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So, one of the species in a fantasy world I'm working on is a lemur like species that stands around 3-4 feet tall, or about the size and weight of baboons. They have very strong legs with opposable digits on the foot. (mostly just the ability to grasp, but not with much finesse), and short, claw-like nails. The legs are quite good for jumping, with kangaroo like power to them.

They have short and lanky arms, which are not nearly as strong as the legs. This is not my own depiction, but a creature of similar proportions from a video game to give you an idea of the body shape of these creatures.

enter image description here

They are intelligent, and capable of primitive iron and metal working. They sometimes live in trees or in burrows for protection against larger animals. Other times, they make stick and mud huts. Recently they have come into conflict with humans who wear armor such as gambesons and chainmaille. So they have a need for powerful projectile weapons to pierce their defenses from a distance.

I was thinking, that given that their legs are much, much stronger than their arms, if they might use foot launched javelins or atlatls or some other type of weapon. Any ideas of how this might work or be made feasible is welcome.

Also feel free to post a response if you have other good ideas for tactics or weapons they could use that would play to their strengths!

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  • $\begingroup$ Human arms are shorter and weaker than our legs. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 25 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ @John, yes, that is true. But the legs of this species is unusually strong, like a kangaroo's. So I thought that leg powered weaponry might be of some merit. $\endgroup$
    – Redbud201
    Apr 25 at 1:50
  • $\begingroup$ You may be underestimating how powerful human legs are,. Your big problem is while a human can kick something like a soccer ball kangaroo legs are not set up for that kind of kicking. so they are even less useful than human legs. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 25 at 2:01
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps kangaroos aren't the best leg type to base them on. Maybe lemur or other legs that are good for jumping and climbing? They can move their legs independently, unlike kangaroos. @John, if you would like to make a post talking about the biomechanics of different leg types, to explain what would be useful and what wouldn't, that might be appreciated. Thanks for your input. $\endgroup$
    – Redbud201
    Apr 25 at 2:11
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Getting a leg up on archery:

Those poor humans have such limited legs, good for only shuffling weight back and forth. Fine for an endurance hunter from the plains, but they'll never measure up to us Lemurians! For we are the greatest archers on the planet.

How so, my pathetic human friend? With such small arms, how can we pull a bow? Silly! We use our legs to shoot bows.

There are three ways your species can fire bows.

  • In the movie The Mission, archers have HUGE bows they fire while laying down, holding the string with both hands, using the strength of their legs to fire them. The arrows are used for bombardment, are very large, and have great range. It's used more as indirect fire since the prone position doesn't allow good vision and leaves the archer vulnerable to melee attack.
  • Your natives are used to reaching and grasping at a wide range of angles with their feet. Their arms, although short, are likely strong and will have good power like tyrannosaur arms. Using one hand to hold the string, another to hold the quiver and use it as support, one leg to hold up weight, and the other leg to hold the bow, your race can hold the string of the bow again while leveraging those big, strong legs as the power for their bows. This will be close to their melee stance (I'm guessing they hold weapons in one foot to maximize reach) so it's a good stance for shooting while on the ground.
  • Your race has short but strong arms, able to easily hold up their weight while hanging in a tree. Using one leg to hold the bow and another to pull the string, they can hang on a branch and fire arrows with their legs. Sound too awkward? This move is one that even humans with their pathetic flexibility can pull off, so it should be no problem for one as flexible as your race. enter image description here enter image description here
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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting! There are indeed lots of ways of doing things, aren't there? Also, lemurians... I kinda like that. I might borrow that to use as a casual term for the race actually. $\endgroup$
    – Redbud201
    Apr 25 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Redbud201 Lemuria and Lemurians are terms with complex multi-layered meaning, so google them and see if you like the additional significance (historical, theosophical, fictional). The term Lemuria is the origin of the name Lemur (or it's co-titled, a little vague), because of supposed ties between the lost Lemurian continent and Madagascar. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 25 at 16:29
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Foot bows

enter image description here

The shooter lays on their back, with their feet towards the target. Their feet are braced on the bow with the arrow between them, and the hands anchor the string (possibly with assistance from a strap or hook anchored to their torso). To fire, they span the bow by extending their legs, line up the shot looking down the length of their body, then release the bowstring.

Crossbows

enter image description here

Somewhat similar in operation to the foot bows, but can be used while standing. A hook on the shooter's belt and a stirrup on the end of the crossbow allow the shooter to use their leg strength to span the crossbow, rather than needing to pull it back by hand.

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  • $\begingroup$ If your legs can lift 150 kg and your arms can lift 30 kg, how would the arms be able to oppose the leg in the foot bow? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 25 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica. I do not know for sure, but it's very plausible that the amount of force your arms can exert to pull something towards you by holding your body still and brining your elbows from straight too bent is less than the amount of force your arms could bring to bear if you kept the elbows straight while holding onto something that was trying to pull away. So you lock your arms straight on the bow, push with the legs and the arms provide force, but not power. (IE its about whether your hands loose there grip, or your arms break not the power of your arm muscles). $\endgroup$
    – Dast
    Apr 25 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ There was a great image of a guy with no arms loading a crossbow by a hooked strap around his neck, using his body to pull the crossbow lever. I think the guy in your picture might actually be using a similar one around his waist to do the pulling. the hands are more stabilizing things. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 25 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica basically what Dast said. You're just using your arms to keep the bowstring in place, so they can stay straight. Kind of like picking up a piece of furniture or heavy box: bend legs, get solid grip on the object, straighten legs. Or like a deadlift while laying on your back. $\endgroup$
    – Salda007
    Apr 25 at 18:25
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Medieval bombardment

Legs are made for walking and not much else so there is very little you can do to weaponize them for ranged combat. Since these creatures are limited to primitive works and their enemies also wield primitive weaponry and armor, there's honestly not much you can do within these confines.

Their habitation seems to be extreme considering they can live in high trees or burrow into the ground at the same rate. Normally creatures can do either one or the other but never both simultaneously, so I would suggest you ditch one of those concepts or split them into two species. The species with the well developed legs can live in the trees while its counterpart has well developed arms and lives underground (having weak arms is a death sentence for a burrowing creature, a significant handicap at best).

As far as the species with well developed legs goes, they could be living in high trees and relying on their jumping capabilities to clear the gaps between trees without running on surface. Having well developed legs also allows them to negate most of the falling damage and allow them to jump down from great heights, which could be used offensively. If you want to go on the offense, since these creatures apparently are capable of metalworking, you could have them develop leg armor that allows them to jump straight down at the enemy and use their falling momentum to deal crushing damage to the enemies, practically instakilling anything they manage to land on and then rely on their jumping to escape. This means basically turning them into living, crushing projectiles with lethal crushing force.

On another note, since these creatures do live in trees, they could simply rely on remaining hidden and bombarding their enemies with pretty much anything with any noteworthy weight they come across. Coconuts, stones, metal objects, all of them pose a significant threat if being thrown from a reasonable height, especially if thrown upon an unsuspecting target. If they score a direct hit and the target doesn't have head protection, that's instant death, and if they do have helmets that's still quite a concussive blow to suffer. Yes it's crude and rather simple, but it's brutally effective... and if it isn't broken there's no need to fix it...

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    $\begingroup$ I say, primitive metal working, because they only learned iron working recently from friendly humans. So they aren't capable of anything too complex. The range of habitats they create are mostly for protection, as very large and aggressive predatory species live nearby. Given that they are intelligent, they make use of whatever they can to make as safe of a settlement as they can. One concern I would have with sticking to the trees would be the worry of invaders setting them on fire. I'm not sure what to do about that other than building walls away from the trees to defend from. $\endgroup$
    – Redbud201
    Apr 25 at 1:36
  • $\begingroup$ If they are intelligent, they are capable of figuring out that the humans have armor that protects them. They could simply pillage and loot the humans they manage to kill for equipment and use their equipment against them. For example, they could strap the part of the armor humans normally use as shoulder protection to their legs to improve their impact when they land on their target. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ As far as setting forest fires goes, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to actually to start a forest fire outside of the dry season. If your environment is damp enough, no amount of scorch and blaze is going to purge the forest and pretty much all of the fire will come to a sudden halt as soon as you remove the fuel source provided by human hands. In other words, it's physically not possible to set a rainforest on fire... $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ Also, one more thing of note. However effective jumping down on a single soldier might be as a tactic, I question whether that would be a good idea if the soldiers were in a group. Jumping right into a formation of armed men seems borderline suicidal, although they are small and nimble. $\endgroup$
    – Redbud201
    Apr 25 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ Jumping as a group on a group is a viable tactic, but it should be rarely used. Since they are small, they should be hard to notice in the high canopies, so their best strategy is to wait for the humans to walk close enough and just throw heavy objects at them. As far as building walls far from the forest goes, it's a viable option for humans but sooner or later they will HAVE to come to the forest to hunt, forage and, most importantly, cut firewood and logs to sustain their settlements. It's predictable, time-consuming and it can be countered by pretty much any sentient creature. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 1:48
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Spears thrown from the feet are a thing. I recall tales of Cúchullain, who had a barbed spear (Gáe Bulg) which was said to have been thrown with the toes.

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  • $\begingroup$ At the moment, your answer is a good beginning. We ask that you fill us in a bit more on how that might work or you'd risk getting the answer deleted by the system because of its length. Anyway, welcome to worldbuilding, please enjoy our tour and refer to the help center for advice as to our ways. $\endgroup$ Apr 25 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I forgot about that! It seems awkward for a human though. Let's say our lemur species is flexible enough to raise their foot above their head, (like a dog scratching it's ear). I wonder what the biomechanics would look like. Maybe even using a throwing string/leather strap or atlatl like throwing stick... Anyway, it's a good start to an answer, feel free to elaborate! $\endgroup$
    – Redbud201
    Apr 25 at 16:12

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