1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

blog Fantasy Fortifications — Part 1: Strategy

Discussion in 'Research' started by Black Dragon, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. Featured Author

    Featured Author Dreamer

    22
    10
    1
    AldarionAldarion submitted a new blog post:

    Fantasy Fortifications — Part 1: Strategy
    This article is part 1 of a series on Fantasy Fortifications by Toni Šušnjar

    [​IMG]

    Fortifications are one of major parts of fantasy fiction, especially high fantasy. But they are also oh-so-often wrong, even though many basic details are typically right due to prevalence of models to build on. A common mistake is ignoring how weapons and fortifications interact: many fortifications in we-swim-in-gunpowder Warhammer look (and act) like fortifications from pre-gunpowder era. As seen here and here, extremely advanced Empire absolutely forgot to account for presence of siege cannons in designing its fortifications, despite possessing the same. In fact, those fortifications are from pre-trebuchet era. On the other extreme, Storm's End has a wall which reads like something from early gunpowder era (though it does have the excuse of having to resist storms), as well as being sized for giants.

    Strategy

    The main purpose of fortifications is to increase the cost of the attack, by providing the defender with a hard-to-get position. They therefore allow the defending army to maintain armed presence where such would be normally untenable, forcing the attacker to either deploy disproportionate...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
     
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    5,667
    3,633
    313
    Excellent article! I agree with all the ponts raised. The addition of magic lets us re-think all the historical precedents, but only if we have a correct understanding of the precedents in the first place!

    The effect of magic on fortifications (cities present an interesting variation) has lots of potential, but so do monsters. Dragons would be the obvious example, but other sorts of monsters, too. Thanks again for the great article.
     
  3. Yora

    Yora Inkling

    411
    183
    43
    There are really two kinds of fortifications. They are constructed in the same way but serve different functions. In most cases we think of castles that are meant to protect what is inside, which includes fortified cities.
    But for example in southern Germany you have lots of small castles that were build as strategic border forts. It had bothered me fot years how you could defend a border with castles that are many kilometers apart and don't have the means to hit anyone who isn't right next to the wall. Any attacking army could simply walk around them and be on their way.
    From a tactical perspective this is true, but almost all fiction ignores strategy. You can just march past a border fort, but that means that you leave an enemy at your back that can attack your supply lines or attack your own territory. Your only options are to besiege the fort to make sure the soldiers inside don't come out, or heavily guard all your supply carts. Both options take up soldiers that your invading army can't well afford. A small garrison in a fort can chose what targets to attack and when, but the enemy army would have to guard all potential targets all the time.

    This is another way in which fortifications serve as great force multiplier.
     
  4. Aldarion

    Aldarion Troubadour

    154
    67
    28
    Thanks. This is a first part of a four-part series, as the original article I wrote was waay too long.

    EDIT: Part 3 has a short section on which adaptations can be made to fortifications to counter certain types of magical attacks, as well as the flying units such as dragons, hippogriffs and so on.

    Adressed in the article, actually:
     
  5. Pemry Janes

    Pemry Janes Sage

    266
    14
    18
    Interesting article, I'm looking forward to the next part. I had come across mentions before that garrisons could be positively tiny, but hadn't considered that gunpowder would shorten sieges even when the fortifications are designed with that weapon in mind.
     
  6. Aldarion

    Aldarion Troubadour

    154
    67
    28
    One thing I did not mention is the fact that gunpowder weapons were so important in establishing dominance of central state that you got inscriptions such as this:
    [​IMG]

    Ultima Ratio Regum - The Final Argument of the Kings

    One of reasons why is that I am planning on exploring that argument in greater detail in one of future articles. But it ties into what I wrote in the article: gunpowder weapons served to increase the minimum cost of an effective fortress, thus shifting balance of power away from the feudal lords and towards the central government.
     
  7. Pemry Janes

    Pemry Janes Sage

    266
    14
    18
    Wouldn't the cost of the cannons, training the people manning them, the logistics of getting them to where they need to go and producing powder and shot not also contribute to that shift?
     
  8. Aldarion

    Aldarion Troubadour

    154
    67
    28
    It would, but that is a different topic from fortifications.
     
Loading...

Share This Page