1. Madman
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    Madman Active Member

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    Melee Combat in a Massive Projectile Combat Environment

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Madman, Jun 26, 2012.

    Hello.
    I have bit of a problem with plausibility in my story.
    I'm not going to share too many details, but the background of the story is very far futuristic where man is spread across many worlds in a very industrial setting. They battle aliens and each other.

    In some cases the warfare on planets will be very similar to WW1, it will be messy gray and horrible. Technology will not give the comforts one might expect in such a far futuristic setting. Man will actually be have to do their own battles with their own bodies.
    They use rifles firing metal projectiles. And all sorts of nasty technological weapons as well as technological countermeasures.
    And now I wish to add melee into this mess.
    I have always loved the sword, I feel it's much more personal than the rifle and I believe it will add to the story.

    I have a few explenations that might satisfy readers, such as in order to actually gain ground one would be have to do an aggressive and quick advance and as such melee would be a useful option?

    A basic infantry unit would therefore be have to carry a sort of shield, a rifle, random gear, other necessities, armor and a sword. This is a lot to carry around in a warzone when the unit can be off-base for several weeks.
    An advance would look something like this:
    The unit takes out its shield and places the rifle on a specific holding spot on the shield and advances while firing the weapon. As the unit gets close to the enemy, it switches to the sword and runs up to the enemy with the shield always raised.
    Melee combat including several thousands of units ensue.

    As you can understand this is unrealistic and pretty insane for use as a standard tactic.

    Key Issues:
    1. Once melee actually ensues the risk of getting shot from sides, not protected by the shield, is extremely high in large combat situations. Probably high enough to render standard use of such a tactic completely useless. (But this also depends a lot on the situation...)
    2. Who the heck would be insane enough to follow such an order? Especially if the military uses mainly conscripts. Here some form of motivation is required.
    3. Legs and heads would come off like spring blossom on a stormy day.

    Notes:
    Energy shields will be pretty rare and can be quickly broken using certain common weapons, hence not a good option.
    Anything relying on electricity/energy in general will be adviced against. Mechanical options are the key here.
    There are plenty of infantry. And they are cheaper than your standard battle tank.


    What are your thoughts and opinions on this?
     
  2. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    It sounds like a case of too many irons in the fire here. Something on this scale might work with movies and video games, but in books it can become a tangled morass. Scale it back a bit.

    How many fronts, how many worlds are you trying to cover? Are you trying to fit all of this into a single book or spreading it out across several novels? The best advice I can suggest is to read books, already in print in the genre you are trying to write about. Take note of the rhythms, the way the story lines diverge and intersect. Keep in mind that too many side stories can cripple the primary focus of a novel. Winnow it down, what are the specific concerns of the primary story line, not the entire universe. Set up outlines and timelines to keep things straight.

    From what you described in your post, your universe sounds similar to the ones in Firefly and Stargate, with a multitude of planets with varying levels of technology, terrain, and customs. Are the planets terraformed or naturally occurring? What are the inhabitants of the world like? What resources do they have available? Set the parameters and work within them. This will give your sequences phesability, without overwhelming the reader. Your universe might be macro, but battle, even melee, is micro when put into print.

    - Darkkin
     
  3. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    sounds like explosives would be popular to stop advances.
    Even in modern militaries issued melee weapons are uncommon, bayonets being about the extent in most militaries
    I guess some of it would depend of the value of life in the cultures.
    I’m taking a run, but this is tagged and I will be back after a run smarter.
     
  4. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    I think it could make sense if
    The guns take a long time to reload. Sort of like the musket
    Armor makes useful range much shorter would also play into this
    And or
    If the trenches are so confined and the rifles are too long, a short sword could work.
    Or
    Their was this cultural honor view of how warfare was practiced
     
  5. GillySoose
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    GillySoose Member

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    Well, to make melee feasible you'll simply have to come up with some way to make ranged weapons unfeasible. Perhaps the environment interferes, or maybe countermeasures won the arms race against weapons and armor is nigh impenetrable. Frank Herbert did this in his Dune books, where personal shields countered ranged weapons so knives had to be used, and heavy machinery like tanks wasn't feasible on the planet because it was infested with giant worms which would eat them.

    As far as your point #2 goes, you can always make the army have a Soviet-esque doctrine of shooting anyone who tries to retreat.
     
  6. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Melee combat in modern wars happens. A lot. Close quarters, urban environments, visibility reduced to zero...all of these things will make ranged weapons useless, no matter how far in the future it is.
     
  7. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    True, but he wants swords. Now a days, weapons like combat knives, bayonets, kukri, and tomahawks are used. In the close confines of urban combat a full sized sword is limiting.
    Also he wants scale. He wants a massive line of troops using swords, not a few soldiers that stumble into some mookies when rounding a corner in a sand storm dispatching them with their bladed wepons, or useing their rifles as clubs.
     
  8. Madman
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    Madman Active Member

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    Aye the world is immense and huge. It's a universe that has been haunting me ever since I was a child. And to get some damn sleep, I've decided to write it all down.
    My aim will be to first just write a couple of novels, maybe a larger series and then see where it goes from there. I might in the future extend the worlds format into something other than text.

    You are absolutely right here, and this is also my greatest fear, due to the size of it all. I'm going to go as light as I can, and try not to push information into the readers head. I like to rather give them enjoyment and an adventure. The first book I have planned is going to be hopefully pretty light and serve as an introduction of sorts. It's going to have lots of adventure, you will get to meet the characters and know them. And you will understand the basics of the state the universe is in.

    Here I do have some form of countermeasure working, but it's not going to be all too effective. So explosives are still going to be a bit of a problem.

    These are some very good points. The first warzone will have lots of trenches and bunkers. And there will be other close quarters situations.
    There will be a "kind" of honor system, since the policies of the government is to rather take prisoners and make the enemy give up/surrender. And then rehabilitate and incorporate the enemy into their own society. But this will be very hard to accept in the mind of the soldier.

    I might get this to work, it will be hard and tricky, but I'm beginning to believe that it's possible. Thank you all for your replies, they have given me valuable insight.
     
  9. Rob Pickard
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    Rob Pickard Member

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    Try reading some of the novels set in the Warhammer 40k universe, many of the battles in those books descend into melee between massive armies armed with futuristic firearms. In fact it's very much like what you are describing in some ways.

    While these books cover almost every style of warfare imaginable, I can think of one in particular that might fit your needs: It’s set on a world split in two by a war that has been raging for decades, the frontlines are so old the trenches and earthwork defences are almost permanent structures. In order to attack the soldiers have no choice but to literally charge the trenches, once they have dropped down to the bottom it’s all very close quarters and hands on.

    Also, in the W40K universe I tend to notice a lot of the close combat is carried out with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, slash and shoot point blank.

    Good luck :)
     
  10. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Warhammer 40k is definitely not a good example of anything except how much fury and bloodlust works with superior weaponry, armor, machinery and tactics against inferior hordes. If you are fighting a prolonged conflict, 40k tech would simply be laughable. Even in its own in-universe form, their is no logical reason for any action which is taken.

    Though I know your troubles, and I'll help to sort out the mess for you, Madman. I'm familiar with writing such a setting. For futuristic, EMP weapons and jamming are common and have no suitable countermeasure, you could be specific and say that such a weapon cannot be blocked by reasonable protections on the individual level. Communications are jammed constantly so that yelling orders is the norm, due to other environmental issues such as muddy trenches, tunnels and winding passages which negate flags, flares and even 'cans and string' style physical communications are simply ineffective. Fog dominates this type of warfare cutting vision down, and most of it is in dim to total darkness with some organic lighting allowing for some relief. Nasty bugs that are altered 'fireflies' or beetles that always produce light as long as they live, have a tendency to escape and play havoc on the battlefield.

    Many passages and barely navigable paths will split the larger soldiers from the smaller ones, sometimes having to remove gear just to fit into crawlspaces which will put them in the pathway of the enemy. Explosives could destroy the tunnels and cause cave ins or cause lots of damage to both sides if used in complexes which focus the blasts throughout the paths. Even unstable ruins of fortifications allow little if any actual explosives, and large-scale bombardment from above does little to hinder the underground complexes and bases of the defender. Every battle is a cross between WWI trenches and Viet Cong style tunnels, a nightmarish battlefield that allows for limited movement and many close encounters. Taking enemy commanders can yield vast information in this world in which plans are not written down or stored on fragile digital mediums. Taking someone alive is difficult, but valuable for both sides, not just to persuade political or military action, but to gather intelligence itself.

    This kind of system works best with breakaway rebels who cannot win conventional warfare, and replaced terrestrial combat with their own style in which they can press an advantage and cannot be wiped out from the air or even detected by such means. Operating literally underground, the surface nation believes in returning these underground dwellers to normal society while the others simply want to exist, albeit directly under the nation by which they seceded from. The worst fear on the surface side is an underground nuclear explosion which could destroy the city and seat of government, and general suspicion of an unseen enemy. The worst fear of the underground faction would be annihilation.

    Something like that is intriguing, unique and actually feasible and believable if you set it up right! Hope I helped.
     
  11. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    is it just me or do i smell toxic gasses waffting trought he tunn.......
     
  12. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Huh? I cannot understand that. Did I go overboard on an example?
     
  13. James Berkley
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    James Berkley Banned

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    im just saying their is a very low tec solution to tunnel dwellers that needs to be adressed in your senerio, the simple yet deadly toxic gas
     
  14. Madman
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    Madman Active Member

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    Gas will actually not be much of a problem for either side. There may be some casualties too it due to fatigue or a unit not being quick or prepared enough.
    Nanite grenades on the other hand... swarms of nanites engulfing entire squads in a cloud of slow death. A real nasty one if your not quick enough with the countermeasure!

    Complex, you example was good.

    I beleive melee in bunkers, trenches, ships, urban areas and other close-quarter environments wont not be too much of a plausibility problem.
    The main problem will be melee in an open area where hundreds of thousands of units are involved. (Sometimes in the millions across a huge battlefront :eek: )

    One could justify that the initial shock of the charge is enough of a morale drainer, to the enemy, to justify such an insane tactic. To see your mates get chopped into pieces by crazy screaming madmen just a couple of meters away might be enough of a morale shock to make any unit throw their rifle away and run for their lives?
    Casualties would be great on both sides, but those who charge would suffer the most. But I also believe that seeing a rumbling approaching cloud of angry screaming melee wielding bastards (RACASMWB in short) heading straight for your position will make any brave man nervous? And might, in the end, cause greater damage to the enemy in the means of lost gound, supplies and morale?

    It's going to be tricky and hard to implement, but perhaps not completely impossible?
     
  15. Eliot Bauers
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    _____Speaking as a former soldier (Fort Benning, hooah!) with a poli-sci degree (Rutgers University), let me break it to you gently... Once you introduce long-range projectile weaponry into front-line combat, in-your-face fighting just about goes bye-bye. I know; I know. Fantasy writers masquerading as sci-fi writers have been hog-wild about jokers coming down on space-ships to do battle with swords and sorcery. The Owen Deathstalker series of novels is awful for that. Tn any tactical sort of sense, when firearms come into play, swashbuckling tactics are just about a no-go. But, if you INSIST on having close-quarters combat, I'll leave you with a little something.
    _____You said World War I. Okay, you can have SOME in-close fighting...under SOME conditions. If there's killing to be done that close, it would be the bayonette affixed to the front of the rifle. Soldiers need to be limber enough to climb in and out of trenches ("over the top"). That, and they need to have been brought out to the field by sheer numbers. Extra armor they'd be wearing would weigh down their transports. So, they won't be carrying shields, won't be wearing chestpieces, gauntlets, codpieces, any of that. The only piece of armor they'll have would be their helmets. Bear in mind that there'll be mortar-rounds coming in and bullets all over the darned place above the trenches, so you might as well keep your swordplay in the trenches. (Else, they'll get blown to bits.) Otherwise, I'd strongly advise against this sort of writing. See ya.
     
  16. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Toxic gas is cheap, but if its that kind of dirty fighting, I'm sure the vast number of simple countermeasures will be on hand to deal with it. Gas masks, toxin filters or even drugs are common measures. I cannot create a whole package without taking charge of the entire background, I was throwing out fairly basic ideas which reduce long range weapons and aerial power to nothing. Eliot Bauers is right, if you go with these Space Opera and swords and sorcery style facepalm-filled action.

    It is just suspension of belief to have a futuristic society which goes back to outmoded weaponry and techniques. Just because I can buy a slingshot doesn't mean I'm going to go to war with one, even if I'm sure a good rock to the face or a sharp pointy stick will kill someone. The most effective weapons are the ones which will rule the battlefield. If for some reason you have an arms issue, the most common and basic weapons will be tools with a lethal side. Like axes or hammers. A sword is a very unique weapon that serves no other purpose than warfare, because it is not a tool. It has no specialized function. Which brings up why bayonets were seen on the battlefield and not swords; the Japanese used swords in WWII, but they were more a throwback to the old ways and were typically heirlooms and found on officers. They were not the main or even backup method of fighting as say a pistol was. Don't bring a knife to a gunfight.

    Sadly Madman, the great battlefield on open territory would not happen in a more advanced society. Ever since 1914 where bad warfare tactics met with grisly machine guns which made charges reckless and unnecessary, any conflict will never return to it. They used to dig holes and throw bombs in it to blow up and kill other soldiers, and it was chaos. It was well known that soldiers often communicated with the enemy and told them about attacks, others shared rations simply because the senseless nature of the conflict was so bleak. The whole singing of songs in the trenches is strange and definitely unusual for 'modern' conflicts, but the circumstances were unimaginable to most people. Airplanes, tanks and lethal weaponry all came onto the field, but in order for your vision to work, almost all advancements would have to be mysteriously absent!

    My dark, tunneling and complex weaving of defenses and bogged down warfare is one example where all of those other advancements cannot be used, even still, its not particularly great. In WWI trenches I believe the shovel was the weapon of choice because you couldn't wield a sword even if you tried to. Axes were issued I believe. Also pistols were not mass issued (a better weapon) and long rifles were awkward in the trenches. So yeah, the warfare style just becomes absurd after a certain point, like most 40k action. As the guy driving in a tank, blazing machine guns wildly, screams his order, 'Drive me closer! I want to hit them with my sword!'
     
  17. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Nerve gases and the like were not employed by many nations because they WERE NOT GOOD AT KILLING SOLDIERS. Toxic gas spreads or lies low to the ground (depends on composition) but in the open will get spread around by wind. Several times in WWI the Germans released gas than the was blown right back onto their lines. It's useless against prepared troops with masks and other protective gear and like biological weapons does not discriminate against unarmed civilians (biological weaponry is actually worse, being MORE likely to kill civlians like the old and young as the soldiers will be physically fit men less prone to disease). And bunkers are easily protected guys. The Maginot Line and other old-school bunker complexes were pressurized on the inside so that gas could not seep into them. The Vietcong used the same technique to make many of their bunkers impervious to "smoke-outs" (that and they simply dug air shafts that only existed to vent those gases). Basically any enemy with air compressor technology can make their underground network resistant to many chemical weapons.
     
  18. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    And SHIELDS? Seriously? Cops carry riot shields to stop the stuff punks pick up and toss at them. Bottles and all that. If someone pulled out an AK, the cop with the shield is taking cover behind a car's engine block. Riot shields protect the wielder while he tries to control a situation. And they are meant to be imposing. Cops are there to protect the people, not kill them. A soldier's job is to kill the enemy efficiently and come home. Any physical shield that will stop a rifle round (I assume we are talking full metal jacket) would have to be heavy. I mean if they can make lightweight materials for it then why not full body armor like a knight instead? With some sort of padding underneath (what knights wore under armor) or specialized gel to spread the kinetic force on impact.

    Guns and shields and swords did exist side by side for a long time. Then guns got way better. By the time the underslung bayonet came around (as opposed to the early versions that just got jammed into the end of the barrel and make the firearm unable to fire), guns were pretty much the king of the battlefield. Aside from multi-purpose blades (knives, axes, and shovels all have practical uses), the fine art of killing people will shiny metal sticks has waned. Though the officers might carry them as badges of honor, much like the Japanese gave functional (as in you could slice off arms and legs) swords to many of their officers to go with the samurai mistique. Which is funny since most of those said officers were descended from peasant and merchant families, who in the past would have been executed for touching a sword (the "honorable" weapon of the warrior caste). Of course that just makes your officers easier to identify. I prefer the old American version. Don't salute me. There might be a sniper nearby.
     
  19. Apophis
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    Apophis New Member

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    The main problem is that your future holds no hope for an equally technological solution (i.e. guns) towards melee combat. No energy shields? To say that these people were capable of inter-galactic flight, which would require cold fusion warpdrives or wormhole engines. Makes it seem a little odd that they couldn't figure out more impressive suits of armor (though I don't really know how they got off-world this seems the most likely). The armor is your best bet here. If you have swords, like swords or knives nowadays, that make it through the energy fields or armor where bullets don't, and we're talking these defensive methods would have to be almost 100% effective. Then you have a good chance of people being forced into melee combat.

    You could have small thimble size fusion devices capable of feats beyond your wildest dreams. That would be enough energy to have the force of anywhere from 40-400 nuclear devices (depending on yield, of course). Not to mention, even with electronic countermeasures there are electronic counter-countermeasures to avoid such radio problems. If you have discovered controlled nuclear fusion these devices would operate themselves and be quite small. The mention of nanotechnology holds promise. Nanites at their most extreme could easily keep a body running after it has lost the majority of its extremities or reconstruct those extremities on the battlefield. Let's not forget that genetic manipulation by such an era would be a cinch. These both lend themselves to superhuman speed (another way to avoid bullets even when entering a new premise, even if it is confined) and strength. The Japanese also had a number of katas and methods for using their katanas in confined spaces. For instance, samurai choked up on the handle and moved in a way that made them smaller.

    The other point is, as in Warhammer 40K, you have so many soldiers pushing against either opposing fronts or forces that are stuck in place due to a siege that it will have to come down to close quarters eventually. Sure they might lose a 1,000 or 10,000 units, but when you have a huge force (roughly x100 larger) that has already decided it is either us or them and we have to take this outpost... Well as you see it depends on the psychology, tactics, and capabilities of your soldiers. How badly are the defenders pushed to save the area and how badly do the attackers want it? Are they the typical weakness that is mankind always living in fear, cowering in a hole for their hapless lives, or have they elevated themselves (or been elevated via the genetic manipulation/nanotechnology) to something more than human? The stuff that makes a truly wondrous and rousing epic. Controversial? Perhaps, but that's why fantasy and science fiction suspend reality for a bit. It makes for a more entertaining tale. Otherwise, why write about an off-world future in the first place? If he wanted to write about WWI combat (fully and realistically). He should write a historical narrative about that.

    :)
     
  20. Madman
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    Madman Active Member

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    Thank you all for your thoughts and opinions, it's very good to bring out all the potential problems and concerns.

    @CrimsonReaper
    Well, I doubt they would use plastic riot shields... don't really know why you would even bring that up?

    They will use ballistic shields designed to stand up to heavy weapons fire. They will of course not be able to withstand a very large "tank like" round, but they will suffice against most standard ones.
    Reflective technology is important here, it's been added to armor and shields. It's capable of withstanding a good burst of weapons fire.
    Sure, one could run into the field with one single bulky 10-20kg shield made from some heavy material, but who would want to carry that?
    I'd rather make use of good reflective coating(and perhaps other tech) and as such keep the weight down a bit.

    So why not just wear a full body armor of that stuff? Well, that's up to each soldier/squad to decide, it will weigh you down and get you tired faster, the more you put on. I love modularity, and have it at pretty much every level of the military in this universe. One can decide wich armor pieces to add to it's suit, and wich to avoid.
    The shield you can always quickly drop if it gets heavy, a fastened piece of armor, wont be as easy.

    But I'm still very concerned about all the things soldiers will be have to carry. Thoughts on that?



    Another concern was energy shields, here there is a countermeasure at work. It's going to be some form of overloading round or disruptor. Also, most armors wont cover the whole body.
    They will of course have some very powerfull energy soruces. And there will be specific military branches who utilize the most advanced stuff, such as powered full body armors. The reason everyone wont be using it will be because of the economical cost.
    One side will be using lots of genetic manipulation, nanites and other nasty technological devices. While the other is strongly against genetic manipulation and the evolution of advanced technologies.

    Also the sword is not going to be a 1 meter length blade, but rather something similar to the gladius, this sword is also something they can lock on to their rifles, like a bayonet.
    I was going to copy a lot of roman formations and tactics. Such as testudo and walking in a wall formation. Here the shields will have another funcion as well. You will be able to lock them together to create an even stronger barrier as you are approaching the enemy.
    I'm a big fan of the roman era.

    Uhh, this is such a mess! But I really want melee.
    Further thoughts and opinions?
     
  21. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    Alright... that's more information to go on.

    Let's see for drawing out what you want in battle you have a few concerns, I'll give some points on these, but its up to you to find out what works for you.

    Air power/Artillery - Must be rendered ineffective. The easiest way I see for this is the use of military lasers to destroy artillery rounds, incoming shells, and destroy aircraft on the field of battle. This anti-air and anti-artillery defense will render most recon systems and push the options for battle down.

    Guns/Ranged weapons - Must be rendered useless. If you can't find ways in which to draw down the effectiveness, such as laser weapons being negated and physical rounds made useless. I know of no 'logical' way to do this since those weapons are very effective for reasons which are plainly obvious. Reducing the user's ability to aim and make that power effective is the most obvious counter. Fog, not dust, but thick fog will render visual and thermal imaging to the point of being useless. Its a good way to obscure the lines and even in the wind could make for a pretty nasty and literal 'fog of war'.

    To prevent random firing, perhaps have a lead of phalanx troops with special shields that draw power from generators to create energy fields capable of reducing the effectiveness of lasers. Such shields may need to be cared by exo-suit wearing soldiers capable of carrying the weight and will be charged with holding the line until it comes to close quarters.

    For swords, they can't pierce metal used on the battlefield, the 'full plate' armor was meant to reduce it. Guns blast through it, and heavy blunt weapons could kill with sheer power after a beating. Why not go with electrical weapons? A sword or even baton which can piece some reflective or filler material and electrocute or zap the enemy through armor would be an option. It requires physical contact unless you use absurd (and friendly fire crazy) power. It would also have an interesting side effect, physical contact could mean a suicide, so enemies will want to keep some distance unless you get close up and grapple in which the cutting edge be used.

    EMP would be a great counter measure, so even if the systems are fried the swords would be effective, and nanobots could be wiped out. A shield (carried by the front line phalanx) could also protect troops within the shield, but the shield may not work much more. Physical objects couldn't be repulsed, but that's why lasers could destroy incoming shells, but fail against 'rocks', which can't deal that much damage.

    The results of this could be large scale and terribly bogged down battle which allows for some unique tactics. Trenches would be both beneficial and dangerous because those phalanx front line shields cannot stay in contact while moving in such an erratic pattern, even linked up, one slip up and the entire thing is broken. Fire could be an interesting weapon as well, since it can cause havoc with lines, even if they aren't particularly flammable.

    Either way, you have options, its implementation and properly showing how to reduce every other tech to pointless and having that tech which obsoletes the other tech be very effective. Air power is cut to nothing by a good AAA system, stealth itself which can bypass most AAA systems is not infallible to newer tech, so even still, airplanes in an AAA area is too risky to use. Striking those AAA places usually means long range, but if you have a better long-range weapon you get into a range issue, until you can destroy the incoming rounds (regardless of range) and force having someone actually do it in another method. Then you get more esoteric systems like sabotage, cyber warfare, all of which can be dealt with in certain ways, more and more you get to your preferred system.

    Hope I'm helping.
     
  22. Igor
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    Igor Member

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    Not WW I but you might like to do some research on the Battle of Stalingrad. There are some great books out there that give detailed accounts of that horror. Well worth a look and I think it might help you to understand what combat was like in that hell.
     
  23. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Because that is one of the only uses for shields in modern scenarios. As a tool to control groups without killing them. Also not all shields are plastic. Many are lightweight metals (capable of stopping pistol rounds). Useful in breaching scenarios for police (where most criminals will not be packing assault rifles), not as useful in trench warfare. There are heavier versions, but those are used by bomb squads.


    Hand grenades. Low-arcing artillery. Land mines. Safer to put your boys in armored vehicles. Not as "romantic" though...


    If you mean to reflect lasers that is a myth. Heat still builds up at the point of reflection. While your formation is advancing over the battlefield, the laser targeters have plenty of time to pick one spot and focus. Any military-grade laser would still damage anything it reflected off of. Imagine the morale of the phalanx as one man starts bursting into flames every few steps. Then again maybe they can absorb those losses.

    That is what intuition tells you. But in reality a knight in pull plate at its height could move around easier than modern soldiers carrying their eighty pounds of equipment. The difference was distribution. The knight's armor was spread out over his entire body, not mostly in a backpack or torso armor. A bulky shield is putting the strain on your upper body. Heat is the greater concern with armor. Ever try running in a motorcyle helmet? Or a halloween mask? Full powered armor might not be a reality simply because cooling systems are not up to spec. Useful for quick assualts, not extended campaigns. And cost is an issue as you noted. A knight's armor was taylor made. He could not give it to his son unless they had the same physical dimensions. This is why knights kept in shape. If they didn't, their armor did not fit anymore and they would have to order a new expensive set.

    So you are going the Star Trek route, where you can match a shield's frequency (shields being a continuously generated field) and nullify it. Meh. I prefer the Star Wars approach (where shields are not oscillations but a coherent wall formed around the ship). No magical negation of shields. You just have to pound at them until they break. That's fine. As long as you keep it consistent. Maybe a new shield is being developed and the old disruptor rounds don't cut it anymore. But those incompent commanders don't realize it until they have already committed the army to the field. The slaughter......

    Not all technologies scale down. We have nuclear plants in real life (though they are big because the heat generated boils water, the steam of which turns giant turbines). I can't fit that same generation setup in my watch. It's perfectly reasonable that whatever power source allow FTL is simply TOO DAMN BIG to power super-lasers and robot armies on the planet below. Not unless battery technology has really gotten better (which is really has not; batteries have not advanced a super amount over the decades but simply become cheaper to manufacture). Sorry, Luke Farmboy, grab this mirror shield and sword and go die for the empire.

    Then they are not swords. They are spears. Also: Hand grenades. Land mines. And interlocking shields? Interesting, but then an enterprising enemy will find a way to dump heat into them, turning the entire shield wall into a metal slab that cooks the soldiers it protects. I like it. Go with it.
     
  24. Morkonan
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    Morkonan Senior Member

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    I just skimmed the rest of your post after reading this. Why? Because, this is what you should be working with in this story and you need to stop trying to rationalize battlefield tactics. There is no way to logically do so. Instead, you need to invent another reason why the sword is being used in battles.

    Look at Star Wars. Why do Jedi use swords? A light sabre is a stupid weapon to rely on in the face of laser blasts... It's just dumb. But, the Jedi are a quasi-magical order and the lightsaber is a qausi-magical tool. They're all "Excalibur." They reflect the character of the Jedi that wields them. They are, in effect, holy weapons.

    So, instead of focusing on some sort of logical reason for ground-combat troops in a far-off future to use swords, you need to work on cultural, religious or even techno-magical reasons for this mechanic. Don't rationalize it, just do it and then rationalize the reason you come up with only so that it is internally consistent with the setting that you have specifically created for it.

    For instance:

    Honor means everything and kill count means honor and every man, no matter their creed, deserves honor. The only way to honorably kill someone is by the sword. Therefor, ground troops prefer using the sword, even above their own concern for their individual lives.


    Yeah, it's weak. But, it's not my job to come up with the "hook" for your sword use for you. I'm just giving you an example. Another example with a more technological influence could be:

    Humans are filled with nanotech. Luckily, this nanotech provides excellent external protection, unless it is overwhelmed. On the battlefield, large caliber weapons that blow off limbs and obliterate bodies work just fine. Small caliber weapons that punch holes in things are less effective, due to the target's own nanotech protection that quickly repairs injuries. But, if that nanotech can be deactivated or overwhelmed by a something that pierces the skin, disrupts organs and shocks the system, the opponent can be killed. Thus, swords with special electronic-warfare devices built into them are efficient, breaking the skin barrier and disrupting the opponents nanotech for long enough to kill them. Nanotech bullets are not as effective due to the limited amount of electronic-warfare-nanotech that can be inserted into an opponents body.


    Those examples should be enough to demonstrate that you need to stop thinking about tactics and start thinking about Science Fiction Cultures or harder Science Fiction when writing this story. Besides, in a war that can be won by simply dropping a large rock on a planet, ground combat becomes a bit passe'. :D
     
  25. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Melee combat usually comes into play when the enemies is right up in your face and you don't have time to aim your rifle/pistol/ranged weapon/etc. This happens more than you might think it does. It can happen in trenches, urban warfare, or even during an ambush. Sneaking up on an opponent and taking them out with a melee attack is a lot quieter than shooting them. And just some extra info, a silencer on a weapon doesn't really silence a gun like in the movies. It is basically more of a flash suppressor.

    The last time orders were given to prepare for melee combat was probably during the US Civial War. Soldiers were told to fix their bayonets to their weapons and charge. Melee played a bigger role then because reloading a rifle took at least 10 seconds if you were fast.

    Today that doesn't happen. Melee only occurs if the situation calls for it. I went through army basic training a year ago. They don't even bother teaching how to use a bayonet anymore. We use either the stock of the rifle to hit the opponent or combative grappling. And the main purpose of US Army combative grappling is mainly to subdue your opponent until your battle buddy can arrive to help you.

    Do some research on tactics and strategies. A smaller, better trained force can overcome a considerably larger force any day. Also, it sounds like EMPs (electro magnetic pulses) would be a viable weapon too. EMPs basically fry electronics. So your standard battle tank becomes a multi-ton paperweight, or at best, a cannon that can fire in a single direction.
     

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