Bird people are humanoid creatures with a wingspan of 4 meters, they are as tall as humans and the fittest of them weight 72 kilograms or slightly less, so they are quite lighter than the average human.enter image description here

Bird people have an incredible advantage in any conflict, they don't need to fight and risk their lives, they can just fly over the enemies and drop arrows,flechette, rocks and flaming pots of oil or simply throw spears from above. They can fly 3,800 metres above ground when flying long distances in order to cross continents. Carrying weapons into battles makes flying height lower but still over the kilometer, they only walk when home or when resting.

So, how can bird people be stopped from taking over the world ?

The other humanoid creatures present in this world are:

  • Half human, half lion centaurs, they are huge and powerful and can climb
  • Alcohol Elves as in my older questions
  • Driders or giant nope spiders as described by Rennan
  • Lizardfolk or reptile people
  • Merfolk
  • Nagas

No firearms or such things are invented and everything is like the early 1000's of our world, where the majority of people lived in tribes and small villages but there were a few empires and big cities.

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    According to Wikipedia (sourced from bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/…) the average human bodyweight world wide is 62kg. (From the abstract of the linked article, North America has 6% of the world population, but 34% of the human biomass.) – Martin Bonner Nov 7 at 11:03
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    @Eries Well, not. I personally weigh about 63 kg despite being even somewhat taller-than-average (187 cm). Well, I'm really underweight but only slightly (for example, with my classical BMI being about 18) – trolley813 Nov 8 at 7:23
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    Sidenote: To be flight-worthy, avians need two things: very strong breast muscles (and the sternum to go with them), and very light bones (resulting in a much lower BMI than you posited). Perish the thought of "beautiful humanoid with wings added" (as in your picture, or what we generally picture as "angels"). They wouldn't be able to lift those wings, let alone fly with them. Also, they simply couldn't exert significant force against something solid (a.k.a. "melee") without breaking their bones. – DevSolar Nov 8 at 15:54
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    @Eries: Just sayin', there's a reason why "strapping wings to your arms and flapping them" doesn't work for us. (Too heavy for the wing area we'd be able to flap with our arms.) You're positing a race that has arms and wings yet still looks "all humanoid"? Not trying to tell you how to build your world, but "humanoid avian" is pretty hard to suspend disbelief upon. If it's magic that makes their bodies work, that's the point where I would attack... – DevSolar Nov 8 at 16:07
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    @Eries: Alternatively, those high-performance muscles would mean they need to eat, a lot. That food has to come from somewhere. Catching small birds mid-flight won't cut it, so they're probably ground feeders. There, they can be attacked. – DevSolar Nov 8 at 16:10

17 Answers 17

up vote 38 down vote accepted

Offering a different angle from many of the other answers...

Bird people can be fearsome warriors in battle, yes, especially in numbers.

But they live much higher than most land-based races, in inaccessible crags and the occasional beautiful high city, the glories of which are rarely seen by land-based races.

At 3,800m above sea level, the air temperature and oxygen levels required to sustain most land-based races is significantly reduced (source). Even though the majority of bird people live between 500m and 1,000m below that threshold, this is still a good 2,500m above the usual level of land-based cities and towns.

As such, bird people are rarely troubled by land-based squabbles, which usually take place far below them. Equally, bird people rarely involve themselves in land grabs or the politics of land-based races. To them, the wide stretches of land between their mountains are like the ocean.

The answer to your question is simple: Though these angelic bird people might be ferocious flying foes when they are defending their own territory, they rarely encroach on the land-based cities and towns, preferring to keep themselves to themselves and instead focus on establishing robust trade agreements with mountain settlements to obtain materials they cannot obtain through ready means themselves.


UPDATE: Bird people do not necessarily suffer negative physiological effects when descending to sea level.

When bird people spend time nearer sea level, they can experience a kind of altitude sickness, due to the increased blood pressure and oxygen levels. This can manifest itself in the form of headaches, nausea, fatigue and shortness of breath (source). EDIT: As mentioned in the comments, the source for this claim regarding reverse altitude sickness is not reputable. Other (more reputable) sources [1], [2], suggest that "well-trained competitive runners" (Levine et al., 1997) can benefit from high-altitude acclimatisation. The implication here is that bird people could in fact be more effective combatants at lower altitudes (due to an innate acclimatisation at high altitudes).

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    I don't think the other answers are "missing the point", as they have excellent points for actual combat. However you contribute a different angle, which is also an interesting point, so +1 – Zefiro Nov 6 at 19:18
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    @Zefiro, mate, you're so right. I said it tongue-in-cheek. But I actually came on here just now to edit it, coz I realised it was wrong. – oliver-clare Nov 6 at 20:10
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    Unfortunately, this purported "reverse altitude sickness" is not a thing, as far as actual doctors are concerned. To the contrary, athletes routinely undergo altitude training because your body then performs better upon returning to sea level. That source of yours actually is the only one making that particular claim of reverse altitude sickness (that I could find)... – DevSolar Nov 7 at 14:55
  • @DevSolar Exactly, and very very coincidentally (not :P) that website is also advertising shady drugs... – fgysin Nov 8 at 16:39
  • @DevSolar I agree. Having reviewed that source, it's not reputable. I have amended the answer to take your point into consideration. – oliver-clare Nov 9 at 9:07

It seems to me that your angels wouldn’t be invincible, impossible-to-defeat warriors with the parameters you’ve set. Like other answers have said, since they have to land eventually, they will be vulnerable to the other, larger races in your world. While they would be excellent raiders and quite powerful warriors (a wine skin filled with flammable oil and flint would be a terrifying weapon when wielded by these creatures), they would find it hard to hold ground in tight, crowded spaces such as canyons and forests, and it would be nearly impossible for them to fight underground. They would naturally have an advantage in and around things like tall mountains where they could fly and maneuver freely, attack without any obstruction, and fly back to resupply. While no one will be able to out-raid the angels, they will have a hard time defending anything that isn’t sheer cliffs because of their need to strike and retreat to avoid being grounded.

As for how to defend from an attack, look no further than the phalanx. Most of your other creatures seem to be larger and stronger than the angels, so have some of them carry large, powerful shields with angled metal plates. That way fire can’t burn the shields and impact will be deflected off. Since the angels have to get closer to the ground to be accurate, they will then be open to archers firing on them, especially considering that some of these races sound like they could handle firing really large, powerful bows.

Also, one last consideration. Things like storms, high winds, or even smoke from wildfires would make it very difficult, if not impossible, for your angels to fly. Without any sort of magic, your other races can set fires and use the smoke to limit where the angels can fly, and thus make them at least slightly more predictable.

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    Plus 1 for the smoke. Covering your defensive area with smoke would heavily affect aerial bombardment, but have limited effect on ground archers firing up into the sky. – Trevor D Nov 5 at 19:16
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    They probably also have hollow bones, or at least, very thin or light bones. So if you can catch one, they probably can't stand their ground. – Joe Nov 5 at 19:35
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    good point about the armies, armies were followed by hundreds of pack animals to carry all the food an materials the army needed, those can't fly. Also keep in mind how long it will take one soldier to pick up a weapon fly high and far enough to be out of arrow range drop and fly back to camp, this is not going to be a very dense rain of projectiles. – John Nov 6 at 20:34
  • Orson Scot Card did it! In Earthfall: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthfall – Nahshon paz Nov 7 at 8:12

Since your angels are light, flying entites, they probably can't carry much. The more they carry, the more slowly and laboriously they fly, and as a result, the better a target they present themselves.

This would, naturally, lead to light armor and armaments, think leather armor and your earlier mentioned projectiles - stones, spears, etc. But in order to be effective, a projectile has to weigh a certain amount to do damage, otherwise it will just bounce off of any lander's armor. So the weight of the ammunition itself limits the amount of time they can stay in combat.

Imagine that the most common spear weighs (for math's sake) 1kg, but the max an angel can carry while staying airborne is 10kg. That means once they loose their 10 spears, they are out of the fight and must go resupply! Or they can go fight on the ground, but then they are at a clear disadvantage. And their resupply base must be on the ground somewhere, so a smart enemy might find it...

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    Consider adding logistics to complete your last point. How far can they fly? Effective range is half that.That's where their supplies and food would be. In tribal situations, it's seldom that two armies meet on an open plain to battle it out. Their enemies will rather raid their base camps. – nzaman Nov 5 at 16:13
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    @nzaman Exactly, good point - any angel attack would have to be a hit and run, or have an extensive resupply system. Locating and wiping out any resupply base would effectively force them into either fighting on the ground or simply retreating. – AmbientCyan Nov 5 at 16:26
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    Just a little nitpick to your otherwise great answer: leather armour, of the strength that actually works as armour, isn't really that light. Rawhide is very heavy, leather lamellar is quite heavy and soft leather isn't very protective. A decent option in terms of leather would be cuir bouilli, which is plastic-like in consistency and indeed lighter than metal armour, however it's also very stiff and may hinder flight. Still, it's stylistically pretty good for angels. I'd still say you might consider cloth armour as well, since you'd mostly be worrying about projectiles. – Pahlavan Nov 6 at 7:00
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    @Gianluca: I very seriously doubt it would be effective. First, because they cannot easily drop all 10 rocks at the same time in a "homogeneous" pattern; it'd be more like 5 passes of 2 rocks at a time. Second because rocks do not explode on impact, unlike bombs, so if it falls right next to you it's scary but you are unharmed. And third, because humanoids, unlike buildings, can adopt a loose formation as soon as they see the flock arriving. Tight formations were only maintained because of charges, avians will never charge, so tactics will adapt. – Matthieu M. Nov 7 at 8:06
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    @Gianluca: To be honest, I think that if those avians were smart, they'd ally with an earth-bound race for great effect. Have a regular army on the ground to hold the supply train and force the opposing army to mass together; use the avians as implacable light cavalry. They'd be the most sought after mercenaries ever. And the best scouts (outside of forests/underground). Etc... And of course, if their natural mountains, were rocks abound and pursuit across canyons and peaks is nigh impossible, they'd be formidable enemies. – Matthieu M. Nov 7 at 12:09

A 72 Kg meatbag, flying four clicks above a target, with only medieval weaponry, would have a very hard time hitting a target accurately.

Sure, they can fly lower and use bows, but there are only so many arrows you can carry.

At some point they have to land. They can't sleep, cook, make love nor nest in the air. And once they are on the ground, they are game.

At the very least, burn their tents to the ground, and they will have to fly back home for more supplies.

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    They can't sleep, cook, make love nor nest in the air. Swifts do. They do nest to lay eggs and hatch their young, otherwise they don't typically land at all. - okay, cooking may be hard, maybe they hunt and eat birds or some other flying creature raw instead? or maybe they grab handfuls of fruit from trees that hold them upwards (symbiotic evolution so the seeds are spread by angels)? – Baldrickk Nov 5 at 16:40
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    @Baldrickk do you picture them as mining iron for the arrow tips without landing as well? – Renan Nov 5 at 16:43
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    my point was more that angels might not be just like humans in their needs - this can constrain or expand on options. e.g. if they sleep on the wing, and don't make camp, you can't attack their camp, but maybe, you could set traps in those trees to snare them instead? – Baldrickk Nov 5 at 16:45
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    There's also a reason bombers drop bombs that explode with a radius, drops thousands of them, and flies in groups. If they can make it accurate they'll just use a single Molotov cocktail. – Nelson Nov 6 at 1:44
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    seagulls can drop poo with extreme accuracy, why couldn't angels do similar? – RozzA Nov 6 at 6:55

Choose your terrain. You can't fight in plains or fields, that'll be a lost battle for the rest of your creatures. Fight only on dense forests with high coverage. With 4 meters of wings, they won t be able to maneuver bellow the leafs and from the sky it will be harder to shoot their arrows accurately as they would need to beat the resistance from the top of the trees.

Also have your spider people lay webs all over the region they want to defend. If any angel tries to fly between the trees they will be trapped and an easy target.

Have the elves hide on top of the trees and shoot down any low flying angel.

Attack their nests with lizard people, because they probably have a high and almost impossiblen to reach location. They can climb better and stealthly disrupt their rankings.

The merfolk are safe, as long as they don t leave the water.

If I were tasked to defend against these critters, I'd consider it an easy (but interesting) job.

Preface: In a medieval world, you need to take the castle to control a land. As long as the castle is in enemy hands, so is the land, whether or not you have your troops there. So this is all about defending your castle against some tasty chickens. (are they tasty?)

First, castles already have roofs above the battlements, typically, to defend against ballistic arrow shots. They will work just fine against arrows, darts, spears and light stones dropped by these critters.

And if they want to get any kind of accuracy, they will have to approach much lower than their maximum flight height. Chances are good that in a battle they will be within arrow range. Fill the air with arrows and watch them coming down - they won't be able to carry much in the way of armour while my men on the ground can hide under roofs, behind shields and wear all kinds of protective clothes.

In addition to that, I can certainly modify my trebuchets and other heavy artillery to throw things upwards, and then load them with cast nets, possibly modified for this type of deployment. Basically, I'm putting a net into the air. Try flying with your wings tangled in a net.

And just because I'm vicious, I can play havoc with their aerodynamics by liting a couple big and hot fires. If I can hide the flames and smoke, e.g. by making the fire inside a building and using something that burns clean, they will swoop over my castle and suddenly find themselves in a violent updraft with turbulences. Good luck.

And finally, as soon as I have cannons or something else powerful enough (I might check if I can modify a ballista) there is the old and effective weapon against anything that flies: Scattershot. Instead of shooting one big-ass bolt, my ballista can shoot a hundred smaller ones, or my catapult can throw a whole load of gravel and sharp, fist-sized stones. Aim would be terrible at first, but my people would learn fast.

So there is a whole lot of pain I can do to the birdies as soon as they come down to low heights, and I can force them to come down there because if they stay up high I'll just hide under a roof and laugh about them. In fact, if they just drop stuff from up high, there's not much of a tactical difference between them and an array of catapults on the nearby hill.

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    Only downside is the birds don't need to control the land. They can just endlessly terrorize farmers and livestock who go out to the fields. When the farmers retreat to the castle, the birds can go away and come back later. Farmers can't stay inside forever, or else they won't be able to farm. The birds won't be conquering the castle, but they can certainly be a major nuisance to the supply lines. – Troyen Nov 8 at 22:21
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    @Troyen - the same could be said about medieval troops. Sure you can just burn down the farms and be a nuissance - but if you want to conquer the land, you need to take the castle. If the birds just want to be nuissance, they can, but in such case they've just given me a lot of time to think about something else. Like building defensive towers everywhere around to shoot them from there. – Tom Nov 9 at 7:35

So, how can Angels be stopped from taking over the world and create an Angel dominated empire where every other humanoid creature just gets enslaved?

Weapons and warriors can only win you a battle. Wars are won with logistics.

Look at most powerful modern machines of war, the aircraft carries. Do they pack any weapons? No. All they do is provide logistics for planes. That's all that it takes.

No matter how good your angelic warriors are - fighting is exhausting, flying is exhausting and doing both is probably exhausting squared. They need to land, rest, eat and rearm. And from your description they sound to be absolutely defenseless then. If they don't have ground infrastructure: beasts of burden and heavy wagons, they can't take any supplies with them. They can't perform what empires hinge on: "projection of power". They're pretty much limited to defending the nearest vicinity of their settlements, range that a warrior can reach in a single flight, be able to fight and return home. Sounds like no more than few hundred km. Altitude can be used to avoid a fight, but not in combat. If an angel flies low enough to hit someone on the ground, the soldier on the ground can fire back. Ground troops can carry heavier, longer ranged weapons like crossbows and ballistas. Aerial attack is not radically different than what is already well known. Volley of arrows fired in an arc fall from above just like a volley of arrows fired by angels. All other races already have worked out their combat tactics against that, eg Romans had turtle formation. Flight can give advantage of speed and surprise, but not a 1:1 advantage. Also, unlike ground-based armies, they can neither take prisoners nor care about their own wounded. Most wounds would mean either death falling or forced landing - which means death on hostile ground as well. Angels would probably have much different social values because of that: either being very pacifist to avoid loses or on the contrary, praising death in combat as a method to cope with high loses. You mention cross-continental flight, but you don't say anything about it's consequences. Birds do fly 10000km in one take, but they take months to prepare for the migration and weeks to recover from it. That's not something one can use offensively.

I don't think your problem is "how they didn't took over the world". If an enemy attacks, can survive the first defensive strike and continue marching to reach the settlement - angels are toasted. I'd worry more about "how they've even stayed alive". That's stereotypically solved with having them perched on high mountains, inaccessible by foot. Note that it limits their development, so their weapons would remain crude and ineffective. It's probably a vicious circle: angels can't leave their high perches because they lack technology to be competitive on the ground and they can't develop the technology because they can't leave their perches.

PS: I think you're severely overestimating physical power of a creature that consists mostly of flight muscles. They take most of your 72kg, the rest being vital infrastructure like gastrointestinal tract, leaving almost no mass budget for arms, legs and weapons, leaving armor out of the question entirely.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – L.Dutch Nov 7 at 14:55

It comes down to the terrain where the other species live

  • Half human, half lion centaurs - Open plains? If the reside in caves then aerial bombardment is pointless
  • Elves - Forest? Kinda hard to spot people in the trees and likely to get shot if you get closer. Burning the whole forest is the only way to win.
  • Driders or giant spiders - Underground or dark places is no place for an angel
  • Lizardfolk or reptile people - Swamps? Just like a forest only wetter and impossible to burn.
  • Merfolk - Underwater is completely untouchable
  • Nagas - Swamps again?

Aerial advantage only goes so far and if forced to go hand to hand, suddenly they are at a disadvantage.

The only real advantages are spying and burning out crops and other food supplies.

The most likely weapon these angels would carry would be something like Javelins, or since throwing is likely impeded during flight they would resort to dropping tiny darts (https://www.google.nl/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2662730/amp/WWI-darts-dropped-biplanes-German-trenches-disgusted-British-aviators-ungentlemanly.html)*

Still you are heavily impeded by accuracy. For proper accuracy you need to aim for formations or fly low and risk retaliatory fire. This means angelics wont auto-win battles.

Theres also resource management and population. If only 5% of the living sentients is angelics then they wont be that influential in the grand scheme. And imagine if your angelics attack a nearby Village and say "do our bidding or we'll kill again", upon which the villagers send a few people trecking across the ground and burn the angelic's food supplies and hunt whatever the angelics eat till they starve. Flying means they need to eat a lot more so they need a much more nutrient rich diet and run into famine faster if you target their food. This means that angelics are better off banding together than enforcing a kind of slavery.

*Edit: for reference these darts were thrown in batches of 500 which would be hard to pull off by an angel. In a test scenario on a luckless cow 3 out of 500 hit and went straight through the cow and into the ground, so in one hand accuracy is definitely a problem but even with inferior darts the killingpower wont be.

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    Those tiny darts would be super effective. But could but people in the early 1000s make enough metal to make those darts? Or would they end up with spears, thus limiting each Angel to 1 or 2 spears each, seriously limiting their potential? – Trevor D Nov 5 at 19:18
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    @TrevorD darts could be made from wood and stone like small arrows and certain crossbow darts (even though those might not exist yet), I assume it was easier to simply pour several dozen darts at a time in a factory than build wood&stone darts by hand in WWI – Demigan Nov 5 at 19:20
  • I'm unsure if a wooden dart would be heavy enough, but assuming it is, a poison tip would make it very effective. All it has to do is break the skin. Either way I love the idea of essentially dumping a bucket of darts and letting the air spread them out and hit an entire encampment. – Trevor D Nov 5 at 19:24
  • @TrevorD they wouldnt be pure wood, but have stone or metal heads. Unlike arrows they would likely be build like kinetic penetrators, less sharp edge and more reverse teardrop head like in the picture of the article. Carried in a light wicker or straw basket and dropped... – Demigan Nov 5 at 20:22
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    @Rekesoft I highly doubt that these darts would need a lot of space to reach their terminal velocity, and with the shape of the darts having Fins to stabilize and no forces that keep it going at 200km/h sideways I suspect the most energy of the impact came from its falling velocity, not the aircraft it was thrown from. – Demigan Nov 6 at 13:43

The weaknesses and disadvantages of angels in combat have already been covered - I'd just like to add a couple of points regarding anti-angel tactics.

Fortifications - If people are fighting angels regularly, they can adapt their fortifications and defences to compensate for an airborne enemy. Covered battlements with fireproof sloped roofs would shelter defenders from attacks from above. Arrow slits or hatches they can pop out of would allow them to return fire whilst minimising exposure.

Siege Weapons - Most medieval siege weaponry fires one large projectile and is optimised for dealing damage to fortifications and building. With the right motivation, anti-air siege weapons could be designed and built that fire dozens or hundreds of lighter projectiles that would prove deadly to a lightly armoured airborne combatant. For reference, think of something like the Hwacha, which uses small fireworks to launches dozens of arrows simultaneously. If gunpowder is unavailable, catapults and trebuchets could be modified to fire shotgun-like blasts of small rocks and sling bullets.

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    this reminds me of the mangonel. If that could fire more precise and higher you could snipe Angels, but yourself too – Jannis Nov 6 at 9:14
  • Something like an onager could work as well. Basically there are any number of ways a motivated force could design a medieval equivalent of an AA gun. – Chromane Nov 6 at 12:29
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    most castles would already have sloped roofs (against ballistic shots) and they would be reasonably fireproof (because fire arrows were a thing). – Tom Nov 6 at 23:17
  • Excellent! we're already most of the way there then! Just pointing out regular conflict with airborne foes would means proper roofing becomes even more important – Chromane Nov 6 at 23:21

Since most other answers discuss drawbacks to being an angel in combat i'll talk about anti angel tactics. since this is early 1000s, you most likely don't have crossbows, but you would want a way to damage the flying creatures fragile wings some how.

You could have a battalion of sling users, they could lob stones and early lead bullets at angel in a synchronized volley. This could be vary hard to counter, shields would really weigh down the angel and you cant cover everything.

Since Merfolk exist you could easily adapt fishing nets to be launched at the angelic folk when they get low or on the ground.

  • Asker is talking about having these birds fly 1km up. I'm no sling expert, but that seems like quite a stretch even if it weren't having to go up. – William - Rem Nov 6 at 17:17
  • @William-Rem trees and other sources of cover as well as shields could protect against flechettes, and as discussed by others you have to relatively close to use a bow. – Sebastian Morfin Nov 6 at 17:19
  • You have to be close to use a bow when firing sideways, but someone shooting downwards gets much better distance for a given size of bow, and someone shooting upwards loses a goodly portion of theirs. A quick search shows an English war bow could fire up to ~200 meters / ~650 feet. Assuming they're firing at 45 degrees for maximum distance, we can estimate that their arrows would reach no more than half that distance in height, giving the angels a safe altitude of about 100m from one of the strongest muscle-powered hand weapons in history. – William - Rem Nov 6 at 17:34
  • I'd like to reiterate that my point is that I think a lot of people are thinking of "range" on various weapons as a sphere, but "range shooting up at distinct targets moving in three dimensions" is not the same as "maximum range against massed formations at the same or similar elevation as me". – William - Rem Nov 6 at 17:35

I'm going to answer your question "So, how can bird people be stopped from taking over the world?" with a question (yeah, I'm that kind of guy) -

3.8 Kilometers means that the Angilians (Angel-avians) are adapted to lower oxygen and air pressure and would therefore prefer higher altitudes. In lower altitudes they'll be quite uncomfortable. Why do they want to take over your plains and forests, then? Must be something that you have, that they don't (seems that control over your land isn't it).

Once you figure what that thing is, base negotiations upon it. The reason could be as simple as a fear that your people will one day take over their land (which is similarly dubious, for the same reasons). Once everybody figures out that continuous war isn't beneficial in the long run, put up some Peace and trade agreements that will serve both sides, and these will eventually lead to a grudging co-existence.

At least until those grudges/religion/racism/sheer stupidity bring about another inevitable skirmish... So, people beleaguered by attacks from above are going to develop fast roof-construction methods. Crawl towards the bad guys' city with your wooden tents/shacks and kick their ass... until they kick your ass... and the cycle begins anew.

they only walk when home or when resting.

Then that's where you fight them.

EDIT: specifically, you (the terrans) need some serious advantage when fighting the enemy (the avians) on the enemy's terms, and your question sets it up that the terrans are disadvantaged. Thus, the terrans must fight on their own terms, which means tracking the avians to their resting places, or sabotaging their food/water, etc.

I'm having another idea:
What about flying nets?
Inspired by a game where an archer could shoot a net with 4 arrows, which stunned the enemy for a short time. When applying this principle to this question, it would mean shooting nets at angels to block the wings and let them fall into the death.
The nets need:

  • to weight very less and be so strong to get not destroyed by the power of the wings
  • a diameter of at least 5 meters, better 7m
  • skilled archers/slingers or a catapult to hit properly

The advantages are:

  • nets cost not much
  • nets are easy recycleable
  • -> what means special nets (with barbs or else), which costs more are also available
  • very effective (if performed right)

The disadvantages are:

  • It's hard to perform right, you probably need a catapult for shooting
  • somebody has got to collect the nets

I hope this helps :)

  • Related (SPOILER , RANT ABOUT NETS) : youtube.com/watch?v=pESyj0qkxlo Related bis (SPOILER, HILARIOUS RANT ABOUT ROPE) : youtube.com/watch?v=lZfpQzV2GnM – Don Pablo Nov 6 at 16:16
  • Well light weigthed nets are a useful weapon (when skilled archers/slingers/machines shoot it). Angels can't really dodge it, since it's pretty big and the time the angels try to free thm they're already dead – Jannis Nov 6 at 16:30
  • How big should your net be to capture a creature with a 4-meters wing span ? I really don't know, but I figure it should be quite a big net. It would be hard to throw by hand, and unaccurate to throw it with a catapult. That's just my two cents, I really, REALLY don't know anything about net throwing ! – Don Pablo Nov 6 at 16:35

Here are a couple of things that would keep the bird people from being anything but the terrorists of your world:

  1. They can only fight what they can see.
  2. They can kill but they can't hold ground.
  3. Their path to success is cooperation, not conflict.

They can Only fight what they can see

They can't effectively fight at night. They can't scout forests or any terrain that provides overhead cover. So, enemies need to move at night and hide during the day. Once they get near the flyer's base, they can attack at night (possibly with crossbow delivered nets).

They can kill but they can't hold ground.

The flyers should be physically weaker in hand to hand combat than a normal human unless there is magic involved in their flight. They need to keep their muscle mass down and most of their muscles will be powering their wings. They would have to fly into an area, make several trips to bring supplies forward and then begin raiding. Even in the raid, they still have to get their loot out. They better attack someone that has something with more value to weight than the arrows they will bring with them.

They would never be able to have towns or cities in a contested area.

The will not be as good at farming as a human (the wings don't help plow the field). So their food supply will be less than human's. Thus, their population will be less than a human's. They could raid for food but how much food can they carry and how many will they lose on the raid to do that? Even then, all it would take would be a couple of fake food shipments (either with fighters hiding in the food or poison in the food) to end that.

Their path to success is cooperation, not conflict.

In a caravan, they can scout for bandits or beasts and at night, they can have a bunch of those strong humans guarding them while they sleep.

In an army, they can scout or snipe high value targets while, at night, they are surrounded by an army of people who have a vested interest in protecting them.

First off, there is much more to conquering the world than being individually formidable.

If someone else is more numerous, more organized, more aggressive, smarter, better at diplomacy, or just had a head start, they may dominate your bird people even if the bird people are individually more capable in a fight.

Your bird people would have inherent problems with logistics. They either need flying pack animals, flying machines, or they need to carry everything themselves. If there are flying pack animals or machines, the other races will be trying to get their own for flying cavalry, flying dragoons, or an air force.

The small wingspan of your bird people isn't going to allow for extended soaring. They are going to need to land reasonably often to rest, and they are going to need an enormous amount of food (which makes the logistics problem worse). Heavily loaded flying pack animals will also need to rest often and if they don't have flying pack animals, their own range is going to be further constrained.

Siege warfare has plenty of tactics for defending against people high above you dropping stuff and your bird people would have some trouble with managing a really dense sustained, attack since they can't pack closely together, they need to keep moving to remain flying, and they can only throw what they can carry with them. So sure they can harass with impunity and slow their enemies down quite a bit but unless they have something like antipersonnel grenades. I don't think they are going to be able to entirely stop an enemy that's prepared to defend against air attack by just dropping stuff. This makes them ineffective at taking and holding land.

On the other hand, I think you are missing one of their most important military advantages: reconnaissance and communication. Even if they were to largely manoeuvre and fight on the ground to conserve energy and resources and so they could carry a heavier load of gear, the fact that they could have flying scouts and "runners" would be a massive advantage. It would also be one that the other races would be eager to match, meaning they would encourage defectors.

So overall, I don't think you need any special contrivance to stop them from taking over. You would need to give them more than just being able to fly before it became a problem.

Burning Mirrors / Heat Ray

Inspired of Archimedes who supposedly used this technology during the Siege of Syracuse (214–212 BC) one can imagine towers equipped with big mobile mirrors in order to concentrate the Sun beams. Just point the beam to your avians and see their wings starting burning !

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It has been shown that Archimedes wasn't abble to perform such a trick because argentic mirror weren't invented yet but this is not a problem for you as the first silver-mercury amalgams have been used in China as early as 500 A.D. !

protected by James Nov 6 at 19:41

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