What’s a gun?
OK, back up. We know what a gun is. A slugthrower. Chemical combustion or explosive powered projectile delivery vehicle.
Or is it?
In GURPS, a gun is a kinetic energy delivery vehicle. Since Fourth Edition did away with blowthrough – a mechanic where massive damage would overpenetrate and be lost – more energy is more damage is more dead foes. See an old but interesting discussion thread here.
The mechanics of GURPS damage, their basis in a formula based on the square root of kinetic energy, divided by some factor related to caliber . . . all based in solid approximations of real-world physics.
But . . .
What about in TV and movies?
Well, there’s TVTropes. Wow. That’s a lot of tropes. And most of them? Most of them don’t make much physical sense. In fact, one of my hidden moments of infamy is here in GURPS’ TVTropes listing:
- Arbitrary Gun Power: One of the most systematic aversions possible. The closest anyone’s been able to come to divining the formula used by the authors goes on for pages.
Hey! That’s me!
Yes. In TV and many movies, a gun is a symbol and part of a character’s description. It tells you about the person. In practice, though? It may or may not kill you, depending on the needs of the plot. Full auto AK-47
might tell you one thing. Belt-fed
tells you something else. So might a tricked out .22LR
. Any of those will either kill you dead or miss you completely, might punch through the frontal armor of an M1A2
or ricochet harmlessly off of a cell phone in you pocket. They might hit you right in the chest and you’re up and at ’em despite being wounded, or ping you in the shoulder and kill you dead. The key
bit isn’t the joules of energy, or the caliber, or the wounding modifier . . . it’s just a bit of characterization, that might also be used to make a plot point through violence, justified or not, mindful or mindless.
This actually occurred to me before I looked at the FATE Kickstarter
draft. Actually, I still haven’t read it (but I will).
But once I had the thought of guns as merely characterization devices and plot points, I figured that FATE would handle it in a similar way. I still don’t know if it does . . . but since the draft doesn’t have a chapter on equipment in the Table of Contents at all (or at least, as such), I’m going to anticipate being (a) right, and (b) satisfied.
Sometimes a gun is hot lead and cold death. But sometimes, it’s a fashion statement, or a nametag that says “Hello . . . My Name Is Professional Warrior.”
Sometimes that’s all that’s important.