In my world a Magic High Nation is fighting against high tech level Nation about the same level as one of the nations in our world. I'm trying to decide what sort of enchantments can be placed on arrows to make them stand up to Modern military weapons.

Note : The conflict will be mainly a guerrilla war.

List of enchantments

Explosive Arrow. Explode on contact producing an explosion about the same as your average RPG.

Combustion Arrow. Causes organic material to spontaneously combust.

FaZe Arrow. Phases through all inorganic materials or anything that is dead.

Madness Arrow. Inflict enemies with Madness.

Multiplication Arrow. Multiply into at least seven arrows while in flight.

Hunter Arrow. Will follow the target anywhere and after launch, and will maintain its maximum speed until target is hit.

Lifeforce Steal Arrow. Takes the life force out of all targets killed by the arrow and transfers them to the archer, giving him an extra life for each enemy killed, and making him stronger and faster for a time.

Cold Arrow. Sucks all heat from any substance they pass through.

As a guerrilla general fighting for the magic side, I can only afford to choose two enchantments on my arrows. Which combination will best close the gap between me and my enemies' modern firearms?

More information in response to the comments: Most of the fighting will be in the wilderness which is mainly forest and mountains.

To establish a target, an archer must know the target's location. This doesn't necessarily mean he could just simply hear footsteps behind him and fire without even turning around.

And by sucking all the heat out, I mean just that I mean 0 degrees Kelvin.

  • $\begingroup$ You mean, you can only afford to purchase two types of arrow? Or that you can only combine two enchantments on each arrow, any two? $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Urban or forest warfare? FaZe will not be as useful in a forest unless combined with Hunter (keep getting stuck in trees), but in city, that phasing would be potent. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ Does Hunter require line-of-sight to establish target? Is there any shielding that would prevent it from establishing target? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:20
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Define madness. Do they hallucinate paranoia but retain their abilities otherwise (i.e. Still drive tank at the phantoms they hallucinate)? Are they just blithering idiots with violent tendencies? Do they just doubt climate change is real and assert homosexuality never occurs in non-human species? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:24
  • $\begingroup$ Define "suck all heat." Are we talking 0 degrees Centigrade or 0 degrees Kelvin? If the arrow goes through the wall of a skyscraper, does the whole building lose heat? What's the area of effect? Does the heat just vanish or is it channeled into the arrow (sucked in) -- and can it later come back? $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 6:28

7 Answers 7


FaZe + Madness

FaZe allows your arrows to defeat all body and vehicular armor. This nullifies a technological advantage, and gives every archer the ability to take down a tank by targeting the crew.

With FaZe armor becomes a liability. If the archer knows the layout of the vehicle, they can target the crewman, but the crewman is hindered from seeing the archer by their now useless armor. Instead of rolling around the countryside in an armored box, they're in a cardboard one.

It also increases the effective range of your arrows. An arrow is a kinetic penetrator. As an arrow flies it will slow down and lose kinetic energy. At a certain point it will be unable to penetrate body armor or even thick clothing. FaZe nullifies this.

Madness acts as a force multiplier. Instead of merely incapacitating an enemy solider, that solider is now armed, irrational, and surrounded by other soldiers. "Madness" can mean many things. Depending on its specific effect a foot solider might discharge their weapon wildly, or pull the pin on a grenade. They might give false contact reports, run away, or run towards the enemy. An officer might start giving wild orders.

Maddened soldiers present a problem to their fellows similar to a wounded soldier: they have to be tended to. Other soldiers will be occupied dealing with the maddened soldier's actions, and trying to keep them from harming themselves or others. This ties down even more soldiers.

Finally, madness causes a serious morale problem. Soldiers must be able to rely on the buddies in their unit. They must have faith in the orders they receive from their officers. If there's the possibility they might be mad and unreliable, that sows uncertainty and doubt. If the person next to you might turn mad, you can't rely on them watching your back. If your officers might be made, you'll have to question ever order you receive from on high.

Aircraft Are A Problem

That's all fine and good for relatively slow moving ground forces, but it does nothing for aircraft. Archers simply cannot hit a moving aircraft. Even a manually aimed automatic weapon has great difficulty against a modern attack aircraft.

Hunter isn't going to do you much good against an attack aircraft as an arrow only goes about 200 mph, but it will be able to catch a helicopter. Though if it's truly relentless I suppose the aircraft eventually has to land, but that seems absurdly overpowered. Even then, an arrow isn't likely to penetrate the cockpit armored against high speed bird strikes and small arms fire. You'd need Hunter + FaZe to guarantee the pilot is hit.

The simplest counter-measure to Hunter + FaZe is to rely on drones for air support. With no living, organic components, FaZe arrows cannot hit them. Without FaZe, the arrow is ineffective against a metal aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ On cardboard armor: He said FaZe passes through dead material. Pretty sure this includes cardboard. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2016 at 7:39
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ However, it gives new life to the (normally terrorist) tactic of using human shields, or possibly farm animal shields. Would it be stopped by a tank of algae? $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2016 at 8:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MarkRipley The best defense would probably be hiding behind a tree. $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2016 at 9:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Schwern Drones carrying mice? Or covered with ivy? :-) $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 20:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @SRM i.imgur.com/Hyzy4Zw.jpg $\endgroup$
    – Schwern
    Dec 4, 2016 at 21:14


Similar to or replacements to modern weapons:

Explosive arrows: As you said; like an RPG.
                  best used for AOE/damage multiplier, possibly armor piercer

Combustion Arrow: Use as incendiary and/or anti personnel round

Multiplication arrow: shotgun replacement

Unusual arrows with effects possibly worth looking at:

Lifeforce Steal: Unless the archer is able to ramp up to truly superhuman
                 speed/strength for a decent period of time this effect is really not
                 worth getting. How many people can one archer kill before someone
                 shoots him or the effect wears off? If it lasts a minute, it is
                 worthless. Lasting a few days might make it worth using.

Cold arrows: Even if it freezes a target into a giant ice cube, how is this better than
             setting him on fire using combustion arrow? A kill is a kill.

Madness arrow: How long does effect last? Does the victim go catatonic or does he attack
               his own side? The effects matter when deciding.

The truly interesting magic arrows:

FaZe Arrow: This arrow can bypass Armor and walls. the only downside appears to be
            aiming through armor or walls.

Hunter arrow "follow the target...will maintain...maximum speed until Target is hit":
              What a great anti-aircraft round! Aim it at a pilot in a jet.
              30 minutes later it catches up to the pilot walking across
              the tarmac and kills him.

My answer: FaZe+Hunter.

This will kill anyone hiding in a bunker, in a foxhole, In a tank, behind walls, in a fortification, etc. You can also kill aircraft (pilots actually), since the arrow does not slow down and will never stop. It may not kill the pilot until he has landed his plane if the plane moves faster than the arrow, but the pilot will still be dead. If you can target someone outside of view, this combo also becomes an ICMA (InterContinental Ballistic Arrow). Aim a few at the enemy leader and his general staff.

If you can see through walls or armor to aim the arrows, you might consider replacing hunter with any effect that will auto-kill or auto incapacitate a victim such as madness or explosive, but I still think FaZe+hunter is the best combo.

Also: The Elfhome series by Wen Spencer has arrows that magically transmute to a beam of light (laser beam) when fired. This would be pretty effective against modern armies, assuming the resulting laser was powerful enough.


Don't rely too much on arrows.

Explosive and multiplicating arrows are fine, but the rest gives me a bad feeling in my guts you might end up with a too strong combination.

Imagine a FaZe / Hunting arrow. It would end your story in a single shot by simply killing the Commander of the Tech side.

Take only Explosive and multiplicating arrows and think of guerrilla tactics for the other occations where your primary weapons won't work. Ewoks on Endor didn't rely on their primary weapon (infinite cuteness) but were also able to take down imperial walkers with real guerrilla tactics.

Your enemy is inside a house? Don't use FaZe to shoot them inside the building, but lure them outside and kill them in an ambush.

2 cents,


  • $\begingroup$ Depends upon how Hunter establishes its target. That's why I have so many unanswered questions in the main comments. If Hunter needs line of sight to establish, it may not be overpowered (OP). $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 20:17

How about electric arrows? would be good against modern vehicles and high tech equipment, causing them to short out and fail.

  • $\begingroup$ Did not think of that but yeah actually that would be a cool idea $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2016 at 17:38

I assume the Geneva Convention bans creation of Cold+FaZe... fire one of those straight down and suck the heat out of the Earth. True genocide weapons. So I'm going with:

FaZe+Lifeforce (FL) or FaZe+Hunter (FH)

FL is the only combo that is both offensive and defensive. It means your archers can potentially survive area strikes from napalm or white phosphorous as long as they've made at least one kill. If tech army lays waste to an area, they aren't expecting an attack from that direction, so it gives huge surprise bonus. This is my favorite if you're fighting a ground war.

The problem is airplanes. For these, FaZe is a must. Hunter is the only way to reach airplanes. So, by necessity, that's your combo for an air war.

  • $\begingroup$ A good answer but remember these Enchanted arrows are not necessarily the only weapon that the magic side has at their disposal. Any more than an M16 is the only weapon used by the US Military this is just one that's going to be issued to the common Soldier and one all that will therefore be used most often. Will have other magical spells and weapons to use in special situations like let's say an airstrike. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2016 at 4:11
  • $\begingroup$ I can't remember what wasn't in the original question. ;-) But if that's the case then definitely I vote FL. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 5, 2016 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ This will create weakness against robotic opponents, or tanks maybe as you cannot see the enemy. $\endgroup$
    – Mendeleev
    Dec 18, 2016 at 19:14

US is already developing sixth generation (i.e. unmanned) fighter jets. These, combined with drones, means the aircraft operators will be on another continent altogether. Unless your hunters can break through the physical security of Norad or Langley, and get within physical striking distance of the human enemy, the arrows will be useless.

  • $\begingroup$ This is an excellent point. The Cold arrows would take these down. I was trying to avoid use of the Cold weapons because they're so devastating, but you make a good point. $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 4, 2016 at 21:47
  • $\begingroup$ @SRM Even Cold arrows wouldn't be much good against the "Rod from God" - essentially a chunk of metal dropped from space. There is no need for propulsion or even explosive warheads, since gravity and the resulting kinetic energy do all the work. Unless you can neutralize gravity, there is no way to stop them. $\endgroup$
    – user30185
    Dec 4, 2016 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ He said technology equivalent to magic. So if one side is in space, I assume the other side is in space, so both sides are capable of dropping rocks. :-) $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Dec 5, 2016 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah I should probably put this in my answer but these are archers will be mainly fighting against ground forces the magic side does have her own equivalent of an Air Force to against enemy aircraft there's no need for these archers to worry about taking out jet fighters oe drones will edit my answer later to make this clear. $\endgroup$ Dec 5, 2016 at 4:14

Personally I think that an explosive and cold combination would work as it would freeze and explode the target. Meaning no restriction of target meaning movement would be less restricted by barriers and the target could be both human and robot.


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