I am looking for ways that the military, described below, can face off against

  1. Desert warriors akin to Ancient Egyptians. They're not at a high level of technology, mostly using bows for ranged combat. However, many of them have mounts for combat.
  2. Undead creatures, all of which are skeletal and magical in nature and can only be destroyed either by having the spell holding them together broken or by having their heads completely destroyed.
  3. Vampires - these vampires are weakened but not killed by sunlight, can move ~50% faster than human beings, are only slightly stronger, and of course suck blood and all that. They are not afraid of religious gear, and can be killed by having their heads destroyed, their hearts impaled, or by being burned alive.

Specifically, I am looking for how this military can fight against such foes using as little resources as possible. This means using as little mineral resources, weaponry, magic, and soldiers as they can get away with compared to the amount of foes they are able to kill - though of course using bait is an option.

The military can use:

  1. Any and all technology present by late 1700's, including firearms such as flintlock muskets and the like.
  2. Spears that can extend into almost lance-like weapons or retract to the length of short-swords. The weapon retracts and extends quickly, with only a slight delay between switching to one of the three lengths. This military rides horse-like creatures.
  3. Two types of 'magic.' The first is the ability to manipulate and control metals and alloys from a distance, though the restrictions are that controlling said metals puts a physical strain of ~1/5th of the weight of metal being manipulated on your body and that using it too much can cause muscles to tear. The second is the ability to alter gravitational fields and electromagnetic fields in a small (10-15 meter?) radius. The restriction here is that the more you alter gravity/electromagnetism, either by increasing or decreasing their effects, the more physical strain this puts on your brain.

Some additional notes:

  • The military is outnumbered 2:1
  • They are attempting to both push the enemy back into the desert and to, hopefully, push forward and completely eliminate them.
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    $\begingroup$ Napalm everything? I am pretty sure an undead creature having its head incinerated would count as destruction, right? You can make some variant of napalm's effectiveness with 1700s technology. Greek fire might be one candidate: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_thermal_weapons $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Aug 2 '18 at 16:54
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    $\begingroup$ Do they need to actively fight on front lines or just defend settlements and strongholds? $\endgroup$ – BMS21 Aug 2 '18 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ They're essentially trying to both push back the enemy and, if possible, conquer their desert lands. Basically they're trying to eradicate the undead. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like napalm in the 1700's would be extremely costly to make. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, Greek Fire is a possibility. But I feel like in general, explosives would be costly. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 16:58

Since you said they are trying to push back the enemy, this means they are on the attack, rather than fighting from fortified positions.

I'd recommend three things:

  1. Explosives. At the furthest distance, sticks of dynamite, or other explosive tools can be flung at enemy lines. Bonus points in that your troops are telekinetic. They don't need to even physically throw these. It's like a cohort of folks wielding primitive rocket launchers.

  2. Flechettes. My telekinetics are nasty SOBs that carry around pouches of small metal balls and flechettes. They'll put them through skulls or spray them like shrapnel, with the size minimizing the magical cost. If someone only feels 1/5th pf the weight of a thrown object, it means they can project something the size of a marble at a terrific speed with little to no repercussions. You could have riflemen using muskets, alongside corps of magic users who shatter the skulls of the undead and vampires with small metal balls or darts.

  3. A spear line. The tool you've described makes for an excellent phalanx. Any poor fools who make it through the explosions and the "bullets", will have to face a phalanx of people who can literally send spears shooting out. The thing about the phalanx is that they work in rotating rows to replace the people on the front line who get fatigued. This ramps up the efficiency significantly, in that the soldiers don't need to thrust at all. They can simply extend the weapon, meaning that they'd be effective far, far, longer than similar troop formations in real world history.

  4. Battlefield control. The gravity fields can be used in many ways. You could dig pits and have your magic users give nearby enemies slight nudges at just the right time. You could create traps that let people pass over them, but which collapse when you magically increase the weight on top of them. You could project fields that decrease the lethality of falling arrows on your phalanx. You could slow or halt advancing troops. You could add an extra boost to your own telekinetics. The bottom line is that i strongly suspect that people filling this role would play a support role, rather than directly engaging in combat.

  • $\begingroup$ I really like this response - thanks a ton for all of your help! Even if that is 4 things and not 3 :P. Just to add on to this, if you want to answer this followup: How do you think the mixed army can try to overcome or defend themselves against the 4 methods you described above? $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ Sodium, or potassium flechettes for the vampires. Theyre metals, so they can be thrown, and they combust when they get wet (like with say blood?). Both were first isolated in 1807, so its not a hard fudge to have available. $\endgroup$ – Stephan Aug 2 '18 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ @doplin I'm actually not sure how to counter this, given the constraints. The numbers of the undead aren't enough to outweigh the imbalances of destructive power. I think heavy cavalry might be a good start, if the mounts are hardy enough and well enough armored to shrug off distance fire, and close ranks quickly. That doesn't help with the rank-and-file undead, though. There's no good way to reliably defend them. Heavy armor is, again, good, but will only go so far if they're plodding along, getting hammered the whole time. $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 2 '18 at 22:38

The magical power to affect metals from a distance would be very effective against the "Egyptians", whose weapons are quite primitive to begin with. Your army with their muskets could absolutely slaughter this low-tech enemy, especially if it can deprive them of their use of metal weapons and armor. Fighting from behind fortifications would multiply this effect: consider the Battle of Rorke's Drift.

The undead and especially the vampires seem far more dangerous, but are probably only dangerous up close. Therefore, firing at them from behind fortifications will also be a great advantage. If fighting in the open, soldiers of that era would fire one or more volleys and then expect a bayonet charge -- but in your case, they would want to avoid getting that close. Instead, they might combine their second type of magic with their unique sword/lances to create a kind of phalanx effect. Instead of a wall of shields, they can use the gravity-manipulation power to hold the enemy back at about ten or fifteen feet away, then bayonet them at that distance with the extendible lances. Edit: I just realized that if the enemy is made to "fall" ten feet back, then that direction is "down" and your soldiers are literally "dropping" their spears onto the enemy. Gravity adds force to what are probably pretty deadly weapons to begin with.

Although these magical enemies are difficult to destroy, destruction is not necessarily the goal: if you can incapacitate the monster by breaking bones, chopping limbs, blinding it, etc, so that it can't attack, that's good enough... you can finish off the wounded later. Remember, these enemies can't wear metal armor due to the first magic power of the defenders, so their only defense is their aggressive offense.

IMHO the most dangerous thing the enemies could do is to split up into small groups and ravage the civilians and countryside, because (I'm presuming) these magic powers are wielded by "specialists" rather than being accessible to every civilian. The vampires especially, with their speed, would be terrifying raiders one-on-one. Your army is very capable of fighting this foe on a battlefield, especially as the defenders, but would have a hard time proactively running down undead raiders and would make itself very vulnerable by splitting up. Therefore, your story might center around the defenders finding a way to bait the dispersed enemies into attacking you on a battlefield of your choosing (i.e., Helm's Deep).

  • $\begingroup$ Worth noting is that the British in the battle of Rorke's Drift used the Martini-Henry rifle, which is capable of firing much faster than a Musket or similar muzzle-loaded powder rifle. The Martini-Henry was a breech-loading single-action rifle that fired similar cartridge rounds to the style we use today. $\endgroup$ – TheAverageCanadian Aug 2 '18 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ True, but they were outnumbered 20:1 rather than 2:1 as OP has stated. $\endgroup$ – workerjoe Aug 2 '18 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ I'm starting to think they should be outnumbered a little more - these tactics are pretty damn effective-looking. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, they probably should. Or at least, the enemy army should have a few tricks up its sleeve too. A good story would have the heroes starting to feel confident, then get sucker punched by some major setback, and finally recovering with a narrow win. $\endgroup$ – workerjoe Aug 3 '18 at 12:15

"They're not at a high level of technology" and "Any and all technology present by late 1700's" are contradictory statements.

Ancient Egypt was a pretty long time period, running from ~4000BC to ~30BC. What exactly they have available depends greatly on when exactly this is taking place. The Egyptians did not have any appreciable use of horses in their military until they interacted with the Hyksos and learned to use chariots from them some time around 1600BC. As far as I'm aware, traditional cavalry where a warrior directly rides a horse never really caught on in Egypt. Egyptian chariots were typically used as moving platforms for archers to shoot from. Projectile weapons will likely be worthless against the undead; they don't have any vital organs. Their chariots are not the heavy, scythe-armed chariots used by the Celts, so trying to run the undead over will likely fail.

Considering these facts, the military's best option I can see is to use fortifications and traps. Dig trenches; the undead will fall in and break their legs. Who cares if it's not totally destroyed? Without legs it can't pursue you anymore. Lure the undead to the bottom of a hill and roll boulders or logs into them. Build walls. The undead are presumably too dumb to build and operate siege equipment, they'll be completely impotent.

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    $\begingroup$ I think author says "Ancient Egyptians", but technically wants mounted archers (with stirrups) which had become the real force only in the days of Mongols. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Aug 2 '18 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ I meant to say that the desert enemies are far behind on technology than the rifle-wielding military. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander words have meaning. If OP wants Mongols, then OP should not say "Ancient Egyptians". $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 2 '18 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ My bad - I just read up on this topic. I'd say they're a mix of Mongols and Ancient Egyptian based on how I've characterized them so far, in that case. Though it seems they're more like Mongols than I had originally imagined. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 18:27

Best defense: a good offense.

You will do this Napoleon style. You will need cannons, horses and speed. Your cavalry will come in handy.

  1. Human opponents require supplies and supply lines. Likely the mounted warriors are based somewhere in the desert. Capture some and learn where this base is. Then divert the attention of your enemies with a large maneuver on the front lines. Send a rapid moving mounted expeditionary force into the desert with cannons. Your force will cut supply lines en route and then lay siege to and ideally capture the desert base of operations. Without prospect of resupply the human enemies will capitulate. Accept their surrender and in exchange offer them farm land. They will be useful against the undead. This is conservative of resources.


Sun Tsu 2:17: Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

  1. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one's own strength.
  1. Vampires. If these are allied with the humans their base will likely be in the same place. If not the humans will know where they are, to avoid them at night if nothing else. Find out from the humans - your captives, or surrendered warriors or citizenry of the desert city. Then surround the vampire base and shell it until it becomes a brightly lit crater.

  2. Undead. If these are autonomous they are dangerous and will need to be rounded up one by one by your cavalry. En masse the cannons can take care of them with antipersonnel shot. If they are non-autonomous you must find the controlling entities and either destroy or co-opt them. If you have accomplished 1 and 3, these entities might be willing to accept terms. Terms might involve sparing the lives of these entities and rounding up and destroying all undead. Once undead are gone, terms can be changed.


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