Related to the earlier anon post on subduing a person to end a fight– what about a tranquilizer gun (or an arrow dipped in some sort of tranquilizer if it’s in a non-gun universe)? Are there problems attached to tranquilizers that would prevent the character from using them?

Not wanting to accidentally kill the person you’re trying to tranq tops the list. I know we’ve talked about this before, but tranq guns, as they’re usually presented in media are a fiction. They don’t work that way, and misuse can result in death.

Fair warning ahead of time: medicine is not my strong suit. There are a lot of medical professionals in my family, so I have what I’ve picked up over the years, and the training I got in scouts, but neither of us have actually trained in medicine beyond first aid and CPR.

To effectively tranquilize someone, you need to know their weight, metabolism and tolerance to the drug. You can estimate the weight, but the metabolism and tolerance aren’t things you can predict.

Fail to dose someone enough, and they’ll be more pissed off, and still able to hurt someone, because pissed off and drunk is exactly what the situation called for. Dose someone with too much, and they’re dead. No, really, overdosing with a tranquilizer will kill, every time.

Also, there’s no one-size-fits-all, tranq. Allergies and specific immunities are also a real consideration. If there’s a drug, someone out there is allergic to it, and your “non-lethal” approach just ended with them going into anaphylactic shock and dying. At the same time, for most drugs (not just sedatives) there are people out there with fluke immunities. Discovering that an entire family of painkillers doesn’t affect you after an auto accident sucks, trust me. But, it’s nothing compared to getting all your hostages killed because someone won the biological lottery and nobody noticed.

Also, tranqs take awhile to kick in. Up to half an hour, with some drugs. If you’re animal control, and dealing with a bear wandering the neighborhood, that’s fine. Smokey can try to walk it off and end up snoozing on some kid’s trampoline, so long as you can keep him away from people, he’s not going to hurt anyone. But when you’re trying to defuse a situation, you can’t shoot someone and then ask, “could you please wait ten to fifteen minutes for the drugs to kick in?”


EDIT: Somehow I missed this when I was reading the question the first four or five times. Getting shot with an arrow is the opposite of non-lethal. That’s like asking if there’s a non-lethal way to use buckshot on someone.

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