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Portal Defense in Hell's Gate

"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!
Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Svyatoy Medved   » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:37 pm

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The portal to Mahritha is only four miles across and is currently controlled by Sharona. There are a total of eight miles of portal to control at this chokepoint. In terms of what artillery is capable of, this is miniscule. If Sharona is able to maintain control of the portal for a few more months while additional forces and towed artillery are brought up, will it be possible for Arcana to ever unseat them without the use of WMDs? What about if Sharona gets the rail head to Hell's Gate and emplaces fifteen or sixteen inch naval guns?


The war could enter a stalemate truly impossible to overcome if this occurs. A small amount of Sharonan manpower, not more than what even a small nation could provide, coupled with a good number of guns and a massive stockpile of shells, could keep this bottled up forever.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Eagleeye   » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:46 am

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Svyatoy Medved wrote:The portal to Mahritha is only four miles across and is currently controlled by Sharona. There are a total of eight miles of portal to control at this chokepoint. In terms of what artillery is capable of, this is miniscule. If Sharona is able to maintain control of the portal for a few more months while additional forces and towed artillery are brought up, will it be possible for Arcana to ever unseat them without the use of WMDs? What about if Sharona gets the rail head to Hell's Gate and emplaces fifteen or sixteen inch naval guns?


The war could enter a stalemate truly impossible to overcome if this occurs. A small amount of Sharonan manpower, not more than what even a small nation could provide, coupled with a good number of guns and a massive stockpile of shells, could keep this bottled up forever.


Not necessarily forever, but long enough to make sure that Arcana either had to use WMDs (with the consequence that there will be absolutely no peace between Arcana and Sharona, as long as Sharona can't be absolutely sure that not only any remaining WMDs in the arsenals of Arcana are destroyed but the research which led to these weapons, too) or that it copies a page from the sharonan technology and develops its own explosive shell artillery. Which probably would be easier than the other way around (if Sharona would try to develop magic-based weapons).

But whatever will happen, I think we look at (at least) a year or two, before Arcana will be able to try to attack the Maritha-HG-portal with a chance of success. And that's much time for other developments, too ...
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Svyatoy Medved   » Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:23 am

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I think you misunderstand. My point is that eight miles of front is small enough that Sharonan artillery can keep all of it under fire. Literally impenetrable, not a matter of applying more force. It's a tiny bottleneck, once trains start coming in laden with guns.

In the first World War, Germany had nearly a hundred field guns per mile of a fifty mile trench network. Reduce that to eight miles and multiply state resources by probably a hundred, but let's say just six, for the hell of it. Over three thousand guns per mile. If they fire a shell per minute on average (it would actually be much higher), that's well over twenty thousand shells an hour, or twenty-five hundred per mile. A shell every two feet, per hour.

That is a hell scenario, and it's using numbers I think are going to be vastly undershooting the reality after two years to push resources forward. And it does not factor in the effect of machine guns, riflemen, and land mines.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Eagleeye   » Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:46 pm

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Ah, but there's a danger in that, too - because each defense is only as good as the alertness of the defenders. Let that go down and it doesn't matter how many guns there're available ...

And, given time, it will go down, at least to a degree - especially, if the Arcanans let them have the gate undisputed for some years without trying to take it back. More, the Arcanans should do, what Jasak proposed from the beginning and retreat completely from the continent they share with the Sharonans.

And they could do that; the next portal in the up-chain to Arcaana is, after all, an ocean away from the HG-portal and the Arcanans reign the sees of Maritha. By the way, they are still the only ones with an Air-Force - and they will be, still, at least for the next 10 to 15 years. (Remember: that's about the time from the first flights of the Wright-Brothers to the first air-fights during WWI in our universe, Add to that the time to develop steerable airborne vehicles at all from the beginnings of an Otto Lilienthal to the Wright Brothers)

So, they could take a defensive stance for a time, during which they amass enough soldiers and develop enough new weapons (and bring both of these forward) to give them a feeling of having a realistical chance in braking through to Hells Gate. But if such a break-through would do them much good - well, that's another question entirely and depends on factors the Arcanans can't influence any longer.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Louis R   » Tue Mar 12, 2019 10:47 pm

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FYI: Lilienthal to Sopwith and Fokker - 23 years.

However, there was a lot of preliminary and contributory work necessary for aircraft design, done over the entire course of the 19th century, that we have, so far at least, seen no evidence for on Sharona.

Eagleeye wrote:Ah, but there's a danger in that, too - because each defense is only as good as the alertness of the defenders. Let that go down and it doesn't matter how many guns there're available ...

And, given time, it will go down, at least to a degree - especially, if the Arcanans let them have the gate undisputed for some years without trying to take it back. More, the Arcanans should do, what Jasak proposed from the beginning and retreat completely from the continent they share with the Sharonans.

And they could do that; the next portal in the up-chain to Arcaana is, after all, an ocean away from the HG-portal and the Arcanans reign the sees of Maritha. By the way, they are still the only ones with an Air-Force - and they will be, still, at least for the next 10 to 15 years. (Remember: that's about the time from the first flights of the Wright-Brothers to the first air-fights during WWI in our universe, Add to that the time to develop steerable airborne vehicles at all from the beginnings of an Otto Lilienthal to the Wright Brothers)

So, they could take a defensive stance for a time, during which they amass enough soldiers and develop enough new weapons (and bring both of these forward) to give them a feeling of having a realistical chance in braking through to Hells Gate. But if such a break-through would do them much good - well, that's another question entirely and depends on factors the Arcanans can't influence any longer.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Svyatoy Medved   » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:43 am

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Ah, but there's a danger in that, too - because each defense is only as good as the alertness of the defenders. Let that go down and it doesn't matter how many guns there're available ...


No, it does matter. If there are ten thousand guns stacked along the border,infiltrators are going to have disable a lot of guns for an attack to succeed. The more guns they have to disable, the less likely it is that their attack will succeed. One Sharonan sees a Germanic warrior coming, shoots him, and then the whole camp is up in arms and a few minutes later death is raining on the portal ten thousand times a minute.


And, given time, it will go down, at least to a degree - especially, if the Arcanans let them have the gate undisputed for some years without trying to take it back. More, the Arcanans should do, what Jasak proposed from the beginning and retreat completely from the continent they share with the Sharonans.


This is true of a conventional military. Eventually, the nation will tire of the expenditure. But when an empire of ten billion and unimaginable resources is maintaining an army of three quarters of a million, exhaustion isn't much of a consideration. And as I said, individual inattentiveness breaks down on that scale and kinda stops mattering.


And they could do that; the next portal in the up-chain to Arcaana is, after all, an ocean away from the HG-portal and the Arcanans reign the sees of Maritha. By the way, they are still the only ones with an Air-Force - and they will be, still, at least for the next 10 to 15 years. (Remember: that's about the time from the first flights of the Wright-Brothers to the first air-fights during WWI in our universe, Add to that the time to develop steerable airborne vehicles at all from the beginnings of an Otto Lilienthal to the Wright Brothers)


This is all basically true, but I'm not sure why you bring it up. The portal is too small for aircraft to have a much better time penetrating than infantry.

So, they could take a defensive stance for a time, during which they amass enough soldiers and develop enough new weapons (and bring both of these forward) to give them a feeling of having a realistical chance in braking through to Hells Gate. But if such a break-through would do them much good - well, that's another question entirely and depends on factors the Arcanans can't influence any longer.


The thing I'm trying to say is that the portal isn't big enough to FIT the kind of manpower you would need to break through. It isn't a matter of gathering forces: the Sharonan artillery can kill all the Arcanans coming through even if they sprint shoulder to shoulder across the whole portal, both aspects. If the portal was larger, maybe the size of the one connecting Sharona to Hell's Gate (35 miles per aspect), then something could be different.

I do agree that it would be nearly impossible for Sharona to make significant advances for a long time. If they sit at stalemate for a few decades, Sharona holds the scientific advantage and so might be able to develop tanks, jet aircraft, radar, and other innovations that would be required to cross the Vandor.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Astelon   » Wed Mar 13, 2019 8:21 pm

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Yes the war could stalemate at any small (several miles a side) portal. The Sharonans could theoretically bring enough firepower to stop any Arcanan incursion, and the Arcanans could (with a smaller portal or larger and longer ranged artillery) could build fortifications on the ends of the portal and make it extremely difficult for the Sharonans to cross.

The Sharonans would have an edge with armored vehicles and the lack of penetration of Arcanan weapons, but enough fireballs and lightning bolts hitting would still disable or destroy the vehicles.

Then it comes to tactics and developments to overcome the defenses. First the Arcanans would have to clear "their" side of the portal of scouts, or at least prevent them from sending information through. Then Arcanans could fill glass spheres with nerve gas and have a spell throw them through. Even if the spell fails while going through a portal inertia will carry the sphere through to smash on the Sharonan side. They would need to fill the battle area with cover (magic powered smoke generator), with enough smoke they could give dragons some cover for attacks (smoke bombs could also be thrown through portals).

Tunneling under defenses would also be possible; difficult in the swamp conditions that comprise the Mahrithra-Hell's Gate portal, but magic may be able to compensate for that.

An attack variant of Hummers (fast and relatively small with a very big pointy beak) to harass Sharonan forces and scouts, can slow down response times.

Exploding bombs (spelled or otherwise) should also be doable, but would require targeting.

It would cost a lot of men and weaponry, but it may be possible for either side force a portal.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ReaverKing   » Fri Mar 22, 2019 3:22 am

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In the long run, I think that Tsun Tzu still has the final word:

"Thus it follows that the highest form of warfare is to out-think the enemy; next is to break his alliances; then to defeat his armies in battle; the lowest form is to besiege his cities."

(ISBN: 978-1-907446-78-8 / p. 19)


Fighting a conventional siege in order to gain a breakthrough at a portal is all KINDS of stupid. It makes much more sense for either side to use every dirty trick they can think of to avoid a siege and harass the other side's supply train until the enemy is starved out.

Frankly, my move would be to deliberately infect some of my soldiers with TB, smallpox, bird flu, polio and every other microbotic killer of men I could think of and have them "defect" to the other side or let them be taken as prisoners of war.


Ideally I'd use a zepplin or dragon to simply fly over any fixed defenses at night and have my commandos cough on as many enemy mess cooks as possible rather than kill them.

* * *

The Spanish Flu killed more human beings than the entire First World War. And there's no guarantee either side has seen every single germ the other side has to offer.

In fact, the current theory in fashion these days is that the Spanish Flu was actually the result of the unholy union of an American flu strain with a Chinese H1N1 strain.

Such an event is not only possible in the Multiverse, it's damn likely! And, frankly, both sides would know first-hand that walls and sixteen inch guns are zero protection against germs.

It's just a question of who's got the lower standard of field hygiene...
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ZVar   » Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:29 pm

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ReaverKing wrote:In the long run, I think that Tsun Tzu still has the final word:

"Thus it follows that the highest form of warfare is to out-think the enemy; next is to break his alliances; then to defeat his armies in battle; the lowest form is to besiege his cities."

(ISBN: 978-1-907446-78-8 / p. 19)


Fighting a conventional siege in order to gain a breakthrough at a portal is all KINDS of stupid. It makes much more sense for either side to use every dirty trick they can think of to avoid a siege and harass the other side's supply train until the enemy is starved out.

Frankly, my move would be to deliberately infect some of my soldiers with TB, smallpox, bird flu, polio and every other microbotic killer of men I could think of and have them "defect" to the other side or let them be taken as prisoners of war.


Ideally I'd use a zepplin or dragon to simply fly over any fixed defenses at night and have my commandos cough on as many enemy mess cooks as possible rather than kill them.

* * *

The Spanish Flu killed more human beings than the entire First World War. And there's no guarantee either side has seen every single germ the other side has to offer.

In fact, the current theory in fashion these days is that the Spanish Flu was actually the result of the unholy union of an American flu strain with a Chinese H1N1 strain.

Such an event is not only possible in the Multiverse, it's damn likely! And, frankly, both sides would know first-hand that walls and sixteen inch guns are zero protection against germs.

It's just a question of who's got the lower standard of field hygiene...


Not likely to be anything more than an inconvenience to both sides.
The Arcanians have healers in the classic magical D&D Cleric. Diseases simply will never have a time to get a foothold before it's eradicated.
And the psychic healers of Sharona, while not a efficient, still can make the infected victim cure themselves. Basically the "Promote self healing" their healers do sounds a lot like vaccines.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Svyatoy Medved   » Sat Mar 23, 2019 8:37 am

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Agreed. And there is still the difficulty of actually getting across. With a front as small as this, it isn't unfeasible to have a chain-link fence with guards every ten feet. Aircraft won't have a much easier time, given that the portal is only two miles high at its apex. At night, it may be a little difficult to see, but don't Sharonans have spotlights? The whole place can be lit up like a game-day stadium.

Your options are kind of limited when you literally CAN'T go around your enemy. Harassing supply trains is not going to be possible, because groups large than five or six are going to be annihilated as they pass through the portal. Harshu might be able to do it. If Harshu has his men scatter, they can probably cause trouble for a good while, but unless they cut the supply of shells to the front completely they aren't getting reinforcements.
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