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What are some examples from mythology or literature of a magical (weapon, object, or spell) that is the equivalent of a nuclear weapon?

Qualifications needed:

  1. Must be able to produce the same amount if not greater destruction as a nuclear bomb in a short amount of time (less then an hour).

  2. Cannot be started by modern weapons or tools.

  3. Can be used as a deterrent. (This doesn't mean that it has to have been used as a deterrent but only that it can be theoretically used this way. )

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closed as too broad by DaaaahWhoosh, Burki, Hohmannfan, Tim B Apr 1 '16 at 15:43

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't really think this question is on-topic for this site, but I'm not sure I can explain why. Though I see the same question was closed on SFF, so that's probably a bad sign. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 1 '16 at 14:23
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    $\begingroup$ I agree this seems borderline but as I can't really say why I am inclined to leave it open. Mythological super weapons is interesting at least. I think the biggest problem is mythology doesn't really give you power equivalents in megatons... $\endgroup$ – James Apr 1 '16 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan Add the mythology tag instead of the technology tag, I think that's more appropriate for your question. $\endgroup$ – Javert Apr 1 '16 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Well the thing about magic is that it's magic. You could make a spell that makes a nuclear blast or a spell that makes a nuclear bomb that then detonates or a spell that sends Earth into the sun. $\endgroup$ – Devsman Apr 1 '16 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ While the concept of the question is a good one and could be on topic here unfortunately the question as it stands just asks people to list all possible variants on X without giving us any real constraints on X or ways to evaluate one X with regard to another. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Apr 1 '16 at 15:44
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Summoning spell: Godzilla

Guaranteed to turn your a Tokyo into a parking lot.

Do be careful that you don't get his lawyers tagging along.

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    $\begingroup$ Or you could release the Kraken... $\endgroup$ – G.James Apr 1 '16 at 14:20
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In the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) by Christopher Paolini. Two events are described with the same properties of a nuclear explosion.

The use of the Suicide Spell near the end of the books, is described as:

The whole of the caster's body was then converted to explosive energy, utterly leveling the area around it and later poisoning the area.

And the Fall of Vroengard which is implied to have been caused by the same spell is described as if it were a fallout area.

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In Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series a Light Web could be destroyed/triggered that could cause devastation. One that was constructed 1000s of years ago was able to kill 500'000 soldiers of the Imperial Order by Zedd.

Another related example is Unweaving a gateway in the Wheel of Time series, this caused an explosion, but not on the same level as a nuke.

They are the ones that immediately come to mind, however there must be quite a few out there!

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    $\begingroup$ Also in Wheel of Time balefire would destroy the fabric of reality itself if overused. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Apr 1 '16 at 14:22
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If we allow tabletop games, there is always the Locate City Bomb (I can't find a way to link directly to the post in Reddit, but it's the first post) from D&D 3.5. I've included the process below, but the basic idea is that a harmless spell used to locate the nearest city (which of course has a very large range, in order to locate cities) is modified to instead fling every person in the radius of the spell to the edge of the radius and just about instantly turn them into paste.

Start with Locate City (Races of Destiny). 10 Mile/level radius 1st level spell. Does what it says on the tin. Add the following feats:

Snowcasting (Frostburn): Adding a handful of snow to our spell's components gives it the [Cold] descriptor.

Flash Frost (PHB II): Our [Cold] spell now deals 2 points of cold damage to all creatures in spell area.

Energy Substitution (Complete Arcane): Turns our [Cold] descriptor into [Electricity].

Born of Three Thunders (Complete Arcane): Our (now) [Electricity] spell's damage is now half electric and half sonic. More importantly, it now stuns and knocks prone on a failed Fort and Ref save respectively. We like the Reflex save, because...

Explosive Spell (Complete Arcane): Now that it has a reflex save, our spell now shunts all creatures in spell area to the outside of the area of effect, dealing 1d6 points of damage for every ten feet moved.

Minimum level for this is 7, though it's far easier to pull off as a Sorcerer, so we'll go with level 8. 80 miles is 422,400ft. That gives us a potential damage range of 42,240 to 253,440 and an average of 147,840.

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  • $\begingroup$ Toss in elemental admixture and you can retain the cold, which I, as dm, would require to use the second cold feat, and, besides which, is niftier: Thunder snow! $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 9 '16 at 16:08
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In Greek mythology, Zeus is capable of striking the enemies with giant meteorites, inflicting a devastating damage.

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    $\begingroup$ This was the first thing that came to my mind as well: use magic to summon a natural phenomenon that could easily level a city same as a nuke does. $\endgroup$ – user1975 Apr 1 '16 at 15:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Snowman When I was a kid, it was my favorite super-power while playing Age of Mythology ;) $\endgroup$ – Javert Apr 1 '16 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ Zeus summoned meteorites in what legend? $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 9 '16 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @TheNate Check this book : Cook, Arthur Bernard, Zeus: A Study in Ancient Religion, Volume 3: Zeus, God of the Dark Sky (earthquakes, clouds, wind, dew, rain, meteorites) $\endgroup$ – Javert Apr 9 '16 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm. If I can find a copy, I'll check it out, but that sounds a lot more like an academic grouping various celestial phenomina and associated gods than a case that Zeus was throwing meteors. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Apr 11 '16 at 19:04
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In the Harry Dresden novels, Harry uses spells such as arietius or assantius to release stored kinetic energy. If your magi were able to pipe some of the kinetic energy from the various towns and cities near them, you could have a massive blast of kinetic energy all released at one focal point. In addition, the friction of all the kinetic energy expanding from the point would generate a lot of friction, which would give you your "Light of a Thousand Suns" and immolation of targets near ground zero.

Surely telling your opponents that you have a magical bomb of concentrated energy from your entire country aimed at their capitol would make them think twice.

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In Neon Genesis Evangelion the Second and Third "Impact" events are cataclysms caused by the union of human and "angelic" beings.

The Second Impact resulted in an explosion with the equivalent power of 18 billion megatons of TNT. Two billion people died immediately from tsunamis, while subsequent wars brought the total death toll to half of the earth's population.

In Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 (a remake of sorts) a "Near-Third Impact" event occurs. This is extremely destructive, defying gravity, and tearing the natural and built environment apart physically. This event is cancelled through the Spear of Longinus before it can result in further destruction.

A screen shot from Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 showing the destruction of the Near-Third Impact

In the original conclusion to the saga, the End of Evangelion movie, a full Third Impact occurs. In addition to physical destruction, the barriers between human bodies and their souls are broken down, as well as the barriers between all humans, resulting in a union of all of humanity.

These impact events were all caused by human initiative. One faction, Seele, desired to cause these events so that humanity would be united as one soul in one god-like angelic body, a scheme called Instrumentality. An opposing faction led by Gendo Ikari opposed Seele, but he still desired the union of the human and the angelic, as he believed it would allow him to be reunited to his wife. It is not exactly clear what his plan is, but fans theorise that he intended to allow the Third Impact to occur as well as Instrumentality under the belief that he would then be able to reverse it. If the Angels had initiated the Impact event then it would have resulted in the complete destruction of humanity.

These factions were prepared to initiate the Third Impact earlier than they original planned in order to have control over it, and to prevent the others from doing so, so I think these Impact events can be considered deterrents of a sort.

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