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🎨 Creative A realistic science fiction future without guns

Rallan

My Hat Of d02
Validated User
Maybe the powers that be strictly regulate or suppress undesirable technologies, and people just don't have access to (or perhaps even knowledge of) guns. Maybe warfare (or espionage, or organised crime, or whatever) is ritualistic and bound by codes of honour, and bringing guns to a knife war would be considered a shockingly unacceptable escalation. Maybe most of the action takes place in a grand simulation, and guns are just a stylistic choice that aren't inherently better or worse than anything else.

Or if you want to get meta and use narrative reasons instead of coming up with in-universe reasons, maybe guns are still a thing but they're just not relevant in whatever field the PCs are supposed to be in. Not gonna be much call for gunplay in a game about cyborg streetfighting tournaments or a 24th century soap opera.
 

jorganos

Registered User
Validated User
An alternative take on the Dune slowfield is used in the short Rats, Bats and Vats series by Dave Freer and Eric Flint. The Slowfield reacts to objects faster than a certain velocity and creates a hardened shell around the projector when interfered at such velocity. This does take care of grenade splinters, too, and will cause deadly ricochets if some kind of gun is fired inside the slowfield. (Cue the bang sticks, basically shotguns on a stick that you put into an opponents slowfield radius and trigger there.)


The force-field approach is of course rather soft SF.

What is a gun? A device you point (or aim along), allow for ballistic correction, and pull a trigger or light a fuse. Normal use is line of sight, but you can go ballistic if you have a non-visual targeting aid (provided you operate in real gravity and not centrifugal acceleration or freefall).

So how to make a weapon like this obsolete? You cannot entirely, much like the gun-mounted bayonet keeps the spear alive, and the knife remains a lethal side arm. But you can introduce something better at hitting a target while minimizing the risk for the shooter - drones. These may still use kinetic impact ammunition, or other such ballistic payload (explosive, incendiary, taser/EMP, toxin-bearing rounds).

You may have automated lethal response to any source of high velocity missiles - possibly some kind of irradiation. This doesn't prevent the use of one-use teleoperated guns or the equivalent of claymore mines, though.

Countermeasures against hits: designing the perfect armor will alway lag behind designing the perfect armor penetrator, and dissipating a sufficiently high kinetic impact without handwavium technology remains a problem. (It also eliminates the impact of swords, spears, knives, etc.)

One way to prevent being hit yourself would be telepresence (again: drones) which may be able to survive stuff lethal to your organic (or cybernetic) body. This doesn't help once the location of your body becomes a combat zone. A "Romulan Warbird"-like phase shift is a variation of this, but again outside of hard SF.


So change the environment. An underwater environment is the enemy of guns as kinetic energy of ballistic missiles is dissipated at a high rate, and the pressure waves may damage the shooter, too. Heavier, possibly self-propelled missiles (harpoons, torpedoes) will suffer less. But guns can still fire into this environment and penetrate just enough to remain effective.

Changing the way gravity affects the missile will only require some correction to keep ballistic missiles viable.


Change the psychology. David Niven's Flatlander series provided a (dystopic, IMO) mandatory social adjustment that suppressed any violent impulses in humans. That will affect any kind of conflict, though.

So have a mandatory watchdog AI implant that will neutralize motor control when coming close to firing a gun. (Take that as an evil 2nd Amendment conforming form of gun control...) Such a thing could be fooled, but people might move on to other lethal instruments, that may be covered by the AI or not.

A similar thing might be done by a memetic implant, basically making a gun something like an out-of-context object. Not very hard SF, either, but a possible maguffin. A weaker form could be a strong religious anathema on guns and gun-like objects. This didn't stop the church from using crosses for executions of heretics or witches, though.

A non-violent society doesn't led itself to traditional roleplaying that well, does it? Niven's universe rolled back on its use of violence-suppressant drugs once first contact with the carnivorous Kzin was established. But then, this brings back the possibility of guns or gun-like weaponry.
 

petros

Registered User
Validated User
I'd go with - almost perfect shields and almost perfect guns can be easily made for every conscript.

A bigger gun doesn't get through the shield, a bigger shield isn't better at protecting anything. The gun kills anything on the battlefield that doesn't have a shield (but they're so cheap everything intended to go to the battlefield DOES have a shield), and is otherwise used for combat engineering (one handheld gun can dig a trench in an hour that would take a team of modern engineers days). The shield protects everyone from random attacks, and means that fighters can get up close and personal before they're in real danger. You kill the enemy by using the gun once you've got it inside their shield (so you have to get close), but not after the two shields sync up and both fighters would get blasted (so you have to keep your distance, and each attack has to be quick and decisive).

Guns would be most dangerous at range by cratering the terrain and possibly burying the enemy. Even a space-battleship wouldn't have guns that could penetrate a basic personal shield.
 

soltakss

Simon Phipp - RQ Fogey
Validated User
I'd go with - almost perfect shields and almost perfect guns can be easily made for every conscript.
What about non-battlefield situations? Does everyone get a shield as a matter of course? Is there a way of blocking or turning off shields?
 

petros

Registered User
Validated User
What about non-battlefield situations? Does everyone get a shield as a matter of course? Is there a way of blocking or turning off shields?
They'd be as reliable and straightforward as the things we use to build bridges and skyscrapers today, structures would be built with shields as load-bearing elements. The only drawback is that they couldn't be used for things people touch directly.

If times are interesting, people would either all wear shields, and every house would be shielded, or they'd be banned except for police, military, and secret police. Access to shields isn't as important as access to training, a well-trained shield fighter will win every time against a poorly trained one, and a well-trained shield fighter stands a decent chance when outnumbered.

You can get through any shield by using a shield of your own and matching it's frequency, and more advanced shields would be laminated, so they'd have to be broken through in layers. This is how two fighters would strike at each other, by physically circling and feinting at each other all while adjusting the frequency of their shields layers, so that one gets their gun, or another weapon, on the inside of the enemy shield, while the other hasn't. Shield fighters would move slowly through a fortress's shields layer by layer, while the defenders know the frequencies and can advance to face them quickly. You can't definitively shut one off from outside with firepower, but you can advance on one layer by layer with a shield of the same size until they are cancelling each other out, and it's as easy to advance on the location as it is to sally out from it.

The 'guns' I'm thinking about here are more like Culture 'knives' or Star Trek phasers, they're insanely powerful, accurate, and versatile weapons. If there was an unshielded battleship in orbit (but who would make that?), and in line-of-sight, a handheld gun could destroy it in moments, if there was a battlefield with a division of unshielded soldiers (but nobody would field such an army), even entrenched and out of line of sight, a handheld gun could destroy them as an effective fighting force in a few minutes. Except that they exist in a setting where shields are just as insanely effective, but in defense.
 

s/LaSH

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Effectors aren't weapons. They can just arbitrarily rearrange matter on a roughly planetary scale.
And in my DC1938 project, the Green Lantern rings aren't weapons either - they're just diplomatic equipment designed to provide immersive communication capabilities anywhere in the galaxy to anywhere else in the galaxy. E.g. generate a projection of yourself which is solid and powerful enough to pick up sound and vision, on a planet 40,000 light years away. You appreciate how this could be mistaken for the most powerful weapon in the universe on a sub-light-year scale.
 

TrapperQ

Spiker (proof on request)
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The A.I.s that run the replicators refuse to build them. They also refuse to create cigarettes or use real sugar in foods. If you want a gun you're going to have to assemble a tool shop and bullet factory without the A.I.s figuring out what you're building with all the fabricated parts you've been ordering. It doesn't prevent guns, but it makes them as rare as hen's teeth.

A worldwide network of Star Trek level sensors scans for bullet discharges, grenades and shells, and teleports them away. This works better on small mass objects, and swords et.al don't have a recognisable energy signature. Or, the same system simply impounds all the unlicensed explosive chemicals and teleports in your court summons.

Everyone learned the psionic discipline of 'Ignore bullets' in the womb.

Deflector rays only work on low mass objects and work best when the deflected object has a lot of energy to send it quickly in another direction.

Super Kevlar is still a cloth, so slicing and stabbing still works because you're attacking the material a few fibres at a time rather than the area effect of a blunt bullet.

Force Field chain mail will quickly regenerate the one or two rings ablatively destroyed by a bullet, but it has a much harder time regenerating all the rings destroyed by a long blade. A good axeman can carve the armour off of someone and get to the force generators far quicker than a robot with a chain gun.
 
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