This question is inspired by the video essay series "Fantasy Re-Armed" by Shadiversity on YouTube, where Shad explores typical fantasy races and what weapons they and their opponents ought to use.

My lizard men have about the same body mass as a human and the same intelligence. Unlike many fiction lizard men, they walk with their spine horizontal, like most bipedal dinosaurs. Compare to a Pachycephalosaurus, but smaller.

Their teeth, claws, scales or feathers are not powerful enough to serve as weapons nor armour. Their tails are only moderately flexible, not prehensile. Their physical strength is comparable to a human.

One very significant aspect is their posture. Since they don't stand erect, they will be lower and longer than a man of the same mass. One disadvantage is that they cannot form as tight formations as humans since they take up more area. One advantage, however, is that when viewed from the front they are much smaller targets and potentially harder to hit - useful against melee weapons, crossbows and guns. On the other hand, they present a larger target from above, potentially making them more vulnerable to volleys of arrows.

I imagine that the tail provides useful balance that will make them better and faster runners than humans. (That's what tails are for, isn't it?) This might make them better skirmishers (armed with guns or bows and harrying the enemy) where humans make better formations.

Note that the lizard men will not necessarily always be fighting humans. They can also ally with humans and form mixed armies to fight against other lizard men or other humans.

The technology is late medieval or renaissance. Guns exist, but they are only as powerful and reliable as 1500s arquebuses. There exists plate armour that is largely bulletproof, but it is expensive.

The lizard men have quite flexible shoulders and necks. They can, for example, lift a shield above their torso and pull their head back so it's above or behind the shoulders, if need be.

What weapons and tactics should they and their enemies use? What do I need to consider? Do you have any advice?

  • $\begingroup$ You're probably going to need to specify an equivalent time period/technology level, since that's going to determine a bunch of that. For instance, if machine guns are available, tight formations would be straight suicide. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 17:06
  • $\begingroup$ i dont think they have problem with spear at least, heck in my opinion having chinese dagger-axe or halberd kind of weapon in such low point can help hook,tangle or cut/chop opponent leg easier, though i think they wont have problem forming testudo with tower shield though, but thats depend on the length of the reptile arms, judging by the Pachycephalosaurus arms at least it seems possible to me, or you can just straight up strap it on your back as second shield to protect the back. but only pike is also sufficient in my opinion. what kind of armor they have or developed? $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ this depend on your reptile head, if it like this one in my opinion, short chopping or cutting weapon like sword probably get limited movement due to their head is more upfront than their arms, so two hand weapon or trusting weapon seems more better choice. if it simply like this posture i dont think theres any problem, they can use melee weapon just fine. but depend on the arms length though. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ oh yeah also you mention bow while running, i dont see the problem with skirmish, but iam not sure you can shoot well or accurate while running, even gun have this problem as far as i know. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Jun 25, 2020 at 17:43

1 Answer 1


Humans soldiers, lizard scouts

Lizard men stand no chance in open combat. The way humans fight them is simple - engage them in a long drawn-out battle. In a one-on-one fight, perhaps, a trade-off of a lizard-man's faster speed and better sense of balance might win him the day. However, that comes at a cost which looses them the war, and that cost is endurance. Unique among pretty much almost every creature alive, humans are custom-built for endurance. We can outrun just about every living thing on the planet, given a large enough track (except for equestrians).

Humans will fight by drawing out battles as long as they possibly can - lining up early in the morning to force the lizard-men in kind and then using feints, charges, retreats, just about every move they can use, in order to artificially prolong combat. Not to mention that they'll choose to fight in horrible inhospitable times - such as the dead of winter or summer when lizards are shut down by the extreme temperature shifts. If the lizard men managed to control the battlefield, like say a swamp during fall, they would possess a significant home-field advantage - but that doesn't make up for the fact that everything else is a disadvantage. In short, lizard men are horrible soldiers.

They are, however, good scouts - they can outrun humans quite easily and their scales help make for natural camouflage. Not to mention that, as you point out, their small profile helps avoid arrow fire. They'd also be OK skirmishers as long as you were able to get them in and out of combat relatively quickly. So the lizard-men would have to ally with humans, or else avoid open combat entirely if they wanted to fight.

  • $\begingroup$ unless you are in highground though, also in prolong fight i can see human win, but human also lose to emu and running zulu (at least during battle of isandlwana) after all. $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, but I was hoping for an answer focusing on their body shape, because that's an essential element of them. My lizard men are not cold-blooded and don't live in swamps (this is not "Dungeons & Dragons"). They may or may not have human-level endurance - I can buff their stamina for "balance" purposes if I have to. If I give them less stamina than humans, they'll need to be significantly stronger and/or faster to compensate (as, indeed, many animals are). $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 26, 2020 at 11:12

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