How would paleolithic combat work in a world where you have instant, and permanent mastery when you hold any tool?

Weapons are limited to stones, slings, clubs, and stone-point spears, but any tool or implement is available for mastery.

The "Instant Mastery" operates when a user thinks of performing an action, like "I want to throw this stone to over there.". If it's possible, they immediately know how to throw it, and if it's impossible, they also know that too.

However, it's total mastery for every use. If they want to use a spear as a hammer. They'll get precognition on that too, for example.

  • $\begingroup$ Does this apply only to offensive use of tools, or to any use? $\endgroup$ – o0'. Sep 5 '15 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Lohoris - Any use. $\endgroup$ – Malady Sep 5 '15 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ Presumably the "instant mastery" would extend to shields as well as weapons. So combat would become a test of strength and stamina rather than a test of skill. $\endgroup$ – KillingTime Sep 5 '15 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ @KillingTime - Yes. ... Gtg, so if you want to edit it in, go ahead $\endgroup$ – Malady Sep 5 '15 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ What does "mastery" mean? Are the only limits one's current unaugmented bodily capabilities? Often people can use multiple "tools" with a synergistic effect, like using slings to throw stones. So if I pick up a stone and decide to throw it, will I know how to make a sling? $\endgroup$ – sumelic Sep 5 '15 at 18:02

Community wins

The first group to successfully build a community wins.

Why? Let's explain step-by-step:

  • this mastery, as you explained, is also valid with non-offensive use of tools
  • this means that anyone could use tools to build better tools and items and stuff, i.e. anyone would become a very proficient artisan.
  • progress! The more talented people, i.e. those that posses creativity and intelligence, would suddenly be able to express them, and improve the tech level
  • better tech level --> better weapons --> (you already have mastery) --> you win

So the key is not to die long enough to advance the technology a bit, and to do that, you have to build a community of people who protect and feed those who are instead busy creating.

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    $\begingroup$ Presumably these communities wouldn't stay paleolithic (technologically, at least) for very long. $\endgroup$ – KillingTime Sep 5 '15 at 16:22
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    $\begingroup$ @KillingTime correct. $\endgroup$ – o0'. Sep 5 '15 at 16:25

The warrior-troubadour would rule the world

This mastery approach you describe has three limits. The first is the obvious strength and stamina tests that KillingTime mentioned in a comment. The second is their own imagination for the creation of an imagined action to do. An individual that cant think beyond, "Ogg stole my stick. Make Ogg's head have 2 more lumps than it used to." will rapidly find their creativity is too low to permit striking the more creative individuals, who have taken the time to shape more efficient ways of defending themselves. This leads to the third limit, the imagination of others. Creative use of a spear can accomplish a great many things if one is nimble and quick, but once someone has decided to engage in a defensive action, your options to strike with become limited.

Accordingly, those at the top of the "food chain" would be the warrior-troubadours, the warrior-poets, and their kin. They would have the imagination to figure out how to use that perfect mastery to accomplish ever more nuanced goals, as they refine their arts. In our earlier example, if Ogg has already begun working with the stick to protect himself, he'll probably find a way to take 2 lumps... but small ones. And, in exchange, he might disarm his opponent, and maybe even woo his opponent's wife away with the beauty of his actions. Lose your wife to a warrior-troubadour once or twice, and you'll learn not to try to put lumps on their head very quickly.

Creativity could literally rule the world.

  • $\begingroup$ On the short term, I agree with you, this is a very nice point. On the long term, however… $\endgroup$ – o0'. Sep 5 '15 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ In the longer term, these warrior-troubadours would use their wits to become the community leaders...combining the two answers $\endgroup$ – KillingTime Sep 5 '15 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ NO WAY...no way is anyone able to be a master of an act IMMEDIATELY!! Holding a tool in one's hands does not a master make! As physically able as I am (lots 'n lots of viable physical prowess) no way could I take up a spear and use it without lots of practice!! And I am genetically anyhoo a HUNTER. $\endgroup$ – stormy Sep 5 '15 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ @stormy: presumably this is a fantasy setting. Would you object to, say, Harry Potter because NO WAY could waving a wand around and saying funny words make things happen? $\endgroup$ – Harry Johnston Sep 5 '15 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @HarryJohnston I wouldn't say that. It makes actors really rich, which is a thing. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Sep 5 '15 at 22:05

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