Is there a place for earth mages in modern war?

Mages' range: 50 meters

Cost: physical strain similar to what you would experience doing mild to heavy exercise.


  • Beginner level

    • Launching boulders
    • Earth walls
    • Sinkholes (they can be closed after their creation)
  • Intermediate level

    • Rock armor
    • Rockslides
    • Sand manipulation
    • Tunneling
  • Master level

    • Lava creation
    • Glass manipulation
    • Metal manipulation

Would these abilities be of any use on a modern battlefield? If so, would it only apply to the master level or could the lower levels still be of use?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Just a thought, but how tiring is the power, a beginner making a sinkhole, can that be done again hundreds of times with little effort? Incidentally, can a sinkhole be closed again after - trapping an opponent underground? $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2021 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ This has a variety of answers and highly depends on the battlefield. For inner city guerilla warfare, any of these have a distinct advantage. Large scale against long range artillery with air support and they have no chance. And when we start with high tech weapons like guided missiles and drones they would be even more useless. $\endgroup$
    – Plutian
    Jul 30, 2021 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @a Rogue Ant yes $\endgroup$ Jul 30, 2021 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ This can't be answered as is, we need more information about the magic! $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Aug 2, 2021 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ I do not think that this question warrants closure as opinion-based. People versed in modern military tactics and strategy should be able to give quite specific answers. However, I think you (@BryanMcClure) should add information about energy requirements for mages (where the energy/mana/whatever is needed for magic come from), magic reliability, and magic effectiveness. In other words, there should be some point of reference for us to come up with a cost-benefit analysis. We need to understand how mages compare to tools and techniques already existing in our world. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Aug 2, 2021 at 19:45

3 Answers 3


There's a lot of place for most abilities.

Beginner level. The most flexible and effective level.

Rock throwing.

Being able to move a large mass is very helpful. You can quickly transport supplies around a base, set up mobile fortifications, or crush enemy tanks.

You can even use it to generate lots of power, by spinning a generator.

You don't want your squishy mages getting within 50 meters of enemy guns generally, so you wouldn't want them crushing infantry generally, but it might be worth it to take out heavy artillery or tanks or trucks.

Earth walls.

Bridges, barriers, bases, there's lots of uses of walls for quick fortification. Soldiers who are in a fortification classically take ten times as many troops to defeat, so you can act as a ten times force multiplier so that your soldiers are always covered.


Great for building, great for setting traps for enemies.

Intermediate. The weaker and less flexible level.

Rock armor.

Not very useful. RPGS can penetrate rocks, if you're within firing range explosions can wreck you. If you can do it for a long time, could make a good way to carry equipment, on the rock armor.


Useful for insurgents, as you can wreck an area, but chaotic enough that most modern militaries aren't gonna want rocks bouncing around everywhere. If you can move a hill of rock though, that's useful, as you can make very big barriers or move a lot of mass.

Sand manipulation.

You don't want to be close enough to enemies to need to fight with sand. We already have smoke grenades and such, but this serves as a way to cheaply make sand barriers to stop enemy fire.


Amazingly useful, the ability to ambush enemies and move supplies securely is amazingly useful for war.

Master level. The most useless level.

Lava creation.

You don't want to be close enough to guns to use this offensively. We don't really need lava in modern warfare, though you could use it to make traps cheaper but more visible, e.g. rather than having a sinkhole with an IED in it, have lava in it.

Useful if you need to do area denial.

Glass manipulation.

Useful in the past when glass was hard to make, now we have lots of it. Could be used to make prettier buildings.

You could use it to carry lots of stuff, by manipulating glass.

Metal manipulation.

Could be used for repairs, but we already have lots of technology that can do metal manipulation.

You could use it to carry lots of stuff, by manipulating metal.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For metal manipulation, you could train the mages as even novice special ops, and when they have to infiltrate a building, they'd be able to just take out every single hostile gun in the building without a fight. The enemy would have to use plastic or ceramic, which I believe in a bit more expensive. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Jul 31, 2021 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ Can they use metal manipulation without line of sight? Because guns can also take out guns with line of sight. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Jul 31, 2021 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ I assumed out of sight, but you're right. Mostly because I subconsciously relate metal manipulation with magnetic fields and detecting them when they're actually separate. $\endgroup$
    – Henry Shao
    Jul 31, 2021 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Nepene range is 50 meters line of sight not need for master level $\endgroup$ Aug 1, 2021 at 14:16

The military needs to build things!

The military needs roads! Bridges! Forts! All that was true in biblical days and is true now. These earth mages seem like they would be very handy in those endeavors.

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    $\begingroup$ Indeed. Mages could replace whole companies of Engineers. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Jul 31, 2021 at 0:39

The abilities of the Mages could be of use on the battlefield, but as @user535733 suggested, Mages could replace whole companies of Engineers, and could put thousands, maybe millions of people out of work. And, the Mages would have to have the ability to aim the devastating things that would be in their power. For example, lava creation. If the Mage couldn't aim, not only would it strike the enemy, but possibly you own comrades as well. Physics also have to have a part in this, as well as math. Example: Launching boulders. Just one slight mess-up, and you've got your fellow troops collapsing from the boulder, people would be confused, and the enemy would be free to kill them. Rock-slides could also be extremely dangerous if the Mages couldn't aim. The Mages could take out their own army, and possibly them as well. Earth walls. You see, as a naturalist (Not my job), I believe that nature should be left alone, except in extreme conditions. The ozone layer is being destroyed, because we didn't leave nature alone, and just you wait and see how WONDERFUL it's going to turn out. Sorry, got off track. Sinkholes are okay, because they'll happen sooner or later. And, as you see, the abilities of both the master levels and the lower levels would benefit their side of the war if they had math and physic masterminds, and if they had the ability to aim well.


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