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  1. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    Combining ancient and modern technology.

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Dauracul, Dec 1, 2010.

    This has basically been a thorn in my side ever since I started working on my primary epic. I've set it off to the side for now in favor of a shorter, more stand-alone story to test the publishing waters with, so it's in a prime position to get all the nails hammered out while it festers.

    Essentially, I am having trouble with combining ancient and modern technology: "guns and swords" to give a specific, generalized example.

    Without going into too much detail, a war is being waged in my story between two opposing nations. One of them (Faction A) has access to a lot of technology, but primarily uses foot soldiers with swords. Their elite caste uses guns.

    The opposing side (Faction B) uses swords only out of necessity, because they do not have access to technology save for what they are able to salvage and steal from Faction A.

    So how do I explain Faction A's decision to use swords? They have the technology for firearms, why don't they just arm up and blast Faction B into oblivion?

    My answer? It would ruin the entire plot I've created. But that won't work in the context of the story. :p

    Currently I'm working with the idea of the advanced technology being a 'Wisdom' only granted to those worthy enough. Faction A, more focused on protecting this Wisdom than winning the war, limits their soldiers' access to firearm weaponry.

    It still doesn't sound convincing, though. And the layout of the weaponry essentially has to be this way, because the story is too set in stone to change anything around. Anyone have any ideas?
     
  2. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Honestly, I'm not sure it's realistic. How crucial is it that both sides use swords? Or that Team A is high tech? Can one of those factors be changed? (sorry for not being much help)
     
  3. mattattack007
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    mattattack007 Member

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    Swords could be seen as an honor-thing, that using swords means more skill than just point/click and shoot.

    Plus it doesn't have to be a big thing you explain. Just remember if others read it and comment on it, then you would have to explain it.
     
  4. thesims
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    thesims Member

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    Perhaps Faction A has run out of a material required for the firearms' production and wages war against Faction B, which possesses large amounts of that same material but doesn't understand the technology?

    That could explain the firearms shortage and the conflict between Factions A and B. Otherwise guns could have been brought to Faction A by some fearsome and godlike people, so the A's would see the firearms as blessed artifacts and thus be very picky when choosing bearers. This is similarly to your Wisdom idea.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In a way I understand your concern. In my fantasy novel, some sides use magic, others use technology such as firearms, and some use both. But there were reasons other than because the story was plotted so it had to be that way.

    One thing to consider is that the production of firearms isn't easy. Just as for many societies, only the rich had swords because of the skill (and subsequent cost) to create them, and they were often handed down from father to son etc.

    Also, gunpowder, one has to know how to make it.

    The other thing is, it depends on the firearms. Flintlock technology and the quality of those guns (especially smoothbore) means they are less effective in combat than a percussion cap/muzzle loader, all the way up to a modern machine gun.

    But you are right in that "having it this way simply because the plot dictates it should be that way--ignoring logic" will utterly doom a reader's suspension of disbelief and this the reader's potential enjoyment of the story.

    Terry
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This bothered me with Star Wars. The Jedi use light sabers, which are basically swords, and everyone else has ray guns. Of course, ray guns are far better, but you'd never know it watching Star Wars. George Lucas just said Lo, the ancient tech beats the modern tech, and everyone believed him.

    I kind of hate Star Wars, and this is one of the reasons.
     
  7. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    At some point in our history, there has been a crossover point from using swords and longbows to using gunpowder-based weapons. This isn't a theoretical point of discussion, it really happened.

    My advice to you is to research that time period and use it to inform your novel. I'm afraid I'm no expert, so I can't tell you exactly when to start looking, but I know it happened!

    I think the "shortage of materials" device is a good one. There's only a limited amount of gunpowder or something, so only the elite caste are given firearms whilst the lesser soldiers labour on with swords.
     
  8. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    I didn't really think there was already a thread like this one, the suspension of disbelief. Will that affect a story if the MC is seeing his guardian angel and later can be seen by his girlfriend? And if he reveals that he flies across the road? A few of my friends told me something that suspension of disbelief has something to do with keeping a novel from making the readers question about what is happening in the story, but I'm not sure what it all means.
     
  9. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    If the firearms are muskets or other muzzle loaded weapons then the time it takes to reload would mean the other force could charge in and attack with swords, making it a necessity for both factions to have some means of close quarters combat. Maybe force A just recently thought of the matchlock, and doesn't have it just right. Maybe production is slow and they just don't have the means to outfit everyone with firearms yet. Restrict the supply of raw materials. Something believable.
     
  10. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Suspension of disbelief requires that a reader suspend judgment about the implausibility of a narrative, and it is absolutely critical for books that deal with fantastical or paranormal elements (among others). For example, do I believe in werewolves? Not in the real world. But if I'm reading a story about werewolves, I'm suspending my disbelief about the actual existence about werewolves and simply enjoying the story.

    Generally readers are more than willing to suspend disbelief as long as the internal logic of your story holds together. I may write a story about a shapeshifter (which readers will accept as a fantastic element of my made-up world), but if, for example, I have that shapeshifter transform into a lion in the middle of Times Square and nobody bats an eyelash, readers will most likely have a difficult time suspending their disbelief that such an event wouldn't cause panic.

    Obviously, you can make up a lot of stuff within a fictional story and readers will happily go along for the ride. But if aspects of human behavior, the laws of nature as outlined within your world, or other story elements don't seem to follow some kind of internal logic, you may lose some people.

    In this instance, where the OP's story has two warring factions with different levels of technology, readers may have trouble suspending their disbelief if faction A eschews the use of newer technology that would give them an edge in battle if there's no good reason for them not to use that technology, assuming they really want to win the war. If a solid, logical reason for not using guns is given, readers will accept it. But if it seems as though the characters are acting illogically and contrary to their own best interest simply because the plot demands it, this aspect of the story just won't work.
     
  11. Klogg
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    Klogg Member

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    Faction A has access to higher technology. Faction B does not. Faction B is known to steal technology from Faction A. They realized they could not afford to send foot soldiers in with guns.

    If they did, it would only be a matter of time before Faction B salvaged and stole enough firearms to mount a force equipped with them or even learned how to manufacture them. Faction A could not allow guns to fall into enemy hands and so the mass of the army was not issued them.
     
  12. Dauracul
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    Dauracul Member

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    Wow, didn't expect so many replies to this! Lots of good feedback everyone, thanks.

    The suspension of disbelief comments made me feel a bit better, actually. Its mainly just a nit-pick part of the story, and its been bugging me to the point where I thought the reader would pick up on it and immediately question it.

    I believe what I have established should be sufficient to explain the technology gap. Faction A limits the 'Wisdom' tech because it was not made by them, it was a gift to them from a higher power, and thus only select few are worthy to wield it. On top of that, Faction A (under control of that higher power) has no interest in winning the war, but merely keeping the war at a standstill. For this reason I might actually have a character flat out ask the same question I'm asking now: If they have this technology, why do they hesitate?

    Hopefully that's enough reasoning to back up the concept.
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    You don't necessarily need to explain it. Nobody really explained why Buffy and the Slayerettes almost exclusively used medieval technology, although in one episode she used a rocket-propelled grenade. Yes, it became something of a standing joke (which the RPG episode lampshaded) but it didn't really do any harm because the writing was so good.
     
  14. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I've got an idea.

    Perhaps this is in the far future, after a cataclysm, and faction A has guns because they were able to save or salvage some from the old world, but don't have enough to equip an army. Of course, after the cataclysm everybody could forget whatever you don't want them to know about through the generations of merely trying to survive.
     
  15. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    The elite are afraid that if the guns (or worse, construction skill) become available to their masses, there will be a revolution.

    Predecessors to napalm were used thousands of years ago. Eventually, it was figured out how to use this proto-napalm ship to ship. This system (Greek Fire) was a tightly kept secret for centuries by the Byzantines lest it be used against them, and became lost to the mists of time.
     
  16. mattattack007
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    mattattack007 Member

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    Minstrel, note that in Star Wars, jedis didn't limit themselves to just their lightsabers, they use the blasters as well.

    Plus, being a SW nerd, there is a reason behind the use of lightsabers and why they are better.
     

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