So I have a character in a fantasy setting who is basically a human for the most part in terms of physical limits. They do have slightly stronger bone structure and greater endurance, along with somewhat better mental reaction times and concentration.

However, they do have the ability to reduce the pull of gravity on themselves and anything they are touching due to an innate magical effect. They can't outright defy gravity and float through the air, but they're never going to injure themselves from falling, and climbing is far easier for them. The reduction must be consistent across their person and can only be use on unattended items or willing targets. Mass wise it effects themselves and a total external mass equal to their own.

How would this ability affect their combat style and weapon preference, working on the assumption that they've grown up with the ability and have been trained as a solider by people with a similar ability?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi MDS, I don't want to come off as a pedant but for the purposes of this question there is an incompatibility here. You say that they can affect themselves and whatever they're touching, but that they can't affect a total mass larger than themselves. Can we assume that you mean they can't affect a total mass much larger than themselves? That leaves room for clothing & weapons without doubling their mass by grabbing hold of someone $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ They can't be used on an unwilling target, or they can only be used on a willing target? In the heat of battle, there's a strong difference between actively willing something to happen and merely not being unwilling for it to happen. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ Tim - as in the mass they can effect is themselfs, and up to themself again. I'll reword the question slightly. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 12:10

3 Answers 3


Honestly, the style would be wildly different, and close combat would be wildly different because of the possible advantages that you could gain from this. For one thing, you could have styles develop that look much more like Kung Fu Movie / Anime martial arts, where people leap ridiculous distances or higher into the air.

If the effect is reversible - that is, if you can make gravity attract you more strongly - then even more strange combat movement possibilities open up. Overhand swings would be much more popular, since you could increase the gravitational attraction of the weapon (and weapon arm) to increase the downward momentum. And if the effect actually adjusts mass, not gravity, things get even weirder (with a hat tip here to E. E. (Doc) Smith)

However, the biggest problem with personal gravity reduction is the problem of the Perpetual Motion Machine. Normally, you can't create energy from nothing, but in this case you could.

Consider - when such a warrior performs a leap into the air based on reduced gravity, then restores the gravity at the peak of their leap, the energy expended going up will be less than the energy recovered going down - you will have a net gain of energy. This could either be hand-waved away, or could lead to interesting limitations on how the gravity reduction would work.

For example, to balance conservation of energy, when a person jumps under personal gravity reduction, they will go higher. If you then "restore" gravity, your potential energy increase has to come from somewhere. Does it come from his stored muscular energy? Some external source of energy? Their body temperature suddenly decreasing? And what if they jump up under normal gravity, then reduce gravity at the peak of the jump? Does this recharge them? Can this be dangerous because their body temperature suddenly spikes?

Of course, there could be other considerations entirely (such as the strange idea that crossed my head that the excess energy gained is released as spontaneous gamma rays), but the implications of the ability in the area of physiology or physics are fascinating.


Brandon Sanderson's "Stormlight Archive" series has a warrior that has abilities such as these, he come under the class of "Surgebinders" I highly recommend to check out his work if you want a good base at how it is used in combat.

In the Stromlight Archive Szeth-son-son-Vallano is primarily an assassin (Not by choice), he can alter the direction of gravity. This allows him greater infiltration and espionage due to the fact that he can walk up walls, and on the roof of ceilings.

As @Laughing Vergil has said above, it opens up wild possibilities.

Your warrior could use a huge weapon that weighs the same as itself, and would certainly be overpowered as it could wield it like a toy. If it can alter the direction or point of gravity, he could pull projectiles towards a point in his shield.

If the target can't be unwilling, then depending on your leniency you could affect them by touching their weapon, shirt, armour. This opens up further possibilities with throws and takedowns like that in Jiu Jitsu, or Judo.

  • $\begingroup$ Lucas, welcome to Worldbuilding.SE. I realize that you don't yet have enough reputation points to comment, but your answer is really not fleshed out enough to be a comment. So go ahead and flesh it out. Don't just point us to Sanderson's work, tell us about it. In what ways has this author worked out the questions that MrDracoSpirit asked? $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Cyn I will reply with a more fleshed out comment once I have the book in front of me (Later on tonight). Thank you for the heads up, I will fix it soon as possible. $\endgroup$
    – Lucas A.
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:30
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    $\begingroup$ If you're holding a weapon with the same mass as yourself you're going to have serious issues with momentum even if gravity isn't in the game. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 9:07

More armor (or more stamina in the same armor)

I'm operating on a couple of assumptions here. 1. The assumption that the phrase "the ability to reduce the pull of gravity" is meant, literally, as the only form this ability takes, ruling out changes to direction of gravity or increasing it, etc. 2. I also assume that "Fantasy setting" is meant to indicate medieval-ish tech levels, swords, spears, armor, sheilds, etc., and the 'warriors' are knights, foot-soldiers, barbarian(trope), and the like.

Leaps in combat are overrated (in my opinion). They are cinematic but, outside of very specific and rare circumstances, leaving your foundation (feet on the ground) for striking and defending is not generally a good idea in a melee martial art, with or without a weapon. You lose the ability to change your own direction and become a more visible and more predictable target, etc. So while a select few might specialize in this type of thing, I don't see this as being the most common warrior type among those with this magic ability.

In medieval battlefield combat, the guys in the heaviest, highest quality, fullest coverage, armor were the tanks of the battle. Not as slow as many people think, much harder to kill than many people think, but their downside is they run out of gas faster than standard grunt soldier, due to carrying around more steel. They make short work of anyone with significantly less armor that does't outrun them, our overwhelm them with numbers. They take heavy hits from most standard weapons (spears, and occasionally swords), and shrug them off and keep right on fighting. They make good use of those same standard weapons against those less armored opponents, and have some of their own special weapons (mace/warhammer) to deal with others like themselves in heavier armor. This is the type of warrior that I see being the main adaptation by those with your magic ability.

But in your scenario, I see 2 variations of upgrades to these "standard" knights:

  1. The stamina knight - the downside to the amazing defenses of amazing armor is mostly in how fast the wearer gets tired (overheating is a close second and, in some cases might be considered as part of the tiring process). But with this ability, the weight of the armor is offset, at least to a large degree (exactly how much isn't clear based on the wording of the question), by the magical ability. So the wearer can continue fighting much longer than the standard knight could, with the same armor and weapons. They could also be carried for longer times or larger distances by a horse, because the horse would feel less of their weight as well. These knights would be the skirmishers of their battle group. They would endlessly harass any enemy that didn't put them at risk of being overwhelmed by numbers. For less armored enemy units, they would pick and choose targets that they could move in, take a good shot, and move away, pick a new target and repeat. For enemy standard-knights, they could harass with attacks and withdrawals until the enemy tires and eventually collapses from exhaustion, and then move in for the kill.

  2. The "standard-knight"-buster knight - These warriors would be in heavier than normal armor. This would reduce their stamina back down to at or near the level of a more standard knight, but would offer incredible protection by medieval standards. They could confidently walk up to an enemy that is wielding a weapon specifically designed to penetrate normal knight armor (mace, warhammer, some polearms with hammer or spike elements, etc), take a hit from those weapons, their improved armor would shrug off the hit, so they can close in and end the fight. This would work, even against an enemy knight, as they wouldn't be any better equipped to penetrate the thicker armor than their less armored allies, and would be plenty vulnerable to mace/warhammer/etc strikes.

As far as weaponry, I don't see a whole lot of variation here, except that they would be able to wield heavier than normal armor busting weapons.

As far as actual fighting techniques, I don't see much variation here either, except that, especially when wielding those heavier than normal armor buster weapons, they would favor upward strikes. This is because even if the weapon 'feels' lighter, it still has the same mass, and so changes in the weapon's directions relative to horizontal travel will still be just as difficult for the wielder as if they had no magic ability. So sideways strikes with a heavier weapon would be slow and awkward, hard to start, hard to stop, hard to change direction, etc. Downward strikes wouldn't benefit from the lightened gravity, but upward strikes would. I imagine a lot of over-sized war hammers, swung like golf clubs, smashing through shields, and denting the armors beyond the busted shields, all in a single swing, due to sheer momentum so easily generated in the lightened gravity.


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