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How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

The key word in your statement' date=' to me, is "possible". Yeah, it's possible to close, draw and strike before the other guy can draw, point, and fire, but possible is far from likely, or common. Anything that requires years of additional training to achieve approximately the same level of effectiveness isn't that great.[/quote']

 

A possibility which rises depending on what the "target is" and where they happened to be approached at. Also, being able to "upload" the skills to be a good or even great swordsman is part of some cyberpunk settings.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

A possibility which rises depending on what the "target is" and where they happened to be approached at. Also' date=' being able to "upload" the skills to be a good or even great swordsman is part of some cyberpunk settings.[/quote']

 

yeah, I'm mostly ignoring wired reflexes and skill chips, as I figure that a tech advantage like that will be an "I win" button against those who are lacking said advantages, and will be a wash against those who are on the same level and have similar implanted gear.

 

aka

"I see your implanted master swordsman chip and raise you a competitive rapid fire gunman chip" ;)

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

aka

"I see your implanted master swordsman chip and raise you a competitive rapid fire gunman chip" ;)

 

"Luckily, I bought the Batman 9000 stealth suit when it was on sale"

 

I can easily see an arms race taken to extreme ends in a cyberpunk setting.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Either this is a huge widespread delusion' date=' or there really is something to it.[/quote']

 

As I said, we ran these sort of simulations at my old school. I've participated on both sides.

 

It's not a myth, but again, it's only a simulation and there are a variety of criteria that could swing things in a different direction.

 

For example, the intent of the participants plays a big role here. We were mainly doing these simulations for cops, who as a rule were not supposed to just pull out their gun and shoot anything that moves. They had to wait until there was a legit threat. In other words, the shooter was always reacting. Around 20' is the reactionary gap and it's where an aggressive opponent of roughly average physical ability has a pretty damn good chance of hurting you before you can shoot them.

 

Guys that sunk into a rigid shooting stance tended to die more often than those that could draw while on the move. Guys that actually practiced close quarters shooting also did way better in the tests. They were still going to get cut or stabbed on the arm, but it was a small price to pay. Expectations and experience could skew things in favor of one participant or the other.

 

The environment plays a huge role here too. We conducted the tests in a dojo, field or gymnasium, so the attacker usually had a clear path to his target. Obstacles that could be used as cover or that might hinder the opponents charge were generally not present, but may factor in a real world confrontation.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

New thought: how about street samurai with implanted blades' date=' or even Wolverine-like claws?[/quote']

 

Leaving realism in the dust now...

 

You're still running up against similar problems in terms of melee vs ranged combat, but now the blade is smaller, much more concealable, impossible to drop and difficult to disarm.

 

Technique wise, I don't see Wolverine style claws being very practical in actual combat (the design sucks from a mechanics POV)

 

But it's not like I have a cyber limb to test it out with either...

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

As I said, we ran these sort of simulations at my old school. I've participated on both sides.

 

It's not a myth, but again, it's only a simulation and there are a variety of criteria that could swing things in a different direction.

 

For example, the intent of the participants plays a big role here. We were mainly doing these simulations for cops, who as a rule were not supposed to just pull out their gun and shoot anything that moves. They had to wait until there was a legit threat. In other words, the shooter was always reacting. Around 20' is the reactionary gap and it's where an aggressive opponent of roughly average physical ability has a pretty damn good chance of hurting you before you can shoot them.

 

Guys that sunk into a rigid shooting stance tended to die more often than those that could draw while on the move. Guys that actually practiced close quarters shooting also did way better in the tests. They were still going to get cut or stabbed on the arm, but it was a small price to pay. Expectations and experience could skew things in favor of one participant or the other.

 

The environment plays a huge role here too. We conducted the tests in a dojo, field or gymnasium, so the attacker usually had a clear path to his target. Obstacles that could be used as cover or that might hinder the opponents charge were generally not present, but may factor in a real world confrontation.

 

And it's occasionally easy as gamers to forget that cover is different for different types of attacks.

To a cutting/slashing weapon with no real point (Like a machete or kukri) a steel post can be used as cover, to name an example off the top of my head.

 

My overall opinion is that, realistically, a larger bladed weapon might be useful, but the majority carried would fall into the long knife/shortsword class, possibly paired

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

As others have pointed out, swords-vs-guns is impractical unless your gunfighter opponent has his weapon holstered and your character attacks from no further than 6 meters (~20 feet) away. If you want swords to be practical in your setting, you will have to bend reality to make it a good fit.

 

It could be that laws governing weapons carry in a cyberpunk setting require "open carry" (as opposed to concealed carry), so anyone who looks at you can tell you are armed and act accordingly. In such a setting, the open carry of a samurai blade might just be advertising that you are above-average, and adhere to whatever form Bushido has taken in the setting.

 

Seriously, a Katana would almost always be a weapon reserved for where the sound of gunfire would draw unwanted attention. From an ambush in close quarters, a wakizashi or tanto (or a Ninja-to) would be more practical. When the Street Samurai was first invented, people were speculating that America would be economically overwhelmed by Japanese economic might and that Americans would adopt aspects of Japanese culture in an effort to gain employment with our Economic Overlords™.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

It was always my assumption that "Street Samurai" in Cyperpunk scenarios carried swords/katana for several reasons:

 

1: Depending on the situation, you will eventually run out of ammo

 

2: Many countries have very, very strict laws about carrying firearms. while many of those same countries have laws against carrying knives and swords, they are far less strict.

 

3: Swords and knives are far more discriminate than bullets are. No chance of hitting little girls and grandmas if you use a sword against your target rather than hosing them down with an Ingram Smartgun. Even a sniper rifle round can miss the target and continue on to hit someone it wasn't supposed to. Heck, it can still hit its target and still hit someone else it wasn't supposed to.

 

4: Cybernetics make a melee user far more viable against bullets than is currently accepted. Cybernetically enhanced muscles make it so that actually dodging bullets may be possible. Additionally the ability to put a ton or more of force behind a high tech alloy sharpened at the molecular level makes body armor pretty much irrelevant. Also in Street Samurai vs Street Samurai battles, small arms are essentially useless. Most Street Sams and other Cyber-mercs pile on the ballistic protection. They have bullet proof skin. Hardened bones and musculature. And wear body armor on top of all of this. The average handgun or Submachine gun is worthless against that kind of protection. A very sharp sword being wielded by a cyber warrior who can put a ton or more force into his blow can cut through all that armor, unlike conventional ballistic rounds. This I think would be the primary reason why Street Samurai would carry swords or other melee weapons.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Excellent points. I'd vote for those reasons why Street Samurai are runnung around with swords and hang "realistic" out to dry. Sometimes you have to sacrifice realism for entertainment value.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Excellent points. I'd vote for those reasons why Street Samurai are runnung around with swords and hang "realistic" out to dry. Sometimes you have to sacrifice realism for entertainment value.

 

Agreed.

 

It always boggles my brain when people ask questions like "Realistically speaking, how fast should my Jedi be?" or "realistically, how much damage should my fighter be able to do with his magic sword?". Once you bring something wholly fictional into the equation, realistic tends to go out the window. The best you can do I think would be to ask "Based on X rules, what should this type of character be capable of?"

 

When it comes to cyberpunk, the concept of the Street Samurai is that they load themselves up with cybernetics to the point where they are capable of far more than any normal human. They are as tough as steel. As swift as a cheetah. As strong as a grizzly. With the eyes of a hawk. They exceed human limits to the point where the term realistic no longer applies to them. Thus, Street Samurai should have no problems whatsoever taking a sword into a gun fight, because that's how they roll.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Leaving aside the guns vs. swords debate, I wanted to make a comment about cyberware. Today the military is already pursuing plenty of soldier-enhancement technologies such as exoskeletons and sleep pills, and I believe laser eye surgery is free for just about any service member who warrants it. "Contractors" have a further documented history of PED use, especially steroids and HGH as well as (to a lesser extent) amphetamines. None of these are cyberware per se, but between these two movements there is no doubt in my mind that if a cyberware technology ever gets close to mainstream, it will be applied to soldiers and mercenaries. I'm expecting bioware (such as muscle augmentation or bulletproof skin) to be the technologies in real life, as opposed to cyber, but I still see a role for cyber, especially when it comes to prosthetics.

 

As it happens this was the background story for the street samurai I ran in Shadowrun--a forcibly-retired UCAS special ops guy who was heavily modded during the wars.

 

Now to return to the silly gun vs. sword debate, I note that the typical question is whether the swordsman can run down the gunman before the latter can draw. This is an unfair comparison unless the swordsman has to draw too. If weapons are drawn I can't think of any realistic circumstance in which I would rather use a sword than a gun in any terrain, urban or otherwise, against armored or unarmored targets.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Leaving aside the guns vs. swords debate' date=' I wanted to make a comment about cyberware. Today the military is already pursuing plenty of soldier-enhancement technologies such as exoskeletons and sleep pills, and I believe laser eye surgery is free for just about any service member who warrants it. "Contractors" have a further documented history of PED use, especially steroids and HGH as well as (to a lesser extent) amphetamines. None of these are cyberware per se, but between these two movements there is no doubt in my mind that if a cyberware technology ever gets close to mainstream, it [i']will[/i] be applied to soldiers and mercenaries. I'm expecting bioware (such as muscle augmentation or bulletproof skin) to be the technologies in real life, as opposed to cyber, but I still see a role for cyber, especially when it comes to prosthetics.

 

As it happens this was the background story for the street samurai I ran in Shadowrun--a forcibly-retired UCAS special ops guy who was heavily modded during the wars.

 

Now to return to the silly gun vs. sword debate, I note that the typical question is whether the swordsman can run down the gunman before the latter can draw. This is an unfair comparison unless the swordsman has to draw too. If weapons are drawn I can't think of any realistic circumstance in which I would rather use a sword than a gun in any terrain, urban or otherwise, against armored or unarmored targets.

 

Well I think the original question was how realistic or unrealistic would they be. I say in a world where cybernetic/biogenetic enhancements are common and powerful, such a question is moot.

 

About Gun vs Sword debate. Unsheated gun vs unsheathed sword; gun wins.

 

holstered gun vs sheathed sword; gun probably wins unless the swordsman is trained in Iaijutsu and is good at it, in which case the swordsman probably wins.

 

unsheathed sword vs holstered gun, the sword will win with distances shorter than 10 feet. Between 10 and 20 feet, the sword will probably win, unless the gunman is a fast draw artist. With distances greater than 20 feet, the gun will probably win unless the swordsman is a world class sprinter.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

It always boggles my brain when people ask questions like "Realistically speaking' date=' how fast should my Jedi be?" or "realistically, how much damage should my fighter be able to do with his magic sword?". Once you bring something wholly fictional into the equation, realistic tends to go out the window. The best you can do I think would be to ask "Based on X rules, what should this type of character be capable of?"[/quote']

 

Well, it is still possible to analyze things with the highest realistic levels of speed and skill in mind. You can't analyze as-of-yet-uncreated cybernetics, but it's safe to say that they will allow for greater speed and skill.

 

Now to return to the silly gun vs. sword debate

 

Now now, let's not morph the original intent of the topic any further away from what it is.

 

I'm sure a street samurai will use a gun when necessary, and a sword when necessary (and likely when stealth is on their side). No one's really trying to say "swords are clearly superior in combat". However...I was trying to make the strengths of the sword not get played down below what they actually are.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

I'd say that stealth is a strong point of a sword in this sort of setting.

Mythbusters can give one an idea of what swords driven with machine levels of precision and force can do.

An enhanced Samurai doing recon in force, for instance, against unenhanced opponents. He could probably accomplish most of the same things with his bare hands (or a rifle butt) that he can with a sword, but the sword is the next best tool man has devised for killing each other, former reigning champion over thousands of years of practical development. It is a very good way to reach out and kill someone. You can do it very fast, pretty quiet, and it leaves your opponents in little condition to rally... the guy you gutshot is far more likely to put a round in your back than the guy with no legs.

The Dermal Armoring point raised before is a valid one for the rise of some sort of bladed backup. An 11" monomolec alloy combat knife is just as effective, but the sword does give you a lot more range and combat options. Combined with thermal imaging you can strike through walls with minimal loss of effect, they don't trigger gunfire sensors. That said, I support the use of the Munroe effect against overarmored samurai. Under-slung launchers, don't leave home without them.

Yeah, if cybernetics are somewhat uncommon then swords could be a useful tool again. Pretty much, the cybernetics give a sufficient advantage that they can afford to use a less efficient force multiplier because they have so many others.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

I think the word 'realism' may be a complication here. The real question is: "Given that are the way that the game will be played, is it reasonable to expect that a character who uses to find that to be an effective means of interacting with the world provided by the GM". It is further implied that is not a gamebreaking result of rules twiddling.

 

In that case, the decision as to whether street sams are realistic become entirely one of dramatic preference. If you want them in your game (in whatever specific form), make it possible and reasonable to run one. If you don't, don't. I think they are a great part of cyberpunk literature and gaming, and wouldn't run such a game without at least the reasonable possibility that they exist. The concept of the mercenary has been accepted as valid throughout gaming history, in a variety of forms, and the street sam is just a very stylish example of a mercenary that operates in specific ways, for specific kinds of clients, in a specific environment. They're fun. Nuff said.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

It's really not. At least, it's not for me.

 

If I want a highly dramatic and cinematic campaign, I go for it. That doesn't mean I don't like to research frames of references when it comes to reality from time to time, though.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

New thought: how about street samurai with implanted blades' date=' or even Wolverine-like claws?[/quote']

 

That makes much more sense, in that - outside of security areas - they are unobtrusive. If they are implanted inside a cyberarm, they might be relatively unobtrusive even in light security zones.

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

It's really not. At least, it's not for me.

 

If I want a highly dramatic and cinematic campaign, I go for it. That doesn't mean I don't like to research frames of references when it comes to reality from time to time, though.

 

Reality as a frame of reference is somewhat useful. But only somewhat, if you are not building a modern-day or historical environment. Were street samurai realistic today, they would exist in sufficient numbers to get noticed, at least occasionally. They don't. But security consultants do. That is, in fact, a growing industry. Is there a connection between street sams and security consultants? Of course. So, are they 'realistic'? No, they aren't. But again, I don't know exactly what assumptions you are making about 'near-future' (5 years? 10? 100? I have heard all of these used to describe the near future). And the question goes far beyond the technological. There must be major social changes to allow for true street sams, i.e. independent contractors that carry a lot of heavy hardware and aren't considered terrorists operating in Duluth or Toronto.

 

What about Leon, in The Professional? Does he qualify as a street samurai? Some of the elements are there, certainly. Or Jason Bourne? He didn't seem to need to do any mercenary work, but he certainly could have. The point has been made many times that the kinds of things that adventurers get up to would usually land them in jail, burned at the stake, or at least run out of town at the first opportunity. And no government would put up with supers a la Champions, period. You'd work for them or you'd get hunted down as being vigilantes, at best. Not to mention the kind of property damage and personal injury lawsuits that would come up. Most adventurer archetypes don't exist significantly in the real world because the real world doesn't allow for those kinds of activities.

 

So no, Street Samurai are not realistic. But they are a reasonable feature in particular kinds of worlds that might exist in a sufficiently distant 'near-future'. If you're concerned with realism, dump them. If not, don't. Up to you.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

That makes much more sense, in that - outside of security areas - they are unobtrusive. If they are implanted inside a cyberarm, they might be relatively unobtrusive even in light security zones.

 

cheers, Mark

 

Molly Millions' style razor nails have reasonable uses as well. Built in weaponry should be very intuitive to fight with. Still nothing I'd want to take against another augmented human using a slugthrower without one of my own.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Check out some details of the medals given (esp. posthumously) and it becomes clear that given approximately equal factors on both sides, the .45 just seems to prove itself as the better force multiplier.

SNIP

(I used to teach swordfighting. I love blades. I just don't see them as realistically practical against guns unless there is some other factor involved that alters the equation)

 

Or indeed, blades of any kind: think of the German soldiers charging sgt York. Close range? Check. Holstered pistol vs ready blades? Check. They charge. He draws and kills all 6. OK, he was clearly a skilled combatant, but it makes the point.

 

And to those who might like to argue that those were bayonets, not katanas, I'll point out that when the Royal Marines crossed rifle butts with samurai wielding katana, they beat the crap out of the samurai and made them flee hand to hand combat :)

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Molly Millions' style razor nails have reasonable uses as well. Built in weaponry should be very intuitive to fight with. Still nothing I'd want to take against another augmented human using a slugthrower without one of my own.

 

I think it's fair to say that if Street sam.s did exist, they'd take every advantage offered. So, certainly guns are going to be your weapon of choice. But some kind of inbuilt blade or piercing weapon (a very sharp solid punch-spike that can inject phosphoric acid?) might make a dandy holdout weapon. As a primary weapon, just no. As a backup? Sure.

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

I also think that dedicated "Anti-cyborg" weaponry would be developed. Street Sams would carry very heavy pistols and SMG's capable of firing ammunition that could penetrate even the heaviest of cyborg armor. Such weapons would be heavy and likely carry a limited amount of ammunition. Thus the blade as a backup still seems very reasonable even in that case.

 

I could see a Street Sam that uses blades as a primary weapon, but in general this type of Street Sam is most likely to operate as an assassin that strikes silently from the shadows. In which case some kind of integrated blade weapon such as finger-razors would be best.

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Re: How (un)realistic are Street Samurai?

 

Skipped a bunch of posts that had divulged into discussing guns vs swords . . .

 

How realistic or unrealistic a Street Sam is, is pretty much dependent on your game world/setting.

 

When I played Shadowrun my Street Sam didn't carry a Katana but he did have implanted Dikoted* Cyberspurs with the Reflexes and Muscle Enhancements to use them extremely effectively. He also carried a heavy pistol as well as a Light Machine Gun. He also had enough Dermal Plating and other defense type enhancement to take an Assault Cannon round to the chest and survive. (He'd be hurt but the damage compensators and other type of devices would keep him up and moving long enough to get away and/or kill his opponent).

 

So, back to my initial statement, if you want the Street Sam with the blade to be effective, he can be effective, if you want the blade to just be for style, it can just be for style.

 

It's all a mater of how you would like to play it.

 

*=Diamond Coated

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