1. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Gunpowder in fantasy

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Protar, Feb 27, 2012.

    I was wondering what everyone's thoughts are on gunpowder in fantasy settings: Canons, firearms, bombs etc. and I guess higher technology in general like steam power. I think that it can give a unique feel to a fantasy world and gunpowder did in fact have a place in medieval times so it's not unrealistic. Does it ruin the magic for you? Or do you think it's cool?
     
  2. NeedMoreRage
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    NeedMoreRage Member

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    Any technology can work in fiction if the writer is capable of portraying it in a way that is believable to the rest of the story. Personally, I would welcome guns into a medieval-style fantasy story because I don't see that all too often. If I was writing it, I wouldn't go beyond more than very early pistols, muskets, and cannons, though. But like I said, anything can work if it's written well.
     
  3. Danderage
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    Danderage New Member

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    If I remember correctly Asians had a firm grasp of gun powder back then. They even had very crude land minds, trip wire. I think it was on the Discovery or History channel. I could be wrong. Like NeedMoreRage said if done right it should work after all it is fantasy and your world.
     
  4. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    I really don't enjoy firearms in a fantasy setting. For me it ruins the genre because I prefer to see knight and wizards as opposed to gunslingers. However, I don't mind firearms and gunpowder as much if the fictional world has steampunk elements as well.
     
  5. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The presence of firearms (gunpowder) worked well in my fantasy novels. It all depends on the world you create and the story you want to tell in your novel(s).
     
  6. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I think it's a common misconception that knights were immediately rendered useless by guns. They both existed side by side during the renaissance and plate armour could stop bullets. The term bullet-proof actually comes from the method of testing renaissance plate armour against muskets. As for wizards well all guns do is blow things up. Wizards can do so much more so I never got the argument that it would render magic obsolete. Each to their own of course.
     
  7. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

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    I agree that early gunpowder weaponry is perfectly acceptable in a late medieval/early renaissance setting. Just because there is magic and mystics doesn't mean that there can't be technological advancement.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even Tolkein alluded to it, but the way he phrased it made it sound like mysterious dark magic.
     
  9. jeffm
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    jeffm Member

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    I've seen gunpowder in a few fantasy settings and it can work. Some of them go full fantasy steampunk but I don't think that is required.

    One thing that has bothered me about some of the poorer uses of technology in fantasy is when authors shoehorn in the single technology they need and nothing else. In a believable world there are always effects of a technology on a society.

    When a technology is developed it will always have some effect in other industries. For gunpowder you can expect improvements in metallurgy, mining, and manufacturing to some degree. How much would depend on how common the technology has become. If it's rare and known only to a small knowledgeable sub group then it's effectively alchemy that turns into an inside joke for the reader since they know what it is. That that p If it's widespread then you are going to have the results of thousands of people exploring it's use. This means fireworks, rockets, mining explosives, and the like in addition to just guns.

    The amount of use may also depend on how prevalent and accessible magic is and how it compares in power. If magic is super common and anyone can use a wand of fireball then few if any people are going to use guns. If magic is rare then perhaps the technology becomes an equalizer.

    Again it can totally work if you keep the big picture in mind.
     
  10. IncompleteSenten
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    IncompleteSenten New Member

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    I agree that gunpowder-based firearms can work in a fantasy setting. Dwarves use guns in World of Warcraft, and your character can even learn to make them if you want. Heck, Blizzard even threw werewolves into their fantasy mix (the Worgen). I'd probably keep the weaponry fairly crude to help keep the olden times flair, but as jeffm said whether your readers will buy gunpowder or not really depends on how you make those weapons seem like a natural part of the world.
     
  11. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    If guns are used in a fantasy setting, which seems plausible enough for me, then they'd be crude, inaccurate contraptions at best. For bombs, they seem completely reasonable- gunpowder and fire, along with some other flammable substance, and there's going to be a bang. I'm sure someone would have figured it out sooner or later. Cannons are a bit more of a long shot, but in an "advanced" fantasy environment, they have their home, too. In terms of magic and technology mixing? As I see it, societies will advance around either one, maybe with a little influence of the other, but there's always room for a blend, as people trade and travel and ideas are spread around.
     
  12. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    It depends on the writer & reader. I'm co-writing this fantasy with a friend of mine, & she wanted to add guns to the story, & I'm highly opposed to it. It's just we've spent so much time building a different worlds, places, concepts, & races, then I thought of guns being used and it just seemed out of place. Perhaps a lot has to do with the world that you've built.
     
  13. Dullener
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    Dullener Member

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    According to me, Gunpowder may run the majesty of Knight war. Many people find swords playing around much better. If you want, you can put up a basic gun or cannons, but do not ruin the behold sword.

    For magic, if you place gun and magic in war I will find it entertaining. But if you put gun and magic alongside, I will be not so happy.
    D.
     
  14. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Thanks for all the replies and opinions. To elaborate, in my current WIP I'm planning to introduce guns quite late on (it's a serie not just a single book.) rather than having it be a fixture of the world. The aim is to give it a sort of magical feel by looking at it from the POV of the characters who have never seen it before, and to shake up the dynamic of the world.
     
  15. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    The Journeyer by Gary Jennings would be an excellent reference book. A fictional version of the travels of Marco Polo, he experiences gunpowder firsthand in his wanderings and even credits himself for making a stabilized version of it and inventing hand grenades of long ago. Before that, it was only used a fireworks. Black powder was crude and separated back into it's 3 basic ingredients back then rendering it useless. He found a way to make it a true composite, it is an exploration of ancient black powder and a great read. http://www.garyjennings.net/other_works.htm
     
  16. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    It's fantasy world - go wild and broaden the ideas perhaps. What is gunpowder? it is one potential method of creating a force used to propel a device or cause an explosion.

    ONLY one. What if in your fantasy world instead of using minerals to create gunpowder, they had liquids that did the same job, or even an animal perhaps? Instead of a gun everyone has a small wasel-like animal strapped to a tube. When you squeeze the weasel it propels a device along the tube faster than the speed of sound...who knows what crazy wackiness you could invent...
     
  17. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    A novel idea but it would be out of place in my novel lol. The idea I had for gunpowder was that when we finally get round to seeing it it's so shocking and powerful that you can hear the dramatic music in your head. Squeezing a weasel (which sounds like a euphemism for something.) doesn't really work. I want my fantasy to have a more gritty, realistic feel. But I'd be interested to see how you'd do such a thing in your own work. :)
     
  18. Jowettc
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    Jowettc Contributing Member

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    Maybe one day I will move from SciFi to Fantasy. When I do - I will let you know...I am thinking about a world which is a "new fantasy world" (if such a thing exists) as far as I can figure it with new races, new weapons, reasonably simplistic magic etc. can't say too much obviously, you know hush hush and all that, what what!!

    Anyway - my overall point is that the real and gritty need not be what has happened here in this world. Real and gritty is how you present, not the idea you present, imo. Getting the WOW! factor might be tricky though - especially if you have powerful magic. Gunpowder was WOW! to primitive humans who had never seen it because they had never seen anything like it - if magic can create fireballs then a powdered fireball isn't going to be so much WOW! because the concept is not alien enough. Steampower - could be wow for sure, unless your magic has magical flying items etc. in which case its a lot less wow. I don't know enough about your story background to be specific sorry but I think you get the idea.
     
  19. The Magnan
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    The Magnan Active Member

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    You could use munitions like old fashioned grenades, something for a siege that could breach your wall. If anything you should invent your that is truly own unique. Also combined with magic will show interesting contrasts to the reader or mixing magic and those kinds of weapons means you can explore the type of army. After all, places are different, some favour magic, or some don't and use different means of destroying their enemy.
     
  20. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    Not to be that guy, but cannons evolved earlier then personal firearms. In fact the first personal firearms in Europe where shrunken down cannons. Personally I think it’s a great idea. You could even combine it ( fast forward tactics a little) with pike squares and really slaughter the traditional knight based armies with infantry.
     
  21. shangrila
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    shangrila Member

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    I think it's a nice change of pace. David Gemmell used it in his last two Rigante books and it completely changed thw way his battles were written. Wars weren't about swords and warriors anymore, it was about skill, being able to reload your musket faster than the other guy and a hell of a lot of luck. I enjoyed it, especially when he went into trench warfare. You don't see that a lot in fantasy books. Joe Abercrombie also introduced it in his last book, The Heroes, so there's a precedent for current popular authors who've done it. Even the Malazan series has it, though they don't go as far as cannons, stopping at grenados and the like.
     
  22. Dresden260
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    Dresden260 Corrupt Diplomat

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    In the novel I am grinding my way through at the moment I have Dwarves. You know what works well with dwarves? Gunpowder and Explosives. There are no firearms but explosives that can take down a small village if needed. There is and incident where the blacksmith walks into the "Powder Room" with ashes on his smock and manages to blow a hole in the mountain.

    It all depends on how you put it in the story. If you force it and make it non realistic then readers will lose interest in the book. But If you can incorporate it smoothly into the story the readers most of the time will not pick up on it until the Use of gunpowder becomes apparent.
     
  23. xhawkeyex
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    xhawkeyex Member

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    Very true.
    One thing to mention is that it is fantasy, and in fantasy, anything can happen. It's your story, so do whatever you please
     
  24. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    There is one problem with gunpowder, firearms and even their performance in fiction. That being, guys like me.

    Readers can believe Japanese katanas can make you fly, but you screw up the history, the vintage or even the number of shots in a specific firearm and you're broken the four wall. Those readers know you're either playing fast and loose with history or facts, or you're ignorant.

    Early blackpowder explodes. Modern gunpowder burns. Revolvers don't all fire six rounds. An automatic pistol is really semi-automatic (other than things like the Glock 18) but auto-loading, and the 38-40, the .40 SW and .401 PowerMag and the 10mm Auto are all the same caliber. See the problem? There's lots of data, lore, details and gun nuts.

    My advice for anything that explodes in a story is to google the real weapon or weapons system. Either that or just tell the reader that a "very special class of knights" actually invented kevlar armor.
     
  25. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Obviously I do intend to be accurate, but this is fantasy after all. It's not set in any one time period so liberties can be taken. For instance I don't really want the epic unveiling of gunpowder based weapons in my book to be ruined by the gun jamming or taking 5 minutes to reload. So they're probably going to be somewhat more effective than the first real world fire arms were.
     

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