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Tragedy! 10 Novice wizards are stranded on a jungle island, and they need to stay alive until the next tour comes in a month. They know only the most elementary spells, and the waters around them have been contaminated with scorcium, an element that hurts magical creatures on contact, so they can't swim back.

The island is home to a fierce species of tiger, whose teeth are made of scorcium. The tigers are diverse: About 940 in an island that is about 9 square miles large. The only food source is a type of berry that will give a small amount of magic to the consumer. The tigers don't eat them. There are several water sources that the tigers don't use, as they have no scorcium in the waters. The tigers like to prowl around the center of the island, where all the berries and water sources are.

The wizards can:

  • Make fireballs about the size of tennis balls, which use a small amount of magic and take away a tenth of the user's magic source.
  • They can also make a small rainstorm that drains all of their magic.

The berries replenish one twentieth of the wizard's magic. How can they survive for 1 month, if they even can, and what is the best way to fight the tigers? (For the story, it is best if at least 3 survive.)

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    $\begingroup$ "The only food scource is a type of berry that will give a small amount of magic to the consumer. The tigers don't eat them" then what do the tigers eat? Surely the wizards can eat that. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 19 '17 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ How smart are the novices? Are they trained in survival practices? Could they make traps, spears, bows and simple constructs? Any conflict between themselves? Do they have enough common sense? In this setting, magic is only an convienience. $\endgroup$ – Ngoc Jan 19 '17 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ 9 sq mi is about 23 sq km. 940 tigers in 23 sq km is 41 per sq km. This is pretty much the same population density as real-world American Great Planes bison, at about 46 per sq km, whereas a reasonable rule of thumb is that predators need ten times their own biomass in prey. Ignoring territory size, that would lead to a tiger population closer to 100 than 1,000 animals, or an island more like 100 sq mi than 10 sq mi. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 19 '17 at 8:58
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    $\begingroup$ 940 tigers on 9 sq mi island. This island must be have plenty of 'prey' animals around. Just eat that small critters and make a bonfire $\endgroup$ – Hariz Rizki Jan 19 '17 at 12:22
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    $\begingroup$ May I ask why you are asking this series of questions? We may be able to help you better capture what you are trying to ask if we knew some background as to why you are asking them. They are not being well received, and you're asking quite a few of them rather than trying to repair the ones you have already asked. StackExchange has an auto-ban process in place which can trigger if you do too much of that, and none of us (not even the moderators) can do anything about it if that gets triggered. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 19 '17 at 16:48
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The boring answer is tigers won't attack humans if they're smart, so it's not a danger.

Like most animals tigers have an innate fear of the unknown, which humans represent. Their instinct will be to avoid humans because they don't know what the humans are or whether they are prey. The fact that humans are tall (due to standing on two legs) will likely cause most animals to misjudge the threat level of humans as more dangerous then we are physically. Only very hungry tigers will attack the humans at all.

Then you throw in the ability for these humans to create more unknown scary things and you're pretty safe. A single fireball is all you need to 'defeat' the tigers. It doesn't have to even hit them, it's Fire! All animals are afraid of Fire, Fire is very dangerous in the wild! When these unknown huge possible-predators respond to your presence by flinging something as dangerous as FIRE at you, and you have no way of knowing that this comes in limited supply, you do not get closer, you run the other direction fast!

Put simply the humans are too scary an unknown for tigers to hunt them if they are smart. Part of being smart would of course mean making sure they don't look like attractive targets to a tiger hungry enough to be willing to take a risk (which as other pointed out your tigers would be pretty hungry). As such there are a few simple steps they need to take, but if taken they should be fine.

I'll also point out that tigers are a solitary species. As such humans would only have to worry about 1-3 tigers at once, depending on whether a female & male share a territory and if they foolishly set up camp right at the border of two males territories. Kill or, more likely, scare those few tigers into not dealing with you and you're safe.

1) don't go anywhere alone. Stick in groups of two or three. Most prey species institutionally are drawn to single animals, especially animals they identify as a herd species (which your novices are and the tigers may have realized by seeing their 'herd' working together). By having a few together that instinct to attack the isolated straggler isn't started. Furthermore if the tiger does attack one the other can fireball to scare it away before it has time to land a killing blow.

2) Keep fire at the base camp! A few simple torches around the base camp, or even a large camp fire with the novices intentionally sleeping with their backs to a wall/cliff/ocean and fire between them and the rest of the jungle, will keep any predator from coming close during night, or even day. If we presume their novice abilities give them some extra talent with controlling and feeding a fire keeping one up and running all times may make sense, or using small torches when hunting for supplies.

3) Teach the tigers to be afraid! Go out of your way to scare tigers whenever they come close. Throw a little fire at any nearby (maybe not enough for a 'full' fireball, just a small fire is enough). Maybe just light up a few touches and walk towards the tigers in a group with touches slowly, enough to scare them away but not enough to trigger them to feel they need to fight to defend themselves. Even simpler, just throw rocks at them, they won't fully understand how the rocks work and it can still be scary to them, particularly if you're somewhere 'defended' by a large fire burning you can throw projectiles at them without risk of their attacking. The net effect is the tigers will learn to stay away from you fast.

4) Find or build fortification. Pick a safe water source and create a camp there. Put logs or rocks down to make it harder to come up towards your base camp. If they have a means to cut down trees cut them down around your camp, to fuel the fire you keep running and to create a clearing so it's harder for things to get close to you. Failing that find a spot that is easily secured, a cave, a cliff face you can put your back to, anything that lowers the areas that these animals can come close to you at.

In all honesty it should be relatively easy to keep normal tigers away from the novices, with food and danger of death from exposure being the real threats. If you want the tigers to be any kind of threat the best way is to ensure they are hungry (though you still need to widen your island, as pointed out that many tigers in one area is just unbelievable). If you suggest some recent drought or other effect killed off some of the prey so that the tigers are hungry you could potentially have tigers hungry enough to be willing to take a risk by attacking humans. But frankly I think realistically your going to have to put more creativity in justifying why the tigers would be a threat to humans given their instincts to avoid us then why humans can't defend themselves against tigers.

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Considering that 940 tigers in 9 square miles will hardly find enough food to sustain themselves

A tigress may have a territory of 20 km2 (7.7 sq mi), while the territories of males are much larger, covering 60 to 100 km2 (23 to 39 sq mi). Source

their best bet would be to hide until the tigers starve.

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  • $\begingroup$ I WAS thinking that the island is like a wildlife preserve created by someone without the needed knowledge. And that tigers are edible. And that desperate predators are not something 10 Rincewinds can hide from. Sadly, this wouldn't work. $\endgroup$ – kaay Jan 19 '17 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ This; OP needs to adjust some parameter here. 9 sq mi is about 23 sq km. 940 tigers in 23 sq km is 41 per sq km. This is pretty much the same population density as real-world American Great Planes bison, at about 46 per sq km, whereas a reasonable rule of thumb is that predators need ten times their own biomass in prey. Ignoring territory size, that would lead to a tiger population closer to 100 than 1,000 animals, or an island more like 100 sq mi than 10 sq mi. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 19 '17 at 9:00
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Burn the jungle.
Enjoy the tiger meat BBQ. Everyone knows scorcium only accumulates in bones.
Collect drinkable water from created rainstorms.
Get picked up and sold into slavery by the angry tour organizers who notice the large bonfire and come early to investigate.

Yay, survival!

Side ideas:

  1. Use wind direction and rainstorms to leave a small part of the jungle intact, increasing their risk of being eaten on day one to gain a piece of land with its timber, roaming tigers, and no berries, for later use.
  2. Whatever comes to eat the rest of the burnt tiger corpses, can probably also be eaten. Ah, who am I kidding - we're not talking about hardened survivalists here. Once the meat spoils, they're doomed.
  3. They could, instead, try claiming a piece of the island center by just strolling in, parting the shopping-mall-density tiger crowd with a ring of burning whatever-they-can-carry, hoping the tigers come to tolerate them in time, but that is likely to accidentally turn into the "Burn the jungle" scenario anyway, with them in the center, rather than on the beach.
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Mundane (normal) means

Clearly magic is a hassle. Fireballs are energy-consuming for the amount of work required to get to the berries needed to fuel magic - and fire generally dissipates when not sustained by fuel. Without the proper means to sustain their magic, it can't be used as an efficient weapon until the tigers are disposed of - at which point they would no longer need a weapon. Rainstorms won't really help, unless water is incredibly scarce, because healthy rainwater should be abundant on the island (it's tropical). Therefore, compared to the alternatives, magic is kind of useless here.

Your mages are better off fashioning blades out of rock (obsidian, perhaps), making spears, and trapping game. They can eat whatever the tigers eat regularly, seeing as the tigers are ... happy stalking berry bushes... and each person only has to kill three or four tigers daily to eliminate them. They can knock out most of the tigers quickly by contaminating the water they drink (if they're in Central or South America, that may not be too hard), and perhaps the few immunies or lucky ones that survive will help you with your desired plot device.

I know this isn't ideal - a clever, magical solution seems like a better story option - but there's a common fallacy that magic should be applied to everything. Magic's so refined - so limited to a set criteria. Moral of the story: magic is great for accomplishing one task, but for the rest of what you want to do, mundane means work best.

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    $\begingroup$ I was going to go with "pointy stick" but you've beaten me to it. People forget about such things as soon as magic comes along. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 19 '17 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ The tigers don't eat the berries. Also they have scorcium in their saliva, which contaminates food. $\endgroup$ – KingraHoundoomJazz Jan 19 '17 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Bubbles_as_Jazz perhaps that would be more appropriate for the question as opposed to a comment so others can use that information. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 20 '17 at 1:09
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9 square miles. So less than half of Manhattan. And 940 tigers. That gather in the centre of the island.

What are they? Stack-em tigers? Lego Tigers? Even If you take the smallest one, sumatran tiger, their length is 2 metres (I will go with rebel measurements from now on you imperial scum). Let's say the width is 0,5 metres. So that give us 940 square metres of tigers. Not to mentions their tails. So almost one square kilometre of 23 sq km island is taken by tigers. But put a little berry bush beetwen each one of them and some water source and you could easily take 1/4 of the island surface. Now give them some space to move. While tigers are graceful, they are also solitary animals. So they would not like to cross one another path.

And voila! Problem solved: most of the tigers falls from cliff into to water and drowns.

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    $\begingroup$ 1 sq km = 1,000 x 1,000 sq m = 1,000,000 sq m, as opposed to 1,000 sq m that you seem to be using in your answer. So the island is about 23,000,000 sq m. Each tiger thus has $\frac{23\,000\,000}{940} \approx 24\,468~\text{m}^2$ to itself, if they divide the island perfectly fairly amongst themselves (which they do because magic). $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 19 '17 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ SO FUNNY! LOLOLOLOL! $\endgroup$ – KingraHoundoomJazz Jan 19 '17 at 23:35

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