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When a human and a merson (mer-person) "pair off"-with a human as the rider, and a mermaid or merman as the mount-magic is involved. There's a connection that draws the two together. As time goes on, this magical connection grows stronger and comes with special effects:

  1. The Beginning-Emotional connection (human and merson can feel other's emotions, distinct from their own unless they're feeling the same thing, in which cause the emotion is amplified) and telepathy apparent. The rider is light to their mount, allowing them to carry their rider with ease over vast distances. Additionally, the Gs and drag caused by or that should be experienced by the rider are reduced to negligible amounts.

  2. Sprouting-Reached after the two have strengthened their bond and become in sync, perfect partners (like Ash and Pikachu). The rider gains a sort of secondary gravity that holds them to their mount, allowing them to use both hands without fear of falling off and minimizing the risk of being dislodged. The mount becomes faster, supernaturally so, as does the rider. They can fire streams of water and manipulate currents for propulsion and so forth.
    Their movements are naturally in sync and coordinated (so the rider can take full advantage of their mount's momentum). If the rider did not have magic before, they do now. If they did, their mount's magic has grown stronger.

  3. Blossoming-Only 30% of all Sprouted pairs can Blossom. In this state, the magic of both rider and mount is greatly increased (if the rider was a Level 7 out of 10 Mage and his ount was a Level 5 out of 10 Mermaid, they both end up at Level 35 out of 50); the two can create towering waves, whirlpools, and even icebergs. Massive manipulation of heat and cold (since water is an element of extremes, with steam representing fire and ice representing well, ice) is also possible for both. The life forces of both are bound, making it impossible to kill one without killing the other. This same synergy increases the base vitality of both and gives them hardcore regenerative abilities (think Wolverine, not Deadpool). As if that wasn't enough, 10% of these Blossomed Riders are elite, their mounts becoming capable of becoming a spirit of the sea itself: a dragon!

So, my question is: How would these riders affect naval warfare?

Please consider:

  1. Magic comes in four different forms: Evocation (Summoning), Elemancy (Element manipulation), Aethosynthesis (manipulating Ether, the stuff of magic) and Alchemy (Combining, Separating, and Transforming matter).

Evocation can summon things like whales or demons, but requires elemancy to function. As a result, evocation spells are doubly expensive, on top of being complex and hard to master.

Elemancy covers manipulation of all the elements; fire, ice, lightning, air, earth, metal, water, light, dark, and nature.

Aethosynthesis is used to form shields of magic or fire bolts of magic. Whenever you want to create something of magic alone, or even enchant something, you'll be using Aethosynthesis.

Alchemy is the magical form of chemistry; it can combine air and metal to cause oxidation or separate the atoms composing H20 to create hydrogen and oxygen. It doesn't work on living things or something in or on someone's person (your earring and stomach acid, for example, are safe). Alchemy consumes a lot of energy, and it can be countered by another alchemist (if Alchemist A wants to turn the water around a ship into hydrogen and oxygen so his pyromancer friend can light it up, he'll have to overcome the resistance of Alchemist B, who is blocking his efforts). Furthermore, it's easier to block alchemy than overcome it; helping molecules stick together when another alchemist is trying to pull them apart expends less energy than it would to pry them apart yourself.

As for naval warfare: This is fantasy, but things like steel ships and steam power exist due to the scholarly efforts of mages. In other words, it's still fantasy, just a bit more advanced. Sort of like Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure how to answer this question, as we don't know anything about your world. Especially as we don't know how your magic functions and the power behind it. We do have a bit about the riders, but we don't know about anything else. How hood is anti magic? How well are defences? How many mages do x and y have? Different creatures on board? How are naval powers already different thanks to magic? Etc. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jan 1 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, I need to add more detail. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 1 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ What advantages would merfolk riders have? Merfolk are basically "marine centaurs", in that everything a centaur can do can also be done by a horse and rider. Military innovation usually comes about because it produces some unique advantage. Why would a human carrying weapons need to ride a mermaid when the mermaid can just carry weapons by themselves? $\endgroup$ Jan 1 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ A, they're a really small target, and B, they're stronger together. Hopefully, the magical benefit outweighs the disadvantage of a larger, slower target. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 1 at 19:58
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Sounds like they have the power of naval canons, or worse, storms, from level 2 and up, while being a really small target. Depending on the naval tech, it's possible no one would stand a chance. 30% sounds like a LOT, too... so you probably can wipe out dozens of ships at least with that kind of power.

Maybe your mer-pairs are still somewhat vulnerable, where a lucky cannonball or arrow could take them out? If they can control the wind and water, I doubt much could hit them. Everyone would be forced to use these things, or something similarly haxx.

The only thing is if they have bad long-distance oversea travel. Then, they would still need to be transported by boats... but the boats would become irrelevant transports.

I figure you'll want to power up the enemy navies, giving them magic, or weaken your mermaids until it balances out with regular tech. Even one mer-rider that can turn into a dragon sounds like enough to sink a fleet.

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  • $\begingroup$ Exactly; the idea is that only a few riders can unleash the true potential of their bond. It's like Bond Phenomenon for Ash and Greninja (if you don't understand that reference, feel free to look it up, it's quite interesting); powerful, but few can take full advantage of it. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 1 at 19:55
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Even the Phase 1 mer-cavalry drastically changes naval warfare

In Phase 1 you have wildly efficient naval scouts. In the real world, destroyers or 5th rates (depending on if we're talking Age of Sail or the higher-tech WWI ships) were the "eyes" of the fleet. In your world the mer-cavalry would fulfill this role. While they'd have a smaller visual range (being at best a few feet above sea level instead of the 30-40ft of a sailing ship) There would also be a lot more of them. This would expand the LoS of a fleet, and make commerce raiding even more efficient, as a dozen mer-cav assigned to a single commerce raider could do wonders for finding prizes for the mothership to capture. More importantly, you could use them as couriers. Even in WWI, radio comms were spotty and ships at sea were more-or-less on their own. In your world every fleet would have mer-people assigned to carry orders from the fleet admiral to friendly ports or other ships. Even a merchant vessel hiring a mer-rider or three in case of shipwreck or to send for help in a pirate/privateer chase would have a big effect on seaborne travel. If you had a big Empire you could even station ships across an ocean and use mer-riders as a sort of seaborne pony express. Changing the travel-time of a message from England to Australia from 6 months to 6 weeks radically alters the grand strategic implications of your world!

Phase 2 is the same as Phase 1, only moreso. More importantly, Mer-cav are now the primary combat arm of the fleet. They're small, they're wildly more maneuverable than any ship, and because they use magic, they are capable of holing a ship below the waterline. Holing a ship below the waterline is the best way of sinking a ship. My first thought is that you'd want to use them in a manner similar to naval aircraft. There'd be some sort of "carrier" where the mer-riders could dismount and eat/sleep, and then the mer-cav would provide over-the-horizon strike capacity. Albeit at (maybe? You're a bit unclear on max speed/ranges) a slower and shorter-range than WWII carriers. At the very least though the "carrier" would have longer weapon range (via the mer-cav) than a "normal" ship with guns or mages standing on the deck.

Phase 3 riders are just Phase 2 cranked up to 11. You wouldn't even need a big "carrier" at that point. Just some fast clipper ship/destroyer to provide a resting place for the rider (if that's even needed). Then he/she can ruin any ship afloat that isn't also defended by a Phase 3+ rider.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I had no idea that mer-riders would be so impactful.....thank you for enlightening me! $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Jan 5 at 1:39

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