How to end a war - aka "Would a time jump be justified?"

This is complicated –– or so I tell myself.
I’m writing a war, basically. How it started doesn’t really matter at the moment, but it’s supposed to last three years. So far, it’s been two years, and I’m feeling like it’s already drawing to a close (but I could be wrong).

See, at the moment, the “villain” (who legitimately has villainous traits) is holed up in the keep of his city (because I can’t think of a better term for “fortress built into the mountain”), with the “good guys” putting it under siege. I could have him hold out for the remaining year of the war, but that just doesn’t sit well with me. I like action. I like movement. I like conflict that goes beyond, “Do I eat Fluffy to survive, or do I just skip a meal?” (because it really will get down to that).

But at the same time, I have no idea how to bring this war to a screeching halt –– or at least to an uneasy cease-fire that lasts for twentyish years (which is what’s supposed to happen). Much as I’d like to tell myself otherwise, I am not an expert in medieval warfare, in politics, or in the psychological effects from being trapped in an enclosed area with a city’s worth of people.

This time, I can’t just say, “And then there were dragons…” and let all hell break loose. This is before the world acknowledges dragons as more than unproven history.

All I know is… the villain still has ways of causing trouble for the good guys, even after the cease-fire takes effect. It’s just a matter of getting to the point where the cease fire happens.
But how?
A year-long siege that the villain finally gets sick of and metaphorically cries, “Uncle!” (with appropriate time skips?)?
Something else that I simply haven’t thought of yet?
I hate time skips. They feel like lazy writing.


okay so what would make the besieged lot decide pretending to peace is their best chance at survival?

what would make the besieging lot decide the same thing?

I wouldn’t say time-skips are lazy writing so much as, so to speak, that it’s not necessary to describe every rock between Hobbiton and Mount Doom. As writers, we need to figure out what parts are important to show and which can be glossed over.

If you’re looking for a stalemate, you could always go with “War called on account of weather”. Weather has ground real-life campaigns to a halt or made existing ideas become just terrible. Once the weather clears up, they might not have the logistics required to get the war going into gear again beyond making an obligatory showing.

Maybe something happened to the people who were driving the conflict. This could be anything from the sudden death of a leader to total economic collapse or a severe crop failure.

Widespread disease could easily be a concern as well, and something that infects a lot of people with a moderate mortality rate could put the breaks on any fighting while the armies are being rebuilt.

Some juggernaut power could wade into the fighting, which might make the warring groups take pause. It’s one thing to be fighting people you can take on, but do you really want to go to war with a major economic/magical/religious power on top of them?

Alternatively you’ve got a villain who sounds like a bit of a conniving sort from your description. Why can’t he pretend to let the citizens of the city take him into custody and let them demand a cease-fire while they figure out new leadership? He can always stage a dramatic break out and takeover later, once his enemies have backed down and spent their own resources helping his people recover from the siege.

I dunno… Weather doesn’t seem to stop these guys. But that could change.

Unlikely. Both major leaders live through this war. As for crop failure… dang. I have not at all thought about that part of worldbuilding.

He is a conniving sort…

Assuming at least most of the supply staff, if not also at least most of the combatants and at least most of the brass (and I specify ‘most’ bc I read many fantasy where it matters), are within normative human range? Also assuming there isn’t magic and/or tech in play that will handle the supply line regardless of any possible confounding factors? There is plenty of weather that will stop them dead. And I do mean dead.

Napoleon launched the Russian invasion in June 1812 with 685K soldiers–the biggest army the world as of 1812 had ever seen–and the Russians said no. The Russians did a lot of retreating and a lot of burning crops, and France couldn’t keep the army supplied. And then winter hit, and France really couldn’t keep the army supplied. Napoleon gave up in December 1812. There seems to be disagreement on how many soldiers he lost before then–the 22K survivors figure might be only the Frenchmen, when the 685K initial figure included a lot of French allies’ soldiers, and the 380K killed figure wouldn’t include defectors or prisoners of war–but you get the idea.

Russia did not defeat that invasion. Winter did.


Additionally, even if your army is made up of something like zombies who don’t need to sleep or eat, they’d still have to deal with heavy rain, mud, flooding, snow, ice, and potentially wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, thunderstorms, or tornadoes depending on the local climate.


That’s not to mention the kinds of illnesses and pests that can easily crop up when people are staying in close quarters for extended periods of time.

And the longer an army is parked in one spot the harder it is to supply them from the local environment. Timber and kindling gets used up, hunting gets scarce, and eventually you’ll have to move camp to keep up with the latrine trenches.

This. Yes. Truth.
Tbh, my problem is… I did not factor this into worldbuilding. Winter is coming soon, so that is an issue.

Likewise with the other issues that @atomic_mailman and @keolah brought up.

Thank you all. I will be working with what you shared.

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