1. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    Infiltrating castles and fortresses in ancient/medieval times

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Brandon P., Aug 23, 2011.

    I've considered writing a story set in ancient times about a trained spy/assassin-type character's infiltration of a fortress, but the problem is that I can't find a lot of information on how exactly spies, assassins, and other sneaky characters would infiltrate fortresses and castles back in the day (nearly all my Google search results are links to video game walkthroughs). The only two possibilities I can think of are her donning a disguise (which isn't especially exciting, especially since my MC is a thrill-seeker type) or using a grappling hook (which means she would have to confront archers mounted on the walls). Also, would these kind of buildings have guards patrolling inside all the time?
     
  2. Rassidan
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    Rassidan Senior Member

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    Depending on the fortress you have underground aquaducts/ancient sewers. If the terrain allows you could glide in from a nearby cliff at night. You could always just scale the wall. It all depends on the terrain and how modern of a fortress it is.
     
  3. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    I like the sewer idea a lot. Thanks!
     
  4. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Also look into the idea of the siege. It's long. Drawn out, but what happened during warfare back then. It's basically meant to starve them out. However, there are some pretty fascinating weapons of warfare in medieval times.
     
  5. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well if the character is on a spying mission then he/she would become a servant towards the owner of the castle/fortress. A cook, a handmaid, a guard, or you know whatever else kind of job he or she could find. While the character would be bound to do their new job, they could also do any spying and what not.

    Same would probably go for an assassin. Becoming a servant would allow them to get the feel of the castle and its routine. He or she will know when the target is most vulnerable. Know how many guards there might be in any 1 place. If its some Lord or whatever then how many guards he might have around him.
     
  6. Admin
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    Admin Contributing Member

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    This doesn't really have anything to do with infiltrating, though I will add something here just for the sake of the thread:

    She could hide in a barrel that is on a carriage and thus sneak in as cargo?

    What I really want to say is that it would be really cool if you incorporated a spy network within the city. If you've ever played the game Napoleon: Total War, you would know that sending a spy to a city for an extended period of time would allow them to set up a network for gathering information. I could see you somehow incorporating this into your tale.
     
  7. Brandon P.
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    Brandon P. Senior Member

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    Thanks for trying to help, everyone, but I've decided to go with the sewer suggestion.
     
  8. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    Here is an interesting article:

     
  9. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    There are any number of different types of fortress you could be talking about. They range fromthe typcal fort, basically an armoured building with a wall, to the castle, a sort of bigger building often with ancilliary buildings inside its walls, to the citadel or walled city.

    The fort would be the hardes to infiltrate since its essentially a military structure, and a stranger would be noticed. Your spy would probably need some sort of disguise, perhaps as a soldier, to wander around unnoticed, or some official reason for being there, a note from the king perhaps advising that he's there to check the guard or something.

    The citadel is the easiest,because cities need to eat, and so the gates are open most of the day as traders / farmers etc, come and go. It would be simplicity itself to dress as a farmer etc and simply hitch a ride in on a farm wagon. And once there, well there are loads of non soldier types inside, so who would pay him or her any attention.

    The standard walled castle sits somewhere in between the two.

    I would not recommend trying to scale the walls. They are guarded, or should be, and the likelihood is your spy would be spotted.

    Also pay attention to the normal services of your fortress. No matter its nature,its people need food and water, and their sewage needs to be flushed away (mostly). This means that most fortresses will have some sort of underground sewer system, water channels etc, places where a spy could sneak in. Some also had extensive tunnel systems under them, to let the nobles flee in case of attack through a back door, and oddly enough to let the important people come and go even when the porticullis is down and the drawbridge raised etc.



    Cheers.
     

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