Think of a more or less traditional medieval fantasy world: multiple races, magic, some alchemy/magitech that is of comparable power and reliability to ordinary magic.

And in this world there exists the Loveland, where all the people are pacifists and do not accept violence towards other people for any reason (the question as to what constitutes "people" is outside the scope of this question, but they are fine with slaughtering cattle that they grew). Now, how could such people protect themselves and their land/property from being raided and taken into slavery by the next band of orcs passing through?

Make following assumptions:

  • There is no Unobtainium in their possession that they can deny rest of the world if attacked.
  • The country survived for centuries, so this should be a reliable method not easily countered, not some sort of one-shot lovecraft surprise.
  • The technology/magic in their possesion is not significantly superiour to that of their neighbours, so any wall/barrier can be breached given sufficient time/resources.
  • The land is rich and bountiful, so others would take it if they could.
  • Amongst races of the world there are sentient undead, golems and elementals, immune to mental magic (and yes, they are considered "people" too for the sake of "no violence" rule).

The most obvious choice would be to enlist protection of some sort of allies, but who will protect Loveland from those allies when they change their mind/ruler? Any sort of mind control can be noticed over sufficiently long time and will only foster enmity between allies. And this sort of violence by proxy has quite a limited distinction from ordinary warfare.

So, with the aforementioned assumptions, how could a pacifist country reliably protect itself from any threat, including betrayal by an ally? What about the case with an additional limitation of no violence by proxy allowed either?

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    $\begingroup$ Only way I can think of is physical isolation. Something like desert, huge mountain range or sea would make conquer almost impossible. $\endgroup$
    – Euphoric
    Oct 14, 2015 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ do not accept violence towards other people for any reason does that mean that they won't even defend themselves if attacked? Are they OK with other people defending them, eg mercenaries? $\endgroup$
    – Qwerky
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ Does Pacifist mean non-expansionist, or does it mean "won't fight for anything" I point out the nation of Switzerland, who remains neutral in conflicts and doesn't go to war, but actively maintains a millitary and will not allow itself to be invaded. Are they pacifist? $\endgroup$
    – Criggie
    Oct 14, 2015 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ When there are 31 answers, and some have more than one option, this is definitely a candidate for closure due to "too broad." $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Oct 15, 2015 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre, don't close a question for its answers. And btw, have a look at this query, and you'll see that though rare, it is not unheard of. $\endgroup$ Oct 16, 2015 at 6:23

36 Answers 36


Having a standing army is a fairly expensive thing.
Loveland has no army. As a result, it should be a prospering, if not rich, country.
And Loveland has neighbours. Some of them might be a bit less inclined towards peacefulness. But it might just be possible to come to terms with them if you offer them favourable trade conditions, in return for their offer to help in times of military need.
While every so often the people of Loveland might ask questions wether or not they are actually being blackmailed, they will surely see that those trade benefits are still a lot cheaper than constantly having to rebuild the country, forge swords and armour, and whatnot.

  • $\begingroup$ Your suggestion relies upon the neighbors asking for only an affordable tribute and forever respecting this agreement. Why would enemies settle for small tribute and not just take all your wealth as well as the bountiful land they covet? The total wealth of the nation and value of all the lands would need to be less than the cost of invading (which is practically nothing against an opponent which refuses to harm you). $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ @pluckedkiwi If the land's bounty is due to the peaceful nature of its inhabitants, then invading the land and replacing the inhabitants with more violent (ie "normal") individuals destroys its value. It becomes just another (small) parcel of land. $\endgroup$
    – Mar
    Oct 14, 2015 at 23:09

Tai Chi is a form of martial arts that in its raw form does not have an offensive attack, though multiple forms of tai chi exist where offense has been incorporated it is not those forms we will discuss in this answer.

Martial art: The ability to use t'ai chi ch'uan as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. T'ai chi ch'uan is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces, the study of yielding and "sticking" to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force. The use of t'ai chi ch'uan as a martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training.

Similar forms of training that have its health benefits, and also double as defensive training, could be applied.

If you really want to have a major pacifist you can make an extreme account out of the training eg. helping people fall or add the Vulcan death grip / Xeena pressure points that disables the person for a short period of time without making any harm to the opponent except on their self confidence.

  • $\begingroup$ Haven't thought of that, thanks. But this is purely for personal combat, can the same principle be applied to fighting an army with war machines and elephants? $\endgroup$
    – Alice
    Oct 14, 2015 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on what level you want to apply this on of cause and how much you want to invent. But you could always set phaser to stun, have bombs with sleeping gas, and if the warmachines are metallic, huge electromagnetic plates should disable them fairly easy without using damaging force. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 10:18

They are not of interest. Or worse.

Loveland is an isolated nation. Over the millenia, this isolation caused some genetic alteration to spread among the people there, which have become immune to it. This caused an inhibition of the aggressive traits in the brain, but it also has lethal consequences to other humans that come in contact with them. (ik, you can't be infected genetically, but think that they are healthy carrier of something bad: in them, it turns off the violence, in others the whole body :)

This per se' may not be enough to defend themselves: if they were rich or something, you'd see isolation suits troops invading. It really depends on how "dangerous" the disease is vs. how rich is the booty that can be looted vs. how hard it is to engineer a cure/vaccine.

You can still have merchants or tradepost that acted like the slave trade areas: you drop the stuff on a beach, and the other come and leave money.

POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE: They attack you and pillage you with robots only, avoiding any contact, and the quarantine the loot for long enough. Though luck. Either your area is EMP protected somehow or you are screwed if this tech exist and your disease isn't persistent in loot (such as radiation).

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    $\begingroup$ Just make them poor goes against the requirement: "The land is rich and bountiful, so others would take it if they could." $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 12:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Magic-Mouse right. I'll edit it out $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 13:00
  • $\begingroup$ What would stop the surrounding nations from committing genocide to take the land? $\endgroup$
    – Jax
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, why wouldn't you simply have a disease that makes the attackers also peaceful? $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan the disease may be linked to the land, the population adapted to it. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2015 at 15:36

Switzerland and Swiss like situations have been mentioned already, but I would like to point out how they came about, (flashcards of the reader's digest version of the the long story).

Switzerland is surrounded by tall mountains that before machine power were difficult to traverse, (and invade). By that same token, it's also hard to leave only on foot or horseback. Switzerland also had a limited amount of natural resources, pretty much just enough to keep the locals going. So they drifted towards making small expensive things, since it was much easier to import a small amount of precious metals and material, and then export a nice looking trinket that sells for much more than the imported goods. Same thing with gadgets and lenses. In doing so much high end trade, they had to build a stable banking system that was reliable and trustworthy to handle all the extra money.

So even though orcs may be orcs, they still need a place to stash their loot, and maybe even buy something delicate that looks cool and goes tick-tock. Rival species and gangs would want to invade, but would be discouraged for the same reasons, and all the outsiders would have a common interest in keeping Loveland neutral.

  • $\begingroup$ The Swiss are not pacifists. They have military conscription and a fairly high gun ownership rate. $\endgroup$
    – Golden Cuy
    Oct 16, 2015 at 7:40

A Doomsday Machine should do the trick!


Cobalt thorium G has a radioactive halflife of ninety three years. If you take, say, fifty H-bombs in the hundred megaton range and jacket them with cobalt thorium G, when they are exploded they will produce a doomsday shroud. A lethal cloud of radioactivity which will encircle the earth for ninety three years!

There are those of us who fought against it, but in the end we could not keep up with the expense involved in the arms race, the space race, and the peace race. And at the same time our people grumbled for more nylons and washing machines. Our doomsday scheme cost us just a small fraction of what we'd been spending on defense in a single year. But the deciding factor was when we learned that your country was working along similar lines, and we were afraid of a doomsday gap.


But, how is it possible for this thing to be triggered automatically, and at the same time impossible to untrigger?


Mr. President, it is not only possible, it is essential. That is the whole idea of this machine, you know. Deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy... the fear to attack. And so, because of the automated and irrevocable decision making process which rules out human meddling, the doomsday machine is terrifying. It's simple to understand. And completely credible, and convincing.


But the... whole point of the doomsday machine... is lost... if you keep it a secret! Why didn't you tell the world, eh?


Using artificial natural disasters. They have the ability to devastate opponents without fighting. Ideas I have came up with include tsunamis and volcanos over enemy bases or lands. If the Loveland has that good resources it would be possible however a medieval society would not have the tech. Instead perhaps magic that spits out fire/water.

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    $\begingroup$ Erupting a volcano in an enemy city doesn't count as violence because... why? $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ That is still a weapon and violence, only you use nature for it. just little step away form biological weapons. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2015 at 9:09
  • $\begingroup$ It's a step beyond biological weapons. -1 $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Oct 15, 2015 at 11:49

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