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Imagine that the inhabitants of Earth all follow a religion that allows only wooden weapons. How would warfare look nowadays?

Commandment 37.

37a) Thou shalt make weapons only from the wood of trees that grow in the forests. No weapons of metal or other substances shalt thou make.

37b) No part of thy weapon shall be made of anything other than wood, nay, not even the smallest part thereof.

37c) No other device shall be used to project such weapons towards thy enemy unless that device shall also be made entirely of wood as heretofore prescribed.

Commandment 38.

38a) Thou shalt fight and defend thyself entirely naked excepting for a loincloth to protect thy modesty. This shall extend at most from thy waist, down to thy upper thighs and shall be made entirely of wool or cotton.

38b) No movable shield shalt thou have but thou mayest hide behind immovable objects.

Question

Given these restriction but all other technology being as it is today, how sophisticated could weapons and warfare actually be? What would the most advanced weapons look like? What current scientific knowledge could we use to make them as deadly as possible?

Notes

  1. Even bows and arrows would be prohibited unless every part of them is made of wood. That includes the bow 'string' and the arrow heads.
  2. Any type of wood that grows 'in the forests' on our current Earth can be used.
  3. There is no cheating. God sends down a thunderbolt and kills anyone who disobeys.

EDIT in response to comments.

  1. Modern day priests have decreed that 'wood' means any part of a tree including the leaves and roots. God seems to have accepted this because no-one is getting blasted for it. A tree is a non-genetically-modified plant that naturally grows with a single trunk and has grown to a height of 20 feet or more. Priests actually ensure that weapon trees are over 25 feet in height to avoid errors.

  2. God is omniscient so you cannot cheat. You could make a metal weapon and hang it on the wall. As soon as anyone touches it with the intention of using it as a weapon they will be struck down.

  3. Fire is allowed during battle as long as all flammable products come from trees.

  4. It must stay as 'wood' until battle is in progress. You can extract and use natural organic products (such as sap) however, you cannot use industrial processes to extract metals from the wood for example.

  5. It must be cut/harvested from a living tree so fossilised wood and rotten wood are disallowed.

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    $\begingroup$ In this world in a society where it is normal to wear clothes, unless there are literally armed guards everywhere, mugging people is going to be a relatively safe profession particularly for the fleet of foot working in pairs. Hide in a doorway, give cloak to partner. Jump out and brandish weapon. Victim either: 1. Gives you what you want: you and partner run away. 2. Drops clothes/possessions to mount defense: Partner grabs their stuff and you run away. 3. Gets beat/stabbed by you: You take stuff and run away. 4: tries to defend themselves clothed, gets zapped: you take... $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Aug 6 '15 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild - Sorry for the delay. You say, "Is it possible to defend against being zapped by God? Highly conductive armour that makes you immune to lightning bolts, for example?" You have raised a good point. I think this is where you would see an unusual event. Time would appear to stand still and a huge hand would descend from the clouds and grasp the warrior. Every drop of blood would be squeezed out of him and a tree would spring up at the spot he was destroyed. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 6 '15 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK, I - as would some of the inhabitants of your world - had to ask. I presume that if a warrior dons an ADS suit (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_diving_suit) that He can't squash, etcetera, God does something else nasty and fatal to them, and so on. Now, what happens to an appropriately attired warrior who ambushes a non-combatant who isn't dressed for combat? Does God zap the defender immediately as he reflexively defends? Does God zap the attacker for initiating combat with an inappropriately dressed person without giving the defender a chance to disrobe? $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Aug 6 '15 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkyMark - You say, "So women fight topless?" This is indeed a tricky problem and has had the priests scratching their heads. Originally women were not allowed to fight but since gaining equal rights they are demanding it. The problem is that there is a commandment that prevents men from looking at a woman's naked breasts unless he is married to her. At the moment women only fight other women. The day may come when a man fights a woman in which case he must not look directly at her. This may cause problems but the ramifications are not yet clear. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Does your god also have a long list of abominations, e.g. the colour blue, shirts with six buttons, accordian players, cheese, etc? $\endgroup$ – Mark Micallef Aug 7 '15 at 5:09

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Pitch is technically a forest product. And you can set it on fire--fire's not a material. And then you can toss it at the opposing army with trebuchets. And they will all burn, horribly.

And your god will be pleased.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow... that would be so over-powered, but I guess it's within the rules? If Chasly says that its okay, then I'll upvote... $\endgroup$ – Malady Aug 4 '15 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, no problem. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ trebuchets are hard to make entirely of wood (the counterweight, notably), althoug probably not impossible. $\endgroup$ – njzk2 Aug 5 '15 at 3:16
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    $\begingroup$ @chasly Ah, missed that. Still, pitch isn't merely extracted from trees, it's cooked out of trees in the same process that produces charcoal. So by those rules, you'd have to wait until battle begins to even begin producing pitch, then produce the pitch, assemble the projectile, and launch it all in the "heat" (ha!) of battle. $\endgroup$ – talrnu Aug 5 '15 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Mazura Natural or artificial fire could be kept as an eternal flame and distributed as needed. $\endgroup$ – Cees Timmerman Aug 6 '15 at 7:38
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Sounds like what neolithic tribes have in the Amazon rainforest (minus the stone tips for the spears and arrows).

The limits on materials and armour strongly constrain the ways people could fight and the tactics that would be available as well. Most weaponry would be muscle powered, which would limit the size of the weapons, the forces that could be applied and the length of time that fighting could be possible (even highly conditioned warriors would probably run out of energy to fight after about 30 min of actual combat).

Striking weapons would be variations of clubs, using the densest wood possible and carefully selecting the wood for straight grain and lack of flaws before carefully curing it. Clubs might evolve into something resembling a bokken (wooden training katana) once it is realized that focusing the force of the blow onto an edge (even a rounded edge) is far more effective than a round or flat surface. This could be complimented by thrusting weapons like spears and pikes, and ancient armies used pike formations to anchor their positions, disrupt cavalry and "push" through the opposition, if possible. Against unarmoured opponents, this would be ridiculously easy.

Distance weapons could be bows, crossbows or javelins. Javelins might be highly effective when boosted by an Atlatl, which provides extra leverage to the throwing arm. Once again, these would be highly effective against unarmoured opponents.

Since using protection is prohibited, I will skip the idea that a forest of raised pikes could deflect "plunging" fire from arrows, spears and javelins, since this sounds like something that would be more of a theological debate than a tactical one. Since all fighters are unarmoured, and effective long range weapons do exist, then people will have to fight in "open" formation (close packed ranks would simply be mowed down by arrows and spears). This would give rise to a culture where fighting is done by individual "champions", and a battle would resemble the Homeric vision of a series of individual duels between heroes of roughly equal rank. A battle might start with a ritualized series of "challenges", where men stride forward and call out their names and achievements. Once an acceptable pairing has been selected, they start by throwing spears or firing arrows, then, when the weapons run out, close in for stick fighting. If the sticks break, they may end up grappling on the ground. Depending on other social factors, this does not mean a series of individual duels, but many fights can take place simultaneously.

Social mores would also limit this form of fighting; unknowns would not be able to challenge the champion, and a form of "rank" based on achievement would come into effect. There would also have to be some system of visible rank, a token of some sort that can be stripped from the dead body to prove that you were the victor of the fight.

This would also have consequences for society, since fighters would have to essentially train full time to become effective, and therefore not be involved in crafts, farming or trade. A feudal social order would prevail, enforced by the fighting men themselves (who would oppose them?). This social structure might also limit the growth of technology, since while wooden catapults or trebuchets may be possible, tight formations would not exist, and individual warriors would be horrified at the thought of being crushed by a log flung from a trebuchet several hundred metres away.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the Atlatl reference. I was going to bring that up, but you beat me to it! A great 100%-wood way to throw a 100%-wood spear. Speaking of that... @chaslyfromUK is fire-hardened wood okay? I'm going to guess no to the traditional process at least, because it involves a layer of carbon, pitch, and stone particles during the process, but just heating the wood to bring the natural pitch to the surface (creating a hardened resin coating)? $\endgroup$ – Doktor J Aug 6 '15 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Doktor - You would have to be very quick. You can set fire to a weapon on the battlefield. Therefore if you can harden the wood by burning it during the time it takes to, say, pass it to you from the armorer and load it in a crossbow then that's okay. You can't set up a wood-hardening process plant ahead of battle though. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 6 '15 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Murphy - Update on castles. I realised the big problem with castles. Although the walls are 'immovable objects' (Commandment 38b) any doors will not be. Therefore as soon as fighting begins, the defenders wood have to throw the doors wide open in order to let the attackers in. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK alternatively they could make them immovable(practically speaking) by welding them shut. $\endgroup$ – Murphy Aug 7 '15 at 9:39
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK This just calls for a different Castle-Design! You have to build your castles without doors, with removable staircases in front of the walls! If the enemy is sighted, the stairs are retracted and you are safe! - or you could drop a giant stone behind your main-gate, which is after the fact practically immovable - I mean where is the line? A castle is theoretically movable... like Murphy said, welding the doors shut should also count! $\endgroup$ – Falco Aug 7 '15 at 11:19
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So, you're only allowed to use weapons made from trees, and if you want to try to kill an attacker who is trying to kill you, you will both be effectively naked. Given such restrictive laws of combat, I will presume that the Hague Conventions on warfare (in particular the 1907 convention) do not apply.

What we have here is a situation where personal weapons will either be melee-style objects or missile weapons, but this does not preclude heavier weapons. Also, while the commandments - and God - enforce the rules against the use of non-wooden weapons in combat, the commandments do not specify that non-wooden objects may not be used to produce the entirely wooden weapons, so long at the tools are not used as weapons themselves, and do not remain as part of the weapons in any detectable amount. This means that aside from combat, we have the full range of modern human technology with which we can prepare our weapons.

Melee Weapons

Timber may be used to produce spears, clubs and maces, and with lamination using tree-based resins plus heat treatment, may be used to produce cutting blades which, while not as sharp as a metal knife, are sharp enough for use against combatants who must be effectively unarmoured. These weapons may be anointed with tree-based toxins.

Since shields are prohibited, dual-weapon use may be common, with one weapon being used to attack while the other is used to defend. Since the use of each weapon is interchangeable, and each may be used to both attack and defend as opposed to being primarily defensive as in a shield, this should be permissible.

Missile Weapons

With the application of technology, there are a number of missile weapon systems that can be made using no materials other than those found in trees of varying species, those being bows, crossbows and blowguns.

What may have begun as a simple self-bow could through the ages have evolved into a longbow, a recurved bow and even a modern compound bow. Timber could be laminated using tree-based resins to maximise strength and springiness.

From the bow we can derive the crossbow. The lock mechanism would need to be strong, but could be made using laminated wood, and the bow is just a bow mounted on the stock.

Given that combatants must not wear armour, the blowgun becomes an effective weapon. This is a simple wooden tube through which a sliver of hardwood wrapped in a tree-based fibre can be blown.

All of these missile weapons can be anointed with one - or more - of a number of tree-based toxic substances.

Heavy Weapons

Trees can supply timbers which may be used to build trebuchets and other catapults. The counterweight of a trebuchet may be of the hinged-counterweight type with the counterweight bucket filled with wood, or using tree-derived rubber as an energy store, and being used to propel logs or wooden spheres which may be solid or hollow and filled with a variety of interesting tree-based toxins or tree-derived flammable oils.

Toxins

The following are tree-derived toxins which may be used to enhance the lethality of the tree-based melee and missile weapons:

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Ricin and some other toxins are effective as a toxin when powdered and distributed in the air, meaning that they could be used effectively if thrown from a catapult or trebuchet or other aerial source. This would constitute a WMD in that it is the employment of a poison over a large area, intended to affect multiple combatants.

Ships

It is certainly not out of the question for a sail-powered ship to be made from timber, and rigged with tree-derived sails and rigging or aerofoils. Ships may carry heavy tree-based weapons, particularly tree-oil-based fire ordinance for use against other warships.

Aircraft

A glider can be made entirely from tree-derived materials, with natural or laminated timber spars and ribs, with tree-based ropes connecting the controls to the control surfaces, and using tree-fibre cloth to cover the airframe.

Gliders may be launched from high places or using natural rubber catapults, and can climb using thermals and dynamic soaring.

Once airborne, a glider can drop tree-based weapons on combatants below, including wooden shot or darts which would be effective against helmetless combatants, or they could distribute powdered tree-derived toxins or tree-oil-based fire weapons. A glider may also carry a tree-derived stored-energy missile weapon similar to a ballista for use against other gliders. It may achieve multiple shots if loaded by non-pilot crew members.

Our gliders may also have a natural-rubber "engine" and a wooden propeller, a thick bundle of rubber strands connected to the propeller and the rear of the aircraft, which is wound tightly prior to launch, and released in the event that a bit of extra thrust is required, providing a few minutes of additional power.

So, as we can see, trees can produce - or be used to produce - all sorts of interesting and deadly things.

Camouflage

This is a little iffy, but combatants may be able to wear camouflage body paint and a camouflage loincloth, as it does not count as a shield, and body paint is technically only a stain on the skin, such as may otherwise be acquired during the course of combat. It is not physical protection, nor does it provide much more modesty than a loincloth.

Communications

Is a cell-phone or radio - used in combat for communication only - a weapon? As long as you don't try to physically hit an enemy with it - or hide behind it - you should be safe.

Optics

As an extension of the communication angle, if not used to cause an enemy physical harm directly, it may be permissible for combatants to carry optical devices such as binoculars or night-vision gear.

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  • $\begingroup$ You correctly say "This means that aside from combat, we have the full range of modern human technology with which we can prepare our weapons." That is exactly the case. Any technology that doesn't destroy the essential nature of the natural product can be used to prepare the weapons. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 9:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ricin may be a problem. You could crush the seeds but no purification is allowed if it requires chemical modification. I don't know what the process is so it is difficult to say whether it's allowed. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 10:05
  • $\begingroup$ Note that rubber is fine but it cannot be vulcanised if that involves adding sulphur or other ingredients. Radios and other sophisticated devices are okay as long as you don't hit someone with them. You can't sew it into your loincloth - it would act as a partial shield. Put your equipment down while fighting. You can carry a rucksack as long as you remove it to fight. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ If they are technically advanced - couldn't they just have normal airplanes and drop massive logs on peoples heads from a great hight? $\endgroup$ – SeanR Aug 6 '15 at 11:30
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    $\begingroup$ @SeanR - That is a very good point. However it is prohibited by 37c) No other device shall be used to project such weapons towards thy enemy unless that device shall also be made entirely of wood as heretofore prescribed. As mentioned somewhere else, to use a plane (a) it must be made entirely of wood and (b) you can't use it as a shield so, as soon as you get near the enemy you must hang outside it in your loin cloth so that the enemy has you in full view. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 6 '15 at 22:22
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Since you mention that water, and air, are okay with the designs of the weapon - Compressed Air could be a major source of energy for most weapons.

You would essentially have "guns" - but it would work more like highly-powered blow darts. There could even be a magazine full of wooden bullets for automatic weapons.

The bulkiest part of the weapon would be the container for the air. I assume the wood would have to be quite thick, therefore quite heavy. Edit: Being able to use rubber would make things much easier and possibly not as heavy.

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    $\begingroup$ I think sealing valves would be problematic with wood. Especially at high pressures. I am not an expert, but I would guess valve construction is not an application wood is well suited for. $\endgroup$ – Dan Aug 4 '15 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe something like rubberwood would be useful? $\endgroup$ – FiringSquadWitness Aug 5 '15 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ That's a good point -- rubber's a tree product isn't it? You can make quite a lot of stuff out of rubber. $\endgroup$ – Pyritie Aug 5 '15 at 10:02
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    $\begingroup$ No problem with rubber as long as you don't vulcanise it or treat it in any way. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 11:32
  • $\begingroup$ I think resin is also pretty much airtight when used right. The only problem would be the pressure under which the wood ruptures. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato Sep 29 '16 at 10:21
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God is omniscient so you cannot cheat. You could make a metal weapon and hang it on the wall. As soon as anyone touches it up with the intention of using it as a weapon they will be struck down.

Given likely aspects of the nature of this Wood-God, the what-if Weapon systems could be more sophisticated and destructive than contemporary weapons systems, as might the conduct of warfare. Nearly all weapons would be remote-guided (drones) or self-directing, and due to the social costs of production, deployment and use of these weapon systems, the use-case of the weapon systems would be preemptive massive first strike.

They would include wood only as an incidental component.

Thousands of years of Wood-God smiting of would-be weapon designers instructs us that one can craft a forbidden weapon, but not touch it with intent to use it as a weapon. It also informs us to the degree of involvement and intentionality that is permissible, and that which leads to smiting.

Wood-society, mindful of the permissible boundaries, compartmentalizes the logistics, construction, testing, and deployment and use of the weapon systems. At the core of this society-wide project would be several strictly cloistered groups, raised (now) for generations, with the lack of intentionality that their actions would be responsible for use of the (unknown to them) weapon systems.

Depending on the past-examples of Wood-God's smiting, some of these people might be killed by their actions, but they would never know this beforehand. When the attack order is given, cloistered-Johnny pushes a button as ordered/plays his video game/flies his plane to the destination to 'drop food' etc. all with consequences innocently unintended by Johnny.

Warfare would be massively violent, because of the cost of maintaining the 'cloisters' and the potential of being wiped out by the enemy.

Obviously I prefaced my argument with a premise of the likely nature of Wood-God.

  • p1 Wood-God doesn't outlaw warfare.
  • p2 Wood-God permits metal weapons to be constructed, but only smites those who touch the weapon with intent to use it.
  • C1 Warfare is permissible.
  • C2 Smiting is the consequence of intent, not the consequence of action.
  • C2.1 People, to some degree, can build weapon systems components without being smited.
  • C2.2 People can use weapons systems components without being smited, to the degree that they know not what they do.

*** I find it likely that there would be no warfare or weapon systems given the societal conditions (clear proof of the existence of Wood-God; a single religion) and posit a unitary global theocracy as the end-state of such a society, therefore with no need for warfare, but am mindful of the schisms within Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Warfare would have been wood-centric until the point where social engineering of the 'cloistered' class AND something along the lines of atomic weapons collide: The group possessing both would rapidly and completely dominate.

*** In retrospect, some credit given to TrangOui - I'm giving the same idea, expanded. I don't have enough Reputation to comment.

Reply to Chassly's 2nd comment on Wood-God's omniscience (and the Problem of Evil) I did read Rule 5 carefully (enough to include it as the header of my conjecture). Unless I am misreading or mis-reasoning, Wood-God doesn't smite unless:

  • a) There is knowledge of, and intent to use, a prohibited weapon.

  • b) The person must actually touch the weapon with intent to use the weapon.

Before going into the details of my conjecture, let's both recognize that the weapon-systems-designers of this world know the actions that are and are not permitted by Wood-God and are capable of crafting a causal chain which would permit the use of (say) nuclear weapons.

  • If a) is not the case then the weapon-maker making the metal weapon would have been smited at some point before the weapon was affixed to the wall, as she is touching the weapon while making-or-mounting the weapon, knowing it is a forbidden weapon, though she has no intent of using the weapon. HOWEVER, she does make the forbidden weapon, knowing that it is possible that someone may try to use it. She is not smited, even knowing that she made a prohibited weapon. Similarly the wall-maker was not smited for making a wall - either with knowledge of it being instrumental as a mounting piece for a weapon, or without any idea. Also that of the miners and smelters who sourced the ore and fashioned it into metal for the weapon-maker to make - either they had no knowledge, intent, or are far enough back in the causality chain to prevent their deaths. So Wood-God doesn't punish the people involved in the chain-of-conspiracy to make a forbidden weapon available for use (deployment).
  • If b) is not the case then the warrior who touches the metal weapon on the wall might as well have been killed before touching the weapon, as their intent to use the prohibited weapon is manifest BEFORE the action (touching the weapon) is taken. The weapon-maker had intent to make a prohibited weapon, and took action to make the prohibited weapon, but (obviously) was not smited (because the weapon was made). The warrior was not smited until touching the weapon.

If your concern is that the commander ordering Johnny 'touches' Johnny with sound waves, due to a verbal command, the commander might easily just write Johnny a letter, send Johnny a text message, or decades earlier during Johnny's cloistered training merely say 'when this light flashes red, press the red button'. Wood (pun intended) the Wood God smite the commander as soon as she touched pen to paper, or only immediately before the letter is mailed? Would Wood-God permit the text message to be composed but not sent, or smite the commander before she touched her smartphone? Would the commander be smited decades before, before she gives Johnny the order to press the red button when the red light flashes? If not, then the message gets through and Johnny presses a button, and the forbidden weapons get used.

Finally, Wood-God's omniscience is not a deus ex machina to bolster your argument that 'this couldn't happen'. IF Wood-God didn't account for the intent AND action of human beings (usually called 'free will') then the weapon-maker dies before the metal weapon is made, the warrior dies before the weapon is touched, and the commander dies before even doing anything but thinking about commiting the act of using a prohibited weapon. Pity also the wall-makers, miners and smelters who would otherwise die knowing that their ore, metal and walls MIGHT be used to make or mount a weapon.

I thought while composing my first post: This discussion becomes more a consideration of the Nature of God (where does God's accountability end and Free will begin?) and the Nature of People (when is bad actually broken?) than the inventiveness of wood-bound-warriors.

To obviate any future challenge on the 'cheating' aspect, I'll illustrate a causal chain where a forbidden weapon is made and used, and Chasly can reply as to where someone is smited.

Weapon Construction

I think that Weapon's makers are free from smiting, based on the previous example.

  1. Albert comes up with the Theory of Relativity
  2. Beth designs a functional missile for delivering mail across the world.
  3. Charlie starts a company mining and refining uranium.
  4. Deena constructs Beth's missile.
  5. Evan applies Albert's theory and Charlie's uranium and constructs a power plant to make nuclear energy.
  6. Fanny improves Evan's process and fuels the plant with plutonium.
  7. George discovers that shaped explosives are much more effective for demolishing buildings.
  8. Heidi theorizes that Fanny's plutonium and George's explosives could create a very powerful explosion, useful for creating large underground caverns, detonating rogue asteroids threatening Earth, or, when used in series, propel spaceships.
  9. Ichabod constructs a device based on Heidi's theory, and mounts it to one of Deena's missiles to defend the planet from a rogue asteroid.
  10. Jody realizes that Icabod's asteroid-destroyers could be used as a weapon, and advises Ichabod to make a few changes to it to prevent this weaponization.
  11. Ichabod does not make the changes to the asteroid destroyer.
  12. Krauss changes Ichabod's asteroid destroyer into an ICBM, now useful as both a weapon and a monster-killer, assuming that monsters were to ever appear.
  13. Lilly removes the monster-killer modifications yielding Krauss's ICBM as purely a weapon.

Weapons Use

  1. Alma is a religious zealot and historian who starts an Order which carefully documents what is and isn't permitted to Wood God's law.
  2. Barry is a wealthy-but-eccentric man who starts a perfectly-isolated community where the residents know nothing about weapons use and are trained in Alma's law except they are ALSO trained to press buttons corresponding to lights (green button, green light), and (several generations later) see this as a religious duty to Wood God, because that's what they've always been taught.
  3. Connie, another Wood-God zealot develops an early warning system which tells the wood-armed troops when and where the enemy moves. There is a red light when the enemy is detected. She abhors the use of any prohibited weapons and creates this system specifically to aid the legal use of wood-armed-troops.
  4. Donny realizes that Connie's system could be joined to Lilly's (above) ICBM's.
  5. Donny tells Eunice to create a system that joins Connie's EWS to the targeting systems of Lilly's ICBMs. Eunice is lied to and thinks she is making a more efficient asteroid killer.
  6. Donny tells Fred to create a system to launch Lilly's ICBMs, targeted by Connie's EWS with Eunice's improvements, at the touch of a button. Fred is lied to and thinks that he is making a more responsive asteroid killer.
  7. Donny tells Gina that he has a fully functional weapon system, and at the next enemy movement tries to press the button. If Donny lives to press the button and then ultimately dies, the enemy is still killed. If Donny doesn't live to press the button ...
  8. Gina brings Fred's button to Barry's commune. She paints it red to match the red light on Connie's EWS.
  9. Harry and Indira call off sick. During Johnny's shift the red light blinks and Johnny presses the red button.

Who does God smite, when and why? Albert and Alma kick off the entire causal chain, without them, from Beth and Barry to Johnny and Lilly, none of the others would have been at risk of being smited. I didn't formulate this conjecture as a formal proof (because it's already deep in TL;DR territory) but I expect the principal of Charity to be applied, and a clearer understanding of When Wood-God Smites.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting and well-argued. I don't agree with the 'no warfare because they all believe in the same god' idea. It's clear that this god is quite happy with warfare in some form or he would just smite anyone who started fighting. For all we know, another commandment is to settle grudges by combat. Survival of the fittest. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ You have to read rule 5 carefully, "5.God is omniscient so you cannot cheat. You could .. wall. As soon as anyone touches it with the intention of using it as a weapon they will be struck down." It does not say 'only' as in your p2. The important part is "you cannot cheat". In any case, as soon as a commander orders Johnny to play his video game/drop food etc. he is effectively 'touching' a weapon - the weapon is Johnny. The commander would be zapped before he could finish speaking. The sound waves coming from his mouth would touch Johnny. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ I added the 'no warfare' as a footnote, and did agree that there was at least one possible method for warfare (mass organized political violence), that being a schism. In any case, whether there are two or more warring parties, with none possessing dominance, or a unitary governing body that 'schisms' the first to develop fission weaponry and the 'cloistered' soldiers would gain dominance. The first may take months, but the second would take at least a generation. $\endgroup$ – Zenostotile Aug 6 '15 at 0:57
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your thorough analysis. I shall read through it and work out what happens. Note that this religion has a lot in common with other old religions. It started when technology was simple. Priests are always arguing how the old rules apply in the present day. Their only way to find out is to try something. If they get zapped this is noted and added to the rules. God has his mysterious ways and is not necessarily bound by human logic. In fact, just like the God of Abraham he could arbitrarily kill off most of humanity and start again without notice. Compare Noah and Lot. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 6 '15 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ "And every major city across the globe was deliberately sited near the ruins of an Old World metropolis, so all would know why Wood-Law must rule the land." $\endgroup$ – Zenostotile Aug 6 '15 at 8:52
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The primary weapon would be fists.

You can't use wood at all, because your opponent will just throw sticky cloth at your weapon, and now your all-wood weapon is partially not-wood, and using it will get you killed.

So basically, warfare would just be giant brawls.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting tactic! I wonder if the God, being omniscient, would smite you or the enemy though - since you are intending to use the sticky cloth to get the other person killed, it could be argued that you are using the cloth as a weapon. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Aug 4 '15 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ Wouldn't the sticky cloth then be considered a weapon, thus getting your opponent struck down? $\endgroup$ – Seth Aug 4 '15 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble: Depends on how Rules Lawyery the god is, I suppose. $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske Aug 4 '15 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, your cloth would either be considered a weapon or a shield. Either way it gets you zapped when you throw it. Nice idea though. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 20:09
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    $\begingroup$ @DanSmolinske - Very rules lawyery unfortunately. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 20:12
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Limiting weapons to use only wood, and not using any industrial process to produce a weapon, you're really just left with tactics.

I can imagine warfare consisting of lots of traps rather than hand-hand combat.

Assuming a hole in the ground doesn't count as a weapon, you can cover it with leaves and branches with spiked sticks below. The fall wouldn't kill you, the sharp sticks would.

In tight corridors, you could roll a large log down towards the enemy (think Indiana Jones running from the large boulder).

Seeing that leaves and roots count, you can use thin/fragile roots as trip wires, once breaking causing a large log, which will be held up from a tree with thicker/stronger roots, to fall and crush someone.

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  • $\begingroup$ Nice answer, welcome to the site. $\endgroup$ – James Aug 4 '15 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, all good ideas. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 18:41
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If making suitable bow strings is an issue can I suggest the Spear Thrower?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spear-thrower

They can be made simply and pre-date the bow as a hunting weapon and are still used in some cultures. They and their ammunition can be made from wood and would be simple to mass produce and in the world you describe they would make a useful weapon especially for light cavalry or skirmishers.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree and I'm surprised that no-one has suggested the boomerang for similar reasons. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK: Because a boomerang of the hunting type doesn't return, and has about the same maximum effectiveness as a spear without atlatl. (No offense intended to the makers of the boomerang.) $\endgroup$ – DevSolar Aug 7 '15 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DevSolar - thanks. Don't forget that we are now in a technological age. Weapons can be designed and made with the highest level of technology as long as this doesn't violate the prohibitions during battle. I imagine that modern simulations by computer and in wind-tunnels etc. can produce hunting boomerangs that are extremely efficient and do return. The process of weapon design can use any materials and technology at all - just don't try to use a plastic boomerang in actual battle. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK: I understand the premises, but I don't think you understand the boomerang -- it can either return or be useful as a weapon. You want a weapon that delivers a maximum of kinetic energy at a maximum range with a maximum precision. A returning boomerang, by design, will achieve neither of the above. A "hunting" boomerang is, by design, a heavy throwing stick that flies as straight as possible. Hence (and because it's blunt, not pointed), it's inferior to the atlatl spear, which has better aerodynamics, a smaller impact cross-section, and a higher V0. $\endgroup$ – DevSolar Aug 7 '15 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ @DevSolar - Okay - I'm convinced +1. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 14:54
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Cultivate and weaponize Dendrocnide excelsa as the main "blade" part of spears, arrows, swords, etc. (so the shaft of the spear is something like elm, the head of the spear is Dendrocnide stems and/or leaves) the nettle tree (and many of it's relatives) is native to areas around Australia. Alternatively, it reads like the branch/trunk stuff is safe so I suppose just cut a fresh branch and smack people with the leaves.

The stinging parts exist on "all aerial parts" of the plant; which a separate website handily defined as all leaves, flowers, and stems. The stings of such plants are said to be extremely painful for days to weeks (or even months in some cases), the pain has reportedly driven horses off of cliffs.

I know that burning something like poison ivy produces a sort of irritating and dangerous toxic smoke (but I won't try to weaponize poison ivy since it is not a tree) however burning the leaves, etc. here may produce a similar toxic cloud that could be launched via trebuchet toward thy foe (though I can't seem to confirm this, so this bit is speculation).

A very effective chemical weapon in tree form (make sure you're careful with handling).

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  • $\begingroup$ No complaints about any of that. I like the toxic fumes provided that they come from burning parts of a tree. Even if they aren't very toxic, they could cause coughing and limited visibility. The main problem would be avoiding your own troops being affected. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 22:09
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Why reinvent the wheel? There are a lot of really scary trees that exist without genetic modification. Potential warmongers could try to figure out a way of using the dynamite tree, whose fruit literally explodes. Well they'd probably be treated much like any other highly volatile explosive. Think like a grenade that was as unstable as nitroglycerin. My guess is stuff like refrigeration could potentially let an army store munitions.

It apparently also has caustic sap that can poison the other naturally occurring spikes. So if all else fails, you still have a very unpleasant chemical weapon in the sap.

Some trees are already weapons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you elaborate on how the dynamite tree would be controlled? I'm concerned that it might go off accidentally and kill friendly troops. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK updated with some ideas. $\endgroup$ – ryanyuyu Aug 6 '15 at 0:32
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Suicide bombers

These people would be in huge demand, and their price would be high. Suicide bombers would sacrifice their life for religion or to make their family millionaires. (Religious wars would likely still exist, as every major religion has sects). They will go to their chosen destination, find explosives, and press a button as they are struck down by lightning.

The only way to stop them is to prevent these bombers is to:

  1. Stop the bomber and/or their weapon from reaching their target location
  2. Stop the construction of these weapons. Governments will attempt to track and stop the building of these weapons just as we treat nuclear bombs today

Furthermore, I don't see it unreasonable to find guards carrying non-wooden weapons, willing to sacrifice their life if a high-profile person's life is in danger. They will spend years training their minds such that they do not consider using their weapon as a weapon until the time of need arrives.

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  • $\begingroup$ This concept can be enhanced to nuclear suicide "bombers". Governments could [secretly] develop nuclear weapons, aim, but not launch them and then sacrifice p̶r̶e̶s̶i̶d̶e̶n̶t̶ one private to press the red button... $\endgroup$ – Trang Oul Aug 5 '15 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @TrangOul I find it hard to believe that in a wooden war, people would still have the motivation to build nuclear weapons when normal explosives would seem as an extreme method of violence. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Merrill Aug 5 '15 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ @NathanMerrill I find it hard to believe that in the real world people had the motivation to build nuclear weapons when normal explosives were an existing extreme method of violence. Nevertheless... $\endgroup$ – user867 Aug 25 '15 at 3:40
  • $\begingroup$ I find it not so hard to imagine nukes would be invented. If by some reason we saw fit to reach for the stars we would build nukes anyway. It's a short cut for getting heavy payloads in orbit. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Oct 30 '16 at 20:22
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I wouldn't make wooden weapons, I would train elephants.

They're not weapons, they're my mount. And I certainly didn't make them. And they're not using non-wooden constructed weapons (unless you train them to club people with trees... Which is probably better than a man with a sharp stick).

Lions, wolves, tigers, horses, bulls - all fine alternatives.

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  • $\begingroup$ Elephants - You can certainly use elephants as transport but not as movable shields. If someone attacks you, you must jump off and fight face-to-face. If warriors attack from all sides you must send the elephants out of the way to avoid being shielded. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ Fighting animals - In the past, animals were indeed used to great effect. There were legendary battles with huge arrays of trained animals on either side. Nowadays all you have to do is shoot the opposing army's animals with the best hunting rifle you can make. They are not human so they can be attacked with modern weapons. Make sure you don't carelessly hit a human while shooting at the animals. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 7 '15 at 8:04
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Some tree barks can be used to make rope/string. So bows are back in the mix. On top of that using rope will add in catapults, Ballista, and Trebuchets. Of course you can't throw rocks, but plenty of things can be created to throw.

Arrows won't really need metal or stone points if shields and armor are not allowed. They were really added for penetration depth through other layers.

Poison. Different trees have different substances that can be used to dip arrows and spears into, or anything else (like a load of caltrops made from wood) One tree is very poisonous the manchineel could be used to for poison darts and arrows. It was actually used for this in the past.

OOH, and of course the most important part would be to put non-wood items into enemies weapons, thus they would be destroyed, when they try to use the weapon!

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  • $\begingroup$ A crank powered crossbow "machine gun" can be made entirely from wood. the rate of fire is scary. you need several people to operate them and they do not have the same range as a longbow so I could see a combined tactics of mobile long range bows and close range repeaters. Then you have things like ballista. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 2 '17 at 16:51
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Since we've already stated that we have the full technological advances of today's world available to us, we can build a kinetic orbital bombardment weapon (one idea location).

Obviously we would need a rocket to get the weapon to space. According to the rules set, moving a weapon using metals is legal. Therefore, we have our delivery method.

Secondly we would need a spaceship made of wood. This is possible, since wooden underwater vehicles have been crafted.

Using sealants naturally created from sap and other plant resources, coating a wooden spaceship to withstand the pressure constraints would be easy, since this has already been done as far back as da Vinci.

Heat would be easily reflected or dispersed through the same sealant, as being a semi-liquid would give it a slightly reflective coating.

Implementation:

To not break the rules, the weapon would be delivered to space. Once the spaceship is in orbit, the wooden weapon ship would be placed into an airlock and ejected softly, oriented towards earth. The metal ship would then be completely separate from the weapon. Inside the wooden weapon ship, a simple hand operated mechanism made entirely of wood would be the operation point for launching the weapon.

A single human following the rules of dress inside this wooden weapon would have roughly 10 minutes of breathable air, or more if a larger weapon ship was created.

The weapon itself would be simple. Think of a revolver, in which each round is located in a separate chamber. The same applies to this. When the human pulls his lever, he physically presses these solid blocks of treated redwood towards earth. Since communication methods have been allowed on other examples, such as ships, the weapon operator may use some form of communication, such as a radio, while the pilots of the metal ship tell him when to release his payload.

Gravity is the accelerant of these wooden spikes. Once released, they will begin to slowly accelerate towards earth. A lot of mathematics will be required to ensure they hit their targets, and this weapon will be extremely inefficient compared to today's standards, however, this is possibly the most damaging weapon possible in your ruleset. I say this because a heavy enough rod accelerating towards the ground at an orbital speed can produce as much physical damage as a small nuclear bomb.

Imagine looking up into the sky to see 360ft by 25ft redwood tree trunks flying towards your city at supersonic speeds.

Boom.

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  • $\begingroup$ Except most if not all of the tree would burn up on reentry... $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Aug 5 '15 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ As stated elsewhere, Redwood trees are fire resistant. You can see why here: forestschoolsbapet.blogspot.com/2013/04/… $\endgroup$ – Psychrom Aug 5 '15 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ It would take roughly 5-10 minutes for a tree to collide with the surface of the planet from a low-mid orbit. Forest fires can last weeks and redwood trees are known to survive those conditions. A 5 minute trip through the atmosphere would be entirely plausible. $\endgroup$ – Psychrom Aug 5 '15 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ The question asked for how advanced of weapons would humans make. Humans will weaponize anything they can. In an era where space vehicles exist, humans will attempt to create space weapons. They could even fill the internal section of the redwood tree with poisonous materials, so that it intentionally burns in atmosphere, releasing particles that then gently settle on top of the intended target, or in the breathing space of victims. The question didn't ask about monetary viability, so I'm disregarding that. $\endgroup$ – Psychrom Aug 5 '15 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ In that case, no combat would exist anywhere, considering that everything on the planet is moving alongside the earth, as no object is truly immovable. $\endgroup$ – Psychrom Aug 5 '15 at 21:53
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Wooden Airplanes - Take a look at the Spruce Goose, which is actually primarily birch.

Built entirely of wood due to wartime restrictions on metals, this massive airplane stands as a symbol of American industry during World War II.

Also, the wikipedia page.

It was designed to carry 150,000 pounds, 750 fully equipped troops or two 30-ton M4 Sherman tanks.


The entire frame is built using wood, but there are many things that would still have to be modified before all the wood is gone:

  • Fabric is used, for rudders and elevators

  • 8 Engines, each one 3000 horsepower

  • Probably other miscellaneous pieces, including glass for windshields


The biggest issue would be the engines. The least technical solution is using people to generate the power, but people are too heavy and too weak to provide the necessary horsepower. (My calculations said only 1200 people could fit weight-wise, while 240,000 people would be needed to provide the same horsepower as the engines indefinitely)

My next thought is to burn wood for some kind of "steam-powered" solution. Which may work - but I'm not sure the engine itself couldn't keep from burning as well:

The engines could be sited anywhere that water and coal or wood fuel could be obtained. By 1883, engines that could provide 10,000 hp had become feasible.


Ultimately, I think we would figure out a way to have wooden planes, or at least blimps (Does the air in the balloon count?), which could then drop our burning pitch, or wooden projectiles, or whatever - from a high height.

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  • $\begingroup$ Air and water are okay. How would you make a steam engine entirely out of wood though? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 19:58
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK Redwood Trees apparently have fire-proof bark when I search for "fireproof trees" $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Aug 4 '15 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ There are also wooden engines that can run off compressed air - no idea what the horsepower is off these, but I think its more plausible - less likely to break from heat or force but need a lot more of them. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Aug 4 '15 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ You can't take the compressed air to war though. Not unless it is in wooden barrels! (and no metal hoops) $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK I have a feeling that pitch or some other "glue" from trees, and layers and layers (and layers) of thin wood, could get more PSI - but I do not think its possible to do calculations on this without actually creating it. Not that I'd be good enough with math to do the calculations anyway. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Aug 4 '15 at 21:45
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Am I the only one here thinking about bioengineering trees so that their wood becomes more weapon-ready?

I'm talking about super venomous resins, super elastic / super sturdy materials, exploding wood, or whatever you can think of.

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Assuming that EVERYONE followed this rule, then they would be a thousand times better off. The entire defence budget could be spent elsewhere, and instead of having arms races, we would have space races. Mass murder would be virtually impossible. (Although, presumably murder is also banned in the religion?)

I hope I don't need to point out that if there was even just one person who broke the rules, the entire planet would be screwed. There have already been many optimistic people throughout history to suggest essentially the policy that you're theorising about. In fact, the success of Adolph Hittler was partly attributed to the fact that there was a disarmament campaign gaining support in western Europe after WW1.

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    $\begingroup$ Well... Real life doesn't have a lightning-flinging omniscient Big Brother breathing down your back though. $\endgroup$ – Feaurie Vladskovitz Aug 5 '15 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ That's right. No-one can break the rules because, as I said here: - 3.There is no cheating. God sends down a thunderbolt and kills anyone who disobeys. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 11:01
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I think the ingenious of people relegated to these days would come up with some creative ideas far beyond what we can speculate here...though I'm assuming the majority of military conflicts would look more like Roman days.

Properly made, a spear is a stupidly effective weapon and with proper wood working techniques and a suitable tree ('Ironwood' if you will, just really hard wood) the spear is most likely your most common hand held weapon, though blunt clubs and staffs would also see their use.

If you look back at weapons, certain ones go out of style in part due to armor. With no armor around, these weapons will still remain relatively effective. Vs an unarmoured target, I would suspect that a person with a 'tree built' sling and a bunch of wooden 'bullets' could inflict a lot of pain upon an enemy.

But the real creativity would be in the 'anti-personal siege' weaponry. Catapults are a little more obvious, but there is nothing stopping something from a wooden version of this appearing:

enter image description here

Of course this would be wooden wheels attached to long axles with a rope (made from tree bark of course) wrapped around the axle many many times over. A horse is attached to the one end of the rope and made to run...this sends the wheel rotating at an extreme speed (a person or team of people could do the same if horses are struck down too). Wooden spears/javelins or wooden balls are loaded between the two rapidly spinning wheels and are launched at a silly speed.

I would also expect technologies such as the Onager and eventually a Mangonel (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mangonel) would also come to bear. A Mangonel is best described as an 'anti-personel trebuchet' that sprays bullets (in our history these are stone, in this alt-world they would be wooden bullets)...though I will admit these people would have to show some amazing wooden working ability to have that work. I would (wood) suggest that they would reach these skill levels if it was their only choice.

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So what about catapults? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catapult The rope could be made of hanging vines ...which is more or less wood... or use peeled twigs. And you could still use loggs as ammunition.

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    $\begingroup$ This was mentioned in several other answers. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Aug 5 '15 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ Please refer to the notes: 4. ... A tree is a non-genetically-modified plant that naturally grows with a single trunk and has grown to a height of 20 feet or more. Priests actually ensure that weapon trees are over 25 feet in height to avoid errors. If a hanging vine meets this requirement then okay. My guess is that it wouldn't. You can in any case use other products from a tree for the same purpose. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 5 '15 at 22:56
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Assuming society did advance to the semi modern age... make completely automated drones. Assuming god doesn't strike down the coder whilst he makes the thing ( i think he's safe because at one point decorative weapons were clarified as being safe til wielded to produce harm). Interestingly, this means nukes are a valid weapon. You just have to find 1 guy willing to get zapped to press the launch button. With that in mind, i think most of warfare would be a matter of finding a suicidal, berserker-style fighter willing to use a cannon, or a bomb, or disease, etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ Arguably, the rules seem to imply that someone who presses the trigger will be zapped before successfully activating the weapon. $\endgroup$ – March Ho Aug 7 '15 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, that is the problem. Like any respectable god, this one knows what people are thinking. He immediately detects the intention to disobey and makes sure that the rules are enforced before the deed happens. Worse still, this god does not have any obligation to keep the commandments constant. He can update them to allow for new technology. It is up to the priests to try to find out what is currently allowed. Suicide in the name of understanding this god's will is considered to be a great honour. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 9 '15 at 23:17
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Some of these have been brought up, but I'm going to try to condense some things down.

Your actual combat is going to be mostly melee with some ranged stuff in there. This is out of necessity of the War God's rules. So, expect most combat to be out in the open. Bows, Atl-Atls, spears and javelins will dominate for ranged weaponry usable by one person. Maybe slings, if you can find a very dense wood to use for shot. Blowguns would be a good stealth weapon, but I don't see it in common use for combat. Melee weapons would be clubs, boken, staves, and daggers. pretty much anything like traditional melee weapons can be carved out of wood.

Artillery is going to be regular types of siege weapons. The difference is that they will be slightly less effective due to the whole "only wood allowed" condition. It's going to be used more against people, because wood isn't going to work as well against fortifications like castles. An interesting application of a catapult might be to throw possibly poisoned caltrops at the enemy. pointy things going into the feet is going to slow down all but the terminally enthusiastic.

A note about castles. You can't have moving defenses like shields, and mechanisms like doors are questionable, but there is an old time method to defend the entry into a castle that shouldn't break the rules. A long Tunnel with murder holes in it. Imagine a 60 foot long tunnel that has a bunch of small holes all around. Defenders thrust javelins (individual weapons) through the holes at the attackers. Attackers will have no defense. Your goal is to choke off the tunnel with the corpses of the enemy.

Some thoughts on the wood. HEdge wood (bois d'arc, osage orange) is dense and may make good sling ammo in addition to bows. Oak, hard rock maple, ironwood would be good for any sort of impact weapon that is swung. By no means a comprehensive list, but just something to get you started.

Your world may be a little stunted in the area of metallurgy. Nothing adds urgency to metal technologies as weapons work, but your world is limited to wood for that.

Your soldiers may not get the benefit of a GPS unit in their hands, but battlefield directions can still be given within the limitations given. Semaphore, Drums, Trumpets and so on can be used to signal troop movements in battle., but radio, satellites, and so on can be used for intelligence gathering, to plan where the most advantageous place to have a battle.

Weapons are only one part of the battle. Wars are won by logistics. if you can get your guys out there, patch them up after the battle, and feed them on the way, you are going to win if you do it better than the other guy. That leaves you open for all kinds of innovations. Aircraft, troop transports, radio...you can even engineer precision wood weaponry with CNC lathes and laser cutters. Keep that in mind.

Sounds like a fun world.

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The most powerful weapon - because it's not a weapon - could become things like iron filings. Or better still: tiny fragments of wood, processed only so far as is needed to make it be considered "no longer wood".

These would then be fired as microscopic, undetectable pellets at the wood of trees destined to be used for weaponry, either during the growth, harvesting, or shaping.

These weapons would then become deadly to use.

Sabotage of weapons would be a whole new level of arms race. Protecting trees from trespassers, drones, etc would be a fulltime job for armed guards.


At another level would come the efforts to redefine what constitutes weapon use. If you can define "eating rice" as deadly weapon use, you can perform genocide at a mammoth scale. But first you have to get God to believe that eating rice must necessarily and directly cause a death.

So, you need to find a way to guarantee that someone will be killed by every N grains of rice eaten (which is easy enough, since every industrial process ends up causing deaths: you just need to enumerate them), and ensure that everyone knows that this happens, so that anyone eating rice cannot but do so by deliberately deciding to contribute towards that death.

Rice has become a weapon. It is not made of tree. If there's a ZAP, then good. If not, then there's a chink in the armor: anything which kills people as indirectly as rice is perfectly OK to use as a weapon.

Keep experimenting with more and more direct connections between action and death (driving -> car is weapon).


And then there'd be any number of indirect methods of killing.

Causing people to kill themselves or kill others will become the ideal path to cause mass deaths. For example, if dynamite is not a weapon, but it becomes so as soon as you touch it with the intent of using it as a weapon, then fooling people into touching dynamite should be fine. One person can manufacture the bomb, believing it to be for mining. Another can deliver it. Another can change the labelling on it. Another can press the button on it.

If intent is the only thing that matters, hypnotize your troops so that they can touch guns and kill, believing they are using fake guns and a computer game. Or give them AR goggles so that they genuinely can't tell the difference between real combat and training.

Robots don't have intent, and aren't weapons, but they can be instructed to operate weaponry.


Finally, there's the morality of the God.

If a gang of people are assaulting one person, beating her to death or worse, is it OK to help defend that one person with whatever you find to hand? A rock, a bottle? If not, then God's morality is broken.

At that point, the main thrust of humanity's research should be focused around one question: how do we kill God?

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Grow your stave branches around lumps of lead, then harvest them later for a more effective quarterstaff. Technically all you are hitting them with is the wood.

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    $\begingroup$ See 37b) No part of thy weapon shall be made of anything other than wood, nay, not even the smallest part thereof. God can see through the wood to the metal inside. Consider yourself zapped! $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 4 '15 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ Shall I genetic splice for you the lead tree? $\endgroup$ – Joshua Aug 4 '15 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua - That's very kind but it would violate Rule 4. Modern day priests have decreed that 'wood' means any part of a tree including the leaves and roots. God seems to have accepted this because no-one is getting blasted for it. A tree is a non-genetically-modified plant $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 6 '15 at 1:00
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We here in WB established that war cannot have rules - losing side of any war would ignore the rules and use any fair or unfair advantage to win.

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    $\begingroup$ War has rules if the god of war chooses to enforce them. It is just the same as with sport. Tennis has rules and the umpire enforces them. To the gods, human endeavours are a source of amusement.t hey make the rules and watch us struggle. If you doubt that, think of the law of gravity. It is rigorously enforced and warriors have no choice but to abide by it. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 9 '15 at 23:10
  • $\begingroup$ There is one difference between rules of tennis and gravity: gravity is enforced by nature. Rules of war are enforced by gods, if gods exist, are the same for both sides of conflict, and gods decide to mess with the people. If one side of the conflict has different gods, war is replaced by the magic, applied by both sides. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Aug 10 '15 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ The linked opinion isn't the accepted answer, let alone any kind of established WB consensus. $\endgroup$ – Dewi Morgan Nov 16 '18 at 17:08

protected by DaaaahWhoosh Aug 5 '15 at 20:32

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