For my story the inhabitants of the setting find themselves fighting against endless hordes of monsters. But these monsters have several traits that will require unique strategies against them which I am trying to work out.
The setting First of all some background on the world they're living in. Its set in a large kingdom about half the size of western Europe and is surrounded by barrens. These barrens are infested with the monsters and are constantly attacking. The area in between the kingdom and barrens is known as the frontier. A massive stretch of land filled with walls, fortresses and other defenses. If one of them were to fall it would be a simple matter to fall back. The tech level is undecided. I was thinking late second industrial revolution but medieval is also a possibility.
Magic The setting does have a magic system but it is not too relevant to the tactics. It is of a runic nature and by drawing on ley lines anythign within the parameters of the rune can be done. It is not that suitable for use by units and is usually reserved for reinforcing defenses or enhancing long range weaponry like artillery.
The Monsters The monsters are the creatures of a God of the void. They desire to wipe out everything and they are created by this god for doing so. They have multiple traits that make them difficult to stop.
- Attraction to magic: The world is held together by magic so they have an ability to seek it out and destroy it. Magic can be found in all living things, running through the landscape as ley lines and in runic circles made by mages. This draws them endlessly into the kingdom which still has functional magic thanks to its defense from the monsters.
- Anti-material: Anything the monsters touch crumbles into dust/ash. This severely limits the effectiveness of different weapons. Melee weapons will wear out quickly in combat and armour will crumble after a single hit. This obviously makes ranged weapons a smarter option. Defenses like walls can have some effectiveness at holding them back depending on thickness. They will need to be constantly patched and repaired however with constant attacks. Due to the magic running within living creatures their crumbling effect is different on them. Organics will wither instead. Organs will stop and limbs will become useless. Damage depends on amount of exposure, limited exposure will leave the tissue functional if scarred and crippled. Large exposure will leave tissue dead and after that it will crumble just like anything else.
- Endless variety/numbers: There is no end in sight to the numbers of the monsters, society has basically just been holding them at bay at the frontier. They can come in many different shapes and sizes, appearing both like real animals and mythical ones.
- No organs: Due to their nature as monsters of the void, they do not require anything to survive and therefore have no vital organs. Killing them is dependent on body damage. Cutting them to pieces and blowing them up are effective at killing them. Ranged weapons like guns generally don't do much more than slow them down. Although higher caliber and higher spread guns are effective. Large amounts of small wounds have also been shown to kill them, as if they were bleeding out, although no blood has ever been observed from them.
I need to work out what tactics would be best against these monsters. Both on an organizational army wide scale and independent unit scale ie what training and equipment soldiers receive and what tactics the army uses.
Alright I'll give you some extra details and clear some things up.
- Withering organics is not an extra thing that happens before crumbling to ash. Its just the same thing happening in a different way.
- touching a single part of an object will not cause the entire thing to crumble, only the touched area. Parts surrounding it will weaken however, monsters must use repeated attacks and touches to destroy things. This means the size of an object matters, a bullets small size will lead to near immediate disintegration upon entering their body but a thick stone wall could last a siege.
- Their disintegration ability is in effect over the entire body, touch it anywhere and you will crumble. They are immune to the effect themselves so no friendly fire.
- As creatures of the void, they are not all physically there. Hence no need for organs and such. While they can be touched and killed, they do not fit in with the rest of nature. Basically eldritch monsters. They also appear to fade away into smoke upon death, leaving no bodies.
- The durability of the object matters when crumbling. e.g. stone lasts better than clay. Metal weapons can survive a few hits(as long as the structure is still sound)
- There are monsters capable of things like flight, swimming and burrowing through the ground. Their numbers vary. Tunneling monsters are uncommon but do exist, they are more common in areas with plenty to dig through like mountains. It takes a while for them to dig but still faster than any natural earth creature thanks to their disintegration. Flyers are common but still less than standard land creatures. Anti-air weaponry would be effective against them. Oceans and water bodies in monster territory tend to be teeming with them. Sailing in monster waters is effectively suicide since they can destroy the bottoms of ships. The only sailing activity is limited to a safe and secure bay which is kept clean of monsters as well as freshwater bodies deep with safe territory.
- The lower density of liquids and gases leads to the disintegration being less useful. e.g. water will become lifeless and less buoyant while air becomes stale and thin.
- Monsters can tone down their ability at will, this is mostly done for convenience though, not much use walking when the ground is gone.
- The origin of the monsters is not known by society. It appears they just spawn within their own territories. Created by their god.
- Monster strategies usually come down to either strong individuals or pack hunting. Packs will usually stick to monsters of similar body types but this is not guaranteed. Monsters can form large hordes of many types which will attack in waves. Their God does little to lead them past simply creating them.
- Monster intelligence can vary, most are nothing more than primal creatures whose only instinct is to seek out magic and destroy. But some can rise higher to use strategy in combat or lead their fellows like an alpha. Some can even organize entire armies of monsters but these are rare and their tactics pretty simplistic outside of maneuvering.
- A single type of monster has developed which is capable of mimicking humans and infiltrating society to bring it down from inside. Their existence is not known to humans so tactics don't really exist against them.
- Humanities goals has basically just been survive for their entire history since the monsters first started showing up. All they have been able to do. While they have fallen back and reclaimed bits of the frontier many times, they have never really been able to advance much further. Doing something about them will be the main plot of the story but for now I want to know the tactics already in use.
- Very frontlines forts can expect 2-5 attacks a week, they use the time between attacks to recover, repair and restock.
- It is not uncommon for groups of monsters to make their way past the frontline, this is why its so important for extra fortifications behind them. So recorded monster has made it all the way to the kingdom through the entire frontier's defenses.
- Society is geared towards supporting the frontier, with resources and troops being sent out as often as possible. Internal politics can occasionally decrease this supply(because politicians can be bickering idiots at times)
- Runes can not be freestanding or created instantly. They must be drawn onto something. So good for reinforcing a wall or adding an extra effect to it, not so much for force fields. Using them in the defense also has the extra drawback of attracting more monsters
- The monsters cover basically the entire world except for this kingdom. Their more dense around the kingdom itself since the barrens don't really have any magic to attract them. It is theorized that there may be other kingdoms out there which have managed to survive like them. But between the monsters and distance contact it not viable until the threat is dealt with.
- Terrain will regenerate over time when magic is available. Ley lines will naturally create features of the terrain and said features will simultaneously reinforce the ley lines. E.g. rivers and ridges are more likely to end up running over ley lines. This means that within the barrens the monsters have destroyed most features of the landscape to weaken and destroy the ley lines. As long as the kingdom still stands, the ley lines of the world will continue to regenerate using them as a source while simultaneously being targeted by monsters.
- If the monsters were successful in destroying all magic including ley lines on the planet, it would die and come apart. If every planet in a system lost its lines then its star would be turned into a black hole(systems and planets function as gigantic runes keeping the universe together). The God of the void aims to do this everywhere
- The monsters were not always attacking. There was a period where there was a good god protecting them until he got preoccupied with keeping the universe together elsewhere. They had gotten to about bronze age tech before the monsters started appearing. Much of the world was swiftly lost and they retreated into the fortified kingdom.
Phew, the number of things you only think to add after posting, well here we go. Time to say if anyone points out more details I could add....