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🎨 Creative A realistic science fiction future without guns

LordofArcana

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At some point in the past someone released nanites that target and neutralize any explosive compound powerful enough to make an effective gun. This means you also don't get mines or bombs.

Depending on what you want for the rest of the setting, the technical knowledge to make such nanites could've been lost. Maybe there was a Great War (during which those nanites were produced?) that set culture and technology back to the point where nobody knows how to reproduce the weapons with which it was fought - and people are highly discouraged from trying.
Nanites are actually fairly simple to counter, you just need to cook them. Admittedly exposing explosives to high temperatures might be a bad idea.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
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Maybe if some sort of commonplace personal forcefield is developed that stops things that move too quickly but allows slower things through, so bullets ping off the forcefields but swords can get through?
That's the Dune solution.

At some point in the past someone released nanites that target and neutralize any explosive compound powerful enough to make an effective gun. This means you also don't get mines or bombs.
Doesn't prevent airguns or coil/railguns. None are as good as powder guns, but better than bows or swords.
 

AlwaysToast

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There is a brainwashing/hypnosis/programming (literally with nanites or cyber-brain implants). Governments could strictly enforce controls on civilians, and the majority of them wouldn’t know it. Governments don’t need guns if you have stun weapons, and can reprogram human minds. Wars would be more about hacking the population than physically taking locations.

Maybe an AI (or group of AIs) decided guns were a bad idea and just removed them from everyone’s memory (or just made everyone think they were an abhorrent technology) once the majority of people had gotten brain-upgrades. Basically just the controls that governments put on civilians being placed on everyone.

Cultural shift where guns/technological weapons became the symbol for cowardice and incompetence. Causing a return to the idea of honor via personal combat without advanced technology. Cultures change over long periods of time.

Post scarcity civilization where everything is awesome, technology has fixed a lot of problems, and there is no real crime or poverty, or war, so there isn't a great need/want for guns. Problem is adventure ether has to be exploration, or dealing with emergencies.
 

DwarfRage

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Another thing I thought of is an expansive AI system that is propagated everywhere (the internet of things) is given primary directives to not hurt people, or let them come to harm. It simply eliminates weaponry, no other AI could be made without the same directive as it would violate the first directive.
John Ringo, for all his faults, references this in his version of the "SCA shall inherit the earth," Council Wars - where there's an overwatching AI system that prevents guns but not allowing pressure to build up before a certain level. Some steam power is okay, but not too much, and anything else gets absorbed into the system.
 

solarpunk

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John Ringo, for all his faults, references this in his version of the "SCA shall inherit the earth," Council Wars - where there's an overwatching AI system that prevents guns but not allowing pressure to build up before a certain level. Some steam power is okay, but not too much, and anything else gets absorbed into the system.
I don't know if I have read anything by him, I don't care for his political leanings. I was thinking of the AI and nanobots: the AI controls most of the manufacturing, 3D printing; plus the main weapon being the anti-weapon "phage". Couple that with people being like "meh" about the disappearance of guns. It could be dune-ish, with knives and clubs in the built up areas (just avoid the peacekeeper drones), tasers? Then the frontier could have maybe some looser rules, buying weapons from aliens, and other weirdness.
 

Bira

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Completely eliminating guns from a whole setting so that even militaries don't use them is indeed unrealistic. However, it's remarkably realistic and easy to make that part of the setting your PCs inhabit mostly gun-free because of effective legislation (and its effective enforcement) and social conventions.

If your campaign is nonviolent to begin with, no one has a reason to own a gun.

If it's about bloody intrigue and the PCs are among the people who do the scheming, they don't have a reason to own a gun either - obvious violence occurs at a remove and offscreen. If you ever wield a weapon personally, it has to be something designed primarily to be discrete and not traceable to you, like poison or baroque nanite weapons.

I've read several stories in set in Cyberpunk Japan that feature few to no guns despite the fact that the characters are mostly underworld types, and this is explained as a result of tight gun control. People mostly make do with melee weapons, usually improvised stuff like chains and pipes but sometimes swords or other martial arts weapons because those can be classed as sporting goods and thus be widely available. I hear that's not too different from how the real-world version works.

If it's a war campaign with soldier PCs and you don't want anyone to use guns, then it's not going to be a realistic setting, but you can just decree no one uses guns and invent whatever reason sounds plausible given the rest of the setting.
 

Octopus Prime

Retired User
I support you, not only because of my own feelings towards gun culture, but also because gunfights are one of the least interesting types of combat to have.
Part of the question is: "what is the dominant combat paradigm you want to have?"
If you want a futuristic world of melee combat, then the Dune Solution seems to be the most obvious. It might be through forcefields that deflect high speed projectiles, or that are cancelled out when in close proximity to one another, or just advanced body armor that can only be penetrated with continuous pressure from vibroblades and the like.
The other answer is one that hasn't reverted back from firearms, but one that has progressed past them. In a world of advanced chemical weapons, nanite swarms, and microscopic drones, carrying a machine gun might be as quaint as carrying around a pike today.
In most cases, these aren't going to necessarily eliminate the concept of firearms, but will probably regulate them to a niche roll, much as blades have been in modern warfare.

And as others have mentioned, environmental and cultural conditions might come to play as well. If combat takes place largely on fragile space stations, firearms and explosives would probably be too high risk, and a different combat paradigm would emerge. Or perhaps your setting is one in which combat is usually a result of honor dueling than a total warfare scenario, and so guns are used, just not in the types of scenes that are being played out.
 

Faethor

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SLA industries response to gun overuse was 'bullet tax' - using guns is kept artificially expensive because gunfighting doesn't get the same televised ratings as brutal melee combat.

I agree guns can be dull-dull-dull which is why settings like Solomon Kane with black powder pistols and muskets felt quite appealing to me for a while. In my scifi I made most 'bullet' and projectile weapons very illegal to use and ship (as space travel and supersonic bullets don't mix and to prevent planetside insurrection) but kept expensive gyrojet rounds designed not to penetrate bulkheads and to disintegrate harmlessly after a certain distance.

1st offence for using a projectile weapon or smuggling a restricted firearm? Being spaced.
 
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Adam Reynolds

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As the OP, upon looking over GURPS Ultra-Tech(as while I'm not really using the system, it is an excellent reference for ideas about future tech in general), I probably am going with some form of powered armor after all. Probably with mounted weapons, maybe also including something loosely similar to what Tony Stark used in Captain America Civil War against Bucky as a holdout weapon. It does feel a bit contrived that people are still essentially using what are guns in all but name and appearance, but I sort of prefer that to the alternative. There could also be a cultural factor as well. If you're using non-gun weapons, it is much less obvious how heavily armed you are. The difference between a normal spacer in a powered exosuit and high quality powered armor is much less obvious than the difference between a man with a gun and someone unarmed. Depending on the technology and the nature of things like 3D printing and DIY machining, it might also be the case that people can essentially make their own powered armor somewhat easily, though presumably not quite at the same level as that designed for combat.

Also, in a loosely relevant note, something else that occurred to me is the fact that in Harry Potter, Avada Kedadra is a spell that makes combat less interesting than it would be without it. Because the spell will kill if it hits, it cannot possibly hit any of the main characters. Meanwhile the heroes can lead enchanted desks into battle. The same problem sort of exists for guns, that everything comes down to an endless game of shooting and dodging and leaves much less room for creativity. While different types of guns alleviate this problem somewhat, they don't exactly eliminate it because. Powered armor gives something of a middle ground between hit and not hit, as you can take minor hits that start causing systems failures or power loss. You can also have different trade-offs between lighter and more mobile armor, heavy weapons loadouts, and heavy armor that takes hits and gets in close with a more brawling style.

Even just with weapons in a futuristic context the creativity problem is also true. If you're using what are essentially guns, while you can have smaller projectiles that carry slightly exotic warheads, this still pales in comparison to what can be done with larger missiles as payloads at a lower technology level. Not to mention that lasers and microwave weapons can be used for a host of interesting effects, with everything from electrolaser stun to EMP effects possible. Energy weapons and missiles can be more easily mounted to powered armor in ways that make them less like guns than if there was a semi-conventional gun mounted to it.

Nanites are actually fairly simple to counter, you just need to cook them. Admittedly exposing explosives to high temperatures might be a bad idea.
One of the ways I tend to think of nanotechnology is that it is effectively just programmable bacteria, which was the original nanotechnology after all. While it can be extremely potent for certain limited applications, it isn't likely going to outright replace traditional manufacturing or weapons entirely, because it will be just as vulnerable as and dangerous as bacteria.

Something else GURPS Ultra-Tech rightfully points out is that what is just as effective and cheaper than nanotechnology is to use similarly programmable insect sized swarms instead. Insects aren't as successful as they are for nothing. Which is honestly terrifying in action, as shown in the Black Mirror episode Hated in the Nation. On a less horrifying note, you could actually create something that visually looks a lot like waterbending if the swarm responds to an individual's actions as a safety mechanism.
 
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