatically assume that the goblins did not have access to magical support? Seeing as Darguun was seized by Goblinoid mercenary units, it makes sense to me that at least some of them would have organic magical support.

That said, the Battle of Marguul Pass is detailed on page 33 of The Forge of War. In the order of battle given, it does establish that the Goblins had, "a small company of sorcerers and artificers called the Hammerfists." It does not mention, but I have to wonder about, the involvement of the Silent Tribes in the final assault on Veldarren.

Anyways. To address your question, Pluisjen, Matshuc Zaal, "the Stolen Fortress", is in Marguul Pass. It isn't noted on either the fold-out map in the ECG, or the Darguun map in the ECG or ECS. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
It's less that I assumed the Goblins in this specific instance didn't have magical support, and more that I was speaking in broad terms about warfare in general. I was essentially saying that I don't think there would be enough magic users to make a difference considering the dramatic imbalance between armoured fighting vehicles (of any kind) and an army that is equipped primarily with melee and light missile weapons (I am reminded of a piece of art depicting a Warforged Titan surrounded by goblins on wolfback vainly shooting bows at the monster as it effortlessly swiped them away). The conversation became a lot more specific than I had originally intended.

The original question was also extended to ask why the Brelish couldn't also develop the equivalent of an APC (an Armored Elemental Land Cart, perhaps?) and therefore have the means to overrun the battlefield, when the opposing side may only have a handful of magic users with which to combat them? I was expressing astonishment that the goblins could have had the firepower necessary to down an entire floating fortress.

I think this just highlights a strange sort of paradox within the Eberron setting itself whereby lots of essentially "high tech" items exist and are used extensively, but the consequences of these items on warfare aren't really taken to their logical end.
Well, for me, the point of Eberron in general is that heros, and cool outweigh realism. So part of the intent is that advancements that render the individual unimportant don't work that way, because it's all about the individual! woo hoo!

But in this case, I don't really see the utility of armored vehicles without guns. Basically, armored vehicles give you someplace safe to shoot from. In the Eberron context, it's about the same as a castle that's right were you need it to be.

Sure, you can get your army there faster, but once on the battlefield, without the guns, you still have to come out of the APC to fight.

When I am running, I try to remember that there is relitive parity. The moving castle with the arrow slits needs to contend with the swarms of locust that can be summoned into it through those slits. Or the wall that appeared in front of it. Or the fact that rolling innexorably at the undead doesn't have the same frighteneing effect that it does on living troops.

Everyone has advantages, it's what advantages you have at that particular battle that matter.
While everything else you said makes sense, I'm going to have to differ on the point about armoured vehicles. That's equivalent to saying that horses are only used to get troops to the battlefield quicker. Every heard of a cavalry charge? Shock can also be used with armoured vehicles. Put scythes all around them, for example (probably more effective than a scythed chariot every was). I think you might have this image of the slow, lumbering WWI tank that can be easily outmaneuvered (which may or may not be correct), but that certainly doesn't represent the full spectrum of possibilities with armoured vehicles.

Also, "getting there quicker" is an absolutely MASSIVE advantage in a military campaign. If you're vehicles can outrun horses (either by speed or endurance, the latter might be more likely) you can literally move through your enemy's country faster than they can even react to your movement. That's true in any era, not just our modern world with our high speed victories. The successes of the Roman Army? Marching speed. Napoleonic France? Marching speed. The Mongols? Contrary to popular belief, it was not their ability to outmaneuver enemy horsemen on the battlefield, but their ability to choose the time and place of the battle because of their superior operational mobility. It's not a little thing. It's a huge factor.
All points granted, Jaster. Though I would quibble and argue that the success of the Roman army was due to discipline and training, with marching speed being one of the manifestations thereof. I don't have enough knowledge of the Napoleonic Wars, but I seem to remember something about revolutionary (as in, new) French doctrine dependent on nationalistic loyalty providing tactical flexibility and capability unequaled by other powers...until they adapted. Anyways. Quibbling. Your arguments are essentially sound, and I commend you on them.

That said, I'm not sure if the floating fortresses are elemental powered. The first airships took flight only 10 years ago. Anybody know when elementals were first used on Lyrander ships? I'm pretty sure the Lightning Rail was established before the Last War, though.

Thinking about it, other pieces of fluff have established that elemental groundcars (generic term for ground vehicle) were tested, but did not enter advanced development. Also, consider that miniaturization generally seems to be more difficult than initial creation; generally, its far easier to start with something big, and then make it small, than it is to make it small to begin with. I believe that is another (poorly-worded) reason why AFVs have not appeared in Eberron.

....Yet.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
Actually, they are powered by elementals (apparently). I remember reading that they are powered by an Air, Fire, and Earth (don't ask me why) elemental. I believe that may even have been in Forge of War, but I'll have to check that out.

I'll grant you that miniaturization is probably difficult in this case, and that this is the reason why AFVs haven't appear... yet.

But I'd say it's definitely something for anyone interested in running a war campaign to think about.
Please do. Its been a while since I read The Forge of War. I could go through it again, but....then I'd get the burning desire to run an Eberron game, and I don't know if I can afford the time. Yet.

I will grant you that Eberron AFVs are a development to keep an eye out for, and may make a good plot hook. Personally, though, I would go with a hundred-meter-tall 'mech powered by steam and using a combination of a bound fire elemental and a bound water elemental (or even a straight-up steam elemental). 

Oh! It could be the Becoming God's body!

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
The mech comment goes back to a point I've made in a few other threads, that the development of construct soldiers (both of the sapient variety and the merely sentient type seen in the 'Titans) would very soon (if the militaries of the Five Nations were smart) begin to outpace the development of all other weapons. Why raise an army of thousands when you can simply build millions (potentially) of mindless constructs? Even the dumbest construct soldier is far more intelligent than a cruise missile, and building them by the thousand to send against your enemies in gigantic huma... err, I mean construct wave attacks would be a cheap method of waging war.

Then, of course, you have to worry about the lunatic wizard in his tower secrelty building a vast army with which to conquer the world...

Muahahahahahaha!!!!
I agree with you about the strategic advantage of "getting there quicker", and the advantage of being able to control the terms of the battle, and I completely agree that shock and speed on the battlefield is a possible factor. But the shock of Fireballs or lightning, or other monsters could be just as bad.
Maybe a Brelish AEPC is less scary to the gobilin that is part of the Grand Darguun Behemoth Cavelry.

I guess what I didn't understand was how an elemental APC was such a game changer that any given combatant would develop those rather than seige staves. Both items have a function and could be useful, and turn the tide of battle depending on the situation.

Another point that matters is that since there is no real "industrial revolution" in Eberron, no matter how common a magic item is, it was made by hand by somebody. So it's really a matter of where each nation wants to spend their resources, because they think it will make the most difference.

In terms of shock effect, I'm going to bring up the Brelish 9th Brigade: www.wizards.com/dnd/images/Dragonmarked_...

Zorak, your point about Eberron being a pre-industrial society does have merit, but Jaster and I (and others) have discussed that in other threads. Sure, things have to be hand-crafted....until you bring schema into the picture. Plus, with a little creative thinking and a lot of lateral/anachronistic thinking, you can get stuff that uses Eberron sources to power modern-day or real-life stuff. My example of the mech powered by steam heated by a fire elemental and circulated with a water elemental is one example. Really, it is up to the DM exactly how much punk is in Eberron; by default, its dungeon punk, but it can easily become magicpunk or even straight-up steampunk if you really want.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
I seem to recall an overeager commander chasing down a goblin force they believed they'd routed and following them into the Pass. In an already tight fit, bugbears and other such pushing boulders down the walls as the fortress passed, narrowing the sides and jamming opening between the fortress and the walls in the pass. Goblin troops waiting in ambush then unleashed artillery fire from above on the cliff walls, while boarding parties descended from ropes. With it's locomotion halted, and it's primary defenses designed for a ground assualt, it fell to the aerial attack and insertion.

I believe Queen of Stone went over this, tho I may have "remembered" extra tactics, as that would be how i'd assualt one ;)
The mech comment goes back to a point I've made in a few other threads, that the development of construct soldiers (both of the sapient variety and the merely sentient type seen in the 'Titans) would very soon (if the militaries of the Five Nations were smart) begin to outpace the development of all other weapons. Why raise an army of thousands when you can simply build millions (potentially) of mindless constructs?


 The problems with this concept though are many. Firstly, the reason why Karnath brought up the dead, Eldeen employed nature, and Breland created the Warforged was for a lack of soldiers but a relative abundance of other resources. However, within regards the the Warforged there are certain limits. Crafting costs, forging time, laws, all have a part to play. Further, the other problem arises from certain individual warforged gaining free will. I wouldn't trust a soldier with an alien mindset, and neither did they, initially.


Even the dumbest construct soldier is far more intelligent than a cruise missile, and building them by the thousand to send against your enemies in gigantic huma... err, I mean construct wave attacks would be a cheap method of waging war.


Cruise missles are programmed by individuals not left to their own devices, so the analogy is moot. As for the cost, a warforged runs about 5,000gp in costs to make, let alone purchase. That number is hard to figure out exactly but there was a blurb in a book citing a Cannith Artificier with a well built forge could build a dozen warforged for the cost of a shield guardian. The guardian costing 65,000gp for spells and materials. Not to mention the 4,600xp cost. I would hesitate to call this cheap.


As for armored elemental vehicle, there were two vehicles in 3.5 that I recall being relatively small but interesting in this regard. One was a spiked gyroscopic orb of spiked stone called the "Rumbler." The other was a run of the mill wagon that was bonded to an earth elemental, and since there are elementals bound to armor, I think size isn't much of an issue. Although there might a correllation to size of the elemental and power produced.
I seem to recall an overeager commander chasing down a goblin force they believed they'd routed and following them into the Pass. In an already tight fit, bugbears and other such pushing boulders down the walls as the fortress passed, narrowing the sides and jamming opening between the fortress and the walls in the pass. Goblin troops waiting in ambush then unleashed artillery fire from above on the cliff walls, while boarding parties descended from ropes. With it's locomotion halted, and it's primary defenses designed for a ground assualt, it fell to the aerial attack and insertion.



That is pretty much exactly what I remember reading.

I believe Queen of Stone went over this, tho I may have "remembered" extra tactics, as that would be how i'd assualt one ;)



And this would be the mysterious source we all remember reading, but to which we couldn't quite put a name. I likely never would've remember it was in The Queen of Stone. I've almost reread that book a few times within the last week, but decided not to do so. I'm sure I'll go through it again sooner or later.

What happened to my post count? It seems the more I post, the more it drops. Is that how it's supposed to work?

The mech comment goes back to a point I've made in a few other threads, that the development of construct soldiers (both of the sapient variety and the merely sentient type seen in the 'Titans) would very soon (if the militaries of the Five Nations were smart) begin to outpace the development of all other weapons. Why raise an army of thousands when you can simply build millions (potentially) of mindless constructs? Even the dumbest construct soldier is far more intelligent than a cruise missile, and building them by the thousand to send against your enemies in gigantic huma... err, I mean construct wave attacks would be a cheap method of waging war.

Then, of course, you have to worry about the lunatic wizard in his tower secrelty building a vast army with which to conquer the world...

Muahahahahahaha!!!!



The average D&D construct is nowhere near as "smart" as a guided weapon: Accurately hitting a target hundreds of miles away is no mean feat, especially when it requires active compensation for things like wind speed, atmospheric pressure, and myriad other factors. D&D constructs excel at doing exactly what they're told. It was the faultiness of run-of-the-mill constructs that precluded their widespread adoption by Jarot I: He lived long enough to see House Cannith's prototypes and, in turn, to see how easily they were circumvented due to the cumbersome nature handling them under fire. (Forge of War goes out of its way to make the point that the first Cannith military constructs could be dodged by literally stepping out of the way of their charges, in addition to the standard adventurers' plan of luring them into a pit trap.) Furthermore, armies of mindless constructs still require large numbers of human(oid) handlers, because the constructs' instructions invariably need updated once the battle is joined. (Incidentally, that's why I'd argue warforged sapience is a feature and not a bug.)

Though I think you're quite right about construct-building crowding out other weapons programs. The interesting thing is that warforged are an accretive advantage: You pay to raise a battalion of warforged, and the formation will remain in existence forever. This lends itself well to long-term force build-ups, so that the large capital costs can be defrayed over time. If you're looking for a more realpolitick-y reason why creation of warforged was prohibited by the Treaty of Thronehold, the fact that a never-ending peacetime arms race would invariably have ensued is a fairly good one.



Warforged do cost a little bit to up keep, especially if they get involved in combat. It is probably less than a human soldier, although it might be easier to get old bread and water than the rare woods and metals needed to repair a warforged. Furthermore, as was discussed earlier on these boards, the warforged are alien sapient creatures. At first they looked like the perfect weapons, but it is already clear they are not. In some areas they have become a real threat (the Lord of Blades, maybe the God of Many), and they have just the same range of emotions as humans. Nobody also knows whether they are truly eternal/immortal. I don't think any of the warforged reached the age that humans consider old, let alone dwarves and elves ;)

One other thing to keep in mind is economics and culture. In a typical D&D game there is no need to pay more than lip service to economics on the scale of nations. Who cares whether Breland has the money to buy a floating fortress if it makes a good adventure? In RL for example the juggernaut battlecruisers of early 20th century were so expensive that the governments really did not want to use them in an actual battle. I read somewhere there has been only one example of a battle with these ships, which only proved that the cost:use ratio was not in favor of their use. So I presume the same is very likely true for these fortresses, and it is also the argument for the smaller elemental vessels not being very successful. Besides the fact that they have to compete with magebred animals, they also have to compete with those very same wizards and artificers who can be just as destructive and a lot more mobile and likely cheaper. What is more, many of the elemental vessels actually require an artificer or dragonmarked member to operate at even remotely good efficiency.

Finally there is culture. Just because technology can do something does not mean society will accept or endorse it. There are dozens of examples in RL were it took decades if ever for new inventions to be put to use, and that is without taking into consideration that the Dragonmarked Houses have a monopoly and hence vested interest in many activities that would be impacted by the new inventions. They would likely control the release of many new inventions.

Of course, the real reason not to bother too much with mecha-warriors, tanks and so on is that it does not make for a typical Fantasy setting and hence is not what most people want when playing D&D. The above arguments are in the end just there as a lip-service for the suspension of disbelief and if you want a more modern warfare like environment, than who is to stop you? But that is just stating the obvious ;)

I think the real reason why I push so hard for more "high tech"-like weaponry in fantasy settings is that my experience with warfare as presented in fantasy settings has been highly disappointing in the depictions offered. I have barely come across Roman-level efficiency and intelligence in stories told about fantasy battles, let alone having a society like one that has access to D&D-type magic actually exploit their capabilities in an intelligent fashion (even when faced with an apocalyptic horde of monsters bent on slaughter!). It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and any game that I run definitely has these capabilities exploited mercilessly (against the players also, if need be).

That's not why I post about it here, though. I just think it's awesome to talk about.
Warforged do cost a little bit to up keep, especially if they get involved in combat. It is probably less than a human soldier, although it might be easier to get old bread and water than the rare woods and metals needed to repair a warforged.



Although warforged upkeep was necessarily expensive in 3E, it's much cheaper than a human in 4E. In 3E, warforged could not heal naturally, which meant that they were always dependent on artificers or magewrights. At the very least someone capable of using an (Eternal or not) Wand of Cure/Repair Light Wounds/Damage had to be in the unit. Without magical healing, a wounded warforged was simply broken, and one knocked below 0 HP could stay that way for centuries.

In 4E, it's a different story. First, a warforged never fails a death saving throw because it can always take 10 in the alternative, and after enough rolls, a warforged will get a 20 and be able to spend a surge, if it's got one. With warforged resolve, a soldier can always heal himself up to at least a point over being bloodied. In the worst-case scenario, a warforged left unconscious on the field with no surges left will benefit from an extended rest in no more than 24 hours.

In other words, warforged have gone from a "broken protocol droid" model to a "Terminator" model of durability and upkeep. 

Of course, the real reason not to bother too much with mecha-warriors, tanks and so on is that it does not make for a typical Fantasy setting and hence is not what most people want when playing D&D. The above arguments are in the end just there as a lip-service for the suspension of disbelief and if you want a more modern warfare like environment, than who is to stop you? But that is just stating the obvious ;)


I think that's basically right, but something like a mechsuit isn't too crazy for Eberron. In fact, they could be a pretty logical conclusion.

Every nation expects another war to come along, so nations would love to have more warforged soldiers, but the Treaty stops Cannith from making any more of them. But what's to stop them from making something that can do the job? Magical armor that enhances the wearer's abilities already exists. The major benefits of warforged are that they intelligent, durable, and relatively cheap (in 3E, they were only about 5 times the price of basic magical armor). 

A soldier in magic armor is intelligent and durable. All that's missing is the low price. I don't see anything stopping Cannith from finding a way to lower the cost of a suit of armor. A lot of Eberron materials note that it took time to Cannith to bring intelligence to constructs. At first they were all INT - golems, but then they eventually got to animal-like intelligence before getting to warforged. It's easy to imagine that Cannith could make an animalistic construct more easily than one with full human intelligence.

In fact, the homunculus monsters are a great fit for this. In 3E, these things were cheap, usually just a couple hundred GP. That's because killing them harmed the creator. Why not have the same principle work in 4E? You could have homunculus armor, a dim but loyal creature bound to protect and mentally obey they creature it caries within it. If it's destroyed, the wearer suffers somewhat as well.

It could be represented as a monster pretty easily: write up a soldier or skirmisher creature, that, upon death, ejects a humanoid soldier.
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I like the idea of siege weapons. My homebrew campaign had siege weapons and guns in its previous war, but they were destroyed or left to rot after a treaty was signed ending the war. Such weapons had and still have serious tactical advantages. Sure, these weapons may not be much use in a dense area, such as a forest (unless you're gonna use them to destroy said area), but they're extremely useful in an open fight involving thousand of infantry and the like, which was the basis of many battles during the Last War.

Of course, it all boils down to mobility. Khorvaire had two moving fortresses, and the goblin took over one of them with little trouble (The Battle or Marguul Pass), while the other (Argonth) surveys the Brelish coast, but let's think about this: The only fortress they used in combat did no good. It's certainly cool, but it has to be used correctly, and the Brelish did not used their wepaon correctly.

That said, mechanical monsters, be they actual monsters or humanoids controlling them, can definitely work. In fact, I'm trying to integrate them in my own setting. To be honest, though, nothing beats fighting a humanoid enemy.
Khorvaire had two moving fortresses, and the goblin took over one of them with little trouble (The Battle or Marguul Pass), while the other (Argonth) surveys the Brelish coast, but let's think about this: The only fortress they used in combat did no good. It's certainly cool, but it has to be used correctly, and the Brelish did not used their wepaon correctly.


The Five Nations certainly, from time to time, fell prey to their own military-industrial-complexes. In the middle of a war, a gigantic flying castle seems awesome, and you can just hear the king's court saying things like, "Sire, not only will be able to move men without horses, but its construction will create hundreds of jobs! Not only that, but House Cannith has offered us a 10% discount on the next 1,000 warforged we order if they get the contract." With Kundarak issuing so many loans, it was easy for nations to make unnecessary or inefficient military expenditures. It would probably have been better to buy more mundane materials.

Of course, it's also possible that some nations, like Breland, had more money than they could spend on what they wanted. What does Breland do with 10 million GP when the creation forges are already working at full capacity? Why, buy gigantic hovering castles, of course!

 
Sarlax Chicago, IL --- Find local gamers via Google Maps @ http://nearbygamers.com/
I am going to throw out a couple of big picture issues that lead to the way in which Ebberon warfare is the MOST like modern warfare:

1. Because of the weird economics of magic, price is based on effect, rather than on material needed to produce something, so a large flying carpet 60K Drow airskiff 80K and an elemental airship 100k are in the same ballpark. So there is no real incentive to follow one school of magic over another.

2. Items of signifigant power tend to need to be wielded by individuals of signifigant power. It raises the cost of magic if it can be used by everyone.

3. Almost any magical advantage, can be countered by a different magical advantage.

4. All of the major players have a similar resource pool, and can impliment some sort of "game changing" magical support.

These four things lead me to the way in which Eberron warfare is the most like modern warfare:

INFORMATION is what wins battles more than any other factor.
 
The Brelish floating fortress is a powerful asset, as are gryphon cavelry, or siege staves or wizards. The general that knows what and where the enemies assets are can plan to counter them, while the general that doesn't know what he is facing has to prepare for just about anything. This delutes what the uninformed general can bring to bear.

Once you have the beter intelegence, it's just a matter of the logistics of bringing the apropriate forces to bear on the enemy... how hard could that be?
Although warforged upkeep was necessarily expensive in 3E, it's much cheaper than a human in 4E. In 3E, warforged could not heal naturally, which meant that they were always dependent on artificers or magewrights. At the very least someone capable of using an (Eternal or not) Wand of Cure/Repair Light Wounds/Damage had to be in the unit. Without magical healing, a wounded warforged was simply broken, and one knocked below 0 HP could stay that way for centuries.

In 4E, it's a different story. First, a warforged never fails a death saving throw because it can always take 10 in the alternative, and after enough rolls, a warforged will get a 20 and be able to spend a surge, if it's got one. With warforged resolve, a soldier can always heal himself up to at least a point over being bloodied. In the worst-case scenario, a warforged left unconscious on the field with no surges left will benefit from an extended rest in no more than 24 hours.

I would be careful about applying 4E healing rules for PCs to how NPCs function. In 4E one of the core philosophies is that the rules of the PCs do NOT necessarily apply to the NPCs. For example, NPCs have only 1 healing surge (at heroic tier anyway), and they cannot spend second wind. In 4E the designers also purposely stepped away from bothering with the minutea of upkeep for the PCs. It is simply assumed the PCs earn enough gold for basic upkeep. In short, upkeep for warforged armies is left entirely up to the DM and the PC rules should not automatically be applied to them.

As for war being relatively primitive in the typical fantasy story/setting, that is most likely the result of those stories mostly focussing on adventurers: small groups of elite *much* more skilled and poweful than 95% of the population. Those kind of groups rarely work well in actual battles, and to increase their influence on the actual battlefield you also need to change a few things to make it "believable"* to the average reader/player that they do have a direct impact on the battle.

* Not necessarily realistic, but realistic enough for people to suspend their disbelief, and as far as warfare goes, how many people know more than the basics about warfare and its history in RL?
I would be careful about applying 4E healing rules for PCs to how NPCs function. In 4E one of the core philosophies is that the rules of the PCs do NOT necessarily apply to the NPCs. For example, NPCs have only 1 healing surge (at heroic tier anyway), and they cannot spend second wind. In 4E the designers also purposely stepped away from bothering with the minutea of upkeep for the PCs. It is simply assumed the PCs earn enough gold for basic upkeep. In short, upkeep for warforged armies is left entirely up to the DM and the PC rules should not automatically be applied to them.

As for war being relatively primitive in the typical fantasy story/setting, that is most likely the result of those stories mostly focussing on adventurers: small groups of elite *much* more skilled and poweful than 95% of the population. Those kind of groups rarely work well in actual battles, and to increase their influence on the actual battlefield you also need to change a few things to make it "believable"* to the average reader/player that they do have a direct impact on the battle.



And that's why I usually reserve these discussions for Eberron, since Eberron is a magic-rich setting and there is a prevalence of low level magic that makes certain wonderous feats (analogous to modern technology) possible and even pervasive to some extent. In other words, the only reason why your average person may never even see an airship is more because airships are expensive, and Khorvaire hasn't reached a certain level of economic development, rather than that they are truly miraculous.

I could see a time in the "future" of Khorvaire where economic growth and interdependence between the Five Nations (barring a resumption of the Last War, which is probably a given) creates a circumstance where everyone has access to Sivis communication technology, everyone gets most of their goods via Orien and Lyrander shipping, and where air and rail travel are quite common and even everyday things.


* Not necessarily realistic, but realistic enough for people to suspend their disbelief, and as far as warfare goes, how many people know more than the basics about warfare and its history in RL?


I believe the word you're searching for here is verisimilitude, not realism.

And that's why I usually reserve these discussions for Eberron, since Eberron is a magic-rich setting and there is a prevalence of low level magic that makes certain wonderous feats (analogous to modern technology) possible and even pervasive to some extent. In other words, the only reason why your average person may never even see an airship is more because airships are expensive, and Khorvaire hasn't reached a certain level of economic development, rather than that they are truly miraculous.

I agree, but only up to a point. Personally I always cringe when the DM starts treating the magic of Eberron as just an other type of modern RL technology. I don't mind the magic elevators of Sharn, the flying ships or the lightning rail, but the idea of washing machines, telephones and guns does not sit well with me. If I wanted those I would be playing Shadow Run ;)

Jaster, concerning your irritations with most depictions of medieval warfare falling far short, well, I have to cite TVTropes on this. Granted, there doesn't seem to be an actual article on this, but I believe it would be a combination of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale and Did Not Do The Research

A warning, though: TVTropes might even be more addictive than Wikipedia: xkcd.com/609/

But, essentially, my argument is that generally, authors don't think about how magic would change the world. This is why I have such a low opinion of the Realms; it may be undeserved, but to my knowledge, FR is a medieval society with magic slathered on top and little care for the socioeconomic ramifications of magic. Eberron, however, does take the step of factoring in the socioeconomic ramifications of magic. Jaster, I think your problem (and mine, too) is that we see how much further, and how much cooler, Eberron could be, but the authors do not see what we see.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

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57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
I agree, but only up to a point. Personally I always cringe when the DM starts treating the magic of Eberron as just an other type of modern RL technology. I don't mind the magic elevators of Sharn, the flying ships or the lightning rail, but the idea of washing machines, telephones and guns does not sit well with me. If I wanted those I would be playing Shadow Run ;)



That's why I said analogous, not identical. That means it performs the same function in society, not that they have magical cars and magical stoves. Magic has replaced technology in Eberron. I would argue that this actually turns it into an alternative form of technology.

While some devices would appear similar to their real world equivalents (coughlightningrailcough), this is more a result of being unable to imagine another form to the device. For example, an Elemental Land Cart probably looks like an automobile, but this wouldn't be because of a conscious immitation of automobiles on the part of the author (necessarily), only because it's difficult to imagine a land-based method of locomotion that is not a draft animal, that you sit in or on, and which moves under it's own power along roads that doesn't look like that. The same goes for lots of other magical devices that might exist in Eberron.

Jaster, concerning your irritations with most depictions of medieval warfare falling far short, well, I have to cite TVTropes on this. Granted, there doesn't seem to be an actual article on this, but I believe it would be a combination of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale and Did Not Do The Research

A warning, though: TVTropes might even be more addictive than Wikipedia: xkcd.com/609/



For the love of all that is holy, why in the world would you link me to TvTropes? I might get lost in the Abyss, for surely the demonic hordes reside there.

But, essentially, my argument is that generally, authors don't think about how magic would change the world. This is why I have such a low opinion of the Realms; it may be undeserved, but to my knowledge, FR is a medieval society with magic slathered on top and little care for the socioeconomic ramifications of magic. Eberron, however, does take the step of factoring in the socioeconomic ramifications of magic. Jaster, I think your problem (and mine, too) is that we see how much further, and how much cooler, Eberron could be, but the authors do not see what we see.



This, exactly. I have the same problem with the Realms, and ironically the same disappointment with Eberron (all the more because it comes so close). I never really played D&D in order to escape into mythic fantasy (I honestly think, even though it's horror, the World of Darkness does it better. That's just me, though), but rather to explore utopian (or dystopian) themes. In fact, I rather treat D&D more like most people treat science fiction*.

*Without all of the baggage that comes with science fiction authors who essentially write fantasy but feel the need to claim that the technology and societies they write about are "realistic" (when they are clearly a 1 or 2 on the Scale of Sci-Fi Hardness).
I agree, but only up to a point. Personally I always cringe when the DM starts treating the magic of Eberron as just an other type of modern RL technology. I don't mind the magic elevators of Sharn, the flying ships or the lightning rail, but the idea of washing machines, telephones and guns does not sit well with me. If I wanted those I would be playing Shadow Run ;)



That's why I said analogous, not identical. That means it performs the same function in society, not that they have magical cars and magical stoves. Magic has replaced technology in Eberron. I would argue that this actually turns it into an alternative form of technology.

The difference between analogous and identical are really just semetics when dealing with the effects such things have on society. After all, it is the function that influences society ;)

I know that magic has replaced technology in Eberron (up to a point anyway), and it certainly much more integrated into the setting then in settings like the Forgotten Realms (although you do it a bit of a disservice to call it 'medieval' or to say that magic has no influence on society, it is just that magic is much rarer and much less predictable than technology in RL or magic in Eberron). I just want to keep its impact the same as during the early industrialization in Europe. I also want to keep magic a bit less predictable and mundane then technology is in real life. Like I said, otherwise I would be playing Shadow Run or the Dark World from Storytell system.
In 4E the designers also purposely stepped away from bothering with the minutea of upkeep for the PCs. It is simply assumed the PCs earn enough gold for basic upkeep. In short, upkeep for warforged armies is left entirely up to the DM and the PC rules should not automatically be applied to them.


Nor should they be automatically dismissed. Take a look at the warforged monster entries. Those written before the EPG usually have only the (similar) ability to gain temps as an encounter power, while those written afterwards usually have the same ability as the PC race. In other words, this trait appears to be standard for the race. I understand the philosophy that NPCs don't operate like PCs in every way, but I think it's reasonable to consider how a trait persistent across a race might affect how that race behaves.
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Another tidbit about construct soldiers that I thought up just now, and figured I'd post about in here instead of creating a new thread...

I just had the thought that, even if they are not proficient at warfighting (for the reason that the dumbest ones possess little or no capability for independent action), armies could have a long train of constructs for manual labor purposes. Because they are tireless, the construction of field fortifications would be able to be accomplished on a scale and at speeds unheard of for a pre-modern army.

Anyone who is familiar with Roman warfare, and their field fortifications, can probably see the potential ramifications of this when taken to logical extremes. Just a thought. Discuss.
Constructs would also be useful for some logistical situations. Unloading lightning rail cars, for example. Probably a wee bit overkill to use constructs to tow carts or whatever, but it could be done.

Also, don't forget that field fortifications aren't just defensive. It would be handy to work on siegeworks around the clock with tireless troops. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
How effective constructs would be at physical labor depends a bit on how much independend thought they have. For example, in the nover Lady Ruin a general mentions having tried something similar with zombies, and learned that they are horrible at it because they require constant supervision and even than have a tendency to fail create usufull stuff. I would think the same applies to constructs.

One thing to keep in mind is that the usefulness of warforged as a labor force depends entirely upon how cheap human labor is. There are more than enough examples in RL where human life is so cheap that it hardly matters they would die by the dozen even if their were reasonably readibly available alternatives. Mind you, considering the Last War, I suspect the humanoid labor force is relatively low right now, so I am sure that it is relatively expensive. On the other hand, it were among other reasons the concerns about the labour force that made creating warforged illegal.
I get the feeling that all of the mentions in novels or sourcebooks about instances where people tried to use constructs in new ways, but failed, are generally author fiat in order to avoid the logical extremes I'm talking about (specifically). It's not an inherent flaw in the notion of using constructs in these ways, it's an answer (even if anticipatory) to those notions in order to justify why these particular phenomena don't exist.

Another problem I have with the objections to these ideas comes from the idea that there are only two types of constructs, which are A) Completely dumb, requiring instructions just to move and B) Human-equivalent sapience (Warforged). If these things were developed (as the source material repeatedly states) over a span of years or even decades, there would have to be a continuum of increasing intelligence in the constructs until modern Warforged were reached. So, objections about how intelligent constructs are, while valid in the immediate aftermath of their initial development, don't hold once you have a history of several generations of the technology to work with.

Cost is also a valid argument, but it is highly dependent on exactly how big is the economy of Khorvaire. It's kind of frustrating that the same folks who will say "but it's too expensive!" will immediately thereafter refuse to throw around any ideas about just how big is the Khorvairian economy.
I have to get driving to Rhode Island, so I'll keep this short.

I don't know if construct intelligence would necessarily increase at a constant rate.  To my knowledge, several advances in computer technology have resulted in massive jumps in efficiency or computing power. Don't ask me what, though, because I don't know. That's just my impression.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
I have to get driving to Rhode Island, so I'll keep this short.

I don't know if construct intelligence would necessarily increase at a constant rate.  To my knowledge, several advances in computer technology have resulted in massive jumps in efficiency or computing power. Don't ask me what, though, because I don't know. That's just my impression.



While that's true, there is still a progression (instead of a steady slope, it's a series of ridges). If everyone remembers, Warforged Titans weren't completely dumb constructs that required instructions for their every movement. So, clearly, the development cycle didn't jump from puppets to Warforged.
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