Napoleon's Army with Magic and Air Support and More
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  1. #1

    Napoleon's Army with Magic and Air Support and More

    I'm not thinking of game mechanics right now, just the concept and ideas of what you'd get if you had something like Napoleon Bonaparte's army that existed in a clearly magical fantasy setting. While things like early 19th century technology clearly exists and developed along side magic (and importantly they aren't opposing forces). I still clearly see most of the Emperor's forces being formations of soldiers armed with rifles despite the existence of everything else.

    Something like the French Revolution may or may not have happened in the empire before the Emperor's rise to power. I do see to some degree that while his army is mostly Human, they do have Elven Officers, Dwarven or Goblin Soldiers and so on. Perhaps more significantly there are Ogre Cannoneers, who are generally more mobile than a typical artillery crew, even if Ogres might not be the brightest soldiers in the Emperor's army. When it comes to other monstrous creatures, I'm not sure what role they'd serve.

    There's an airforce/navy of airships which essentially are like floating artillery platforms, and there are some Gnomish Ornithopters. Instead a lot of his aerial forces are Cuirassiers mounted on Wyverns and Griffins (there's still ground-based cavalry too). While the typical image of a Cuirassier has them armed with a sabre and a pistol since they rode horses in our world, I think that Wyverns and Griffins can fly far enough and fast enough that some might instead use polearms or rifles/carbines.

    And then beyond that I'm not to sure on the idea of how spellcasters like Wizards and Clerics would fit in, beyond the likely idea that many of them would be officers leading a bunch of soldiers and that some Cuirassiers and Calvary might be Paladins.
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    Two books come to mind that examine the introduction of fantasy elements into the Napoleonic Wars. The Temeraire series adds dragons to the mix, while Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell adds outright magic (albeit only on the British side).

    Outside of the obvious battle shifts, thereĺs also the issues of transportation, intelligence, and supply. Those would be deeply affected by magic.

    Outside of the Napleonic Wars, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series had tons of magic-enhanced battles. Much of one sideĺs wizards are concerned with nullifying the other sides, so it still fell back to footsoldiers and conventional warfare. When wizardry was allowed to run unchecked, it often became a slaughter.
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  3. #3
    One historically inspired event to throw in there would be the Napoleon's Campaign in Egypt and the discovery of the Rosetta Stone. I would see that whatever the Rosetta Stone is to be some sort of powerful magical artifact, and that retrieving it caused an army of the undead to rise something like Mummy Lords and hordes skeletons and zombies. Not sure what the Stone might do, maybe it would make sense if Napoleon was either a Sorcerer or a Warlock.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralif Redhammer View Post
    Two books come to mind that examine the introduction of fantasy elements into the Napoleonic Wars. The Temeraire series adds dragons to the mix, while Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell adds outright magic (albeit only on the British side).
    The BBC just recently produced an excellent version of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for television. Makes your imagination bubble!

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    Last edited by Tallifer; Monday, 5th March, 2018 at 07:33 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralif Redhammer View Post
    Two books come to mind that examine the introduction of fantasy elements into the Napoleonic Wars. The Temeraire series adds dragons to the mix, while Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell adds outright magic (albeit only on the British side).

    Outside of the obvious battle shifts, thereĺs also the issues of transportation, intelligence, and supply. Those would be deeply affected by magic.

    Outside of the Napleonic Wars, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series had tons of magic-enhanced battles. Much of one sideĺs wizards are concerned with nullifying the other sides, so it still fell back to footsoldiers and conventional warfare. When wizardry was allowed to run unchecked, it often became a slaughter.
    XP for anyone who mentions Malazan Book of the Fallen.

    I've read the series was inspired by Erikson's TTRPG games (GURPs I believe?) Whatever the source, I doubt the author stopped to check character sheets and source books to determine whether a given character could perform a particular feat of magic.

    I mention this to advise the OP treats whatever magical resources this Napoleonic army brings to bear as DM/NPC magic rather than constraining it with rules/systems, and to be wary of granting PCs access to these resources. If you include something in your setting which seems really cool, don't be surprised if the players agree and their characters try to get their hands on it for personal use.
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    I'd also check out the Temeraire novel series which features dragons as aerial warships and describes many interesting combat scenarios:

    His Majesty's Dragon: A Novel of Temeraire
    by Naomi Novik
    Link: http://a.co/0KHHv0g

    Edit: And now I see @Ralif Redhammer already noted this
    Last edited by robus; Monday, 5th March, 2018 at 10:33 PM. Reason: Credit where credit is due

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    I also believe that it was GURPS. For whatever reason, if you hear that a best-selling author played RPGs, chances are it was GURPS. George R.R. Martin, Walter Jon Williams, Steve Erickson, they all play/played GURPS.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevvur View Post
    I've read the series was inspired by Erikson's TTRPG games (GURPs I believe?) Whatever the source, I doubt the author stopped to check character sheets and source books to determine whether a given character could perform a particular feat of magic.

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    Dragons Conquer America, although set 300 years earlier than Napoleon, also offers a magic-enhanced IRL. There are two EnWorld threads about this new game system and the campaign background.

    The Rosetta Stone might simply be a multi-lingual Wizard's spellbook (or a Clerical "spellbook"). With spells that have been forgotten since ... well, antiquity. Translating and then casting the spells give effects similar to the ancient stories of myth and legend.
    Consider in this context the 3e supplement Testament, which covered a Biblical-themed campaign.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralif Redhammer View Post
    Outside of the obvious battle shifts, thereĺs also the issues of transportation, intelligence, and supply. Those would be deeply affected by magic.
    XP for mentioning these factors, because they're vastly more important than the battlefield implications.

    Unless wizards and dragons are being fielded in vast numbers, they're not significant on the battlefield. I know that footage from Game of Thrones looks awesome, but a dragon simply isn't going to do much against an army of 40,000 guys with rifles. It kills a few hundred people with a pass, and is then gunned out of the air. A 10th level wizard has, what, eight fireballs memorized? Insignificant against a dozen batteries of howitzers.

    You could say: "But think of the morale implications!"... and then the opposing general uses the fact that the enemy has a dragon as living proof that they are in league with the Devil. For many religiously-motivated countries in that era, the presence of a dragon might actually make the enemy fight harder (or recruit more troops) - because they are utterly convinced you are evil.

    But intelligence... wow. A single wizard with a crystal ball would be a game-breaker in virtually any war. So many battles hinged on secret intel (or lack of intel), even in more modern conflicts with radar and radio and telegraph.

    Better yet, the espionage opportunities. Infiltrate the enemy lines with a simple disguise self, and either charm or masquerade as the enemy leader. Heck, why even fight a war? Simply dominate or replace other national leaders, and they become your puppet states.

    Unless magic is purely restricted to raw energy/matter manipulation (flashy special effects), it all occurs behind the scenes. When you really consider it, modern nations have nuclear weapons and stealth fighters and all kinds of "magical" nonsense. But the real power is in intel, finance, propaganda and leverage. That's going to be equally true if magic is real. Nobody wants the collateral damage of slugging it out with dragons, when they can avoid it all by using divination magic to locate where all the super-rare resources can be found... magically transmute dirt into oil... control the minds of opposing views... sway the voting populace with illusions and enchantment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lancelot View Post
    XP for mentioning these factors, because they're vastly more important than the battlefield implications.
    Two words: control weather.
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