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View Full Version : How long would an army wait after a major campaign to launch its next major campaign?



Calthropstu
2019-02-27, 01:51 PM
In my campaign, I have a MASSIVE army of elementals that just managed to smash a city of roughly 3.4 million people. It is now three weeks past this event, and I am wondering how long I should give until the next massive city is attacked. The party has spent 2 weeks clearing out monsters from areas outside the cities to make a place for the refugees of the destroyed city to go, and then 1 week of downtime to level up.

My next major event will be the defense of the next city, which will be attacked by fire and earth elementals led by elementals with class levels and assisted by other various outsiders. Just wondering how long it should be before this attack. I know ancient campaigns were much slower than modern ones, sometimes with months between battles. But throwing magic into the mix changes things.

JoeJ
2019-02-27, 01:57 PM
In my campaign, I have a MASSIVE army of elementals that just managed to smash a city of roughly 3.4 million people. It is now three weeks past this event, and I am wondering how long I should give until the next massive city is attacked. The party has spent 2 weeks clearing out monsters from areas outside the cities to make a place for the refugees of the destroyed city to go, and then 1 week of downtime to level up.

My next major event will be the defense of the next city, which will be attacked by fire and earth elementals led by elementals with class levels and assisted by other various outsiders. Just wondering how long it should be before this attack. I know ancient campaigns were much slower than modern ones, sometimes with months between battles. But throwing magic into the mix changes things.

Armies pause between attacks so that they can replace losses, repair damaged equipment, resupply themselves, and move all the troops & equipment they expect to need to the right place. They also are sometimes forced to pause because the weather won't allow them to move the way they need to.

For the army of elementals, what do they need for the next attack that they don't currently have? How long will it take them to obtain those things?

Yora
2019-02-27, 02:16 PM
The main question is what the army want to accomplish in the long term.

Calthropstu
2019-02-27, 02:26 PM
Armies pause between attacks so that they can replace losses, repair damaged equipment, resupply themselves, and move all the troops & equipment they expect to need to the right place. They also are sometimes forced to pause because the weather won't allow them to move the way they need to.

For the army of elementals, what do they need for the next attack that they don't currently have? How long will it take them to obtain those things?

This army is different from the first army. The first army was air and water elementals and relied on stealth and infiltration plus 3 weeks of dancers tricked into performing arcane rituals to foil the main defenses of the city. This army is fire and earth. The city is landlocked with no major water source nearby, so earth and fire make much more sense. I have am explaining the delay with 3 things. 1: they have to build portals to allow their army through, 2: they were recruiting devilish and aeon allies and 3: they are using earth elementals to try and erode the ground beneath the city before the attack. (This particular tactic I am going to have forseen by the city's scryers and have other adventurers defeat it. The party is going to investigate fires in the area and discover a portal that fire elementals are coming out of.)

LordEntrails
2019-02-27, 02:48 PM
The speed of plot!

Real armies move depending upon need and logistics.

A few weeks in a city, what would an army of elemental want to do? After they destroy things, eat valuable elements/mineral (if earth elemental) etc what else do they want to do?

Part of the question is, are these "civilized" elementals or more like a barbarian horde?

But really, what fits the plot best? Because you can justify them hanging out for a year, or moving on after a few days.

Calthropstu
2019-02-27, 03:02 PM
The speed of plot!

Real armies move depending upon need and logistics.

A few weeks in a city, what would an army of elemental want to do? After they destroy things, eat valuable elements/mineral (if earth elemental) etc what else do they want to do?

Part of the question is, are these "civilized" elementals or more like a barbarian horde?

But really, what fits the plot best? Because you can justify them hanging out for a year, or moving on after a few days.

Their goal is the destruction of millions of magic items in the city made by forcibly binding elementals.
But ok, speed of plot makes sense. I wanted the campaign to be as realistic as possible.

Pauly
2019-02-27, 03:43 PM
Their goal is the destruction of millions of magic items in the city made by forcibly binding elementals.
But ok, speed of plot makes sense. I wanted the campaign to be as realistic as possible.

What’s the realistic rest and repair requirement for an elemental?

In your case the speed will largely depend on how long it will take to get all the new elementals summoned and moved into position. Neither of which can be answered ‘realistically’.

JoeJ
2019-02-27, 03:55 PM
This army is different from the first army. The first army was air and water elementals and relied on stealth and infiltration plus 3 weeks of dancers tricked into performing arcane rituals to foil the main defenses of the city. This army is fire and earth. The city is landlocked with no major water source nearby, so earth and fire make much more sense. I have am explaining the delay with 3 things. 1: they have to build portals to allow their army through, 2: they were recruiting devilish and aeon allies and 3: they are using earth elementals to try and erode the ground beneath the city before the attack. (This particular tactic I am going to have forseen by the city's scryers and have other adventurers defeat it. The party is going to investigate fires in the area and discover a portal that fire elementals are coming out of.)

1. Are you using rules that specify how long it takes to create these portals? If not, then it's just whatever works best for your game.

2. Realistically, diplomacy can be done in hours, or it can take years. So again, no answer is better than any other in a "realistic" sense.

3. For this one, depending on what game you're playing, you might be able to guestimate the time required from the rules.

Son of A Lich!
2019-02-27, 04:01 PM
Piggy backing on "The Speed of Plot" bit, it's a little bit more complicated then that.

You are basically using the "Goddamn Orcs!" trope here (If they attack whenever you need a city to be destroyed). If you are using this army as a means to generate suspense and tension, the elementals need to be on route immediately and give your party a reasonable amount of time to intercept and the capacity to do something about it, even if it's not easy.

Whether chaotic hordes or slowly marching regiments, the players need some clear cause and effect to interact with or you'll lose out on the investment of trying to defeat them. Even if the only thing the players can do is ransack the next city of all it's magical items with elementals bound inside and use it as a method to lure the elementals from the city proper. Nothing feels worse then "The Army will fall on city limits in 3 days, but it's going to take you a month to get there".

Your players need some influence on the results of the Army's march, or the army will just feel like guilt trip that is undeserved. "All these people died, but we couldn't do anything about it!" that kind of thing.

Calthropstu
2019-02-27, 08:04 PM
Piggy backing on "The Speed of Plot" bit, it's a little bit more complicated then that.

You are basically using the "Goddamn Orcs!" trope here (If they attack whenever you need a city to be destroyed). If you are using this army as a means to generate suspense and tension, the elementals need to be on route immediately and give your party a reasonable amount of time to intercept and the capacity to do something about it, even if it's not easy.

Whether chaotic hordes or slowly marching regiments, the players need some clear cause and effect to interact with or you'll lose out on the investment of trying to defeat them. Even if the only thing the players can do is ransack the next city of all it's magical items with elementals bound inside and use it as a method to lure the elementals from the city proper. Nothing feels worse then "The Army will fall on city limits in 3 days, but it's going to take you a month to get there".

Your players need some influence on the results of the Army's march, or the army will just feel like guilt trip that is undeserved. "All these people died, but we couldn't do anything about it!" that kind of thing.

Actually, my plan for this particular setup is twofold. Basically, the PCs will discover a portal (one of several) fueling the army preparing the attack. This will confirm the next elemental target giving the city time to prepare. This will trigger a series of events I intend for the PCs to go through to reveal the fact that the elementals are, indeed, being bound into the items. (At this time no one knows why the elementals are attacking. The people in charge are pinning the blame on a neighboring kingdom.) I am sure the players suspect since I repeatedly have shown them elementals destroying magic items, but eh.

After the defense of the city the PCs have the option of continuing to ally with the nation, switch sides to help the elementals or do something completely unexpected. Either way, I have plenty of material for them. I just was wondering how quickly I should make *speed of plot*.

Martin Greywolf
2019-02-28, 03:46 AM
I know ancient campaigns were much slower than modern ones, sometimes with months between battles. But throwing magic into the mix changes things.

You actually have it backwards, modern cmapaigns are slower. While you are right that modern campaigns have shorter period between battles, the longest medieval battle I can recall is battle of Marchfeld that took somewhere around 15 hours of continouous fighting - this is incredibly unusual and only happened because Hungarians had horse archers they used to harass their enemies. Battle of Verdun took 10 months - again an outlier, but standard major WW1-WW2 battles were about a month long.

Then and again, a city of 3.4 million isn't really possible with medieval setting, largest estimates that I'm somewhat sceptical of put the biggest cities at about a million (Constantinople, Baghdad, Tenochtitlan - these aren't examples, this is a complete list). This is related to campaign time rather closely, modern battles take that long because there are a lot of soldiers, so you can make a front across the country side several hundred kilometers long, and a single offensive can have dozens of kilometers in length (Gorlize-Tarnow is just over 50 km long).

So, if you want a siege scenario, your army can take a city and then promptly decide to take another, leaving only a relatively small garrison, if you want a push across the countryside, then that can take months if there is active resistance.

With two armies, well, unless you want them make a tactical blunder (why didn't they attack in two places), then they could act as each other's reserves, so time between battles is limited by marching time it takes one army to overtake the next and take frontline positions.

Kardwill
2019-02-28, 07:31 AM
Stuff that will delay an offensive

- Troop movement : You need to get the troops to the spot where they can be useful. Replenishing or reorganising and retraining units that took losses, rotating reserves so that the frontline units can rest, getting all your units/regiments/hordes to their assigned position, which can take time if the land is rough and/or unfriendly

- Logistics : You need to build a logistic chain that will supply the troops with whatever they need before, during and after the ops. Food, fuel, ammos, energy packs, magical components, summoners, fresh corpses, entertainment... And the supply trains, beasts of burden and/or slaves that will provide them. And the logistic camps (that would be a nice target if the supplies were just dropped unguarded on the ground). And the vehicles/"big-chunk-of-floating-rock troop carrier" that will be used for the attack need to be supplied too...

- Waiting for the right time of year : your vassals need to go home for a few weeks to harvest the crops, nobody attacks notrussia during winter, the mountain passes are closed, storms prevent your sea invasion, an important religious/magical festival is coming, you need another big star alignment to make another summon...

- Intelligence : maybe you need information about your target and their troop movements, sneak a few saboteurs into the besieged city, suppress the survivors of the previous battle that are operating behind your lines...

- Politics : The Guy-In-Charge back home doesn't want the frontline commander to become too successful and popular, the senate is divided about the way to handle the rest of the war, half the warlords want to go home with their spoils and the other half think they should be in charge, one of the nearby cities wants to negociate a surrender, the overpriest is suing for peace, the prince-heir has been wounded during the latest scuffle, the troops themselves are restless after a long campaign...

And I probably forgot quite a few why a big army would sit on their collective asses.
So you can chose the time that will be dramatically convenient for your game (i.e. "speed of plot"), and then mix and match stuff from that list that will "realistically" explain said delay.
Bonus point if the PCs can interfere with some of those reasons (like disrupting the big ritual day) to trash or delay the army's preparation. :)

denthor
2019-02-28, 10:51 AM
Depending on the commander.

In real life Napoleon went from Egypt to Russia. Later said he wished he had taken more time to dominate and indoctrinated the people he beat. He ran out of men to fight. Ganggus con? Did the same. Loot plunder keep moving.

Alexander the great took time to get to know the area left government in charge then moved on.

Did the commander find the item he was looking for? Is there a reason to move forward? What is the commanders motivation?

Mark Hall
2019-02-28, 11:50 AM
I say speed of plot, as well, especially as this is a separate force.

If army A was Water and Air elementals, and army B was Fire and Earth elementals, they could be operating almost entirely independently; your main resource is going to be commander's attention, since they don't really need provisions or any other logistics.

If you want the story to be about defense of the city, then the story is about defense of the city. Otherwise, they wind up arriving to a smoking pile of crushed rubble.

(If you can swing it, you might like to look into Palladium Fantasy's Warlock class, which is pretty much "Brother to Elements"; they have one or two personal elements, but all elementals regard them as brothers, and they regard each other as such, as well. Doesn't mean they won't kill each other, but they'll be civilized about it, first.)

Kiero
2019-02-28, 12:15 PM
Alexander the great took time to get to know the area left government in charge then moved on.

No he didn't; if there weren't some novelty to occupy his attention there, he moved on, leaving the tiresome business of administration to his satraps. He only hung around when he wanted to establish a new city to name after himself.

His campaign covered Greece to India (around 3,500 miles) and back in around 10 years, with stops along the way to found 70 cities.

Hackulator
2019-02-28, 01:25 PM
Elementals do not need to eat, sleep, or breathe and do not need weapons or armor repaired, meaning most of the issues which slow down armies have no effect on them. Unless they suffer massive enough losses of troops that they need to wait on reinforcements, the answer for an elemental army is "as fast as they can get to the next place they want to attack." Therefore for the purposes of your game the earlier answer of "speed of plot" is the only possible answer.

Man_Over_Game
2019-02-28, 03:14 PM
Their goal is the destruction of millions of magic items in the city made by forcibly binding elementals.
But ok, speed of plot makes sense. I wanted the campaign to be as realistic as possible.

Realistically, if I had specialized troops that were separate for each mission (that is, I don't have any generic troops that I need in both), then I'd be waging war on both fronts.

From the sound of it, I don't have any reason to recuperate, especially using creatures that are immune to the effects of exhaustion. If I can wage wars on both fronts, I can cut off supply lines and hit them before one army can retreat to join the other. Rather than hitting one city while they're surprised and the second one while their guard is up, I'll hit two cities while they're surprised.

Since the main forces are specialized for each mission, I won't be losing anything by choosing to fight two battles at once. If I can't fight both battles simultaneously, then I need to shorten the difference in time between them to be as close to simultaneous as possible. Defenses, supplies, troops, these all take time to gather and I already have mine, so time is not on my side.

Kardwill
2019-03-01, 03:46 AM
From the sound of it, I don't have any reason to recuperate, especially using creatures that are immune to the effects of exhaustion. If I can wage wars on both fronts, I can cut off supply lines and hit them before one army can retreat to join the other. Rather than hitting one city while they're surprised and the second one while their guard is up, I'll hit two cities while they're surprised.

Depends if you have leadership to go with the horde of minions. If you have to personally oversee both assaults (because you have no sub-leader, or don't trust them to take their own initiatives), then you are the one who will slow dosn the campaign. Same if you need to somehow get the energy of the first army back before summoning the second.

It's pretty easy to come up with reasons that both assaults didn't happen simultaneously, especially with magic involved :)

Calthropstu
2019-03-01, 12:38 PM
Depends if you have leadership to go with the horde of minions. If you have to personally oversee both assaults (because you have no sub-leader, or don't trust them to take their own initiatives), then you are the one who will slow dosn the campaign. Same if you need to somehow get the energy of the first army back before summoning the second.

It's pretty easy to come up with reasons that both assaults didn't happen simultaneously, especially with magic involved :)

The main reason they can't just go in an obliterate cities is because of 100 year old nigh impenetrable defenses build by hundreds of archmages who made the defenses to fight against massive undead incursions. Picture a mythal on crack. The only reason they were able to destroy the one city was because of the position of one particular dancer ally who inadvertantly triggered the calling of their god's avatar into the center of the city, which then promptly eliminated the defenses of that city. That kind of thing tends to turn battles in people's favor. But it's not something they can duplicate.

The attack on the second city is going to be much more fierce though, as they have now cemented allies in the form of devils and aeons. I think they will be waiting for their new allies before attacking. Meanwhile, there are a bunch of bored fire elementals sitting on the prime material plane. Which leads to fire outbreaks. Which leads to adventurers needing to investigate...


Ganggus con? Ganggus con...

I'm terribly sorry but... BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

It's Genghis Kahn.

King of Nowhere
2019-03-02, 07:03 PM
This army is different from the first army. The first army was air and water elementals and relied on stealth and infiltration plus 3 weeks of dancers tricked into performing arcane rituals to foil the main defenses of the city. This army is fire and earth. The city is landlocked with no major water source nearby, so earth and fire make much more sense. I have am explaining the delay with 3 things. 1: they have to build portals to allow their army through, 2: they were recruiting devilish and aeon allies and 3: they are using earth elementals to try and erode the ground beneath the city before the attack. (This particular tactic I am going to have forseen by the city's scryers and have other adventurers defeat it. The party is going to investigate fires in the area and discover a portal that fire elementals are coming out of.)

then it is absolutely realistic for the armmy to move at the speed of plot. All those three points don't have a specific time they need to happen. they can be completed in a few days or in years.
you can't make any kind of comparison to a real army, because this specific army needs to make magic portals, and real armies don't.

OmSwaOperations
2019-03-08, 06:44 PM
So an ordinary medieval army would probably need a few weeks at least. You need time to let the baggage train catch up with you, to reorganise your forces, assess losses, etc. Plus, if you're planning to settle down and rule, you've got to make sure whatever administration you're leaving behind in the city is firmly ensconced.

But here the army is elementals! They don't care about food or provisions. They probably don't care about running a city (what does a living pillar of fire need from a baker?). They'd probably commence their next campaign almost immediately after finishing with the city they've just taken.

Clistenes
2019-03-12, 05:50 PM
If the army is made of elementals, I think you can choose whatever time period you fancy... it's not as they are going to have the same restrictions and needs as humans...

Even if they were humans, we would need to know more about their society, culture and economy: Gengis Khan, Attila, Timur Lang... these created massive armies of nomads to whom conquest and looting was absolutely necessary... if they stopped invading, their armies would stop being sustainable (well, in Gengis Khan's case his chinese advisor convinced him to slowly switch to a more sustainable tax-based system...).

The ancient Romans would, at the time of Julios Caesar, see war as a business and as a way to politically prop themselves, they would launch wars every year (against weaker enemies, of course...) if possible at all.

Same for the original Caliphate up to the Umayyads... they needed war to keep going. What was the point of a Caliph if he stopped waging the Jihad?. Technically speaking, a Caliph under religious obligation to wage the Jihad constantly...

Same for the Vikings. War was a source of income for them...

Other cultures, on the other hand, experienced war as a calamitous drain of human and material resources. They could win every battle and lose the war because they ruined themselves.

TheYell
2019-03-16, 02:23 PM
Speed of plot. You could have a race to get to the city before the besieging elementals if you felt like it. Or they could parade in with plenty of time to set up defenses to their liking. Or arrive leisurely to inherit defenses already set up. Three choices, none of them really unrealistic.

Id say as a professional thing, you'd have light cavalry doing scouting for days out to see what's going on over the horizon while your infantry rested up after the battle. Now that level of professionalism, in certain settings, is hella unrealistic.

Calthropstu
2019-03-17, 01:13 PM
The party has switched sides and is now supporting the elementals. The attack starts next session, and now I have to change everything from defense missions to attack missions.

Blargh.

Well, that's what I get for sandboxing.

Mutazoia
2019-03-18, 09:59 PM
Traditionally speaking, the time frame would depend on a number of factors:


Supply lines
Weather
Battle Readiness (How many troops need to be healed and/or replaced to maintain combat effectiveness)



Just to name a few. It would also depend on the ultimate goal of said army. If you are wanting to conquer a large area, your army would wait as little as possible, to give the foe less time to prepare a defense.

With an army of magically conjured Elementals, all bets are off. They don't need to eat, sleep or heal. If one dies, conjure another one to replace it and keep rolling. Your only really limiting factor is the method used to summon and control said Elementals.

Calthropstu
2019-03-18, 11:56 PM
Traditionally speaking, the time frame would depend on a number of factors:


Supply lines
Weather
Battle Readiness (How many troops need to be healed and/or replaced to maintain combat effectiveness)



Just to name a few. It would also depend on the ultimate goal of said army. If you are wanting to conquer a large area, your army would wait as little as possible, to give the foe less time to prepare a defense.

With an army of magically conjured Elementals, all bets are off. They don't need to eat, sleep or heal. If one dies, conjure another one to replace it and keep rolling. Your only really limiting factor is the method used to summon and control said Elementals.

They aren't controlled. They are not summoned either, they came through portals that they built themselves.
I do, however, have plenty of explanations for them moving slowly. Speed of plot has been confirmed.

One of which is hilarious. The fire elementals spent two weeks trying to find out ways to prevent the "massive area water magic attack" the enemy mages were using to pelt them with water from the sky. (When water hurts you, having it fall from the sky unpredictably would be quite disconcerting.)