What we can hopefully agree on:

  • Worldbuilding is about working out general systems and rules, not specific situations or plots.
  • Warfare is a condition composed of many different discrete instances which come with their own circumstances and plot-based actors; the outcomes of those situations are reliant on tactics. Tactics applied many times become rule and system.
    • Example: we can ask for the best way to fight with a specific kind of weapon. Even though individual fights are a situation governed by random chance and personal preference of the actors involved, we can talk about them in general and that makes tactics part of worldbuilding.
  • When discussing tactics for certain situations, we basically answer the idealised version of that situation taking place in a vacuum - we talk about how general rules and systems apply to a situation.
  • Invasions are a part of warfare.

Now the problem part: large-scale invasions are rare, and every invasion is unique and governed by chance. But I must repeat: every individual fight is unique and governed by chance too.

A small sample size of invasions makes reasoning about them harder, but we have had to reason about very exotic situations in the past. The need to speculate is not an insurmountable barrier. We have also only had two nuclear bombs in warfare in our reality, but there are many questions about nukes.

Can I ask a question about something that realistically will only happen once (a D-Day scale invasion) but have it be considered not as a discrete situation, but as an idealised invasion without regards to specific circumstance and plot? The answers will contain insights that I can then apply back to the story.

Even though I am writing a single invasion, I bet that many questions about weapons will be used for stories that only describe such a fight take place once, and not general blade economy. So how I plan to apply the knowledge should not matter.

Can I ask a question about a realistic or efficient invasion? If so, how should I do that to make clear that the specifics of a story are to be disregarded, and only general efficiency are to be considered?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm going to disagree that tactics are a good fit for this site. Without knowing the specific situation you can't make a tactical decision. Sometimes taking the high ground makes sense, sometimes it doesn't. Unless you consider all the options (which will not be enumerated in a question on this site) you're going to get many valid answers which is a hallmark of a answer that should not be on this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ "Large-scale invasions are rare": They are rare only in the sense that most of the time most nations are at peace. War is indeed rare; but in war invasions are commonplace. In fact, I cannot think of many wars where all the fighting was done on the frontiers. Just since the beginning of the 20th century: the British invaded Transvaal and Orange; the Germans invaded Belgium (twice), the Netherlands, France (twice), Poland, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union; the Japanese invaded China, Burma, Malaya, and tried to invade Mongolia; the U.S.A. invaded too many countries to list; the S.U. invaded... $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Then vote to close my question :) : What tactical advantage can be gained from berserkir units? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 22:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I'm pretty sure I did when you asked it. Given how many valid answers the post has garnered I'd say my assessment of it as not a good fit would be correct. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 22:39
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings What is the link between having valid answers and having a question fit? Yes, of course you have many options, like some questions like this one. But the point is to find the best one. If you told my berserkir should charge head on the enemy archers on a plain, it's as bad as telling that bigger seats are for small people. And finding the reverse, better ones is therefore possible $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 22:47

5 Answers 5


My position is: 'When in doubt check the official rules'. Invasions are events, so let's take a look at the official rules pertaining to the events.

The scope of the WB.SE is described here:

Worldbuilding Stack Exchange is a site for designers, writers, artists, gamers and enthusiasts to get help creating imaginary worlds.

World building includes geography, culture and creatures for the world, not to mention magic and planetary physics, in short, everything from the physics underlying your reality to the entire universe you want to build. Links in the description below will take you to good example questions or more background information on the topic linked.

When asking questions keep in mind that the goal of the site is to help you build your world, not to tell your story.

If a system, event or element of the world is causing you problems we are here to help. If on the other hand you aren’t sure what a character (be it an individual or organization) should do, that is out of scope for the site, though we often have such discussions in Worldbuilding Chat.

Rules and guidelines applicable specifically to questions about events are:

General guidelines for all questions:

  • Must be specific and answerable: What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Must include context: What are you trying to accomplish? Context gives people writing answers an idea of what your end state will look like and why you want to get there.
  • Must include restrictions/requirements: What will make one answer better than another? If any answer is equally effective your question is not properly constrained. How can this be executed? What tech, timeline, magic or other criteria apply to the situation.
  • Should include research: What ideas have you considered, or what information have you already looked at or failed to find?


Keep in mind the following when asking about actions or events in your world.

  • Events: Questions need to include the setting/situation and the event or, the result you are trying to get to and the setting/situation.

The linked post suggests these models for questions about events:

Or in plain English:

  1. I have START and CHANGE, give me RESULT : "What happens if I do this?" (Good)
  2. I have RESULT and CHANGE, give me START : "How was it before?" (Good)
  3. I have START and RESULT, give me CHANGE : "How would I cause this?" (Good)

The other combinations are not mentioned: having only one of these and asking for the other two is always too broad. It's typical of unclear or incomplete questions.

Other possibilities

  1. I have either START or RESULT : "Is this plausible?"

Asking information about something specific can be on-topic as reality-check but can sometimes lack basic research. A lot of questions asking about a good concept but with no tomorrow falls into this category

In their answer to this post, Green suggests adding a WHERE clause

Where Clause

I think all we need to add here is a WHERE (condition) clause that specifies constraints on the scope of the answer. "Within" is another word that could be used in place of "where".

I have START and CHANGE, give me RESULT within CONSTRAINTS on START and CHANGE: "What happens if I do this within this specific context?" (Better)

I have RESULT and CHANGE, give me START within CONSTRAINTS on RESULT and CHANGE: "How was it before?" (Better)

I have START and RESULT, give me CHANGE within CONSTRAINTS on START and RESULT: "How would I cause this?" (Better)

Suggested WHERE clause seems to be reasonable considering that there are guidelines for questions to be specific and contain restrictions/requirements and also this explanation from 'What types of questions should I avoid asking?':

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Another important rule is:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Please also consider this:

Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain "why" and "how"
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • are more than just mindless social fun

For more detail, read about our guidelines for great subjective questions and blog post about how real questions have answers.

Based on the official rules, questions about invasions (invasions are events) are on-topic and should not be closed as long as they comply with the following:

  • do not ask what a character (be it an individual or organisation) should do;
  • specific;
  • include context;
  • include any 2 of these 3 aspects of an event: Start, change, result;
  • include a set of restrictions/requirements;
  • are reasonably scoped (not too broad);
  • are practical and based on problems that the questioner is facing;
  • if the questions are subjective, they must meet the criteria of good and constructive subjective questions.

Please note that the official rules do not talk about the reuse value of the questions or the answers. There is no requirement for questions to deal only with problems that can be applied to other worlds, settings, characters, etc. The requirement is to ask questions that are based on the problems that the questioner is facing (does not say how obscure, uninteresting, or unique those problems are).

Please also see how the scope is limited: Every aspect of the world is on-topic as long as it is not about what a character should do.

I guess, the part that creates the most confusion is 'what a character (be it an individual or organization) should do'.

There is a difference between 'should' and 'can'. While the former deals with specific actions and decisions, the latter is about capabilities, opportunities, possibilities, and available choices. Actions are something that characters choose (or the author chooses for them). Possibilities, opportunities, and available choices, on the other hand, are determined by the world and its systems rather than characters1.

In other words, a question like 'Should country X attack city A?' (without any specifics, just this question) is off-topic. However, a question like 'Does country X have a capability to attack city A given these specifics?' should be on-topic (albeit, there is a risk that this kind of question is too broad or does not contain enough information to be answerable).


1 It is possible to make an argument that capabilities, possibilities, opportunities, and available choices also depend on characters. It is true to some extent. However, characters influence all of those in a systemic way and characters, in this case, do not function as individuals but rather as representatives of a class with specific traits. All of these allow us to establish causal relationships and build predictable systems where characters are just some of many elements.

  • $\begingroup$ It's lengthy with all the quotations, but it's always good to get back to the basics :) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ As an SQL dev, I am al for the WHERE clause $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 14:33

No, you can't

And I apologize for stating this. You're treating an invasion as if it were a tool. A gun is a tool. A truck is a tool. An invasion is a plan. A specific plan that cannot be intrinsically generalized the way a tool can.

In short, designing an invasion requires telling a story because it's unique to the circumstances of a specific situation. You can't dust an "invasion" off and re-use it anywhere. (If you could, it's a lousy plan and won't succeed — unless your invasion plan is a wordy way of saying, "apply overwhelming force in every circumstance and in every way.")

But you can dust of a gun and use it anywhere. You can use it underwater so long as you realize the efficiency will drop like a rock.

But an invasion requires planning based on the unique circumstances of the intended goals. That's storybuilding.

We're delighted to help you design your tools.

It's clearly stated in the Help Center that we won't help you write your story.


No, you can't ask about how to design an invasion anymore than you can ask about any other series of decisions made by any number of characters. Invasions, unlike tools, cannot exist independent of the story.

  • $\begingroup$ I think we should precise one thing : as plans use tools, you can indirectly ask about a plan's viability through its tools. But yes, it should be the end purpose -or underlying intention- of a question, not the question itself (that was what I was trying to tell in my answer, actually :) ) $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 6:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your insights :-) Two questions. One: can we distinguish plan (based on a myriad specific circumstances that change from moment to moment, ergo from story to story) and protocol (which is the fixed parts of a whole family of plans, that you apply to many plans)? Two: do you disagree with Sphennings that asking reality-check about a plan (or protocol) would be a viable question, unlike questions to help figure out a plan/protocol from nothing? $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena No you can't. It's storybuilding. How a tool operates is worldbuilding. How to use a tool to achieve a goal is storybuilding. We're all working really hard to circumvent a rule that's been part of the help center for a very long time. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 10:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm No, Keizer. Storybuilding is about circumstances, plot, and character actions and choices. And an invasion is literally all of those things. Splitting hairs to try and get around the rules simply isn't going to work. And to understand what Sphennings means, you need to realize that the reality-check tag requires that you supply all of the relevant rules for the check. Its purpose is to ensure that you are staying consistent with your own rules. The moment you ask "how can I?..." you've violated the point of the reality check. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 10:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I do not think I am splitting hairs or trying to sneak about the rules, a little more benefit of the doubt would be welcome. Rather, the weaknesses you ascribe to questions about circumstances can - in my view - be alleviated by removing circumstance and zoning in on the part of any plan that exists independent of circumstance - namely, the part called protocol. A bad question would be what plan would work best for a particular invasion, but a good question would be about how to generally attack e.g. a mermaid city. "Bring plenty of oxygen bottles" is protocol, not plan. Can't that be asked? $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact Misunderstood me and therefore you're mixing together goals/intentions and the action to reach such goals. If I were to design, I don't know... A nuclear fission fridge in order to ensure you keep drinks cool, it's the same thing as designing a tank in order to ensure your possible invasion will be done well. In fact, I asked about some equipments and structures and even worse, about the best usage of a fighter type which imply almost directly possible invasions and nobody screamed "story" at that time, only in retrospective (contrary to what sphenning says). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ In other words, if purpose is out of the core of the question, then it should be either considered as context (intra or extradiegetic) or innate goals to achieve the question. You don't craft a fridge because it's beautiful but in order to keep things cool. And the same apply to tactics and strategy : You don't make battle formations because you want to make a smiley :) with your troops, you make them in order to win the war. And invasions are crucial parts of a war. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm Keep in mind that I don't have a doubt. Your original reference question was asking about a reason your spies, serving the purpose of the invasion, would gather. Even if we ignore that, protocols would refer to how the chain of command operates, the basic structure of your logistics, all this plays into Sphennings' answer quite neatly. Sure, you can ask how many trucks would be necessary to carry your proscribed troops. That's a statistic that would be known independent of any invasion - but the moment you ask anything about how to invade X, you're off-topic. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 0:45
  • $\begingroup$ @KeizerHarm As for the example quesitons... every one of them is 2 years or older. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena A tank, as an example, is never designed for the purpose of an invasion. It's designed as a component of a larger war effort - a tool, like rifles and shovels. If you think I'm wrong, please show me the planning stage for any nation on Earth since the development of the earliest tanks that includes to any degree the generic purpose of invasion. Frankly, if someone said, "here's all the details of my invasion and I want to build a tank specifically for that purpose..." I'd vote to close that as TSB - the tank serving the unique circumstances of an invasion. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @JoinJBHonCodidact Yes, of course, if you think that an axe cannot be used to cut pine trees because it's designed to cut any trees, or one single pine tree to be more accurate regarding your point... If you want examples of things that were designed to make (or defend invasions) : German tanks and bombers for the blitzkrieg, 18th-19th century german cavalry culture, British naval ships, forts, mustard gas (though it wasn't "that" effective)... Can they be used for more general things? Yippy yes. Were they designed with the possibility of invasion in mind? Yes, absolutely. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 10:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's the contradiction you're facing right now. If you don't believe in that, please vote to close these questions : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. [...] $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ [...] All of these have been talked because there's an invasion in the work I'm doing. Some of them are fortune equipment made on the spot (e.g. : fire protection,...), others were thought for war (flakes, fortifications...), and especially invasions as it's an important part of my work, even if I didn't explicitly say it at the time of writing. If you're willing to close, I don't see what's the purpose of this site anymore, then. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena An ax can cut a tree... but do you use it on a branch? Do you cut the tree on the north side or the south? Should the ax be held by someone 5' tall or 6' tall? Should it be carried on the shoulder as you approach the tree or held at the waist by the neck? An invasion is a plan. An ax is a tool. How a tool is used in an invasion is storybuilding. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 13:58

There isn't a general invasion. To invade a land you need dislodge the force currently occupying a the land, and impose your own control. You can't plan to dislodge an opposing force without knowing specific details about that force, their locations, capabilities etc. Weighing all these options and coming up with a plan requires that a world is already built, and depends on the decisions made by specific individuals inside that world.

Don't ask:

Where should my army, with WWII level tech and organizational structure invade continental Europe from the UK?

There are whole books written about the planning that went into Operation Overlord. It's a fascinating read but there are so many details that went into choosing the Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juneau, and Sword beaches. You can't provide us all of those details in the limited space of a question on this site.

If you can show me a question where you're not asking how a scenario in your, fully build world will play out, I think there's some possibility but those questions need to be highly specific to fleshing out a specific detail. For instance I could ask something like.

Assuming my army with WWII level tech and organizational structure invaded Normandy from the UK (similar to Operation Overlord), how many cargo dragons would be needed to keep 23,000 paratroopers, fighting behind enemy lines, supplied for a month?

Note how nothing in this question hinges on the decisions of individuals. It doesn't matter if a particular general is rash or overly cautious.

  • $\begingroup$ About questions hinging on individuals... would you say that it is impossible to simply assume reasonable people in every decision-making role? The default position, which overly rash/cautious generals would diverge from? Alternatively, consider a perfectly rational computer making the decision. I would usually be asking for the best way to do a part of an invasion under circumstances ABC, so you might as well consider computers for every such decision. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Secondly; would you say that invasions cannot be described as generally as individual fights? As I have said, we have questions about "ideal" weapons for character X under circumstances ABC, but an individual fight also comes with many variables - and also decision-making individuals. We don't need to account for particularly rash weapon-wielders, why the need to account for rash generals? $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ Sure you can assume rational actors, but those rational actors need to make a plan to accomplish a goal. Neither of those are facts of your world but decisions made by humans. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid I am not seeing the problem. Plans can be good or bad, one can judge (within the limits of our knowledge) which plan would work out best for a given goal. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ If I asked you "Should my character leave their spouse for their lover?" I'm asking for you to judge a plan, but it's not a good fit for this site because it has nothing to do with building my world, even if by doing so it brings down an empire that has stood for thousand of years. It would help if you brought up simple exemplar questions of what you think would and wouldn't be a good fit rather than speaking in the abstract. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, how about: "A nation with tech level XYZ is planning an invasion of this other nation. They have a network of sleeper agents in place: specifications ABC. Assuming each agent is not a trained soldier, and they can only do one thing before their cover is blown: how should the sleeper agents best be utilised to support the invasion?" I consider it the application of existing rules (namely the details of the organisation, the tech level, a bit of geography and political situation) to a specific scenario. The answer would be a finite list of suitable things. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ I am asking a similar question now but it's still being talked about in order to sort out the required details. At some point it turns into a reality-check of a given plan. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to think that sleeper agents are a fungible resource. They aren't. The village drunk has a lot less value than, someone with access to confidential information. What to use them for depends on what can and cannot be uncovered by other means. Do you want your network of agents to play a critical role in the invasion? If so then have them provide something critical? Or they could report on information that has already been verified by other sources and be completely useless? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ There's a big difference between asking "What will people do?" and "If people did this would it make sense?" There's a lot more sympathy for asking the later. Try asking that question instead. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ I probably can't re-ask as a reality-check now, it would be closed as a dupe. And yes, some agents may end up luckier than others, but "Try to get close to vital information" is advice that holds for all of them. Whether or not they succeed is only partially relevant - you have a lot of agents so that some of them may get to pass on actually useful information. So the best plan maximises the odds that the agents make themselves useful - and I think that can still be judged. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ That's effectively asking "What was the Allied intelligence plan in the leadup to D-Day?" There are whole books on that subject. Far too broad for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I feel idiotic for not understanding the problem you are getting at. I am not expecting the level of detail that Allied Command was using. The best way to use bear cavalry would be a no less complicated topic, as books were written about cavalry as well. Yet the given answers are the level of detail I am looking for. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ That question asks "Is X feasible?" The simple answer is either "Yes because..." , "No because..." or "It depends because..." You're asking a much broader question where we're effectively writing your story for you. We used to have a specific close reason for that. We merged it into POB, $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 21:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "We merged it into POB" - that must explain why that close-reason is the vaguest and least informative of them all. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 22:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For the record, Opinion-Based is a network-wide close reason. It isn't ours, we're stuck with it - and that means we're expected to deal with it. On a Stack where opinions matter more than any other, you're still expected to do your due diligence to ask a question that doesn't simply ask for opinions. Oh, and pointing to a 5-year-old question that was valid 5-years-ago means squat today. If you want us to go on a witch hunt to avoid the valiant but erroneous belief that old questions establish a precedent, I'm all for it. Find things in the last 6 months - and watch how fast they get closed. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 11:03

Yes, you can, in some way

First, the art of invasion and defending against invasions are part of strategy and tactics, and an important one moreover. This let me follow up with this :

The strategy and tactic tags do exist, with a good chunk of questions and some good ones among them on top of that. Having experienced it, some tags are much harder to work with than these ones. Also, note that the top question in strategy is about invasions. Yeah, defending against alien invasions, but that's invasions!

There might be the concerns that these questions are story-based. They don't necessarily are. War school lessons are often quite generic and only relates to current technology or and tools, and there are tactics and strategy guides too, the most famous one being probably Sun Tzu's Art of War. You'll see in this book that no specific place, character or date is told, at most different terrain types and kind of troops. These lessons and books are proofs you can -and need to talk- in a generic way to understand how strategies articulate.

Indeed, there are just better ways to fight people than others, some being very silly/risky/inefficient and others extremely good, regardless of "story" conditions. If you send cavarly against archers, the result can be easily determined and won't sway much even if you play the action an hundred time. As a consequence, answers are most of the time not equally valid, too. This in turns means that questions about these can be not-opinion based, too :).

Be cautious about these points

To shamelessly take JoinJBHOnCodidact's words, the act of "planning" invasions is local-circumstances and decision-based, so storybased and ill-fit for worldbuilding. However! To shamelessly take Otkin's words (I'm that shameless), asking about an event is possible if you don't ask how the story should go. Wondering on a standardized approach in military strategies, how effective a weapon can be in a given environment or how to make them suited for such environment, all of these for an already defined purpose (invading) is independent of individual decisions, and therefore outside storytelling. This is in fact what you see in strategy guides, to ensure you can use these principles like tools and protocols to make the best decision in any situation you're in; hence it's better to focus on said tools in order to perform the plan rather than the plan itself.

To avoid talking about the plan and focus on the tools, you should avoid speaking of one single invasion and put it as either end goals or context. You should keep yourself to the "recipe for a good win", and not talk about how to best cook on the fly with what ingredients you have. In other words, develop on the advantages/weaknesses of a chosen strategy over another, not the choices you (or a general) are offered at a specific point in time and place. Doing otherwise might very well make you slip into storybuilding territory.

To help you in that regard, you should avoid :

  • Asking about any special character. It applies to every question, but I think it's one of those type of questions you should definitely not do that, even for the sake of a stylish writing style. Just too frisky risky.
  • Avoid precise dates, because they imply events. Events which are rarely seen as worldbuilding. On the other hand, seasons and technological time periods imply strategic changes, 'specially on logistics. So detailing climates and technology is on-topic and in fact encouraged to ensure quality answers.
  • Avoid specific places and use generic environments instead. You can still compare to a real-world environment, but it should not be necessary to be this exact one your troops will be in.

So to give a quick example, don't ask about if sending 100 light tanks, on June of 2039, led by commander X and against commander Y on a specific Alpine peak is a good idea. But talk about how fast it would be to send WW3 light tanks across mountains to invade in summer. The first question will talk about what choices you should make in that situation, so it's story-based and not viable on Worldbuilding SE. The second one, on the other hand will allow to answer in a strategic guide style applicable in most situations, including most probably the single-instance you invasion... Uh, I mean envision :p.

  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that if you ask a question the way you suggest there will be a lot of people who will ask for very specific details and the question will be closed as needing details and clarity. It is Catch 22 on WB.SE. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin I'm not sure I understood so let me rephrase it : People want to ask about specific details. If they follow my tips, they will ask questions which are too broad for what they ask (specific details). Is this what you mean? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 17:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes, if someone tries to ask a question following your tips their question is very likely to be judged as not specific enough (not necessarily too broad, but not specific enough). There will be quite a few people demanding a lot of very specific details (up to the portraits of the commanders [yes, there is a precedent for this demand]). Then the questioner will comply and add those details only to find themselves in a situation where the question is closed as too story-based. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin If questions get closed in the end when it gets enough detailed, it's then due to what is asked at its core, right? I've still edited my answer to recall here and there that not telling exact places and dates doesn't mean you should be vague. It'll avoid people with good core questions to be closed for being too vague and reduce by one step towards definitive closure for the others. I hope. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2021 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ I am not so sure about that. Look at the other answers in this thread and the comments to various questions. It seems that the essence of the question does not matter much. There are quite a few people who vote to close any question that mentions characters regardless of their relevance to the question being asked. The answers here also make me wonder if people object to the very topic of invasions rather than specific types of questions about invasions. Please also note how the definition of worldbuilding is narrowed yet again to fit the expressed position on invasions. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ It is also worth mentioning that the official rules state: 'If a system, event or element of the world is causing you problems we are here to help'. Questions about events are on-topic as long as they do not ask what characters (individuals or organisations) should do. Let's not forget the original intent and purpose of the WB.SE. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Otkin Yes, you can get quickly blinded by how it is written, in either direction by the way. Thanks for mentionning events, I totally missed that! I think I shall edit my answer again, but I'm not sure how should I put it to avoid people think they can ask any event-related question, yet... $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 17:32

As we all know, war is the continuation of politics by other means. Or at least, it used to be; looking at some of the recent wars initiated by the U.S. of A. I wonder whether the famous obvservation of Clausewitz isn't in need of an update for the 21st century.

War being a continuation of politics, and all politics being local, it follows that there is no such thing as a generic war; or, to come to the title of this question, a generic invasion. Because, you see, almost all wars begin with an agressor invading the territory of their opponent. True, not all wars begin with an invasion, but that is by far the most common situation. The only exceptions I can think of are pure naval wars, such as, for example, the war between the Empire of Japan and the United States of America around the middle of the 20th century, or pure air force wars, such as, for example, the war of the United States of America against Serbia towards the end of the 20th century.

Historians are still trying to understand what was the purpose of Japan starting a naval war with the U.S.A. It was obvious that Japan could not ever hope of winning such a war, because the U.S.A. was too far away, too rich and too populous. I for one am of the opinion that whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.

The point is that there have been very many wars in history, and given that almost all wars feature at least one invasion and usually more, it stands to reason that an author who want to write about an invasion will find one which suits their purpose, and start embellishing it. This is a very common and usual process; it is generally difficult for rank amateurs like us to come up with a verisimilar and belivable plan of military actions, so that lifting one from the pages of history works best.

And history is not stingy with invasions.

At the very foundation of our European civilization we find the invasion of Troas by the Achaeans. Listing only famous invasions: the invasion of continental Greece by the Persians (twice), complete with local traitors; the invasion of Greece by the Macedonians; the invasion of the vast Persian Empire by Alexander; the invasion of Italy by Hannibal; the counter-invasion of Africa by Scipio; the invasion of Gaul by C. Julius Caesar; the attempted invasion of Britain by the same; the successful invasion of Britain under Claudius; the ill-fated invasion of Persia by Julian; the invasion of Britain by William of Normandy; the invasion of Al-Andalus by the Umayyad Caliphate; the invasion of lots of places by the Huns; the invasion of lots of places by the Goths; the invasion of lots of places by the Mongols; the invasion of lots of places by the Seljuk and later the Ottoman Turks; the failed invasion of Kievan Russia by the Germans and Swedes; the invasion of Italy by Napoleon; the invasion of the Germanies by the same; the fatal invasion of Russia by the same; the invasion of Transvaal and Orange by the United Kingdom; the invasion of Belgium and France (the first time) by Germany; the invasion of Spain by the fascist rebels led by Franco (featuring the original fifth column); the invasion of Poland, France (the second time), Norway etc. and finally the Soviet Union by Germany; the invasion of Korea, China, Burma, Malaya etc. by Japan; the failed invasion of Mongolia by the same; the invasion of Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. by the United States of America.

(This was a tiny sample. There are plenty more, some even spectacular if maybe less famous; for example, the airborne invasion of Crete by Germany in 1941 was a masterpiece of planning and execution; the invasion of Italy by the (eastern) Roman general Belisarius in the 6th century was the last hope of the classical world surviving; and so on.)

Surely there must be some suitable model there.

As for the question on the main site which prompted this question on the meta site, it was attempting to ask why would a significant number of "sleeper agents" (which did not exist in the middle ages anywhere, but I will assimilate them with traitors and spies, which were commonplace) gather at some one place. I voted to close the question as this is a just plot point which would admit any number of reasons, and commented that the specific political, economic, geographic, and military realities will be essential in describing the plan and progress of the invasion. I even commented that I could think off-hand of half a dozen different activities which would require many of the despicable traitors to gather at one place, and then make up reasons to justify them.

Here they are:

  1. They must gather at some place in order not to break cover.

    It could be a traditional pilgrimage, or a traditional gathering of the sons of the village or of apothecaries, or an annual big fair where all merchants are supposed to be, etc. They are ordinary members of the community, or masquerading as such, and thus they cannot not attend the event.

  2. They are summoned at some place to be given their orders in preparation for the invasion.

    Sending detailed orders by postal mail would be rather risky, especially when Richelieu's or Walsingham's agents are known to steam open all correspondence.

  3. They come together at some festive or ritual occasion in order to stir mischief and start a riot, with a view of undermining the faith of the people in the leadership of their betters.

  4. They come together at some festive or ritual occasion in order to assassinate the heir to the throne, or some famous general, or whatever other important person.

  5. They are posing as members of a far-flung extended family and come together periodically at real or fake social functions of said family, such as weddings, funerals and baptisms or whatever they use in-universe. This helps with coördination and psychological well-being.

  6. The king has organized a splendiferous universal exhibition, and the traitors and spies are humans too and have human spouses and children, and thus gather at the exhibition quite naturally, without even thinking about it.

(Remember that user contributions on this site are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. You are not allowed to use any of these plot points in a work published for money; you must come up with your own. If you use any of these plot points in a work published for free under a compatible license, you must include an acknoweldgement that part of the work is based on input by user AlexP on Worldbuilding SE.)

  • $\begingroup$ Note that of your examples, most are random events that happen to be bringing the agents together, rather than planned steps in a military strategy to best utilise the agents, which I specifically asked for. I frankly am not sure you are taking this seriously. $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ You also say that no two wars/invasions are alike, but then you list dozens of them? I am failing to understand what the point of that is. If we have so many examples, can we not draw any conclusions for what are the best practices in general? $\endgroup$
    – KeizerHarm
    Commented Oct 24, 2021 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ The "choice" of doing a military maneuver is indeed a continuation of politics/individual talks/internal shenanigans. But it's not the case for the "action and consequences" that come after the choice you made following the politics/individual talks/internal shenanigans ^^. That's two differents things, but both are war and strategy-related and can be about invasions $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 0:18

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