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Guns in my Fantasy?! HERESY says my critics.

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

  1. Weaver

    Weaver Sage

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    It's been mentioned before, but... The Guns of Avalon, by Roger Zelazny. As one would guess from the title, there are guns in this novel. It's also part of a series that is generally seen as the swords-and-magic kind of fantasy.

    [lengthy fanboy blather-fest deleted as irrelevant to discussion at hand]
     
  2. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    I think one of the points that's really missing in this discussion is how widespread the guns are in the novel setting. As I mentioned before, I have guns in a few of my novels. The fact is, in history, many people didn't use or own guns, just as today. Look how many people don't own or even know how to shoot a gun.. yet there they are, in the local sporting goods store, just waiting to be purchased.

    I could see it becoming distracting, if everyone in your medieval world has a six-shooter or tommy gun. But what's the harm in having the earliest guns? There ws a reason flintlock pistols weren't in every man's hand, and I don't think the introduction of a few guns necessitates arming your armies with them, or assuming every rogue, scoundrel, or mercenary would be so armed.

    Pistols were used in conjunction with blades for a long time, because the firearm could be fired, then holstered or dropped, and a sword drawn for close combat. I love that concept, so that's how I portray skirmishes in my later novels.

    I do think I would enjoy reading about something more involved, where technology is more like FF. I mean, there was a reason I loved those games enough to spend hundreds of hours of my life on them. The worlds were interesting, anything went, and for whatever reason, we never questioned how Yuffie, with that weird boomerang thing, could possibly do as much damage as her allies who were much better equipped :)
     
    Nihilium 7th and J. S. Elliot like this.
  3. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    o_O my head just exploded.
     
  4. Leif Notae

    Leif Notae Sage

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    Meh. If someone is worked up over guns being in a fantasy setting, they aren't developed enough to understand the complexities of a world or what it stands for. They can also hide behind the fortress walls while cannons bombard them, get all bristly, and declare the whole act of gunpowder "improper" and "untoward".

    If you can use your imagination, you can use guns. Spell guns, spirit guns, gun guns... Whatever. It isn't the limit of tech, it's the idea.
     
    Nihilium 7th and Weaver like this.
  5. johnsonjoshuak

    johnsonjoshuak Troubadour

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    Gunpowder Fantasy seems to be increasing in popularity. I just saw a blurb the other day for a book that has mages who get stronger with the use of gunpowder.
     
  6. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    In my current WIP I have cannon alongside elves and zombies (though I didn't call them that). I don't see a great conflict even though a cannon is basically a big gun.

    If I actually went to hand guns and rifles etc, I'd think I'd be upgrading the technology quotient of the world a bit, and be heading into steampunk. I think steampunk works well enough with magic, but it jars a little with elves and trolls etc. Having said that if someone wrote it well I probably wouldn't mind.

    Maybe you could just call the whole area Medieval urban fantasy!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  7. Weaver

    Weaver Sage

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    Depends on how you define your elves and trolls, doesn't it?
     
  8. Shadow Fox

    Shadow Fox Dreamer

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    Well, What i think is odd is how guns are immediately displayed as an instant kill method of attack, is is horrendously untrue even with modern guns. The only attribution of deadliness that can be realistically attributed to guns during the middle ages is that they fired lead balls, which are highly toxic, and lodging them into the body causing the person to die of lead poisoning rather than from the wound itself. Medical practice at the time was notably horrid and ineffective with most people relying on home-brewed remedies and natural immune response to take care of most problems. However, in a fantasy setting, the inclusion of healing magic kind of mitigates this issue and so firearms become drastically less of a game changer than they would otherwise be.

    Now don't get me wrong, guns are machines designed with the specific function of killing people, and I'm not saying they don't, I'm just saying that guns don't kill every time, and if you consider factors like a moving target, battlefield distractions and the like, hitting someone in the vitals every time just doesn't happen and someone who can kill with every shot has obviously devoted an extensive degree of time to building that level of precision and patience. Obviously this disadvantage can be mitigated by lining the gunmen up in a volley, but the same can be said of bowmen.

    As for the actual topic discussion, I don't think those critics fit your target audience dude.
     
    Weaver likes this.
  9. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    Agreed with Shadow, the quality of gunpowder was pretty bad back in the day. While early firearms had really large calibers (.65+) the velocity of these rounds wasn't that impressive when compared to modern firearms. The monetary expense of creating gunpowder and crafting the guns themselves would inhibit everyone carrying one; guns can exist without 'changing the game'. Also, accuracy pre-rifling is pretty abysmal, theres a reason why early tacticians lined soldiers in rows and fired in volleys. Unless you have an incredibly long smooth-bore musket then, even with years of training, hitting targets farther than 100 yards would be luck.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
  10. I have a WIP where depending on their specialty, some wizards prefer using firearms to magic because it's faster. Sure, there are times when nothing but a fireball will do, but some days you just want to empty your revolver into a ghoul and then go have tea.
     
  11. Shadow Fox

    Shadow Fox Dreamer

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    Isn't that precisely why mages had wands and staves and rods and the like. Regardless i would think a rapid fire spell or a quick cast spell would be more viable depending on how magic and mages function in your world.
     
  12. Ummm... yeah. "Depending on how magic and mages function in my world." That's sort of my call, isn't it?
     
  13. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    Hmm, maybe if you are in D&D? But pulling a trigger a couple of times seems much easier than much of the process that goes into magick in most systems. There's usually at least an incantation or somatic component. Even Yoda has to gesture.
     
  14. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Firearms invented in 1324? You're about two hundred years too late, chaps. Either way, swords, spears, cavalry, armor, continued to dominate the battlefield well into the early 18th Century, and most of those items phased out at different times - horses maintaining an active role in the military into the early 20th century.

    Personally, I prefer medieval fantasy (and pre-medieval fantasy). Because of my studies, it's one of the areas I feel really comfortable in. That said, it was an arbitrary decision - all fantasy timelines are arbitrary decisions. If you want guns, it's your right as an author.
     
  15. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    Likewise if you want chewing gum, it's your right as an author. "Historical accuracy" is a near meaningless term when applied to fantasy- which is entirely the point.
     
  16. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    Furthermore: As a historian (in training, natch), I'd like to throw it out there that most fantasy novels are terrible about keeping consistent timelines (not that it matters.

    For instance, the Lord of the Rings. The Hobbits, at least in their own homes, seem to have a lifestyle that I would associate with Victorian England. Not really that they were on that level, but the accoutrements of Bilbo's house point in that direction. Once you're out of the Shire, it seems that the timeline regresses even further. The use of taverns, for instance, would point to a more medieval setting. It regresses even further when you meet the men of Rohan and the men of Gondor - they seem one step above what I would call late Migration Era peoples.

    90% of these purists wouldn't be able to tell the difference between what we call Medieval and Renaissance, so I wouldn't worry about it.
     
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  17. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    I deliberately mix things together from different historical periods to get a unique feel for my world. Renaissance, Imperial Russia, Ottoman Empire, Egyptian Middle Kingdom, Roman Empire, and the Japanese Shogunate (all of them?), and 1800s America are a likely incomplete list of historical periods and societies I have borrowed from. "Anachronism"? What's that? :D
     
  18. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    That's a good policy, actually, and more accurate than most people would think. Certainly not to the level you're talking about, but a lot of people just hear the term 'Middle Ages' and assume that the Middle Ages in the Italian states, the Holy Roman Empire and Spain were remotely similar.
     
  19. Shadow Fox

    Shadow Fox Dreamer

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    Incantation and somatic components only exists if the magic specifically requires them. and pulling the trigger is quintessentially a somatic component. It really depends on how magic works. I'm not quoting D&D, if I was I would have mentioned it. Heck some fantasy concepts have magic activation as a force of will, as quick to perform as a thought.
     
  20. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

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    That's why I said most magick systems. My point was that there was no way for us to know if gunplay or spells were faster in Christopher Wright's magick system. If he says it is faster to empty a revolver into the ghoul in his world, then I would take his word for it. In fact, I am also assuming that ghouls in his world are able to be killed successfully by a revolver, when they might not be able to be killed that way in an alternate universe.
     
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