I have a world that's set in the 1910s/1920s. The gist of it is that the hills of Connemara (in western Ireland) were once dwarven cities, but some are now occupied by orcs, and one of the many weapons that the dwarves are using to hold onto their remaining outposts and settlements are Tesla coils. These are crew-served static emplacements.

I have a physics degree, but it's been a while since I studied electrodynamics, so some of this may be wrong. The effectiveness of these coils is going to be determined by how much current they can send out as quickly as possible, which in turn is going to be proportional to their capacitance.

A few things that might help would be sending a stream of seawater towards the orcs and using it to direct the current, or increasing the number of capacitors. The salt content of seawater is apparently what makes it a decent conductor compared to air (4.80 as opposed to 10^-15, according to Wikipedia), and most of the villages around Connemara are based on the coast. Having multiple capacitors in parallel would increase the total capacitance, and thus increase the current.

Even with the above, which turns it into a giant stationary TASER-style weapon I think it would be ridiculously expensive and impractical compared to regular infantry. Is there anything I could do to make this more practical given the technology level of the time period, or would it just be a massive military boondoggle?

  • $\begingroup$ Do the orcs wear metal armour? If so what is it like? Chain mail might form an effective Faraday cage for example. I don't see how sea water helps, surely it will just provide a perfect sink (?) $\endgroup$ Aug 9, 2015 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ do you mean Laser Induced Plasma Channel Weapon? Pew! Pew! sorry should be ⚡⚡ $\endgroup$
    – user6760
    Aug 10, 2015 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK, the orcs armour is pretty much just a cast-iron or steel chest-plate and scavenged dwarven/human helmets - when they have armour. $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2015 at 8:11

1 Answer 1


Very cheap electricity would make it more cost effective. I wouldn't be surprised if dwarves came up with a cheap way to get electricity. Perhaps they dug deep enough (but hopefully not too deep) into the crust to set up geothermal power stations or maybe they discover the power of nuclear fission (or maybe even fusion).

Another thing to consider is the psychological effect on the orcs. The Tesla coils could be very terrifying to them, perhaps due to religious/cultural beliefs or just that they are easily scared by things they don't understand.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ True: imagine the general riding up with infantry, making a big posuring spectical for rallying his men and intimidating the opponent. He raises his metal sword high into the air... $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 9, 2015 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ Now you mention it, it would also be useful for keeping the dwarves in line as well... "For egregious failure to comply with production orders, Urist McLazybones has been tied to a stake in view of the coils. All citizens are obliged to observe" $\endgroup$ Aug 10, 2015 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ Accepting this for completion. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2015 at 10:56

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