Friday, October 8, 2010

The Unexpected Ramifications of your Setting - Part 2

As I said in my last post, there was more than one way in which my setting surprised me with special ramifications and forced me to give more thought to the world I have created. Today is the second part of this small series: fortifications.

First, though, a disclaimer. I am not well-versed in the art of medieval warfare. I have basic knowledge, gathered from years of fantasy reading and from talking with those who do know what they are talking about. It has always been enough to get by in the past, because I have not been writing war-centric novels. So, if I say something stupid, please forgive me (and correct me. I live to learn!)

Now, I don't need to be a pro to figure out why thick and high stone walls are useful against an army. The problem with fortifications is when you decide to factor in magic. In my case, stone-shaping magic.

Suddenly, the castle's impressive walls don't mean so much. Any mage can make a hole in it and let his troops in. Or he could dig a tunnel and send a small team to strike at the enemy army's head. 

In such a world, tacticians would've elaborated defenses to counter the magic and make forts effective. There's no way around it: it doesn't make sense to keep your fortifications exactly the same as during the Middle Ages.

I am still going through my options to counter this. Since I have two fighting faction, one which can shape wood while the other has power over stone, I may build fortifications with a thick layer of wood behind the stone walls. Small frontier villages might be up in the trees, with the cultivated fields below. The details aren't clear yet.

What I do know, however, is that magic changes the art of war, and that if I want my world to be credible, I cannot ignore the new possibilities.


  1. I didn't here you mention, say, metal shapers, so why not build walls of steal? Maybe they could build like a metal grid and then do stone over it so if the stone shapers move the stone there's metal to stop them? Or do the stone shapers also shape metal?

    Anyways, I so know what your talking about. I've got different kind of magics that, I guess, your born with, and it sometimes feels like I'm backing myself into a corner when there are certain types of magic a certain character can't perform or something >.<

    Taking into account everything like that can be frustrating cause it seems like you have to change everything you thought you knew.

  2. Steel might work, you're right. Stone-shapers shape stone only. Wood is more readily available, though, as they've been (magically) growing trees to be used in war for centuries. Nothing stops them from reinforcing the wood with metal bars, though. I'll have to give it some thought.

    I think it's very important to stick to the limits we put on our magic, otherwise everything can become too easy. When you consider how long magic might have been around, though, you realise it makes sense for the people of this world to have planned on it. Showing that makes everything more believable, in my opinion, and often it also makes your world more unique.