Our world is surrounded by a magic barrier that keeps out eldritch abominations that exist in the void, such as Cthulhu⁠. However, this barrier is fairly sensitive and easily damaged⁠. The violent, metaphysical energies of warfare between humans can disrupt the barrier, tearing sections of it open and allowing the void monsters an easy path through⁠. In order to prevent this the gods have decreed that warfare is illegal⁠. Any nation or person violating this law will be punished courtesy of a lightning bolt⁠.

Although the lightning bolt was meant to be apocryphal, examples have been made of people going against this decree, sometimes leading to entire families being wiped out or both nations at war being punished by the gods. With armed conflicts being banned, nations must find alternatives to solving issues with each other. When humans are involved however, conflict is bound to pop up sooner or later when negotiations have broken down. Simply working out problems through diplomacy will never be feasible all the time.

I have heard of ritualized warfare occurring between groups, such as the Zulu wars. These sometimes revolved around capture and return, or had rules that both sides had to abide by to keep bloodshed to a minimum. However, those were small scale and occurred mostly between tribes of people. This would be pretty difficult to pull of on a larger scale between countries similar to Russia vs U.S. or China vs India.

What form can conflict take between nations under these parameters?

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Dec 13, 2019 at 11:29

17 Answers 17


Key question becomes, What is warfare?

Humans will have to take time, and the lives, to find the line in the sand that the gods drew. And depending on how fickle your gods are, that line might shift over the centuries with 'interesting' results.

Maybe they draw the line at any kind of violence. Even attempting to "arrange accidents" may set off the gods, and you'll end up with the occasionally crispy handyman found trying to loosen railings or fiddling with brakes...

In the cases where the gods become very strict against violent actions, then we'll likely see a focus on economic or 'prestige' warfare. Rivals attempting to economically ruin or surpass their competitors, or constantly attempting to 'out do' the other in the public eye.

Battles may become grand marketing campaigns, or hosting 'the better party', or building the grander tower. These can become a game of spies and false information where different sides attempt to throw the other off.

Technology and innovation may also become a bigger part of your world. - However, be wary of advancing too far or pushing boundaries that you shouldn't... A house moving in the 'wrong direction' may still catch the eye of the gods if they find something new that weakens the barriers. You probably don't want to be the house/nation known for making the gods add a new rule under "Don't go to war"...

If the gods get a little more lax about the violence issue, then expect to see more covert actions. Knives in the dark rather than soldiers on a battlefield. The above 'non-violent' options will probably still take centre stage, but if the gods aren't going to mind you killing your rival's head architect, then you would be a fool to not look for an opportunity for 'unfortunate events' of one kind or another to happen...

Also, depending on how selective the gods are in dealing out punishments against 'warfare', there may even become room for some very nasty weaponisation of the god's retribution...

If some violence is accepted such that smallish attacks can happen, but the gods will strike down everyone directly involved, then we may see attempts to raise 'martyr companies'. Attempts at large scale battles then become trying to bait your enemy into what they think is a 'small and acceptable' battle before you surprise them with enough forces becoming engaged that the gods strike everyone down...

This could make warfare an exceedingly careful and dangerous game for your upper classes to play in...

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    $\begingroup$ This hits the nail on the head. "What will we do" is dependent on the precise way the Gods implement the definition of violence. Every little detail of it will be exploited. (are your societies all vegetarian? how much do you like mosquitoes?) $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is close to the line of thinking I was following. I would add that to replace warfare perhaps societies would develop a system of tribute, a kind of blind auction. Each side would show up with an amount of gold/jewels/whatever is valued. The one with the greater amount wins. They then each give their tribute to the other side. While usually the "richer" side can win, they will quickly go broke if they totally outbid the other. So it becomes a game of evaluating how much the win is worth to your side, and trying to slightly outbid the other - or sometimes bluff with a low "bid". $\endgroup$
    – Turophile
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 1:35

Look at our recent history.

Have USA and USSR fought a war against each other? No. MAD was a valid deterrent.

Have they lived in peace? No.

They have used a series of proxies to fight each other:

  • space race
  • technology race
  • sport
  • art
  • let satellite countries pay the blood tribute

just to name a few.

You can use a similar approach.

  • 13
    $\begingroup$ Add to your list: information warfare, terrorism by proxy, economic sanctions. Also potentially biowarfare, if our tech level gets to the point of really weaponizing diseases. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM-ReinstateMonica we've been at that tech level for some time. It just isn't a very useful thing to be able to do. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ There are some techs that we don’t have that would make it useful. @starfishprime $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ or use the darker areas of diplomacy involving agents / spies - to steal secrets , sabotage development, change political climate ... or outright murder undesirable foreign people $\endgroup$
    – eagle275
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM-ReinstateMonica *cough* $\endgroup$
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 15:06

Wars will be fought with the most advanced weapons and strategies that do not rip the barrier

Its sounds like gods are not offended so much by human conflict so much as by them risking the barrier to do so. If energy weapons destroy the barrier, then we will use guns. If guns break the barrier will use swords and bows. If the act of mass killing breaks the barrier, then wars will be fought through the assassination of key leaders. If the act of killing at all breaks the barrier we will beat each other with sticks. If inflicting injury breaks the barrier then we will wrestle with our bare hands and drag our enemies into cages.

War will still happen. Eventually, one society's desperation for survival will always force them into conflict with another, even if it means risking their own final destruction. They will do as every other warlike civilization has done and learn to fight by whatever rules work best in their situation. Learning not to offend the gods in war is just another part of mastering the battlefield like learning to fight with the sun to your back or avoiding hazardous terrain.


Nonviolent Sabotage (not to be confused with terrorism)

  1. Sneak in and salt the fields of your enemy's crops.
  2. Contaminate your enemy's water supply.
  3. Spread diseases within your enemy's population. Maybe even genetically engineered super-bugs could be an option depending on your technology level.
  4. Sneak in and steal their stuff
  5. Poison high officials
  6. Disrupt their communications and/or computer networks.
  7. Spread harmful propaganda.

Alternatively you could just do what a lot of stories do and just have them play violent immersive video games against each other to decide war outcomes, but who wants to read another one of those?

  • $\begingroup$ or even violent blood sports for real. Doesn't even have to be lethal, but would add a nice twist. Martial arts tournaments where in a highly ritualised setting teams from each side face off until all of one side are either dead, incapable of fighting, or surrender. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Dec 12, 2019 at 5:15

The same way it's been done for ages: the Economy

As humanity evolves out of our base instincts for violence, our knowledge of warfare through economic means will pick up. It's already happening on a massive scale too.


Sports. Wargames (including stylized ones like Chess and Go).

If you need "real" war, there was a Star Trek episode (A Taste of Armageddon) where they simulated the fights, including sending people to their death who were causalities.

So long as the barrier isn't too fragile, ritual fighting between champions may also be possible.

It really depends on whether you want the other side "dead". If you do, get them breach the barrier (assuming you can go in and fix it afterwards), by forcing them into a fight that breaks it maybe?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The problem with wargames and champion warfare is that a real war has to be an option that both sides are willing to do, but neither side wants, if you want the looser to actually be forced to concede. Otherwise, they can just be like, "Oh, you won? Well, I'm still not giving you those 100,000 acres of farmland you asked for, so deal with it." That said, if the Gods oversaw wargames and enforced their outcomes with the same hands on approach they use for preventing real war, then it could work. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ This is starting to sound like No Game No Life $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 1:58

There's a pre-existing solution, so long as war is "violent conflict resulting in damage," and not "resolution of non-compatible ideals through extra-intellectual means."

In the hit Japanese light novel No Game No Life, the entire world is banned from damaging property of other beings without consent. This was done to put an end to war that was literally destroying the planet, but this left 16 races with millennia-long grudges against each other with no way to resolve them. The god who did this left one way to resolve conflict: games. There's basically a rule set placed on the world that enforces all 9 rules, and from there conflict is resolved.

The gist is this: One player challenges another player to a game. The challenged party has the right to choose or design any winnable game, as determined by whatever global magic system is in place. The game can be as small as a coin toss or as large as whatever the game maker is capable of making. Each player must bet something they determine is equal value. Once the game begins, players cannot be caught cheating at risk of losing the game. Once the game is decided, whatever conditions were laid down before hand take effect, provided it is within the power of the loser (i.e., someone can grow animal ears and a tail, or they have to give you gold or information).

Of course, this only counts if there can't be war as we know it. You may have to add in extra rules like "games cannot kill anyone outside of the bets placed" to prevent countries from saying "'I challenge you!' / 'The game is war!'," but it is just a (stolen) idea.


You might want to look up the Star Trek episode A Taste of Armageddon. In it, two planets are at war and have been for decades, but because they do not want to risk damage to their society, health and infrastructure, the war is entirely virtual. Their two main military computers are connected, and when one side announces they have launched a missile, they all calculate whether it will hit its target, and if so, how many casualties there are.

The unfortunate souls in the path of the virtual missile are considered deceased, and have to report to the authorities be disintegrated. Real lives are lost, but no actual damage was sustained, so both planets can remain stable and prosperous. They have been doing this for so long that by the time Kirk & company arrive, they believe this is the best way. It took Kirk his two most important skills, meaningful speeches and destruction of nation-controlling computers, to solve the impasse and teach the countries that they can just decide not to kill each other for one day.

This is not one of the most realistic Star Trek episodes, but I think it is quite underrated. Perhaps it could serve as inspiration for your setting.


So as noted the Cold War was fought exactly this way, with the game of brinkmanship. The key here is about escalating to the point of war, only to back down at the last possible moment. Essentially it is an extremely high stakes game of chicken. Interesting enough this was actually what game theory was developed to analyze, with one of the simple games actually being the formal game of chicken.

Besides the high stakes negotiations involving brinksmanship, you could also use proxy warfare as well as espionage and sabotage that involve limited violence. Thus you have the types of things the CIA and KGB did throughout the Cold War. The problem with proxy warfare is that it doesn't really work to the same degree, because it would also likely be punishable by the Gods. So that really just leaves you with espionage and sabotage, which basically means that combat is essentially replaced with which side can pull of the more awesome heist.

The problem here is that in the real world, espionage or sabotage doesn't really settle conflicts all that often on its own, even when full scale war is not on the table. While spies can provide valuable aid to soldiers or diplomats, they cannot fully accomplish anything on their own. Stuxnet may have been a new way of fighting a war, but it didn't stop the Iranian nuclear program on its own. Only diplomacy did that. For all of the drama of Cold War espionage, there isn't all that much evidence that any of it mattered, with the real victory having been a result of economic factors. The best you can probably do with such operations it to very slightly tip the balance one way or another like the exceptional British deception operations of World War two, allowing invasions to face slightly less resistance. They make for excellent stories, but there is a major question as to whether or not it is really all that effective.

Most of the time what they really accomplish is information gathering, but there is a question as to whether even that is all that effective in the end. Everyone would likely be better off without all of the intrigue. The problem, going back to the game theory point, is one of asymmetric information. Everyone would be better off without it, but no one can afford to be the one party to throw all of their cards on the table.



This reminds me a lot of the light novel/anime No Game No Life. In the show, a god declares that all war is banned and all conflict is sorted by games that both parties agree to. So borders can be decided by poker or resources claimed by chess! If nothing else, the plot there could give some inspiration.

  • $\begingroup$ I want to add that the involved parties agree on the game and both state bets they consider of equal value, and once the game and the consequences are agreed upon, the game is played and the power and will of god ensure the bets are paid. Also, one can cheat and it's all good if one's not caught, and one can also deceive the opponent with statements like "if you win I'll give you my house" referring to the doll house you own and not the apartment you rent, or like "we'll play a kind of chess" and use rules for a variant of chess. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 11, 2019 at 18:09

There are plenty of ways to prove you're better than someone else without punching them in the face. Take, for example, the economic trade war between Britain and Ireland- this led to chaos within spending, party politics and affected the way of life for many without a single gunshot. Even today, look at the U.S. and China- if a side makes just one concession economically, it's like losing a huge battle with the whole world as an audience.

You could play a similar game with trying to win population instead of money- incentivise people from nation B to emigrate to A with better opportunities, lower taxes, safer streets- whatever it may be. I'm not sure about you, but on paper I'd definitely rather live in Seattle than Sao Paulo. To each their own, I suppose.

To put it short and sweet, there's loads of ways to nonviolently assert dominance over another person, nation or state. Take your pick- hope it helps!


one possibility would be a trade war. No violent conflict but sanctions, tariffs and other economic factors made to hurt your enemy would be a good way to avoid violence while still harming your enemy.


Simply working out problems through diplomacy will never be feasible all the time.

It will if the alternative is being annihilated by a supreme power. The possibility of negotiations breaking down and things going south is only real because there comes a point when one of the parties incur in a larger loss to their interests by doing nothing than by going to war. In this case, whoever engages in armed conflicts has everything to lose and nothing to win, so the scales are never tipped enough to justify such a stupid mistake. When your prize for winning the war is not what you wanted in the first place, but the death of everyone you love via lightning bolt to the face, you are less likely to appraise violence as an option.

Also, how fragile is the barrier? What counts as "war"? maybe countries will refrain from using large scale forces of hundreds of thousands but they'll keep swift, small, tactical squads designed to take out important targets. Communication and transportation technologies as well as superiority in stealth and control of information become even more important now that nations cannot go apeshit on each other's asses. Conflicts would then be solved by violence, but not excessive violence. Rather than casualties mounting in the millions, warfare would be conducted by numerous but small scale conflicts scattered all over the globe all aiming for the neutralization of a handful of highly prized targets and everything can turn into a massive, many-front espionage game.

Speaking of games, there is another solution. The gist of this is that the same gods that have created the barrier would know how much violence is enough violence. They could have created a formal competition to allow nations to one-up one another seeing as it is important to praise excellence, a virtue that many gods favor but that the god of war favors the most. In order to have a battlefield where the worthy could prove their mettle and where leaders and heros could be forged, the god of war may have devised a celestial game that acts as a war board. A place where champions or teams go to compete for the ultimate glory and whose decisions is binding for the belligerents. This is how nations would take to the ultimate consequence and there would be no turning back. Talk about Olympic Games.

The Games version works well along with the espionage so mix and match for the best of both worlds. Where the Games truly shine, however, is if there is really no alternative to violence other than The Game. If you want a more intellectual experience, The Game could be something like Go, chess or some other boardgame. Otherwise, it could be something more physical like laser tags, but with lasers!

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    $\begingroup$ Let's assume country A forces me to choose between war or eternal slavery for me and my family. Frankly, they can go to hell. It's war. We'll see each other in the post-lightning-bolt afterlife. $\endgroup$
    – Kheldar
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 18:12

What Causes Warfare?

It seems that warfare generally is triggered by one or more of three primary causes.

1. Religious conflict

This is your catch-all for various forms of holy war. Whether this is Mayan civilization going to war to capture sacrifices to the gods or religion A saying that religion B is the evil and must be removed from the planet, it fits here.

This category simply won't apply in your fictional world. All the religions agree: mass violence is going to get you all killed, so don't do it. Even when they worship someone else, this rule still applies.

Centuries of gods saying "NO!" means that you're unlikely to garner much support for religious violence.

2. Cults of Personality

Strong leaders often secure their power base through warfare and violence. Despotic Third World leaders, ancient Bronze Age kings, and even gang lords all fall here. Find someone, label them the enemy, and then rally your troops to your side. As long as you can convince people to attack those people over there, they won't look too closely at what you're doing over here.

Again, your religion will provide a strong deterrent to this sort of warfare. "Go destroy the kingdom of Oz, for they are the enemy!" is much harder to pull off if lightning comes down from the heavens (or a priest comes in with poison...) and kills you for trying to drum up a war.

Centuries of gods saying "NO!" means megalomaniac rulers are probably going to be unpopular.

3. Economics

If your people have no food, no natural resources, no water, and/or no hope, it becomes far easier to build up support for warfare and civil war. Throughout modern history, many wars have sparked because there simply wasn't enough stuff to go around -- food, money, whatever. This could be because your area is short on raw materials or because of economic depressions or drought or any number of subcategories.

The world you describe hasn't solved the suffering that's behind this root cause...

What does this mean for your people?

With 2 of the 3 primary causes more or less removed from play, it seems that the root cause of warfare will most often come out of economic concerns.

So what does that mean? You won't find a king rallying support for war as a way to distract folks from their woes or to focus their anger on an external target. But the anger will still be there, unfocused, waiting to flash up.

So your savvy rulers will be aware of that, and that they can't overtly focus the anger elsewhere. But they could build up support for the sort of non-war violence we see all too often.

State-sponsored terror isn't war. but it's sure a tool used to focus anger elsewhere.

Trade wars aren't really war. But they still are a way to focus anger and keep control of a people by "attacking" some other group.

Public relations wars are another, often used alongside trade wars. This was common enough during the Cold War: USA or USSR would make brash statements about what terrible things the other nation was doing somewhere or other, all the while doing things just as bad on their own... (Disinformation, psy-ops, propaganda, would all be tools in this box.)

Competitive Events / Sports Look at the Olympics and how intense the rivalry between USA and USSR was throughout the Cold War. Team and individual sports could easily become a mock warfare stand-in. Or perhaps "duels" where the challenged picks the format. Imagine if a country wanted to "fight another, and they chose to fight by bake-off, Mario Kart race, or spelling bee. With the equivalent of Switzerland or the UN working to quantify the rules and then sending judges to oversee the events. And, yes, pistol duels would quite possibly exist here, too.

Technology / Innovation USA never would have landed on the moon if we hadn't wanted to prove we weren't, somehow, superior to USSR. The entire space race between the two nations was a proxy war of a sort. Races to specific, quantifiable, goals would be a challenge for superiority.

Assassination would still exist as a means to settle scores. Oh, it might require more subtlety than snipers or whatever, but there would still be folks who would try to solve their differences by 1-on-1 murder.

Germ Warfare might become a tool. Spreading a plague isn't mass combat, so it might happen. Though it would be no less morally acceptable, there's no reason to believe it wouldn't be used.

Threat of actual warfare might exist? This is a bit sketchy. After enough generations under the gods' rules, the very idea of mass combat would be lost from common thoughts, so it seems unlikely that anyone would consider the threat of actual warfare and meaningful deterrent, but it might? If you tell folks you're willing to risk the gods' wrath to get what you want, they might not be willing to risk it. I suspect this would be roughly on par with threats of nuclear war -- a threat, but one so terrifying that no one really wants it to happen. Or at least, no one who's sane, anyway.

Cyber war would certainly be a thing, once technology reached that level. Hacking your enemy doesn't kill anyone, so it'd be a primary attack front.

Bluff Note that from each of the above categories, you'd have not just the actions themselves, but the threat of these actions as meaningful tools to get what you want. Just as the threat of actual warfare (diplomacy via aircraft carrier) is a thing in the real world.

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    $\begingroup$ Where are you getting your reasons for war from? I can think of expansion, succession, ideology, and self-rule off the top of my head. If you look at US history (and I am simplifying here, the list is long) you get the Revolutionary War, 1812, the American Indian Wars, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, Philippine-American War, Boxer Rebellion, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Most of these don't fit so well into your boxes, and that's just a single country. I suspect countries with a more lengthy history will have even more exceptions to your reasons for war. $\endgroup$
    – Hink
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Hink I think your examples fall under CaM's 3 categories. Wars of expansion are about economics, and wars of succession/self-rule are about cults of personality. That said, I would agree that in our world it would be more accurate for CaM to expand "Religious" conflict to "Ideological" conflict since a war caused by different beliefs do not necessarily have to be religious in nature, but in a world where the gods routinely smite people, their existence is a scientific fact; so, this world would probably not have our world's hard line between religious and secular ideologies. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ I feel a few of your tools are dealbreakers. Anything that looks like "I'm going to die and they'll win because I was to chicken to use my own nuclear devices" is likely to end up in war. You spread a plague at home? Lightning bolts for everyone. "tuez les tous et Dieu y reconnaitra les siens", as was once said in Béziers. $\endgroup$
    – Kheldar
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 18:17

Trade Embargoes

If a nation has a powerful economy, a monopoly on a resource, or a favorable territorial position, they could impose trade embargoes on their enemy. By refusing to trade with the enemy, and imposing penalties on other nations that do trade with them, a nation could starve them out of a particular resource. This could be stopping their enemy from importing food or getting water (damming an upstream river). Or perhaps their enemy has no access to certain precious metals/crystals necessary for technological advancement. The result would be starving their enemy or the enemy falls so far behind in technology they are no longer a threat. Can also think of this like a castle siege.

Propaganda & Politics

Perhaps without war the political sphere is even more influential. A war of ideas can be waged between nations with the winner enjoying one or more benefits. Nations might spend tons on propaganda to persuade the masses. People vote with their feet, which means they will migrate to reside in the nation which they agree with. In a world without war, perhaps after a round of elections the borders are even redrawn.

Unnatural Tech/Magic

Perhaps the nations have found some way to use magic/tech such that combat can still be conducted without the god's acknowledgement of the combat as warfare. For example, perhaps they have resurrection tech/magic so they can fight as usual, but both sides resurrect all casualties before the god's notice. Or instead of killing each other, a weapon is developed that is more painful than death but doesn't actually kill, and nations use it on each other until one admits defeat. There could be a tech/magic that stuns/petrifies enemies so that in war, no one is killed but instead taken out of the fight. All the would-be deaths and casualties are instead statues or people in a comatose state, which essentially allows the nations to conduct warfare as usual but without triggering the gods or weakening the shield to the void.

  • Looking at China, Japan or France, the leaders are set up by God/the Gods when they don't claim to be descended from the Gods. They could have a divine duty to represent their country in honor duels

  • Powerful families could manipulate the economic tissue to avoid direct war while getting the exact same results (possibly, through mafia/underworld ties)

  • Assassination is ever an option, one could remove select leaders from the enemy political pool. A dance of assassination/counter-assassination could happen, and be either ritualized or codified (vendetta style)

  • If the world relies on magic, possibly that could be an option: instead of the UN, you get a grand council that enforces absolute magical power and prevents direct wars, but also arbitrates all and any conflicts

  • if war between nations is not an option, I assume rebellion is all right, else that world devolves into a set of horrifying God-enforced dictatorships, technically at peace with each other. Therefore, here's a classic technique: have some support within the population, have some shred of legal pretense (and hell, it's easy, just look at the number of countries that used the legal pretense option over the last five centuries. It's staggering), send in "advisors" and "medical relief" (eg, tacticians and tanks), have "holidaying military personnel with family ties to the region" go in by the thousands. You're at no point declaring war on anyone, but Crimea turns Russian all the same (to use a simple, hardly debatable example, but you could easily find Asian/South American/European/African equivalents).


Some of it depends on what you mean by "metaphysical energies":

  • Are we talking magic? Going to war without magic has been done right here on Planet Earth for quite some time.
  • Are we talking "too many deaths in too small a space"/"souls leaving the world" metaphysical energies? Warfare turns into nonlethal weapons/containment rather than killing.

Either way, the battles could still happen, but the weapons would change to skirt whatever the restrictions where.

In the scenario you give, I can see a nation staging a small group to rebel and become their own nation, then take on the actual enemy nation in Real Warfare in order to "take one for the team".

Given that divine beings are watching over this and applying punishment, the "rebels" would have to be an independent group that was actually willing to be wiped out by divine wrath in order to stage whatever attack they were going to make on the original enemy nation.

And the first time that happened, I foresee larger nations splintering off smaller ones along their borders as a defense against "rebel" suicide nations...

A political arms race to match the real one.

Alternatively, have a group of your soldiers sneak into the enemy nation, then flash-mob deface something (take a dump on the White House lawn), take pictures, and RUN. Rather than doing something humiliating/embarrassing, they could sabotage infrastructure, or commit non-violent-enough-to-risk-The-Barrier acts of terrorism (zombie plague? mass sterilization?).

At this point defensive technology becomes a matter of identifying/removing/containing enemies rather than blasting the crap out of them. Defensive barriers that can be created just fine (wall of ice) but can only be broken by banned Metaphysical Energies (fireball).


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