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Exactly as asked on the title, is there a way that a human, or at least, a species that appears outwardly human, could survive being pincushioned by arrows, at least for a suitably dramatic length of time (several minutes, the length of one pre-death monologue, maybe.)?

I would rather if the answer came from a more biological standpoint rather than a technological one (e.g. tough leathery hide, redundant organs instead of "nanomachines, son!")

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    $\begingroup$ Humans, can survive (at least for a while) from most arrow wounds. if not in the brain or heart, what generally kills someone (at least within a couple hours) is blood loss. $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Jan 12 '15 at 15:29
  • $\begingroup$ Does 'luck' work? $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Jan 13 '15 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ Put the fellows in some armor and you can plink at them for a long time. $\endgroup$ – Oldcat Jan 16 '15 at 0:21
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Well you pretty much covered it. There are a number of issues, and solutions for them.

Vital Organ Damage

To stop them dying due to a strike to vital organs you need some combination of:

  1. Redundant organs
  2. The ability to function without certain organs for a while as the organ repairs itself (or just in a last frenzied burst/monologue before they die if that's your intention).
  3. Thick hide, bone, scales, fur, etc shielding the organs.

Blood Loss

To stop death due to blood loss you need some combination of:

  1. Super-clotting
  2. Self-sealing blood vessels
  3. Rapid healing

Large size helps in general too, the larger you are the more arrow strikes will not penetrate to dangerous depths or can hit you but fail to strike vital organs.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like the ideas in the blood loss section, but would there be a reasonably realistic way of explaining it? $\endgroup$ – Feaurie Vladskovitz Jan 12 '15 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ @FeaurieVladskovitz Sure. Improved clotting factors combined with muscles at key points around blood vessels that are capable of closing them enough to slow the bleeding and let clotting take over. Essentially they have a build in ability to tourniquet themselves if they get injured. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jan 12 '15 at 9:48
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    $\begingroup$ If they are massive size the muscles could be part of the size adaptions, in normal use they act as pumps to help keep blood moving around the huge body but in case of rapid pressure loss they clamp shut. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Jan 12 '15 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ thats awesome! Thanks for the quick answers, this is basically all I was looking for. :) $\endgroup$ – Feaurie Vladskovitz Jan 12 '15 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB - Actually, in cases of traumatic amputation, most blood vessels will retract/seal themselves. $\endgroup$ – JohnP Jan 12 '15 at 19:53
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Shoot them at an American human.

But really, a thick layer of adipose tissue (fat) covering the body will provide protection from immediate death by all but the highest velocity arrows. This can be seen in bears, whales, and over 6% of american humans. They're difficult to bring down with arrows alone, unless they're very well placed or shot with a very nice bow.

The layer of fat simply provides more material that has to be penetrated before vital organs are reached. They will likely still die from bleeding out, but that will take a while, especially considering the avascularity of adipose tissue (not many blood vessels).

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for that. A bit sad, but hilarious if you imagine Supersize Storm Troopers :) $\endgroup$ – openend Jan 12 '15 at 20:30
  • $\begingroup$ Haha, I guess all those cheeseburgers finally paid off :D $\endgroup$ – Feaurie Vladskovitz Jan 13 '15 at 0:52
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There are already two conditions that we recognize as being disease states, that would facilitate this type of resistance.

Scleroderma - This is a chronic, rheumatoid autoimmune disease that causes thickening and hardening of the skin. (There are a number of other nasty effects as well, depending on the type, but this will just focus on the skin effects). If you have a population that is predisposed to this, or if your population develops just the skin portion, it would make it harder for arrows to penetrate, and would decrease the depth that they penetrate.

Factor V Leiden Thrombophilia - This is basically the opposite of hemophilia, in that instead of uncontrolled bleeding, the blood has an overactive tendency to clot. In "normal" biology, this presents a danger in the form of free floating blood clots (Which in turn can cause strokes and pulmonary emboli), however if it was task adapted to be faster/hyperactive clotting when exposed to air, it would also have the same effect.

So if you have a race that is predisposed to scleroderma and Factor V, then these could eventually mutate to be beneficial adaptations rather than debilitating disease states.

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    $\begingroup$ Wow. I should not have googled that @.@ $\endgroup$ – Feaurie Vladskovitz Jan 13 '15 at 0:53
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Perhaps a biological adaptation or mutation that causes skin to act like a Non-Newtonian fluid?

These are structures that are fluid or free to move normally but sharp impacts cause the surface to harden as the molecules bind under the force of the impacting object.

Silly putty is one example as is D3o

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