1. JayPee

    JayPee New Member

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    What would be the best way to sabotage a catapult?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by JayPee, Jan 13, 2020.

    I'm talking a medieval catapult. Basically, I have a character who will sabotage a wooden catapult so that when it launches, the boulder will only launch a couple of yards into the air and crush some soldiers standing nearby. The character will do so with magic that burns part of the catapult.

    Any ideas how I should do it? What kind of catapult should I use insert and what parts would need to be sabotaged to precipitate what I've described above?

    All suggestions welcome. Thanks!
     
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    If I'm right about the mechanism you're envisioning, there's a restraining rope or ratchet that keeps the throwing arm down when the catapult's spring or torsion is being loaded. If that line breaks before the torsioning process is completed, that would result in the catapult being released prematurely, with a vastly weakened force. So you could have your magician burn the rope or ratchet through (or just weaken it) as the catapult's operators are just beginning the wind-up process.

    Here's an article that might shed some light here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catapult
     
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  3. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    A large seige catapult (trebuchet) uses a counterweight to sling the projectile.

    The easiest way to sabotage it is to simply reduce the weight of the counterweight.
     
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  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Muck about with the cup at the end of the the sling so it doesn't release properly?
     
  5. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    Or sabotage the arm so that it doesn't swing all the way upon release, such as by putting an obstruction like a wedge in.
     
  6. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    A good thought, and I don't really know, but I'm assuming they would load the catapult when the 'cup' is all the way down, right? Close to the ground? Rather than climb a ladder with the heavy projectile and drop it in at the top. If that's the case, then you'd need to wait until they load it at the bottom or it's just firing an air-ball.
     
  7. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

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    A good thought, and I don't really know, but I'm assuming they would load the catapult when the 'cup' is all the way down, right? Close to the ground? Rather than climb a ladder with the heavy projectile and drop it in at the top. If that's the case, then you'd need to wait until they load it at the bottom or it's just firing an air-ball.
     
  8. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Cut the elastic.

    Oh, sorry, only read the title.
     
  9. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    Doesn't a catapult get its force from an unwinding rope? Well, bundles of ropes. The rope is like an axle that's twisted into high tension. (Torsion is probably the right word . . .) The launching arm is yanked forward by that axle spinning out of tension. So I guess it's technically a giant spring made of rope.

    Your magic user can rot/burn/shred that tension point, and when the arm releases the unwinding force will be mostly lost as the axle disintegrates. So its projectile would just flop forward.

    I'm not a catapult expert. (haha, no renfair for me. Well, maybe a little . . .) I just built one of those little kits with my kid. I thought there would be a rubber band in it, but it was just string unwinding out of torsion.
     
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  10. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Senior Member

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    A torsion catapult, otherwise known as an onager does indeed get its force from a rope in the way you describe, but onagers are too small to use as siege catapults. The large siege catapults are trebuchets, which get their force from a counterweight that swings the arm.
     
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  11. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Depends on the catapult. The term "catapult' is more of a blanket term that covers the Onager, Trebuchet, Ballista, and could even be applied to a slingshot. Fun as it is to speculate, the OP may need to provide a bit more details in order to get a more usable answer.
     
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  12. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    If you're using magic to simply burn part of the catapult, why not just burn the inside of the top of the frame? That way when the arm slams into it, instead of stopping and releasing it's payload in an upwards arc, it smashes through it and the payload gets slammed down a few feet from the front of it.
     
  13. hedgerowpete

    hedgerowpete Member

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    cold, throw snow balls or bolts of ice to the catapult to make the elastic brittle
     

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