BSV Forum - Writing - Resources

Math Question

Feb 19 2007 04:46 pm   #1LadyYashka

Since I really stink at math I was hoping somebody could answer this for me.

This is for my story "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and I would hate to guess only to have someone who can answer this think I was just being lazy.

If one side had an army of 10,000-15,000 and the other side had 5,925, what are the one on one odds?

If the good guys hold they will have an aditional 6,000 in back up arriving later.

Good guys army: 5,925 plus an extra 6,000 about a week away

Bad guys army: 10,000-15,000

So any answers for the math challenged? Please.

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 19 2007 05:08 pm   #2Diabola

Gah, what a question. Way I understand it, it'd be about 1.6 to 1 (10,000) or about 2.5 to 1 (15,000). I think 2 to 1 would be a good average. Not sure how to go about including the additional 6,000, because if they arrive a week later, both original armies will have lost men already. But unless the smaller army gets wiped out before the back-up arrives (and the survivors of the bigger one leave), I'd say that the additional 6,000 FRESH fighters will pretty much guarantee a victory. The bigger army will probably be reduced to something around that number too, but the back-up will be fresh, while the survivors will be tired and have wounded among their ranks.

If the smaller army knew about their backup, and the bigger one didn't, than the smaller one would probably have based their strategy on that. They would have tried to avoid an all out battle, holing up somewhere and hitting their enemy with short, brutal attacks at whatever weak spots they could find. It would also depend on their weaponry, if they have long- or crossbows, they would probably try to lure the enemy into attacking their fortifications, and hope to reduce their numbers with as few risks to their own people as possible. And what kind of troups they have. Are those modern armies, old human armies, demons vs. Slayers? (Sorry, I can't recall the story in question right now.) --- Ugh, you didn't ask about all this, did you? Sorry, been reading historical novels recently, and military strategy featured heavily. Anyway, I hope the numbers at the beginning answer your question.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 19 2007 07:15 pm   #3slaymesoftly

Hee! You are so precise, Dia.  I would have just rounded off at 2-1 for 10,000 and 3-1 for 15,000.  And I agree with you, the extra 6000 can't be figured into it, except strategically, because all the numbers will have changed by the time they get there.   

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Feb 19 2007 07:25 pm   #4Diabola

I used to be a Math and Physics major; after a while, you just accept that not being precise has the same result as being wrong - one of those ugly red marks in the margin and a lower grade.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 20 2007 03:07 am   #5Spikez_tart

I'm sure Dia is right about the numbers (well I would be sure if I had the slightest idea what she was talking about), but I disagree that the good guys would win under the scenario presented.  The practical advantage of one force having nearly double the number of soldiers than the smaller force is greater than the numbers indicate, because you have two soldiers shooting at one. 

Supposing each army has 1000 KIAs (killed in actions) for each hour of fighting.  Here's how it would work out:

Big Army Small Army
15000 6000
14000 5000
13000 4000
12000 3000
11000 2000
10000 1000
9000

 

In seven hours of fighting, the larger army would  win and have nine thousand men left to defeat the 'surprise' army.    If the surprise army shows up after three hours of fighting, you would need 9,000 new troops to equal the Big Army. 

The smaller army will  be quickly wiped out unless they have some other advantage - better position, better weapons, inside lines of communication, better espionage or knowledge of the enemies plans and weaknesses.  Even those advantages probably won't be enough.  Depending on the wickedness of the writer, of course.

This was pretty much the scenario in the American Civil War, where the South always had fewer soldiers and no way of getting any more.  They also had inferior weapons, horses that couldn't be replaced, inferior supplies of all kinds, inferior communications, about equal talents in espionage (except at Gettysburg where the Union captured Robert E Lee's battle plans).  The South had at least two generals who were better than any of the generals the North came up with - Lee and Jackson, but Jackson was killed about half way through the war.  The only real advantage the South enjoyed was shorter lines of communications.  Lee used this advantage to hold off the North for nearly five years by moving troops back and forth (your surprise army scenario) to bolster whatever army was getting hit hardest. 

I hope this completely answers a question that you didn't ask. If not, let me know, I'm feeling a She-Giles attack coming on.

Tart

 

If we want her to be exactly she'll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she's gone' who?
Feb 20 2007 04:54 am   #6LadyYashka

 First off, I'm sorry! I didn't think until much later that I should have broken it down like this. I should have mentioned what the armies consisted of. I blame being tired.

Secondly, you guys are great! I need to know all of this. I was thinking of just getting an answer to the numbers. I'll defiantly be looking over these posts the further along I get with this scene.

I'll also be looking over other books I've read with similar scenarios, small goody guy army/large bad guy army.

Also Dia the good guy's army (Spike's) consist of 5,925 humans with 6,000 more on their way, and 21 types of dragons. Big western dragons, Wyvern, Fire and Ice drakes.

The enemy has: 10,000-15,000 leviathan, worms, and dragonets.

www.monstrous.com

The above site is where I found information on some of the dragons.

Here's the description of a leviathan that I'm using:

"In Hebrew mythology, a leviathan was a large creature with fierce teeth. Contemporary translations identify the leviathan with the crocodile, but in the Bible, the leviathan can breathe fire (Job 41:18-21), can fly (Job 41:5), and cannot be pierced with spears or harpoons (Job 41:7), his scales so close that there is no room between them (Job 41:15-16), his upright walk (Job 41:12), his teeth close together (Job 41:14), an underbelly that could cut a person (Job 41:30) so the identification does not precisely match."

This was taken from Wikipedia. Does this help answer your questions? And Spikez_tart, bring on the She-Giles!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 20 2007 10:21 am   #7Diabola

Ok, I admit that I based my assumptions on the idea that those armies were not using modern weaponry. Discounting the lay of the land, and superior weapons, I believe tactics can make more of a differnce in close combat than if we were talking guns and co. If numbers mattered that much more than tactics and e.g. discipline, then Rome would never have conquered the world - nor would Alexander. Counting in stuff like that, it wasn't uncommon for troops to consider 2 to 1 odds AGAINST them as an easy victory, because expirience had taught them that this particular enemy, they could easily beat even at 3 to 1. Also, when we're talking hand-to-hand combat, or maybe swords and axes, whether a fighter is fresh or not will make an even greater difference than if he's been pointing guns at people.

In this case, the fact that the larger army has no, or only very few, humans, could be turned into an advantage. It is unlikely that the "army" or worms and dragonets will be an army in the sense as we think of it today, more likely, it will be a group of those creatures - all of whom will fight individually in the end, with no thought to the worm next to them. Spike has a good head on his shoulders, possibly some classical education, he'd be fully aware that his humans don't have much of a chance against the dragons when pitted 1 against 1. (After all, slayer, normal human or vampire, if you light them up, they will die.) He'd also know or at least suspect that their enemies won't act as a coordinated group. He can use that knowledge against them. e.g. Assign fast humans to the bigger dragons, have them make sure they in the middle of their own troops, dodge around them and try to get them to aim their fire-breath to where they will hit their own fighters. (Ok, so that'd be incredibily dangerous, but it wouldn't be the first kamikaze missions in history.) Get the enemy to concentrate on a small group of close-combat fighters, and cover them with arrows. Maybe even use some modern weaponry if the fight is happening on this world.

I don't know how other see this, but personaly I think it would be really cool if you did more than just pitch them at each other in the middle of an empty field. After all, that's not really realistic. Tales did something lie that in her "Spike's will" series, had them use actual tactics in the fight against the uber-vamps, instead of having them rush in there like they didn't know what to expect - made it possible to see the characters as heros without the bitter "maybe, but also idiots" aftertaste.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 20 2007 11:17 am   #8LadyYashka

"I don't know how other see this, but personaly I think it would be really cool if you did more than just pitch them at each other in the middle of an empty field. After all, that's not really realistic. "

It's supposed to be set in a city on flat frozen land. (At this time of the year anyway) The city is the capital of one of the Kingdoms with a big stone castle in the center and the city surrounding it. It would be pointless to throw them at each other with no planning involved.

Also, no modern weapons so it's just swords, bows, spears, fire, and anything else that would be useful.

I firmly believe Spike did have a classical education, so that's not a problem. I think the flash backs on his human life support this.

Also my characters wouldn't go into a fight without planning anyway nor would they follow someone who didn't know what they were doing. The ones planning this fight are Spike (who is basically in charge); two Kings who are not pampered wussies, Angel, and my dragon Draco (who "leads" the good dragons).

Of course now I have more notes to take and maps to draw. I also have several other big battles to plan out. But I knew that when I was planning this story so all of this is a big help. Thanks!

BTW-you just helped me figure out a major plot point! Yay!

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 20 2007 11:19 am   #9Caro Mio

The 300 Spartans against the Persians is a good battle to reference. Same with the Greeks at Thermopoly. Overwhelming odds against a determined group of soldiers. Both groups eventually lost, but they did put up a hell of a fight.

Dragons in lore have always been extremely cunning, sometimes brilliant, and ruthless in a fight. You can't just chase a dragon off without serious incentive. They also often know magic and can even shape-shift. So including them gives you a lot of room to play.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Feb 20 2007 11:22 am   #10Caro Mio

Are you including medieval machinery, as well, such as catapults or trebuchets? Very effective against air assauts, as well as hurling rocks or flaming balls into the opposing army.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Feb 20 2007 11:37 am   #11LadyYashka

"Are you including medieval machinery, as well, such as catapults or trebuchets?"

Yes, though I need to research those.

Also my dragons are very smart and can be ruthless when they need to be. They do have magic but no shape-shifting. Of course my bad guys are smart too so they'll have a hell of a fight on their hands.

It's a good thing I have lots of time to fiddle with this one and they are great practice for writing the final big battle.

 

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 20 2007 06:01 pm   #12The Space Between

Holy Crap Lady! This is sounding more and more Lord of the Rings. Can't wait to see it!

 

*grin*

~*~ The Powers offer no sympathy for the way things are...Human deeds are left in human hands. It's what one does with what's left that makes any difference ~*~ Jenny Calander as created by HollyDB
Feb 21 2007 01:56 am   #13Spikez_tart

Oooo, talking about weapons makes me feel all Manly!

Don't forget Greek Fire - I don't think anybody knows what it really is, so you can do anything you like.  As to Spike making plans ...

 

If we want her to be exactly she'll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she's gone' who?
Feb 21 2007 02:09 am   #14Diabola

Wow, ever since you mentiones siege engines, I have those awesome images in my head of how this battle might look like. I'll have to make sure to read the scene when it is done; usually my mind doesn't really provide images for bigger scenes, I'm quite content with the written form, so this is special.

Greek fire is a cool idea S_t, but I'm not so sure about the "you can do anything you like". As far as I know, you're correct in that we don't really know what it was, but we do know how it worked, so she doesn't have much wiggle-room in that regard. And it's probably better not to come up with an explanation as to what exactly it was, better just keep it vague, less risk of someone complaining about scientific accuracy that way.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 21 2007 04:39 am   #15LadyYashka

"Holy Crap Lady! This is sounding more and more Lord of the Rings. Can't wait to see it!"

Did I mention that I love fantasy novels?   This is certainly going to take awhile to write but as soon as it is up (whenever that happens) I'll let you know.

"Don't forget Greek Fire -"

Better idea than what I was thinking. I'll have to research it though and probally use that to come up with a substance like that.

"Wow, ever since you mentiones siege engines, I have those awesome images in my head of how this battle might look like."

Hee-hee! I've got two in my head right now and I've got the shadow of the final battle taking shape. I have high expectations for this story so I want the scenes to match what I dream up. Now I'm off to write and research! Thanks guys!

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 22 2007 02:48 am   #16Spikez_tart

Ok - talking through my hat, as usual.

Greek fire - a mixture used by Byzantine Greeks that was often shot at adversaries; catches fire when wetted  (Wikopedia)

Greek fire, a flammable composition believed to have consisted of sulfur, naphtha, and quicklime. Although known in antiquity, it was first employed on a large scale by the Byzantines. Bronze tubes that emitted jets of liquid fire were mounted on the prows of their galleys and on the walls of Constantinople. The Byzantines in 678 and again in 717–18 destroyed two Saracen fleets with Greek fire.  (Columbia Ency)

I was thinking in the terms of using magic to set it off.  The catching fire when wet is really weird.  Sounds like a flame thrower.  Or, you could make a magical version - some kind of liquid that freezes fire, or creates weather.

 

If we want her to be exactly she'll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she's gone' who?
Feb 22 2007 03:10 am   #17Spikez_tart

Levitahan - traditionally it's a giant fish that's going to be served up to the righteous at the end of days.  Messiah comes, God kills the fish, big banquet ensues.  Also, there's supposed to be a really big ox for those who prefer beef.  This is a translation from a jewish site, might be a little bit more accurate.  Sounds a little like the judge - no weapons of man can kill it.  Also, you might have to wear potholders.

 

Who can open the doors of his face? Round about his teeth is terror.

His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.

One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.

They are joined one to another; they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.

His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.

Out of his mouth go burning torches, and sparks of fire leap forth.

Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot and burning rushes.

His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

In his neck abideth strength, and dismay danceth before him.

The flakes of his flesh are joined together; they are firm upon him; they cannot be moved.

His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, firm as the nether millstone.

When he raiseth himself up, the mighty are afraid; by reason of despair they are beside themselves.

If one lay at him with the sword, it will not hold; nor the spear, the dart, nor the pointed shaft.

He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.

The arrow cannot make him flee; slingstones are turned with him into stubble.

Clubs are accounted as stubble; he laugheth at the rattling of the javelin.

Sharpest potsherds are under him; he spreadeth a threshing-sledge upon the mire.

He maketh the deep to boil like a pot; he maketh the sea like a seething mixture.

He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.

Upon earth there is not his like, who is made to be fearless.

He looketh at all high things; he is king over all the proud beasts.

 

If we want her to be exactly she'll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she's gone' who?
Feb 22 2007 03:35 am   #18LadyYashka

 Spikez_tart

Thanks for the stuff on Greek fire. I'll definatly use it to come up with some sort of substance like it, possibly magical. I only have close to 1400 words of this part written and it's not even close to being done.

As for the leviathan I found this description of them on Wikipedia and I went with the first half. (the part in bold) Granted there has been no fire breathing or flying. Mine however do walk up right, have had to pierce scaly skin, big teeth, claws, and arms.

Picture a really big crocodile/lizard that walks up right, is really big, and can use weapons as well as teeth and claws. Not accurate but the idea came from this.

Though I do have sea dragons, just not the leviathan description.

In Hebrew mythology, a leviathan was a large creature with fierce teeth. Contemporary translations identify the leviathan with the crocodile, but in the Bible, the leviathan can breathe fire (Job 41:18-21), can fly (Job 41:5), and cannot be pierced with spears or harpoons (Job 41:7), his scales so close that there is no room between them (Job 41:15-16), his upright walk (Job 41:12), his teeth close together (Job 41:14), an underbelly that could cut a person (Job 41:30) so the identification does not precisely match. Over time, the term came to mean any large sea monster; in modern Hebrew, "leviathan" simply means whale. A sea serpent is also closely related to the dragon, though it is more snakelike and lives in the water.

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 22 2007 04:05 am   #19Caro Mio

Like a dinosaur.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Feb 22 2007 03:51 pm   #20Diabola

Ok, off topic, but funny. I really liked this discussion, so I told the boss about it. Somehow he got stuck on "odds" and "different creatures", and he promptly started to give suggestions on how many hitpoints each dragonet/levitian/human should have - and how you can use those hitpoints, combined with each creatures armor-class, fire-resistance and max-damage to calculate the odds. I just sat there staring at him; about every five minutes I tried to tell him that we were talking about a scene in a story, not freaking World of Warcraft. Took me half an hour to get him to shut up. Talk about obsessed.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 22 2007 10:40 pm   #21LadyYashka

:::goes out front and hangs geek Flag:::  You know what Dia? Those Dungeon and Dragons/World Of War craft hit points stuff could actually be used. I think I need to go have a conversation with my sister now...she's addicted to WoW. Sigh....I am such a dork and I don't even play those games.

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 22 2007 10:57 pm   #22Diabola

Well, I don't think they can, or should. The whole tactics thing you've been working on, doesn't feature in hitpoint-based odds at all. You're going for realistic, well, as realistic as you can get with dragons involved. In WoW it is impossible to kill a same-level character with one hit - that's bull. Hitpoints go down with each hit (unless there is poison involved), but a real human will get constantly weaker once he starts bleeding. Nothing against those games, I certainly play them enough, but those fights don't have much to do with reality. You can't get too realistic in a game, I know we used to bitch about the BFG in DukeNukem because a weapon that could kill you with one hit sucked (unless you had it); I never liked CounterStrike, because once dead, you actually have to wait untl the end of the round. Both the BFG and the staying dead are pretty realistic, but that's not what a gamer wants. You can probably put down some stats to get an idea of how much damage you have to do to a dragon to kill him, but don't rely to heavily on them - no matter how many hitpoints you credit your humans, even another human with less skills can still kill them with one hit.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 22 2007 11:18 pm   #23LadyYashka

D&D style fighting? :::shudder::: Your right those are boring. I'm think more along the lines of figuring out strength and weaknesses of the evil guys. Then making a realistic battle using the information. Some fantasy authors I've read did that.Marget Wise and Tracy Hickman wrote the DragonLance series that way. They created a world and played it out in a D&D game. They then took the game and made it into a series of books, very good books with no mention of hit points in sight.

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 23 2007 12:06 am   #24Diabola

Yup, that's what I meant. OK for getting an overall idea of a non-human's strength; useless for the actual fighting.

I mean, come on, my rogue can do this "garrotte" (spelling?) thing, which basically boils down to "She slits his throat", and it only costs them 400 HP - *headdesk* slitting someones throat kills them, damit!

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Feb 23 2007 01:26 am   #25LadyYashka

"She slits his throat", and it only costs them 400 HP - *headdesk* slitting someones throat kills them, damit!"

Exactly! I could have a level 60 wizard but if a dragon gets hungry well, that wizard is going to make a rather tastey snack.

I now have twelve pages of notes detailing strength and weaknesses for every creature in both Spike's and the bad guy's army. And lets not forget the pages of notes on weapons, armour, castle defence, floor plans, war tactics, and siege weapons. Now I have maps to draw so I know where everything and everyone will be placed at the begining of the fight.

It's all because of this thread and now my brain feels like mush.  

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 23 2007 03:15 am   #26Caro Mio

Well, there have been one-shot, one-kills in WoW in PVP - my boyfriend's seen it. Squishies have gone *pop!*...and we once witnessed an Execute skill crit for 11,500 damage, which would take any rogue's hitpoints twice over.

But yeah, in WoW, you have lots of DOT skills where the technical blow would kill you if it got past your armor.

DragonLance is a great reference...

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Feb 23 2007 03:27 am   #27LadyYashka

"DragonLance is a great reference..."

Okay, completely off topic but they're making a DragonLance movie.

:::cheers and prays that they don't screw it up::::

Okay I'm done now. Time to go write my story.

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Feb 23 2007 06:45 am   #28Caro Mio

Yeah, it's animated...which I think is probably the best way to go, with how specific and detailed that 'verse is.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.