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On the planet Hugeia, there is a species of human-like people , who are similar to humans in every way except that they are 3x larger and 5x stronger.

Now my question is, what weapons would be applicable for them to make better use of their strength and size? These human-likes are at our tech level, but they would prefer to use non gun/auto weapons. This is because they have a scarcity of certain materials on their planet, and procuring the available resources to mass produce a gun would be very hard and uber costly .

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    $\begingroup$ @VilleNiemi They don't want to win. $\endgroup$ – Pieter B Apr 13 '16 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ See, that is why I asked. If there are restrictions to available materials you need to spell them out in the question, if you want a useful answer. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Apr 13 '16 at 12:11
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    $\begingroup$ Since guns are generally made out of wood, plastic and mostly steel, which are based on C, O and Fe elements which would be abundant in most (all?) of the rocky planet crusts, perhaps a philosophical objection to such weapons would make more sense. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Apr 13 '16 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ Please do not discuss author's premises! Maybe his/her world is at an early stage and the authors just feels it has to be like that, maybe the reason for a certain thing to be like it is is still evolving, or maybe the author prefers to handwave certain aspects or be flexible in plausibility standards. You don't know and it does not matter. As long as the author specifies what he/she wants and what not, stick to the question. $\endgroup$ – JRover Apr 13 '16 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @JRover, I think it is a valid to assume that people asking questions here care about consistency and plausibility. If they don't care and want to hand wave something away, that is important information about their premise that ought to be part of the question. $\endgroup$ – user16107 Apr 13 '16 at 14:24

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I would say that they use all the same kinds of weapons that we use. Except where materials are scarce. They would all just be bigger.

Of course with the square cubed law, the shapes of many of them would be different. Since the forces placed on the weapons vs. their structural strength would be different.

Swords might not be a lot longer, since they will need to be much thicker to handle the greater forces when they meet in combat. Handles to pikes, halberds and maces would need to be much thicker to not snap in half on the first strike.

So many of the weapons we use, they would think of and use, they would just look proportionally short, squat and thick compared to ours.

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Guns removed the factor of physical strength in who could kill who.

So if they're at our techlevel: still guns. Probably with a larger caliber because they could handle the kickback.

The edits to the question disqualified this previously valid answer.
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  • $\begingroup$ Projectile weapons, like bows, crossbows or slings is a valid answer though. $\endgroup$ – Scott Downey Apr 13 '16 at 12:44
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These giants are slow and cumbersome, and they really aren’t that strong. If they are three times the height of humans, then by the square-cube law they weigh nine times as much, which means their strength, at only five times that of humans, is less relative to their mass than ours. They will tire faster, move slower, and while they will be able to pick up and swing heavier things, they won’t be swinging them as hard or for as long. And they will require an enormous amount of food.

Note that these sorts of problems are why animals don’t just keep getting bigger. I’m not even getting into the structural problems inherent in just applying a 300% scaling factor to the human frame; it’s entirely possible that, if this were literally what happened, their bones would be under enormous stress and might even break under their own weight. Reinforcing these (disproportionately thicker bones) means more mass, even more for their over-worked muscles to haul about. And they would have significant difficulty breathing, further exacerbating their lack of strength relative to their mass.

The giants would be awful in combat. In fact, they’d be awful at almost anything that isn’t just sitting around eating. You might as well ask what weapons giant pandas would use.

Their only real hope, I imagine, would be in fortifications. Basically, they need to put their greater strength to a constructive purpose, something where they could use their greater strength in short bursts, but get a persistent benefit. What I mean, of course, is that they make heavy use of traps and fortifications. They are forced, by nature, into a relatively sedentary lifestyle, which means they can just keep adding to their fortifications over very long periods of time, and use these for defense.

These would, of course, be impossible to use offensively. I do not see much hope for them to be effective aggressors.

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    $\begingroup$ I was just about to write a post along these lines, the square-cube law is a b...ch, isn't it? $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Apr 13 '16 at 16:46
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Well, in my opinion, the answer is pretty much in the question: "weapons which are similar to regular melee weapons in every way except that they are 3x larger and 5x heavier". Since there are no much differences except in size, the logical conclusion is to have no differences in the armory. If there are some other unique traits you forgot to mention it may be different, but so far the answer is this.

Also, the "material lack" explanation is also pretty vague. I am assuming you referring to metal parts used for guns. Crossbow, for instance, can be created with pretty small amount of metal. Will superhuge ballista count as plausible, it can be made entirely without metal and gunpowder? Explosives do not need metal at all, as well as chemical weaponry.

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Give the restrictions around materials, I'm envisioning a society much like ours from the technological perspective, i.e. very computer heavy / digital.

Since my perceptions of military technology is that it has been largely driven by guns and improvements on them, I think military technology would have stalled around the medieval age.

However, with the increase in knowledge, these "giants" determined the best weapon to utilize their strength - the mace.

The mace causes massive damage due to the great acceleration and force it brings to a relatively small point of contact. Weapons developers have found the perfect size and weight and trainers have perfected the swing. In the modern "ambush" mindset, the quick removal of a combatant is key. One hit from a mace will damage even an armored enemy.

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Because they are stronger relative to their size than real-life humans, stone might be a more viable material than it is IRL. Stone has a worse strength-to-mass ratio than metal, in general, but it's very hard, making it good at piercing and at resisting being pierced. Stone plate armor is too heavy for humans, but it might work as a thin arrow-blocking layer for your stronger variants.

This is doubly true if common blade-making materials (iron, tin, copper, etc.) are among the scarce resources.

Pikes would also be useful in this case, as they have very little metal relative to their size, making them much cheaper than halberds, let alone swords, when metal is scarce.

And of course, you'd see lots of bows, and perhaps throwing spears and atlatls. Even without the extreme power and portability of firearms, projectile weapons are very useful. Greater strength would lead to greater draw strength on both bows and crossbows, increasing their range and power.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Kenny. $\endgroup$ – James Apr 13 '16 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I've been lurking awhile, so I'm glad I finally had something to say. $\endgroup$ – Kenny Apr 13 '16 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ I think this answer has merit, but it could be even better if you edit it to explain why their larger size would lead to stone being "a more viable material" for weapons than it is in our world. The connection might be there, but I don't think it is obvious. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 13 '16 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ They are not stronger relative to their size than are humans. Relative to their size, they are weaker. $\endgroup$ – KRyan Apr 13 '16 at 20:47
  • $\begingroup$ They're 3x larger and 5x stronger. That's stronger relative to their size, especially because strength tends to scale less than linearly with size--for example, ants can carry 10-50x their body weight, whereas even the strongest humans are limited to 3x or so. $\endgroup$ – Kenny Apr 14 '16 at 13:28
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Humanoids three times taller than humans might resemble large elephants standing on their hind legs. Elephants, of course, have intelligence similar to that of humans.

And elephants sometimes stand on their hind legs, though they usually like to keep at least three feet on the ground at any one instant. Bull elephants place their forelegs on the backs of female elephants for sex, thus six legs carry the weight normally carried by eight legs.

Large bull African elephants have been photographed rearing up on their hind legs to pull high branches down from trees to eat. An Asian elephant named Snyder was trained to walk in his hind legs with a woman standing on his tusks (with her head possibly higher than that of any other animal-riding human in history).

Due to the square/cube law, a human three times taller than average would have 27 times the mass of an average human but his bones and muscles would have only 9 times the cross sectional area, so their strength relative to weight would be only a third that of a normal human if they lived on a planet with Earth normal gravity. Thus humanoids three times as tall as normal humans would need bones and muscles much thicker proportionally than normal sized humans have, and would tend to be built vaguely like elephants walking on their hind legs.

Thus is possible, though not certain, that such giant humanoids would be as strong as elephants, and could do elephant like deeds, such as throwing small tree trunks at their enemies, and picking up and throwing animals as large as horses, bulls, and rhinos.

If a human-sized person hid in a small wooden shack, a pursing giant humanoid might pick up the shack and throw the shack far enough for it to splinter when it hit the ground, just as elephants have been alleged to thow small wooden buildings.

If humanoids three times as tall as humans were built like elephants and were as strong as elephants, human sized natives of the planet would need strong fortifications around their communities to keep the giants out. Just as elephants can break into most individual human buildings on Earth, giants as strong as elephants could break into most buildings built by smaller intelligent beings.

Since elephants have been trained to hold swords in their trunks and fight with them, giant humanoids could certainly use large swords. Elephants were also sometimes trained to swing large heavy chains from their trunks, and those might also be good weapons for giant humanoids.

The giant natives would seem normal sized to themselves, of course, so I don't know why they are are planned to be three times the size of humans. On a planet with Earth-like animals the giant humanoids would be the largest land animals and would not need weapons to deal with predators as much as humans do on Earth. Maybe there are larger predators on that planet.

But I suspect a logical use for the giant humanoids and their weapons would be in conflicts with smaller sized intelligent beings, whether native to the planet or vistors from Earth.

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Since the square cube law has been discussed already and the reason for lacking or limiting firearms technology is the lack of certain materials, then I would suspect that the major types of weapons would be crushing weapons (most likely maces with stone heads) and short stabbing weapons (a knife like a Seax or a Roman Gladius).

The crushing weapons maximize the limited strength of the creatures (especially if they have long lever arms) while short stabbing weapons are much less likely to bend or break than swords. Long thrusting weapons like pikes or spears are more likely to flex and break as you try to stab, and if the shafts are thick enough to prevent that, you have probably made the start of a club or mace anyway.

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Armies might be smaller but they would still have guns. It really depends on what materials are scarce.

Metal? Fewer tanks historically, planes are made out of wood or plastics. Guns may be lower powered or fire fewer rounds, but they even made cannons out of wood. (modern tanks have significant non metal armor)

Chemicals for gunpowder? Other explosive propellants are used, they may cause more casualties from faulty rounds, but they amount to the same effect. (Modern propellants are mostly synthetic)

Fuel for combustion engines? Replaced with steam engines.

Any one of these shortages may have caused advancement to slow in a particular area of development. But it would not be far behind giving similar historical timeline.

They will find a way. A potato gun firing rocks with compressed air will still kill a man. If one army has no guns, the army with potato guns wins. They will make guns. How they are different depends upon the scarcity.

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    $\begingroup$ In point of fact, repeating air guns were used for military purposes before repeating rifles. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girandoni_air_rifle and are still used by certain military units for quiet sniper weapons in urban settings where the range is relatively short. $\endgroup$ – Perkins Apr 13 '16 at 19:07
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That size/strength thing is unclear, really unclear, especially when you consider the cubed/squared issue so to be as helpful as I can, I'll discuss things purely in terms of non-gunpowder weapons; that being the case spears are your friend, so are clubs. Spears are about the most versatile melee weapon you can get and they can be designed for duel-purpose use, they may not have the range of a bow or the rate of fire but you can't stab a guy in armour with a bow when he gets too close either. Clubs/maces are a more durable option than almost anything else you can put in someone's hand so they scale up a bit easier than other weapons which is definitely an important factor here. There's no reason not to have any other weapon that humans have used in the history of warfare except in situations where size considerations get awkward, for example a sling made for someone 18 feet tall is not that hard to make although its durability may suffer (being made of several sections of leather rather than one strap), getting a yew billet to carve that same warrior a longbow is going to be next to impossible unless the scenery is as big as the inhabitants. There are also lower limits imposed on the cross-section of any weapon by its density and material strength if it's not to break under its own weight so a lot of familiar forms are going to be useless, a lot of weapons will have to look very different.

Side note: if it's the gun but not the charge that's the bottleneck in firearms technology then do consider the place of other gunpowder weapons like the spar torpedo, the petard and the role and tools of sappers in the setting.

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