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Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?

"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!
Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by ThisName1   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:41 am

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Going back through the books and I can't decide if the arcanans dragons, drakes, unicorns and assorted magic gadgets is enough to overcome the Sharonians artillery and steam vehicles. At least without using overwhelming numbers.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by PeterZ   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:15 am

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My take has always been to look at the constraints surrounding the use of the different systems.

Dragons take upwards of 20 years to grow and train properly. Magic used out in the wilderness requires recharges that either depend on a magic net or highly powerful magisters. Effective magisters are a small portion of the Arcanan population. Building up the industrial capacity to make cannons, steam powered war vehicles, rifles, locomotives, rail cars, ships and the whole host of machines the Sharonans need on the other hand, may be built by anyone in their society. That and the shorter time requirements to build versus grow their weapons systems means that the Sharonans can offset any individual inferiority with quantity more easily.

As it stands there is near parity in individual effectiveness of each side's systems. That leads me to believe the Sharonans will be able to apply more force in the frontier universes than the Arcanas. That advantage will dissipate the closer to arcana the fighting proceeds.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by ThisName1   » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:03 am

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I hadn't even though of breeding and training times. If the war stretches on and is bad enough to cause a dragon shortage that would cripple the arcanans.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by Jonathan_S   » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:11 pm

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ThisName1 wrote:I hadn't even though of breeding and training times. If the war stretches on and is bad enough to cause a dragon shortage that would cripple the arcanans.

On the other hand the Arcanans appear to have (or at least to have had) weapons of mass destruction level spells. If they get desperate enough to dust those off you might lose major parts of mechanized armies.

OTOH it's not yet clear how close to Arcana the higher tech weapons can work reliably, nor how close to Sharona major spells function. It seems almost like we're heading to a stalemate caused largely by the changing physics/metaphysics as you approach each civilizations' home universe.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by thanatos   » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:10 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:
ThisName1 wrote:I hadn't even though of breeding and training times. If the war stretches on and is bad enough to cause a dragon shortage that would cripple the arcanans.

On the other hand the Arcanans appear to have (or at least to have had) weapons of mass destruction level spells. If they get desperate enough to dust those off you might lose major parts of mechanized armies.

OTOH it's not yet clear how close to Arcana the higher tech weapons can work reliably, nor how close to Sharona major spells function. It seems almost like we're heading to a stalemate caused largely by the changing physics/metaphysics as you approach each civilizations' home universe.


The key difference is the degree to which Arcana is dependent upon magic vs. the degree to which Sharona is dependent upon its psionic talents. The latter have specifically development ordinary technology that is much closer to ours in parallel to the development of their talents. In other words, while everyone on Sharona is furious at the murder of their Voices, they are now aware of the potential weakness of the Voice net and will take technological steps to correct it (i.e. by developing telegraphs, radios and so on).

By contrast, Arcana is utterly dependent upon magic and once that magic is exhausted on the frontier, they only have a limited number of people capable of recharging their capacitors. Nor can they easily replace any lost magical beast they have since it takes years to bread and grow them - unless they can grow them faster with magic (but that seems unlikely given the shortages they now have in dragons and the amounts of food they'd need to provide them).

Obviously, logistics is going to be a major issue right along with available manpower. As noted in the textev, both sides are constrained to operate in a relatively narrow corridor between each universe's two or more gates. Also the distance between Arcana and the front is considerable. Which means that once they eliminate Harshu's AEF, they will be free to continue up the chain to Arcana until logistic start to impair their ability to replace any material or manpower losses.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by n7axw   » Fri Nov 17, 2017 2:17 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote:
ThisName1 wrote:I hadn't even though of breeding and training times. If the war stretches on and is bad enough to cause a dragon shortage that would cripple the arcanans.

On the other hand the Arcanans appear to have (or at least to have had) weapons of mass destruction level spells. If they get desperate enough to dust those off you might lose major parts of mechanized armies.

OTOH it's not yet clear how close to Arcana the higher tech weapons can work reliably, nor how close to Sharona major spells function. It seems almost like we're heading to a stalemate caused largely by the changing physics/metaphysics as you approach each civilizations' home universe.


IIRC, it was about three universes out from New Arcana that Shylar and Jathmar's gifts started malfunctioning seriously. Got those names wrong I think. But that might serve as a marker for guessing how far Sharona could go.

As for Arcana, they are stopped at Ft. Selby, but their gifts are still working so conceivably they could advance further toward Sharona except for how it would lengthen their supply lines further and the limitations on availability for their magic.

At present, both sides would be stopped well short of their opponent's home universe.

Don

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When any group seeks political power in God's name, both religion and politics are instantly corrupted.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by Jonathan_S   » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:03 pm

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n7axw wrote:
Jonathan_S wrote:OTOH it's not yet clear how close to Arcana the higher tech weapons can work reliably, nor how close to Sharona major spells function. It seems almost like we're heading to a stalemate caused largely by the changing physics/metaphysics as you approach each civilizations' home universe.


IIRC, it was about three universes out from New Arcana that Shylar and Jathmar's gifts started malfunctioning seriously. Got those names wrong I think. But that might serve as a marker for guessing how far Sharona could go.

As for Arcana, they are stopped at Ft. Selby, but their gifts are still working so conceivably they could advance further toward Sharona except for how it would lengthen their supply lines further and the limitations on availability for their magic.

At present, both sides would be stopped well short of their opponent's home universe.

Don

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But by Fr. Selby the control spells of the gryphons were apparently weakening enough to worry the handlers. So even that far out from Sharona they're seeing effects; but how much worse those might get each universe closer is of course unknown to us.

And I wonder how many universes out from Arcana gunpowder stopped working - would it fail sooner, later, or about the same as the Talents? Would the initial effect manifest in uniformly less power from gun powder or primarily as increasing changes of dud rounds?

I also suspect that the, very new, internal combustion engine tech for their armored fighting vehicles is more sensitive to minor changes to the laws of chemistry and thermodynamics than their guns are - so that portion of their transport might fail before the guns become ineffective.
Though I imagine their steam locomotives can accept more changes, it seems unlikely that there would be anything in Arcana's universe that would significantly affect the boiling point of water or that steam expands - but I suppose it's possible that metallurgy might get screwed with; possibly even to the point where their boilers failed...

But short term, yes, it seems like we'll have a pause enforced by constrained logistics before either side has a chance to come anywhere close to the limits of their physics/metaphysics.
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Re: Who has the military advantage in terms of technology?
Post by thanatos   » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:08 pm

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Jonathan_S wrote: But by Fr. Selby the control spells of the gryphons were apparently weakening enough to worry the handlers. So even that far out from Sharona they're seeing effects; but how much worse those might get each universe closer is of course unknown to us.

And I wonder how many universes out from Arcana gunpowder stopped working - would it fail sooner, later, or about the same as the Talents? Would the initial effect manifest in uniformly less power from gun powder or primarily as increasing changes of dud rounds?

I also suspect that the, very new, internal combustion engine tech for their armored fighting vehicles is more sensitive to minor changes to the laws of chemistry and thermodynamics than their guns are - so that portion of their transport might fail before the guns become ineffective.
Though I imagine their steam locomotives can accept more changes, it seems unlikely that there would be anything in Arcana's universe that would significantly affect the boiling point of water or that steam expands - but I suppose it's possible that metallurgy might get screwed with; possibly even to the point where their boilers failed...

But short term, yes, it seems like we'll have a pause enforced by constrained logistics before either side has a chance to come anywhere close to the limits of their physics/metaphysics.


It really does depend on what causes magic to fail more in pristine universes and what causes technology to fail the closer one gets to Arcana. I remember that Gadrial gently dismisses Jathmar's statement on recoil but that their magic works around recoil so that it doesn't get in the way. Then there's the magic the Halathyn told Gadrial that exists in every waterfall. So I would guess that whatever mass area magical "power grid" exists essentially absorbs the kinetic energy out of the surrounding around. That's why Gadrial, Jasyk and everyone from Arcana who test fired the rifle couldn't get it to work while Jathmar and Shylar did (as both of them have no magical gift). And even with them, the bullet had far less power and velocity behind it. Perhaps what Gadrial did at the end of the demonstration was to withdraw the magic from the area of the rifle which is why it functioned properly. Though why this concept scared her so much is still a mystery. Perhaps she did something she thought was impossible to do and realized that Sharona has been doing this all along because they don't have magic.

Ultimately however, Arcana is in a weaker position. While they could (initially) do things Sharona can't do, like heal people so perfectly or create dragons and griffins that can breath fire, electricity and poison gas, they are still far more dependent upon their magic than Sharona is upon its talents. Take away their dragons and griffins (which is basically what Sharona did at Ft. Salby) and what they have left is an army that is mostly medieval infantry with some fancy cavalry and artillery. Even with spell-augmented arbalests, they are no match for Sharonian rifles. Sharonian mortars, machine guns and cannons are more than a match for Arcanan artillery staffs. And like their dragons, they only have so many unicorns who need to be fed meat, i.e. they can't forage like regular or even augmented horses. Add to that the absence of the element of surprise, which helped the AEF in its push towards Sharona. Add to that Sharonian forces now know what to look for in any future Arcanan attack (i.e. looking to the skies for dragons and griffons, looking for heat shimmer that might be cloaking spell etc.). And add to that the fact that their magical weapons don't work through a portal while all of Sharona's conventional weaponry can cross a portal threshold. Even if Arcana would decide to dust off their magical WMDs and even genies, they would still need to deliver them to Sharonian held universes and trigger them there (after all, just possessing a nuclear bomb is not enough - you need to deliver it intact to the target). And we still don't know if the WMD spell or the genies would retain their original destructive power so far away from Arcana. So I would hazard to say that Arcana is in more trouble than Sharona right now.
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