Can be seen as a continuation to This, but it is not necessary for this question.

This question is only applicable to regular, non-specialised and very elementarily trained soldiers. Qualified wizards have their own methods.

As explained in the previous question, anyone who uses magic starts to heat up. Some of that heat energy comes immediately, as in the body starts to grow hotter, while some of it is 'latent', ie it is converted into 'real'/physical heat over a period of time (the main implication being that you continue to grow hotter even when you have stopped using the spell)

Regular soldiers typically only have training to use this magic to increase their strength and speed. Naturally, they would do this in the heat (hehe) of battle, where even a little extra strength, or reaction time, can be the difference between life and death.

How would the military (at least, standing, organised military. Feudal levies and civilian militia, not being nearly organised enough, are thus also weaker in this aspect) deal with this? What would they distribute to every soldier in order to keep him cool enough, and what sort of logistics does this introduce? (carrying water with you, staying near rivers, etc. Though 'bringing qualified mages trained to cool down people' counts, that is a rare occurrence, and said mage will be too busy to heal everyone, and will then need to cool himself down too. Thus, there needs to be some standardised way the militaries of the world have come up with to solve this issue.)

Note: The setting is pre-gunpowder/electricity/steampunk. So none of those methods are viable.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't know, wouldn't the medieval Byzantine and Persian and Arab and Indian armies have some experience marching and fighting in hot deserts, where overheating would have been a problem even without all the magicky rigmarole? How did they do it? What did you find out in your research? For that matter, even the non-Byzantine ancient Roman armies did some notable fighting in places like Syria and Palestine and Egypt and northern Africa, didn't they? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 25, 2020 at 7:21

3 Answers 3


First lets abuse the system as much as possible. I'm sure you heard the good old saying: if you send your soldiers to a fair fight you are a bad general. Or something like that.

Well. The first objective for all generals is to abuse the system, like you do in a video game, to gain the most out of it. Because this is how warfare works. You bring overwhelming power into even the smallest engagements. As far as the military is concerned there is no such a thing as overkill.

Anyway I just link to demonstrate the theory and get into actual practices.

Now I will assume you want a tuned down magical system that has limits. For example both the initial and latent heating can only be used so much before the soldier simply burns up. And I will assume that the traditional method, basic stuff without help, does not accomplish insane spells or crazy stuff. Because if it does then we have to know exactly the conversion rate or the details.

Anyway you say they heat up. Well. We can transfer heat. Right? Instead of bothering with "magically" making the heat go away and trying to break the laws of thermodynamics.

Why not take a page out of our actual science and just transfer the heat?

For example the CPU in the device you are using to view this, I will use PC as example but the same thing goes for all others, gets hotter with usage. But you get a little fan, I know liquid cooling exists but lets simplify things now, that works as follow quote: "Simply put, a heat sink is an object that disperses heat from another object. ... The heat sink has a thermal conductor that carries heat away from the CPU into fins that provide a large surface area for the heat to dissipate throughout the rest of the computer, thus cooling both the heat sink and processor."

Lets copy that.

Be it pieces of meat, dead animals, living animals, complicated shields with layers of materials, or a wizard connection all soldiers into a grid and then heating up the actual ground, water to boil it, food to cook...etc.

So here is it how it works. Spells are a double effect. They accomplish effect A, speed or sight or whatever, AND object B which is transferring heat from the soldier to the ground, again just an example.

I don't see this breaking anything as you have simply let a way for heat to follow thus the soldier can draw on more and more power while still being cooled not by magic but by the fact that heat is going somewhere else.

Yes there still limitation here. I mean it's your world so I imagine you will provide them as I have no clue.

But this system will allow increased power not breaking the system.

For example you might have made the system that a move a mountain spell is theoretical possible however even the initial heat is too high that the person is incinerated before they even finish the spell. But this allows the normal person say to move 2 bottles of milk magically instead of just one. Just an example.

Boring management

Magical management officers. MM officers for short.

Why? Because this is how the military works.

MM officers are outside the chain of command, and subject only to their own regulation and officers.

MM officers sole purpose is to make sure that soldiers do not use too much power or heat themselves too much and so on.

The general, overall commander of the campaign, can't let his own soldiers just use whatever they feel like is appropriate and he also can't prevent them from doing magic, I only read from the link the part about magic being so widespread, so a comprise is needed.

You can add all sorts of things to them. They would powerful wizards themselves but more important they should be able to detect magic and overuse or under-use of magic.

Imagine platoon Delta has 44 soldiers. 43 soldiers cast increased speed while an A-hole soldier forgot to do so. That soldier is a weakness.

Now maybe for platoon Delta it is not a problem. But multiply that by say a 100 similar incidents on the battlefield and your plan and formation is doomed.

Overuse is also as bad as under-use. Say Craig is a brave soldier who casts bravery on himself and then rushes to meet the enemy. His bodies Matt and Tony run off after the idiot to bring him back and your shield wall is gone.

Again multiply that by a 100 and you can see the issue.

Magic is only practiced by orders

Makes sense. Much like you don't move an inch without orders this solution means that after the general gives the command of X then it is carried out. But it is up for individual officers to interpret this command, at least on the magical level, and use the appropriate spell to achieve the goal.

This would, I think, advance warfare theory to Clausewitz style where the general sets the overall goal and those below him go about adapting to the changing battlefield and choosing the most appropriate approach.

Officers training and teaching would become more vital.

The larger more established states with academies and large institutes would do better as they can afford to train their soldiers on the officers level on how to be actual officers not just someone shouting stuff and charging the enemy line while saying cheesy stuff like: do you want to live forever.

However actual warfare is messy so expect exceptions.

General points

  • Strength would only be used for archers oddly enough. Regular infantry won't benefit much from raw strength.
  • Because of that earlier point we could see more archers as a result of the fact that archery requires years and years of training. But if you can simply magic strength and accuracy then we might see way more archers.
  • Stamina magic and anti exhaustion magic would the most useful one. As we all know war is like 95% marching, 4% maneuvering, and 1% fighting. OK I made that up but you get the point. The ability for a general to force march his soldier beyond the human point is a 100% game changer. So many of Caesar's, because I read on him, victories are a result of one simply trick. Forced marching. Sun Zu himself is all about that stuff. Surprise marches to materialize where you are not excepted wins battles more that numbers or technology. So extending the ability for soldier to just march is a game changer of the highest level.
  • Speed magic. For the regular infantry reaction time is far more valuable to strength. The enemy would be clad in armor and using shields. But the ability to swipe away that spear point or deflect that sword cut is the actual difference between life and death. Now in tight formation things are not as loose, does it count as a pun?, but still the ability to be faster is more important than strength.
  • Scouting just became a lot easier.
  • Ambushes now are almost obsolete. I mean don't get me wrong. There is always an idiot who will march through a dark German forest without using a single detection spell, Varus where the heck are my legions?, but most of the time that just becomes not a thing.
  • Does war become more deadly? Maybe. I mean in reality what causes the most casualties is the route not the battle itself. However if you have to sides with such high moral, magically boosted, then booth sides annihilate themselves. Pyrrhic victory every time.
  • So you can have all wars become wars of attrition or you can have sensible generals who would issue retreat orders when they see the military need. You can enforce that with magic, MM officers, banning courage spells, actual battlefield punishments...etc. As Clausewitz says: "In War the Result Is Never Final Lastly, even the ultimate outcome of a war is not always to be regarded as final. The defeated state often considers the outcome merely as a transitory evil, for which a remedy may still be found in political conditions at some later date. It is obvious how this, too, can slacken tension and reduce the vigour of the effort." so your actual general should be aware of that and not throw the lives of their mind to satisfy their ego.
  • Visibility spell are worth their weight in gold. The amount of battles decided by poor visibility would keep me righting for a day. So the ability to see clearly is just so important that it would change history.
  • Hunger and thirst spells are also important. There will always be times when your are fighting on an empty belly or waiting for supplies. If your magic can include actually sustaining people then this is an absolute game changer. Supply lines don't become a thing as much. And this changes many many things.
  • Cavalry perhaps would fall out of use. Because of the difficulty of heating and how the animals would suffer or prevent you from doing much magic. Also remember than cavalry are more vulnerable to attacks, even cataphracts and full plated knights, and all you need to do so stop the mightiest cavalry charge is whip out lots of large powerful longbows. Or just equip your soldier with throwing spears and increase the strength of their arms.

That's all I could think of for know. If you know more about the magic system and the limits I'm sure we can help you further.

  • $\begingroup$ Great and well thought out! A lot of the points you mentioned follow neatly into stuff I thought of while creating (eg Pyrrhic battles as sides tend to annihilate each other). One thing, not very important, but perhaps mentionable next time I ask about the magic system is the fact that most high-level magic requires not just skills but also different equipment. Doing so without is possible, but very difficult, so the most regular soldiers can do is speed and strength. Specialised soldiers can be given specialised gear, like scouts visibility equipment, but that applies to single soldiers only. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ As you said, marching becomes even more important. The heating effect of magic, especially the slow onset of latent heat, causes effects like fever would in real life, and even stuff like dizziness, vomiting, fatigue, etc. Thus marching becomes hellish very fast. And the best generals, who can efficiently march their troops while also maintaining their morale and making sure they aren't physically unable to fight, gain a huge advantage in any sort of battle. $\endgroup$ Sep 29, 2020 at 15:22
  • Every soldier casts "Super strength and speed for half hour" on themselves.
  • Mage casts "Snowstorm" over entire battlefield. Taking out all the instant heat generated from those low level spells and giving half hour of snow.
  • Battle occurs in a snowstorm.
  • Mage who casts snowstorm rests in the snow off to one side, his overheated body turning snow to steam as he relaxes.
  • Snow keeps soldiers cool for the fight. And freezes anyone not magical or dressed for a surprise snowstorm.
  • Mage in snow recovers as fast as possible, and can then cast supporting big magic spells while resting in cooling slush.
  • Other mages in the battle group have been snow cooled, so are able to cast big magic spells while snow cooled to support the battle.
  • When the battle is over soldiers rest in the snow until magical heat wears off.

Short answer: they don't.

Long answer: the goal of a medieval army wasn't to kill its enemy face to face. This could be done, but was difficult, prone to reversals, and unless you grossly outnumbered the enemy, it would cost you as much as it did your foe. Instead, the goal was to break the enemy's formation and rout them (and then cut them down with your cavalry while they're running away).

To do this, however, required certain tactics. You wanted to inflict as much damage as possible and cause as much shock as possible in the critical moment before leaders and officers could take charge, troops could throw off the first shock of contact, and discipline could reassert itself. You had to act fast. Hence tactics like heavy cavalry charges, which emphasize wreaking as much havoc as possible all at once, and then tended to bog down if they couldn't disengage. Though a battle would involve maneuvers before any contact between the armies, and those could be quite lengthy and important, the time spent actually fighting was generally not that long. (Partly, this is because charging and fighting in melee is exhausting.)

So from the perspective of your army, the fact that your mages can only use their magic for a brief period is not a major drawback, because that's all they really need or expect. They want to focus their strength on a single overwhelming attack that breaks the enemy's morale and sends them fleeing. If they can't do that, they're in trouble, magic or no magic.

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    $\begingroup$ This will make deceptive tactic ever more important. Make the enemy believe that they are engaging your main host. Then, after they exhaust themselves, show them your real force. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Sep 25, 2020 at 16:42

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