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Library: basic history of arms


Author: Ran
Date:Jun 16 1997

This is merely an outline, it is by no means a technical document.  Historical
trends and use are hard to analyze ex post facto, so approximate dates w/in
100 years could be off by about 10 years, and all other dates are probably off
by around 20-30 years.

There is no translation for the name of the planet these (people) came from,
so for now and here I'll just call it "Planet U".  

The citizens of "Planet U" are quite different in attitude when it comes to
arms/weaponry than the people here.  This is one reason why it is so hard to
incorporate their weaponry systems and technology into arms produced here.

Until 150+ years ago, the people preferred Bludgeoning weapons made mostly
from hardwood or wood reinforced with strips of metal.  Though swords were
avaliable, they were frowned up and rarely well-made.  One of the most popular
weapons of the pre-modern era is a large and heavy spiked club designed to be
used two-handed.  Misile weaponry was even more rare, with the only remotely
common powered misile weapon being a compact hand-crossbow used like a pistol.
This fired a projectile laced that had the head laced with an explosive
substance that would explode on impact.  In wartime situations it was rarely
used, considered less practical than standard thrown weapons like javelins or

Electricity was first utilized by the citizens about 150 years ago.  It was
the first major scientific discovery for the people there.  This is probably
due to physiology, as many of the people on this world could control
electicity with their own bodies.  A system to generate high voltage was
developed, and at this time a lot of new weaponry is developed which uses

One of the most popular arms of the era from 150 to 100 years ago was a
metallic whip which could deliver powerful shocks to a victim, causing burns
and convolsions.  The alternator in these whips, and other electric shock-type
weapons makes a quiet but high-frequency and rather unique sound.  These whips
were especially popular among women and even today are still quite common. 
The reason these whips seem to have stuck, while other weapons like ordinary
slugthrower devices (ie. guns) didn't is because they are more in-tune with
the sadistic nature of the people of Planet U.

The next major discovery used in arms came soon after, this was that certain
crystaline rocks would form an intense beam of light if high electric currents
were applied to them.  This would often melt the crystal in the process,
however.  Also, the light beams would at worse cause bad burns.  Around 125
years ago, the technology was perfected and a tommy-gun style rifle was
developed that could fire almost continuosly.  It was packed with about 100
individual crystals in a mechanism that rotated continously, with only one
being used at a time, giving the rest a chance to cool down so they wouldn't
overheat and melt.  Even though each beam was mostly harmless, only capable of
causing light burns to skin, the rapid rate of fire is what made this into a
useful sadistic device.  The damage to structures and surroundings was rather

The major (and temporary) change in the society of the planet came around 100
years ago when it became possible to travel to (and conquer of course) other
planets.  During this time we see a bunch of newer weaponry, such as concusion
rocket launchers and such.  One of the main weapons used in ground battles was
an extremely powerful wheeled beam gun that had to be loaded with disposable
crystals before firing -- a "ball" of the crystals is slid down the barrel not
unlike a typical cannon (from this world).  They are very large, and the beams
they fire are extremely powerful, doing extensive penetration damage to
structures.  The barrel/beam width was seldom over 20 cm wide, however, so it
rarely actually collapsed anything.  These weapons were intended for practical
use by ground forces and such.  

With the invasion of other worlds being attempted, another major development
was that of superior defensive systems and armor.  Quickly developed was a
"force bubble" generator which surrounded the user with an almost impenitrable
sphere when activated.  Development of better armor and defensive systems
quickly became more important than new weapons development, and the weaponry
began to lag behind the defensive systems to counter it.  This is the exact
opposite of what happened on this world.  Eventually, as the people of U had
to manage and occupy worlds they had conquered, their dreams of galactic
imperialism and rule died down, since they hated civilian affairs and managing
alien populations.  After about 10 years, the citizenry lost instrest, and
till today if they "take over" another world it is often a merely disguised
alliance, co-optation, mutual defense contracts, or such.  In order to back
down honorably, they would sometimes threaten to invade a world and then offer
to back down if the citizens could beat them at a sports game or some other
physical contest of skill.  In most cases these games were rigged by the
military commanders, so that the people of U would lose and be able to back
down without looking like wimps.

With people from U beginning to be scattered all over, rather than confined to
one world, and with new resources/substances avaliable to them, around 50
years or so ago there was a lot of development of technological devices
previously unheard of (to anyone).  Many of these devices doubled as weapons,
for instance a duplicator/instant-clone device originally used to make
duplication of artwork easier became a rather nasty weapon for its ability to
quickly generate large crowds of confused people.  A girl student accidently
shot herself with this once and discovered that it worked just as well on
living things as inanimate objects.  Also popular was a restraining gun
originally used by riot police that uses compressed air to fire globs of
encased glue which explode and coat victims with it.  The US armed forces also
have access to (but rarely use in combat) a similar weapon.  There's a host of
other developments which lead to even more exotic and strange devices turned
into weapons.  For a discussion of all the exotic technology devices, we'll
I'm not about to -- it would take about 6000 pages to list them all with the
theory behind them, I can't even begin to do that.  

This book written by Ran