Realistically, How many people could one guy fight alone?

ShadeZ

Maester
Title pretty much says it all. I have a group in one of my WIPS that are from a culture with simalar biology to an elf or an especially agile human. This culture grow up in a highly dangerous environment and is prized in other countries as assassins for their cold, relentless, and predatory nature. This culture have a group that are the top combat and covert operations students that become essentially royal guards and function as assassins and spies for the royal family. One of the mains in my books is the former captain of this group and was known for (in keeping with the theme so far) his capacity to kill anyone regardless of their status or appearance, sadistic nature, and ability to take out entire enemy encampments (20-55 men). However, I'm trying to figure out, in a fight how realistic or what ability levels would be required for such if its even feasible?
 

Nighty_Knight

Minstrel
Depends on a lot of factors. Against a large number luck is a pretty big factor realistically. I have seen some very talented fighters get laid out by scrubs purely because they were blindsided. It also depends on the skill level of who they are fighting. I would personally rather fight 5 guys without the slightest clue how to throw a proper punch than 2 guys with no training that could throw haymakers with heat behind him. Because at least the 5 guys aren’t likely going to land a punch that knocks me out even if 2 is easier than 5. Every fight is different. So it is absolutely possible for a trained guy to be 6, 7, 8 guys at a time and lose the next day to 3 guys.

Just for reference, I trained and competed in MMA for a little bit.
 

Queshire

Auror
Without magic? I'd say it's basically impossible unless you're going the action movie route (which I wouldn't call realistic.) If they're enemy encampments then they're presumably soldiers with at least a minimum of training, and to have a reputation the character would have to do it more than once. Even if the character sneaks around and tries to take them all out by surprise that's still a lot of rolls of the dice.
 

Nighty_Knight

Minstrel
Also depends on the weapons involved. Guns/swords/bare hands/bear hands/spoons?

What is the skill level of the guys at the encampments? Are there some bad guys better than others. Is your character using stealth or going “guns blazing”? An encampment of new recruits will probably go better than an encampment filled with shock troops as well.

I will say, nobody of any experience will opt to take on multiple guys by choice. So 25 guys is possible, but strategy I would say would be the most important skill. Then enough skill to get out of a pinch of stuff goes wrong.
 
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Penpilot

Staff
Article Team
Here's a video of an UFC fighter talking about dealing with a 1 random home invader, and going through his thought process.


Realistically, anything can happen when facing untrained fighters. All it takes is a lucky punch and you're down, or a weapon of some sort to change the tide. IMHO, trained fighters against trained fighters, the more there are, the chances get exponentially less that one person can take them all on.

IMHO, with fiction, just understand what's realistic and not, and then just go with what you want to do, because taking on 30+ opponents without surprise or an advantage like a machine gun, its going to be a very tall order.
 

pmmg

Istar

I counted 50, give or take.

In the real world, with luck and ideal circumstances, maybe four or five. But they might go the way of the one 1 out of 100 times.

In fantasy, more. If there are reasons to believe, such as super strength or magic skill...a lot more.
 

ThinkerX

Myth Weaver
This is one of the credibility issues that can make me stop reading a book or a series. One trained warrior against two or even three not so well-trained fighters? Fine. That same guy against eight or ten fighters? Uh, probably not, barring magic, a special weapon, or a clever strategy (taking advantage of the terrain, ambushes, decoys, that sort of thing). Even then, he's liable to get pretty seriously hurt. Which brings up the next point:

I see a lot of warrior type characters in fantasy getting badly banged up in one fight - to the point where serious medical attention is required - then minutes or hours later getting badly banged up in another fight...and somehow shrugging it off. To me, this strains credibility. Get hurt as badly as some of these people do, even walking is going to be a challenge for a long, long while afterward.

People that do a lot of fighting get hurt a lot. Fight enough, and those injuries count against them - joints that don't move as well as they should, hands that don't grip quite as well, reflexes slower than what they were. They become debilitated. Yet, I seldom see this in fantasy works - instead they continue to get faster and stronger and more skilled.

More specific to the OP. Ok, you have a group of physically superior people trained to be expert fighters and assassins. Fine. What I'd do, though, is add a 'shit happens' rule of thumb to this - a rooftop tile breaks, the character plumets forty feet, and busts both legs. Or the expert warrior who got brained by a rock tossed by a kid - at somebody/something else. Or the guard that was supposed to be asleep is instead getting in some late-night crossbow practice - which pays off when he actually manages to wing one of your warriors. Take that sort of thing into account, maybe in the form of cautionary tales, maybe from hubris.
 
Assuming the ability level of your fighter is fixed, then I'd say you need 2 things to take out 20-50 people in 1 go.

First, they should be relatively untrained. Your fighter needs to be able to take them out in one or two strikes. And you need reputation. If the 50 people are too busy running away instead of fighting you then you have a good chance. If all 50 get organized and gang up on you in a coordinated manner then you're dead unless something supernatural is going on.
 

Mad Swede

Inkling
OK, writing this as someone who is trained in armed and unarmed combat. A lot depends on where the fight takes place. In a situation where it's possible to surround your hero then realistically only 3, perhaps 4, people can take the hero on at once. The reason is that with more than that the attackers get in each others way. Can the hero deal with these 3 or 4? Well, maybe. If the attackers work as a team then one or two will keep our hero focussed on them whilst the other(s) gets into our heros blind spot and stick some knives in. Our hero needs to be very very fast to deal with 4 of them in that sort of situation. In a situation where the attackers can only come at the hero from one direction (like in a corridor) then the hero can usually take on 2 or 3 at a time and win. In both situations, if our hero wins and then takes on a few more then eventually fatigue will get the better of our hero and the attackers will finish the hero off. Bear in mind that any injuries our hero picks up will eventually slow them down and at that point the attackers will finish our hero off.
 

Ned Marcus

Inkling
I just wouldn't believe anyone could take out 25-50 men. Not unless they were well armed and the opponents unarmed.

As others have said, where it happens is vital. Fighting several people in a narrow passage is very different than on open flat ground. I think fighting more than five and winning stretch my ability to believe, unless you create magic or special weapons.
 

TheKillerBs

Inkling
As said above, it'd be nearly impossible unless a choke point allows you to turn the battle from 1-on-20+ to 1-on-few with all enemies in front. There are weapons for such scenarios - the greatsword comes to mind - but even such weapons can do little against being surrounded. The other way would be to use crossbows to essentially snipe away at the enemy encampment, but that would be susceptible to being found out
 

Gurkhal

Auror
Title pretty much says it all. I have a group in one of my WIPS that are from a culture with simalar biology to an elf or an especially agile human. This culture grow up in a highly dangerous environment and is prized in other countries as assassins for their cold, relentless, and predatory nature. This culture have a group that are the top combat and covert operations students that become essentially royal guards and function as assassins and spies for the royal family. One of the mains in my books is the former captain of this group and was known for (in keeping with the theme so far) his capacity to kill anyone regardless of their status or appearance, sadistic nature, and ability to take out entire enemy encampments (20-55 men). However, I'm trying to figure out, in a fight how realistic or what ability levels would be required for such if its even feasible?

My response would be, partially informed by earlier opinion and this thread, in that you decided on how realistic you want your story to be.

If its essentially a high or epic fantasy then don't worry if its realistic or not. This person took out 20-55 guys himself due to "reasons" because that's how the story goes.

Or if you want it to be more like low fantasy, then give him some other achivement to show his skill that isn't as outlandish as taking out 20-55 guys himself in one go. Maybe, and I hope someone can comment if this is realistic or not, maybe this individual is a known, and feared as your description of him sound, warrior and duellist who can claim that for the last five or seven years, no one has managed to draw blood from him in battle?
 
OK, writing this as someone who is trained in armed and unarmed combat. A lot depends on where the fight takes place. In a situation where it's possible to surround your hero then realistically only 3, perhaps 4, people can take the hero on at once. The reason is that with more than that the attackers get in each others way. Can the hero deal with these 3 or 4? Well, maybe. If the attackers work as a team then one or two will keep our hero focussed on them whilst the other(s) gets into our heros blind spot and stick some knives in. Our hero needs to be very very fast to deal with 4 of them in that sort of situation. In a situation where the attackers can only come at the hero from one direction (like in a corridor) then the hero can usually take on 2 or 3 at a time and win. In both situations, if our hero wins and then takes on a few more then eventually fatigue will get the better of our hero and the attackers will finish the hero off. Bear in mind that any injuries our hero picks up will eventually slow them down and at that point the attackers will finish our hero off.
Yeah, it's a bit like Greeks fighting off Persians. And in a situation where a hero can kill the first couple attackers in a matters of seconds, psychology comes into play. Most attackers will hesitate, or the exact opposite, go too fast, and the plan falls to shit. If your 4 buddies just got their guts spilled on the ground, people will hesitate. It's the old notion of everyone has a plan until they get punched; a plan to gang attack one guy is great until you see your allies die. And also, figure too, historic military training was not typically the Spartan/modern western military training. Truly skilled warriors in individual combat aren't necessarily the same as "trained" warriors taught to stand in a phalanx and stabby stabby with their spear.

So many factors, including their armor... Someone in full plate against a group waking up in their underwear while their friends are already dying... Killing 20-55 men is feasible if it's set up right, but utterly impossible if set up wrong.

That said, having the reputation of killing an encampment isn't the same as actually killing an encampment.
 
One of the mains in my books is the former captain of this group and was known for (in keeping with the theme so far) his capacity to kill anyone regardless of their status or appearance, sadistic nature, and ability to take out entire enemy encampments (20-55 men).

That's known to happen in modern warfare: drone strikes, shelling, bombs. Only way we know of to get such a high death toll so fast.

That, or maybe germ warfare. Let loose a rapidly fatal disease on the enemy, and they might all be dead within hours. If he could infect their water supply with cholera, most of them would be dead within a day or two, and then he and his army could come in and finish off the rest. But that's calculating, not overtly aggressive. It wouldn't be a case of killing off a whole army by his own might.

Without such things, it would take the magical equivalent of a bomb. Or of being armed with a machine gun while the enemy has nothing but swords.

If you're talking hand to hand combat, there's no way he could've taken out an entire enemy camp singlehandedly. But it's possible that rumors have gotten around, exaggerated more and more each time, so an incident in which he killed a couple of people and the rest of his army killed a bunch more turns into "he took out 55 men at once" in the retelling.
 

Nighty_Knight

Minstrel
That's known to happen in modern warfare: drone strikes, shelling, bombs. Only way we know of to get such a high death toll so fast.

That, or maybe germ warfare. Let loose a rapidly fatal disease on the enemy, and they might all be dead within hours. If he could infect their water supply with cholera, most of them would be dead within a day or two, and then he and his army could come in and finish off the rest. But that's calculating, not overtly aggressive. It wouldn't be a case of killing off a whole army by his own might.

Without such things, it would take the magical equivalent of a bomb. Or of being armed with a machine gun while the enemy has nothing but swords.

If you're talking hand to hand combat, there's no way he could've taken out an entire enemy camp singlehandedly. But it's possible that rumors have gotten around, exaggerated more and more each time, so an incident in which he killed a couple of people and the rest of his army killed a bunch more turns into "he took out 55 men at once" in the retelling.
Really the only way possible melee is coming in at night and slitting some throats while they sleep. Wouldn’t be easy, but would be somewhat possible if you are good at it.
 

Devor

Fiery Keeper of the Hat
Moderator
Like others have said, you can't really get to a number like 55, or ehh, I guess maybe if...

I'm trying to write such a scene in my head, and I can't do it without resorting to some combination of sabotage, poison, arson, traps, sniping, and artillery. Those things don't make a character any less brutal, but it's not a straight melee.
 

ShadeZ

Maester
Additional information. This particular character is known for intimidation abilities and not so much stealth as being especially good at using his environment to hide/sneak attacks in/hit and run etc.

I've also considered it could be since his unit are known for manipulation and intimidation tactics. It's very feasible that they or he made up a reputation that may or may not be real or exaggerated.
 

ShadeZ

Maester
Like others have said, you can't really get to a number like 55, or ehh, I guess maybe if...

I'm trying to write such a scene in my head, and I can't do it without resorting to some combination of sabotage, poison, arson, traps, sniping, and artillery. Those things don't make a character any less brutal, but it's not a straight melee.
Doesn't have to be straight melee at all the character is an assassin an infiltration specialist so stealth and sabotage seem likely.
 
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