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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 1:28 pm    Post subject: What if. . .         Reply with quote

What if technology advanced just like it did in this timeline (electricity, computer chips, etc.) but at the same time gunpowder was never discovered, and no technology was ever utilized to take it's place. So in other words there would be things like electrical power plants but no such thing as a rail-gun.

How would this be possible/believeable?

What would the world look like?

How would history be affected?

What would warfare look like/be like?
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thought someone did this already and the ever resourceful humans, desiring easy ways to kill each other, said: "Fine, no normal weapons, I'll make steam and air powered guns."

I suppose I will take a stab at the topic though. If this were the case, I would think we would have seige engine type things that could hurl a few hundred ballista bolts in a hurry as cover fire, powered crossbolts for guns, all manner of technology to enhance relatively primative weapons.
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A. Spanjer




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Possible? Yes, almost anything is possible. Plausible? Not very, but I like the concept. I've though about it before, but not in detail.

Here's a question, do you think the lighter swords (cutlass, smallswords, lighter sabres) would have developed if guns weren't around to make armour obsolete?

Na sir 's na seachain an cath.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's my theory: If guns had never been invented there would have been a period of time in the 1500s and 1600s where the heavy lancer would have been developed further. The heavy cavalryman was the "tank" of the battlefield before guns got so powerful that he had to abandon his armour completely because making it even thicker and heavier to stop bullets would have been an exercise in diminishing returns. No guns means heavy cavalry stay, and lances stay, and full armour stays. If technology continued to progress with no gunpowder, armour would have been improved; it would have been more widely issued (the best armies would have all their troops armoured including infantry - basically how it is now!) Plate armour would have gotten better and better because there would be no reason not to keep developing and improving it. That foot-combat armour of Henry VIII which completely encloses the body, leaving no weak spots open and articulated to an extremely high degree - that kind of armour would be the norm. And horse armour would have been developed too. For the best elite cavalry units you would have seen horses wearing fully articulated plate, enclosing their entire bodies.

Of course there would also be, on the other side, a constant attempt to defeat this armour protection, therefore, better and more crossbows, continued use of arrow volleys (further development of fire arrows.) You also would have seen biological and chemical warfare employed earlier and more frequently. Even a knight and horse both in full plate would have needed to breathe; thus, there would have been gases, powders, liquids and other stuff thrown at the enemy (with catapults) to make them suffocate or sicken. You would have also seen highly-mobile ballista and catapult divisions - like, 100 ballistas all set up at once, to launch a non-stop barrage of heavy, blunt force at the enemy.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 3:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The concept relies on the idea that no explosive of any kind was developed. That presumably includes gasoline. Otherwise there would have been firearms of some sort before our time.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
If technology continued to progress with no gunpowder, armour would have been improved; it would have been more widely issued (the best armies would have all their troops armoured including infantry - basically how it is now!)


Most modern soldiers are still largely unarmoured.

Development of armour manufacturing would be a critical issue for this. If armour technology improves, but it's all custom made and fitted by hand, and armies grow in size, such armour won't be standard issue for the majority. Just look at modern armies of wealthy nations - they can afford top-quality weapons, but not enough. That's the point of cheaper weapons systems such as the F-16 fighter, the O. H. Perry, etc.

Then you have questions of weight, overheating, etc.

But for some definition of "best", I'd expect it to be as you say, that the best armies would be highly armoured.

If, however, manufacturing does improve to the extent required for cheap mass production of effective complete armour, then manufacturing will have improved to the point of effective airguns (OK, that could be regarded as a gunpowder substitute according to the rules of the OP, but so could crossbows.)

Quote:
You also would have seen biological and chemical warfare employed earlier and more frequently.


Biological warfare would not be a major factor on the battlefield, but could well be important in war (just consider the effect of naturally occurring disease on military operations pre 1900). As for chemical weapons, yes. And the flamethrower will make armour less useful.
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Adam Smith





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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 4:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In my opinion this topic has no place in any of the forum catagories. We are who and what we are because of a very complex evolution of events that made resourcefullness and invention a must. I dont believe there is a fantasy catogory in the forums yet.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Colt Reeves wrote:
I thought someone did this already and the ever resourceful humans, desiring easy ways to kill each other, said: "Fine, no normal weapons, I'll make steam and air powered guns."



If you read my post, you'll see that air and steam guns are out as well, but that doesn't mean the steam engine wouldn't have been invented.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Fri 05 Feb, 2010 9:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Smith wrote:
In my opinion this topic has no place in any of the forum catagories. We are who and what we are because of a very complex evolution of events that made resourcefullness and invention a must. I dont believe there is a fantasy catogory in the forums yet.


To deny ourselves our imagination would be insulting our creator's greatest gift to us!

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Sander Marechal




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 1:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A. Spanjer wrote:
Here's a question, do you think the lighter swords (cutlass, smallswords, lighter sabres) would have developed if guns weren't around to make armour obsolete?


I think they would have. If armour was not obsoleted it would probably have become even better, leaving no gaps at all. So a big thrusting sword wouldn't help at all. I can entirely see a soldier running around with a single-handed warhammer/pick to take out armoured opponents and a smallsword for unarmoured opponents.
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
If you read my post, you'll see that air and steam guns are out as well, but that doesn't mean the steam engine wouldn't have been invented.
There's only one way this would be plausible, and that is if people stopped killing eachother. Otherwise, there's no reason why people wouldn't keep developing new ways to hurl projectiles at higher and deadlier speeds at eachother, particularly if new developments in technology pretty much hand the new possibilities to you.
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Gottfried P. Doerler




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:

Biological warfare would not be a major factor on the battlefield, but could well be important in war (just consider the effect of naturally occurring disease on military operations pre 1900). As for chemical weapons, yes. And the flamethrower will make armour less useful.


these two things exclude each other in my opinion.
if people engage themselfs with chemistry, they will sooner or later come over explosives. if it had happend that by what means ever,that no explosives were invented until today, but chemistry developed to its current degree, it will not take 5 years and all the explosives, we have, are there.

(the discovery of black powder in the 13th century [or whenever] was more by accident, and they didn`t know, what the role of each ingredient was [i read a ospreys MAA about the burgundian army, where they said, in the 14th century sometimes alchemistic things like mercury, mandrake or silver were added to the mixture in order to "improve" the powder]. but as late as the 19th century, chemistry was already so advanced, there would in my opinion have been no chance, not to invent gun powder or other explosives)
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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Electronics still work? plate style armor becomes obsolete the moment someone attaches a taser battery to a crossbow.
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Toke Krebs Niclasen




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you never heard of neoprene gambesons? Razz
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
Electronics still work? plate style armor becomes obsolete the moment someone attaches a taser battery to a crossbow.


If you'll read my first post I said that electronics were invented but electricity was never used for weapons purposes
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Toke Krebs Niclasen




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Advances in manufacturing would also mean things like boilers, piping, and insulated high pressure hoses.
So infantry could get steam boiled near fortifications and armoured vehicles.

And who would bother with a horse if they could get an APC with dozer and scythe blades?
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 2:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
Nat Lamb wrote:
Electronics still work? plate style armor becomes obsolete the moment someone attaches a taser battery to a crossbow.


If you'll read my first post I said that electronics were invented but electricity was never used for weapons purposes


You said it (and others) were not used as gunpowder substitutes. Plenty of other weapon possibilities.

(If the point was that modern technologies were invented, but not used for weapons purposes, what was the point of your OP?)
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gottfried P. Doerler wrote:

these two things exclude each other in my opinion.
if people engage themselfs with chemistry, they will sooner or later come over explosives. if it had happend that by what means ever,that no explosives were invented until today, but chemistry developed to its current degree, it will not take 5 years and all the explosives, we have, are there.


Yes, very much. And it works both ways, too - development of explosives was a strong motivation for chemistry and chemical process research. Gunpowder makes you interested in nitrates, and their manufacture!

Quote:
(the discovery of black powder in the 13th century [or whenever] was more by accident,


This we don't know, and probably won't know, given the lack of written material surviving from before AD1000. We don't even have a good record of the weaponisation of gunpowder (also quite likely AD1000 - or less conservatively, definitely before AD1000). But don't trust a source that says that gunpowder was invented in the West in the 13th century, or even that the handgun was invented there.
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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 5:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:



(If the point was that modern technologies were invented, but not used for weapons purposes, what was the point of your OP?)


Well I would suggest you read my first post
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Feb, 2010 6:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben P. wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:

(If the point was that modern technologies were invented, but not used for weapons purposes, what was the point of your OP?)


Well I would suggest you read my first post


Been there, done that. You didn't say anything about why you were asking.

To answer your first question, I don't think it would be possible or believable, that these technologies would have been developed and not used for weapons. It's a common enough what-if to imagine the development of "modern" weapons with advanced technlogies but no gunpowder or equivalent explosives, but to imagine a complete absence of weapons based on these technologies is inconceivable given historical human behaviour.
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