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Warfare in the Duniverse


Davidu
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Ok, according to some of the other members we needs to spice things up a bit around here. A good way to do that is, of course, to argue about things, and what could be better than to discuss one of the not-so-explored areas of the Duniverse: its warfare. There were no tanks and not APCs, no IFVs, no machine guns, not SMGs, no grenades and so on. Orbital bombardment and nukes were forbidden and the shields were blocking any high-velocity projectile. So people went back to the old and tested, ever so faithful blades. The war of assassins was thus created.

 

Also this had the role of protecting the population against the horrors of war as the adversaries would engage mostly in low-level attacks, assassinations, sabotage and so on. Even so, each house had a standing army ready to face head-on any attack. 

 

My question is how was this warfare conducted. FH only states fairly short blades, mostly daggers, laser guns and spring-loaded pistols. Also there is aerial warfare with ornis and there is also some reference to rockets/missiles.

 

FH is quiet about the tactics, strategies, additional body armor, etc. Also, as I was talking to Mr.Fibble some time ago, I said it would be quite comic to see thousands of men clutched in a desperate fight only with 20-25 cm long daggers. With no variety of weapons there isn't much strategy, laser guns are not effective if EVERYONE is using shields (both target and shooter explode of a laser beam touches a shield) and how can you bring down a shielded laser-shooting orni with only a dagger? Shields would also be effective against shields as well.

 

So, post your ideas of how the warfare was conducted in Shaddam's empire.

 

My ideas:

Personally I think there should've been a variety of weapons, with a prevalence of short-swords, backed up by daggers. Given the numbers of men in war I don't think ALL of them had personal shields as these would've been reserved for high-tier troops and officers. As I said before lasguns are useless if everyone has a shield. I believe some it would've come down to squads of about 10 men, a few of them having also maula pistols. Every company (groupd of squads) would've had a lasgun, which i feel it had the role of a chainbelt-fed machinegun. Grenades are very plausible if not everyone is using shields. 

 

Spears, lancer, halebards are very much usable by second line troops to keep anyone at a distance. Used slowly these weapons can still penetrate a shields.

 

Also the shield must go down if hit repeteadley. Even if it recharges in time, it cannot sustain a non=stop volley of attacks.

 

Also axes, maces or much of the bashing weaponry would be out of use as they rely on high velocity to cause damage and not on sharpness. Therefore, even if they are effective against non-armored targets, they are not against shields, and the weaponry must be effective against BOTH. 

 

Most vehicles would be used as transports, deployment and rocket launching platforms. I would incline more to non-guided missiles, and thus the APC that carries the troops in battle can offer a slight first punch against an attacking unit or would cover their own retreating troops. Ornies would be used for quite the same reason only they could reach places the normal transports could not.

 

Ok guys, let your imagination run free, but keep in mind the restrictions of FH's world as well as the technological implications of te weapons used.

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what could be better than to discuss one of the not-so-explored areas of the Duniverse: its warfare. There were no tanks and not APCs, no IFVs, no machine guns, not SMGs, no grenades and so on. Orbital bombardment and nukes were forbidden and the shields were blocking any high-velocity projectile. So people went back to the old and tested, ever so faithful blades. The war of assassins was thus created.
Well, first off we should specify that we're talking about only one of the many historical periods, namely, the Old Empire in the pre-Muad'dib times. I assume that most military technology remained roughly the same, albeit with more emphasis on the physical prowess of the combatants during Leto II's reign, and changed drastically during and after the time of the Scattering.
Also this had the role of protecting the population against the horrors of war as the adversaries would engage mostly in low-level attacks, assassinations, sabotage and so on. Even so, each house had a standing army ready to face head-on any attack. 

 

My question is how was this warfare conducted. FH only states fairly short blades, mostly daggers, laser guns and spring-loaded pistols. Also there is aerial warfare with ornis and there is also some reference to rockets/missiles.

 

FH is quiet about the tactics, strategies, additional body armor, etc. Also, as I was talking to Mr.Fibble some time ago, I said it would be quite comic to see thousands of men clutched in a desperate fight only with 20-25 cm long daggers. With no variety of weapons there isn't much strategy, laser guns are not effective if EVERYONE is using shields (both target and shooter explode of a laser beam touches a shield) and how can you bring down a shielded laser-shooting orni with only a dagger? Shields would also be effective against shields as well.

It is quite clear from the books that under the rules of the War of Assassins, only limited forces were used in any kind of offence or defence. I fancy this was partially the reason why the Fremen Jihad could conquer a multi-world Imperium in such a short time - the Fremen were not only excellent fighters to match the Sardaukar, but there were also great numbers of them.

I don't agree that the arsenal of personal weapons and armour as FH describes it was limited, nor do I think that this had a narrowing impact on strategic and tactical opportunities.

First off, FH mentions multiple times that there was always a dynamic balance between the means of attack and defence. Blades, slow-pellet guns and pistols were designed to penetrate shields, while lasguns were obviously used in cases when no shields were present, or those were deactivated. By the way, this should answer your question about 'thopters: to fire an on-board lasgun, a 'thopter would have to deactivate its own shields first in order to fire, and in this moment it would become vulnerable to a lasgun counter-attack. Apparently, the presence of activated shields could be confirmed visually most of the time, significantly lowering the risk of firing at a shielded target.

Personally I think there should've been a variety of weapons, with a prevalence of short-swords, backed up by daggers.
Let's see how this can be backed up by the material from the books:
Halleck dropped the weapons on the exercise table, lined them up -- the rapiers, the bodkins, the kindjals, the slow-pellet stunners, the shield belts.
Paul lifted the companion rapier, bent it in his hands, stood in the aguile, one foot forward. He let his manner go solemn in a comic imitation of Dr. Yueh.

"What a dolt my father sends me for weaponry," Paul intoned. "This doltish Gurney Halleck has forgotten the first lesson for a fighting man armed and shielded." Paul snapped the force button at his waist, felt the crinkled-skin tingling of the defensive field at his forehead and down his back, heard external sounds take on characteristic shield-filtered flatness. "In shield fighting, one moves fast on defense, slow on attack," Paul said. "Attack has the sole purpose of tricking the opponent into a misstep, setting him up for the attack sinister. The shield turns the fast blow, admits the slow kindjal!" Paul snapped up the rapier, feinted fast and whipped it back for a slow thrust timed to enter a shield's mindless defenses.

Halleck watched the action, turned at the last minute to let the blunted blade pass his chest. "Speed, excellent," he said. "But you were wide open for an underhanded counter with a slip-tip."

Paul stepped back, chagrined.

"I should whap your backside for such carelessness," Halleck said. He lifted a naked kindjal from the table and held it up. "This in the hand of an enemy can let out your life's blood! You're an apt pupil, none better, but I've warned you that not even in play do you let a man inside your guard with death in his hand."

"I guess I'm not in the mood for it today," Paul said.

"Mood?" Halleck's voice betrayed his outrage even through the shield's filtering. "What has mood to do with it? You fight when the necessity arises -- no matter the mood! Mood's a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It's not for fighting."

"I'm sorry, Gurney."

"You're not sorry enough!"

Halleck activated his own shield, crouched with kindjal outthrust in left hand, the rapier poised high in his right. "Now I say guard yourself for true!" He leaped high to one side, then forward, pressing a furious attack.

Paul fell back, parrying. He felt the field crackling as shield edges touched and repelled each other, sensed the electric tingling of the contact along his skin. What's gotten into Gurney? he asked himself. He's not faking this! Paul moved his left hand, dropped his bodkin into his palm from its wrist sheath.

"You see a need for an extra blade, eh?" Halleck grunted.

Is this betrayal? Paul wondered. Surely not Gurney!

Around the room they fought -- thrust and parry, feint and counterfeint. The air within their shield bubbles grew stale from the demands on it that the slow interchange along barrier edges could not replenish. With each new shield contact, the smell of ozone grew stronger.

Here we can see a variety of bladed weapons being used, as well as the characteristic fencing techniques that are similar to those of Early modern Europe.
Given the numbers of men in war I don't think ALL of them had personal shields as these would've been reserved for high-tier troops and officers.
As for this I'm not sure there is anything in the books to support your theory. It doesn't follow from anywhere that shield technology was so expensive that a Great House could not afford equipping all of their troops with shields. After all, an unshielded fighter would clearly be at a disadvantage when facing a shielded opponent.

Here's a quote to suggest that all Atreides troops were equipped with shields:

"There were water riots when it was learned how many people the Duke was adding to the population," [Jessica] said. "They stopped only when the people learned we were installing new windtraps and condensers to take care of the load."

"There is only so much water to support human life here," [Dr. Yueh] said. "The people know if more come to drink a limited amount of water, the price goes up and the very poor die. But the Duke has solved this. It doesn't follow that the riots mean permanent hostility toward him."

"And guards," she said. "Guards everywhere. And shields. You see the blurring of them everywhere you look. We did not live this way on Caladan."

"Give this planet a chance," he said.

Lasguns, on the other hand, were indeed quite expensive:
Through Paul's mind flashed the related knowledge, the hunter-seeker limitations: Its compressed suspensor field distorted the vision of its transmitter eye. With nothing but the dim light of the room to reflect his target, the operator would be relying on motion--anything that moved. A shield could slow a hunter, give time to destroy it, but Paul had put aside his shield on the bed. Lasguns would knock them down, but lasguns were expensive and notoriously cranky of maintenance--and there was always the peril of explosive pyrotechnics if the laser beam intersected a hot shield. The Atreides relied on their body shields and their wits.
This, by the way, also suggests that all of the Atreides troops used shields, not just the officers. One more quote:
They met in midmorning outside the Arrakeen landing field's administration building. An unmarked ornithopter squatted nearby, humming softly on standby like a somnolent insect. An Atreides guard stood beside it with bared sword and the faint air-distortion of a shield around him.

Kynes sneered at the shield pattern, thinking: Arrakis has a surprise for them there!

[...]

Movement within the entrance caught his attention. He stopped, taking the moment to adjust his robe and the set of his stillsuit at the left shoulder.

The entrance doors swung wide. Atreides guards emerged swiftly, all of them heavily armed--slow-pellet stunners, swords and shields. Behind them came a tall man, hawk-faced, dark of skin and hair. He wore a jubba cloak with Atreides crest at the breast, and wore it in a way that betrayed his unfamiliarity with the garment. It clung to the legs of his stillsuit on one side. It lacked a free-swinging, striding rhythm.

Looks like the same applies to the Harkonnens:
"It'd be pretty hard to conceal that kind of thing among several thousand people," Hawat said. "Idaho had free access to every part of the sietch. He saw no shields or any indication of their use."

"It's a puzzle," the Duke said.

"The Harkonnens certainly used plenty of shields here," Hawat said. "They had repair depots in every garrison village, and their accounts show a heavy expenditure for shield replacements and parts."

Apparently, the forum software doesn't like too many quotes in a post, so I'll have to do a double-post here.
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Here are some battle scenes from the first book:

A file of plodding figures emerged from a break in the opposite cliff, headed directly across the sink. To Hawat, they appeared to be Fremen, but a curiously inept band. He counted six men making heavy going of it over the dunes.

A "thwok-thwok" of ornithopter wings sounded high to the right behind Hawat's group. The craft came over the cliff wall above them--an Atreides 'thopter with Harkonnen battle colors splashed on it. The 'thopter swooped toward the men crossing the sink.

The group there stopped on a dune crest, waved.

The 'thopter circled once over them in a tight curve, came back for a dust-shrouded landing in front of the Fremen. Five men swarmed from the 'thopter and Hawat saw the dust-repellent shimmering of shields and, in their motions, the hard competence of Sardaukar.

"Aiihh! They use their stupid shields," the Fremen beside Hawat hissed. He glanced toward the open south wall of the sink.

"They are Sardaukar," Hawat whispered.

"Good."

The Sardaukar approached the waiting group of Fremen in an enclosing half-circle. Sun glinted on blades held ready. The Fremen stood in a compact group, apparently indifferent.

Abruptly, the sand around the two groups sprouted Fremen. They were at the ornithopter, then in it. Where the two groups had met at the dune crest, a dust cloud partly obscured violent motion.

Presently, dust settled. Only Fremen remained standing.

An alarm cymbal clanged from the outer chamber, was followed by shouting and clashing of weapons. Paul whirled, ran back through the anteroom and out onto the atrium lip above the outer chamber. Gurney was right behind, weapon drawn.

Beneath them on the floor of the cave swirled a melee of struggling figures. Paul stood an instant assessing the scene, separating the Fremen robes and bourkas from the costumes of those they opposed. Senses that his mother had trained to detect the most subtle clues picked out a significant fact -- the Fremen fought against men wearing smuggler robes, but the smugglers were crouched in trios, backed into triangles where pressed.

That habit of close fighting was a trademark of the Imperial Sardaukar.

A Fedaykin in the crowd saw Paul, and his battlecry was lifted to echo in the chamber: "Muad'Dib! Muad'Dib! Muad'Dib!"

Another eye had also picked Paul out. A black knife came hurtling toward him. Paul dodged, heard the knife clatter against stone behind him, glanced to see Gurney retrieve it.

The triangular knots were being pressed back now.

Gurney held the knife up in front of Paul's eyes, pointed to the hairline yellow coil of Imperial color, the golden lion crest, multifaceted eyes at the pommel.

Sardaukar for certain.

Paul stepped out to the lip of the ledge. Only three of the Sardaukar remained. Bloody rag mounds of Sardaukar and Fremen lay in a twisted pattern across the chamber.

So the Sardaukar were known for fighting back to back in triangular formations - quite logical taking into account that probably they were often outnumbered by less powerful enemies and thus could fight in a way they would not be flanked.
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Wow. That was a huge post. I fell you do not agree with me, insisting on this subject, MrFibble, but this should prove a great thread :)

 

I also found this article on the site about Duniverse Warfare. Apparently the shield does not allow enough air to pass inside so a fighter will run out of air in a few minutes of fighting because of the effort. This means he'll have to switch off the shield for a while. Also the same article says that you cannot fire from within the shield because of its 2-way action. Obviously slow blades and pellets would pass but no rockets from shielded vehicles or forts. As MrFibble pointed out, in the case of Lasguns it is imperative to turn off the shield.

 

So, at some point the whole issue is to catch the soldiers "catching their breaths". This is an interesting fact as it allows for a faster finish of the battle.

 

I feel that a physical armor would have also been employed, complementary to the energy shield. A last line of defence against a blade penetrating the shield and pellets or bolts. Kevlar and carbon could be used. I don't remember much from the books on uniforms but I don't recall any mention of body armor, just uniforms. Would it have been possible to employ a body armor ar well as the shield? It would make sense if you have to turn of your shield every now and then in order to catch your breath.

 

PS. right now I'm at work and I need to think more about the whole thing, regarding both the on-site article I found and MrFibble's excerpts from the books. 

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Catching breath? Just some thoughts here. Since it's the future.

 

What about oxygen tanks?

And of course tanks that wash out, or lock up, carbon-dioxide.

With photosynthesis cells, the carbon-dioxide could be turned in carbon and back to oxygen.

 

If the shield has enough power to last days, it certainly has also enough power to turn water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The hydrogen could be saved up as well by a compressor. And later, back in the base, it could be burned to become the precious water again.

 

How good is the chemistry anyway in that time?

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Apparently the shield does not allow enough air to pass inside so a fighter will run out of air in a few minutes of fighting because of the effort. This means he'll have to switch off the shield for a while. Also the same article says that you cannot fire from within the shield because of its 2-way action.
It is true that the shield would slow down air movement, depleting breathable air within the "bubble". This is mentioned in the scene where Paul has a training fight with Gurney, and this is how the Baron was saved from the poisonous gas attack. However, it is nowhere mentioned in the books that fighters had to turn off shields to catch some fresh air, even though this is sorta implied. For example, check the gladiator fight scene, where Feyd apparently uses the full shield (as opposed to the gladiator's semishield that would only cover half of the body), but he doesn't have any problems with breathable air.

Come to think of it, this is somewhat odd since the shield is supposed to take on the form of the wearer's body, as opposed to a spherical bubble, which leaves not so much air within the shield in the first place.

I feel that a physical armor would have also been employed, complementary to the energy shield. A last line of defence against a blade penetrating the shield and pellets or bolts. Kevlar and carbon could be used. I don't remember much from the books on uniforms but I don't recall any mention of body armor, just uniforms. Would it have been possible to employ a body armor ar well as the shield? It would make sense if you have to turn of your shield every now and then in order to catch your breath.
The books don't seem to mention any kind of body armour, only tunics as part of the uniform, or stillsuits for the Fremen.

I think the explanation here is that FH obviously modelled combat after the Early Modern period in Europe. Remember the Three Musketeers for example, there is ample fighting (fencing) action in the books but hardly anyone wears any armour in combat except maybe leather straps that are still part of the clothing anyway.

BTW, I've heard somewhere that kevlar armour, while effectively stopping bullets, is nigh useless against close combat weapons. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

Vests that combined stab and ballistic protection were a significant innovation in the 1990s period of vest development. The starting point for this development were the ballistic-only offerings of that time using NIJ Level 2A, 2, and 3A or HOSDB HG 1 and 2, with compliant ballistic vest products being manufactured with areal densities of between 5.5 and 6 kg/m² (1.1 and 1.2 lb/ft² or 18 and 20 oz/ft²). However police forces were evaluating their “street threats” and requiring vests with both knife and ballistic protection. This multi-threat approach is common in the United Kingdom and other European countries and is less popular in the USA. Unfortunately for multi-threat users, the metallic array and chainmail systems that were necessary to defeat the test blades offered little ballistic performance. The multi-threat vests have areal densities are close to the sum of the two solutions separately. These vests have mass values in the 7.5–8.5 kg/m² (1.55–1.75 lb/ft²) range. Ref (NIJ and HOSDB certification listings). Rolls Royce Composites -Megit and Highmark produced metallic array systems to address this HOSDB standard.
In Germany, Mehler Vario Systems have developed sophisticated hybrid vests of woven para-aramid and chain mail their solution was selected by the London Metro Police. Another German company BSST, in cooperation with Warwick Mills, has developed a system to meet the ballistic-stab requirement using Dyneema laminate and an advanced metallic-array system, TurtleSkin MFA.
As you can see, the vests that offer protection against both ranged and close combat attacks basically have to combine a bulletproof vest with the good old chain mail armour.

And chain mail armour would be quite cumbersome to use in the Duniverse as it would significantly limit the user's movements, which is undesirable at best in an environment when mobility is crucial to winning a fight.

As for the use of spears and halberds: the books don't seem to mention any of those. I assume this could be for the following reasons:

  • First off, polearms of many types were often characteristic of non-professional, poorly trained peasant militias in Europe and other parts of the world. In Dune, we have either trained House armies or professional mercenaries. Or the Fremen who don't use polearms anyway - I guess they could resort to Maker hooks in some desperate situation, but not as a regular weapon; could've been cool though.

  • Polearms were widely used as a counter for cavalry - or, vice versa, as an augmentation of mounted troops' striking power. Mounted combat is absent in Dune, or at least, is never mentioned.

  • Wikipedia suggests that "[t]he purpose of using pole weapons is either to extend reach or to increase angular momentum—and thus striking power—when the weapon is swung". The part about the striking power is irrelevant in the context when shields are used, similar to axes and maces as you have suggested earlier. As for the extended reach, once again, the advantages of this are highly questionable. If a shielded opponent advances at a spear (or halberd) wielder, he can either dodge the spear or just ignore it, because swift strikes will be repelled by the shield. It's not like an opponent is going to stand and wait until the spearman gently pushes the spear inside the shield, right? And when the opponent reaches the spear wielder, the advantage of grater reach is already lost, and the spear becomes useless.

  • You also mention that the spears could be used by the fighters in the rear lines, but this supposes that at least sometimes the infantry would use line or square formations, for which there is no evidence in the books. This is indeed somewhat unlikely given that the action during a fight would eventually boil down to one-on-one encounters.
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In Lynch's movie indeed the shield was taking the shape of the wearer's body, but it might be more plausible to have a bubble.

 

Technically you'd have a generator that would create a force field at a given distance away from it's center, and that's a sphere. Maybe it is possible to integrate a elypsis function so the bubble is tighter around the body, but how do you make it generate a force field straight above the outmost body layer? In this case the clothes. Either it is an energyzed suit (technically plausible for adaptive armor, let's say) with on and off for it's shield or it's the belt-mounted generator that should provide a bubble shield. I cannot see any way a belt-mounted shield would take the shape of the wearer, even less maintain that shape while fighting.

 

It could be a hybrid between both so that miniaturized relays are embedded into the uniform and so provide a somehow accurate body-like shape and also are responsive to the wearer's movements.

 

Another issue I see with body-shaped shield is that it is stated you need to turn off the shield to fire your ranged weapon, which means the "chameleon shield" (let's call it) will cover the weapon as well. In that case what is the surface limit of a personal shield? It covers you, and your weapons, but what about the things you touch or the ground itself? If the shield is discontinued on the feet it might prove a dangerous Achille's heel. 

 

As for the body armor MrFibble is quite right. Light armor only as he pointed out something as leather straps. But during the early modern period in europe the field troops would've had transitional armor. As in "Alatriste" with Vigo Mortensen (though it's not portrayed so much). The thing is during that period the armor was reduced to brastplate and helmet. Maybe some leg armor too. This kept all the joints free for the elaborate movement needed to fence and kill an oponent. Most of FH's depictions were usually not in battle-ready areas, just like the musketeers that wouldn't wear their armor when they were on leave or not on the front lines anyway. If the shield is an energized suit then i think all kinds of protection is applied, if it's a bubble also some body armor would be possible.

 

A final case for the bubble shield: when Paul and Gurney practiced I remember Gurney managed to slip his dagger beneath Paul's shield without Paul noticing. If the shield takes the shape of the body you'd have to press the dagger against the body to get through the shield, and anyone would notice that. If it were a bubble shield then a slow dagger could pass unnoticed through the shield and stop a few centimeters from the body to conceal a surprise attack.

 

... to be continued ...

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As for the shield as a bubble or not: currently I haven't yet found any passage in the book to confirm or deny that, but I've always thought the "individual body shape" version was supposed by FH - while it is kind of weird (a spherical bubble would be more easy to create, and less a mess to explain), it seems to be a better explanation for the shielded 'thopters, as it is in the article you linked to earlier:

Shields conform to the topographic surface of the wearer or the craft utilizing a shield and do not form a projected surface or "bubble". Therefore there is no aerodynamic drag on a thopter when using a shield while in flight.
I'm not sure though whether this article only relies on FH's books, or also uses information from The Dune Encyclopaedia.

Truth be told, FH uses the word bubble quite often to describe the shield. A good example is here:

The Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV led his people into the hall. His burseg helmet had been lost and the red hair stood out in disarray. His uniform's left sleeve had been ripped along the inner seam. He was beltless and without weapons, but his presence moved with him like a force-shield bubble that kept his immediate area open.

However, I've found some more interesting quotes in the first book:

"Some ground cars are moving toward the south wall," the man at the telescope said. "Some are using projectile weapons, testing. Our people are using body shields as you commanded. The ground cars have stopped."
Gotta check other contexts where groundcar is spelled as ground car. This also mentions projectile weapons of sorts by the way, conforming with your theory :)

And here's a bit about some body armour, which I nearly forgot - the climatic fight between Paul and Feyd:

A sense of failure pervaded him, and he saw through it that Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen had slipped out of the torn uniform, stripped down to a fighting girdle with a mail core.
Paul had seen enough for a first approximation. Feyd-Rautha led to the left side, presenting the right hip as though the mailed fighting girdle could protect his entire side. It was the action of a man trained to the shield and with a knife in both hands.

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Well, I think for a thopter or vehicle or whatnot it's easier to apply a shield that mimics the surface by "hull energizing". As far as I know in our own reality different voltages of current either attract or reject (220V vs 360V). I don't remember exactly which or how but there's something about that property of Voltage. Even if it's not that it's way simpler to dissipate an energy field through a conductive metallic body rather than a water soaked sponge that the human body is.

 

So a shield might be a generated bubble for a person (belt mounted shield) and a shape-mimicking shield for a vehicle. As far as I see it there's nothing wrong with that, it simply goes with the common sense of technology.

 

 

One thing I have to ask is if those projectile weapons refer only to missles (I dunno why but I always thought of projectile weapons as missles) or also machine guns or other types of guns. The big question is about the fact if it's feasible to build machine gun ground cars for riot suppresion (peons and townsfolk would have no shields) and use them on Arrakis where shields are unusable by natives or due to the Great Convention and shield technology such weaponry would be outdated.

 

As for the body armor... the good chain mail as you said, haha. The question here if it's just an exotic appearance on Feyd or a standard battle equipment or just a standard  uniform underlayer. Chain mail is great at breaking knives tips, locking the blade for a short while and keeping it away from the skin. As long as the cain mail is not made out of cumbersome metal (probably newer stronger alloy and materials will be invented) this should prove quite useful, just as I said earlier about the transitional armor of Louis XIV's time (only helmet and breast plate).

 

 

One thing I saw on that article I found on our website here said groundcars used suspensions. I fail to remember anywhere in the book any reference to that, but as the technology itself existed, minituarized to support the Baron and the Guild Pilot's "aquarium" it could work as well on a ground vehicle. If this is true... those ground cars could roam the desert without attracting any worms as they don't touch the ground, which is not the case in the original FH books, where everyone was staying clear of the sand. Technically I asnwered my own question here, but as I think of it I am more and more amazed there's no more reference to the suspensors. If the shield technology could be miniaturized to protect a person and enlarged to protect a whole compound (neighborhood), why wouldn't suspensors (already portrayed as miniaturized) be used on larger machinery?

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I was thinking about the silence cone... could it be just a modified shield? As in make the energy force field flexible so it'll absorb the air vibrations (sound waves) and thus the inside is phonically insulated from the outside and the other way around. 

 

The idea is that a cloth can be coded (as in 3D games) but instead of it working with virtual vertex and surfaces it would work with real world force field. Maybe there would be other ways of insulation as, lets say, a force field that simply absorbs the kinetic energy of sound waves and transforms it into ... anything else: heat energy most likely that would be then dissipated somewhere else.

 

If my idea would be applyable it would be really interesting to see people arguing inside as the higher the volume of the argument, the more intense the "sound ripples" on the surface of the force field (as it would be cloth-like flexible and elastic).

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It's been a long time since I've been here. I saw this topic however and it of course was interesting to me... If anyone remembers, I did a lot of examining of this topic in the past and think I can contribute quite a bit to it. I actually had a pretty holistic idea of how warfare worked in the Imperium beforehand, but after recently finishing reading the book again have decided it needed significant revisions. Much of my original theories were influenced by this article as well, but I think some of those bear some revisions or expanding upon.

 

I started writing a reply for this thread outlining those ideas but I've unfortunately hit page 15... I may link to it here once I'm done, but obviously posting it would be fruitless. Hopefully once I'm satisfied with it I can help out more with the topic. There was another old topic on flags or battle standards that I have been writing notes on to revise as well... I don't know as there are many changes for it, but I know there was at least one...

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Right, I have a new one: sieges.

 

So a structure (as well as a vehicle and person) can be protected by a shield. Contrary to the personal shield that is very complicated (to unlikely) to mimic the body's shape for a vehicle and structure is very much possible if the right plating materials are used. On the other hand, if one wants to protect a large area one might want to protect/cover the open areas as well (gardens, squares, patrol paths etc.) so I might say a bubble would also be used.

 

The biggest question is: how do you lay siege to such a formidable defence?

 

Obviously you could sacrifice a lasgun, strap it to a remote controlled trigger and blow 'em up to kingdom come. If you don't want to vaporise the whole place however... it gets more complicated. I'm not even going into the Dune Warfare article I found on our site that suggests orbital bombardment by dragging asteroids and derelict ships into the atmosphere and letting them fall on shielded targets. That is too extreme and very unlikely to be used as a standard tactic. The best way would be to infiltrate and disable the shield generator. Or whatever generator keeps the whole thing powered. Basically a small team could infiltrate by night and try to reach the generator blow it up and then the remainder fo the troops could pour in under the cover of missle fire and engage in melee combat. 

 

So: infiltrate - disable shield - supression fire - melee.

 

So the bigger problem is the infiltration. I presume sensors are in place all around the perimeter. Also only a slow object passes through a shield, so when penetrating the shield is one of the most sensible moments as it would take quite some time and the possibility of being caught is huge. I remember a line in the books which MrFibble quoted at some point refering to shields clashing. From this I understand shield does not penetrate shield. Which means the infiltration team should have their shields turned off in order to get past the enemy area shield which makes them even more vulnerable. As no cloacking devices are to be mentioned (besides the cone of silence which might be used in a portable manner to conceal the noise of taking down unsuspecting guards) i think most infiltrations would take place during the night and in hard to see places.

 

If the ford is in an open plain (like on Arrakis) the question is: can you dig a tunnel to pop up inside the compound and shut down the generator? Very much possible if the shield doesn not extend underneath the soil.

 

So if the shield extends underneath the soil, shielded structure is in open plain with no blind spots and you don't want to vaporise it the only method would be a classic all-out assault. Probably the troops would carry physical shields to protect them against stunners when penetrating the shield (no such thing attested in the books though). No physical shields = massacre and no way of overwhelming the defences. Physical shields = protection while near the area shield (no one would risc shooting a lasgun when you have a huge force shield to your back) and while charging you could turn on your force shield and engage in melee. This indicates a need for some physical shields in order to get a bridgehead inside the area shield. Or a ridiculous ammount of people to sacrifice in a head-on attack. 

 

I repeat: tha last two hypothesis are linked to the possibility of the area shield to extend underground.

 

Any thoughts on this?

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The biggest question is: how do you lay siege to such a formidable defence?

You know the answer already and it's to have an inside man who will turn the shield off :)

Then again, I guess the standard tactics that apply to real-life sieges would also work: block out every supply route and exit from the besieged target and wait till their supplies run dry. And, of course, make sure your supplies don't run dry in the process.

I'm not 100% sure but I think I've read somewhere that most sieges throughout the medieval period (and possibly also in late antiquity as well) went more or less through this scenario. With the advent of gunpowder however, I think that the Helm's Deep type of sieges became more frequent, and more fast.

Obviously you could sacrifice a lasgun, strap it to a remote controlled trigger and blow 'em up to kingdom come. If you don't want to vaporise the whole place however... it gets more complicated.

I'm a bit lazy to look up the exact quote right now, but the chance that such an explosion could turn out indistinguishable from an atomic attack made this tactic a complete no-no. Other wise I think the Baron would've get over losing Arrakeen altogether, especially since his residence was in Carthag.

I'm not even going into the Dune Warfare article I found on our site that suggests orbital bombardment by dragging asteroids and derelict ships into the atmosphere and letting them fall on shielded targets. That is too extreme and very unlikely to be used as a standard tactic.

Well, this scenario is most unrealistic simply because the Guild would never allow this to happen, even if someone somehow obtained an independent spacecraft capable of towing asteroids around.

The best way would be to infiltrate and disable the shield generator. Or whatever generator keeps the whole thing powered. Basically a small team could infiltrate by night and try to reach the generator blow it up and then the remainder fo the troops could pour in under the cover of missle fire and engage in melee combat.

The question here remains how that team would bypass the shield. I'm not sure if it follows from the book that a house shield worked the same was as a pru-door, blocking all entry except for the wearers of specially coded dissemblers. If not, armed patrols and guards stationed at potential points of entry would certainly be in order.

I'm saying all this because the Harkonnen plan clearly required that Yueh would turn off the shield. Surely the Sardaukar, in such great numbers as they were, could overpower the Atreides guards?

I remember a line in the books which MrFibble quoted at some point refering to shields clashing. From this I understand shield does not penetrate shield. Which means the infiltration team should have their shields turned off in order to get past the enemy area shield which makes them even more vulnerable. As no cloacking devices are to be mentioned (besides the cone of silence which might be used in a portable manner to conceal the noise of taking down unsuspecting guards) i think most infiltrations would take place during the night and in hard to see places.

That is also a point I thought about, if a house shield permitted entry then the infiltrators would need to turn off their own defences in order to pass.

As for the dark places, I guess there were ample countermeasures to that. Remember, Hawat has his own security corps, and I think those guys (or personally the Mentat Assassin) would inspect the residence to make sure all possible entrances were guarded or otherwise secured.

If the ford is in an open plain (like on Arrakis) the question is: can you dig a tunnel to pop up inside the compound and shut down the generator? Very much possible if the shield doesn not extend underneath the soil.

My understanding is that cities like Arrakeen were built on solid rock, making tunnelling a busy process, and besides, that would be easily detected with appropriate measures.

So if the shield extends underneath the soil, shielded structure is in open plain with no blind spots and you don't want to vaporise it the only method would be a classic all-out assault. Probably the troops would carry physical shields to protect them against stunners when penetrating the shield (no such thing attested in the books though). No physical shields = massacre and no way of overwhelming the defences. Physical shields = protection while near the area shield (no one would risc shooting a lasgun when you have a huge force shield to your back) and while charging you could turn on your force shield and engage in melee. This indicates a need for some physical shields in order to get a bridgehead inside the area shield. Or a ridiculous ammount of people to sacrifice in a head-on attack.

Well, maybe that was theoretically possible, but that would certainly require huge expenses on troop transportation.

BTW, I think an armoured, slow-moving groundcar would serve as a better defence for the attackers than physical shields carried by individual troopers. In fact, a groundcar could rush to the house shield, then slow down and drive through the shield.

Even better, such a car could have an armoured door at the front (or at the back, like some real-life APCs have), and only a small part with the door would need to get through the shield to deploy battle-ready, shielded troops right into the perimeter.

Such tactic, of course, could be countered by firing missiles at the APCs, but it's still a possibility nonetheless.

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Hmmm... i totally forgot about the groundcars as spearheads, only thought of them as missile launching platforms to cover the attacking infantry. And I also forgot about the missiles the defense might have, which would obliterate any infantry caught passing through the shield.

 

On the other hand the APC could have a modified shield on the tip of its nose that once inside the big shield activates and protects the front (as a normal board-shield) while the rest of the APC either drives in slowly in order to open the rear door, or the nose-shield only covers the front door and the troops can get out and activate their own shields. Problem is that the defenders can place anti-vehicle protection (concrete prisms) all around the edge of the shield making this tactic risky. On the other hand, of course, all this could be destroyed by a salvo of missiles (for the outside of the shield) and by slowly pushing inside the shield explosives to clear the way for the APC. 

 

A perfectly deflector shield that rejects even slow moving objects would reduce sieges to long period of waiting. It is true that normal sieges in medieval periods were long and boring, but even so, catapults, trebuchets, ballistas, sappers, battering rams, siege towers and ladders kept things hot. So there must be a way :)

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There's one more thing about all this. The Guild, CHOAM and the ruling Imperial House made all the effort to minimize conflict between the Noble Houses. I assume that the Arrakis incident and the attack on House Atreides was a prominent exception, even more so that one of the sides was secretly backed up by the Emperor himself. The idea is that it is quite probable that warfare of the scale that we currently discuss (with sieges, huge army vs. army battles etc.) were extremely rare, if ever occurred at all. Don't forget that House Harkonnen was extremely rich and only because of that the Baron could pay all the troop transportation costs.

The Imperium as FH describes it feels more like Renaissance Italy in many ways, with political assassinations and financial machinations being a much more common, and much more effective way to bring the downfall of an opposing House than storming at the front porch of the enemy in full force so to speak.

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Quite a deadlock. But yes, it is mostly like that.

 

On stunners: they're mechanical spring-loaded and "fire" pellets slow enough to penetrate a shield and carrying a poison in order to stun the adversary. Their range is extremely limited (several meters). Even so, wouldn't this make the shields obsolete in some manner? On Arrakis, given the planet's conditions it's possible that nowadays weaponry would be just as effective, but withing the whole Duniverse such a weapon as the stunner, even with its limited range could be devastating. Why aren't they more depicted in the books/movies?

 

Exactly as the muskets in the Renaissance, they can be used as a short-range volley just before engageing in melee. The muskets however were single shot and highly innacurate and also it took a while to reload them. Given the technological progress I presume stunnders would be semi-automatic, could carry a resonable ammount of projectiles (let's say 10, maybe even 20 given the size) and despite the low velocity of the projectile they'd be quite accurate. Or, as duelists during Renaissance, the honor code (and small size of fighting) would make the fighters use melee over ranged combat?
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I think the stunners are better compared to arrows, not to muskets: certainly effective, but inaccurate, easy to dodge due to slow projective speed. In the first book, all effective stunner attacks were against unshielded targets (Leto, Hawat). It is implied that if Leto activated his shield Yueh's stunner would have not harmed him.

I'm just guessing though.

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Fremen don't use polearm because would be retarderd in their planet. No cavalry and not heavy armor. And not trees on Dune for the pole. I don't remember field battles outside Dune where there are many trees and people wear heavy armor or ride beasts.

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Well polearms are not restricted to jousting lances. Pikes are still polearms are were not used by cavalry during the Renaissance. Basically polearms as lances, pikes and spears are, let's say, semi-ranged weapons. Or a ranged weapon that you retain. Keeps the enemy at a resonable distance and out of his range. Also javelins could be thrown at enemies.

 

Also the pole itself is not necesarely made out of wood: bamboo, metal tube, well, anything that stands. The thumper used a rod/tube and the riding hooks also (sort of). 

 

I presume polearms were not so used because most warfare was based on ambushes. Ambushes were taking place in tight spots, where there's no room to use polearms. And nobody carries around a spear "just in case" they get ambushed. Surely a trained soledier could make good use of polearms even when using a shield. 

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I presume polearms were not so used because most warfare was based on ambushes. Ambushes were taking place in tight spots, where there's no room to use polearms. And nobody carries around a spear "just in case" they get ambushed.

I guess you're right about that. Melee combat as FH describes it generally seems to require a lot of versatility and fast, unrestricted movement. Spears and lances in this respect are surely more cumbersome to wield compared to short swords and daggers. BTW, I think there are no two-handed swords mentioned in the book for the same reason, and also many characters are shown to either use weapons in both hands (e.g. a kindjal and a bodkin), or switch the knife hand during the fight.

And not trees on Dune for the pole.

Fremen made Maker hooks from some material, so they had the possibility to make polearms too. Also remember they could buy stuff from off-planet from the smugglers.
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Turning to ornies a bit I feel that their main use is not of attack (military ornies I mean) even if they (can) carry weaponry, such as missiles and lasguns. Mostly they are used as dropships, used to deploy trops fast and provide close air support if needed. As their shield has to be turned off while shooting this make them vulnerable to groundfire.

 

The big question if how can ornies play a more substantial role in the battle. They can simply launch missiles on top of the enemy troops to supress them until friendly troops aproach and engage in melee, scout and drop in troops behind enemy lines. Only this seems quite a limited role to me compared to the PR FH did on their behalf :)

 

 

Also, on another thoughthread I was wondering if the weaponry was different between crowd-control / rebellion supressing and house-to-house warfare. When dealing with peons any kind of weaponry is effective as they don't have shields. BUT they have huge numbers so they could overpower the small numbers of soldiers upkept by the houses. The shield does not stop a mob of people from imobilizing you, or lynching, or hanging or simply having your belt-mounted shield simply taken away. In this case I feel ranged weapons could be effective, setting the divide between two types of warfare. As far as I remember there was no such mention in the books, though rebellions were. 

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Nope, because the vibration speed would make those weapons impossible to penetrate a force shield. The shield allows for slow object to pass but rejects fast ones. So a slow blade can penetrate the shield and then launch an attack from within while a bullet or a fast strike are deflected. Thus, the speed of the vibroblade would never allow the weapon to pass through the shield.

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Also, on another thoughthread I was wondering if the weaponry was different between crowd-control / rebellion supressing and house-to-house warfare. When dealing with peons any kind of weaponry is effective as they don't have shields. BUT they have huge numbers so they could overpower the small numbers of soldiers upkept by the houses. The shield does not stop a mob of people from imobilizing you, or lynching, or hanging or simply having your belt-mounted shield simply taken away. In this case I feel ranged weapons could be effective, setting the divide between two types of warfare. As far as I remember there was no such mention in the books, though rebellions were.

Regarding population unrest, I think FH mentions several times in the books (although I'm not sure if this applies to the pre-Leto II times equally as to his reign) that there was an emphasis on rigid control over communications and transportation. Basically, mass-scale rebellions were averted by simply not allowing the people to cooperate in such a way that they could gather in large numbers, or obtain weaponry or sensitive tactical information that would help them.

I think that the feudal, mostly agricultural society of the Imperium FH depicts was confined to towns and villages of such a size that the population would be insufficient to just gather and overthrow their siridar, or even pose a threat to the local House military.

FH mentions "garrison villages" on Arrakis, and this implies that substantial House forces were stationed across planets to maintain peace. It is doubtful that such garrisons were against the Fremen, whom the Harkonnens did not perceive as a real threat, or worms or anything - their purpose seems to have been population control as well as defence in general (e.g. against possible Harkonnen attacks), and I think such garrisons were present anywhere, not just on Arrakis.

Frankly I don't remember any rebellion mentioned in the books that was not a House to House issue. There was unrest in Leto II's times but that's a different period, and it was part of his plan anyway.

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