Tag Archives: star trek

Is there any semi-realistic way that a 5’1, 100lb girl with basic self defense skills and a strong knowledge of physics could disarm a grown man with a gun? He wouldn’t actually be pointing the gun at her and he doesn’t really want to shoot her (which she knows), and she would somehow surprise him and get the gun away from him. Is there any possible way she could do this?


Height, weight, gender? That’s all irrelevant. Someone with basic self defense skills can’t perform a gun disarm.

What the shooter wants also doesn’t really matter. Obviously, if they’re going to shoot someone anyway, then trying to grab their gun isn’t going to make things worse. But, if they weren’t planning to shoot someone, you’re going to force them to try anyway.

You can think of it like shoving your hand into a running garbage disposal, the gun itself is the dangerous thing, but in attempting the disarm you are the one engaging in the dangerous activity.

Short version; you have a character who brandished a gun to feel like a big man, and your character tried to play hero, getting people, and possibly herself, killed in the process.

To quote Spock from Star Trek, “what you want is irrelevant; what you’ve chosen is at hand.”

So, no. With basic training, the only thing she can do is make the situation worse.


Hello :) I asked this question of fuckyeahcharacterdevelopment, and they forwarded me to you, so I hope you can help me. Would you be able to point me in the direction of any resources regarding weapon recoil, specifically relating to laser weapons? I know they’re not a thing yet, but this is for a sci-fi novel in which they will be and i just wanted to know whether a laser gun might recoil like a normal one, particularly since said gun is also part of a robotic arm (much like Iron Man’s hands).

No. At least not unless the setting is getting creative with the term laser. Recoil is just Newtonian physics at work. Specifically Newton’s third law, that’s “for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.”

You have a chunk of metal you want to accelerate to hypersonic speeds, and an explosive package to do it. When you pull the trigger, the recoil you feel is the reaction to accelerating the mass of the bullet.

A laser is just a focused beam of light. Newton doesn’t apply (at least not to a degree that your character will be able to experience.) Just point and burn. You can experience this not happening personally with one of those impulse buy laser pointers… or a flashlight.

The only way you’d end up with recoil on a laser weapon is if it’s not actually a laser, or if there are some heavy moving parts in the weapon, which would be a serious design flaw.

Okay, a couple major caveat on the following. One, I’m not an expert on physics. Two, as you said, lasers don’t exist as anti-personnel weapons yet, so, some of this could be a little off:

If your characters are wanting to vaporize someone with lasers, the result is going to be messy. Just think of the last thing you exploded something in the microwave, and apply that to a person. (Star Trek’s Phasers use technobabble to avoid painting the walls in gore every time they shoot someone.)

Depending on the weapon’s power output, this could apply to all laser wounds. Ballistic firearms work by disrupting the victim with kinetic force; this is impossible with a laser weapon. Lasers can project radiation as heat, but they can’t create a physical impact, the beam itself is still just light. So the laser could, literally, cook the victim in their own juices. If the laser is heating the victim enough to cause steam to erupt (which is plausible) you could see massive tissue disruption from superheated organs exploding. Fallout and Fallout 2 used laser weapons as a cutting beam (with some of the in game text and the death animations), so that’s a slightly less gruesome option.

Finally, the biggest issue with lasers as weapons has been power. It takes a lot of juice to superheat an object using a laser. So, how your setting has solved that issue might affect a lot of this.

For future reference: any Roleplaying game that has an optional sci-fi component or a tech level system should have some info to get you started. GURPS Ultra Tech is a good quick source of information (it also has some information on wide array of future technology).

A lot of old sci-fi themed strategy games talked about the implications of advancing weapon technology. I want to say Alpha Centauri or the original X-Com was where I first came across the no-recoil bit about lasers.

If you can find it, White Wolf’s Trinity setting might have some useful ideas for you. Not about lasers, but, in creating a sci-fi setting in general.


I’ve started writing a sci-fi novel where a female soldier, after being critically injured, is “volunteered” to become a host for a colony of nano machines as part of a super-soldier project and AWOL’s afterward. How do you think a woman who wakes up with abilities comparable to Captain America and a “utility fog” would fight hand to hand? Is there anything you think the nanites should or shouldn’t be able to do, i.e. disintegration?

Disintegration is a fantastic suggestion. It ensures that the weapons platform that you just spent billions of dollars building can’t be reverse engineered or interrogated if it’s captured. Also, it makes a pretty solid failsafe, should it go rogue and turn against you… wait, you meant disintegrating other things, didn’t you? Well, this is awkward.

Let’s just get the combat training out of the way, your character will be trained in whatever they knew from the military. That can be whichever hand to hand set is most appropriate. Just remember, their combat training will have them using firearms, and this isn’t something they’ll just ignore.

So, here’s the thing. You, as the military, spend fifty billion dollars building a better soldier. Obviously, that kind of cost is not going to fly on a mass rollout, and the modern military is all about mass production, but, for the moment, your prototype cost a lot of money to research and build. You do not want to lose that money. You don’t want another faction simply scooping your prototype up off the street, hauling them off to the dark side of the moon, and taking them apart to figure out how they work. So, you’re going to need failsafe systems.

One of the easiest ones is GPS tracking, along with a communications package. This means, wherever your prototype goes, you can always call it up, and know exactly where it is and what it’s doing. For something like this to actually work it cannot be something the character can just switch off whenever they want. They’ve got a radio in their skeletal structure now, and like it or not, they can’t do anything about that.

More aggressive failsafes will probably be prudent. No matter how good your psychological screenings are, there’s always a chance you’re giving someone limitless power, and they’re just going to take off and start murdering their way through the government. That means you (still, as the military) need to be able to, at least, shut down their enhancements, if not outright kill them remotely.

This brings us back to the disintegration option. If your prototype is captured by some organization that wants to reverse engineer your technology, you need a way to stop them remotely. Also, if you’re doing clandestine things with your prototype, it’s always nice to have an “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re evidence melted? That’s preposterous!” out, if they’re captured.

I say “melt,” rather than “evaporated”, because, for the most part, setting nanites to break everything in their general vicinity, is believed to result in a grayish sludge, though they could be set to incinerate anything around them, so it’s all up to your preferences.

Okay, now, what else can they do? Nanotech is fairly fluid, at least in science fiction, so there isn’t really a shortage of options. The Crysis and Deus Ex (except Human Revolution) games both feature nanotech augmented player characters, so those might be worth looking at. Crysis 2 in particular does spend some time poking at the plausible applications for the technology, so if you have the time and aptitude for first person shooters, it’s probably worth looking at. Also, it will get you thinking about (relatively) realistic firefights with superpowers.

What superpowers your character gets are ultimately up to you. I’d actually recommend against areal dispersion, though. Nanites are just tiny robots, so they need a medium to traverse, that can be a human body, water, solid surfaces. But, throwing them in the air is more weapon-of-mass-destruction territory than a superpower.

Some fun possible superpowers are cloaking, limited shapeshifting (can’t change size, or gender), rapid healing, improved resistance to damage (armor or improved pain resistance), heightened reflexes, improved strength. You know, the usual super power set. Your character might be able to interact with nearby electronics if they infest them with their own nanocolony first. Though, that would mean they’re depleting their own reserve of nanites.

On the supervillian side of things, nanites could be used to control individuals, Star Trek’s Borg Collective and the 2009 GI Joe film both have examples of that. This isn’t a good option for a military with loyal disciplined soldiers, but, for a supervillian who needs stormtroopers for their volcanic fortress, it’s a possibility.

I mentioned psychological screening earlier, here’s the thing, unless the entire point of the experiment is only for rapid healing, then picking a critically injured soldier is probably a poor choice. The reason is fairly simple. You need to run extensive psychological screening for any kind of prototype technology, before integrating it. So you don’t stick it in someone that will immediately pull a Robocop 2. Any traumatic injury runs the risk of psychologically destabilizing the patient. I don’t mean they go insane, but things like depression, anger, obsessive tendencies, hell, even PTSD are all things you DO NOT WANT, when you’re trying to test out some new high end cybernetics. If these do emerge, you’re going to be left asking if it was the result of the injury or if it was the result of the implants.

The major exception is if her nanotech infusion was only to speed her healing. Obviously, this is wandering off the entire super soldier concept, but, then the only thing she’d gain would be the ability to heal from egregious injuries (possibly including death) quickly. In a situation like that, you might not need anything beyond the infusion. Including failsafes. To be honest, if that’s your character’s only superpower, that’s probably enough, provided they’re creative. Also, I find it stresses credibility a little that the military would pick someone for this treatment, if there was the slightest risk of them just taking off after treatment.