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Guns in my Fantasy?! HERESY says my critics.

Discussion in 'World Building' started by AFistfulofBalderdash, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. gowph3ar

    gowph3ar Troubadour

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    My Fantasy story has guns, they just use a different type of ammunition that we do not use so I think that gives them enough magical overtone, also, guns are good because if there is magic you have to give the commonfolk a way to compete! otherwise the mages will just rule everything.
     
  2. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    I don't have a problem with guns in fantasy. As long as the story is written well, I don't care. But some of the key things I think should be thought out is how their existence impacts the world. What are the pros and cons of the weapon in this world? Match that up with the pros and cons of magic. What do people do in reaction to this new weapon in terms of arms and armor? (Some of this is addressed in the initial post). One FYI if you didn't know already, from my hazy memory, I recall, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, one of the reasons guns came into prominence even though bows were a better weapon at that inception point was because guns didn't require much training to use compared to archers. Just something to chew on.
     
  3. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    Well, many factors contributed to the apprearance and popularity of guns. Cannons for example had the capability of making many castle walls relatively worthless as it can propel the projectile faster than catapults or trebuchets and with a bit more accuracy and ease of use. Personal firearms came about in China (essentually rockets in a tube) and it was more for fear than for damage on the battle field. It did have the capability to set fire to enemies, but rarely happened. Later ball and powder weapons were indeed made popular by the ease of training riflemen in comparison with archers, not to mention less maintenance on the weapons (cleaning as opposed to waxing the string, refletching arrows that get damaged, or finding replacement strings or materials for new arrows). An army would often have a small foundry with them for creating bullets and cannon balls.

    Also it came from the concept to counter knights in full plate armor which was used into the 1700s. An arquebus (forerunner to the modern rifle or musket) was introduced in Europe in the 1600s and a ball from an arquebus at close range could penetrate full plate and kill the knight wearing it. Sure, at long range it would likely bounce off the breastplate, but lightly armored men (men-at-arms in chain mail) were still vulnerable and the army didn't even have to get close to them to take them out of the fight. Handheld weapons of the time; flintlocks or matchlock pistols were likewise used to counter melee opponants in armor or used in places where rifles were unrealistic (like aboard ships).
     
  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I use flintlock pistols in my books... the problems with them are that they take time, so one deadly close-range shot is not a game-changer, just a scene-changer. I made weapons technology regional, with certain regions able to acquire certain things in trade, and others merely unable to. So while guns exist, to most people they couldn't imagine what one looks like.
     
  5. Phin Scardaw

    Phin Scardaw Troubadour

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    I personally love how guns are handled by John Crowley in The Deep. Such a masterful writer!
    You can easily accept their presence, but they are not just another weapon used in a melee. He infuses the Guns with a sort of holy purpose, and brings a fantasy quality to something that we take for granted as an everyday object - at least on those days we go to the firing range.

    So that single-shot quality to them gives them superb meaning, because those who wield the Guns, the assassins called the Just, draw cards and wait for destiny to bring them the singular opportunity they need to take their shot.

    The PorPor Books Blog: SF and Fantasy Books 1968 - 1988
     
  6. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    That one deadly close-range shot could change enough depending on the the situation... like a furious melee involving the Antagonist and the Protagonist and he brings it out just when the Antagonist thinks he's won. :p
     
  7. Ice Spider

    Ice Spider Scribe

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    I say go for it! I love to see variety in the fantasy genre beyond the standard Northern Europe thing...isn't going to creative new worlds what fantasy is all about?

    I think magic could work with guns, though you might be best to keep it subtle (like mind manipulation and things like that).
     
  8. Yes, that is the same reason why Crossbows came to power.

    Nobody would have denied the superiority of an English Yoeman over a peasant with a crossbow, but I assure you that having to rely on a group of men that require a life-time of training isn't the same as just requisitioning an army of peasants and giving them two-weeks training with a crossbow.

    I keep my military and social history at the forefront of writing. The primary faction that uses firearms has all the marks of industry blended with a Renassiance style of clothing, buildings, and art. However, since life is easier for them they are far weaker in fortitude, and training. When you compare them to the other faction, a super-powered Medieval army that knows no fear, and can shake off a full rifle volley- you have a quite a serious contender.

    If we go with a faction by faction battle, cutting free all the variables, we'll have something like this.

    One on one, the man with the gun will lose, I make that clear.

    One on three, the man with the sorcery will win, I also make that clear.
     
  9. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    One thing to think about if one on one the man with the gun loses. If that's always the case, it kind of takes away from the prelude of things to come feel. There should be a case where the gun becomes the great equalizer. A cowardly, weak man should be able to take down a knight with a well placed or lucky shot.
     
  10. If we go with a faction by faction battle, cutting free all the variables, we'll have something like this.


    I never said the gun loses out everytime. I only said I have to keep a believable conflict between a late medieval power and an Industrial Revolution one.

    On a biological level, the medieval faction is a species that can survive a full rifle volley and continue the march. On the physical level they are superior.

    But you're not considering superior numbers, technological advancement to counter these biological strengths, or sheer skill in the riflemen to aim where it counts.

    Make no mistake, guns are presented as the future. They defeat the horrors of the world, be they demonic vampires in full-plate or dragons that have yet to fear the power of two hundred riflemen with three centuries of training. It's only currently these two super-powers are locked in a perpetual Cold War that has neither side willing to fully commit to open warfare. One has to deal with literal millions of copy-cut soldiers that are easily replaced and the other has to contend with supernaturally powered killing machines that flinch in the fact of injuries that outright kill a human in our world.
     
  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I disagree with your critics. Guns, work very well as a metaphor for "old world" vs "new world". A good idea would be to show the world being constantly evolving and dynamic. Your musketeers may not stand a chance against the spartan mages at first, but maybe over time their technology improves until its the old guard who become the underdogs. Maybe they figure out how to develop warships and flying machines as well to give them a tactical advantage. There's a lot you can do with this.
     
  12. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    Terry Brooks used airships somewhat for his "Jerle Shannara" series as the primary mode of long distance transportation. They were kept suspended in the air via magic, but steered just like a regular ship by shifting the angle of the sails. They were likewise designed to be sailing vessels also, in case they had no place to land on the ground or the magical device that kept them aloft failed.

    L.E. Modesitt Jr. in his "Recluse" series incorporates certain "modern" aspects into his story, using steam powered warships for the first time to overcome the speed of the enemy empire's vessels, the steel for the boilers reinforced with magic to keep them from exploding or rupturing.

    Considering the first steam engines were invented in the late 1600s/early 1700s it isn't a far cry from having firearms in a fantasy setting, since they were invented MUCH earlier by the Chinese (1100s).
     
  13. Godzilax99

    Godzilax99 Scribe

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    In my opinion, guns are a welcome sight in the military mainly because it is easier to train a squad of gunners, than a squad of archer or swordsmen. As many of you will know, to be a knight, many years of rigorous training is required, from sword fighting, to horseback riding and combat, to using of lance and even wearing the armor is tough. The armor is heavy and not for the untrained. So to train a decent knight is expensive, not to mention the armor and sword and horse, which costs a lot in the medieval age.

    Archers are hard to train as well. Long years of training is required to pull the bow and loosing many arrows. Their back, arms and shoulders muscles will then developed to take the strain of such a feat. Accuracy is important as well in the battlefield, although some longbows men will shoot from a long long distance away and all they want is to rain down arrows to kill or injure advancing troops.

    So, with rifles and guns, all I need is anyone, who is strong enough to hold the rifle in the firing position, train them how to use and maintain their rifles, and how to shoot straight, then I can get a platoon of gunmen ready. Placed them on a hill or behind a steam, and I'll fire my rifles again and again. No need of long years of condition training and muscle straining experiences. just the trigger finger.
     
  14. Godzilax99

    Godzilax99 Scribe

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    If my history lesson didn't go too wrong, I think the Chinese invented or rather discovered gunpowder first, but failed to use it as a weapon, but just a way to make fire. It's the European(can't remember who came first) who make use of gunpowder and make guns. When the Europeans had guns, Chinese army were still using swords and shield..
     
  15. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    So as far as the original post goes. I think that a lot of non-fantasy fans think of guns as being the "ultimate weapon" and cannot imagine anything being able to be on par with it. I've encountered this from laymen when I've described my world to them. Usually it only takes a little more description and they go, "Oh, I never thought of it that way."

    If your critics are fantasy fans, then it sounds like they have a very narrow view and don't want anything outside of that. I don't really have anything to say to that.

    I see your guns and raise you robots, androids and living machines. How do we feel about that in fantasy?
     
  16. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    Yes most people think of "gun" and think M16 or SA80 and not single shot dueling pistols.
    Actually my main problem with guns in fantasy is not their effectiveness but the infrastructure they been to support / create them... Specialist metal workers, coke [not coal], mining and refining of ore to make steel, reliable sources of potassium nitrate, sulfur and charcoal... For me it makes the "usual" fantasy world feel a little crowded.
    Is there a wall between SciFi and Fantasy?:p
    I would love to blend the two... now i just have to think of a plot....
     
  17. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Some people I've spoke to (my fiancee comes to mind) HATE the mere idea of sci-fi elements in their fantasy. It just made sense for my world-build. Sorry.....well, I'm not really sorry. I love my galts.
     
  18. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    That was one thing that I considered and made sure was addressed in my novels that do have firearms and semi-other modern technology elements in a fantasy world where magic exists.

    But like Zero Angel indicated there are readers who do not care to see such combined. That's why there are so many subgenres of fantasy, because of varying reader preferences. The cover of my novels, hint at it, with a WW II era aircraft (Stuka) in the background in the sky along with a dragon. Sometimes at book signing events, it attracts reader interest. They'll stop, pick up the novel and look closer, read the back cover, and some inside, we'll converse. Sometimes they purchase a copy, other times politely put it back on the table.

    With others, they glance and sometimes scrunch up their nose, sometimes comment, saying that's not their thing. That's okay. A writer cannot please every potential reader. It's impossible.

    CupofJoe, hope you come up with a solid plot :)
     
  19. FireBird

    FireBird Troubadour

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    From a military standpoint you can view guns as if they were crossbows. Both weapons took a very short time to learn how to use on a battlefield, although which is more effective depends on how advanced your guns are. The fact that gunpowder exists in your society changes things as well. If you have guns there is a good chance you have cannons as well. In Ancient China they had makeshift artillery but never managed to invent the gun. Think about what implications this has in your story.

    I would LOVE to see more fantasy worlds with guns in a non-steampunk setting. It just adds an interesting element that you don't see very often.
     
  20. a dreamy walker

    a dreamy walker Scribe

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    Just a conceptual idea: what about repeating crossbows that fire arrows with explosive arrow-tips - (if the crossbow was in a sci-fi setting, for example, the arrows could be filled with sodium metal and, in a segmented space, water)
     
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