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What if people could fire magical energy beams from their hands.

It requires no external resources and is easy to use and cheap.

The magic attack has three characteristics :

1- Phases through any form of inorganic matter, only interacting with living things.

2- Secondly it is concussive in nature, and is never lethal.

3 - It shocks, stun and locks it's victim into place for few minutes

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    $\begingroup$ What's the range of this weapon? If it ignores non-organic matter, a very long range could make it very useful for assassinations. $\endgroup$ – Sanford Bassett Jun 6 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ Would it work through a wall? Would it equally affect horses? Why? $\endgroup$ – Tomás Jun 7 at 0:04
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    $\begingroup$ How long would it take to cast? $\endgroup$ – Tomás Jun 7 at 0:38
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    $\begingroup$ can everyone use this magic or just several gifted people? $\endgroup$ – Li Jun Jun 7 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ What happens if two magic beams are set against each other? Could you counter the magic beams, with your own? $\endgroup$ – Commander Nirvanah Crane Jun 7 at 6:04
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Inferences:

  • Fighting ability is less important, since the easiest way to win a fight is to deliver the stun and then finish. But tactical training, agility in the battlefield would be precious.

  • melee soldier units are less valuable than projectile units Therefore the shield units should form a line an protect the projectile (bows, crossbows, siege weapons) weapons.

  • Heavy armor is less useful. A normal shield would be better suited to defend against arrows.

  • So, shield formations are very useful. Think romans or vikings.

  • Shields could be disguised as special shields. Even if detection is possible maybe little bits of materials could allow to trick detection.

  • Cavalry would be succeptible to lines of riflemen so used after the first shock or for surprise movements like in napoleonic era.

  • Long lines of cavalry armed with pistols or rifles would be suited to spear enemy lines If they are not shot. They could shock and then hit with the other side of the weapon as a mace. But maybe it will be better to attack with spears/flails and keep the magic shot for later. Riders could hide behind their horses to dodge the shots. They could be equipped as napoleonic grenadiers but with a shield.

  • A shielded horse with a shielded rider would be a special weapon to break enemy lines, route archers, create disorder. A little special unit like this could cause a great impact if able to flank enemy lines.

  • The default strategy is attack not defense: stun and charge, stun and shoot. If you stay put the enemy will do this.

  • Another tactic is to dive and stun from a prone position then a second line of infantry men coordinatly charge.

  • As above but the second line throws javelines/pilum and changes to rifle. Then another line behind and so on. The idea is to switch lines as much as possible since they have "magic park"

  • Obvious manoever: to block one side of the battlefield with several lines of riflemen and use the offensive tactis above with the better troops in the other side (or in both flanks).

  • Alternatively one row of riflemen can work together with a line of archers. One stuns the other finishes with a volley, then maybe the archers dive, change weapons, stun the front enemy line and finally infantry charges, stuns then shocks.

In general it looks like napoleonic era tactics with prone position like in Civil War and a touch of viking skirmishes.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you ! This is most certainly a very detailed answer, I wish I could up-vote you more than once. $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 7 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ Totally forgot to answer your other question, the casting time is proportional to the amount of power one choose to allocate into the blast. For example a weaker beam will take relatively short time (good for continuous fire), a more powerful blast will take considerably longer to cast since the user has to basically concentrate and carefully funnel his energy into the attack hence the word "charge attack".As far as damage goes, a weak blast will stun for minutes, a moderate one will do the same + knocking to the ground, and finally a very powerful one (more than 1person) of pulverizing. $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 7 at 5:14
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Even a brief advantage is an advantage. In pre-Revolution America, rifles were often used to fire one volley to frighten and injure the enemy. Then the attackers dropped them and charged with hand weapons. If you can distract, immobilize, or stun your opponents, you'll be able to control the battle. Even if you can shoot your weapon at just 10% of the enemy, you'll be able to win a battle, all other things being equal.

Another advantage would be targeted killing. It sounds like you could gather several soldiers together and target well protected enemies. If your world uses traditional combat tactics, the enemy commanders might be within sight (albeit out of arrow range). Bring able to kill them early in the battle could make for a short war.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, very insightful this is going to allow me to better choreograph my world's battles. $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 6 at 20:45
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    $\begingroup$ Since magic shields do exist, but they are rare, surely the officers and commanders are the ones using them. $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Jun 8 at 8:16
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this can be devastating to formation especially to cavalry.

so to counter this thing i believe they will use literal meat shield like napoleon era, or like strapping light animal inside of the shield or put them as meat armor, at least light enough to be able to lift easily for a person and not aggressive, since OP say life Horse also get affected, (i reconsider to put them covered inside the shield to make sure the chance for it to still "alive" to counter the magic, definitely will be strapped shield type and quite conical or curved to fit the animal in it or a pavise kind of shield, if want to put them inside the shield, if the person cant withstand tickles or something wriggling on their main body) considering the anti magic shield is expensive, and i believe it is better quality or not as awkward compare to strapping animal inside it, probably only affordable or best suited for the commander or general and the front line of cavalry in wedge formation without losing momentum or crash with their front line (depend on the size of the magic shield or the protective range of the anti magic, since i just found out horse get affected, but cavalry is more likely become obsolete otherwise, since horse is scaredy cat, and i am not sure strapping small animals as armor can work or worth it).

or it will be guerrilla warfare or like modern warfare considering everyone can use this magic.

i agree with Tomas, shield at least will be given to all the unit to deceive their opponent.

regarding fortress siege or defense it depend on the strategy or tactic, since both can use it. and the wall is good enough to hide you from getting targeted.

after seeing the edit that it include firearm or explosive weapon, then i believe guerilla warfare or modern warfare or at least trench coat warfare is more likely to developed, even napoleon kind of formation will be devastated in this case, and armor definitely obsolete (excluding modern armor if OP has it), since firearms will dominated more, though it still depend on OP anti magic shield and normal shield, but i am skeptical napoleon type of formation is worth it in this case.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Thanks for aid, it will help me choreograph and telegraph battles, strategy and tactics are huge pluses. $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 7 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ Wish I could upvote you more than one ! Thanks for the edit $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 7 at 7:59
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The most obvious answer would be to break lines; stopping a cavalry charge or breaking a shield wall, for example. Since it seems that just about anyone can use this magical beam, you can have a large number of levy soldiers use the beam to stun charging horses, knock over heavily armored shieldbearers, and the like. In an open conflict, it would be useful before melee begins to disrupt the opponent.

Of course, open conflicts were uncommon. In a siege, you could fire these beams through the walls to get at pesky archers through murder holes, blast a particularly powerful and long-ranged shot at the general outside of your city, or send a couple assassins in the city to go outside the palace and aim the lethal beam directly into the throne room.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you ! You bring up interesting points that I will most assuredly be factored into my world warfare $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 6 at 20:42
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In war there are many important rules. The most relevant for this question:

1: people usually dont want to die.

2: people usually dont want to kill.

Both historically and currently fights take hours, often with relatively few casualties considering you have a few hundred to a few thousand guys with weapons swinging or shooting at ranges where either one dying should be almost a given. In fact I think it was miss nightingale that use statistics to prove how important hygiene was on and off the battlefield as the casualties from infection dwarfed the actual deaths during combat. During the Vietnam War this was finally investigated in full, showing how much the soldiers would use the "look busy" tactic and would fire several meters above the enemy or not in their direction at all. Although even during napoleonic times this behaviour was somewhat known, as they lined up a battallion and had it fire at a sheet representing an enemy line to count hits per volley to get an idea of accuracy. Only to find out that for each volley only a handful of people (if that) got hit during an actual battle.

In comes your magic, people would absolutely love this. In swinging-weapons times people would use this to knock out enemies and disarm them. You dont have to kill them if they are dazed and confuzed right? And capturing you might get a ransom (or your liege lord would get one). It works similar to how you treat prisoners actually: if you kill or mistreat your prisoners the opponents will fight you much more to the last as they dont want to die. But if your opponents see and hear their fellows being treated fairly and kept alive then suddenly surrendering sounds like a novel idea. So if you dont kill knocked-out enemies, your opponents are less likely to kill you if you are knocked out. On top of that everyone will be enthousiastic about trying to capture their enemies as they dont have to kill and they reduce the risk of their own death with each disarm/knock-out. Since its still a dangerous thing and people will still die it will also mean that more soldiers might fake being hit and unconscious, as you are less likely to get stabbed or shot when you go down.

In shootie-shootie era's a similar thing will happen, only with higher casualties. When you've knocked out half a squad you often dont know how many you've knocked out and how many are still firing back. So capruring is going to be tough and dangerous. But you dont have to directly kill them either as just like modern combat you will pin down and suppress the enemy and then call in an air/artillery strike to kill your opponents. Since its easier to knock out and freeze enemies in place (and now armored tanks can be stopped by any infantryman or even an unarmed civilian!) It will be a high price indeed for lives. On the other hand here the "look busy" and "keep myself alive" pops up again: when someone is wounded or knocked out, you bring them (and incidentally yourself) to safety right? Even 10 minutes off the frontline before going back is better than being stuck at the frontline. This is what already happens currently, sometimes with 4 or 5 mine carrying a single lightly wounded soldier. And unless special doctrines are created to check and recover unconscious people at the frontline you will have a lot of fights be determined by who can get the enemy to be busy with dragging their own men off the frontline..

Weapons development wouldnt change much, or small arms at least wouldnt change much. Tanks would naturally get those shields build into their armor at various points. You will always want to give your men a superior weapon even if they can knock people out. However trying to outnumber your opponent and hitting a room from every angle would be a common tactic.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you ! This is very insightful post chock-full of interesting tidbits and important information. Makes me wish even more that I could upvote answers because this one is also great. $\endgroup$ – Anonymousworldbuilding Jun 7 at 21:26

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