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In my scenario the world is being invaded by magical beings which quickly overwhelm our militaries because the way our realities interact:

  • Our physical weapons have none or nearly no effect
  • Our protection methods are similarly ineffective

The way my heroes eventually manage to turn the tide is by realizing that humans produce an aura that allows us to affect the invaders. For example:

  • A simple melee weapon will carry our aura while it is being wielded and is thus capable of harming the invaders. However anything thrown or shot will lose the aura immediately.
  • Materials will have their resilience against enemy attacks significantly increased when worn as armor. Now, even after our heroes create several generations of improved armors there would still be some damage getting through.
  • Eventually they learn how to generate this aura artificially and turn it into projectile or energy weapons, even grenades

The problem is: I'm not quite sure why our non-military heroes are able to successfully exploit this situation and eventually defeat the enemy but the world's armies could not.

Possible ideas:

  • Lack of attention - Our civilian heroes only had to contend with marginal opposition before gaining enough advances to even the playing field.
  • Field density - A human's aura can only saturate so much matter. Enough to permeate personal equipment of a few kg but not enough for a few tons of tank/jet/battleship.
  • Concentration - Military campaigns focus on fewer but larger scale engagements resulting in fast, heavy losses. Whereas the heroes are faced with far more sparsely distributed eradication forces.

Is this "plausible/realistic"? Anyone got something I missed?

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closed as off-topic by Bellerophon, sphennings, JBH, John, L.Dutch Dec 2 '17 at 4:44

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  • $\begingroup$ I could be just one in a million chance discovery of this aura field. For example, in a movie "Mars Attacks" it was discovered that martians are vulnerable to a particular music. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Dec 1 '17 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander Yeah, because that is plausible all right... :) $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 1 '17 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael Kjörling If we want to write an Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion, there is only so much we can do :) $\endgroup$ – Alexander Dec 1 '17 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, maybe employing a Science Hero can look more plausible. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Dec 1 '17 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ What you are talking about is asymmetrical warfare. Military history is pretty clear that a popular insurgency will almost always defeat a traditional military in a prolonged engagent. The insurgents have the freedom from military discipline to experiment and learn over time. At this point in time, the ultimate textbook on asymmetric warfare is the US Marine Corps Small Wars Manual. Had some key people read it, it would have saved a lot of time and lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Dec 2 '17 at 16:48
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/The problem is: I'm not quite sure why our non-military heroes are able to successfully exploit this situation and eventually defeat the enemy but the world's armies could not./

Your non-military heroes are not the same sort of people as your military. The type of people your people are can generate these auras, while fighting aged men cannot. Maybe your people are

1: Little kids
2: Extremely old
3: Delusional paranoid schizophrenics
4: Brain cancer survivors (they all have damage to the part of the brain that inhibits aura production and so all can do it). Maybe they are in the same support group together.
5: Blind. But they can see auras with blindsight.
6: Women.
7: Psychic.
8: On a certain medicine for some other reason; a (previously unrecognized) side effect of this medicine is aura production.

I did not mean to suggest your heroes are all of the above although that would be interesting too. People in these categories are usually not in combat roles in the military (though individuals may have been in the military sometime in their personal histories) You might pick one category and whip up some rationale why these types of people are aura generators.

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    $\begingroup$ Though, in this case, people would probably find out quickly and the military would co-opt these kinds of people to fight as PART of the military. That's not necessarily a deal-breaker though. $\endgroup$ – Bert Haddad Dec 1 '17 at 23:44
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    $\begingroup$ Oh maybe fighting using "aura" requires a different mindset or emotional state that the military grunts would have drilled out of them. $\endgroup$ – Nick Dzink Dec 2 '17 at 0:22
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You could make it so enough metal close to the person disrupts the aura, even if they are fighting with a melee weapon. Soldiers (I've been one) have metal crap everywhere, including helmets, utility belts, rifles and sidearms and ammunition, utility and battle knives, buckles and boot eyelets and stiffeners.

Your discovery could be some chance occurrence in which a civilian wearing very little metal (like, in a bathing suit) aims to protect a child or spouse using nothing but a dead tree branch that served as a club. And that worked.

Then investigation as to why it works produces wood weapons, flint and glass knives, hard plastics for spears, plastic ropes for nets and traps, wood clubs with bits of sharp flint and glass embedded or glued on to provide sharp edges.

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Live and learn.

The military didn't do the first long enough to get to the second. If any military survives to see anything approaching success they will adopt it quickly. So you need them not to.

A prior options

The military has a lot of different kinds of weapons ready to be used. They are going to want to try most of them. If communications are disrupted and loses are brutal enough different commanders might try the same failing tactics and weapons may times.

The heroes don't have many options. They might try small arms, or they might see that fail for someone else, but after that they are firmly in improvised territory, which is were trying things like melee weapons and relying on aura'd armors become plausible.

silliness

If some step in the magic looks silly soldiers might be less willing to jump to it than some particular heroes. If the armor aura only works while wearing a furry suit or the sword only cuts if you have a kickme sign on your back it may be non-professionals would be more prepared to adopt it correctly.

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