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Guns in my Fantasy?! HERESY says my critics.

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

  1. Jabrosky

    Jabrosky Banned

    I don't want to discourage anyone from writing guns in their fantasy, but I for one regard them as overrated, especially as a measure of personal machismo and toughness. The success of guns, or at least modern guns, stems largely from how easily people can use them. Not only do they possess a lot of destructive even when fired a safe distance from the target, but a lot of guns nowadays come with sophisticated scopes with crosshairs to help with marksmanship. Almost any slob could learn how to use a modern firearm, so owning one wouldn't really make you more badass or whatever.

    Admittedly many of the aforementioned issues may not apply to old-school muskets or arquebuses, the kind of guns the OP probably had in mind, but modern conveniences in general make things too easy for my inner storyteller's taste.
  2. All I know is, Roger Zelazny got away with putting modern firearms in a fantasy book, as part of one of my favourite fantasy series of all time. So there is clearly there is a precedence for this.

    I dunno. Sure, anyone can learn how to fire a gun, but anyone can learn how to use a sword as well. Not every gunman is going to be a quickdraw or a sharpshooter, though, the same way not every swordsman will be a fencing master.

    Plus, mix in magic and guns may not be especially useful after all. The better mages in one of my settings are practically immune to firearms.
  3. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    As someone that has practiced sword fighting for the last five years, let me tell you that I feel like a bloody tank when I go up against people that have only been doing it for a short while.

    There are very few people that are naturally good at sword-fighting; you barely feel like you are defending against them and it is like shooting fish in a barrel. A lot of people assume that it is just swinging and being fast, but that is not the case at all. Speed helps, don't get me wrong, but I cannot tell you how many people we have to disabuse of the notion that sword fighting is easy.

    On the other hand, a gun or a crossbow would kill me no matter how skilled I was at shooting them at others. Could I kill them first if I was prepared and had the opportunity and the skill? Probably.

    That said, I definitely do agree that there is a skill to guns, crossbows and marksmanship as well, I just think that the starters start much higher.

    And good point about magick! Not having guns but having magick is like saying you're not going to have guns but will have missiles.
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    Fantasy works with firearms, off the top of my head:

    Chronicle of Amber, Roger Zelazny (great series)
    Rigante books, David Gemmell (great series)
    L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Recluse books (and other series?)
    Warhammer series has firearms, I believe

    There are a few others but I can't think of the names. Then there are books like King's Dark Tower series, but that's not set in a traditional fantasy world.
  5. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    Well, Exalted had mini-flamethrowers before it had guns. (According to TV Tropes, the guns it eventually introduced fire "golden bullets propelled by the faith contained in miniature shrines engraved on the barrel.")

    To get back on-topic, I think you should just give your characters whatever fits the tech level of the setting, whether it's crossbows, flintlocks, or RAYYYY GUNS!

    P.S. I feel like I should address Jabrosky's comment about guns not being "badass"--how is that a bad thing? Most of my characters have no weapons training or, indeed, combat skill.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
    Zero Angel likes this.
  6. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    Good point there! There was no mention of guns being "badass", just about using them. It might be that your character is one of these peasants that doesn't know their right from left, but somehow is able to utilize this weapon to cause a regime change.
  7. Asheiel

    Asheiel New Member

    This is kinda a side note but not really. What do you think about the worlds that are created in the Final Fantasy video games? You have ones like X and XII that have a steampunkish world with guns and the like, and then you have VII and XIII that are more modern, almost sci-fi like worlds. Do you guys consider them fantasy or hyrbid or what? I'm interested cause i'm working on a book that was a world similar to VII in particular and I'm not really sure what to draw inspiration from in most fantasy novels.
  8. grimreaper

    grimreaper Scribe

    I haven't read any other fantasy books or series that contain firearms. However , I have to say , I like the idea very much . I , for one , would certainly love a story containing such ideas.

    On a sidenote, I have to disagree with Davor here. While handheld guns(muskets , flintlocks and such) were not sufficiently developed in the early stages of history to make much of an effect on the outcome of a large battle, cannons did make a lot of difference . It was the use of cannons that helped Babur , the first Mughal emperor, defeat the Lodis(the ruling dynasty in India at that time ) in the first battle of Panipat , although Ibrahim Lodi had a far bigger army and war elephants as well.

    P.S:- I do remember reading of some battle in medieval Europe , where the party with the cannons lost it against enemy longbowmen, but I forget the specifics . Obviously a lot depends upon the ingenuity of the commanders as well.
  9. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    Great point there grimreaper. Cannons were a game changer in and of themselves, and ultimately is one of the reasons why we don't wall up towns and have gigantic castles/keeps anymore.
  10. Well, almost nobody is good at stuff they've only been doing for a short while.

    This sounds like an assumption. Do you actually have any experience with firearms? Are you trained to kill people with a gun?

    It's also a generalization. "Being prepared and having the opportunity and the skill" works just a well for swords. It's the same as saying "If I have all the advantages, I can probably win." But if you are up against someone who is faster, more skilled and generally more talented, you are still going to lose.

    I don't see how. As far as I'm concerned, the main differance between a gunfight and a swordfight is that the gunfight tends to be quicker.

    That isn't really what I meant, but whatever.

    Another thing I've done is to actually reduce the speed of which gunpowder burns, which means the bullets fired simply do not have the energy to penetrate heavy armor. In that setting, firearms where too inefficient to make up for the cost of producing them, making them mostly curiosities which meant the technology never got off the ground.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2012
  11. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    My point was that newbies think they are going to be good, but I feel invincible.

    I am not "trained to kill people with a gun", but I know how to use a gun and shoot one. My point was that as a sword fighter, I can stop someone else from killing me with a sword, but as a gunfighter, my only option is to kill them first.

    -_- I guess I am condensing too much when I type here. My point was (as I wrote in the sentence before your quote) that I needed to be able to kill them first. It doesn't matter how good I am at shooting a gun or a crossbow if someone is shooting one at me.

    The only thing I can hope for is for them
    to miss (the opportunity)
    and be able (being prepared)
    to return fire (and here is where the skill would come in).

    The difference is a lot. There is a trick to holding a sword and swinging it. It's not the same as picking up a stick off the ground and swinging it (I'm not comparing it to bo-staff fighting or kendo or something like that, just saying that it's not just picking it up and swinging it). There's a LOT of subtleties in fighting that is NOT natural. And there's really nothing that we do in our lives that prepare us for sword-fighting (although other martial arts do help with the basic principles).

    On the other hand, ANYONE can pick up a loaded gun and pull a trigger in the direction of someone else. This is *mostly* hand-eye coordination at the basic level. No matter how talented that person is that you are shooting at, they have no options after you pull the trigger. Where does skill come in? Well you have to maintain your firearms and ammo; if you are talking about gunslingers there is drawing and rate-of-fire, managing recoil, reloading, etc. For snipers there is managing the drop of the bullet, wind, and I am sure a lot of other stuff that I am not trained for because I am not a sniper. But if you are just asking someone to pull a trigger (the "starter"), then I think that person is about 1000 times more powerful against other gunfighters than the "starter" swordfighter is against veteran swordfighters.

    There's a lot of skill involved at the higher ends, but that gunslinger has no option once the bullet is coming at them unless their opponent messed up or has body armor that can stop the shot. Their skill really needs to come into play *before* someone else is firing at them.

    It is very "unfair".

    You did not mean that magick was a great equalizer in your series? My response was just saying that if you have something else super-powerful, why not have guns too. I took this as your point. Please let me know what your point actually was.
  12. Galbatroth

    Galbatroth Acolyte

    So long as used properly within the context of your story, I think guns are are perfectly acceptable in a fantasy story. My favorite author uses dragons in a modern setting. And he also uses some some si-fi elements, such as portals to other worlds.
  13. Oaken

    Oaken Acolyte

    Personally I don't have anything against this, because I'm totally with breaking the genre's borders. Fantasy with swords and magic has been written since long, and adding new elements actually makes it less repetitive, more daring and innovative.
    But you can lessen your critics' "anger" by infusing magical elements in your guns. Like shooting magical bolts or stuff.
  14. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    Actually they had rockets and even employed them in combat, but truthfully they weren't that effective as a weapon; probably the reason they didn't pursue the use of it. It was the Europeans who created the guns as we know them today, well cannons initially, then hand held weapons.
  15. dangit

    dangit Scribe

    Yeah I don't care about guns overmuch but than again I haven't actually found any fantasy with guns.
  16. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

    However, the ancient Chinese uses mines, incendiaries, flamethrower, and grenades that is effective. There's also the three-barreled guns that isn't very effective but has a lot psychological value. Then again, why need guns when you have the first semi-automatic weapon.

    What about Monster Hunter (tm)? It has crossbow/gun, sniper-rifles and Tommy-gun look-alike alongside swords taller than a man.

    EDIT: Also, Rise of Legends: Magic Arab-based civilization with dragon and glass golems vs. Steam-Clockpunk Venice dopplegangers with muskets and mechs vs. Space-faring mayan aliens with laser.

    In opinion though, you have to explain why people don't go all the way magic or the way guns if you want to employ firearms. It also help to think of it in term of an arms race: better guns will be followed by better counter like barrier spell or armour.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  17. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    If you mean fantasy in general and not just literature, then video games regularly have guns (I blame Final Fantasy). Final Fantasy and Warcraft are two series that strongly feature guns, but I am sure that there are many fantasies with guns.

    Plus, my book has guns. Although I also have a mix of sci-fi in the world, this is not apparent to readers of the first few books and not why there are guns.

    Oh, there are also books based on Warcraft, so there's fantasy literature with guns as well.

    Oh! And these are epic/sword&sorcery fantasies too, not things like urban fantasy or even Lovecraftian horror or steampunk fantasies that I am sure feature guns as a matter of principle.
  18. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    Bollocks. Put guns in if you want guns. They aren't exactly new technology. Nor are they 'science fiction'.
  19. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    If you want guns in your fantasy setting, run with it. I probably won't enjoy the story but there are others who no doubt will.
  20. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    Why won't you enjoy it? As a matter of principal? Or because you think fantasy needs to fit in a specific box and not break out of that box? Or just that you really enjoy swords and don't want guns? Just looking for some clarification here.

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