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  1. - Top - End - #61
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    The honey bee thing has some kind of historical context;

    Slavs in the period roughly 8th-13th Century (and maybe later) used to incorporate bee hives in the defensive rings (usually made of a combination of stones and logs) around their villages. This served two purposes, it helped in defense and as an early-warning system, and it provided a substantial part of their industry.
    Depends on the Slavs we're talking about, those in kingdoms that adopted knightly army systems (Poland, Hungary, Croatia) stopped using this, most likely because villages weren't meant to be defensible any more, since castles overtook that role.

    That said, bees and wasps were still used militarily on occasion (by throwing or using catapults), I recall at least one incident from Hussite wars, and a lot of details like this simply weren't recorded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    If you are sticking to anything like real-world physics I imagine their huge wingspans would make them even more vulnerable and the wings would be one of the best target for ground forces. I was thinking something like bolas would be particularly dangerous for these flying creatures.

    Incorporating bolas or chain shot ammunition at various levels might be a particularly effective way for experienced ground based defenders to fight off attacking bird men.

    On the simplest level, either hand thrown or stick-assisted thrown bolas could possibly entangle low-flying birdmen. I assume they would have to fly low to hit anyone with a javelin. You might also be able to incorporate something like a bola into a rocket or a 'hand mortars' grenade - in the latter it would be relatively harmless to people on the ground in case of a misfire, say two or three pebbles with a very long cord connecting them which is safer than some kind of flammable or exploding shrapnel based projectile- but quite dangerous for a flying beast or bird man.

    On a more prepared position, like a gun on a war-wagon, you could have stuff like chain shot, but use longer chains.

    This was used to destroy rigging on ships but I suspect could also be quite effective against winged creatures.
    I don't think these would be that effective - if the bird people are in the short range, they need to rethink their strategy, if they are at longer ranges and the bolas can even reach them, you have the issue of aiming. Unless you managed to put out a tremendous RoF and walk your shots, hitting a moving, flying target whose position can vary in three directions is a tall order. If you have cannon, air bursting a shrapnel shot is probably your best option, but making that effective with, say, Napoleonic artillery is not easy.

    What I think is a better option, especially with lower tech levels, is something like trick shooting - these avian menaces don't wear armor, so even a relatively light bow will do, and that means you can fill the air with a LOT of arrows, if you have good supply of those. Accuracy by volume, if you will. Something like Chinese cho ko nu is a pretty good fit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Bird men would be hard-pressed to attack well prepared troops for example in forts, on warships, or traveling with war-wagons. Or carrying 'hand mortar' type grenade launchers. These kinds of targets would only really be vulnerable to high-altitude attacks like from steel darts and incendiary devices as has been discussed, but they could protect themselves from that by creating large volumes of smoke.
    I'm not sure how well and how long you'd be able to maintain a smoke screen with pre-industrial chemistry.

    One thing I can see happening if a change to how fortresses are designed - the more important ones would almost certainly have steel slanted roofs with sandbags on them. That would bring the need for stronger walls, but with sand slowing the darts down, they could well be impervious to anything the birdmen can carry short of explosives. And even those would be made a lot less effective by the sand, as shown by some of the western front forts in WW1.
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  2. - Top - End - #62
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post


    I don't think these would be that effective - if the bird people are in the short range, they need to rethink their strategy, if they are at longer ranges and the bolas can even reach them, you have the issue of aiming. Unless you managed to put out a tremendous RoF and walk your shots, hitting a moving, flying target whose position can vary in three directions is a tall order.
    .
    If these fliers are anywhere near human sized, they will not be jinking around in flight. If they have 20 foot wingspans and fly at a slow glide, which is the only realistic way to look at this short of magic or lethal doses of Handwavium, then they won't be all that hard to hit.

    I don't think they'd be all that fearsome in massed battles, until they get scary stuff to drop. Like explosives.

    They'd be very very effective in raiding supply lines or doing sabotage and commando stuff deep inside your territory. Think of how much of your food supply is vulnerable in fields and barns. How vulnerable your important officials might be to an airborne commando kidnapping or assassination strike. How easy it would be to torch your cavalry stables or stampede your herds by dropping bad things on them. You can't put roofs and volley guns on everything.

    Just the cost to the groundlings of having to spend resources on all that air defense will take a lot away from what they can put toward other stuff, like putting together expeditions to attack the birdmen homeland.

    In short, I think they'd be better used for strategic bombing and commando raids. More like heavy bombers and paratroops than divebombers or CAS.
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  3. - Top - End - #63
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    If these fliers are anywhere near human sized, they will not be jinking around in flight. If they have 20 foot wingspans and fly at a slow glide, which is the only realistic way to look at this short of magic or lethal doses of Handwavium, then they won't be all that hard to hit.
    They don't have to dodge. Analogous situation would be hitting a WW1 airplane with a rifle - if you happen to aim correctly, the airplane doesn't have time to dodge, simply because a bullet is so much faster, the problem is that you need to know where to point the rifle in the first place.

    If our birdman is making slow turns as he flies, you won't be able to even walk your shots all that well, and walking shots is only possible with a bow or light crossbow anyway, not a ballista. Add to that that you're shooting at your far range, and it becomes kinda like sniping - to hit the target, you need to point your weapon at a point that's not anywhere near the target. With ground targets, you only need to correct your orientation and distance, but flyers add altitude to the equation, and that gets messy fast.

    As an example, there are those clay pigeons, usually shot with a shotgun. Can you do that with a bow? At a range over 100 yards? While the targets are slowly changing their position? Maybe you'd have some soldiers used to combat these guys that really are that good, but that's a very specialized and hard to learn skill.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    I don't think they'd be all that fearsome in massed battles, until they get scary stuff to drop. Like explosives.
    Incendiary payloads could work in pre-gunpowder era, greek fire combined with aerial delivery is some scary stuff. The question is, where would they get the naphta needed for that?
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    One thing I can see happening if a change to how fortresses are designed - the more important ones would almost certainly have steel slanted roofs with sandbags on them. That would bring the need for stronger walls, but with sand slowing the darts down, they could well be impervious to anything the birdmen can carry short of explosives. And even those would be made a lot less effective by the sand, as shown by some of the western front forts in WW1.
    Dover castle could be an interesting example here. It has a rather unusual solid stone roof, where most castles have a typical wooden beamed and tiled roof. This presumably is to make it more resistant to bombardment, although considering how high up the castle is, it was probably overengineered. I don't know of any other castles with a solid stone roof. The weight is supported by a vaulted ceiling below, so it draws on the architectural innovations of gothic cathedrals.

    I imagine this kind of roof would be impervious to pretty much anything the bird people could drop, except from extreme (innacurate) altitude. Even gunpowder bombs would likely be ineffective in the size they would be able to carry, as much of the force would explode away from the roof, and gunpowder is not a great explosive. TNT and C4 etc would be fine, but this is well beyond medieval tech. Th e only reasonable way to damage them is to crack the stone through sheer kinetic impact, although a layer of sand/earth would be easy to apply to mitigate this, and we know castles did this in sieges, so why not to stave off aeriel bombardments?

    I reckon such roofs would become far more common, even with the expense of creating them.

  5. - Top - End - #65
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    They don't have to dodge. Analogous situation would be hitting a WW1 airplane with a rifle - if you happen to aim correctly, the airplane doesn't have time to dodge, simply because a bullet is so much faster, the problem is that you need to know where to point the rifle in the first place.

    If our birdman is making slow turns as he flies, you won't be able to even walk your shots all that well, and walking shots is only possible with a bow or light crossbow anyway, not a ballista. Add to that that you're shooting at your far range, and it becomes kinda like sniping - to hit the target, you need to point your weapon at a point that's not anywhere near the target. With ground targets, you only need to correct your orientation and distance, but flyers add altitude to the equation, and that gets messy fast.

    As an example, there are those clay pigeons, usually shot with a shotgun. Can you do that with a bow? At a range over 100 yards? While the targets are slowly changing their position? Maybe you'd have some soldiers used to combat these guys that really are that good, but that's a very specialized and hard to learn skill.



    Incendiary payloads could work in pre-gunpowder era, greek fire combined with aerial delivery is some scary stuff. The question is, where would they get the naphta needed for that?
    Hmm, they would likely be in greater numbers than WWI biplanes though, otherwise they wouldn't have much impact on the groundtroops. One bird isn't going to have much impact. They will also be much slower than biplanes (probably less than 60mph in most circumstances), so hitti g them will be easier. I suspect they will fly as a formation, which makes them more vulnerable.

    Also, if I were designing an AA system, I,d use the (likely) superior numbers of ground troops to essentially fill the air with shot/arrows. So no one directly aims at the bird, everyone aims at their segment and fills the sky with lethal projectiles. This wasn't so helpful in WWI because very powerful artillery forces the troops to be more dispersed.

  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    What I think is a better option, especially with lower tech levels, is something like trick shooting - these avian menaces don't wear armor, so even a relatively light bow will do, and that means you can fill the air with a LOT of arrows, if you have good supply of those. Accuracy by volume, if you will. Something like Chinese cho ko nu is a pretty good fit.
    The Hwacha. Almost like it was made for this. It's not going to accurately hit anything but it's going to make area denial possible and with the slight inaccuracy in trajectories (the one the Mythbusters tested went all over the place) the arrows will be hard to dodge as you can't really predict where anything in the swarm of arrow-rockets are going to end up. It should be very effective as a deterrent I'd imagine. Adn it's not exactly very high-tech if you only have rudimentary gunpowder.



    Combine with highly skilled archers that could probably have a fair go at hitting such a target at fair distance if you only get solitary fliers coming at you.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by snowblizz View Post
    Adn it's not exactly very high-tech if you only have rudimentary gunpowder.
    We are heading into the Late Middle Ages though (the hwacha was first developed in the 15th Century), with the most famous version of the hwacha seeing their most extensive use during the 16th Century Imjin Wars, well into the Early Modern Period.

    By the time you're got matchlock arquebuses and muskets, flying opponents are a lot less insurmountable, even if they are similarly equipped.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    The Battle of Cerignola in 1503 was largely won by Spain through the use of matchlock firearms, but the English warship The Mary Rose, which sunk in 1545 during Henry the 8th reign, still had longbows for war use, as the bone structure of skeletons recovered with the wreck indicate (they showed lifelong practice pulling the great draw weights), just as they were 100 years earlier, but in the time that Henry the 8th daughter Elizabeth was Queen, longbow were hardly used for war, even by the British.

    I've read how the longbow was more effective than early firearms (rate of fire, etc.), but that lifelong training was required, but that was true compared to crossbows as well.

    Now I'm wondering why only the British had the lifelong training to use l ongbows effectively in war, and why didn't they continue the training?
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    Now I'm wondering why only the British had the lifelong training to use l ongbows effectively in war, and why didn't they continue the training?
    Probably because the "craze" which had first made lots of longbowmen available to English kings had long since passed. It's a highly specific skill with few peacetime uses (smaller self bows are perfectly sufficient for hunting) that requires a lot of time and effort dedicated to it. They passed laws making Sunday practise compulsory in an attempt to maintain the customs, but once people had lost interest, they were fighting a losing battle.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Thanks to everyone here for a very interesting discussion on flying humanoids. I wonder if we might proceed to the next step. To paraphrase Mythbusters: "Winged humans with hawk-like maneuverability? Busted! But we're not giving up until we get some hawk-like humans in the air. We're going to replicate the result". (By which I mean: I have annoying and difficult questions and I'm not going to replicate anything myself, but I welcome answers of any kind.)


    1) What sort of mechanical tricks might a flying humanoid (as calculated to be plausible) use to improve its flight? I'd expect things like spyglasses and topographical maps to be a speciality of flying hominids, but what would they use to fly? After all, humans use flippers and running shoes (and human-powered aircraft), so so should our flying cousins. Would they use, say, wingsuits? Steering vanes on the legs? Pole-vault take-offs? Cargo kites?


    2) I'm not confident the mechanical tricks will be enough, but in a world with dragons, there's (arguably) the magical to fall back on. Specifically, magic as a force applied to the body of the flier, with a certain distribution, for some time, in some direction. You have to eat to sustain this application of force, but it's applied with 100% efficiency (that's why it's magic). Oh, and the force should be smaller than the force of gravity on your body (as small as possible, really), else we're levitating, and that's not the point of the game.

    If this force is evenly distributed, always-on, and pointing straight up (acting directly against gravity), it's effectively a reduction of weight (but not mass, so inertia is unchanged, so it shouldn't affect vulnerability to high winds, I think?). This should really help reduce required wing area, with all the energy savings (or wing power gains) that entails, but it's a bit inefficient to have this reduced weight while resting, and it may even be a disadvantage on the ground (less grip).

    If you can vary the magnitude through time, you can turn it off when not flying, and max it out when taking off. That should reduce your daily energy consumption by half, at least (assuming twelve hours of non-flying per day).

    If you can vary the direction through time, you can use it for propulsion, generating lift. Would it be more efficient to generate additional lift, or would you rather spend your magic mitigating gravity? You could also use magic for power-dives or charges on the ground, compensating for reduced ground-optimized musculature compared to non-flying humans (this might help preserve the totally-human-but-winged aesthetic).

    If you can vary the distribution through time, you get to questions I don't even know how to begin to search for the answers to. For example: would you rather have a heavier wing and a lighter body during the downstroke, and the reverse during the upstroke, or the opposite? Would it be useful to mitigate the weight of your legs to maintain flying posture? Is it useful to increase the weight of your hand while throwing a javelin down onto something?

    Of course, combining the three gives you a neat superpower, and would reduce the force required to the absolute minimum. I think that once you have autokinesis, selection pressure would be towards the ability to manipulate it as described above, and the fully evolved magical bird-humans would have something like it (incidentally also useful to explain dragons, elves, dwarves, and whatnot, if you care to give them just-out-of-reach natural abilities).


    For each of these, what sort of power do you need to make flying raptor-like humanoids possible? Just how out-of-bounds is the idea?


    P.S. Sorry to leave you with the calculations, but my physics was never up to this, and it's rusty to boot)
    Last edited by ExLibrisMortis; 2018-01-23 at 02:40 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    We are heading into the Late Middle Ages though (the hwacha was first developed in the 15th Century), with the most famous version of the hwacha seeing their most extensive use during the 16th Century Imjin Wars, well into the Early Modern Period.

    By the time you're got matchlock arquebuses and muskets, flying opponents are a lot less insurmountable, even if they are similarly equipped.
    Rocket propelled arrows seem to date back to at least the 11th century or so in china. Its sort of hard to tell how common they were since Chinese sources tend to use the term "fire arrow" to refer both to rocket powered arrows and incendiary arrows launched by a bow or crossbow, but they would have been available.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    English use of bows was an anomaly in 16th-century Europe, but archery persisted longer elsewhere in the world. In and around China, both cavalry and infantry archers appear to have been effective against opposing troops equipped with firearms, including European ones with European guns, at least into the 2nd half of the 17th century.

    By the 19th century, particularly the 2nd half of the 19th century, Chinese/Manchu bows were obviously inferior to decent European firearms, but it's unclear exactly when this shift occurred.
    Last edited by Incanur; 2018-01-23 at 10:16 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    Thanks to everyone here for a very interesting discussion on flying humanoids. I wonder if we might proceed to the next step. To paraphrase Mythbusters: "Winged humans with hawk-like maneuverability? Busted! But we're not giving up until we get some hawk-like humans in the air. We're going to replicate the result". (By which I mean: I have annoying and difficult questions and I'm not going to replicate anything myself, but I welcome answers of any kind.)


    1) What sort of mechanical tricks might a flying humanoid (as calculated to be plausible) use to improve its flight? I'd expect things like spyglasses and topographical maps to be a speciality of flying hominids, but what would they use to fly? After all, humans use flippers and running shoes (and human-powered aircraft), so so should our flying cousins. Would they use, say, wingsuits? Steering vanes on the legs? Pole-vault take-offs? Cargo kites?


    2) I'm not confident the mechanical tricks will be enough, but in a world with dragons, there's (arguably) the magical to fall back on. Specifically, magic as a force applied to the body of the flier, with a certain distribution, for some time, in some direction. You have to eat to sustain this application of force, but it's applied with 100% efficiency (that's why it's magic). Oh, and the force should be smaller than the force of gravity on your body (as small as possible, really), else we're levitating, and that's not the point of the game.

    If this force is evenly distributed, always-on, and pointing straight up (acting directly against gravity), it's effectively a reduction of weight (but not mass, so inertia is unchanged, so it shouldn't affect vulnerability to high winds, I think?). This should really help reduce required wing area, with all the energy savings (or wing power gains) that entails, but it's a bit inefficient to have this reduced weight while resting, and it may even be a disadvantage on the ground (less grip).

    If you can vary the magnitude through time, you can turn it off when not flying, and max it out when taking off. That should reduce your daily energy consumption by half, at least (assuming twelve hours of non-flying per day).

    If you can vary the direction through time, you can use it for propulsion, generating lift. Would it be more efficient to generate additional lift, or would you rather spend your magic mitigating gravity? You could also use magic for power-dives or charges on the ground, compensating for reduced ground-optimized musculature compared to non-flying humans (this might help preserve the totally-human-but-winged aesthetic).

    If you can vary the distribution through time, you get to questions I don't even know how to begin to search for the answers to. For example: would you rather have a heavier wing and a lighter body during the downstroke, and the reverse during the upstroke, or the opposite? Would it be useful to mitigate the weight of your legs to maintain flying posture? Is it useful to increase the weight of your hand while throwing a javelin down onto something?

    Of course, combining the three gives you a neat superpower, and would reduce the force required to the absolute minimum. I think that once you have autokinesis, selection pressure would be towards the ability to manipulate it as described above, and the fully evolved magical bird-humans would have something like it (incidentally also useful to explain dragons, elves, dwarves, and whatnot, if you care to give them just-out-of-reach natural abilities).


    For each of these, what sort of power do you need to make flying raptor-like humanoids possible? Just how out-of-bounds is the idea?


    P.S. Sorry to leave you with the calculations, but my physics was never up to this, and it's rusty to boot)
    1. Nothing. The difference between an activer and a passive flyer is exactly the same as that between an airplane and a glider. And the core thing required to swap from one to the other is exactly the same. An artificial means of propulsion. Te technology to do that won;t exist for roughly a thousand years after the technology level defined for the birdmen. And even once it does, the birdmen will have been building and operating far higher performance aircraft long before they get to that point.

    Tha said active flight bridmen are far from definitely busted as you put it, the problem is we genuinely can't say if nature can produce the necessary lung system, we know nature has a whole slew of ways of improving things like lung efficiency and i'm pretty sure no single creature combines all of them. So despite the fact that no such creature has ever existed, we can;t say for certain that such a creature cannot exist. The catch is such a creature if it is possibble would be supremely unlikely to occur, it would take very specific evolutionary pressures at various stages of the creatures evolution to produce such a creature.

    2. Again Nothing. If they don't have the lung capacity for active flight they don;t have the lung capacity to turn food stores in their body into magical energy. Such capability would have enormous implications in other area's, but if passive flight is allready stretching their lung capacity then they're not going to have the oxygen to provide the thrust via magic. If they do have sufficient lung capacity then unless they've evolved to use magic in the place of muscles, (a not unreasonable adaption), there's no reason for maic, and you've still got te issue in that case of the unlikly evolutinary path to the necessary lungs.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Incanur View Post
    English use of bows was an anomaly in 16th-century Europe, but archery persisted longer elsewhere in the world. In and around China, both cavalry and infantry archers appear to have been effective against opposing troops equipped with firearms, including European ones with European guns, at least into the 2nd half of the 17th century.

    By the 19th century, particularly the 2nd half of the 19th century, Chinese/Manchu bows were obviously inferior to decent European firearms, but it's unclear exactly when this shift occurred.
    The Chinese had an advantage of 17 to 1, and the Dutch stood their ground until their rear was taken by surprise... if that battle proves something, it is the superiority of guns over bows...

    I mean, if a sword-wielding guy keeps at bay 17 other guys armed with bricks in socks until one of them manages to sneak from behind and hit the back of his head, that doesn't mean the brick and sock are more powerful than the sword, it just means that he lost to an overwhelming numerical advantage and a surprise attack...
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2018-01-24 at 05:09 AM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    1. Nothing. The difference between an activer and a passive flyer is exactly the same as that between an airplane and a glider. And the core thing required to swap from one to the other is exactly the same. An artificial means of propulsion. Te technology to do that won;t exist for roughly a thousand years after the technology level defined for the birdmen. And even once it does, the birdmen will have been building and operating far higher performance aircraft long before they get to that point.

    Tha said active flight bridmen are far from definitely busted as you put it, the problem is we genuinely can't say if nature can produce the necessary lung system, we know nature has a whole slew of ways of improving things like lung efficiency and i'm pretty sure no single creature combines all of them. So despite the fact that no such creature has ever existed, we can;t say for certain that such a creature cannot exist. The catch is such a creature if it is possibble would be supremely unlikely to occur, it would take very specific evolutionary pressures at various stages of the creatures evolution to produce such a creature.
    Could they not also make gliding more efficient for less weight, meaning more of the available power to the bird can be used for active flying, rather than simply staying airborne. In addition, I am sure there are aids that could help direct the bird in flight, that are mechanical and use very little energy to power. Something like rudders with levers could help to steer rapidly for less energy.

    2. Again Nothing. If they don't have the lung capacity for active flight they don;t have the lung capacity to turn food stores in their body into magical energy. Such capability would have enormous implications in other area's, but if passive flight is allready stretching their lung capacity then they're not going to have the oxygen to provide the thrust via magic. If they do have sufficient lung capacity then unless they've evolved to use magic in the place of muscles, (a not unreasonable adaption), there's no reason for maic, and you've still got te issue in that case of the unlikly evolutinary path to the necessary lungs.
    Magic also adds no weight premium- muscle has weight, so using magic instead of more muscle means a much better power to weight ratio. Oxygen intake is not the only limit of power output, muscle and wing weight are too. Based on this, I think magic would be the superior option if it could be done efficiently.

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    so I've only glanced at the flying people discussion since the beginning of this thread, so I may have missed some things, but off the top of my head I question whether birds are the most practical model to use. A more pterosaur-like design allows for several advantages.

    Firstly, it allows quite a bit more flexibility in weight scales, pterosaurs were simply able to grow bigger and be able to fly. Some of that was obviously aided by their living in a hotter, more oxygen-rich time, but the difference is substantial enough to merit attention. A humanoid flyer wouldn't have to be as big or heavy as a pterosaur could be, but the more inefficiencies you add, the smaller a flyer can be, so it allows us to add in things like arms and not be so at risk of becoming a dynamic impossibility.

    Secondly, take off would be vastly easier because they would push off with their much stronger and more durable forelimbs rather than their legs, which lets the legs have a much more practical percentage of body weight.

    Thirdly, pterosaur heads and necks were huge. The weight and blood flow of a human head would be trivial in comparison, birds heads and necks are much lighter than a humans proportionately, generally speaking. Not having to move through a neck half a dozen times longer than your entire torso also means the respiratory system of a pterasaur with a human head would have much less dead air with every breath it took, and since pterosaurs already had one hell of a respiratory system the improvement might actually mean our flying monkeys were the most efficient oxygen processors.

    Fourthly, going back to the legs, human legs are a hell of a drag factor on a bird. Storks and the like make it work, but it isn't free. Pterosaurs long hind legs (compared to body size) actually serve a vital function in their flight. Their feet are still tiny because of the drag thing, but their wings act like absolutely ripped hands-free crutches, so balance shouldn't be a factor.

    Finally as an aside, both birds and pterosaurs have fused spines and very different muscle attachments on their rib-cage equivalents, both of which I believe would make the addition of arms much more feasible. Still makes shoulder blades a nightmare to work in with wings and it would be far easier to just have the flying people have a significantly restricted range of upper arm motion.

    Edit: this is going quite a way from the initial premise, but being able to balance on their forelimbs and having prehensile feet is a far easier structure to work with than 6 limbs. It would mean only being able to hold things in one of their "hands" at a time while moving on land (power crutches making hopping on one leg perfectly doable) and even then would rule out incorporating the legs into the wing structure like pterasaurs or bats if they wanted to be able to not get tangled up and to hold stuff while flying. The weight savings and otherwise increased functionality are quite nice however and these guys were never going to be great porters anyway.
    Last edited by Mabn; 2018-01-24 at 07:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    1. Nothing. The difference between an activer and a passive flyer is exactly the same as that between an airplane and a glider. And the core thing required to swap from one to the other is exactly the same. An artificial means of propulsion. The technology to do that won;t exist for roughly a thousand years after the technology level defined for the birdmen. And even once it does, the birdmen will have been building and operating far higher performance aircraft long before they get to that point.
    So the extra wing area from using a wingsuit or flaps won't help at all, but you could use a booster rocket to take off (disregarding the obvious risk involved)? Why wouldn't an extra square metre or two of wing area help active flight; it should produce extra lift, right?

    2. Again Nothing. If they don't have the lung capacity for active flight they don;t have the lung capacity to turn food stores in their body into magical energy. Such capability would have enormous implications in other area's, but if passive flight is allready stretching their lung capacity then they're not going to have the oxygen to provide the thrust via magic. If they do have sufficient lung capacity then unless they've evolved to use magic in the place of muscles, (a not unreasonable adaption), there's no reason for maic, and you've still got te issue in that case of the unlikly evolutinary path to the necessary lungs.
    Right, you're assuming (sensibly) that magic is applied as you burn energy. I was thinking a little more along the lines of already-available magic built up with leftover metabolic capacity during downtime. Instead of storing energy in fat and sugar and then metabolizing it as the muscles do work, you let unspecified organs (maybe the muscles, why not) do work during downtime, and the result of said work is magic, which you store (at no weight cost) and apply during flight.

    However, even if oxygen intake limits the use magic, it's still fairly obvious that replacing muscles with magic involves big efficiency and weight gains, so the question stands. The idea of the question is to find the amount of "no weight/no loss" power output you need to get good (hawk-like) flight performance. It'd give you an indication of the efficiency gains required to make it happen non-magically, too.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Magic can be whatever you want it to be. If dragons the size of plesiosaurs with armored scales can fly, then winged humanoids can fly.

    Without magic, it's tough. Humans need a significant redesign to get them to fly, so you either need to make them very different, or accept certain things just are fantasy.

    The idea of lighter, slender humans with a large wingspan compared to body size at least allows for the appearance of plausibility.

    So I guess the question ios how much real physics do you want and how much magic/handwaving is ok?

    Because you have Hawkman on one end of the spectrum, and an intelligent, tool using pterasaur or were-condor on the other.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Incanur View Post
    English use of bows was an anomaly in 16th-century Europe, but archery persisted longer elsewhere in the world. In and around China, both cavalry and infantry archers appear to have been effective against opposing troops equipped with firearms, including European ones with European guns, at least into the 2nd half of the 17th century.

    By the 19th century, particularly the 2nd half of the 19th century, Chinese/Manchu bows were obviously inferior to decent European firearms, but it's unclear exactly when this shift occurred.
    Interesting and nicely detailed anecdote there, but 4,000 men vs. 240 hardly seems to make a decisive case for the superiority of bow over musket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Haighus View Post
    Could they not also make gliding more efficient for less weight, meaning more of the available power to the bird can be used for active flying, rather than simply staying airborne. In addition, I am sure there are aids that could help direct the bird in flight, that are mechanical and use very little energy to power. Something like rudders with levers could help to steer rapidly for less energy.


    Magic also adds no weight premium- muscle has weight, so using magic instead of more muscle means a much better power to weight ratio. Oxygen intake is not the only limit of power output, muscle and wing weight are too. Based on this, I think magic would be the superior option if it could be done efficiently.
    For the first part see my reply below. For the second whilst ExLiberMortis has clarified somthing the atrophy of muscles only changes things in so much as it lightens the loads somewhat, but unless your going to have a birdman be much smaller than a human there is, (particularly accounting for aerodynamic concerns), a limit on how far that can go.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    So the extra wing area from using a wingsuit or flaps won't help at all, but you could use a booster rocket to take off (disregarding the obvious risk involved)? Why wouldn't an extra square metre or two of wing area help active flight; it should produce extra lift, right?


    Right, you're assuming (sensibly) that magic is applied as you burn energy. I was thinking a little more along the lines of already-available magic built up with leftover metabolic capacity during downtime. Instead of storing energy in fat and sugar and then metabolizing it as the muscles do work, you let unspecified organs (maybe the muscles, why not) do work during downtime, and the result of said work is magic, which you store (at no weight cost) and apply during flight.

    However, even if oxygen intake limits the use magic, it's still fairly obvious that replacing muscles with magic involves big efficiency and weight gains, so the question stands. The idea of the question is to find the amount of "no weight/no loss" power output you need to get good (hawk-like) flight performance. It'd give you an indication of the efficiency gains required to make it happen non-magically, too.

    First bear in mind what i'm saying next is based on reading up, my engineering training didn't cover fixed wing flight and that leaves me with at least one serious gap in my knowledge in the sense that i know a particular principle is true, (and i can thus apply it), but there's an aspect to how it "makes sense" under the laws of physics that i don't understand.

    However the core principle you need to know is that at whatever sped the fliers lift exceeds its weight the thrust must also exceed the drag or velocity will be lost, this reduces lift eventually resulting i9n lift no longer exceeding mass and decent. However the very act of losing altitude (in simple terms), produces energy which becomes forward velocity. In effect gliders trade altitude to keep velocity constant so they can generate sufficient lift to overcome gravity. Yes there really is a difference between falling, (however stylish), and flight. An active flier flies at a constant speed by generating more thrust than drag. The thin is passive flier bird basically generate no thrust whatsoever measured over any appreciable period of time. So whilst a wing suit might improve lift to drag allowing a slower glide speed, (though this would be worked against by the fact that the natural wing would be optimized for a higher speed), it dosen;t overcome the relative lack of forward thrust.

    The additional problem is that turning takes energy, a lot of energy usually so maneuvering flight require a yet larger increase in thrust. and a wingsuit dosen't do a thing to help there.

    As far as pre-storing, it comes down to the amount they can pre-store. It also comes back to dietary questions, if they're not optimised to be able to take in very large caloric volumes, (and not able to take i enough oxygen to process it), with appropriate food sources it doesn't matter how much they can store because it's going to take too long to store up. Certainly a stored system may be more practical as i imagine a magic force based thrust system would be more efficient than typical flapping flight, but energy costs are still going to be high.

    As an aside i'm not sure of the precise energy input required, you'd need to know the average drag of high maneuvering bird flight without flapping which is a pretty big unknown, i'd assume high however.

    EDIT: To be clear i assume high because maneuvering by its nature has significant drag increasing problems which means the more maneuverable you want to be the more energy intensive. Wiki has a good description of why on it's wing loading article.
    Last edited by Carl; 2018-01-24 at 11:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    So I guess the question ios how much real physics do you want and how much magic/handwaving is ok?
    I more-or-less precisely defined what sort of magic I mean in my post. In the simplest form, it works out to the ability to counteract some percentage of gravity (less than 100%, of course).

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    As an aside i'm not sure of the precise energy input required, you'd need to know the average drag of high maneuvering bird flight without flapping which is a pretty big unknown, i'd assume high however.
    Right, that makes sense, I guess that's what I was after. From what you say, I imagine a wingsuit would increase your ability to travel long distances efficiently by employing thermals and gliding, but doesn't appreciably improve your in-combat performance, which is largely thrust-dependant.

    On the topic of caloric requirements, I believe top rowers and cyclists eat around 13 000 kJ/day even years after retiring, down from as high as 25 000 kJ/day during their professional careers, due to long-term changes in base metabolic rate and generally being active people. Given that a human can achieve those numbers (at least for men, but not large men (cyclists)), I'd expect that bird people can, with some evolutionary and cultural adjustment, achieve that 13 000 kJ/day average, being higher for active soldiers and lower for civilians and elderly. Supplying them would be annoying, but I think they can eat enough.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Magic is whatever you want, the thing is that 'nearly flying' or 'enhance flying' is very close to 'flying' and if flying magic is doable, then birdmen are not special because any jackass with mana can fly. So you need to consider how and why this ability is limited.

    I would have flying magic do things like allow the birdman to carry more stuff (Lift Master) or fly faster (Fleet Wings) or be harder to hit (Ariel Stealth)...that kind of stuff. Not so much worrying about the exact forces it's creating.

    Then I would use the magic system to make it relatively common/easy for birdmen spellusers to enhance flight. Only powerful (rare) non-birdmen wizards can fly under their own volition and magic objects that allow flight would be extremely rare/expensive.
    Last edited by Mr Beer; 2018-01-24 at 05:56 PM.
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    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Are there any major cities in recent centuries that were so badly destroyed that they were never rebuild to something of comparable size? I can't really think of any and only of a very few back in antiquity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Are there any major cities in recent centuries that were so badly destroyed that they were never rebuild to something of comparable size? I can't really think of any and only of a very few back in antiquity.
    You probably already found it, but there is a thread at reddit on this subject: https://www.reddit.com/r/history/com..._destroyed_in/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Are there any major cities in recent centuries that were so badly destroyed that they were never rebuild to something of comparable size? I can't really think of any and only of a very few back in antiquity.
    Depends on what you mean by 'recent centuries', and what do you mean by 'destroyed' I guess?

    Mongols had destroyed quite a lot of great urban centers in Kharezm, from what I gather. They've got rebuilt later, but subsequent razing could leave the city abandoned.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konye-Urgench

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    Kungahälla was, as name implies, the hall of the Konungs, in modern Sweden, but after it got destroyed by Pomeranians in 1136, it never recovered.

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    Now it's pretty much known only from Snorri Sturluson's saga.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    For the first part see my reply below. For the second whilst ExLiberMortis has clarified somthing the atrophy of muscles only changes things in so much as it lightens the loads somewhat, but unless your going to have a birdman be much smaller than a human there is, (particularly accounting for aerodynamic concerns), a limit on how far that can go.




    First bear in mind what i'm saying next is based on reading up, my engineering training didn't cover fixed wing flight and that leaves me with at least one serious gap in my knowledge in the sense that i know a particular principle is true, (and i can thus apply it), but there's an aspect to how it "makes sense" under the laws of physics that i don't understand.

    However the core principle you need to know is that at whatever sped the fliers lift exceeds its weight the thrust must also exceed the drag or velocity will be lost, this reduces lift eventually resulting i9n lift no longer exceeding mass and decent. However the very act of losing altitude (in simple terms), produces energy which becomes forward velocity. In effect gliders trade altitude to keep velocity constant so they can generate sufficient lift to overcome gravity. Yes there really is a difference between falling, (however stylish), and flight. An active flier flies at a constant speed by generating more thrust than drag. The thin is passive flier bird basically generate no thrust whatsoever measured over any appreciable period of time. So whilst a wing suit might improve lift to drag allowing a slower glide speed, (though this would be worked against by the fact that the natural wing would be optimized for a higher speed), it dosen;t overcome the relative lack of forward thrust.

    The additional problem is that turning takes energy, a lot of energy usually so maneuvering flight require a yet larger increase in thrust. and a wingsuit dosen't do a thing to help there.

    As far as pre-storing, it comes down to the amount they can pre-store. It also comes back to dietary questions, if they're not optimised to be able to take in very large caloric volumes, (and not able to take i enough oxygen to process it), with appropriate food sources it doesn't matter how much they can store because it's going to take too long to store up. Certainly a stored system may be more practical as i imagine a magic force based thrust system would be more efficient than typical flapping flight, but energy costs are still going to be high.

    As an aside i'm not sure of the precise energy input required, you'd need to know the average drag of high maneuvering bird flight without flapping which is a pretty big unknown, i'd assume high however.

    EDIT: To be clear i assume high because maneuvering by its nature has significant drag increasing problems which means the more maneuverable you want to be the more energy intensive. Wiki has a good description of why on it's wing loading article.
    From what I was reading with andean condors and Argentavis, an improved gliding efficiency means a lower active energy cost to maintain active flying, because less forward velocity is needed to prevent a loss in altitude. This would largely only help in long-distance powered flight I would suspect. The way you word it above makes a lot of sense though- from what I can gather passive flying is essentially deriving the thrust and energy from elsewhere (thermals or wind)? For manouevring, would levers operating rudders not have the potential to make some of the motions more mechanically efficient? This a stretch, but I am mainly considering plausibility here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExLibrisMortis View Post
    1) What sort of mechanical tricks might a flying humanoid (as calculated to be plausible) use to improve its flight? I'd expect things like spyglasses and topographical maps to be a speciality of flying hominids, but what would they use to fly? After all, humans use flippers and running shoes (and human-powered aircraft), so so should our flying cousins. Would they use, say, wingsuits? Steering vanes on the legs? Pole-vault take-offs? Cargo kites?
    Don't know about flight, but I had some fun thinking up other things a quasi-realistic flyer might use (I'm imagining birdmen with four limbs and some form of gripping system at the 'hand');

    Running poles - our flyers might not be vastly inferior runners to the earthhuggers but they're probably only good in a straight line; ski poles might help them turn corners sharply when moving on foot, particularly with a cultural tendency to use arms in movement rather than for carrying weapons/items and the rocky, mountainous home terrain.

    Polearms - hooked bill-like weapons sharpened on both sides. The curved side makes a fine slashing weapon when used in flight, held downward like a boat pole and swiped with a twist of the shoulder in a hit-and-run attack - the curve prevents the blade sticking much like a cavalry scimitar. While our troops prefer to fight on the wing, the hooked side allows them to defend their mountain passes on foot passably well against the goblin-folk, pulling their shields aside or yanking them upwards by the neck. A polearm is counterweighed on the wing by javelins or a weight in the off hand. Cheaply made and carrying no prestige, they are dropped before a flying retreat - on foot it is never dropped, for use as a running pole should escape be necessary.

    Armour - padded jacks are used by cliff guards, giving them an almost human resistance to blunt trauma, though the heat is prohibitive for any time on the wing. Strapped versions allow a knot to be cut at the back and the jack to be shed instantly for unencumbered skyward retreat.

    Screamers - banners tied to the waist are popular amongst our flyers, but screamers are used solely for night or terror raids; vented whistles and noisemakers on waists and ankles that, when unstoppered during a battle, create a piercing shriek when our fighters go in for a dive. Scatters animals and conscripts alike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Are there any major cities in recent centuries that were so badly destroyed that they were never rebuild to something of comparable size? I can't really think of any and only of a very few back in antiquity.
    I have a minor example on a much smaller scale It isn't a city, but there was a small town located near where I grew up. It started as a Norman motte-and-bailey after the conquest of England, and became a small but bustling little borough. There was then a period of decline due to neglectful lords, but the final deathnell was when the owner of the castle supported the Royalists in the English civil war, and the castle and what was left of the town were destroyed. The location now boasts a wooded hill with a farm next to it, and some limited ruins. Many of the local houses were built from pilfered stone (including my parents' house). It is interesting to note that the settlement entirely ceased to exist.

    Caus castle today:





    In an example that is perhaps more relevant to your question, Angkor could be a contender? Went from being probably the largest city on the planet in its heyday to forgotten ruins in the jungle. Generally considered to be abandoned following a sacking in 1431.
    Last edited by Haighus; 2018-01-24 at 07:32 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    There are plenty of ancient and medieval cities, and an endless number of villages, and of course pretty much all population centers in the Americas in the 16th century.
    But it seems to me that since 1600, every location that had a major city on it, got pretty much immediately rebuild, even if the destruction of the buildings was more or less complete.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2D8HP View Post
    The Battle of Cerignola in 1503 was largely won by Spain through the use of matchlock firearms, but the English warship The Mary Rose, which sunk in 1545 during Henry the 8th reign, still had longbows for war use, as the bone structure of skeletons recovered with the wreck indicate (they showed lifelong practice pulling the great draw weights), just as they were 100 years earlier, but in the time that Henry the 8th daughter Elizabeth was Queen, longbow were hardly used for war, even by the British.

    I've read how the longbow was more effective than early firearms (rate of fire, etc.), but that lifelong training was required, but that was true compared to crossbows as well.

    Now I'm wondering why only the British had the lifelong training to use l ongbows effectively in war, and why didn't they continue the training?
    Honestly a lot of the reason the English were so good at archery basically boils down to "because the English were known for being really good at archery." It started in perhaps the early 1300s when English archers did pretty well in the war against the Scots and then over the course of the HYW the longbow became more and more ingrained into English culture and the English national identity.

    It's not really the case that just being english turned someone into a super archer (only around 1/5th of the english skeletons from the Mary Rose had changes to the shoulder blades consistant with intensive practice from a young age), but because of the culture everyone was at least familiar with archery: they grew up learning stories about Agincourt and Crecy, it was a very popular pasttime among all classes, it was a very cheap pasttime, the virtues of the longbow even made its way into church sermons, etc. Basically because everyone is exposed to archery those who happen have a knack for it find out early on and can start practicing more seriously, and even if you do need to suddenly train up a company of longbowmen since everyone has at least some archery experience you don't have to worry about starting from scratch. Archery didn't completely dissapper from the continent in the 1400s and there occasionally were really good archers serving in continental armies, it's just that the English typically had way more of them.

    By the 1540s though most of western europe had already transferred to firearms almost completely and it was quickly becoming apparent that arquebuses and muskets now outmatch the English longbow in pretty much every way (range, accuracy, power etc.) except for rate of fire, and even then the longbow couldn't really match a musket loaded with a handful of pistol bullets. So the rest of the 16th century basically saw England desperately working to modernize its military with modern pikes and firearms while the old medieval "bows and bills" were increasingly relegated to the status of last resort milita weapons, until 1595 when the Privy council basically stated outright that the longbow was obsolete and no longer fit for any military service.

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