World Building: Weapons Research


One of the best parts about inventing a new world, particularly a world on the edge of revolution, is having the chance to develop the military operations and the weapons that go along with it. I’m not typically interested in weapons (unless we’re talking swords), so this may come as a surprise. But, writing in the fantasy and steampunk worlds means I get to engineer and research all sorts of things. This time, I’m putting my imagination to work for a unique group of warriors who fight from the sky.

Given that my main character is a member of an elite air force group called Airmen (composed of Aviators and one Aviatrix) who each bear his or her own set of steampunk-styled removable wings, they have some unique needs. This group fights with bows and arrows. But since a quiver won’t fit over their shoulders with arrows at ready right behind their draw arm shoulder, I had to do some uniform engineering. Instead, each jacket has a quiver built into the opposite forearm where arrows can be stored. And, to increase their effectiveness, I’ve doubled the number of arrows they can carry by making the arrows store in a collapsed state. When it’s drawn from the quiver, the Aviator gives it a flick and it extends to its full length and locks into place with a little metallic pin. The quivers are also specially engineered to hold the arrows in place, so they don’t tip or fall out as the flier moves or falls.

Research is Key
Because I’ve never shot a bow and arrow and know nothing about such things, I’ve been doing a lot of research into how one picks a bow and how long arrows are supposed to be. This includes clicking around on Google and also interviewing my dad who knows all the things about hunting with a bow and arrow and guns.

And that leads me to my next point. Guns. In the steampunk genre, guns and gunpowder are fair game for weaponry. The thing I have to figure out (beyond researching guns since I know little about them as well) is, do I want to use them in my story? I tend to shy away from more modern items in my writing. I hate writing about mobile phones, for example, in a story set in the present day. Guns teeter on the precipice of this for me. When I next have an in-depth conversation with my dad about guns in the 19th century, I’ll have more information to go one and can make my decision about whether to include guns in the arsenal of some of my characters.

Putting it all Together
Once the research is complete, I’ll have a clear idea of how militaristic actions occur in my world. Tactics and battles will vary depending on the type and range of the weapons the character have at their disposal. Weapons will also affect the types of wounds and how deadly a battle can be. It also will determine the effectiveness of the Aviators who are battling from the air. If they are facing guns, they may be in more danger in the air than on the ground.

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4 thoughts on “World Building: Weapons Research

  1. Definitely giving me something to consider. There are so many interesting things to think about when world building, at this rate I’ll never make it to writing the story, I’ll just spend the rest of my life getting distracted by ancient battle tactics and healing methods.

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