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Set during the industrial revolution, the German military is developing an overpowered gatling gun prototype that can shoot enchanted bullets.

Each armor-piercing (ap) bullet is created by performing a lengthy sacrificial ritual with at least a hundred holy maiden as tributes to the goddess of bloodlust, the enchanted ap round will be bestowed the forbidden spacetime magic which allows it to home in on the target unless the trajectory becomes too perverted.

Steps to make an enchanted ap bullet:

  1. a powerful spell to extract iron from 100 holy maiden(those suffering from anemia are spared)

  2. refine the iron and reinforced it with carbon

  3. mold the shell into streamline shape and fill it with gun powder

  4. enchant the round with spacetime magic by inscribing the outer shell with enchantment

Operation manual:

Load the ap rounds into the gatling gun and aim the barrel at the target, scream profanity while you squeeze the trigger to unload everything onto the poor fellow. Don't worry about the range, forget the recoil but ensure the barrel isn't too hot.

Operation principle: The spacetime magic distort the pathway of the ap bullet as it home in towards the target, if the distortion of spacetime becomes too severe it can go off course and miss the target entirely. So don't get cocky.

Question: How can I nerf this enchanted weapon of mass destruction so that it alone cannot change the tide of war easily? Just note that holy maiden can be any prisoners of either sexes.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure this thing is self-nerfing if you need to kill a hundred of yours to kill one of them. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2020 at 7:58
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    $\begingroup$ Also why would you add homing properties to a weapon type that's meant to fire indiscriminately into an area? That seems like the least efficient thing you could do with these expensive bullets. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Dec 23, 2020 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Erik: initially but once the war prolongs and cities being annexed, there will be abundance of promising holy maiden candidates everywhere... $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 23, 2020 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Erik: I've a fetish for heavy gun so I have to repurpose the gatling gun a bit but I don't want it to be a be-all-end-all thing you know. $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Dec 23, 2020 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ Just glancing at the title I thought this was about firing AP ammunition from a gun designed to fire NERF™️ ammunition. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2020 at 21:37

4 Answers 4

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Shortage of ammunition

EACH ROUND requires 100 maidens to be made. Even if you do not permanently harm them, they will not be able to "donate" very often.

You have Germany during Industrial revolution, so circa 1800 . Population total of 30 million. Of that, half are female. (no, i didn't miss the bit about males.. Male "maidens" are so rare that they might as well be mythological)
Of them, 15% are within a suitable age range.

It's Europe, 1800's. So about 1 in 12 of the candidates qualifies on the "maiden" requirement. Sorry, but they were a lusty lot, and started early!

SO you have a base ammunition pool of: 30 000 000 * 0.5 * .15 * .083 = 187500
100 needed per bullet, so 1875 bullets.

A gatling gun of 1800's design. Erm, make that 1861 design, will fire through those 1875 bullets in 3 minutes. ONE gun, 3 MINUTES of fire.

It does not matter how potent the weapon is, 3 minutes of fire from 1 weapon will not win you a battle, much less a war. Maybe a good skirmish, or if the magic sorcery rounds are potent enough, one naval battle.

Now if you were to issue those same Super rounds to highly trained Snipers, and infiltrate them into the enemy ranks. Have them act as assassins of leaders, destroyers of tanks(if you have any) and sinkers-of-ships.. That maybe would be a suitable use of such a resource-demanding weapon.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't even take into account that you may end with non-working ammunition; What was thought as a true maiden may be not or end willingly or unwillingly with someone between two rounds making. A solution to mitigate ammo consumption and still keep a minigun is to make one bullet out of 10 be magical, just to shoot that target you're not aiming at or that just got behind a cover. In the end, only one bullet is needed to kill ^^. $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2020 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena it's not the bullet with your name on that you have to worry about, it's the thousands addressed 'to whom it may concern' $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Dec 24, 2020 at 17:07
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The secret to handling all such things is that they don't exist in a vacuum. Why was it developed in the first place? There's no reason to have such a weapon when the only thing to fire it at is ordinary (unarmoured) infantry.

Weapons and armour exist in a perpetual metastable state. Sometimes the armour has dominance, sometimes the weapons do. However there's no need to invent the ultimate armour piercing weapon unless the enemy has access to ultimate armour.

Looking specifically at this case:

Gatling guns are line of sight, area denial weapons. They exist to put enough flying lead into a space that it's impossible for infantry to safely cross it. There is no reason at all to make them armour piercing and accuracy is not on the list of requirements.

In other words, your gun is not overpowered because in the field it does nothing that an ordinary gatling gun doesn't do. The biggest problem relating to it is that the manufacture of bullets is going to be an albatross around the neck of the nation choosing to use it.

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I will mainly focus on the bullet's properties, rather than its production and the way it is used. In fact, I will focus only on this one sentence :

4. enchant the round with spacetime magic by inscribing the outer shell with enchantment

Putting some kind of runes on the bullet can have a lot of impact on its properties. I'll also end with a weakness you might like or not, depending on the kind of world you're trying to make :p.

The bullet may lose its potency and range

Weapons in the 19th century are not known to be extremely deadly, we are far from the lonesome cowboy taking out a bandit in one shot we can see in movies. And it gets even worse with automatic weapons which have to deal on top of that rapid firing rates.

The runes on the bullet will make it increase air resistance, further decreasing the speed and therefore kinetic energy at the impact. Less energy, less wounds (but most probably more snarky bullets in the body).

Even worse, if you need to cut a straight line along the bullet, it may let the pressure of the barrel and reduce the initial velocity. Your barrel would need to be shaped accordingly, which isn't easy for the time period and may become even impossible if each rune is uniquely shaped based on the choosen maidens. Think a bitty like how keys are appropriately shaped for one lock, but here you want to put one thousand unique keys for the same lock.

The bullet can lose accuracy

It's a bit the same idea, but with accuracy instead. To make the magic work, you have to forgo truly balanced ammunition. For instance, if one of the bullet's outer shell has to be trimmed for a whole half, you have a unbalanced bullet, and therefore an inaccurate trajectory.

Let's suppose your bullet is making corrections once during its travel in order to reach targets hiding behind a wall, the remaining distance to the target will still be affected by the bullet's odd shape. This and taking into account that precision ammo industry wasn't still top-notch at that time, you lose even more accuracy. In the end, most bullets will freaken out the target they aim for, but will miss it by as much as 1 or 2 meters unless the guy gets unlucky. It would need a lot of efforts from the magic engineer to reajust such accuracy issues, making such ammo complex to do.

The bullet home-in on non-vital body parts

Probably a much funnier weakness : Because the bullet is made from maidens, their naive, kind souls are engraved on to the bullet, making them purposefully avoid vital parts like the heart or head. Invent your bullet's favored targets or pick one below!

  • Maiden bullets only target the opposite maiden average prefered genre to find "love". Heterosexual women bullets can only target men and heterosexual men bullets can only target women.
  • Maiden bullets target the less pain-sensitive parts (or at least what most people think they are), because they don't want to hurt anyone. So kind and cute!
  • Maiden bullets only target the ring finger. Isn't it the dream of all young people to find the perfect husband/wife?
  • Maiden bullets target the most ""sensitive parts"" of ones who have fallen into the hands of lust. How indecent you are! And you were not even married!

N.B. : This weird weakness can be due to the non-lethality of the targeted point, but it can also come from the knowledge the enemy will have when they will face the weapon again and again. Since they will notice quickly the effect of the weapon (How comes most soldiers get back without a specific finger?), they can protect themselves accordingly : a metal glove, a shell to protect what's underneath, and so on and so on...

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    $\begingroup$ Neat ideas, but the last bullet-point on "non-vital body parts" isn't exactly non-deadly. There's quite a few important blood-vessels around the private parts of people. It's essentially a guarantee that the target will bleed to death fairly quickly - most likely faster than even a modern doctor could patch them up, let alone a 19th-century field-medic. $\endgroup$
    – user29956
    Dec 23, 2020 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul True enough, and even if it didn't, I guess no men would stand back up after a hit. I think it would be only a viable argument depending on if the ammo avoid the legs or just try to get straight through it. Would need some angle then. Or, as the enemy knows more about this ammunition, they just put some armor at the dangerous spots. I'll add that to the answer $\endgroup$ Dec 23, 2020 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ Well, avoiding the legs might give the target a little bit more of a chance of surviving, but even then there are plenty of blood-vessels that will be destroyed. You'll bleed to death irrespective of whether any arteries in the legs are injured. It'll just take a bit longer, but without fast treatment the target is dead anyways. Also gender doesn't exactly matter here. Just as deadly for females. $\endgroup$
    – user29956
    Dec 23, 2020 at 19:49
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Frame challenge: This doesn't need to be nerfed.

It's already going to be vastly worse than conventional weapons, for several reasons.

Production cost

The production cost for this weapon is ludicrously impractical. As a set up to make one round of ammunition, you have to round up and kill 100 people. This is a logistical nightmare. You need:

  • An entire infrastructure to round them up
  • Medical professionals to determine maiden-status (if medically feasible, debatable)
  • Ways to transport them to your factories (box cars?)
  • An efficient way of mass-sacrifice
  • Guards for every step of the process

The nearest comparison for the scope of what you're doing here would be the Holocaust, which was wildly expensive, without any of the cost savings of forced labor or property confiscation, since you'll be targeting the least wealthy portions of your society (the young) and killing them immediately.

I hesitate to even estimate the purely bureaucratic cost of this, industrial setup aside. Your absolute floor cost here, ignoring all the acquisition costs, would be similar to the the cost to run an industrial slaughterhouse. Let's say that butchering a human for ritual sacrifice is similar to butchering a pig. At \$150 per head, you're talking \$15,000 per bullet, just to slaughter your 10 maidens, ignoring all the other costs above. The cost of an ordinary bullet is measured in pennies. That's six orders of magnitude. You're paying more for just the slaughter involved in your single round of machine gun ammunition than for fifty artillery shells. Let's set a conservative estimate the additional costs (transportation, acquisition, guards, body disposal (unlike pigs, they likely won't be eaten), will triple that to $45,000.

Scaling issues

You are proposing this as a battlefield weapon, which presumably means it would be either used widely (two dozen machine guns per 1000 men) or as a tactical point weapon. Either way, it is meant to be used in conflicts between industrialized armies, so we're likely talking about mobilizations of hundreds of thousands, or millions of soldiers. Since you're talking about Germany, this is the late 19th or early 20th century, so a conflict ranging in scale from the Crimean war to WWI. In order to kill a single division of enemy soldiers with this gun (assuming it can self-aim into trenches and through peep-holes in fortifications) you would need to fire 15,000 rounds and have each one hit. This would take a ludicrous cost of $675,000,000... and 1.5 million dead maidens.

Germany spent \$37,000,000,000 during WWI in order to kill its fair share of the Allied casualties during WWI (2,000,000 soldiers, assuming Germany killed about half). If you wanted a mere 40% of those to die at the hands of your magical weapon, (making it roughly the same contribution as all small arms), you'd need to kill 800,000 men with it it, at a an absolute floor cost of a neat $36,000,000,000... and 80 million virgins. That is, you'd spent almost as much just on ammunition as was spent of the entire war, and in the process, have to ritually sacrifice twice as many virgins as total casualties on all sides during WWI, and millions more than Germany's total population at the time.

And artillery would still be the more deadly weapon, by total casualty count, by an additional 400,000 men and zero ritual sacrifices.

Atrocious optics

You are intending to perpetrate a virtual holocaust on your own people. You are going to build an industry around rounding up and ritually murdering thousands of people, officially endorsed by your government. This requires very careful propagandizing. The Nazis spent years and years building up the dehumanization of the Jews, building on a millenia-long tradition of Jew-hatred. Your victims, however, are the youth of the country — the very population which nationalist movements grow from, and for whom atrocities are allegedly committed. The 14 words that drive the specter of modern white supremacism are "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children," and it is a summary of the kind of fear-mongering your regime would need to succeed... while simultaneously attempting to slaughter the group they are stoking sentiment to protect.

Additionally, the Holocaust was possible because Jews were a minority and marginalized, and being Jewish was an alien experience to most. Less than 2% of the German population was Jewish. Virgins, on the other hand? Every single person in your country either has been, will be, or is part of your target category. Marginalizing them is going to be impossible, or at the very least, deeply challenging, and unlike Jews, they almost never live in tight-knit communities separate and isolated from their neighbors. In fact, they are geographically distributed across your entire country, and reside in each community, and are valued and necessary parts of those communities.

Broken window cost

An important cost that I haven't even factored in yet is the cost of sacrificing young maidens. Assuming you mean that in a conventional sense, that is, a young, but adult-or-near-adult virgin, the population that you are burning to make this weapon is a wildly expensive resource to be sacrificing. The estimated cost to raise a child to adulthood these days is $200,000, just for the parents. The societal cost is even higher.

Of course, this was lower during the industrial revolution, but the fact remains that producing and raising children is one of the primary expenses of an entire society. They are, both metaphorically and literally, the future of the country and of the world — and a child who has survived to adulthood, or near-adulthood, is at the peak of their investment cost without having used but a fraction of their earning potential. You are eating your seedcorn, sacrificing 100 of your most able-bodied and useful citizens in order to kill one enemy soldier in a war where you are outnumbered.

(and if you think you aren't going to be outnumbered, just wait until the world finds out that you are planning to turn their sons and daughters into bullets when you conquer them.)

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