Guns and fantasy aren’t strangers. We frequently see guns used in modern fantasy and some of the time time they’re used effectively. Rarely are they written realistically, but many of the fantasy authors have probably never fired a gun. The issue of guns and realism was handled beautiful by the people over at Writing Excuses last week.
The thing that I wanted to address in this post was more about the stupidity that often times follows guns into fantasy. If you’ve ever seen the role playing rules in a game for guns then you know exactly what I’m talking about. They’re almost never desirable in any way, expensive, hard to use and too costly to make effective for the person using them unless they specialize in only that. In books and movies there is this problem of guns being so mundane. All of these magical artifacts and weapons will be running around and no one seems to think to combine magic and firearms. This same problem extends back to role playing games too.
The prime example from that area of interest is the gun rules in Pathfinder. A normal revolver pistol costs more than a minor magic item, does less damage than a long sword and decreases in damage after you’ve moved twenty feet from the target. Couple with that the fact that a character has to be specially trained to use them (even though the same thing isn’t the case with crossbows and longbows, which are much harder to use in real life than any gun—in the case of a crossbow you’ve got to be pretty strong just to load some of them). Then to top it all off the gun has a chance of misfire where it injures the user and anyone standing near them.
While guns are cool, who want’s do deal with all of that when in game you could just use a bow and do more damage? It’s purely a flavor thing.
Frequently we’ll see things in fantasy about people deflecting bullets with swords multiple times or someone with a sword being equal match for someone with a gun. Let me tell you right now, if you had some hardened, gun trained hero and a sword wielder fifty feet apart there’s no reason that sword user should ever get anywhere near the person with the gun unless they’re blind.
One of the stupidest arguments I think I ever got into with someone about writing came from a man named Jeremy. I don’t mind saying his name because he should be embarrassed. He whined about how my characters in a modern day fantasy story were using a gun to fight demons. What else would a regular person use against something faster and stronger than them? You mean you want me to Rule of Cool something that makes no logical sense? People aren’t going to let themselves get killed trying to fight something that has a strength advantage over them with a melee weapon because you think ‘guns are for pussies’ as he said.
What I don’t understand is where all of this comes from. The idea that one weapon that clearly replaced another is somehow not better than it is just stupid. I don’t think there’s any sense to it besides the silly idea of honor that people sometimes like to tote or in some cases they’re victims of too much anime. Whatever the issue, I’m not going to sacrifice logic for what other people think is cool.