Projectile Weapons

Interesting question.
I suspect the force would be dissipated, given it does that for projectiles it should still do it for area effect energy.
I suspect it would also protect against heat and fire as it offers a barrier. But the gas permeable nature of them might not offer very much.
One for each GM to figure out I suspect! :slight_smile:

My take would be that the shield dissipates kinetic energy no matter how it originates. Kinetic force doesn’t just transmit through a vacuum, it moves by moving matter. In cases where it looks like the kinetic energy is an invisible wave of force- concussive blasts from explosions- what is actually happening is air molecules are carrying the energy. In effect, a concussive blast is no different to shrapnel- it’s just that the “pellets” are molecule-sized. The shield still deflects it and leaves the shielded trooper standing.

There’s a reason that the Baron Harkonnen states in the book that modern-style artillery is obsolete to the point of being nearly forgotten. If the kinetic blast wave from a shell could harm a shielded soldier, that wouldn’t be the case.

In this case as with many others I think the best rule of thumb for a GM is to think based on the setting, not the pseudoscience. If a given thing worked one way and not another, would the society of the Imperium still work as shown in the books? If the answer is No, then it doesn’t work that way.

Now, the question of heat is a good one- but it’s possible that a shield might also affect heat convection and only heat transfer through radiation can occur. That would mean shields insulate like heavy coats which also has interesting implications, especially on Arrakis. In effect, anyone wearing a shield is standing in a one-man greenhouse if that is true.

Another implication of the shield stopping an explosive blast wave is that the shield would, in theory, also stop any air molecule above a certain speed. So with an active personal shield someone could walk through a hurricane and not be blown down.

Maybe a seperate thread is needed for shield brainstorming. I might look to start one when it’s not well past midnight as I type.

My take on shields was that fast moving objects could not penetrate them ever. My curiosity is the repelling nature of them. And would a sufficient explosion create deadly heat or would the waves of heat be repelled?

The dissipation or reflection of energy makes sense but it does raise the question of what was happening in the movie. Explosive energy is dissipated but a solid punch can knock you off your feet?

The movie is great to watch but has several points where a Dune purist would look at what was going on and ask how that was supposed to work. It’s the most faithful adaption yet, but it still went with Rule of Cool when how things are supposed to work in the novels conflicted with what would look best on the big screen.

The issue with the punch is a valid one, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to Duncan’s escape in the Ornithopter. There’s a full scale battle happening on the ground below and yet a Lasgun is being fired? If it had been aiming up at the 'Thopter I could suspend disbelief…

It gets even better when you realise that the 'thopter is shielded (you see the red shift cover it when it blows up the drop ships) and they are firing a lasgun at it.
They are actively firing at a shielded target with a lasgun.

So yeah, Movie runs on rule of cool.
Which to be fair it generally hits.

To go back to the original question of the topic- how common are projectile weapons- I think that a key part of the answer lies in the name. “Maula Pistol”- according to the glossary at the end of Dune Maula means Slave, so the most common projectile weapon is named a “Slave Pistol”. (Maula can have other meanings in modern languages but Frank Herbert clearly states this is what it means in Dune’s era.)

This is very significant to me. There are two possible meanings. It could mean that Maula Pistols are meant for use against slaves- that is, to use in the suppression of revolts by the lower classes who won’t have access to shields. They would definitely be more effective than blades against unshielded troops and I can easily picture Household Troops having caches of Maula Pistols to be distributed if such an uprising happens.

The other potential meaning is that they’re used by slaves- the high velocity projectile weapon has, in this era, become the signature weapon of the lower classes. The technological knowledge and infrastructure needed to create projectile weapons is probably far less than that needed to make a personal shield generator and thus Maula Pistols could be turned out in illegal back-alley workshops. I imagine they’d be much less regulated by the authorities as well. If anything, the Nobility might be happy for the criminal gangs to be arming themselves with archaic weapons that are utterly useless against the ruling classes but whose existence means they are less likely to focus on melee fighting skills that might help against Household Troops.

This is my take on things, but I feel that it fits. In my version of the Imperium of Dune the seedy criminal underbelly has Maula Pistols as commonly as modern criminal gangs have firearms, but the Noble Houses only issue them to their troops to suppress popular revolts even if they’re present in the armouries. While they’ll all have been given basic training in their use these troops probably don’t practice with Maula Pistols much either, so being good enough to have a Focus in Maula Pistols is likely the mark of a character with a criminal origin.

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Maula pistol denotes it is produced by slaves, much like shivs are produced in prison. Use of materials at hand to create a deadly weapon.
For the Fremen it seems to be part of a rite of passage in the movie.

Another use of the mauls pistol as a weapon used by the lower class is that it can be concealed, and subtly pushed through a shield and fired. This would be a suicidal assassination since it would alert the house guards who would cut you down…

I’ll note that a personal shield would not be enabled all the time.
Dune notes several limits to them: limited charge, they restrict movement and hearing, and the shield also limits gas transfer so over time air within a shield becomes stale and uncomfortable if not deadly. All irrelevant for short combat, but for long term use, such as guard duty, these are problematic.

That said, if one manages to sneak up behind someone who has active shield, one might as well use a knife. Would be more silent than a projectile weapon if nothing else.

In regards of the topic in general, i think that projectile weapons are not in use in general within the Imperium. Obviously the concept exists, so perhaps they can be found in museums and hunting weapons or the like. But for warfare in general, no, because of the rules of War of Assassins and general reliance on shields (and when shields are not used, laser weapons seem to be the go-to weapon). And not just shields, but also to avoid collateral damage. Projectiles have tendency to be indiscriminate.
Prisoners, slaves, rebels, etc. probably do use projectile weapons because manufacturing such isn’t a too difficult task. It just doesn’t work in most worlds that have professional garrisons equipped with shields.
Arrakis and the limits it imposes on shields make such weapons practical for the Fremen.

I don’t think projectiles are used even for space warfare/anti-starship weapons in style of the new film. While cool imagery, there’s some fridge logic to it: Personal shields are noted as requiring velocity of 6-9 cm/s to be pierced. If that is universal limit, achieving that in combat seems implausible without advanced computer controlled systems, which are obviously a no-no in Duniverse. If it is not universal limit, the piercing velocity could be even slower. (Consider the task of landing a rocket like Falcon 9, how tricky it is. Piercing a shield in space combat is harder task because everything’s moving, not just the rocket.)
Exception would be if a spaceship shields protect only a part of a ship, and can be overwhelmed by sheer firepower. Monitor type warships are noted to mount heavy armor and shield protection, which seems redundant at a glance.
(Since laser reaction can affect the shooter, they don’t seem to be good options in space combat against shielded opponents.)
No comment on how exactly space warfare can be even conducted with these limits. But then, there’s little reason to do in the first place.

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In my mind space war will be forbidden by the Space Guild. They can transport ships for landing on a planet or atmospheric fights but will not allow fights in Their Domain.
Any trespassers will be alone and stuck on their planet for as long as the Space Guild wishes.

Off-hand, space combat is not forbidden by the Guild but no Guild ship may be endangered.
The very fact there are several types of warships implies space combat does occasionally happen within Duniverse during the Imperium (pre-Imperium, it certainly was a thing: the Battle of Corrin), though at least some are mostly orbit to ground attack ships (such as crushers, that land on top of enemies).
Were space combat completely forbidden, there would be no need for warships. (Seems unlikely one would utilize space ships for combat within atmosphere, physical limits makes this questionable venture.)