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This is set in medieval society, where everyone has mana but not everyone has the capacity to use it effectively. To make up for this, there are Avatars. Avatars are beings created when someone takes a piece (a "spark") of their spirit and transfers it into an enchanted orb of Ether (solid mana), which transforms into a manifestation of either their whole self or an aspect of their being.

The Avatar is automatically linked to them upon creation. Despite being made of magic, an Avatar is real; an animal or human Avatar has an actual body, with actual organs, and a mechanical Avatar would be made of real machine parts. Because an Avatar is a real creature, their power does not diminish with distance (as would be the case with a magical construct.)

Anyone can create an Avatar, as long as they are taught how, but they can only have four Avatars MAX. The age of the Avatar is based off the maturity and/or development of the creator's person; so an unusually mature child can create an adult Avatar. These Avatars can be in the form of a mythical creature, animal, or even a humanoid, so the following are valid possibilities:

  1. A firebreathing dragon
  2. A griffin
  3. A paladin
  4. A giant scorpion
  5. A warrior mermaid

One has influence over the Avatar created (they can picture what they want the Avatar to be) but in the end, the nature of the individual (personality and background) who creates the Avatar determines its form. Oh, and no matter what, there's always something unusual about the Avatar that reveals it as a being of magic, which makes it impossible for seemingly ordinary animals to escape notice and suddenly assassinate someone (Think of Pokemon; would you mistake a Piplup for a regular penguin? Of course not!). The more powerful the Avatar, the rarer it is.

Helpfully, however, Avatars grow along with their creator, gradually transforming into higher forms of themselves. This is balanced by the fact that people usually grow slowly, over time.

Avatars die only from old age, poison, or injury. After an Avatar dies, the creator is a bit weakened, quite possibly traumatized, but he/she can recover and create another Avatar, even one identical to the one who died. Avatars usually don't tire, but they are fatigued by extensive or demanding work (construction, combat, and so on). However, they also regain energy over time. Additionally, Avatars do not require food or water, but they do require oxygen (need to breathe). An Avatar can also be healed if their creator expends Mana to do so, but only if the creator is within nine feet of the Avatar.

Finally, Avatars have magical abilities relating to their nature. Fire Salamanders and Komodo Dragons can spit or breathe fire, Spitting Cobras can fire streams of poison, Bullet Shrimp can fire bullets of magically compacted air, Jumping Spiders can jump vast distances, and so on.

So my question is, how would the military best take advantage of this?

In order to craft a good answer, you must:

  1. explain why you think either A) soldiers will fight alongside their Avatars or B) use them as surrogates, accounting for the six-mile command range and nine-foot healing rule.

  2. Explain why the military would either A) breed soldiers and have Avatars created for them at birth, B) have a filtering program to find future soldiers, give them an Avatar, and take them for training or C) do something else entirely. A description of how this would work is necessary.

  3. Decide whether Avatars would be constantly guarding assigned areas (national security), or be brought out and mobilized when a threat arises (like regular soldiers).

  4. Account for pros and cons of A or B in 1; A: when "plugged in" to an Avatar, controlling its movements, seeing what it sees, and feeling what it feels, soldiers would naturally be vulnerable to assassination. B: If soldiers fought alongside their Avatar, their chance of dying rises despite the Avatars defending and fighting alongside them, and soldiers can't be replaced or healed as easily as Avatars.

Please consider:

  1. Avatars instinctively defend their creator if they're not fighting for them. Avatars are sentient and can act for themselves (but cannot betray or go against their creator's wishes). Additionally, Avatars can be commanded telepathically and share knowledge with their creator (the Avatars know what their creator knows or learns, and vice versa) if the Avatar and their creator are within six miles of each other.

  2. Since Avatars grow with their creator over his or her lifetime, slowly and steadily, it's best for the Avatars to be created as early as possible if they are to be used in the army because then you'll have maximum development possible. It may be best to have a filtering process that finds young candidates and takes them away for military training, or simply selectively breed and train soldiers from birth. (Remember, Avatars represent their creator!)

  3. While all Avatars have some magical ability, only a few can cast spells and those that can only cast spells relating to their type. Additionally, the damage an Avatar does is relative to the kind of creature they are. A lion or bear Avatar is going to do a ton of damage, while a stinging gnat will do little damage (unless of course it carries diseases).

  4. Since Avatars can be replaced and healed relatively easily (as compared to people), and you can have four Avatars per soldier (never mind the fact Avatars evolve over time!), it seems preferable to use Avatars instead of people in combat. However, the nine-foot rule I made for balance is a pretty significant hurdle. Either the Avatars are fighting with their creators, or the Avatars have to make it back to their creators when they're injured.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't know about full scale wars, but for "duels", your creator basically becomes the king in a chess game. Few questions : At what point do Avatars start their growth : Toddler, kid, young adult...? And also do they grow faster or slower than their non-avatar counterparts? It's crucial, otherwise the 9-feet heal rule doesn't matter really much if you can just replace the lost Avatars. Finally, is there a limit to the telepathic communication range? Can influence a lot on intel you can gather, especially in medieval age where it was hard to gather them accurately. $\endgroup$ – Tortliena Dec 18 '20 at 23:59
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and yeah, do one's cultural background influences the Avatar to some degree? Like if you're an Avatarion who are known to be very faithful, you will be more likely to have priests/gods's creatures, and if you are an Naturian who usually are prone to be one with nature, you tend to have more forest pets? $\endgroup$ – Tortliena Dec 19 '20 at 0:08
  • $\begingroup$ Great questions! The age of the Avatar created depends on how much the creator has grown at the point of creation; really immature people (those who haven't really grown) will create juvenile Avatars, while really mature people will create adult Avatars. The Avatar's development rate is equivalent to the creator's, so if you want an Avatar to grow faster, start working on self-improvement! $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Dec 19 '20 at 1:58
  • $\begingroup$ Additionally, cultural background does affect the Avatar! Someone deeply religious will likely have Avatars who references that, like angels or sacred animals. Someone who loves nature is more likely to have animal Avatars, while a dragon lover like me is more likely to have dragon Avatars. And those traits can come from cultural background, so yes! You're very perceptive. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Dec 19 '20 at 2:01
  • $\begingroup$ I have many questions: If someone spawns a paladin avatar, do they just summon a naked dude who they have to supply with swords and armor or are things like tools and clothing included (and self-repairing)? If they do spawn with accoutrements like weapons or clothing, can these be removed later or are they permanently attached to the avatar? How would, for example, an archer-avatar shoot? Would they summon magical arrows or would you need to provide them with real one? $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Dec 19 '20 at 13:14
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Note that besides your question, I will try to take into account as much as possible your answers to my comments, that is : Avatars have a quite long growth rate and start at the mental growth of their maker, and that the culture does influence the type of creature that grows.

Now, let's focus on the two (battle)fields I guess will be the most affected by Avatars : Army composition and overall strategy and how battles will be handled.

Armies/units will be specialized

Having armies changing depending on their country is a common concept in strategy. Two examples : England is on an island, and has a long history of colonialism in various parts of the world they can access by sea, and therefore they have a natural tendancy to develop strong marine units and strategies to prevent anyone even coming on their land. On their side, Germany is a land country, with lots of neighboring countries, so they focused more of their power in units that can cross lands quickly -namely cavalry, tanks...- and move quickly where the threat is coming. It's rough and there are a lot of nuances, but you see the gist.

The fact that one's culture defines even partially one's Avatar will emphasize this strategic trait. Indeed, it's not even anymore the geography that determines the units in your army, but one's culture and soul. This will give directions and specialties to your whole military forces. Here are 2-3 examples :

  • The kingdom is highly disciplined and favor honor : It will have more Avatars of the same kind, and preferably units that show of strength and one's dedication to the country : Faithful soldiers, golems, dragons (for the most determined or fiery ones), ...
  • The kingdom is small and weak in numbers, but favor independent will : You will find lots of small, highly expert commando units that focus whether on spec-ops operations so that wars and battles never happen in the first place : shadowlings/dopplegangers, will-o-wisps, birds of prey and snakes...
  • The country is rich, educated and is exuberant in nature : You will have exotic creatures that are not found anywhere, favoring surprising the enemy with astonishing abilities or that instill fear : Undying phoenixes, petrifying basilisks, beautiful griffins, dangerous alchemists...

Armies, in order to compensate their cultural weaknesses, may employ more mercenaries from other countries, and alliances between two complementary kingdoms are more likely to happen.

On a lower point of view, you will have specific squads that will need their own way of commanding them inside armies. One doesn't train the same way a fiery dragon than a composed giant turtle or an impatient horse, nor the way of telling them what to do will be the same. Also, training will focus as much as technical training (Sword and magic mastering, battle formations...) as personal growth in order to get the most out of them.

Battles will become more modern

In term of strategies in a battle, it will depend a lot of the composition of your army. Still, there are two very important facts that shake up a lot traditional medieval warfare : flying Avatars and telepathic communication. These two will make wars look a lot more like modern warfare, and here's why :

Flying Avatars will become like planes, and are highly suited for quick strikes behind an enemy's logistic line. Drop in, lay waste, then fly away before archers and flying Avatars come. Blitzkrieg, basically. Or... They can be used to spot far away troops much quicker and determine their numbers a lot more easily.

Since you can communicate with your Avatars freely, and that one can have up to 4 Avatars, one become a radio tower and transfer messages ultra-quickly across the battlefield. Often times, Ordering troops would normally need some guessing from the commander and a lot of prediction, because you can have as much as 10 or 15 minutes between new intel come in and out, intel which may become outdated. When you have an Avatar, you cut off this time, making decisions much easier. Well, as long as your relay or their Avatar is not killed, but you certainly have a spare one just in case, right?

And what if...?

If people form strong bonds with their Avatars, then the wars could be very different. People will be much more cautious about their troops, maybe even instilling some kind of Geneva Convention, so that you don't kill Avatars if they can't fight anymore. Some kind of code of honor could be instaured, so that the well being of non-avatar soldiers isn't too much shattered.

But let's even go further than that! If you are truly a pragmatic (and somewhat cruel) commandant, you can (ironically) order to reduce Avatar casualties as much as possible, only injuring and emprisoning instead. Since a person can only have 4 avatars, this basically mean they cannot create a new one if theirs is still alive, and are left with less troops. Knowing that they don't need food or water, you don't need that much guards to keep watch over them. Only strong chains are needed to prevent them from fleeing or committing suicide. And because there is a telepathic communication, you can sure demoralize the enemy's rank if you torture or humiliate them. Morale is an important component of warfare (and wellfare :'( ), after all!

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Avatars would do all the work for everyone.

No-one would work. Everyone would send avatars to do stuff and get paid. It is like having a team of unquestioningly loyal slaves at your service except better because you don't have to feed them. My avatars would not be giant scorpions. One would be a super hot hottie to get big tips when she tends bar, plus people would be impressed when I went out with her. She is my avatar so that is ok. The smart one looks like JBH and I would send that one to law school to learn to sue people. I suppose if there is a war there would be a fighty one; ideally some sort of sniper. There is a 4th one that can be a big flying horse for me to ride; it is big so the bartender avatar can ride with me. Sorry JBH-looking avatar but you need to study.

While my avatars are at work (the flying horse is with Uber) I sleep late, then stay at home worldbuilding and inventing new cookie recipes.

As regards getting killed that is too bad and I would have to make a new one just like the old one so not that bad. If the bartender avatar gets killed the new one will not sulk about the fact that I tell her all about the old one. As regards avatar soldiers, just as with regular soldiers, if an avatar gets hurt the other ones will do first aid and get it to a field hospital, and then back to me where I can heal it with delicious molasses coffee spice cookies. There is black pepper in those cookies too.

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  • $\begingroup$ Not necessarily....first problem, Avatars reflect either your personality or an aspect of your personality, you don't have that much control over what they become. So if you have keen perception and a special gift at shooting, sure, you can create a sniper Avatar. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Dec 19 '20 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ Second up, avatars _do_have a mind of their own. If you go out with your hottie avatar, she might end up with marriage on her mind and/or become an example of the Clingy Jealous Girl trope. If she dies and you create a second hottie, she might resent the fact that you seem to like the first one more than her. Third up, how is delicious cookies mana?! Great ideas, just giving you some feedback here. $\endgroup$ – Alendyias Dec 19 '20 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ "As regards getting killed that is too bad and I would have to make a new one just like the old one so not that bad." I'd like to remind you that in the real world if your pet dies, you can just go get a new one. Yet people do make a big deal out of it, for some reason. I think that if an average person literally made something as part of themselvesf and then lost it, they'd be at least a bit rattled. Very likely more than that. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Dec 19 '20 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ How is delicious cookies mana?? Where to start? In the real world I struggle to make glowy spark rays of mana shoot from my fingers; I cramp up. It is much easier to transfer mana by making home baked cookies and giving them out. If you are skeptical, try it and report back. $\endgroup$ – Willk Dec 20 '20 at 0:26

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