Combat like DUNE

Brainstorm for settings and game ideas
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pepe_andre
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Combat like DUNE

Post by pepe_andre » 12 Dec 2018, 07:39

Hi there,
as you could see in my earlier posts I prefer modern age/science fiction over typical fantasy and medieval settings. Since I posted my near-future setting seed I came to think about what would suit the system best and I came to the conclusion that either Fantasy or Space Opera would be the best fitting settings. But the melee focus of the game makes pure scifi settings problematic since ranged combat is only half the fun and in a highly futuristic society missiles and guns will be predominant. So one solution could be a setting like Star Wars where magical creatures wield swords because they can. Another solution would be DUNE where swords became the weapon of choice once again because every other weapons is made nugatory by scientific advance. The problem is that in a game the players and the audience want variety. In a fighting scene there must be multiple possible solutions to the problem: melee and ranged. So I would like to brainstorm with you: How would a use of swords and alike be justified in a science fiction setting? I am thinking mainly about really fast fencing-like fights with sabres or epees. Is there a solution that is not just handwaving about the core philosophies of warfare? How would you handle it? Maybe through the use of power shields that repel ballistics and energy?
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Korbel
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Re: Combat like DUNE

Post by Korbel » 12 Dec 2018, 11:02

pepe_andre wrote:
12 Dec 2018, 07:39
Hi there,
as you could see in my earlier posts I prefer modern age/science fiction over typical fantasy and medieval settings. Since I posted my near-future setting seed I came to think about what would suit the system best and I came to the conclusion that either Fantasy or Space Opera would be the best fitting settings. But the melee focus of the game makes pure scifi settings problematic since ranged combat is only half the fun and in a highly futuristic society missiles and guns will be predominant. So one solution could be a setting like Star Wars where magical creatures wield swords because they can. Another solution would be DUNE where swords became the weapon of choice once again because every other weapons is made nugatory by scientific advance. The problem is that in a game the players and the audience want variety. In a fighting scene there must be multiple possible solutions to the problem: melee and ranged. So I would like to brainstorm with you: How would a use of swords and alike be justified in a science fiction setting? I am thinking mainly about really fast fencing-like fights with sabres or epees. Is there a solution that is not just handwaving about the core philosophies of warfare? How would you handle it? Maybe through the use of power shields that repel ballistics and energy?
Maybe you could make it so that accidental damage to the surroundings can have unwanted results. I imagine something similar to shooting pistols aboard a plane. You don't want that, because you will damage the plane Yada Yada. So, in your city you would have some... I don't know, high energy structures or something and when a bullet hits that - BAM!
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Agamemnon
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Re: Combat like DUNE

Post by Agamemnon » 12 Dec 2018, 15:07

There are generally three responses to the question of "swords in sci-fi."

1. Armor technology is as such that personal ranged weapons are no longer capable of dealing with it, but for one reason or another (whether it's the nature of the shield, like Dune, or serious melee upgrades like 40k power weapons) melee weapons still can.

2. The demands of space combat have effectively made various forms of hand-to-hand combat a significant portion of martial training due to a combination of the intense close-quarters on board a ship and the risk of a hull breach.

3. You create some outside cultural reason for it. A noble class who has reinstated a dueling culture -- which is of course imitated then by the lower classes. Star Wars sort of hits this one as well. Jedi using lightsabers is effectively a cultural thing. The weapon is iconic to their station, but nothing in the star wars universe makes a lightsaber an especially effective tool other than that it's a Jedi using it.

There is always the 4th option as well, which is just: It's cool, so I want it. That is itself a valid approach to take, especially when it's genre-appropriate. A cyberpunk setting loves melee weapons even if there's nothing in the setting that would suggest that it's an inherently good idea. Style over practicality is arguably one of the major themes in cyberpunk, so of course your hot-wired street samurai is carrying a Hitsuri 3000 MonoKatana.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
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pepe_andre
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Re: Combat like DUNE

Post by pepe_andre » 12 Dec 2018, 17:10

Agamemnon wrote:
12 Dec 2018, 15:07
There are generally three responses to the question of "swords in sci-fi."

1. Armor technology is as such that personal ranged weapons are no longer capable of dealing with it, but for one reason or another (whether it's the nature of the shield, like Dune, or serious melee upgrades like 40k power weapons) melee weapons still can.

2. The demands of space combat have effectively made various forms of hand-to-hand combat a significant portion of martial training due to a combination of the intense close-quarters on board a ship and the risk of a hull breach.

3. You create some outside cultural reason for it. A noble class who has reinstated a dueling culture -- which is of course imitated then by the lower classes. Star Wars sort of hits this one as well. Jedi using lightsabers is effectively a cultural thing. The weapon is iconic to their station, but nothing in the star wars universe makes a lightsaber an especially effective tool other than that it's a Jedi using it.

There is always the 4th option as well, which is just: It's cool, so I want it. That is itself a valid approach to take, especially when it's genre-appropriate. A cyberpunk setting loves melee weapons even if there's nothing in the setting that would suggest that it's an inherently good idea. Style over practicality is arguably one of the major themes in cyberpunk, so of course your hot-wired street samurai is carrying a Hitsuri 3000 MonoKatana.
I am constantly switching between cyberpunk and real science fiction as I am thinking about a setting for S&S that suits my needs. Cyberpunk tends to be pretty dystopian and is quite hot right now - that is why I would like to take the real science fiction approach. I know, that I am working on a cyberpunk-ish setting, too, but the more I think about it a more hopeful and adventureous world occupies my mind.
I know the approaches on how to deal with the subject. I really dislike the second one. The rest is fine. I tend to overlook certain implications when I am working on such things as force fields. That is why i want to discuss this matter. Another idea I have is the following:

The Aura
The Aura is a technical device that was used in the past and is now banned throughout the system. The Aura consists of a neuroimplant, a so called Ghost, a drone the size of a hand and a belt-mountable force shield generator. The Aura's shield generator coats its user in a force shield that fits the users proportions. The Ghost scans the users surroundings and works as a third eye. The neuroimplant is connected to the shield generator and the drone to give the user a higher sensory input. It receives data from the drone and lets the its users see what the drone sees. In addition it receives data from the force shield which can detect the speed and impact of projectiles and weapons used against the shield. The shield can be worn down by heavy fire, but until then no weapon or projectile that exceeds a certain velocity can penetrate the shield. In the past this led to the development of very deadly and powerful soldiers whose main weapon were sabres, swords and knives.


This makes you practically a Jedi but has it's foundation in high tech. Obviously this is just a draft but I thought it sounded cool and could be a good excuse for the swordsman in space. It isn't a tools that is used by the armed forces (maybe it's production is too expensive, the needed resourced are scarce or the usement by soldiers made warfare just so complicated and expensive that it didn't prevail) and maybe civilians are not allowed to possess this device because the law enforcement has much trouble to get throught to a being in a walking watchtower-tank. What do you think?
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Agamemnon
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Re: Combat like DUNE

Post by Agamemnon » 12 Dec 2018, 17:21

I've always thought that the game would do well for imperial sci-fi, in particular. Dune-esq space operas about high politics and noble houses. It's a good blend of what the game already does well and the additional options that come from a space opera or the like. If we ever write a sci-fi supplement, I'll probably take that approach.

The ghost/shield/thing can definitely work for what you want it to do. Another option might be to customize the combat system to your millieu as well. If melee combat isn't a huge part of the setting, you could effectively simplify a lot of things. Remove some of the more fringe maneuvers and so on.
Sword and Scoundrel: On Role-Playing and Fantasy Obscura

Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: "Now it’s complete because it’s ended here."
Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib, the Princess Irulan
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