The Ice Mages of a world I'm crafting can create constructs made from ice. Now, a master Ice Mage might be able to do fun things with his construct like project them in showers of ice shards, but learning to do that takes time, effort, and skill. It's unlikely a small village would have someone who can do that. On the flip side, just learning to create a construct made of ice is very easy - anyone can pick it up in a few months of minimal training, and thus everyone in a small village could feasibly be taught it. Here are the rules of the constructs:

  • Water cannot be created by ice magic. When creating the construct from water, you can shape it into whatever shape you want, but the water must come from somewhere. Typically ice mages will have a canteen of water (or several) on them at all times.

  • The ice weapon will not melt in the slightest until it is exposed to temperatures exceeding 212 degrees Farenheit (100 degrees Celsius). This is because of magic. If you create an edge from the ice, you will not need to worry about it being blunted by melting under most normal circumstances.

  • Exotic types of ice (basically, Ice-2 and above) are not allowed. These are typically created using pressure and thus are outside the range of the Ice Mage's ability. Ice-1 is the only type of ice allowed. (Though you are allowed to assume 100% purity of water.)

  • You must be in physical contact with the water to turn it into ice. You can also add more water onto a broken ice weapon to repair it / reforge it / add to it, but you cannot melt the ice at will and reform it. If the Ice Mage withdraws the magic, it functions like normal ice.

  • Assume that water is plentiful, but not unlimited. Also, obviously, carrying too much water would be a problem as that would weigh the Ice Mage down.

Now, the Ice Mages of this world have a problem - they're constantly attacked by the barbarian tribes. And, the barbarian tribes being true and proper barbarians, they go into battle with no armor on, and using crude stone weapons. Now, the Ice Mages may be more advanced in terms of intelligence, but they don't really have weapons either, and the best armor they have is cloth armor. They do have their Ice Mage magic, though. So the question is, given these rules for constructing ice weapons, what's the best way to establish an army to fight against armorless barbarians wielding stone weapons?

If you try traditional weapons (i.e. swords), you run into weight distribution issues. If you try massed lances, then you run into structural issues (as lances can run on the long side). And should you opt to just create giant spike walls of ice, that requires a gargantuan amount of water, which the barbarians could just run around. Thoughts?

  • $\begingroup$ Can they reshape ice? How long does it take? $\endgroup$ – Thorne Nov 21 '19 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ They can add to existing ice, but they cannot melt it. So it would take as long as it took for all the ice in the existing structure to melt. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Nov 21 '19 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ can you freeze the person directly ? because human contain a lot of water after all. $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Nov 21 '19 at 3:22
  • $\begingroup$ No. It's not actually mentioned in the question, but directly affecting humans like that is restricted to the higher class of mages. Not to mention you'd have to get within contact range of a gigantic brute with a stone club. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Nov 21 '19 at 3:37

Ice caltrops. By itself, it won't be enough to stop all attacks, but it's an economical use of water that is easy to conceal and can seriously snarl a horde of barbarians running over it. Which would buy your ice mages time to escape. And it can be planted in advance.

Magic non-melting ice would also make a convenient all-purpose construction glue. Need to build a wall quickly? Just grab whatever rocks, logs, etc. from the forest as filler, then pour some water over it and freeze it together. Your mages could probably assemble an impressive defensive fort overnight if necessary.


When wrestling with magical items interacting with non-magical items, it can always get a bit messy.

A "real" ice sword break after a single swing, and might cause some lacerations but won't cleave foes in two. If we can magically increase the sharpness and strength of the weapons then maybe, but those are nobs you could tweak to become really over powered.

Rather than inflicting wounds from cutting or stabbing, blunt trauma seems to be where ice weapons could really excel.

However, your mages probably aren't going to be as beefy as the barbarians, so we can assume they wouldn't be very deft with a 20lb+ ice mace (which would still probably break after a single hit).

The real vocation your ice mages will excel in is in crafting projectiles. Ice arrows would be pretty terrifying and effective against unarmored enemies. Your mages could also create perfectly smooth projectiles for a sling.

Fastening those two objects out of rock takes a lot of time and effort, and your mages could basically mass produce them.

A major advantage of using magic is for the "Shock and Awe" factor. Seeing a line of wimps in robes start pulling ice javelins from a puddle and hurling them at you would be pretty intimidating.

Something to consider with the ranged weapons is that they all take a decent amount of training to be proficient with, but at least you could keep the barbarian hordes at bay (as long as your water supply holds out).


First step: invent Pykrete. Lace the ice to be with fibers or fabric zo reduce shattering and increase the overall structural strength.

Now your mages can armor up. A kind of plate/scale armor backed by gamerson should increase your survival rate.

On the offensive side a variant of the Macuahuitl might be viable. Sharp slivers of stone, teeth or glas firmly seated in a backing of reinforced ice. This would combine reasonable blunt force trauma with the lacerations caused by multiple edges. Akin to the effect a saw has compared to a knifes edge. The latter induces profund bleeding, especially if you optimize the number, size and placement of the saw teeth to the average anatomy of your opponent. The weapon will degrade relatively fast, but melting it down and rebuilding it should be possible between battles. In a pinch one could add ice spikes and sharp shards at short notice.

Construct spear- or arrowheads in a similar way. Sharp, pointy breakaway parts would remain in nonletal wounds. If they heal over without proper removal of the foreign object your opponent will be permanently hampered.


Move to an island.

If ice mages can turn water into ice, crossing a body of water to reach them will be an absolute nightmare for any enemies that have not invented flight.

If they use boats, you can freeze the water around those boats, or create spikes to make holes in them, or crush them in expanding ice chunks. Once they are forced to swim, you can easily tear them apart by strategically creating ice spikes.

Plus, all of that water can be used to create limitless projectiles or defensive structures.


You could use the water to create an wall of ice. It would be really hard to climb it, and you can repair it magically by adding more ice. If water is enough (any natural river or water well would suffice), this would be feasible, and that wouldn't require that much water, depending on the size of the wall.

If you want something more offensive, you could set up traps with ice, like holes with ice spikes in the bottom, or if the barbarians aren't aware of the magic properties of the ice, you could make water ponds around the village and freeze the barbarians on the spot (one mage should be disguised and close to be able to touch the water).


Since you're outclassed physically, your weapons should be those of protection and guile, as you will never win in a fair fight.

  • Cloth armor can be soaked, Voila! Ice armor
  • covered, small ponds with water, barbarians fall in, you freeze the surface thus trapping them, and killing them at your leisure.
  • Tanks of water with very small openings, shooting streams of water out at high pressure and velocity at intervals. mage touches the stream, ice javelins hurl at the enemies.
  • Low ice walls for them to jump over, right into pits on the other side.. filled with ice spears.
  • Ice bolts for crossbows.
  • Ice rocks for slings/slingshots.
  • Force them to cross Ice bridges to avoid the water, make sure you use ice-planks to construct them, with a means to melt them quickly if needed... something to direct jets of steam at the barbarians as they are crossing to scald them, and melt the ice planks would work well.

Seeing you are talking about walls ans spikes i am assuming ti's mainly a defensive war.

So i would opt for booby traps like the following:

Large pools of shallow water, when the barbarians mass on them (like a camp) freeze it while they are in it.

If Freezing takes to long to effectively use it on the fly dig holes with ice spikes on the floor and cover the hole with a layer of ice strong enough to hold for a limited time...as the army would charge at you the structural integrity of the ice would diminish and maybe barbarian number 3 or 4 who steps on the ice will crack through it and get impaled. this would

  • Kill several of them.
  • Bring fear to the enemy seeing they just lost soldiers to seemingly nothing.
  • Create a rift between the enemies front and back, and split up they would be easier to deal with.

Maybe cartoonish...but ice is slippery, take a chess board(30cm by 30 cm tiles), now replace the white fields with slippery ice and the black fields with small sharp pointy ice spikes...when the barbarians charge they will shift from white space to white space. Such movement is not that stable as just running in a straight line causing them to slip even faster. they will slip and with some luck land on a black space (ice spikes) and have some impaling issues.


IF the people being attacked are near a forest I think they could set something up like a spiders web between tree but have the ice be as sharp as possible. So essentially the barbarians have to run through a wall of tiny crystaline knives. Even if the barbs break the tiny pieces of ice they are still sharp and now all over the ground.


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