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tkdguy

Swords in science fiction -- why?

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6 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

It's a little more difficult to make things explode in a controlled fashion, though. ;)

 

The "laws" of physics are still being worked out. There's a lot happening in our universe that we can't yet explain. And "hard" sci-fi can't even deal with interstellar travel within a human lifetime -- the science allowing for that convention is unproven theories at best.

Exactly. The Expanse illustrated a vibrant setting with no FTL that worked just fine with only a couple of tweaks. This is the course I took with my Solar System game. No artificial gravity. No FTL, and no aliens. The new gold rush in the Solar System. 

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My head-canon for Klingons using swords in Star Trek TNG is that they breed fast, grow up fast, and live a long time, so they've developed kind of a suicidal culture based on an all or nothing brutal attack.

Let's say you're Joe Average Klingon Warrior.  You're maybe 15 years old (on DS9 they replaced the actor who played Worf's kid, and even though he should have only been about 12 years old, they had a much older actor playing him and he was serving on a Klingon starship).  You don't come from an important House.  Your family doesn't have a lot of money.  Klingons can live to about 200 years old, and those are the guys who are still in charge.  The only way for you to get noticed is psychotic levels of bravery.

This creates the Klingon preference for hand to hand fighting.  You're gonna use a sword, and charge right in.  Maybe the armor you're wearing makes you tough enough to withstand a wide-angle phaser beam (the kind that fills a hallway), so they've got to individually target and shoot you to kill you.  Most starship corridors don't have extremely long straight passages (they curve), so if you can beam onto their ship, you can probably close distance in 4 or 5 seconds.  With a frightening scream and a mighty swing from your two-handed sword-axe thing, you can chop down an enemy soldier really quickly.

Yeah, a lot of Klingons are going to die.  But for the Empire, that's not a bug, it's a feature.  There's really limited opportunity for most of these guys to advance, so you gotta thin the herd from time to time.

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16 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Changing physics to remove chemical weapons is kinda dumb because we need to survive in the same environment with our exchange of oxygen, nutrition and hydration. Talk to someone who was worked with the fire department, it’s difficult to have things not burn. 

 

Oh and and anyone who has watched The Expanse, or played Traveller, knows enough to suck up the internal atmosphere to minimize fire damage, and reduce the chance of explosive decompression if a compartment is breached. Also ships built in space may not need the sort of weight saving that aircraft or ground to orbit craft need, so Incould see more defense, or even tunneling and balancing an iron rich asteroid, sticking drives on the end and calling it Martha. 

 

(I don’t do space romance, or comic book sci-fi). 

 

16 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

It's a little more difficult to make things explode in a controlled fashion, though. ;)

 

The "laws" of physics are still being worked out. There's a lot happening in our universe that we can't yet explain. And "hard" sci-fi can't even deal with interstellar travel within a human lifetime -- the science allowing for that convention is unproven theories at best.

 

10 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Exactly. The Expanse illustrated a vibrant setting with no FTL that worked just fine with only a couple of tweaks. This is the course I took with my Solar System game. No artificial gravity. No FTL, and no aliens. The new gold rush in the Solar System. 

 

The only thing that The Expanse seems to forget is parts.  Everyone seems to be able to fix anything with a screwdriver and soldering iron.   Even with standardized parts, "standardized" is not really wide ranged and electronic boards, modules and other components tend to be hard to impossible to repair if damaged.  Put shotgun pellets or burn a circuit card and you will be SOL unless you just happen to have another.  And carrying "spares" for everything is not a viable solution.   Swords/Blades while within the skin of the ship actually makes more and more sense as you add up possible issues. Spend and extended time (three months plus) aboard a working ship (warship, larger seagoing trawler, seagoing research vessel) where the mission/utility is primary in the design/fitting and crew living conditions are a far far far distant tenth priority and the idea of what conditions will be like where you cannot just open a hatch to refresh the air gets a little sharper. 

 

I'm just saying. :winkgrin:

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1 hour ago, Zeropoint said:

Do keep in mind that we have ships, swords, axes and guns in the real world, and the people responsible for fighting aboard their own ships always choose guns.

 

Yes, but....

Any point can be reached on earth within hours rather than days/weeks/months in space.

 

in the real world if you hole the hull the atmosphere doesn't disappear. 

in the real world if the air becomes fouled you just vent.

in the real world if you lose propulsion no matter where you are you have air and aid within hours.

in the real world if your environmental support (heating & cooling) goes out, you can survive the hours needed for rescue.

in the real world if you vessel becomes catastrophically disabled (sinks) you can take to lifeboats that have endless breathable air

in the real world if a gunshot/shotgun blast destroys/damages a critical system you can survive air & heat for the hours needed to get a replacement. 

 

In the real world I have seen critical parts for an engineering casualty delivered to an adrift vessel within the same day.  It is true that on earth they didn't need to worry about lose of air or freezing to death with the loss of heating as would be a danger in space.

 

In the real world I have seen critical medical supplies delivered to a private sailing yacht in the middle of the Pacific by air in less than 9 hours and a surface vessel intercept withing 14 hours. 

 

Compared to space, seafaring is very forgiving. 

And the sea has rightly been described as unforgiving. 

 

In the 1900's all the way through the 30's/40's kerosene and oil lamps were very common.   In the 1910-20's they were far far more common than electrical lights on land or at sea.  And yet we didn't see them used on zeppelins/airships.   Something to do with hydrogen going bang.

 

On earth at sea the firearm is used because it is a easy weapon that is very efficient and the possible collateral damage is very low on the "we will die scale".   Even adrift and without power you can live a long time until rescue arrives and in 2019, unless it is a private vessel on the cheap, a ships position is always known down to meters and there are several methods of singling distress that do not involve visual signalling.

 

On a vessel that operates in space, the destruction or incapacitation damage to a critical support system needed to maintain breathable atmosphere, a control that controls heating/cooling to maintain livable temperature  or even damage that causes a fire or chemical reaction that contaminates the existing atmosphere that cannot be removed.  Any of those could be caused by one errant shot be it a high powered round or pellets from a shotgun.

 

All tools are chosen by simplicity (easier to train the users) and efficiency (completes the task quickly and correctly with less error/rework).

 

Swords replaced earlier weapons because they were "better".

They held that spot until a "better" weapon came around, the firearm.

Redefine conditions and "better" may be a weapon that does not damage the things that keep you alive and condemn you to a slow death.

 

Most of the naysayers use an old environments assumptions plastered over a new environment and call it proved.

While I cannot say you are wrong, I can say I have envisioned several new issues that make the use of a firearm detrimental to survival.  All of which give some credence to the need for a personal weapon system that is not a firearm.   It could be a sword, or maybe something we haven't thought of.  But a explosively driven kinetic impact weapon fired inside of a metal box filled with fragile equipment needed to keep one alive minute to minute is not a good thing.   

 

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Another issue you could add to the list would be ricochets. The firearm may not be able to penetrate the hull or bulkheads of the vessel you're on, it might "rattle around a bit". It might not be as bad as Han Solo's blaster bolt when he was in the garbage masher on the Death Star, but it still might not be very fun.

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1 hour ago, Lee said:

Another issue you could add to the list would be ricochets. The firearm may not be able to penetrate the hull or bulkheads of the vessel you're on, it might "rattle around a bit". It might not be as bad as Han Solo's blaster bolt when he was in the garbage masher on the Death Star, but it still might not be very fun.

 

Definitely not vert fun.  But also very damaging if part of that "rattling around" happened to be inside a rack.  Imagine if the destroyed gear contained the astrogation/navigation data.   "Lost in space" comes to mind....

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29 minutes ago, tkdguy said:

Firearms also make a lot of noise, which may reverberate throughout the deck. Clashing swords would also be noisy; would they be much quieter than gunshots, relatively speaking?

 

Yes, they would be extremely quiet in comparison. 

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On 8/11/2019 at 5:30 PM, Duke Bushido said:

 

Chainswords, Dude.  Chainswords. :D

 

I have no idea where they came from-- I first discovered them in a Halloween store a few years ago, but for sheer coolness and "I want to cause you as much close-up, look-each-other-in-the-eyes-while-you-die physical agony as is humanly possible---   well then I have to say the chainsword is the way to go.  :D

 

 

That way lies rocket-propelled chainsaws.  Look in one of the old, closed threads in the Dark Champions forum for those.

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