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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!
Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ReaverKing   » Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:19 pm

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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.


I agree with you wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, it's not the capacity to cure a disease that matters in a pandemic. It's whether or not the disease can be nipped in the bud before it overwhelms the available medical resources. If that happens people literally begin dying in the streets and mortality shoots WAY up.

This is the second time I've tried to write this, suffice to say the following are but a tiny few of a HUGE number of reasons why both sides could ignore a disease long enough for it to become an enormous problem:

- All the same reasons belligerents in the First World War had to ignore sick soldiers.
- Neither side seems to actually HAVE vaccines.
- Arcanian generals have to choose between healthy soldiers and ammunition.
- Arcanian soldiers can be re-infected.
- Healers and Clerics can be killed or fall sick themselves.
- Healers can't heal 100 people at once.
- Continuous universal prophylaxis is absurdly resource-intensive and impractical in this case. (Could someone with knowledge re: British Empire, malaria, and quinine weigh in?)
- Both sides can create passive carriers and super-bugs via improved healing and antigenic shift.
- Even lining people up and instantly healing them every day takes them out of action for a while.
- See: "CGP Grey" "Americapox"
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ReaverKing   » Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:32 pm

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Svyatoy Medved wrote: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.


I haven't read Road to Hell in a long time but two miles is FAR out of the effective range of their anti-aircraft guns isn't it? I don't THINK they have ground-to-air missiles.

Admittedly, even if the Arcanians have or can steal Zepplin technology, each airship could only carry about 50 passengers and can probably only for a one-way trip.

On the other hand, 50 people infected with an incurable magically-enhanced plague (like D&D's Mummy Rot) are more than enough to do some serious damage if they can pass on the infection to a supply caravan or 50 healers casting "Contagion" instead of "Remove Disease" on every sentry they can get a hold of a portal or two inside the Sharonan lines.

From there everything from the common cold to HIV can propagate as normal.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Svyatoy Medved   » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:26 am

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ReaverKing wrote:
Svyatoy Medved wrote: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.


I haven't read Road to Hell in a long time but two miles is FAR out of the effective range of their anti-aircraft guns isn't it? I don't THINK they have ground-to-air missiles.

I'll have to look through the books again, but I believe it's roughly comparable to WWI AA ability. Gryphons have to fly at extreme altitude to avoid AA at Fort Salby. AA mounted on trucks were able to interdict dragon supply lines. Two miles really isn't that high; one inch pom-pom guns could exceed that.
Admittedly, even if the Arcanians have or can steal Zepplin technology, each airship could only carry about 50 passengers and can probably only for a one-way trip.

Why would they steal zeppelins? Dragons are just better.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Astelon   » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:21 pm

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- Both sides can create passive carriers and super-bugs via improved healing and antigenic shift.


I doubt the Sharonans could create any kind of new contagion, let alone modify it as specified. While we don't know the full details of the healing talent, it seems they encourage the natural processes of the body. It is likely that Sharonan "healers" would be able to treat almost anything the Arcanas are likely to be willing to use.

As for overwhelming the medical response that depends on infecting a large number of people before the symptoms become alarming enough to mobilize a full response. Not impossible, but most of the really bad (deadly) viral symptoms would alert any competent healer to a major problem immediately.

As for Sharonan AA it is effectively makeshift and developed from other preexisting weapons. They should be able to reach two miles in altitude, but may very well have issues with effectively engaging dragons at that height; though they can compensate with volume of fire or predictive distance viewers. Either way Arcanan dragons and gryphons can easily exceed any altitude that Sharonan AA could engage at, the Arcanans would be unable to engage as well.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ReaverKing   » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:28 pm

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Astelon wrote:
I doubt the Sharonans could create any kind of new contagion, let alone modify it as specified. While we don't know the full details of the healing talent, it seems they encourage the natural processes of the body.


Sharonan healers may not have outright magic but they DO have the ability to help patients survive diseases that would otherwise be EXTREMELY fatal. There's no reason that can't be "fine-tuned" for nefarious purposes.

From the CDC Web site:
(antigenic) Shift results in a new influenza A subtype or a virus with a hemagglutinin or a hemagglutinin and neuraminidase combination that has emerged from an animal population that is so different from the same subtype in humans that most people do not have immunity to the new (e.g. novel) virus. Such a “shift” occurred in the spring of 2009, when an H1N1 virus with a new combination of genes emerged to infect people and quickly spread, causing a pandemic. When shift happens, most people have little or no protection against the new virus.


If Sharona's healers can improve the immune response and speed up tissue growth, they've probably already created HUNDREDS of superbugs purely by accident. After all, if they still HAVE the flu, it's definitely evolved to cope with having healers around.

And if they ever wanted to intentionally mix influenza strains, all they'd have to do is inject some "volunteers" with strains of human and bird or pig flu and suppress the volunteer's immune system until a new and deadlier strain emerges.

Basically, it's like a yeast culture for bread, but with more pneumonia and snot.


On the Arcanian side of "accidental" plagues, who knows what horrible diseases a wounded soldier could catch from an Arcanian chimera? If magic can cross a lion with an eagle, what happens if the eagle has a cold?

Plus, bacteria and viruses aren't vulnerable to the fading of magic if they don't NEED magic to survive. All they need is a nice, active, place to live.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Astelon   » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:15 pm

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Whether the Sharonan healing talents could produce super bugs all depends on how the exactly the talent works. The most likely course is that they would produce one on accident as you noted. Depending on the nature of the healing talent they may not have even noticed if they created superbugs. They may just believe that the flu is, occasionally, extremely severe.

Suppressing the immune response is more likely to produce corpses than a deadlier strain of flu.

The Arcanans have full genetic engineering. They could create all sorts of nasty diseases, both requiring magic and functioning without magic.

You still end up with a problem: any disease bad enough to defeat healers (of either side) is a danger to both sides, although likely to be less so for the Arcanans.

I don't see the Sharonans as able to build a disease on purpose, let alone be willing to do so. Arcanan could do so, but I think only the Mythalans would support a decision to do so.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ReaverKing   » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:46 pm

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Astelon wrote:I don't see the Sharonans as able to build a disease on purpose, let alone be willing to do so. Arcanan could do so, but I think only the Mythalans would support a decision to do so.


Super-flu is a natural property of the influenza virus. If someone is infected with two or more strains, those strains can combine all by themselves.

After giving it more thought, I agree that the Sharonans would likely never be crazy enough to create superflu on purpose. But like you said, it may have (and likely has) happened at least once. And they may not even realize it.

And just like the First World War, Sharona will be rushing sick soldiers to the front almost immediately. Just put healers on the train, right?

------

I said it before and I'll say it again - Naval guns or no guns, stone parapets or empty fields, this war is going to come down to which side has the better field hygene.

This puts Arcania in an odd spot because their disease resistance comes out of the ammo budget. And given that their magic seems to be fading as they advance toward Sharona, that means a mass epidemic a la World War One is likely inevitable. All it would take would be one field commander choosing more bang-bang over treating the sniffles for a week.


Plus, the significance of healers isn't going to be lost on Arcania's Army physicians forever either. The brass may well decide that they need a nuclear option of their own...
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by Castenea   » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:52 pm

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ReaverKing wrote:
Astelon wrote:I don't see the Sharonans as able to build a disease on purpose, let alone be willing to do so. Arcanan could do so, but I think only the Mythalans would support a decision to do so.


Super-flu is a natural property of the influenza virus. If someone is infected with two or more strains, those strains can combine all by themselves.

After giving it more thought, I agree that the Sharonans would likely never be crazy enough to create superflu on purpose. But like you said, it may have (and likely has) happened at least once. And they may not even realize it.

And just like the First World War, Sharona will be rushing sick soldiers to the front almost immediately. Just put healers on the train, right?

------

I said it before and I'll say it again - Naval guns or no guns, stone parapets or empty fields, this war is going to come down to which side has the better field hygene.

This puts Arcania in an odd spot because their disease resistance comes out of the ammo budget. And given that their magic seems to be fading as they advance toward Sharona, that means a mass epidemic a la World War One is likely inevitable. All it would take would be one field commander choosing more bang-bang over treating the sniffles for a week.


Plus, the significance of healers isn't going to be lost on Arcania's Army physicians forever either. The brass may well decide that they need a nuclear option of their own...

I suspect that nasty created diseases are part of the forbidden spells that we the readers have seen the Mythalan conspirators talk about among themselves. The main counter argument to that speculation is that the Mythalans seem to prefer spells with immediate spectacular effects, most of the spells that are subtle and/or slow acting seem to have origins in other Arcanan nations.
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Re: Portal Defense in Hell's Gate
Post by ThisName1   » Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:29 am

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ReaverKing wrote:
Astelon wrote:
I said it before and I'll say it again - Naval guns or no guns, stone parapets or empty fields, this war is going to come down to which side has the better field hygene.

This puts Arcania in an odd spot because their disease resistance comes out of the ammo budget. And given that their magic seems to be fading as they advance toward Sharona, that means a mass epidemic a la World War One is likely inevitable. All it would take would be one field commander choosing more bang-bang over treating the sniffles for a week.


Plus, the significance of healers isn't going to be lost on Arcania's Army physicians forever either. The brass may well decide that they need a nuclear option of their own...


As far as I remember there has been no mention of disease or illness as a problem for either side in the war. If the war were going to bog down because of disease then I believe that Mr. Weber would have foreshadowed it somehow or even mentioned that arcanans were picking up diseases while they were at their base on the swamp side of the swamp portal, or the sharonians dealing with tropical diseases while traveling to flank harshu. Your looking at it as if it were a real world problem, but it's not it's a book, so you have to look at the arc of the book and guess based on that. And based off of the number references to transporting cetaceans and simians on the rail lines and the arcanans hydras my guess is that the war will have a navel component at some point. So it won't stop due to disease.

Even looking at it like it was real I believe that thanks to Magic and healing talents both sides has a very good knowledge of diseases and how to deal with them. Today we have protocols to deal with potential outbreaks so they must have as well. For instance it seems like the arcanans have known about microscopic organisms for a long time, and I don't doubt that the healing talents have given the sharonians a major boost in disease and infection treatment.

As to the arcanans needing to choose between shooting and healing, I know that no one has successfully put a healing spell onto crystal Gadrial specifically mentioned that in one of the books. Healing has to be done in person, by a magistron. And there's text evidence that says that a magister can recharge a spell accumulator but nothing that says it can go the other way. So the healer's would not be using any stored Magic Power needed to fight. They have to run on internal batteries.
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