How would fantasy air cav function? What would their typical missions be like, what sort of training would they receive, what type of weapons and equipment would be given to them?
In a game I'm playing in, the military has tamed wyverns that are quick and nimble that some soldiers essentially use to become sky knights and they fly in wings and typically come around and flank enemies while the main force has already engaged the enemy in pitched battle but there are also bigger drakes that are much slower than wyvern but can carry much more weight, fly much higher and are significantly slower. So far the military only uses them to ferry equipment back and forth quicker than usual and there aren't too many of them seeing as they eat an insane amount of food whenever they fly.
I want to essentially use the drakes in a more combat oriented role. What do you guys think?
>What would their typical missions be like
Air recon and denying the enemy air recon. The question remains how you would ward your expensive and fragile wyverns against magical surface-to-air/air-to-air attacks or even conventional ranged weapons as the rider has to make eye contact. It's probably pretty easy to spot an enemy host from a safe distance, with smaller formations it would be more difficult.
Follow-up questions: High-magic or low-magic setting? Does magic/technology exist to mitigate low visibility due to bad weather/low sunlight? What would a wyvernfight look like - this is a tie-in to the second question - do they wyverns go at eacht other and all the rider can do is hold on to his steed? Does a wingman system evolve? If so, how do the wyvern riders communicate?
Problems and possibilites a pretty much analogous to our world but keep in mind the logistics, the generally abysmal productivity of non-industrialized societies and your mana level.
As heavily armored holy knights that appear the fuck out of nowhere and destroy everything, riding their noble gryphons/pegasi/whatever, just as all seems lost. Do you even purge evil?
I'd look into Temeraire. Book series about the Napoleonic wars, but dragons exist--and are used extensively in military ops.
There are some quirky ones like one breed'll only let women ride them or what have you, but mostly they're small-to-moderate crewed vessels hurling explosives and fighting each other in blade-and-pistol boarding maneuvers (the dragons go at it to but are slightly limited by the squishy humans on them they'd rather didn't die).
They'd be good in sieges. Fly over a castle or city's walls high enough to be out of bowshot range and drop barrels of burning pitch or hot lime, make life all that more miserable for the defenders.
The defenders would want their own of course, to defend against bombing raids. They could also sally out at night to destroy siegeworks or try to raid the enemy commander's camp.
Air cav as it traditionally functioned never actually attacked static and prepared defenses because for the fragile helicopters it was suicide. In medieval fantasy pitched battles would constitute a static and built up position through sheer force of presentable firepower.
Unless you could make them arrow proof they'd probably be relegated to logistical and reconnaissance roles, and maybe functions more as bombers than aircav if anything, dropping payloads on densely packed formations from beyond arrow's reach or easy to land spells.
In WoT the Seanchan are air mobile. They have giant lizard beasts, tame large ones and aggressive fast ones. They unsettle horses. In the context of the story they are basically the prophecized
Chinese invasion come to take back their ancestral home.
It's fairly low magic on the cusp of a magical breakthrough that would make higher magic more viable. Essentially magic is the manipulation of energy to achieve what you want but traditionally, mages are only able to draw the energy from themselves and forcibly from other creatures but that's outlawed. If you break the law, the entire world turns on you and the medieval kgb shows up at your doorsteps no matter how far away you are and you disappear to never be seen again.
But recently, a gem discovered in the heart of a long dead empire was revealed and it's ability is to passively attract and store energy from all sources. Living, electromagnetic, thermodynamic, kinetic, etc. With this, theoretical spells thought to be impossible due to energy constraints would theoretically become possible. Don't have all the details yet since we're still trying to figure the stuff out ourselves.
Wyvern fights would typically be riders strapped to saddles and swinging at each of the other's wyvern's wings with axes and swords while the wyverns would grapple each other and break away before plummeting to their deaths. Losers are determined by how badly damaged the wings are.
So far there are 6 riders to a wing, 6 wings in a formation. Typically, large dog fights are not too common seeing as feeding wyvern and training them is horrendously expensive. I think in the entire country/state, out of a population of close to 60,000 there are less than 200 trained riders at any moment in time.
Wyvern riders communicate with each other through hand signals and with the ground via flags.
The air cav of Vietnam you have referenced is the same as 18th and 19th century dragoons they use improved mobility via a vehicle (helicopter or horse) to arrive at the fight and to out maneuver the enemy but still fight on foot. Area denial being the name of the game.
I can imagine the drakes flying high into the night sky and dropping payloads of various goodies onto camps but it'd be fairly cost ineffective. The way it was describe, after a long journey or moderate journey with a fair amount of weight on them, they eat a cow and sleep for close to 24 hours afterwards. At any one time there would be access to maybe 15-20 at the equivalent of Camp Pendleton or any other major military base. So using all of the readily available drakes to drop burning pitch onto enemies would eliminate their availability for up to 24 hours afterwards. Of course they're going to have wyverns running patrols around the camp to prevent this, in which case the drakes would need wyvern escorts of their own which would dig into the extremely limited number of trained war wyverns and their riders.
Essentially the name of the game is "is it worth it?"
I wouldn't be too familiar with it myself, I'm just trying to figure out if there's a way to turn this what I think is interesting part of the setting into a system that could help me and my party. We're the founders of a 3rd party mercenary group that profits off of war and we figure maybe trying to muscle our way into the wyvern/drake area might be profitable and cool.
Only to get their steeds shot out from under them as soon as they crest the horizon as hundreds of crossbow bolts fill the air and the riders plummet hundreds of feet onto the ground.
There's a reason for the most part the wyverns got marginalized in exchange for a larger and better trained archery corp and trained horsemen.
Wyverns are easy, you're the best dogfighting unit in existence, it's been done before.
The Drakes are a bit more difficult to use. There's the obvious bomber role but it kinda fails due to them eating so much. Not enough profit as it were.
Best idea I have is a sort of commando unit. The Drakes are used as transport planes to get paratroopers into a difficult to access area and drop the soldiers off them. Drakes could also be used to ferry in the wyverns for ground support too.
That's what I was thinking of, taking in a half dozen drake's full of troops in the middle of the night and dropping them off in the middle of nowhere to take and hold a bridge or something. Unfortunately that's all I can really think of.
The two groups don't really get along too well, wyvern don't really get along with other wyvern. Drakes just eat and sleep while wyvern are constantly hissing and snapping at each other for some sort of alpha type thing.
There's also the gunship route. Stack a large number of wizards on a drake and blast everything in sight with it.
Essentially, I wouldn't view drakes as helicopters but large aircraft instead.
At this point, drakes are worthless. They eat multiple cows a day. The average cow has over 450,000 kilocalories worth of meat on them, not counting the organs and stuff people don't normally eat. To supply even a single drake would take a village worth of workers, all dedicated to that drake. I don't know how much wyvern eat, but they must be better than those fat bastards
They're pretty bad but not completely useless, they've historically been used to send one last batch of equipment, weapons, food to besieged cities, units cut off from supply lines, etc if there's no other option. They're not cheap but it's better than starving to death or looking at an empty quiver.
They're large enough to carry 10-12 men with half plate, equipment and their weapons with a bit left over. So close to 3,500 to 4.000.
During times of peace, they and their riders have ready access to a large section of the forest that the crown owns so it's usually not a problem when they can take down deer and bears on their own fairly easily. The problem is when war strikes and they have to be ferried around and have to be fed from the larder.
And how many wyverns would it take to lift that many men? Two per wyvern, provided they were rested? There's honestly so many things we don't know about these animals that it's impossible to tell which is more economical
Wyvern are typically sprinters or cheetahs. They walk 95% of the time but when they need to they can reach speeds that drakes can only dream of. Something like 70 mph with a rider in plate but they can achieve this for 20-30 minutes.
Using a wyvern would be like using a cheetah as a pack mule essentially.
The typical way they're used is armies are engaged, wyvern riders fly from the sun, their rides start their dive which is something like 200 mph and skewer their target with a lance while the wyvern catches one or two people in it's claws and releases them once it's a fair ways up.
Apart from the fact that your army might not be able to "requisition" these food stuffs; due to farmers leaving the area, while the flying cav swoop in feed do their business and leave before it is even known that enemy troops are in the vicinity; armies tend to be pretty slow moving in general during the medieval period
I don't know why you would ever melee the ground targets would be easier to be lightly armored (flying leathers to keep your warm) with saddle bags full of darts / alchemist bombs to drop , why risk a precious resource? ??
If they can run at fucking 70 mph, why are they even being used to fly?
>arm riders with javelins and long bladed weapons, as well as caltrops and explosives when possible
>armor the wyverns, place chains on their tails
>send heavy cavalry in from the front
>heavy wyverns fly to the side of the enemy
>charge in at 70 mph
>riders throw javelins
>lance the massed infantry
>get the wyverns to hop
>chains on tails whip around at head height, claws stab faces and necks
>fly out of reach of the men
This assumes the ranged troops aren't firing at you. Sending "light" wyverns in to destroy archer formations would be a very common tactic
Given dragon mounts? Probably a lot like modern air force.
You'd have big ones that you use to carry equipment and heavy payloads, basically bombers, AC-130's, or cargo planes. You'd probably see some of these instead outfitted as weapons platforms, like having ballista or onagers (due to size constraints) on the back, making them more akin to a flying fortress designed to take on interceptors.
Then you'd have fighters. Substantially smaller than the bombers, but heavier than the third type, the interceptor. The fighter would have weapons designed to take down the bombers and be more nimble than them, but be able to stand up to a bomber's defenses. Most likely you'd see a ballista or some kind of fire thrower, probably a lot of weapons meant to kill crew and take out weapons-systems. Could see some melee-focused ones using lances or carrying heavy knights armed with swords and shields for boarding other dragons, but not very likely, as building a roof and walls on the back of the bomber takes away boarding, and getting that close will endanger the dragon and rider to the crew of the bomber fighting back.
Interceptors would be made to kill the fighters. They'd have light weaponry, like bull-fighter javelins or a heavy crossbow, be very fragile, but have extreme speed and mobility. Would probably focus more on shooting out a dragon's eyes or destroying the weapons on a fighter than killing the dragon.
For a more "helicopter" approach, you'd have very similar builds, but bombers would be more about carrying and supporting troops, like with firepot throwers and lots of space (think a Blackhawk), fighters would be more about massive firepower, with balista, probably some form of magic, maybe even light payloads of burning oil and gunpowder (think Apaches), and interceptors would be about giving recon or fast, light support, like dropping some firepots on masses of infantry or sitting back and hitting targets with crossbows (Think Littlebirds).
>How would fantasy air cav function
1. Raise a bunch of wild wyverns and drakes.
2. As they become big enough to be considered big eaters, shepherd them into enemy farmland.
3. Witness the ensuring breakdown of enemy supply chain.
Other than that, I would use wyvern riders to straight out attack enemy supply caravans. With such a mobile force with no firearm AA, it becomes virtually impossible for enemy to sustain an army on a march.
I don't think they would be good in actual battles though - a massive volley of arrows or bolts would clear the skies very easily.
Modern airforce works on being able to hit the enemy from horizon distance and GTFO ASAP. No such thing for wyvern riders.
>like having ballista or onagers
Stopped reading here.
Any mercenary troop that could produce Greek fire or primitive napalm at large enough quantities would make a fortune. Hook up some tanks on the underside of drakes, and you could offset the massive cost of keeping them.
You could also feed them the dead, though that brings up a whole other debate
Greek fire makes for a VERY poor napalm, effective only as a psychological weapon or for burning down wooden ships. Not mentioning that to hit even a large standing formation you need to get close. Really close. "Holy shit that's a lot of arrows!"-close.
>Wyvern fights would typically be riders strapped to saddles and swinging at each of the other's wyvern's wings with axes and swords while the wyverns would grapple each other and break away before plummeting to their deaths. Losers are determined by how badly damaged the wings are.
This makes no sense at all. Animals have a sense of self-preservation, they wouldn't engage in the sort of combat that's likely to get both of them killed. That's why most fights for territory between predators are 90% posturing, displays of strength and aggression with no actual physical struggle.
For airborne animals, I would suggest looking at what territorial fights between birds of prey look like. I sincerely doubt it involves grappling so that they both plummet to the ground. I suspect with wyverns, which typically have stinging scorpion-like tails, it would involve a careful aerial dance in which each tries to circle behind the other and sting it from a position of relative safety. They wouldn't get close enough for swords and axes to figure into the fight, so the riders would most likely be armed with long bladed pole-arms which they would use in wide sweeping motions to slash at the enemies wings, head and tail to keep it at range. They would definitely need some kind of saddle that they could pivot on in order to defend against attacks from behind.
Wyvern cavalry=air born mongols
Riders in flight leathers with short bows and possibly some form of a javelin. Literally BUCKETS of arrows and air born dogfights being the wyvers aforementioned territory circling for an advantage while the rider attempts to shoot his counterpart/ help defend his wyvern.
Three books you need- Anatomy of a Division by Shelby Stanton, Death Ground by Daniel Bolger, and The Battle for Hunger Hill which is also by Bolger.
In Death Ground, Bolger summed up the striking power yet fragility of an air cav or air assault unit as a very strong fighter with a glass jaw.
N.B. It's really hard to hit things with a sword (or a spear, for that matter) when you're riding a huge thing with flapping wings that get in the way.
I'd recommend thinking about the question of air-cav in fantasy in one (or more) of three ways:
—Use the flying creatures as the weapons. Historically, elephant riders didn't actually do that much in combat compared with the elephants themselves. Alternatively, use the flying creatures to carry scouts if the fliers aren't big enough to rumble against ground troops.
—Use flying creatures to carry ordinance. >>43452629 has the right idea. The range and accuracy of trained hugebirds would make surgical strikes pretty effective against lightly-defended targets, though they would be unlikely to carry a big enough payload to be useful en-masse compared with traditional siegeworks, which would have a much greater rate of fire and (probably) a bigger payload.
—Put mages on the flying creatures.
Keep in mind that the reason most historical civilizations didn't field large cavalry forces was probably because of the economic strain horses placed on urban societies. I don't think air cavalry would be used in large numbers because it's even more resource-intensive.
>The range and accuracy of trained hugebirds would make surgical strikes pretty effective against lightly-defended targets
Do you have any idea of what a bombing run is?
Did the guys in question also develop complicated high-precision mechanical optics for bombing sights? Quick refresher - for WWII dive bombers going in with sophisticated bomb sights from optimal height had average expected scattering of +10-20 meters from their target. And these guys had means to make a stable dive, take a careful aim in process and get out. A wyvern and it's rider are rather unlikely to pull that off.
Bombing in horizontal flight? Going higher than 1.5 kilometers you can easily completely miss a SMALL CITY if you're bad at adjusting your mechanical bomb sight according to calculations involving logarithmic ruler that you have to make on flight, pun intended.
Read the Black Company Books, specifically (I think), the 3rd one when Charm assaults the Rebel on the Plain of Fear (oh I love the names), also when the Rebel assault the Tower at Charm. Basically The Lady uses strengthened magic carpets and uses then like helicopters from Vietnam, ferrying troops and supplies and then using them as ariel gunships with crossbows and ballisti mounted on them.
The books are highly recommended anyway (the first three are the best on my opinion) and the author - Glen Cook - uses his Vietnam experience to create a brutal low fantasy world.
Because you aren't going to hit shit, primarily.
Dive bombing was the only way to be more accurate than: "Yep, we dropped stuff ROUGHLY in their vincinity" until well towards the end of WW2.
And even then you'd need an animal that's both anatomically capable of getting into a dive, actually naturally hunts that way on top of that and is smart enough to throw shit for your, because your rider isn't going to be in any position to do shit other than holding on for his dear life at that tech-level.
i would give them a shit ton of arrows thats for sure. Then they just park several hundred meters directly above the enemy and literally just drop arrows from the sky. Why risk yourself and your expensive pegasus in a charge/getting hit by return fire when you can C-130 the fuck out of these fags.
The large and slow ones could function as bombers, especially during a siege of a fortified location such as a castle.
They could drop rocks, infected corpses, explosives if there are any, and troops if you have parachutes.
No wall or fortress can withstand the black wings of death.
Surely it'd be easier just to give one guy a ring of invisibilty, with a Telepathic link to a War Wizard back at Base who once the guy get's in a finds a good sized basement that's empty, makes a Teleportation Circle and sends the army in that way.
Hell, nevermind that one guy with the ring, just mass manufacture Feather Fall magic items and Teleport Circle fantasy Paratroopers to a spot about 60 feet about the castle that you can see, after first blowing a few Horns of Fog into the circle for a minute or two.
Many birds will fight in the air, though the ones I see are mostly small ones.
It could be they rear up and grab/stab at each other with their hind legs, while the riders stab at each other and wing joints. The positioning for the riders would be really awkward though, unless they figured out a way to make a saddle with both a combat seat and a flight seat. The fight seat would likely look something like a tree stand, which would be set perpendicular with the wyvern's spine.
With gravity acting as the weapon, you could just scatter 3 inch flechettes around you and laugh as a circle appears in the troop formation. Repeat until there's a dick in the formation. Then send in the real cavalry.
>Faith will stop all arrows
Arrows, maybe, but not even the strongest ecclesiastic countermeasure spells will stop a magic missile fired from head-on.
A Ballista would literately need a 21st century ballistic computer to hit anything, even castle sized, while on a platform so unstable, and the motion of the dragon flying would porbably destroy it long before you could even reatch the enemy. A catapult would share all of these issues, and also be unable to be stored loaded. An early cannon or bombard would likely be sturdy enough to survive aerial transport, but would likely be ineffective if fired in flight, and much better to be moved by dragon and then positioned on favorable ground before firing. In flight weapon systems would be limited to ranged small arms, incendiary or kinetic gravity weapons, casters (assuming magic dose not need stabilization to be effectively employed) and native weapon systems (claws, breath weapons, jaws, venom.
I was about to tell you the fibers to make parachutes would be unavailable, but then I realized you would just need shitloads of silk. Fantasy Asia has a hundred fold as many paratroopers as fantasy Europe, but their bombing techniques have suffered due to an focus on troop drops in training and development.
But how do we know which dragon fights with who? Roundels on their wings?
The actual combat capability of rideable flying creatures would be completely irrelevant next to how they'd impact intelligence and communication.
The kingdom with the best wyverns or whatever would be impossible to surprise, dominate shipping and be able to completely shit on the other nations couriers and so on.
It would change any medieval-ish setting completely.