Crecy – a one-shot comic about the 1346 slaughter at Crecy in France by the English

Crecy, comic cover

I’m not a historian but do have a passing interest in both history and comics. Recently I read Crecy by Warren Ellis which is an overview of the Battle of Crecy, as told down the lenses to the reader by a racist lout English bowman.

And it’s really worth a read, but some aspects play to particular tastes.

In short – it’s good.

I’m glad to have read it and was also interested to see how the writer and artist took a very confined scope and brought a story into it. The reasons and backstory is glossed behind the view of the main character, with enough context to allow the story to land on the page.

Crécy is a graphic novel written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Raulo Cáceres, depicting some of the events surrounding the historical Battle of Crécy. The graphic novel was published in 2007…

For – Arts style (a) suits the period darn well. In fact it is beautifully matched to the setting. There is no overstylised covering of the panels or tricks, and reflections of art from the period is used in places to make a counter illustration style very effective. The use of black and white makes the mud and blood mix, and the gore is stark. I really like the art, it’s a key reason the comic is very accessible.

To the camera voice (b) of the main character is very useful to draw in the reader, as is the modern language used to the reader as constructed to the language of the character when they are “on-stage”. His narration does help join the story together so that the reader follows all the events; although it’s not a complex story.

Panel transitions are clever (c) and the story moves very well. It’s also a good primer on the battle (d) which fed to my interests and the level of detail in the maps and tangential information is great. I’ve no idea if they’re accurate but they are well suited.  Continue reading

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Battle, Siege, and War spell durations for Ars Magica

There was an interesting idea shared on Atlas Games Ars Magica forums a long time ago for spell duration based upon battles and wars. Credit to Dunia for the idea. It reminded me of many of the durations used in both online games and other pen and paper RPGs. For a wizard who concentrated their skills in war such as many Tremere, Tytalus, or Flambeau this might be very appealing.

When I first read the post I thought that having Battle duration as equivalent to D:Sun was a bit on the expensive side as very few battles last this long; and in writing these versions of the new durations I have added conditions to their scope. Battle, Siege, and War are slightly different from how they were proposed in the forums.

As time has passed I’ve rethought and now think that there is a way to allow casual use of this style of duration which is a little more expensive, and also allow a dedicated war magus to use them with a bonus.

siege1

The difference comes down to the player buying a virtue, making a breakthrough for the effects, or just using them casually.

Hermetic Virtue – Warfare Magic (Minor +1) The magus has been trained in special disciplines especially devoted to warfare, and has access to three new durations: Battle, Siege, and War. Continue reading

I don’t like the lore about Wizard’s Wars in Ars

Aside

Back in the old days when Ars Magica v3 was new I think the rules for Wizard’s Wars stipulated that both parties had to agree to the conflict. Either it was in the book, or the guys I played with made that house rule. Sure, a big nasty wizard could threaten another, intimidate, or whatever, but could not just declare a war and start killing somebody else. In v5 one wizard can declare a war on another, and it just starts automatically a month or so later. No acceptance, no agreement. Fight or flee.

In the flavour and fluff a WW is meant to be a way to resolve disputes and is also meant to be a last resort. It is also meant to be frowned upon by the Order of Hermes for a wizard to start waring with many people, or the same people repeatedly.

We also have a setting in ArM v5 which presents a more orderly, bureaucratic, and safer Order of Hermes than older editions. The Order accepts and has laws that allow bullying and murder in the oaths. I find that combination of views an incongruity, and it bugs me. How could it possibly be safer? Younger wizards are at a huge disadvantage, and specialists in certain type of fighting will be hard to stop by non-specialists.

There is also an implication that the result of a Wizard’s War isn’t lethal. This doesn’t make any sense either. As the defender in a war which wasn’t desired, if you survive, you better power-up and kill that attacker. And make sure you wipe him out. If the attacker misses the first time, you might have some breathing space, but eventually it will happen again. Entering a potentially lethal conflict isn’t something anyone does lightly, and the instigator of a war probably knows what they are getting into. The Order in the present cannon offers you no protection except somebody waggling their finger at your killer afterward. I do not understand the idea of surviving a life threatening (magical) attack and then not expecting it to happen again.

The current lore places the typical starting scenarios so close to immediately lethal that all the exceptions are feint edge cases. Huh? Hardly safer.

In my games the wars have to be agreed and sanctioned by the Order. That gives the tribunal the overview of the activity, and also control of harassing behaviour before wizards start dying. It’s not cannon, but it makes far more sense in the setting. The Order of Hermes didn’t grow to it’s size by wizards casually murdering each other, so any type of one-sided sanctioned murder is silly.