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The setting is post apocalyptic wastelands. The use of nuclear weapons has resulted in the creation of mutations, the most deadly of which are the lizards. The antagonist devises a technology that allows him to control the mutations.

Image of the lizard people Click to enlarge (source)

The humans are all housed in a large citadel protected by high walls but obviously the high walls are not going to be a good defense against the lizards, as they can simply climb up. So, what defenses can the humans develop to protect themselves ?

Key Points:

  • The humans lack any new technology and their weapons are medieval quality (swords, spears and such).
  • Due to the apocalypse, all advanced scientific knowledge has been lost.
  • The antagonist does not create the new technology but rather discovers it by accident.
  • Guns, missiles or any explosives are not available as they have been destroyed. [They were outlawed after the nuclear apocalypse]
  • The citadel is surrounded by barren wasteland.
  • The citadel does have a cache of wood and various metals that the citizens have been collecting for a long time.
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    $\begingroup$ Why can the lizards simply climb up? That may be relevant to the answers as I would not expect it. Small lizards can climb up walls because they are small, but the square cube law means what works for the small doesnt work for the large $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 8:47
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    $\begingroup$ What is wrong with simple boiling oil and other stuff which was historically used against humans with ladders/ropes? $\endgroup$ Apr 4 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Zizy Archer: contrary to popular belief, boiling oil has NEVER been used in siege defense, if only because it’s way too expensive, and that boiling water/feces/sand are much cheaper/free and much more effective in the case of sand. $\endgroup$
    – breversa
    Apr 4 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ That does not look like a creature that can scale a wall. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Apr 4 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ If you're dealing with a creature that can ram its talons in stone and "quickly race" during a vertical climb; these creatures are either tiny or unrealistically overpowered. $\endgroup$
    – Flater
    Apr 4 at 21:54

10 Answers 10

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Broken glass, spikes, barbed wire, pits:

Your obvious defense is to embed the surfaces of your walls with anything that renders the walls too unpleasant to climb.

  1. Broken Glass: Your world, unlike the medieval one, will likely have a large supply of glass, broken or otherwise. Most lizards who climb need a smooth surface to climb, and a glass-studded one isn't smooth. The glass is sharp, and slices your lizards quite badly. Unless they have armor, they're going to get hurt - badly.
  2. Barbed Wire: To keep animals out, what do people use now? Loops and bundles of rusty barbed wire are probably all over the place. Even a BIG lizard entangled in a mass of barbed wire will be suffering cruelly. They would likely become consumed with escape or dealing with their suffering until they bled to death.
  3. Spikes: Large wooden spikes driven into the ground or bundled into obstacles will stab into your lizards and puncture organs, limbs, lungs, etc. If they can jump obstacles, the places they can jump to are covered in spikes they will land on and impale themselves upon. Nails sticking out of every surface will rip, tear, puncture and maim (and old nails should be similarly abundant in your world).
  4. Pit traps: Ditches work too. All these defenses can be applied to a network of open or concealed pits surrounding your defenses. Lizards fall in, but they don't climb out. impaling spikes at the bottom, bundles of barbed wire to entangle them, glass fragments lining the walls. If your lizards are REALLY big, the spikes can angle inward and downward, so the lizard has to climb through a hole to get out that is functionally smaller than the one they fell into...

Spikesspikes2 enter image description hereenter image description hereenter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Another option: Grease the walls with something so the lizards just slip off. $\endgroup$
    – MaxD
    Apr 4 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ To add to the spikes suggestion: You can make holes in the wall, large enough for a stick. Place a human on the inside with the simple instruction: Poke when hole goes dark. $\endgroup$
    – Martijn
    Apr 4 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer, because wall-scaling lizards IRL tend to have their bellies very close to the surface they are crawling on, which will make these especially effective. $\endgroup$
    – cowlinator
    Apr 12 at 22:50
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Your lizards appear to have clawed feet rather than gecko-like pads, so if the walls of the citadel are dressed and or built such that there are no handy claw-holds, it will be hard for the lizards to climb. In case they do have sticky pads, maybe a good supply of oil to pour down the walls will make them slippery and have the same effect.

Most lizards are not good in water (with the exception of specifically aquatic lizards), so a wide deep moat around the foot of the wall will also impede the lizards.

The citizens can presumably build/use bows and or cross-bows. Shoot the critters.

A large supply of heavy rocks stored on the battlements will come in handy - dropping (no need to throw as gravity will provide the momentum) rocks on top of a lizard when it is half way up the wall will swat it most satisfactorily.

If you have any of that slippery-wall oil left, then set light to it and pour it down the walls - crispy lizards ensue.

Long spears can be used to poke lizards from above. They don't like being poked. If the spear has a barbed shaft then the lizards cant climb up it (but of course you can always drop the spear if it appears to be succeding at that tactic).

Lizards have teeth and claws, so you can arm your citizens with long swords, which are sharper, harder, and have longer reach. So long as you train your citizens, they should come out ahead.

And most important of all - on the assumption that your survivors know who the antagonist is, and where he/she lives - send out sneaky bunches of ninjas, assassins, poisoners, thuggees, hit-people, suicide squads, or whatever else you can come up with, to kill the person controlling the mutants. Antagonist dead - problem solved.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for slippy slippy wall oil. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 3 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for poking lizards $\endgroup$
    – DialFrost
    Apr 5 at 12:15
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Hatch

enter image description here

The citadel was not built by the apocalypse survivors. It was found.

The citadel used to be a military outpost. The builders put walls so the baddies could not just walk in. They also built a bunker behind the walls, so they can hide when the baddies fly their planes with their bombs and their guns.

Maybe the bunker is a separate building. Or maybe the whole outpost is underground. I leave it to your imagination.

The apocalypsers are safe from the lizards if they hide in the bunker. The hatch is metal and weighs a ton. Plus there is this turny-wheely-deely that lizards don't know how to use. They have big sharp claws and no thumbs so they cannot open the hatch.

When the lizards attack they all run underground and close the doors. Then they meet up under the same door and open it. When a lizard sticks its head down the hatch they stab it all at once with their spears.

Sometimes a second party sneaks out a different entrance to attack the lizards from two sides.

Sometimes they retreat behind a second hatch, and lock the lizards between the first and second hatch. Then they wait for the lizards to kill each other. Or they fill the compartment up with smoke so they die of smoke.

Either way it is lizard for dinner.

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    $\begingroup$ I was skeptical until the part with the smoker. Then I was hungry. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 4 at 0:09
  • $\begingroup$ +1 This is an interesting approach for sure. $\endgroup$
    – user96551
    Apr 4 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ Even the simple expedient of passages that are smaller than lizards but pass humans could work. But a lot of lizards can squeeze into small spaces... $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 5 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ @DWKraus I wonder what is a good way to partially block up a doorway so a lizard cannot get through but also cannot just destroy the blockade. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 5 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ Inward-pointing spikes will make a charging lizard have to squeeze around the spikes, slowing or blocking it. If you want a more substantial and closeable version, I would suggest a portcullis. Cover it with big spikes to prevent smashing, and position a person with a spear on the other side for active defense. A bar (or two) to reinforce it if needed. Drop a portcullis on a lizard to crush it and impale it on the door's bottom spikes. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 5 at 12:28
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Biological pest control

You should seel an ecological, wasteland-friendly solution for your problems. If it happens to be lizards, then enlist the help of lizard eating friends, such as giant nuclear eagles.

A giant eagle (roc) catching an elephant.

Have a hatchery within the city. Them birdos will perch on the walls and hunt for any lizards that are stupid enough to show their heads and backs around.

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    $\begingroup$ "That's the beautiful part. When Wintertime rolls around the eagles simply freeze to death." $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 4 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ I like the giant mutant loggerhead shrike, and with a spikey fort, there's symbiosis. youtube.com/watch?v=P6KLr_nt2X4 $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 5 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ Downvote because I would expect nuclear eagles to be glowy, and they would too. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 5 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ I do find it humorous that The Square-Cube Law posted an answer that involves supersizing a bird. $\endgroup$
    – Anketam
    Apr 5 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ Biological controls don't always work out the way you expect, as Australians found out after they introduced Cane Toads. So we introduce lizard eating birds, but they find humans easier or tastier prey... Back to the drawing board. $\endgroup$ Apr 6 at 22:15
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Modified HOURDES

The following defense would work on the proviso that your lizards can't climb on/across horizontal surfaces. Since no scale is given I am assuming the animals are quite large i.e. big enough so that one single lizard is a threat to a human like say a wolf or a leopard etc and that the risk does not lie in being 'swarmed; by lots of small animals. Large, non arboreal animals should find it difficult support their own weight on a horizontal surface (like say a gecko) and move and fight at the same time.

Below is picture of High Medieval Period defensive measure known in French as a 'Hourde'. Basically they were a defensive fighting platform that could be built in times on need along the top of a castle wall. They were built with hatches in the floor that could be opened so that oil/stones and arrows etc could be used on soldiers attempting to scale the walls. (In the real world they were covered with wet hides to limit the chances of fire damage which isn't going to be a issue in your setting.)

In your setting a fighting platform could be extended out horizontally further than the ones in the picture since you not fighting a medieval army. Ideally by more than the body length of a lizard (minus tail). You also wouldn't need to include hatches in the floor. Just slots like arrow slits in the stone walls immediately below the hourde that you could stick spears through into the bodies of the animals as they reached the base of the fighting platform while other fighters on the hourde itself dropped 'stuff' down onto targets at the base of the wall. And of course you can add in lots of the other suggested pitfalls, barriers, moats etc on the ground approaching the wall.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ No I (think) I meant horizontal. If the creatures can climb vertical surfaces they can climb up the walls, at least with difficulty. The floor of the Hourdes when they reached the top of the wall would be a horizontal surface they had to cross (hanging down from) before they could start climbing vertically to reach the top. That's why I suggested making the Hourdes as wide as possible - so they can't just reach out and grab an edge. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Apr 3 at 23:46
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    $\begingroup$ ". . . your lizard can't climb horizontal overhangs. . . " is easier to understand. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 4 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand the picture. If the baddies can somehow climb a wall, they can just climb the wall of the tower in the middle and go around the lower hourde. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 4 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ The photo is only an an example of hourde. Ignore the tower (imagine it wasn't there) and look at the lengths of wall between the towers in the picture. Then make the hourde extend out further. And if towers are needed you have lots of options. Build them behind the wall, build them flat into the wall (not extending outwards as in the picture) or if you insist on towers like the one shown just extend the hourde around the waist of the tower at the same height as the one along the wall. This could easily have been done to the tower in the picture if the original builders had wanted to do so. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Apr 4 at 0:45
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    $\begingroup$ Same reason they couldn't just 'climb' castle walls without them. The occupants of the castle would be doing everything in their power to kill them & make storming the walls as dangerous and difficult as possible. Hourdes normally had trap doors in the floors for dropping rocks/oil etc though and firing slits for archers etc. Also they were a middle (High Medieval) period defense system. As the middle ages advanced and siege technologies changed/developed they became obsolete. See link below for more details ........... castlesandmanorhouses.com/architecture_03_walls.htm $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Apr 4 at 12:34
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The best defense is a good offense.

These lizards look hungry. They live in a wasteland. There is not much to eat. Leave out something for them to eat. The something has poison in it.

Lizards might figure out that the pygmy goats you are sending to stumble bleating off into the wasteland are laden with poison. The remaining lizards swear off eating pygmy goat even though they are delicious. They decide to eat the eggs of pug dogs. You poison pug dog eggs now.

Eventually the lizards realize that the only food that is not poisoned is other lizards. They eat each other. The antagnoist begs them to quit that and so they eat only some parts of each other. But without legs the lizards have to live like snakes, and they cannot climb the walls! Pug dogs and pygmy goats and your intrepid people can live in their wasteland fortress in peace!

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  • $\begingroup$ Obvious answer, how did no one think of it before? $\endgroup$
    – raulmd13
    Apr 4 at 9:51
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting suggestion. I could use it to dissuade stray group of lizards from attacking but it may not be feasible in this particular scenario as this is an army. The sheer mass of food required will be something that the citadel will have to give up (and they are also in the middle of the barren wasteland so food is not something to waste). Also the army is controlled by the antagonist. He is not going to let them loiter around eating stray creatures when there is a citadel to attack and people to eat there (as an added incentive to the lizards). $\endgroup$
    – user96551
    Apr 4 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think pug dogs come from eggs. Perhaps you misread my answer about the hatch. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Apr 5 at 14:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron - well these pug dog eggs here never do seem to hatch. But the dog keeps laying them! Maybe someday... $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 5 at 14:42
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Trenches

enter image description here Assuming that your lizards are large enough to pose a threat to a human in a physical engagement, your creatures would have to be of significant size. As a result, your lizards would seriously be limited mobility-wise. To capitalize on this, your defenders should focus on creating a choke-point barrier that would force the lizards into close-quarter combat. Doing so would also give the humans the ability to concentrate their attacks.

Assuming that building a moat would not compromise your citadel's structural integrity, building a deep empty trench all the way around the settlement would prove a great challenge for an invading army to penetrate. The lizards, lacking any ranged methods of attack, would be forced to take all the trenches by force. If the trenches were filled with spikes, tar, or fire. "I'm assuming that these lizards could swim, which would make water a no-no." It would take months for an army to clear all the trenches. Months that these poorly supplied lizards don't have.

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    $\begingroup$ Even more so if the lizards are small, one doesn't even have to defend the trenches, just the fact that they existed more than triples the total distance the Lizards have to travel and so they could be an effective way to delay the attackers, maybe even exhaust them. $\endgroup$
    – Benjamin
    Apr 4 at 9:16
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Poke a bunch of spear-like things horizontally out above the top lip of the wall. They'd be thicker at the base, narrower at the tip. The lizards can't get through at the base (next to the wall) where they're thick and close together, but have to climb out to the thinner sections to go over. Those sections are thin enough that they can't support the weight of a lizard, so they break off and fall.

This might require cross-bars to fill in the gaps before things got too fragile.

A careful lizard could edge out until it could saw or break off a tip, but if they were tilted up a bit then it would expose its belly to defenders that could shoot it full of arrows.

As the spikes are broken off, they can be quickly released and replaced with new ones.

Alternatively, the top level or two of stones in the wall could be made out of (replaceable) compacted dirt. The lizards would race up the wall, then slip and fall when their claws shredded chunks out of the dirt. The outer layer could have gravel embedded to match the lower part of the wall, though this would make it pretty obvious to the second lizard where the problem is.

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Make your walls unclimbable. Ring the top of your walls with some sort of large-diameter cylindrical object (like barrels) laid horizontally, with an axle through the center. Place them close enough together so that there's no way to get between them, a wall climber has to climb over it. So long as you keep the axles well-lubricated, anything attempting to climb over them will remain in the "down" position. Attempting to pull yourself up to a higher position will just rotate the cylinder and you'll be back to where you started. It's like trying to use the outside of a hamster wheel as a ladder: great exercise, but you never actually get anywhere.

This is just a variation on the "can-and-bucket trap" concept that I've successfully used against mice several times. The general concept scales upwards fairly well, as the cylinder will be more likely to rotate and thus harder to climb as the attacker gets heavier. Being able to grip the surface will merely be the difference between falling off when the cylinder rotates or just hanging there looking like an idiot. Either way, you're not getting past it.

If you're particularly mean-spirited, have your walls bow slightly outward at the top. Place large, flat blades just underneath the cylinders, mounted horizontally and almost touching the bottom edge of the cylinder. When the climber attempts to pull themselves upwards and the barrel rotates against them, one of two things will happen. Either they maintain their grip and the momentum of the rotating barrel sends their feet directly into the blades (crippling that foot, or at least making further climbing painful), or they release their grip and fall off the wall.

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Smell

During the war a lot of stuff burned down leaving behind a putrid tar. This tar is constantly spread on the walls. Not very nice to live in a place surrounded by burnt smell, but it is a trade off for security. In any case in this world there will be a lot of empty space, so the walls perimeter can be very long and allow to have inside a gap between the wall and the habitable zone.

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