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Here there be dragons...

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Here there be dragons...
Post by n7axw   » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:55 pm

n7axw
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Hi all,

Dragons have been the most interesting weapon introduced on the Arcanan side. They bestow a degree of mobility that gives them an immense tactical advantage in their initial encounters with the Sharonians. We have the reds with their fireballs, the blacks with their lightening strikes and the yellows with their noxious breath weapons. Then we have the transport dragons that enable the Arcanans to project force far more rapidly than the Sharonians had previously believed possible.

Given the element of surprise the dragons represented, it is little wonder that the Sharonians found them fearsome opponents and undoubtedly seemed like something out of a children’s nightmare come to life.

But the overall threat is overblown. As both sides come to realize after the battle at Ft. Salby, the dragons are vulnerable to Sharonian rifles, machine guns and light artillery. Without the dragons, the Arcanans are badly overmatched and Harshu is left vulnerable with all the casualties he took in that battle. From Toralk’s ruminations, we learn that the Arcanans are down to 20 battle dragons from 36.

But I think that the long term situation is even worse. From what we’ve seen so far, the actual range of the dragons is comparatively limited and requires line of sight to the target with the yellows having to get the closest, followed by the reds and then the blacks. They have to come into the range of Sharonian firearms to effectively use their weapons at all. And then when adequate cover is provided for personnel, the damage they can inflict is sharply limited. The Sharonians will become increasingly effective against dragons as they gain experience and the “holy s**t” factor is removed from the equation.

But none of this represents the real problem the Arcanans are facing. Quite simply put, when a dragon goes down, it’s gone. They literally can’t replace their losses. It takes 20 years to breed and train a dragon so that it is ready to go into battle. Furthermore, the size of the breeding program has been severely downsized due to budgetary considerations. I saw a figure of 200 dragons as being all that is available to be called up. It wasn’t clear to me whether those were what mul Gurlack could get his hands on to ship forward or if 200 was all that Arcana has on hand, period. Either way, though, we know from textev that the overall numbers of battle dragons are low.

The constraints on the transport dragons are different. There are lots of those since Arcana has been using them to move stuff around for both commercial and military purposes for a long time. But those constraints do exist. Normally, they can carry about 15 tons of cargo with that figure going to as high as 25 tons with levitation spells. Compare that with the approximately 110 ton a rail car can carry. Then, too, even though the numbers of transport dragons are much greater than for a battle dragon, they face the same constraint in terms of how long it takes to breed and train one. A mitigating factor here, however, it that there are undoubtedly more breeding and training programs out there for transport dragons and so the supply will be greater.

Does anyone see any place to supplement or correct my impressions here? If so, your comment would be warmly welcomed.

Don
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by dwileye13   » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:43 pm

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n7axw wrote:Hi all,

Dragons have been the most interesting weapon introduced on the Arcanan side. They bestow a degree of mobility that gives them an immense tactical advantage in their initial encounters with the Sharonians. We have the reds with their fireballs, the blacks with their lightening strikes and the yellows with their noxious breath weapons. Then we have the transport dragons that enable the Arcanans to project force far more rapidly than the Sharonians had previously believed possible.

Given the element of surprise the dragons represented, it is little wonder that the Sharonians found them fearsome opponents and undoubtedly seemed like something out of a children’s nightmare come to life.

But the overall threat is overblown. As both sides come to realize after the battle at Ft. Salby, the dragons are vulnerable to Sharonian rifles, machine guns and light artillery. Without the dragons, the Arcanans are badly overmatched and Harshu is left vulnerable with all the casualties he took in that battle. From Toralk’s ruminations, we learn that the Arcanans are down to 20 battle dragons from 36.

But I think that the long term situation is even worse. From what we’ve seen so far, the actual range of the dragons is comparatively limited and requires line of sight to the target with the yellows having to get the closest, followed by the reds and then the blacks. They have to come into the range of Sharonian firearms to effectively use their weapons at all. And then when adequate cover is provided for personnel, the damage they can inflict is sharply limited. The Sharonians will become increasingly effective against dragons as they gain experience and the “holy s**t” factor is removed from the equation.

But none of this represents the real problem the Arcanans are facing. Quite simply put, when a dragon goes down, it’s gone. They literally can’t replace their losses. It takes 20 years to breed and train a dragon so that it is ready to go into battle. Furthermore, the size of the breeding program has been severely downsized due to budgetary considerations. I saw a figure of 200 dragons as being all that is available to be called up. It wasn’t clear to me whether those were what mul Gurlack could get his hands on to ship forward or if 200 was all that Arcana has on hand, period. Either way, though, we know from textev that the overall numbers of battle dragons are low.

The constraints on the transport dragons are different. There are lots of those since Arcana has been using them to move stuff around for both commercial and military purposes for a long time. But those constraints do exist. Normally, they can carry about 15 tons of cargo with that figure going to as high as 25 tons with levitation spells. Compare that with the approximately 110 ton a rail car can carry. Then, too, even though the numbers of transport dragons are much greater than for a battle dragon, they face the same constraint in terms of how long it takes to breed and train one. A mitigating factor here, however, it that there are undoubtedly more breeding and training programs out there for transport dragons and so the supply will be greater.

Does anyone see any place to supplement or correct my impressions here? If so, your comment would be warmly welcomed.

Don


Don,
As usual you are right on and in addition the feeding of a Dragon is continuous (the old addage "never buy anything that eats while you sleep"). The feeding of locomotives is singular and the tons transported are very great. The Logistics will define success and defeat. When you park a locomotive there is no feeding until you need it.

These point alone will be the deciding factors, that and gattling guns I guess.
I am not young enough to know everything!
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by n7axw   » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:06 pm

n7axw
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dwileye13 wrote:
n7axw wrote:Hi all,

Dragons have been the most interesting weapon introduced on the Arcanan side. They bestow a degree of mobility that gives them an immense tactical advantage in their initial encounters with the Sharonians. We have the reds with their fireballs, the blacks with their lightening strikes and the yellows with their noxious breath weapons. Then we have the transport dragons that enable the Arcanans to project force far more rapidly than the Sharonians had previously believed possible.

Given the element of surprise the dragons represented, it is little wonder that the Sharonians found them fearsome opponents and undoubtedly seemed like something out of a children’s nightmare come to life.

But the overall threat is overblown. As both sides come to realize after the battle at Ft. Salby, the dragons are vulnerable to Sharonian rifles, machine guns and light artillery. Without the dragons, the Arcanans are badly overmatched and Harshu is left vulnerable with all the casualties he took in that battle. From Toralk’s ruminations, we learn that the Arcanans are down to 20 battle dragons from 36.

But I think that the long term situation is even worse. From what we’ve seen so far, the actual range of the dragons is comparatively limited and requires line of sight to the target with the yellows having to get the closest, followed by the reds and then the blacks. They have to come into the range of Sharonian firearms to effectively use their weapons at all. And then when adequate cover is provided for personnel, the damage they can inflict is sharply limited. The Sharonians will become increasingly effective against dragons as they gain experience and the “holy s**t” factor is removed from the equation.

But none of this represents the real problem the Arcanans are facing. Quite simply put, when a dragon goes down, it’s gone. They literally can’t replace their losses. It takes 20 years to breed and train a dragon so that it is ready to go into battle. Furthermore, the size of the breeding program has been severely downsized due to budgetary considerations. I saw a figure of 200 dragons as being all that is available to be called up. It wasn’t clear to me whether those were what mul Gurlack could get his hands on to ship forward or if 200 was all that Arcana has on hand, period. Either way, though, we know from textev that the overall numbers of battle dragons are low.

The constraints on the transport dragons are different. There are lots of those since Arcana has been using them to move stuff around for both commercial and military purposes for a long time. But those constraints do exist. Normally, they can carry about 15 tons of cargo with that figure going to as high as 25 tons with levitation spells. Compare that with the approximately 110 ton a rail car can carry. Then, too, even though the numbers of transport dragons are much greater than for a battle dragon, they face the same constraint in terms of how long it takes to breed and train one. A mitigating factor here, however, it that there are undoubtedly more breeding and training programs out there for transport dragons and so the supply will be greater.

Does anyone see any place to supplement or correct my impressions here? If so, your comment would be warmly welcomed.

Don


Don,
As usual you are right on and in addition the feeding of a Dragon is continuous (the old addage "never buy anything that eats while you sleep"). The feeding of locomotives is singular and the tons transported are very great. The Logistics will define success and defeat. When you park a locomotive there is no feeding until you need it.

These point alone will be the deciding factors, that and gattling guns I guess.


One wonders if the Arcanans will be able to adjust to the reality before it's too late. They have been so heavily into their magic that the mmentality it takes to make stuff without it doesn't seem to be there.

Don
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by tonyz   » Fri Jul 31, 2015 9:39 pm

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A lot of Sharonan firepower depends on line-of-sight.

We've already seen that the Arcanans have cloaking glamours and highly developed navigational software. I predict that they're going to go more for night strikes and protective invisibility.

Also, blacks especially are very accurate. The Sharonans need to be on the alert, and with massed firepower, to get enough AA to deal with a single dragon. They will not always have a Calirath available to provide warning of attack timing and approach paths.

Weber, for all his faults as an author, is excellent at the back-and-forth nature of tactical and technical innovation. I predict that the Arcanans will be thinking Very Hard about how to maximize their advantages and minimize their disadvantages. They've relied on speed, secrecy, and good intelligence so far; they will have to pull more things out of their bag of tricks to keep going.

The difficulty of replacing lost dragons will make them even more inclined to work hard on the bag of tricks...
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by Keith_w   » Sat Aug 01, 2015 6:46 am

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Location: Ontario, Canada

n7axw wrote:Hi all,

Dragons have been the most interesting weapon introduced on the Arcanan side. They bestow a degree of mobility that gives them an immense tactical advantage in their initial encounters with the Sharonians. We have the reds with their fireballs, the blacks with their lightening strikes and the yellows with their noxious breath weapons. Then we have the transport dragons that enable the Arcanans to project force far more rapidly than the Sharonians had previously believed possible.

Given the element of surprise the dragons represented, it is little wonder that the Sharonians found them fearsome opponents and undoubtedly seemed like something out of a children’s nightmare come to life.

But the overall threat is overblown. As both sides come to realize after the battle at Ft. Salby, the dragons are vulnerable to Sharonian rifles, machine guns and light artillery. Without the dragons, the Arcanans are badly overmatched and Harshu is left vulnerable with all the casualties he took in that battle. From Toralk’s ruminations, we learn that the Arcanans are down to 20 battle dragons from 36.

But I think that the long term situation is even worse. From what we’ve seen so far, the actual range of the dragons is comparatively limited and requires line of sight to the target with the yellows having to get the closest, followed by the reds and then the blacks. They have to come into the range of Sharonian firearms to effectively use their weapons at all. And then when adequate cover is provided for personnel, the damage they can inflict is sharply limited. The Sharonians will become increasingly effective against dragons as they gain experience and the “holy s**t” factor is removed from the equation.

But none of this represents the real problem the Arcanans are facing. Quite simply put, when a dragon goes down, it’s gone. They literally can’t replace their losses. It takes 20 years to breed and train a dragon so that it is ready to go into battle. Furthermore, the size of the breeding program has been severely downsized due to budgetary considerations. I saw a figure of 200 dragons as being all that is available to be called up. It wasn’t clear to me whether those were what mul Gurlack could get his hands on to ship forward or if 200 was all that Arcana has on hand, period. Either way, though, we know from textev that the overall numbers of battle dragons are low.

The constraints on the transport dragons are different. There are lots of those since Arcana has been using them to move stuff around for both commercial and military purposes for a long time. But those constraints do exist. Normally, they can carry about 15 tons of cargo with that figure going to as high as 25 tons with levitation spells. Compare that with the approximately 110 ton a rail car can carry. Then, too, even though the numbers of transport dragons are much greater than for a battle dragon, they face the same constraint in terms of how long it takes to breed and train one. A mitigating factor here, however, it that there are undoubtedly more breeding and training programs out there for transport dragons and so the supply will be greater.

Does anyone see any place to supplement or correct my impressions here? If so, your comment would be warmly welcomed.

Don


Remember too that some of the transport dragons are transport/battle cross-breeds that while capable of transporting the loads you mentioned may also be capable of breath weapons.
--
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by brnicholas   » Sat Aug 01, 2015 1:07 pm

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Everything you have said matches my impressions from the books. I would add a caution, however, about dragon replacement times. The battle dragons were designed for war. Any device used in war you want lots of on very short notice but many fewer at other times. Given that I would expect a designed war beast to be really fast breeding and fast growing. It is possible 20 years is as fast as they can manage but given what we know they have done with genetics that seems unlikely. The people we saw thinking about dragon production times are not involved in dragon breeding and have had peace for two centuries. It seems likely to me that they forgot some other options built into the dragons.

In sum, I suspect the 20 year replacement time for battle dragons is a case of Weber using an unreliable narrator to mislead us. I expect a faster way to produce dragons is available.

Nicholas
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by n7axw   » Sat Aug 01, 2015 2:59 pm

n7axw
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brnicholas wrote:Everything you have said matches my impressions from the books. I would add a caution, however, about dragon replacement times. The battle dragons were designed for war. Any device used in war you want lots of on very short notice but many fewer at other times. Given that I would expect a designed war beast to be really fast breeding and fast growing. It is possible 20 years is as fast as they can manage but given what we know they have done with genetics that seems unlikely. The people we saw thinking about dragon production times are not involved in dragon breeding and have had peace for two centuries. It seems likely to me that they forgot some other options built into the dragons.

In sum, I suspect the 20 year replacement time for battle dragons is a case of Weber using an unreliable narrator to mislead us. I expect a faster way to produce dragons is available.

Nicholas


Possible, I suppose. But what textev we have does use the 20 year figure. Toralk, as an old dragon jock, should be knowledgeable. We'll just have to wait and see...

Don
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by Castenea   » Sat Aug 01, 2015 5:15 pm

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dwileye13 wrote:Don,
As usual you are right on and in addition the feeding of a Dragon is continuous (the old addage "never buy anything that eats while you sleep"). The feeding of locomotives is singular and the tons transported are very great. The Logistics will define success and defeat. When you park a locomotive there is no feeding until you need it.

These point alone will be the deciding factors, that and gattling guns I guess.

Partially wrong on feeding of locomotives, unless you are bringing a locomotive out of service for several days min, you do not want the boiler to grow cold. Large steam locomotives can take over 12 hours to go from cold boiler to operating temp. Also relighting the firebox tends to be a bit of a hassle.
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by Astelon   » Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:45 pm

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The arcanans can spin a ceiling fan with magic, then they can spin a propeller with magic. The only two things stopping them from creating magically powered flight machines is the lack of the idea, and possible fuel density issues. Once someone comes up with the idea (or has it shown to them) the research to make an effective aircraft will probably go faster on Arcana than it would on Sharona.

Arcana may be able to replace their entire dragon inventory with aircraft, once the idea occurs to them.
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Re: Here there be dragons...
Post by n7axw   » Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:29 pm

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Astelon wrote:The arcanans can spin a ceiling fan with magic, then they can spin a propeller with magic. The only two things stopping them from creating magically powered flight machines is the lack of the idea, and possible fuel density issues. Once someone comes up with the idea (or has it shown to them) the research to make an effective aircraft will probably go faster on Arcana than it would on Sharona.

Arcana may be able to replace their entire dragon inventory with aircraft, once the idea occurs to them.


Maybe. It's certainly an interesting idea. The potential weakness of the idea is that it requires someone gifted in magic to make it work and we have hints that the further away from Arcana the magic is being used, the less effective it becomes. That might mean that they could build an airforce capable of defending Arcana and its neighboring universes, but not one that could attack Sharona and its close in universes. Sharona would have the same issue with its talents.

Don
When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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