So in a medieval based magic fantasy world, a town was established next to a river in a large forested area. Basic infrastructure and facilities are up. Suddenly, patrols found shadows flitting across the forest. It is theorized that they are giant wolves.

How would a small town of 1000 people defend themselves from the wolves? They have to be able to ward off future attacks from the wolves.


  • 500 knights with full body armor and armed with pikes, swords and shields [all steel]

  • 100 mages who can use

    • fire magic
      • fireball
      • flame spear
    • earth magic
      • earth wall -> creates a 10cm thick, 1m tall wall
      • earth needle -> a sharp spear of rock pierces through the ground into the enemy
    • However they have a 3 second cast time and it is possible to avoid the magic attacks.
  • 400 construction and admin staff without any combat experience

  • all of them can be armed


  • they will be attacking at night

  • their claws and teeth can easily shred through steel plates 3cm thick

  • their fur is able to negate magic damage to some extent (one fireball won't matter, 25 fireballs would be like tickling it) and can ward off blades (if swung with the full strength of an adult male, those steel blades will shatter)

  • weak spots would be their eyes and insides of their mouth

  • trying to feed them will result in you being their second meal

  • the wolves are about 2 meters tall, 4 meters long and can probably run faster than 61kph (38mph) which is the top speed of a gray wolf (IRL)

  • their natural predators will be left out of the equation (what is going to eat a wolf built like a tank will probably destroy a town with its eyes closed)

  • there are about a hundred giant wolves

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    $\begingroup$ I would pack a lot of citronella. It is a known wolf repellent. $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2016 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ Wolves are an apex predator, I'm not worried about their natural predators. I'm worried about the natural prey that leads to a predator of that size! $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix honestly I can't second that comment enough, I resisted the temptation to get into it in my own answer, but I think it's very relevant. to evolve impervious hides that reflect magic they must regularly be going up against magic and attacks more deadly then sword blows. They must be eating things large enough to feed the massive energy requirements such beings will require. This forest has plenty of other scary things in it to have these wolves evolve, but then don't get me started on how such things evolve, I don't do short answers there, look at my gryphon evolution answer lol $\endgroup$
    – dsollen
    Jul 15, 2016 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ I am reminded of the "Are you a Werewolf" game: looneylabs.com/games/werewolf $\endgroup$
    – CaM
    Aug 23, 2017 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ One thing your town hasn't taken into account is FOOD. 60% of your village are trained for defense in 1 way or another. But you have NO farmers. NO shepherds. NO livestock or grain or pasture or farmland. NO food? No town. Wolves wait for town to starve itself into cannibalism, then attack and win easily. $\endgroup$
    – CaM
    Aug 23, 2017 at 17:06

10 Answers 10


Humans with siege weaponry and magical abilities will always win out over mere wolves, no matter how large or scary.

I'm not going to address the obvious shortcomings in the biology of a 2m tall wolf because I'm assuming they're "magical" creatures. I can live with that, although tearing through 3 cm of steel with they teeth is basically ridiculous. I would suggest you downgrade that to being able to crush a man in plate armor due to the strength of their jaws, but not that they be able to simply rip through steel that easily.

Anyway, the advantages that humanity possess are intelligence, and opposable thumbs.

The wolves are at a severe dissadvantage for several reasons, and I'll get into that a little bit at a time:

Wolves at Dissadvantage

We are way smarter than any pack of wolves could hope to get. Sure, wolves are clever, and can come to create associations, for example, between that stick the man is holding, and the loud noise and destruction that follow every time he points it at something (they avoid being aimed at by hunters once they've been exposed to firearms).

However humans have the luxury of intellect, and the ability to think up many, many different traps, tactics, and strategies.

Furthermore, humans have the luxury of hiding behind their walls, and choosing when to strike out at the wolves, while the animals are in a bit of a desperate situation. You see, animals that size are going to need a ridiculous amount of food to survive. 100 of them are going to hunt the larger species in the area to extinction within weeks (think deer, turkeys, wild hogs, etc.)

This means that they will be acting in desperation when attacking humans, and that they won't exactly be either in peak physical condition, or thinking that clearly.

Humanity Will Triumph

Going up against these things in infantry formations is asking for trouble: they're monsters. But we're smarter than they are, can wield intricate tools and weapons, and furthermore, know magic.

Siege engines are the way to go. Ballistas to be pricise. The Romans used them to great effect, so I'm assuming that your society will be quite capable of building them as well.

Set intricate spike traps in the forrest, warded by magic so that the wolves don't see them until it's far too late. Release animals who have been fed subtle poisons into the wild for the wolves to hunt down and get sick.

Set up ambushes where you allow them to "find a way" into the city only to confine them into a set area and drown them, opening fire on the animals trying to swim from the safety of the walls.

Of course the wolves may get sneaky and start avoiding humans, but unless they simply leave the area in search of food, sooner or later they will have to face you.

Unfortunately this goes both ways, and the bastards may simply interdict the roads into town, and hunt down travellers. At that point you will have to come up with a fast response tactic.

Heavy cavalry is probably the way to go, however you want to come up with a way to bring heavy weapons to bear on the beasts very quickly. Crossbows sound like good weapons to tackle these things. A crossbow bolt easily goes through heavy armor at short to medium range, and contributed to full plate armor being phased out (firearms were the coup de grace).

Build heavy wagons with firing ports, and fill them with crossbowmen. As the wolves approach to ambush the column, open fire.

Since you're only facing 100 wolves victory is basically guaranteed.


I know this is going to be a boring answer, to the point your likely not use it, but it's the honest answer. If these creatures are really just wolves, giant killer wolves, but only wolf level intellect and evolutionary instincts, then humans are pretty safe.

Humans offer very little meat and there is little reason to hunt us over say deer or oxen or whatever creatures they usually prey on. Unlike certain tropes there is little reason for them to be hunting humans, and so it doesn't take much to discourage them from hunting us and sticking to prey species that frankly are less wasteful of energy to hunt.

If these are 'normal' wolves then humans are unknown and thus scary. We walk on two legs making us tall and thus appear big and intimidating, Remember the #1 best way to survive a bear attack is to run at it, even though the bear is larger, stronger, and easily able to kill us if you charge it will run away. It doesn't know what you are or why your attacking and with little to gain it's not worth the risk that you can do something dangerous so it runs. Combined with our herd mentality and we're not a very tempting target unless the wolves are starved and desperate, their evolution has taught them to avoid the unknown.

Combine that with our defense. If they attack as a pack and we can harm even one or two of them they won't come back. They're not used to herd species that group together to defend themselves, rather then stampeding away and letting the weakest get eaten. If they attack they would only take one or two humans. Any more and it would seem like excess meat and would not be tempting. If during that attack we manage to harm any of them their instincts will tell them to avoid this. The risk of harm is too high for the benefit of food. With 100 mages we can kill one of them, 100 fireballs > 25. Thus they will quickly want to avoid us - too much harm for too little food combined with their own instincts to avoid the unknown and hunt what they evolved to hunt.

Going along with that, our best defenses are psychological.

Make the unknown scarier

You have 100 mages that can do bizarre magical things, the sort of things these wolves have never seen. This can be quite scary. You don't need to use much force at all, just light and sound and confusion caused by whatever illusion or optical affects you can create will be enough to make the already-unknown humans far more confusing. Their instinct is to avoid unknowns, this magic will be a huge one. They won't want to mess with all these mysteries, they won't know what kind of bad things we can do, so they will run rather then attack for little meat from things that may be able to kill them.

A related tactic, as I already mentioned, is to have all your mages work together to kill the first wolf that you see when they come towards you. With so many mages you likely can overwhelm the first wolf's magic defenses, at least enough to hurt it if not kill it. That will be enough, if they are being hurt from afar by an unknown THING and have no way of knowing how easily it can keep doing that the proper response is to flee.

Is that rival wolves I hear?

I don't know whether your mages can do it, but if they can manage any kind of illusionary effect make them think some other, larger and scarier, predator is around. Recreate the sound of foreign wolf howls etc. to trick them into avoiding you.

Enlightened human beats darkness

I tried way too hard for that pun...

Put simply, keep the entire town brightly lit during the night. You imply these creatures hunt during the night. If so they institutionally use darkness to stalk prey. For this reason they will avoid areas of bright light, it removes the ability to stalk prey. Thus all things being equal when they go hunting they will avoid areas of bright light. As I said, there is little to make us a tempting target over other prey, so with no particular reason to head to our town over any area the lack of ability to sneak up on prey is sufficient discouragement to pick another area.

If you use fire as the way to light up the outside of the town this works better. Almost all species are afraid of fire, as wildfires are powerful and lethal. They burn at such absurd temperatures that there is no way your wolves can survive them. Thus they, as all species, will instinctively be afraid of fire. The fires you use may be controlled and not dangerous to the wolves, but if they aren't intelligent they won't know that. They will avoid something they're afraid of like fire whenever possible.

Let's avoid that uncomfortable place

Anything you can do to make the area around your town one they don't like will be incentive to hunt elsewhere. Simple traps that don't do serious harm but are uncomfortable, spreading unpleasant scents (or any strong scent which 'blinds' their nose to other scents), making it so they often have to step on things that cut into their paws, even arranging random spraying with water when they cross an area, can make an area generally unpleasant to be in, which is enough, again, for them to choose to hunt in another direction if they have no real motive to focus on you.

City Walls exist for a reason

In medievial times any city of any size at all would have some form of city walls, usually to defend against humans. Build them. You imply that wolves could break down walls if they try hard enough, but again, why would they? If you surround your town with a decently sized wall there is no reason for them to try to break through it.

Even if they are inclined to break through it there are easy defenses. Grow brambles and other pointy plants along the walls, or just include your own spikes on it. These aren't lethal, but it would make it hard for a non-intelligent species to figure out how to break down the wall. Try biting it and it hurts the inside of your mouth. This can be enough to discourage attempts to break it down. Remember, non-intelligent wolves don't really have great planning skills, to associate destroying a wall with the possibility of a food source is not impossible, but it is somewhat hard for them to grasp. Throw in any obstacles, even small ones, and it can be enough. Just dump water on the wolves from the top of the wall when they get close and their flee. After all, anyone standing on the top of a wall looks like a HUGE creature - it's so tall, and thus scary.

Would the big bad wolf like some yummy chocolate?

Long term poison is a good way to get rid of the wolves, assuming your mages know anything about creating it. In fact you don't even need lethal poison. Spread any mildly toxic substance around the outside of your town will work. Even if it only gives them indigestion or diarreha, it's enough to find the area unpleasant. Of course real poison, perhaps helped with magic to enhance it, can be a great way to start eliminating the wolves for good once the town is well defended.

Is a new house worth risking your life over?

Going to an even more boring answer, this town isn't worth dying over. If you don't like the above answers and want to imply the wolves insist on trying to attack humans despite their evolutionary psychology, then the real answer is that humans leave.

The first wolf attack would kill only a small number of humans, as wolves don't kill more than they can eat. Not only is it pointless and a waste of energy, it leaves less prey species for their next hunt. After the first attack when humans see how strong wolves are and that they are so impossible to fight well... why bother? If you can't create a defense with a very high probability of preventing wolves from attacking at all then you're looking at deaths happening somewhat often, and while a town is nice it's not required for these people. They haven't been there long enough to have any psychological commitment to it. Packing up and going where they started and abandoning the town they were working on makes more sense then slowly being picked to death. If they can't stop the first/second attack then the 98% of them left will just go back home.

  • $\begingroup$ Some of your ideas are on point, others I disagree with. For example, you say that the wolves would avoid humans because we're tall, scary, and not worth the trouble. Not so for a 2m tall animal. Those things would need a ridiculous amount of food to survive, and would hunt anything worth eating to extinction in the area very quickly. Which would then only leave the human town as a steady supply of meat. Furthermore, hiding behind city walls is not enough for the humans to survive. Being effectively under siege is ultimately a losing proposition. The poisoned bait is a pretty solid idea though $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM even if they are taller then us if we are taller then their usual prey were still scarier then their prey. It's really the unknown aspect more then size that matters, but they will overestimate our size and thus power due to our stature. As to the other affect about food, your right and I thought about it but answers get into the fact that the wolves shouldn't exist, evolutionarily speaking. Short answer if that whatever they prey on must meet their energy needs. Thus their prey provides lots of energy and we are pathetic morsels compared to it, not worth the energy to hunt $\endgroup$
    – dsollen
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM As to city walls, these creatures will have hunting times, it sounds like their nocturnal. That means that we should be relatively safe traveling when they don't hunt. Remember this isn't a siege, because their not super-persistent, they take prey where they get it. If were not around when their hunting their eat something else and then stop hunting till their hungry again. We just need to be able to hide when their on the hunt. of course rather they have time to build the wall is a valid question :) $\endgroup$
    – dsollen
    Jul 15, 2016 at 14:47

Your consideration of population seems more of a garrisoned outpost, than a straightforward town. That said, these wolves are ( I'm assuming this) still blood and bone carbon life, and therefore susceptible to toxins. Even toxins as unsophisticated as heavy metals like lead, arsenic , etc. could be introduced into carrion and catapulted (?) to a safe distance, allowing them to ingest, and the numbers to dwindle. Even those not killed by toxins, might well have some fight taken away by illness. With so many mages, I suspect that powerful poisons are well within grasp, and may tip the odds into the humans' favor.


Place mages around the city so that any approaching wolf will see the fire. All wolves are afraid of fire, and giant wolves presumably would be, too. Just don't let them get near enough to see that the magic fireballs can't hurt it.


Trapping has been around for thousands of years, there are many refined methods and trapping scales rather well (a deadfall trap for a mouse and an elephant are basically the same, you just need a bigger rock, a pit trap just needs to be deeper, etc). Traps can be strategically placed at choke points into the town or baited out in the wilderness.

For more advanced traps the toughest challenge will be making them strong enough to make an impact on such a strong, well defended beast. You mentioned the society has steel working skills, so large leg-hold/bear traps or the like might be possible. Rope is surprisingly difficult to cut and people have been making them large for ships for quite some time.

Also, the traps wouldn't need to hold the creature indefinitely - as its chewing or fighting its way out the knights and mages on shift could be rushing over to further restrain the animal and finish the job. A trapped animal is easier to poke in the eye than one that's actively trying to eat you.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent idea. The fur trade would flourish. Imagine a rug that big. $\endgroup$
    – RedSonja
    Dec 21, 2016 at 8:56

Let us assume limestone is available. You have a forest, you have a river. You have 500 burly men armed with cutting implements at the least.

I can save your town.

You must send out your knights in the day to gather stout beams from the forest for a stockade. The villagers must excavate and erect an earthen backing for this wooden wall in a semicircle surrounding the village, and the height of the whole construction from the bottom of the excavation pit to the top of the stockade must be thirty feet at a minimum. Sharpen the tops of each post and connect the ditch to the river at both ends, letting her waters flood your little moat. As for the mages, set them to burning your limestone and creating vast quantities of quicklime. Tie this foul substance up in sacks small enough for even the weakest child to heft, and in times of trouble gather the people in your village and form chains from your quicklime depot to the wall, passing the sacks as fast as they are able up, whereupon their contents should be loosed unto the waters below. Wise men would cover their faces, for the chemical of the devil cannot mix with the life-giving waters, but that an evil choking cloud is formed, which gets at the eyes and mouth of those subjected to it, and will drive away even the greatest wolf from our doors.


Well, if you have a basic strategy then I think you can easily win by using the knights.

You put your knights in groups of five and use the sheer weight of numbers to overwhelm the giant wolves, because I think one of these wolves would be able to take out a knight or two, you go into 100 5 v 1 fights and have the knights aim for the head (where they can damage the eyes and the mouth), then you have a pretty good chance.

Beyond that, you have the mages all target a single wolf at a time, using the earth wall spell you mentioned to help protect knights that are in trouble, and the flame spear to aim for the eyes, potentially using the ground spike spell, but I don't know how effective that would be, and again, target the head as that seems to be the only vulnerable place.

On a separate note:

No medieval town could survive with having half the population as knights. Medieval technology was very limited and required having nearly everyone work in agriculture to help make food, which isn't helped by having 10% mages and the remaining in admin or construction. Where are the farmers?!

  • $\begingroup$ Ah it's a newly established town, so the current population is only people who are building it and protecting the builders.[cant leave those 400 fellas to die eh?] $\endgroup$
    – Planarian
    Jul 15, 2016 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ ok, that makes sense, also for my plan, i think that i need to arm the admin people with pitch forks or something to help stab the eyes $\endgroup$ Jul 15, 2016 at 13:43

Wolves aren't your problem.

Your wolves aren't your biggest threat. Your village composition is. Your town has no farms. No farmers. No livestock. No FOOD.

Per this question, a typical village can support roughly 1 fighter per 15 adults at maximum.

So you have 500 soldiers who can guard your builders.

But no one is feeding them. So how does food get in? Via caravan? Then you need caravan guards, not town guards. Otherwise, the wolves don't attack the village. They're cunning enough to go for easy prey -- the horses or oxen pulling your food train are far easier prey than any town full of well-guarded construction workers.

So they attack the food caravans. No food comes in. Your village either collapses and everyone flees back to some other town, or they become malnourished under the half-ration rules they must use to conserve remaining supplies. Malnourished soldiers are not combat effective soldiers.

Or worse, starvation and cannibalism destroys your town, leaving nothing but dying bodies for the wolves to chew on.

Bring in farmers

So you quadruple your population and make it 600 defenders for 4,000 people, 3,000 of whom are food-producers. Great. Now you must spread your army much thinner. You can't expect to enclose not just the town but also the farmland in strong walls. Not initially, at least.

Farmers are exposed. Farm animals (livestock, oxen, etc) are exposed. Your soldiers are spread thin in roving patrols to guard them. Some farmers and livestock get eaten...

But really, per the above ratio, you're still not producing enough food to be self-sufficient. So your caravans and farms are still a major weak point that needs to be dealt with. Or you're back to starvation.



Yes, the food is going to be the problem. You have no farmers to keep your guards healthy. But if you build platforms on top of the houses, let's go with three feet high, six feet wide, and seven feet long. You could fill them with dirt and grow food on top of the houses. this would allow for you to condense you town. This would limit the kinds of plants your able to produce, but its benefits outweigh the cost.

Defense You mages can throw earth needles and fireballs. Have them use the fireballs to light up the village during the night. If wolves come to attack and if they're smart enough, they're attack in a group. To counter this, have the mages send the rock needles in hails, like what archers would do. mow the wolves down, then have a cavalry charge drive them out. To keep the wall from being breached, plant thorns and stinging nettle around it to make their mouth's hurt.

Trapping the wolves in pits and and other kinds of traps would allow you to kill them easily. then you could use their furs, skeletons, etc as decorations, such as hanging them on the walls so other wolves can see them.

Heavy weaponry would take time to make / get to you, so if your town survives long enough, you can bring in some ballistas and crossbows. All this together and you should be okay.

And since theirs only a hundred wolves, they'll go down pretty quickly. Now if they're mating and having pups, that could be a problem. Or a benefit if you get you kidnap them and over generations, domesticate them.


The only spell you need is one to get plants to grow faster - the kind that takes bonemeal as a material component.

Plant lots and lots of citronella. Make candles out of it and lit. Ask any dog owner - most will say that their critters will run away from it like the devil supposedly runs from the cross.

As a bonus, the town is going to smell really nice.


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