Tag Archives: writing urban fantasy

Starke, if you filled the cavity on a hollowpoint with stuff (garlic for vampires or iron for the fey or similar), would that affect the performance of the round significantly?

Does roast garlic affect them?

With handguns at close range, it shouldn’t. Though, once you start getting past about 50ft, I’d worry. I’d be more worried about the garlic slipping out and jamming the mechanisms, though. If it was ground into paste, and then capped with something, it should be fine.

That’s certainly not the only creative ammunition option though. High explosive rounds come to mind. There are a lot explosives that will detonate on contact, and can be fired from a gun… mostly, safely. mercury fulminate is the first one that comes to mind, thanks to an old Law and Order episode. I’m not sure if picric acid would detonate when the weapon was fired, or only on impact, but it would also deliver a devastating wound from what you could pack into a hollowpoint.

If mass tissue disruption is enough to stop them, Glaser safety slugs might actually be a legitimate choice. These things are designed to shatter on contact spraying birdshot everywhere. I could easily see someone taking the basic design and loading it with a far more disruptive payload, like holy water, or maybe even the garlic paste above. This might be a better delivery method for an explosive round too.

With fey, if any iron would do, steel core AP rounds might actually be a better option. The softer metals should slough off on contact, and the resulting iron would do… whatever it was supposed to in the first place.

In theory you could make the entire bullet out of iron, but, with anything other than a very soft metal, you’ll irreparably damage the barrel’s rifling after the first or second shot. That said, you can stick a soft jacket over it, lead or copper are common choices. This protects the barrel from damage, but allows for much harder bullets to be fired. If you’re curious, that’s what the term Full Metal Jacket refers to.

Copper is a good option, even for lead rounds, because, unlike the lead, the copper isn’t toxic. So you can handle the rounds without having to be as paranoid about lead exposure.

You can use iron shot in a normal shotgun load, so that might be an easier option. I think you can actually buy up to 6mm steel shot commercially.

For iron bullets, there are apparently issues with them losing momentum faster than with normal rounds. I don’t know if this is relevant at handgun ranges or if it’s a rifle issue. That is the case with silver rounds, as I found out a couple years ago. (They’re fine for pistols, but rifles lose range and accuracy.) This has something to do with the density of silver, but explaining it requires a slightly better grasp on ballistics than mine.

If you’re wanting to take a more high tech look at vampire hunting, my recommendation will always be the British TV series Ultraviolet. Not to be confused with the 2006 American film. It takes a very non-mystical approach to tracking and eliminating vampires, with characters using graphite fragmentation rounds, and re-purposed gas grenades that disperse the active ingredient from garlic that affects them. Also, it’s got Jack Davenport and Idris Elba as the leads with some very sharp writing. This really is worth watching if you want to do vampire hunters in urban fantasy.

-Starke

Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Hi! I’m trying to decide the most appropriate fighting style for a character I’m writing. It’s a fantasy setting and this character is training to fight supernatural creatures since she was young. She’s now 16, tall and skinny, and training is a big part of her life. She fights with a katana-like sword, but I’m also looking for a character skilled in unarmed combat. Which styles should I be looking for? Sorry for the silly question, I didn’t know who else to ask =X
Anonymous

This is really going to depend on the setting you’ve built, and what she’s hunting, but here are a few things to think about:

A lot of real martial arts deal with the idea that you’re fighting something that is roughly, physiologically equivalent to yourself. That is to say, you’re fighting other people. There’s no martial art in the world that will help you fight a grizzly bear or a lion in hand to hand combat.

When you’re talking about monsters in a fantasy world, you’re often talking about things that are bigger, tougher and stronger than humans. That can be almost anything, from a minotaur, to a vampire. The basic assumptions about hand to hand combat don’t apply.

Swords are kind of similar; the sword isn’t a hunting weapon, it’s a weapon designed for killing humans. This works in some contexts, against some monsters, if your character is hunting creatures that used to be human, or are roughly humanoid (like an orc or goblin), then it might still be applicable.

But, if your character is fighting monsters considerably larger than her, like, say, werewolves (of the 9ft tall, bipedal, snarling, deathbeast variety); a sword or hand to hand will get her killed. It’s bigger than her, stronger than her, and it has a significant advantage at ripping people apart in close range.

Against something like that, she’s better off at range, with a crossbow or a gun. If she needs to use a melee weapon, then I’d suggest a spear; it isn’t a perfect solution, but she’s got a better chance of tearing something up with a spear at close range without being disemboweled, than she does with a sword.

Whatever she is using, she’s probably going to have to tailor her combat tactics to what she’s dealing with at the moment. If she’s facing off against werewolves, she’s going to need to switch out to a crossbow and spear, (and remember, Silver is a very soft metal, it’s why it was used for cutlery and not combat, so she’ll need a steel weapon AND a silver plated one, if that’s something she’s dealing with regularly) when she’s dealing with vampires, she’ll need to be carrying gear to deal with their weaknesses, whatever those happen to be.

-Starke