I like to put a few humanoid races in my world, each with some boons and/or banes. While it is easy enough to figure out the major implications of a single isolated characteristic, things get more difficult once you mess around with 5 factors, 8 races and need to know who can bully who militarily. While I am most curious about pre gunpowder warfare, but feel free if you want to speculate about the age of pikes and gunpowder.

The factors I am messing with are:

  • Size: smallest (<1,4 m), smaller (1,4 to 1,7 m), base (1,7 to 1,9 m), bigger (1,9 to 2,3 m), biggest (>2,3 m)
  • Strength: weakest (0,5x), weaker (0,75x), base (x = human strenght per pound), stronger (2x), strongest (5x)
  • Agility: I have no idea of how to measure it
  • Endurance: I have no idea of how to measure it
  • Maintenance: average daily calories you have to give a soldier to make him perform at his best in a long campaign.

I take for granted that size and strength scale with maintenance, and endurance usually will not come paired with neither of the two since it will make maintenance skyrocket. The trickest part is consider the difference between the advantage that one has in dual not always scale to a battlefield, for example I race that is stronger but have lower endurance might be bad at war in general since the engagements will be too exhaustive.

I would rather know how two or more factors will interact in the context of a war, considering things such as logistics, tactics and overall strategy to submit that play to their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses , like: stronger, low endurance and high mantenance, would preffer skirmishing tatics to avoid prolonged engagement and will try to demoralize their foes into a early surrender using shock tactics as it is costly to supply their armies. But if you want work with more specific circunstances, here are some stock races:

  • Humans: are the base for all stats, except endurance, we nail at it
  • Dwarfs: smaller, stronger
  • Elves: weaker, more agile
  • Halflings: smallest, more agile, low maintenance
  • Orcs: bigger, stronger, less endurance, high maintenance
  • Giants: biggest, stronger, less agile, highest maintenance
  • Ogres: bigger, strongest, less agile, less endurance, high maintenance

Edit: Since requested, here at a actually specific setting


  • Juvenes: the only humanoids to form highly hierarchical societies. Others can form complex societies, but only they will blindly follow the current tyrant in a senseless war. They are not particulary brave and may flee the battlefield and the army altogether, but more aesily follow orders otherwise. They have high endurance.
    • Arvanos: 1,6 m tall, strong arms and backs and can sustain themselves with poor diet for extensive periods. Live in more burocratic and absolutist kingdoms. Have access to horses. Usually have strong and stable economies when compared with their neighbors
    • Rasuins: 1,8 m tall, weaker but even more enduring, can fight for as much as 6 hours with no signs of exhaustion. Live in more feudal kingdoms. Have easier access to horses
  • Elderes: have good night vision and hearing.
    • Kochevenik: 1,2 m tall, strong for its size and more agile than a monkey. Live in nomadic tribes in a rainforest.
    • Reuben: 2,1 m tall, strongest race considering its weight, but have low endurance and needs more maintenance. Live in descentralized city-states confederations usually tied together under a non-heraditary monarch in a less rainy rainforest. Have access to giant deers bred as mount. As developed economically as arvanos
  • Giants: The biggest humanoid group, they need a lot of calories and generally will be field with poorly made weapons since it has to be adapted to their size. Giants are few and far between and usually don't coexist in countries of other races. They are the only ones we low population density, even when considering their life-style.
    • Gigas: live in small isolated pastoral communities, they only 2,5 m tall but not particulary strong. They are more enduring than other giants and can be sustained with a poor diet. They are more social and inhabit some small folk countries, especially those of the arvanos
    • Ghawl: they are 3 m tall, more resistent to drier climates and weaker but have some enduring. They live in small nomadic tribes and often raid arvanos and rasuins.
    • Vishaal: they are the least enduring, but by far the strongest of the races. They live in semi-sedentary villages in the most remote reagions of a rainforest. Will band together to defend against reubens

Theaters of War

  1. Reubens raiding kochevenik and vishaal for slaves. This occur in the rainforest and there is no way of getting mercenaries. Also this is more of a descentralized raiding lead by reuben princes in the boarders rather than a full scale war.
  2. Arvanos and rasuins protecting against ghawls raids. Arvanos and rasuins not always share a kingdom, but usually the more rasuins the more feudal the country is. Mercenaries in the region include gigas and both juvenes races.
  3. Actually wars between countries of 2, but this time ghawls can be hired as merceneries.
  4. Reuben princes fighting each other.
  5. Reuben mad lads trying to take over some coutry of 3 while greatly outnumbered Obs: while mercenaries are always a option, local levies should be the bulk of the army
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think you need to figure out how to split this into several questions, analyzing each parameter OR each race. Some of these are duplicates, you'll find discussions of racial qualities in a number of questions. Do a little research, here are a few starting points. worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/152048/… worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/167531/… worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/167656/… $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Dec 17, 2020 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Break it down to match up with your fictional kingdoms or factions and we can start to help. You list is too abstract I'm afraid. No warfare is abstract, Clausewitz would scream at this abstract listings of factors. The reason is that while we have general rules: longer reach weapon for smaller people. This is meaningless if put into actual combat. I suggest the kingdom or independent faction so we can ask for the strategy and ability and army composition...etc to try to help. Example the elves might be fragile so they have humans to fight=different weapons that if elves are fighting. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Dec 17, 2020 at 0:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Seallussus It was my this though, but I had the felling that it would fall into the "too story based" and get closed, so i got more abstract in order to avoid it $\endgroup$
    – LuizPSR
    Dec 17, 2020 at 0:23
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Each of your species will apply the principles of warfare differently. Do some analysis and make yourself a chart. Each species will organize to emphasize it's strengths and mitigate it's weaknesses. Each species may have very different specific goals in a conflict, different strategies to achieve those goals, and different support and logistical requirements that limit the choice of strategies. And that's before you get into the politics. You really need that chart to keep it all ordered. A too-broad question. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Dec 17, 2020 at 1:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This question is exceedingly naive. @Seallussus is correct: you are discarding fundamental factors, which actually have overwhelming importance and cannot be discarded. Numbers count -- one hundred weak halflings will easily walk over five strong orcs. Terrain counts. The level of economic development counts -- who can actually produce weapons and sustain an army? Knowledge of military theory counts -- who have strong civilized states? Who are barbarians? Technological differences count -- look how small Greece bested the mighty Persian empire because they had a little better technology. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Dec 17, 2020 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


Broad Strokes:

I think this question will probably need to be broken up into several questions to get good answers. For starters, though, I'll give my broad impressions.

  • Strength will inevitably be most at odds with endurance. The preponderance of fast-twitch muscles and hysterical strength will severely limit an army in fighting battles. They will indeed favor skirmish tactics, and also have a preference for using mounts for transport. I envision orcs with cavalry sabers. Giant-sized creatures might need really big mounts to make this work (war wagons?)
  • Smaller races will prefer weapons like spears and pikes that extend their reach and allow dense formations to offset their relative difference in ability per individual. Pole arms useable in tight formations but allowing force multiplying would be good. So Halflings with short pike formations and dwarves with halberds as infantry.
  • Weaker races will prefer stabbing weapons instead of slashing ones to maximize lethal wounds and not require amazing strength. Bows and crossbows especially allow lethal penetrating wounds on a wide variety of enemies. I see elves with rapiers and bows/crossbows using ambush attacks. Crossbows for the weakest, since these can be loaded with a lever or crank to maximize power for size/strength.
  • Conversely, giants will want to emphasize their individual abilities and will prefer large weapons (even for them) to extend their reach since closing with small races will likely result in being overwhelmed but staying at missile range will result in death by a thousand cuts. So flails, possibly even a giant scythe to maximize terror and crush dense formations of 'lesser' beings. Don't shy away from an old-fashioned whole tree used as a club.
  • $\begingroup$ I'd personally arm my giants with human sized warbows. Why? Because they can maintain LONGER rates of fire on those weapons and warbows are absolutely deadly as it is. Imagine the pinnacle of English bowmen only multiplied by say 3 and still have strength to fight with spears and shields. The rate of fight of those giants will match some guns imo. The whole club or scythe is too unpractical as you know. I get you mentioned horror but nothing terrifies an army as high casualty rates, imagine a steady stream of arrows each making a kill, Then once you close the distance you have giants. $\endgroup$
    – Seallussus
    Dec 17, 2020 at 2:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Seallussus I was assuming that the giants/ogres would have significant numerical disadvantages in a full-scale battle, and the volume of return arrow/crossbow (ballista?) fire would be prohibitive. Plus it's a lot harder for an ogre to hide behind a tree. That being said, I have had half-ogre PC's with monster big missile weapons. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Dec 17, 2020 at 2:15

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