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How would this sort of limited teleportation affect strategies and tactics used to defend against a tactic like pincer movements?

In my world, teleportation circles are not only possible, but widespread, with teleportation circles in every major city and teleportation circle hubs being the largest source of income for some countries. However, this teleportation has various limitations.

Cons

  • Teleporting large quantities of material is expensive, roughly the equivalent of 10\$ (Modern american dollars) for 1kg of material. So they're not Stormlight-style soulcasters.
  • Although the receiving end does not need much infrastructure, the sending end does require some built-up industry, involving the magical power required to activate the teleportation circle. Wizards can do it manually, but this is very tiring and can only be done roughly once per day per wizard.
  • For each meter beyond a 1 meter radius teleportation circle, the cost of transport doubles. So a 2 meter radius circle requires 20\$ per kilogram, and a 3 meter radius circle requires 40$ per kilogram. The effect does not work the other way, a 0.5 meter radius circle still takes 10\$ per kilo to ship.

Pros

  • Circles can MOVE. If you engrave a teleportation circle onto a metal sheet, you can bring that sheet with you and have a mobile link to home.
  • You can send pretty much anything through a circle if you have the cash and it fits; from a person to a wad of cow dung.

Question

How would this sort of limited teleportation affect strategies and tactics used to defend against a tactic like pincer movements? Assuming 1780ish technology.

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    $\begingroup$ Seems like you need magical industry to create the sending platforms rather than at the sending sites. Is the cost description just an analogy for the cost of that magical industry? It's also not clear what the cost of each transmission is for. Who gets that money? $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Oct 21, 2021 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ Are there any range limits or effects (such as retaining momentum) at all? Is it the same cost and difficulty to teleport across the street as it is to the other side of the planet? $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ @use535733 The money is not "going" to anyone; it's related to the cost to generate the magical power needed for each transmission. $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055, no there are no different effects based on range. It would be the same difficulty to teleport across the street as it would be to send across the planet. $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact Early Industrial Era - sounds to me like mid-18th century, say 1780 at max? $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 1:59

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So context for the industrial era: transportation and movement of information were one of the biggest revolutions in technology and society in the 19th century. With the invention of the steam locomotive, people and goods could be moved across continents in as little as a week when it would take months prior. People could now move to cities where new jobs had arisen. Goods from far markets could be transported, bringing new variety into people's diets.

And the telegraph had an immense effect as well. You could now instantly transmit information across the country. News stories from foreign lands could now appear in the paper mere weeks after they'd happened. Generals in the US Civil War could coordinate large movements of armies, etc.

And that's where we get to warfare. The US Civil War is a very good example of how war was changing in the industrial age, and WWI, with mass troop movement by train, allowed for killing on an unprecedented scale.

The limitations of your system however, in terms of size and weight, will alter things somewhat. You place your story in the early industrial - so 1750 to around 1830s I assume. Movement of large cargo in war, like artillery, supplies, and troops, would likely be moved aside to be moved overland, by canal, or by early railways - and perhaps your magic system would cause railways to never be used - I find that unlikely however due to the vast benefits of railways in pulling heavy loads.

Anyway, the big benefit I see for your teleportation magic in war is in information. Even if the telegraph is yet to be invented, if this is based on weight, as it seems to be, you could teleport a number of letters instantly. While it would require infrastructure as you mentioned, it would have the great benefit of that anyone could receive such messages - with telegraphs, you required a trained operator who could use the machines and knew morse code.

Not only would this be useful in warfare but it would become extremely profitable to relay information throughout your world. It might even pose a serious threat to the invention of telephones later. I don't see telegraphs ever existing.

In tandem with information is espionage. The ability to teleport would be very valuable. I'm not certain how your description works exactly, but if a spy could be teleported quickly to an enemy camp, get some war plans, and get out quickly, it would change EVERYTHING. There would be copious fake plans, intense scrutiny with guards and such, because you never know who could jump in, pretending to be a soldier, and immediately steal something important.

I mentioned earlier that weight might get in the way of moving things like artillery and troops. However, this goes out the window if you want speed. You trying to get around the back of the enemy camp in the middle of the night but a river is in the way? Quickly transport a portable bridge through a portal (and bridges were an annoyance in the US Civil War).

The weight/size restriction on your teleportation would probably be the bigger restriction in warfare. You might hold back initially on the cost, but then when the other side gambles in burning a bunch of money to get some troops somewhere fast, you could lose the war. To this end, you could see intense guerilla tactics - like the espionage, this could be one of the worst annoyances of this kind of war.

In summation, this would have a dramatic effect on war in the period - especially on speed, and you'd get to a point where this could be a big cause of war debts from burning money to get troops where you want.

One very important consideration however, is if the teleportation is new, or older. This will change the entire way you depict the war. Maybe teleportation was used in past conflicts, but not to this extent. Maybe it was taboo. Maybe it was considered unseemly to be used by common people. If you want a war where everyone is un-used to the applications of this tech, that's what you're going to want - and the theme of everything being new and unfamiliar shares commonality with other things in the period.

If teleportation has been used extensively in past wars, things like its uses for communication and espionage will be much more understood, and trained for. However, with the onward march of technology, especially in the era, people will inevitably find unique new ways to capitalize on their tools to outmaneuver their opponent.

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Paint your receiver on the bottom of a hot-air balloon.

Release the balloon upwind of the enemy camp.

Meanwhile, start heating up your little steel balls in the fire, Remember, as long as they don't stick to each other, they are not too hot.

.... Let your imagination fill in the rest.

You don't need to worry about the enemy army's pincher movement, because overcooked bar-b-cue does not pinch very effectively.

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A premium would be placed on personal security against assassins since their potential is hugely increased.

Since the circles can be moved the whole dynamic of siege warfare would change. Catapulting a circle into the right area allows elite soldiers to be behind the defenses without the need to fight their way in. So a lot of defensive strategies would evolve to handle scenarios like that.

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  • $\begingroup$ I wonder in this world if you would see odd tactics like trying to catch projectiles with a portal, and shoot them back at the enemy... $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ Oh. I forgot to mention, velocity is not kept through a portal. The outgoing velocity of a object is just the velocity of the outgoing portal $\endgroup$ Oct 21, 2021 at 11:52

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