On magical battalions in the Hero Wars

What defines a magical battalion as a military unit in Glorantha? It is not raw magical power or heroic status of the individuals in the unit; Prince Argrath and his companions posses more raw magical power than a full battalion of the Major Class, and demigods like Harrek the Berserk or Jar-eel the Razoress are beyond the ability of such magicians to even attack.

The magical battalions of the Lunar College Magic (and later of the Sartar Magical Union) consist of 50 to 250 magicians (priests, sorcerers, shamans, devotees, etc) who are trained to coordinate their activities to create a magical effect beyond the sum of the individual members. In the Lunar Empire these are standing organizations operating under the authority of the Red Emperor. In Sartar, these are secret magical societies that cross often tribal boundaries but are allied with Prince Argrath.

Typically, a magical battalion summons a manifestation of their collective divinity – sometimes conceived of as an “over-soul” or wyter, sometimes as the patron deity of the battalion. For purposes of convenience, we’ll call it the battalion wyter (an Orlanthi term not used by the Lunars). The battalion wyter is capable of acting a considerable distance from the magicians of the battalion – normally between 20 and 30 miles, although some battalions are capable of projecting their wyter as far as 60 miles or more.

The battalion wyter manifests itself differently depending on the battalion. The wyter of the Eaglebrown Warlocks was described as a “great brownish eagle with two curling horns, which pulls together clouds with its wingbeats, peals of thunder with its wings clapping, sheet lightning from its eyes when it blinks, and casts down lightning bolts from its feet.” The wyter of the Spell Archers was described as a huge fiery spear cast down from the heavens. The wyter of the Crater Makers is a manifestation of the Red Goddess who hurls down rocks from the heavens!

What is common with each of these magical wyters is their ability to cause damage and havoc among enemy soldiers. An Irrippi Ontor sage once estimated that the wyter of any battalion of the Lunar College of Magic had approximately the same destructive capacity as a regiment of soldiers from the Heartland Corps. The difference was that it could attack from many miles away and was rarely itself able to be directly attacked.