In a world I'm working on there is magic potions of all kinds.

However since using magic directly in war is illegal, and few wizards make courage potions. The only thing left for generals to use is stamina potions.

Once it is consumed the person can march or fight or do exerting activities for at least half a day without feeling tired. [This is to simplify the whole thing]

This only eliminates the feeling not the actual psychical effects or effort.

And, somehow, they still retain their pain sensitivity as before. So wounds hurt as much as they do without the potions.

The potions are widespread and cheap enough so that a general can stoke on them, sending people buying it from several stores, and use them for battles as a more or less another resource.

There is no cultural stigma around it, wizards don't really care much as those potions are useful for people. And is view generally as just a thing to help you.

So the question: what will that mean to warfare? Like would it change anything or not

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    $\begingroup$ The potion makes the soldiers weaker then? I always thought they were trained to march the whole day before feeling tired. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Jun 20 '20 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ Historically it's far more complicated that it seems. For example Sun Tzu would advise against marching rapidly only to come to the field exhausted which is obviously a thing. But the same rapid march to secure a favorable position, say high ground near the water, is advised. And I can't imagine an army marching in full battle gear the entire day and having any strength to actually fight. Of course forced marches existed and, used correctly, were efficient. But soldiers are humans too. So can you walk for 10 hours with gear and still fight? $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jun 20 '20 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ it sound similar like coffee to me, are the potion doesnt have any side effect like some sport doping? though personally i dont think it change much in warfare unless the person is in that state for a week or month. everyone use this including enemy right? it definitely nice for testudo and phalanx formation though, but i wonder would it dulling their feel to replace the frontline with the backup due to it. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Jun 20 '20 at 7:09
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    $\begingroup$ If it doesn't eliminate the effects, it sounds pretty useless. Why not use potions which would have real impact on warfare, eg antibiotics? Disease kills more soldiers than combat. $\endgroup$ Jun 22 '20 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ @David Hambling, There is healing potions far surpassing our current medicine, and they are used AFTER combat. However the whole point of stamina is trying to give soldiers a little advantage without angering wizards. Potions that turn soldiers into killing machines can be made. But wizards won't take kindly to that as it directly violates that whole staying out of politics aspect they maintain. Also because of the nature of those potions then only few ever exist in stores anyway meaning that they are dangerous, wizards wrath, but also limited. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jun 22 '20 at 20:27

The use of stamina potions would likely mirror stimulants in military use in the 20th century.

Pervitin, a methamphetamine, is one of the well known examples that was used by Germany in the first few years of WW2. However, unlike the image in pop culture it was not used for combat (aside from ill disciplined units that abused them). Pervitin allowed tank and truck drivers to keep driving through the night, substantially increasing the distance a division can travel in a day. In combat, pervitine was unnecessary (and a liability) as adrenaline would keep troops awake.

Similarly, stamina potions would likely be most valuable when you need your army to travel greater distances to surprise the enemy, catch up with retreating armies that have routed etc. This would particularly useful for a rapid march to the enemy, and then engaging them while still under the influence. However, unlike Germany all your infantry would need to take it as your army is primarily marching by foot.

Assuming that stamina potions work on horses, one potential approach is extensive use of stamina potioned horse drawn carts to transport your infantry (or at least select units). While expensive in terms of acquiring the horses and feeding them, you would have a massive advantage in mobility, even compared to men on stamina potions marching. This also eliminates any side / withdrawal effects that may be inflicted upon your troops, and requires less stamina potions to be used.

Finally, stamina potions could also be used in the mid to late stages of battle, if necessary. While adrenaline does a good job of keeping men going, they are still going to wear out in battle. Stamina potions would allow weary troops to renew an attack, for example, or quickly out flank enemy columns.

However, ultimately the availability and side effects of the stamina potions is going to impact how widely they can be used, and in what situations.

  • $\begingroup$ excellent insight. Couldn't have said it better myself $\endgroup$ Jun 20 '20 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Looks reasonable. Horses using it is certainly interesting. Animal potions exist already. Potions don't have any negative side effects at all. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jun 20 '20 at 15:57

There's a reason for soldiers having to rest. I know about potions, and they like any drug are something where they would likely be a controlled substance---and for good reasons which I will state as follows.

the main effect things like your potion will likely have is a long term negative physical and psychological effect on soldiers who use it. It would likely be similar to the effects of the extended use of existing stimulants in this world.

having worked for the US army as a private contractor, mainly being a custodian at a mess commissary, they had signs posted on the wall warning servicemen that there's serious consequences to overuse of stimulants such as sugar and caffeine.

However, with most soldiers, if it helps save your life, than the risks become trivial.

And there has been worse in other military institutions world wide historically. For example, the Japanese and German militaries during the second world war actually issued methamphetamine to their troops! And the results in some instances led to the loss of entire units to the very drug they were issued. while such episodes were not enough to effect those armies as a whole, the soldiers themselves became casualties to methamphetamine, and it made it so many had no chance of returning to a normal life after the war.

so likely, you may want to have it that the potion degrades those who take it overtime, and make it so it's something only recommended to take when necessary.

of course, I am playing a guessing game with this potion of yours.

  • $\begingroup$ First of all. They have NO side effects. It's literally magic. I'm well aware that certain things exist for a reason. Pain! Well. A simple cut can drain you if don't stop it. Drugs are addictive and destroy you faster than they give you an edge. And so on. That's way if a commander overused them his soldiers bodies will simply collapse as he pushed his men too far. That's one reason "soldier's potion" are not allowed. That is: No fear, way les pain, courage, obedience, stamina...etc. They can be done in the world but the results are catastrophic. Absolute slaughter insures. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jun 20 '20 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Seallussus I'd say that making someone unaware of fatigue but still experiencing it is a major consequence all by itself. You'd have soldiers marching & fighting until all of a sudden they'd drop over dead, or at best damaging their health & muscles from overexertion while unable to know they're doing it. How does this affect heat, hunger & thirst? $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 20 '20 at 6:01
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus, People are aware that overusing potions can lead to such results. That's why they are not, for the most part, overused. Since you march by day and camp by night, there is little dance of pushing your soldiers too far beyond humans limits. Soldiers also get standard training, marching and fighting and setting up camp...etc. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jun 20 '20 at 15:54

I would say these potions are useless for the most part.

If your muscles are "tired" there are a dozen things going on within them. Chief of those are the build up of waste products that need to be removed, micro-damage that needs repairing and depleted energy reserves that require lengthy chemical cycles to replenish. Removing that feeling makes your soldiers more careless with their energy and they'll often find that their muscles will simply not be able to perform the actions that the soldier asks of them simply because the soldier couldn't feel his muscles were being overtaxed.

Lets put it another way: if there was an evolutionary advantage to not feeling tired, it would exist right? And it does during flight/fright responses. Yet there is also a very good reason this stops after a while. People arent made for extended times without tiredness while their bodies are being taxed. Expect problems with muscles, bones, tendons (tendinitis everywhere, fun!) stress disorders, disassociation disorders and other mental problems to pop up with extended use. In fact expect it after the first use in combination with hard work.

The biggest use of these potions in battle scenario's would be for morale purposes when a battle has been going on for some time. Any negative feeling can aid in soldiers either surrendering or retreating. So having your soldiers take a swig of a stamina potion to dispell the worst of that would help them fight longer. Smart generals would find a way to rest their troops mid-battle and give tiny rations of stamina potions so the soldiers still have a literal feel for their muscles but the worst of it is gone.

Otherwise I agree with the rest: use it (in small portions again) for long marches, rushing vital supplies or for non-muscle work where you want your clergies and officers fresh and capable while working out plans or leading the men. Its also good for morale if your leader still looks fresh and strong at the end of a long, hot/cold day of marching.

  • $\begingroup$ I get your point. But it's not like that. Generals are aware that overusing potions is problematic to their soldiers health. So they don't just use it for fun. And the whole idea is a little extra push so that a soldier expected to march for 5 hours can march 10 hours, only if needed. Daylight is when you march or fight. At night you camp. So it's not a matter of 24 activity. It's just an extra push, like what would a very healthy motivated human can do. Not what a superhuman can do. "Health" potions also exist. So if a group of soldiers are too sick, glup glup, you're fine. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Jun 20 '20 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ I was focussing more on the fact that complete removal of the tiredness feeling for 6 to 12 hours when your body is actually tired is almost guaranteed to cause physical damage with good chances of added psychological damage. As a small boost to reduce tiredness I can see it having a positive effect as the soldiers are less likely to overextend themselves unless necessary and can help them make the right decisions/keep morale up despite the tiredness. Your idea to do it only in extreme situations would help prevent large scale problems. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jun 21 '20 at 11:30

Your potion is just a mild aspirin, look for the effects it had on real-world warfare, painkillers have existed since the dawn of time... Neanderthals used painkillers before Homo Sapiens even began to exist.

Also, humans can already run for hours on end, so walking for half a day is not a problem.

  • $\begingroup$ Painkillers was the first thing I came to my mind. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Jun 22 '20 at 21:03

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