Created By: Olaf_Merchant on May 8, 2013 Last Edited By: Olaf_Merchant on May 10, 2013
Nuked

Corpse Catapult

The usage of early bioweapons

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Trope
Do We Have This One??

Usually in medieval or similar settings, the early use of biological warfare would involve the unabashed use of rotting (preferably diseased and highly contagious) corpses as munitions for siege engines, flinging the diseased carcasses into a besieged city in hopes of demoralizing and more importantly, infecting the garrison and local populace. Variations can include The Undead to give the locals a proper scare, or dumping bodies into water sources or just sending them downriver to your enemies.

Subtrope of Abnormal Ammo. Compare Catapult to Glory, where the person being launched is still very much alive and not disease-ridden, although they can wreak havoc in a multitude of different ways.

Examples

Film
  • The movie 'Flesh and Blood', Hawkwood catapults pieces of infected dog into the courtyard of the castle seized by opposing mercenaries. They drink water from the now-infected well, and succumb to the Plague.
  • In Red Cliff Cao Cao's troops are dying of typhoid. Instead of burning the corpses like his generals suggest, he sends them over to the Red Cliff garrison on boats to weaken his enemies.

Literature

Tabletop Games
  • Dungeons & Dragons. The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide description of catapults said that they could use dead animals as ammunition.

Video Games
  • Stronghold: It's possible to load up your trebuchets with rotting cow corpses for this effect.
  • Warcraft: The third game also contained the undead catapult Meat Wagon, with similar purpose.

Webcomics
  • In Ebin and May the rats used corpses of feral rabbits to infect the anthro ones with a plague.

Real Life

  • Genghis Khan would fire plague victims' corpses into towns under siege. Black Death was supposedly first introduced to the west with the siege of the city of Caffa in 1347, where the Mongols fired plague-ridden corpses into the city.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • May 8, 2013
    CobraPrime
    The Meat Wagon in Warcraft 3 fires out corpses. An upgrade lets it poison victims.
  • May 8, 2013
    Tallens
    • In Lord Of The Rings, during the siege of Minas Tirith, the Orcs use catapults to hurl their dead soldiers into the city, though this is done more for demoralization.
  • May 8, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ I can't quite remember how it was in the book, but in the movie the orcs load the catapults with the decapitated heads of men slain in the battle of Osgiliath.
  • May 8, 2013
    AgProv
    Exactly the same in the film as as in the book. So both Literature and Film. I also recall this is a tactic of the evil invading Carthaginians in Mary Gentle's brick-thick masterwork Ash A Secret History.
  • May 9, 2013
    Astaroth
    Compare Catapult To Glory, for when the body being loaded into the siege engine is still alive.

    Possibly a subtrope of Abnormal Ammo? (Which already lists the Warcraft Meat Wagons, Lord of the Rings and real life applications of this trope in sieges)
  • May 9, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons. The 1st Edition Dungeon Master's Guide description of catapults said that they could use dead animals as ammunition.
  • May 9, 2013
    AoifeMoran
    A Real Life example - Genghis Khan would fire plague victims' corpses into towns under siege.
  • May 9, 2013
    zarpaulus
    Webcomics
    • In Ebin And May the rats used corpses of feral rabbits to infect the anthro ones with a plague.
  • May 9, 2013
    Boston
    In the movie "Flesh and Blood," Hawkwood catapults pieces of infected dog into the courtyard of the castle seized by opposing mercenaries. They drink water from the now-infected well, and succumb to the Plague.
  • May 9, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    As AgProv already confirmed, the orcs loaded their catapults not with corpses but the decapitated heads of the soldiers. So rewrite that The Lord Of The Rings example please...
  • May 9, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    I think the Lord of the Rings example might fall more in the domain of Abnormal Ammo instead of early biowarfare. Better just omit that one alltogether...
  • May 10, 2013
    Mozgwsloiku
    Perhaps unintentionally by Order of Saint Lazarus. The order was mainly concerned with taking care of lepers, but if the local conflict was too large for the able-bodied knights to handle, their sick brethren would take to the field as well. What they lacked in strength and agility, they made up for in psychological effect.
  • May 10, 2013
    Olaf_Merchant
    Not quite sure it's this trope. St.Lazarus example sounds more like an unintentional Typhoid Mary, since they weren't actively flinging the knights into enemy territory with the intent of infecting whoever the poor sods land on.
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