• Before making a single edit, Tropedia EXPECTS our site policy and manual of style to be followed. Failure to do so may result in deletion of contributions and blocks of users who refuse to learn to do so. Our policies can be reviewed here.
  • All images MUST now have proper attribution, those who neglect to assign at least the "fair use" licensing to an image may have it deleted. All new pages should use the preloadable templates feature on the edit page to add the appropriate basic page markup. Pages that don't do this will be subject to deletion, with or without explanation.
  • All new trope pages will be made with the "Trope Workshop" found on the "Troper Tools" menu and worked on until they have at least three examples. The Trope workshop specific templates can then be removed and it will be regarded as a regular trope page after being moved to the Main namespace. THIS SHOULD BE WORKING NOW, REPORT ANY ISSUES TO Janna2000, SelfCloak or RRabbit42. DON'T MAKE PAGES MANUALLY UNLESS A TEMPLATE IS BROKEN, AND REPORT IT THAT IS THE CASE. PAGES WILL BE DELETED OTHERWISE IF THEY ARE MISSING BASIC MARKUP.


WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

In the interest of keeping a more traditional medieval setting, many authors decide not to use guns and other explosives in their works. Sometimes reasons are given for this, usually not, despite the fact that in reality gunpowder and derivative inventions existed for most of the medieval ages. This shows up most often in fantasy (hence the name), but can appear in any genre.

Expect lots of theories about technology suppression and Fan Wank over why. If guns are present, but nerfed — whether for Gameplay reasons or Rule of Cool — it's Guns Are Worthless.

Something to note, though, is that this primarily applies to fantasy set in the typical medieval-ish setting, with castles, swords, knights and so on. Urban Fantasy tends to have no problem mixing guns and vampires, witches, wizards, etc., since this form of Fantasy tends to use the modern world as we know it. The same goes for Science Fantasy, where the intent is to Mix and Match things like laser guns and spells.

See the Analysis page for theories on why this trope is so prevalent.

Examples of Fantasy Gun Control include:

Subversions and aversions only, otherwise we'd have every fantasy book in existence here

Anime and Manga

  • Gunpowder exists in the Berserk universe, and at least two characters use steampunk-style cannons: Guts himself, who has one to replace his left arm, and the demonic Grunbeld, who has one built into his shield. Nethertheless, while conventional gunpowder weapons such as cannons are used for attack and defense in siege warfare, ordinary soldiers and peasants are never seen with guns and rarely seen with other ranged weapons. Giving background characters the ability to defend themselves at a distance would massively detract from the themes of the series.
    • There's also a long stretch in history where longbows were many times more effective than guns. Cannons, however, overcame other methods of siege warfare pretty early on, and were not entirely without use against certain military tactics. If nothing else, they were loud and intimidating. Also, a cannon would take out heavy cavalry soldiers far more efficiently than a gun would.
  • The Slayers introduced gunpowder-based weapons as the arsenal of Jillas, a humanoid fox minion of the third season's Big Bad Valgaav. He has access to guns, bombs, and even built a primitive tank.
    • This was given a certain justification in that Jillas came from a region with less magic; without magic, people had to come up with other ways to do things — and "other ways" include building a ballistic missile as powerful as a Dragon Slave.
    • In REVOLUTION, it's revealed that Seyruun has at least adopted cannons, and its hinted they're designed by Jillas.
  • Averted in Princess Mononoke, where the hand cannons and arquebuses used Lady Eboshi and her men are central to the story.
  • Averted in One Piece. Pirate crews typically have gunmen along with swordsmen, and neither are shown to be any less effective than the other. The only exception is the Straw Hat Pirates - the ranger of their team, Usopp, uses a slingshot instead, as it lets him use Abnormal Ammo.
  • Inuyasha is fully aware of the time period it is set in, where firearms are growing in popularity but haven't quite reached Japan yet. So when one of the Band of Seven has guns, they're just handwaved as being imported. Of course, he gets turned into a tank with missiles before the arc is over.
  • Guns make an appearance in Zero no Tsukaima on occasion being essentially an equalizer between nobels who use magic and plebs who cannot; though only a few well trained musketeers are ever seen using them. Also a Vietnam era rocket launcher and a WWII era Zero fighter aircraft appear in the first season. Being from Earth the natives don't know how they work. Colbert learns how to make gasoline for the plane and the fact that the Zero fighter still has ammunition in the second season suggest SOMEONE learned to make bullets. A Howitzer appears in season 3.
  • In Naruto, one of Pain's paths is basically a bio-mechanical weapon that can fire missiles.
    • The normal Word of God prohibitions on guns is ignored in The Movies, when there are kunai turrets, artillery, muskets, and kunai machine guns. Also, the characters recognize the existence of guns.

Comic Books

  • The Grimjack comic includes firearms ... but since the city of Cynosure exists in multiple dimensions, the natural laws of any given neighbourhood may not let them work.
  • Similar to the Amber example below, guns are simply impractical in Necrophim because gunpowder spontaneously explodes when brought near a furnace. In prog 1665, one of Astaroth's lieutenants recruits five real-life firearms engineers to develops guns that will function correctly in Hell.
  • Artesia is set in a fantasy world that looks to be at about 15th-century European technology levels. They have bombards, although they have not been seen on-page as of yet.
  • Both justified and subverted in Fables. Since the Empire coexists with modern-day Earth, the Adversary could provide his army with modern firearms. He chooses not to, because he fears that introducing guns to commoners might lead to rebellion. The exiled Fables of Fabletown have no such inhibitions towards modern arms technology, which is one of the main reasons they win the war against the Empire.


  • Inverted in the 1977 animated film Wizards, where Guns vs. Magic is the plot.
  • In Krull, the evil mooks have laser rifles.


  • The Lone Wolf series averts this with the Darklords' ironclad warships armed with cannons and the "primitive" Dwarven Bor Muskets. In this series, guns are NOT worthless; Lone Wolf will either die or face a chance of dying instantly if an enemy has one of these muskets. When the muskets are first seen in Book 5, the friendly dwarves who have them manage to drive off a flock of Kraan, flying beasts that always give Lone Wolf a good fight in hand-to-hand combat. Oddly enough, they are always referred to as "primitive"; nothing else (except the aforementioned ironclads) seems to be more advanced in Magnamund. Certainly nothing from Sommerlund.


  • One of the best examples of this is Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover novels, where magic makes ranged weapons (and weapons of mass destruction) possible, but everyone (in the aftermath of several very destructive wars) has agreed not to use it like that, because it makes war just too damned lethal.
  • There was a long-standing loony theory that Matrim Cauthon in Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time would invent guns at some point; this was recently confirmed when, in the 11th book, he used bombs against the Seanchan, and now he and Aludra are working on designing a cannon. Interestingly, a significant portion of the fanbase was seriously averse to the idea of guns, with some even saying that firearms would significantly lessen their enjoyment of the series. It has also been suggested that one of the reasons the Illuminators are so secretive is because they know the potential of gunpowder, and don't want it to be used as a weapon. However, given the premise of the series, it's possible that guns have been invented and forgotten hundreds of times.
    • There's also the fact that for hundreds of years in the current Age female Channelers have used distance attacks with the One Power. Aes Sedai are forbidden to use the Power as a weapon, true, but that doesn't stop most other groups of female channelers in the world, or Aes Sedai acting in self-defense or against Shadowspawn, which is the exception to the rule. Also Rand's Asha'man practice using the Power as a weapon, and firing it at targets from a distance, as part of their intense training. And the Power is arguably more destructive than any gun, especially when used by someone who's very strong and skilled.
  • The Dark Tower proves a good fantasy world can work with guns. Just replace Knight in Shining Armor in military aristocracy with The Gunslinger and keep a straight face. Then again, The Dark Tower isn't your run-of-the-mill fantasy.
    • It's actually more or less stated that the gunslingers are direct descendants of not just your standard fantasy knight equivalents, but All-World's equivalent of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. The metal in Roland's guns is supposedly from Arthur Eld's melted-down sword. That makes it easy to "keep a straight face."
    • Also All-World, Roland world, was once a futuristic world not that different from ours, but there was some type of apocalyptic war went down and now it's "After the End" besides other guns do show up from time it's just not many are left any more, and of those not many work (thought some new ones do come in from other levels of tower from time to time.)
      • Guns are rare simply because no one knows how to make or fix anything complex. The world has moved on.
    • Also averted in another, related, Stephen King novel, The Eyes of the Dragon. The mediaeval-style kingdom of Delain has gunpowder and cannon, though they are high-tech enough to be rare, but King Roland killed the eponymous dragon with a bow and arrow, which was was a key point in the climax of the book.
  • A science fiction version of this in the early Gor series books. The author (John Norman) wanted the characters using primitive weapons only, so he had the alien Priest-Kings prohibit the inhabitants of the planet Gor from possessing firearms. Anyone who violated the rule suffered the "Flame Death" (inflicted Spontaneous Combustion). In a later book, their enemies, the Kurii, "got around this" by giving their human collaborators powerful air rifles. In real history, such weapons were used by Austrian troops in the Napoleonic Wars, and Lewis & Clark took one on their expedition across North America. The major advantage in the Kurii's case was that the air rifles had greater range and accuracy than the common bows and crossbows the Priest Kings permitted, but unlike gunpowder weapons were nearly silent. Which actually was the main reason the Austrians and Lewis & Clark used them- the early 19th Century version of a suppressed weapon.
  • There's an aversion in the first of the Kai Lung series of stories, where a bandit is shown armed with a handgun as a way of calling attention to the stories being about an extremely fictionalized Ancient China.
  • In Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series, the heroes, who are all modern-day college students, introduce gunpowder technology to the fantasy world they've been teleported to. This prompts the natives to develop a Magitek version involving superheated steam and a spell that prevents it from expanding until the proper conditions are introduced by the pull of a trigger.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones's The Dalemark Quartet, guns exist, but they're rare and expensive because few craftsmen have the skill to make them (the state of the art is roughly equivalent to our 18th century). South Dalemark armour is specifically designed with "exaggerated curves" to deflect bullets.
  • L. E. Modesitt's Recluce series. Guns do work and some people know how to make them, but they're considered impractical because chaos mages can cause gunpowder to ignite from a distance, killing the would-be gunslinger. This is subverted both early on and late in the timeline. The "angels" from another universe in Fall of Angels possess slug-throwers, rifles, and lasers, but those run out of ammo, energy, or break. In the later books, Hamor perfects a manufacturing process that allows bullets and cannon shell to be virtually immune to chaos magic. Other modern weapons make their appearance: anti-personnel mines, rocket guns, and even Frickin' Laser Beams on a Kill Sat when sunlight focused by a lens (and Order) carried on a hot air balloon destroys Fairhaven
    • The Corean Chronicles, on the other hand, did feature firearms. The prequel trilogy stated that the Cursors tried to ban all rifles used by their subjects other than one standardized caliber - which didn't have the stopping power needed to hurt a Cursor unless the shooter was very lucky. This was to prevent the lower classes from developing large caliber rifles, and any kind of cannon, so that they couldn't make a serious effort at rebelling. This effort fell apart shortly before their empire did (for totally unrelated reasons).
  • In the Coldfire Trilogy, guns exist but generally are not used, as the psychological impact of the fae (which alters the real world based on the subconscious thoughts and fears of people — sort of, see its page for a better explanation) mean they have a nasty habit of not working properly, they're rarely used in combat.
  • The Monarchies of God pentalogy avoids this one, with primitive guns and swords coexisting seamlessly. The guns are only able to be fired twice a minute (three times if the soldier is particularly well trained) and have a limited range, so arrows of various sorts are still useful, and traditional cavalry and infantry are the bulk of forces.
  • Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen does not have guns, but it does have dynamite-like munitions. These are quite nasty: In Reaper's Gale, a few Malazan soldiers armed with munitions manage to fight off and seriously injure several dragons, including Silchas Ruin, a Badass Ascendant.
    • These munitions are still tightly controlled since only the Morath warrior clans are able to manufacture them on a large scale and are picky on who they trade them to. When a Malazan army recruits an alchemist to make their own versions, the final products are very effective but are essentially biological and chemical weapons rather than pure explosives.
    • The Morath also keep the most powerful versions for their own use. While the standard munitions are extremely lethal, when an army's sappers get their hands on some stolen advanced munitions, they end up blowing an opposing army to smithereens in the opening action of a battle with a single salvo. It's no wonder that the Morath keep such tight control over these weapons.
  • In Roger Zelazny's Book of Amber series; gunpowder just doesn't work in Amber because the laws of physics are different there. And then subverted quite brutally in The Guns Of Avalon, when Corwin discovers a substance in a nearby Shadow world that can combust in Amber — and immediately brings mass quantities of the powder to Earth and has it made into ammunition, arming his troops with modern automatic weapons.
  • Played with in one of the Dragaera books. It is revealed in Orca that, long ago, soldiers used weapons along the lines of magical flintlocks — they look like sticks, are one-shot, and are just as likely to amputate the fingers of the user as kill the enemy. Later, at the time of the Khaavren series, "flashstones" are used, which are sort of like a combination grenade/gun; they only allow two shots at best, and blow anyone hit by them to pieces. Thanks to advances in Magitek, though, by the time of the Taltos series, there is no need for anything like this, as you can simply draw on the Orb's power to attack an enemy.
    • In a book set later in the series' timeline it's mentioned that flashstones were discontinued after a sorcerer developed a counterspell that could remote detonate an opponent's stone (usually with fatal consequences for the opponent). This counterspell was area effect, and in its first public casting was applied to the entire opposing side at once. Ouch.
    • The absence of guns is probably more a case of Brust's personal fondness for swashbuckling over shoot-em-ups. Note that it's not just firearms that are excluded; even archery is apparently not much practiced in the Dragaeran Empire, as Vlad doesn't even recognize that the bows ("javelin-throwers") wielded against his unit in Dragon are weapons until they're explained to him. The fact nobody can believe Vlad could bag wild game without sorcery suggests that arrows aren't used in hunting either.
  • Averted in Barbara Hambly's The Windrose Chronicles. Handguns are not uncommon, and anyone expecting to go up against wizards with one has magic-nullifying runes carved on theirs, so it doesn't end up exploding in their hand.
  • In the Harry Potter series of books, guns exist in the Muggle world; for example, the Muggle news claims escaped criminal Sirius is carrying one (he really has a wand, of course). While the Ministry of Magic has a department to study Muggle artifacts, no wizard (or even squib) is ever seen using or even carrying a gun. This may have something to do with it's being set in 1990s Britain, where guns are far from commonplace even amongst Muggles.
    • And, indeed, wizards don't even appear to know what guns are, in spite of the many wars that one must assume they noticed. The Daily Prophet has to explain them as "a kind of metal wand that muggles use to kill each other." Kingsley Shacklebolt also makes a comment to Arthur Weasley, incorrectly referring to them as "firelegs" instead of "firearms," implying that they're completely off the ordinary wizards' radar.
    • The Death Eaters despise Muggles, it therefore follows they'd not consider Muggle technology remotely worth using. The "good guy" wizards, though they do kill, aren't seen using Avada Kedavra; combined with the lack of interest in Muggle technology among most wizards in general it figures they wouldn't be interested in firearms.
  • Subverted heavily in Everworld. 5 modern teenagers find themselves in an Alternate Universe full of ancient gods and medieval technology. There are several references throughout the books to situations where artillery or handguns would be very useful.At one point, they trade a modern chemistry textbook to the Coo-Hatch in exchange for attaching their metal that can cut through anything to one of the main characters swiss army knife. The Coo-Hatch use the technology to build a primitive cannon, which is used at the battle of Mount Olympus. And of course, later in the series, Senna uses her powers to bring in a small, heavily-armed group of followers from our universe, and they conquer several cities and kill a minor god, thus threatening all of Everworld.
  • Garth Nix's Abhorsen trilogy features a dichotomy between the magical Old Kingdom and the modern (early 20th century) world, Ancelstierre, separated by a wall. The closer one gets to the wall, the more modern technology falls apart — machine-made paper crumbles, and firearms stop working. However, the border guards use guns to blow away zombie baddies who try to cross into the modern world from the Old Kingdom. Provided the wind doesn't blow from the north. Apparently whatever anti-technology aura the Old Kingdom possesses is blown around by the wind.
  • David Weber's Bahzell series doesn't have guns, until a short novella has Wencit use magic to summon help from beyond. Bringing a pair of US Army troops in a Stryker gives people who see it ideas. And averted hard in his Safehold series where culturally the whole planet is in stasis, but cannons of varying sizes are commonplace, and then the spirit of a long dead Interstellar naval officer arrives in a cyborg body and teaches them about rifling.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has no guns, although they the Westerosi do seem to have invented a kind of ersatz napalm in the form of wildfire.
  • In Robert Lynn Asprin's Myth Adventures series has dimension-hopping, high technology, and plenty of warfare, but no guns. The stereotypical mobsters carry crossbows in their violin cases, and others use magical wands. There are references to firearms, but for "demons" it's not a best option: in a random dimension one clearly has better chances to get either crude bolts or Ley Line than ammo for the specific gun.
  • Averted in the Heirs of Alexandria books by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and others. They're set in an alternate 1500s, and guns are certainly present, and about as effective as they were in our 1500s.
  • David Drake and Eric Flint avert it again in their Belisarius series, where the eponymous general knows of guns and actively tries to arm his troops with them. But attempts to produce them en masse when your industrial base is basically just a bunch of haughty Byzantine artisans (who do not know and do not want to know anything about, say, standardization) usually give interesting results. Pistols and rifles yes but both sides use cannon, rockets and grenades aplenty.
  • Averted in Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells. Guns exist side-by-side with knights, swordplay, and magic (including that of the eponymous necromancer). The prequel, "The Element of Fire," has a quasi-Elizabethan setting, and the protagonist uses a wheel-lock gun in the first chapter.
  • Averted in the Mistborn series, as you find out in the third book that gunpowder does exist, but the Lord Ruler suppressed knowledge of it, since it could allow for the creation of large rebellious armies that needed little-to-no training.
    • It is then super-averted in the Alloy of Law, which is a fantasy equivalent of the wild west: aluminum guns and bullets that can't be affected by magic, speciality guns with entirely internal triggers and safeties that can only work for certain types of mistlings, new combat counters for mistlings that have arisen in the gun age, and even speciality anti-mistling bullets that exploit those anti-gun counters.
  • Averted in The Last Unicorn where guns are mentioned though not used. The book itself is a bit of of an Anachronism Stew, because John Henry is mentioned as well.
  • Literal Fantasy Gun Control is in Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen by H. Beam Piper. The priests of Styphon control the knowledge and production of "fireseed" (aka, gunpowder) to their political and economic advantage: supply fireseed to one side in a war and not the other, and the war is effectively over, so they have exercise something between extreme influence and out-right control of the entire world. Unfortunately for them, Calvin Morrison accidentally hitch-hikes from our world to theirs due to a ParaTime accident, and has full knowledge of the formula and method of production of a more powerful form than Styphon's House.
  • In the alternate Earth of The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, mundane firearms (called "mechanicals", to distinguish them from wands) do exist, but in a far more primitive state. Justified in that wild elemental spirits are evidently attracted to explosives, and would cause the weapon to blow up if a gun used powder of greater than medieval-era purity.
  • Averted in various "fantasy-of-manners" series, which include firearms as a natural part of their post-Renaissance motif.
  • Averted in The Book of the New Sun, which, granted, is Science Fantasy rather than fantasy. Handguns coexist with both swords and futuristic energy weapons.
  • Averted in The Tears of Artamon by Sarah Ash, where gun are used quite liberally by the people of Tielen, which allows then to conquer the rest of the world, which does have Fantasy Gun Control.
  • Averted in The Queen's Thief series. While the countries in the series are Fantasy Counterpart Culture versions of Ancient Greece and Persia, the setting has some late Medieval elements, including flintlock weapons.
    • They are, however, heavily controlled. Attolia, for example, has some handguns on hand for use by the Royal Guard, but no one has an assigned handgun; when the situation calls for a gun, the soldiers report to the armory and collect the weapon, then turn it in when they go off duty.
  • Eventually averted in Matt Stover's The Acts of Caine.
  • Averted, and then re-established in the Discworld book Men At Arms. A gun is invented in Ankh-Morpork, and it takes control of whoever wields it and turns them into unstoppable killers. When the arcane thing is finally defeated, it is buried forever, pretty much because it's too evil.
    • That said, they do have black powder, cannons, what have you. The issue appears to be mainly that when they're as portable as the "gonne", the amount of magic in the air even in mundane parts of the Disc makes the little voice in your head telling you how powerful this tiny killing machine makes you move into the weapon itself.
      • The "gonne" itself practices Fantasy Gun Control as it insists that no copies should be made and kills an artisan who tries to duplicate it.
      • Note that only the Agatean Empire has cannons, and it has little contact with the other Discworld countries. Also, its cannons are still on an early stage, exploding as often as not.
  • In the Liavek books, guns exist, but it's possible to use magic to keep them from working within an enclosed space.
  • A gun is one of the undead magician Skulduggery Pleasant's favourite weapons.
  • Guns and explosives exist in the universe of The Soldier Son trilogy. In this universe, iron kills magic, making the Gernians' guns a very effective weapon against the plainsman mages.
  • Last Dragon has the soldiers of Proliux using arquebuses in their conquest of the north.
  • In John Ringo's Council Wars series, Mother, the AI that runs Earth, actively suppresses energy releases over a certain low threshold (except in very specified circumstances). Before the war breaks out this was just a matter of public safety, and no one really cared because their Clarkes Law tech rendered such limits irrelevant. Following the outbreak of war, and the resulting loss of the supertech to most of the population, it means that not only can they not use firearms, they can't use most forms of internal combustion engines or power production either.
  • Averted in Septimus Heap, where a gun made out of silver plays a major role in the first and third book.
  • In the first two books of Arcia Chronicles, guns and gunpowder raise no eyebrows (even though they are still too expensive for everyone but the nobles), but after the Time Skip, The Church finds a magic to remotely detonate all gunpowder in the vicinity, putting this trope into full effect.

Tabletop Games

  • Played with in Exalted. There's a magical gunpowder equivalent which is used in guns... But there's no projectile. The "guns" just shoot a stream of fire like a miniature flamethrower. The in-canon explanation is that the guns originated during the Primordial War, when the tech-advancement of the Solars would've gone from crossbows to lasers in only a few years.
    • In First Edition, there's even a martial art dedicated to the use of these weapons. Second Edition has two. This means you could be badass super-ninja dual-wielding flamethrower-pistols. This is standard fare for Exalted.
      • And let's not forget the BFG of the setting, a shoulder-mounted version that can fire molten-hot pearls covered in magical napalm.
    • Actual standard projectile handguns were introduced recently in the form of "prayer pieces." In typical Exalted fashion, they are made of gold and fire golden bullets that are propelled by the faith generated from miniature shrines engraved on the barrel.
    • A rather clear case of Guns Are Worthless, too. Whatever assorted "firearms" of the setting can do, arrows can do just as good or better, especially considering there are arrow-tips with almost every projectile type aviable for guns. And in hands of namesake Exalted, soon enough toothbrush and nuclear bomb become equally deadly.
  • Aversion: The furry Tabletop Game Ironclaw, which features a Renaissance-era technology level, features guns.
    • However it should be noted in this case they're portrayed pretty realistically for the time. They have a chance to not work, or worse, they're expensive and have a very long reload time, can't work well in rain, etc. On the other hand they do twice as much damage.
  • Averted in Warhammer: The Empire and the Dwarfs (especially the Dwarfs) make extensive use of handguns, pistols, cannons, mortars, volley guns, and recently, rockets. Oh, and steam-powered tanks and helicopters. Let's not forget the Skaven, who wield sniper rifles, flamethrowers, Gatling Ratling guns, laser cannons and... a nuke. A lot of which hilariously backfires. However the Knights of Bretonnia have Fantasy Gun Control in their own kingdom. The whole nobility = lancing people down in 5th edition, in 6th seems to just be pique. In fact, they have Fantasy Gun Control in Bretonnia so hard some knights have magical protection from guns just because they hate them so much.
  • The Mage Knight miniatures game had a whole faction of gun-toting Dwarves & Humans, specifically as a counter to the setting's technomages. They had everything from flintlocks and arquebus to chain guns and personal cannons.
  • The Iron Kingdoms setting makes use of guns for nearly every faction in the Warmachine game.
  • The makers of Magic: The Gathering have stated this trope explicitly a number of times, but apparently muskets do exist in some planes. Also, the Goblin Sharpshooter appears to be using some sort of gatling gun. And sometimes they go straight to magic ray guns. Guns, nothing. This game has rocket launchers.
    • A very straightforward practical application of this trope, invoked by the publisher. Some time ago Magic used to have power armors and laser-armed spaceships on top of everything abovesaid (which if you check up editions is rather old, too). Nowadays, however, they announced they'd like to keep game's flavor a lot more "fantasy'sh", therefore firearms are remarkably absent from all the recent Magic sets.
      • This became one of the founding pillars of the style of Scars of Mirrodin, where combining with the Machine-ideology of Phyrexia on a wholly metallic plane obviously had the implication that high-tech robots would be running amok, the designers specifically said that while things like armor, gears, levers and pistons can appear, they are to be used so that they are in no way mechanically sound, and must appear as though they're being powered by magic. The result is that most of the inhabitants had high-tech apparatuses used solely to swing around giant blades, and very little way of guns appear.
  • In Dungeons and Dragons itself the Dungeon Master's Guide provides rules for certain medieval, modern and even futuristic firearms and explosives if they are to be included in the setting. Normally they are highly expensive or not buyable at all, however. 2nd edition AD&D had the arquebus (an early European musket) available for players to use at the DM's discretion. The DMG from the 3rd and 3.5 editions give some rules for "Renaissance" gunpowder weapons, which seem decent. And expensive. And modern assault rifles, and even laser/antimatter rifles.
    • The Forgotten Realms explicitly states that gunpowder does not work due to the divine will of Gond, god of invention and creativity. Instead, Gond allows an alchemical substitute called "smokepowder" to exist in the hands of his church, so that its use is easily controlled. There's also Thayan variant — very clumsy bombards using some liquid propellant, not scalable down to portable guns. Also, pneumatic needle guns were mentioned as a typical trick of drow commoners (The Drow of the Underdark): it's easier to conceal than a crossbow.
    • R.A.Salvatore's novels, particularly Drizzt series, only involved guns and explosives of the non-magical type (usually invented by priests of Gond, a god of creativity and knowledge) as a bad thing — too much power for too little effort [1]. To the extent that when Cadderly, central character of Salvatore's Cleric Quintet, invented a crossbow with an exploding bolt, he was horrified himself. When a villain ended up with it, he became wracked with guilt and convinced it must be destroyed for the good of the world. Particularly jarring as another character points out that said villain is a wizard capable of shooting explosive fireballs from his hands, and that Cadderly's crossbow was terribly weak in comparison. It didn't shut him up, though.
      • In this universe, smokepowder is just as dangerous to the user as to the target. "One in ten" is a common saying, meaning that one out of every ten uses of a smokepowder gun will end up blowing up on the user.
      • In Waterdeep smokepowder is illegal, and Khelben (Waterdeep's highest-level wizard, and a member of the city's ruling oligarchy) eliminates every pinch he can find, along with those who smuggled it in.
        • Stories in anthologies touching the subject only prove that in a high-magical world explosives are rarely worth the trouble and risk when a foe causes them to go off at the most inconvenient moment. In Smoke Powder And Mirrors by Jeff Grubb Khelben himself stands next to exploding barrels of smokepowder and isn't even singed or disheveled. And a stupid wizard-slaying conspiracy would do just as "well" with drow-style poisoned quarrels to begin with. In another Waterdhavian story one of the contraband-hunting characters receives a point-blank blunderbuss shot in the face. He recovers from its flash and thunder in as much time as it takes to say "Protection from Normal Missiles".
    • Eberron plays this trope straight. Their justification is that a wand of magic missile or an enchanted crossbow is so common (and far safer and effective in the hands of a conscript) that no one ever really bothered to make guns.
    • Spelljammer has Giff — a race of mercenary-minded humanoid hippopotami. They love firearms, to the point of making the big cannon a structural element of a ship ("Great Bombard"), with its muzzle useable as a ram and using smokepowder as a currency. Others usually avoid firearms, because fire is unusable in phlogiston, powder magazines are dangerous if hit and smokepowder isn't as cheap as catapult stones. Cloakmaster cycle shows both sides of the issue.
    • Given its roots in post-medieval Gothic horror, Ravenloft has never adhered to this trope. One of its earliest published adventures featured a blunderbus-wielding NPC, and its 3E game products include rules for snaplock firearms, early gunpowder traps, and even a sharpshooting prestige class. That is, people can shoot them wolfies with silver bullets, yeah.
    • Averted in at least one region in Pathfinder's official campaign setting. Then again, magic doesn't work in that part of the world.
      • The Ultimate Combat supplement for Pathfinder spends some time discussing various levels of Fantasy Gun Control, from 'there aren't even cannons around' to 'Showdown at the Orctown Corral', and noting how they can affect the tenor of the game.
    • Subverted in the Dragonlance setting, where it's noted that some enterprising tinker gnomes have created their own versions of firearms. Most people don't use them, since tinker gnomes are notorious for their Bungling Inventor tendencies.
    • Greyhawk fans tend to be notoriously gun-phobic and it's generally accepted that guns simply don't work in the setting. Exceptions are sometimes made for the hero-god Murlynd and his paladins, depending on the DM.
    • In the Mystara campaign setting, this is played with in odd ways. The backstory of the campaign setting is that the pseudo-medieval setting actually takes place long after the collapse of the high-tech Blackmoor civilization, but every so often, high-tech items from Blackmoor or other sources will show up in a given adventure or campaign module. In the Hollow World campaign setting, which is really part of the Mystara setting, there is a valley containing high-tech elves, but their technology is really Magitek. Curiously, however, while you will never or hardly ever see firearms, you will see futuristic weapons like ray-guns and so forth. For rules purposes, these weapons will function like similar spells, such as magic missile, fireball, disintegrate, etc.
  • Averted in Rune Quest, to some extent — although most of the world has approximately Bronze Age technology, the Mostali (Dwarfs) have high-tech superweapons called "guns", which they guard jealously.
  • In Legend of the Five Rings, using gunpowder is dishonorable and is illegal by Imperial law. Which, of course, doesn't stop ninjas from using smoke- and firebombs (which are dangerous to the user as well).
  • Averted in Swedish tabletop RPG Drakar & Demoner: the Chronopia module mentions large siege cannons made by the dwarves.
    • ...but in previous editions of the game, it was specifically noted that using out of character knowlege of the correct proportions of charcoal, nitrate and sulphur would only produce a slow burning fire, as the laws of physics in the game world was different than on earth.
  • One issue of Dragon took the Greyhawk world a few centuries into the future and postulated jet fighters dogfighting dragons and a gunpowerless magiteck rifle: the rifle fired by teleporting the projectile close to the sun, allowing it an hour to accelerate due to the sun's gravity, then teleporting it back combined with a time-travel spell so it returned an instant after it left. Gunpowder-using guns were also mentionned as being an outdated technology, still in use by dwarves.
  • The GURPS setting of GURPS Banestorm has very literal Fantasy Gun Control, in the form of a conspiracy of wizards who keep the technology suppressed, both through flagrant destruction of stores of gunpowder whenever they're found, and by wiping the minds of anyone with the knowledge of making it.
  • Averted in 7th Sea, since its setting includes musketeers and pirates.
  • Partially averted in Lace and Steel, another tabletop game with a Three Musketeers-inspired setting. Guns exist and are common, but they are considerably slower than blades.
  • In Blue Rose, although setting is generally around the tech level of The Cavalier Years, there are no guns...but there are "crystons," which are basically just the Magitek equivalent of flintlock pistols (and are likely a subtle Shout-Out to the flashstones from the Dragaera books, mentioned above).
  • The Swedish game Gondica has a Renaissance-esque technological level, and makes swords still important by making muskets and similar weapons about as efficient as they were in reality. One review suggested PCs use bows instead, because for the kind of combats "adventurers" get into, guns are impractical.

Video Games

  • There is absolutely no gun control at all in Ryzom; every major city will have a vendor that will sell you anything from a pistol to a bowrifle to a rocket launcher, and they'll even sell you whatever the other players have put up for resale.
  • The Legend of Zelda: You got bombs, cannons, and Tatl in Majora's Mask mentions one character smelling like gunpowder, but no guns are available. However, a rifle can be seen in the shooting range in Kakariko Village when Link is an adult in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time.
  • Subverted in Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magicks Obscura, where the battle between Science and Magick is an actual rule of Nature and a major sort of world-point; as to particularities of gun usage, the backstory examines the "conscript versus knight" problem, and firearms are common (though unusually weak). It's a recurring plot point as well in many of the sidequests, though it only becomes important to the main quest near the end.
  • Suikoden: The only group to possess firearms is the cult-like Howling Voice Guild, and even those are only issued to their most trusted (read: indoctrinated) members, apparently those of Knight Class or higher. If a non-Knight-Class-Gunner is found in possession of a gun, the Guild's response is immediate and predictable. They don't do this for the technological advantage, though: their technology seems to be of flintlock quality at best. They do it for the psychological advantage, which is why Gunners are also trained in stealth and infiltration. One character actually points out that compared to a bow guns are slower, shorter ranged, and far more expensive. Despite this the gun users are pretty much some of the coolest characters in the games, all being badasses of varying levels.
    • A Howling Voice Guildmember in the Gaiden games provided one exception, as despite owning what looked like a normal flintlock pistol there seemed to be something wrong with the ammo supply...
    • In Suikoden V, Cathari's rifle looks like a modern sniper rifle. She also has the highest attack power in the game except for 'Deathblow' Georg Prime.
  • Golden Sun has you running around with swords and magic for 99% of the game, and there is no such thing as "ranged combat." Right up near the end of the games, though, when you have at least one character with more than 5 Djinn, you get access to the Ninja class. While it may still be magic, the standard Flame line of spells turns into the Firebomb line of spells, each named after a progressively larger explosive. These are slightly more or less powerful depending on who you make the Ninja.
    • It underlies the changes in Weyard when more advanced weapons (fireworks and cannons) show up in Dark Dawn, showing the technological progress since the first two games. The player characters can't use them, though.
  • A considerable part of Granado Espada's appeal as a fantasy world was the combination of guns with swords and sorcery. It set the musketeer class apart from the usual archers.
  • Warcraft II had cannon-armed ships and towers and demolition teams on both sides carrying kegs of gunpowder; Warcraft III had Dwarven riflemen, flying machines armed with machine guns, and goblin demolition teams available to both sides; and a few classes in World of Warcraft can learn to use guns. Note, however, that most of the guns in the Warcraft series fire at rates one would generally associate with cartridge firing repeaters. Hunters in World of Warcraft do not have to carry powder along with their shot, and both they and the Dwarven riflemen in Warcraft III reload really, really fast.
    • The fact that they reload with superhuman speed may be for Competitive Balance, though.
    • Half the "bullets" are magical anyway, so it evens out.
  • Pokémon uses the Fireball example. While the technology in the Pokémon world is sometimes more advanced than ours, usually it's on par with that of the real world. However, you will notice that, unless it's the Anime canon, there are no guns. You'd think gunpowder would have been invented sooner or later, right? Well it seems that humans in this world never had a need to invent gunpowder or dynamite - you can capture monsters that can do it for you, so it makes a bit of sense that people would turn to technology to control these creatures rather than invent stuff to do it themselves.
  • Bungie's Myth series has dwarves, who toss around molotov cocktails, plant bombs and fire mortars (in Myth II), but no guns. There were, however, gun-wielding poachers in one humorous bonus level.
  • Jade Empire allows the player to claim a pseudo-European conquistador's musket as a prize for besting him in a duel. It does significantly more damage than most weapons, but has a low rate of fire and doesn't work well against magical creatures.
  • The Might and Magic universe goes stright to Lasers in Might and Magic VI and VII, although it is Lost Technology. Unsurprising, considering starting from the first game, the series is heavily influenced by Star Trek and contains robots, transporter beams, and computer terminals. For that matter, the antagonist of the first five games, Sheltem/Alamar, is a robot built by Sufficiently Advanced Alien precursors.
    • Heroes of Might and Magic V has the gremlins, who use some kind of hybrid gun that works on magic.
    • Might and Magic VIII revealed that cannons certainly are within the technological reach of the natives, even if guns haven't been developed. In fact, a plot-point centres around the development of a super-cannon, capable of sinking entire fleets in a single shot.
  • The Final Fantasy series has an odd relationship with this trope; it's generally played straight in earlier titles, but uses Guns Are Worthless instead for more modern games.
  • Soul Series:
    • An egregious case would be Soul Calibur Legends, which ostensibly takes place during the 16th Century. The Ottoman armies are conspicuously lacking in firearms, despite their historical proficiency in them. Indeed, the only gunpowder weapons in the entire game are small mini-cannon which are used against the player, and not against fortifications, as they should. This stickler for historical accuracy would also like to note his displeasure on the lack of Jannissaries, but that's for another discussion.
    • It's also worth a note that Mitsurugi's entire reason for wanting to find Soul Edge is because he was shot by a rifle, and wants to be more powerful than it.
    • Cervantes has had a pistol in the grip of his off-hand dagger since Soul Calibur. He uses it in a few attacks, most notably a command throw in which he jams it into his opponent's stomach and fires it two or three times in rapid succession.
      • The game notes that the "bullets" aren't actually pieces of metal being shot off, it's evil energy in the shape of a bullet, fired by force of will. Normally this would be in Hand Wave territory, but considering the main antagonist practically bleeds "evil energy" it's not that far fetched comparatively.
  • The Onimusha series is set in Ancient Japan, with you fighting against the Legions of Hell. In that kind of setup, you'd assume that Katanas Are Just Better - but in the second game of the series, one of the playable characters wields a high-accuracy rifle. And a gatling-gun. And a flamethrower. And they actually ARE pretty damn effective against the demons. And in the third game, Jean Reno is a playable character.
  • Tales of the Abyss averts this having one (only one) character use guns as her primary weapon. Tales of Innocence averts this as well by having one of the main characters use dual wielded pistols as her main weapon.
  • While Nethack's greatest technological contribution to weaponry is the crossbow, its variant Slash'EM includes a panoply of firearms — pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, sniper rifles, auto-shotguns, even rocket launchers. A dwarf or human with a character class capable of Dual-Wielding can do so to great effect; the game even allows for simultaneous fire in two directions. Primitive graphics or no, there's nothing quite like having your dwarven warrior decked out in dragonscale armor, shielded by the gods, facing down demons, and firing enchanted machine guns. Of course, that's not mentioning the frag grenades, sticks of dynamite, lightsabers...
  • Battle for Wesnoth has a tech level equivalent to around the middle ages in terms of armour, ship building etc. But only the Dwarves have access to guns. And those are held up as very rare, with their secret unknown to anyone else. This is Handwaved as being due to the components for gunpowder being rare in-world. Oh, and they're called Thundersticks/Dragonstaves, not guns. Flame wars result otherwise.
  • Skies of Arcadia plays with the trope. Guns aren't nearly as common as swords or other melee weapons, but they do exist, if in primitive forms; one of the most powerful playable characters in the game, as well as the main character's badass father, fight with flintlock pistols. "Dance for me!"
  • A few variants of the Roguelike Angband add guns, though they tend to just be different flavours of crossbow aside from Animeband (obviously built on anime tropes, but it kinda sucks because development died) and Steamband, which is set in the Victorian era.
  • The technology of the Geneforge series is based on biological engineering, so any new inventions would be an application of that. The functional equivalent to guns are projectile-shooting batons that are grown to shoot thorns of varying power and effect.
  • Curiously averted in Lunia, an Action-Arcade MMORPG owned by Ijji; Ryan Hunt, a soon-to-be-released playable character, uses guns. He has a rifle and a gatling gun attatched to his hand, and seems to based off of another of Ijji's games, Gunz: The Duel. Seeing as cannons are wide-spread in Lunia, it's a surprise that the only guns that appear are owned by Ryan and some of the pirate enemies.
  • Guild Wars does not have any handheld guns at all, though does have gunpowder explosives and cannons in a few places. Guild Wars 2, though, will have musket type guns as possible weapons.
  • The early 90's RPG Darklands averts this trope. It takes place in 15th-century central Europe, and you can find a few forms of gunpowder alongside the "natural" medieval weapon variety. And no, the guns are definitely not overpowered - they take ages to reload and are only useful against armored opponents (where a bow would cause very little damage, albeit repeatedly). Then again, this is a setting where alchemical concoctions made from things like Antimoni and Phlegmatic Base can do a lot more damage than any weapon.
  • The Iron Grip series heavily averts this, being set in a Steampunk Low Fantasy world ravaged by endless wars, undergoing a second or already third industrial revolution in it's long history. Then again, the aversion becomes slightly subverted itself - by the presence of a mostly archaic atmosphere and lots of old-fashioned weapons thrown into the mix...
  • Dragon Age toys with this - the native humans, elves, and dwarves haven't invented cannons due to relying on magic of various sorts (golems and rune-based enchanting on the part of the dwarves), but the qunari, a race invading from another continent, do have cannons, and their invasion was only stopped after four grand religious crusades against them and the use of high-powered magic that the qunari see as abomination. According to the qunari who can join the party (who himself uses a greatsword), they're planning another invasion.
    • According to the Awakenings' epilogue the Qunari have a policy to assassinate anyone else trying to develop gunpowder or non-magic explosives.
    • Toyed with further (and eventually averted with a bang) in Dragon Age II. While Isabela mentions having seen qunari ships firing cannons, they're never seen in game. However, various people are trying to steal the qunari formula for gunpowder, and some quest plots have to do with this... and eventually someone DOES come across it or invent it independently - it's not clear which - and destroy the Chantry with a Magitek bomb.
  • After being played straight in the first game, this trope was averted hard in Fable II, where pistols and rifles are used alongside crossbows, swords, axes and maces. In fact, the invention of firearms seems to have been a deciding factor in the destruction of the Heroes Guild, as the availability of pistols meant that people no longer had to be reliant on arrogant Will-users.
    • This also holds true for Fable III, where the Hero has a variety of pistols and rifles to use as ranged weapons, and cannons are also seen in use: one side-quest involves killing hollow men with a mortar.
  • Etrian Odyssey introduced Gunners in their second installment, characters that had above average attack and technical power, but were slow as rocks. The third game has a Spiritual Successor in Arbalists, whose weapons of choice are somewhere between a crossbow and a machine gun.
  • Guns are a very popular topic on the RuneScape forums, with many people arguing why guns would or would not fit the world. Most of the arguments (including some from the developers themselves) against it were that guns were either too modern and would ruin the pseudo-medieval feel of the world, despite the fact that there were already cannons, trains and hot air balloons present in the game. Another argument was that they would too powerful despite the fact that early firearms were not very efficient. However in 2009, they finally introduced dwarven hand cannons, which are as close to actual guns as you can get in the game.
    • Also, there is a bazooka which shoots frogs. Yes, FROGS.
      • So that would be a ribbit-fire gun?
  • The Assassin's Creed series averts this hard in the second game, where Ezio Auditore acquires a pistol that can one-shot kill anyone except boss characters. As befits the era, it is slow to aim and reload, and has approximately the same range as a throwing knife (about twenty meters in game). Though it was built by Leonardo da Vinci, it was actually designed two hundred years earlier by Altaïr, the protgonist from the first game.
    • Further averted in Brotherhood and Revelation which both feature gun wielding enemies (which have completely replaced archers as of the latter). Brotherhood also features a carriage-mounted machine gun developed by Leonardo Da Vinci. And a tank. And a flamethrower. And a goddamned aerial bomber.
    • In the previews of the 3rd game, set during the civil war in America, guns are one of the most common weapons for enemies to have, attaching bayonets at the end makes them function as both melee and ranged. Doesn't mean the assassin, who has two flintlock pistols himself, can't be brutal with the enemy's weapons regardless.
  • Sunset Over Imdahl gets off on a technicality--nobody is ever shown using a gun, but it's mentioned in the very beginning that Imdahl's rather backwards compared to the army outside its gates, which has guns in great supply.
  • Guns are not available in Ogre Battle, but are considered a new development in the sequel Tactics Ogre - and can only be used effectively by one special class. If you're not a Gunner, the weapon is merely a bludgeon! Not extremely powerful, but can shoot from any tile to any other, provided that there's no interference from the landscape (or other troops getting in the way!)
    • However, depending on your stats and your level, they become almost realistic in that you can shoot someone and knock out most of their health. It's a good job for opening, though, or providing support when you don't have Archers, though.
  • Averted in the Mortal Kombat series; In Mortal Kombat 3, Kano is hired to teach Shao Kahn's soldiers how to use modern weaponry, and in Mortal Kombat 9's story mode, Shang Tsung buys several rocket lauchers and machine guns from Kano.
  • In the original Phantasy Star quadrilogy (which is essentially Science Fantasy), guns exist, but are rarely used despite the futuristic setting. In I, the only guns available are heavy armor-piercing shotguns used by The Big Guy. II, pistols are essentially useless and only wielded by weaker support party members, while rifles, shotguns and vulcans are (again) Big Guy weapons. III and IV essentially limit firearms to Cyborgs who are specifically designed to use them. In all cases, the only enemies who use guns are robots. (Perhaps the Algolians never managed to develop effective small arms?)
  • No characters wield guns in Knights in The Nightmare, but guns exist in its world--one knight, an archer, has an early model of a pistol as his Key Item, and mentions that it's a new foreign weapon that a blacksmith recommended he try out.
  • Gloria Union, which has more advanced technology than the other games in the Union series, replaces bows with guns in the weapon triangle. Three recruitable characters--Elisha, Yggdra, and the robot Gangr--use firearms as opposed to traditional fantasy melee weapons.
  • Averted by Touhou of all things, via largely-justified Schizo-Tech. The characters who use guns are generally the sorts who pursue science over magic: Rika builds tanks and uses them to fight in Story of Eastern Wonderland, Chiyuri threatens the heroine with "a small but very dangerous weapon" in Phantasmagoria of Dim. Dream (and Marisa can win an ICBM from Professor Yumemi), and Nitori... "Super Youkai Warhead" is indicated to use things like rocket launchers (and lends Marisa some missiles in Subterranean Animism). For the most part, however, magic is used more, and those who pursue studies of science in Gensokyo are considered heretics.
  • Legacy of Kain: Averted, though not in the earliest era visited. Soul Reaver 2 has primitive-looking hand cannons and Defiance has demolition charges. The oracle's museum in Blood Omen has a more modern-looking gun which is just there not doing anything, maybe referring to the fact that some of the other items there are Chekhov's Guns.
  • Rift has magic vs. technology (or rather, "pure" divine power vs. potentially-reality-breaking magitech) as the crux of the conflict between the two factions. Warriors and Rogues can use both bows and rifles, though due to the way stats are applied, warriors usually end up with guns and rogues with bows. The only real gameplay difference between them is the animation used, and if the sound effect is a "bang" or a "twang".

Web Comics

  • Twice Blessed has a kobold bounty hunter that uses a very large gun (or a small cannon) with a Chinese dragon motif.
  • The Dimension of Lame from Sluggy Freelance has this in place, though not for the usual reasons. It's not that they don't have the technological capacity to build guns, it's just that every single person in that universe is a die-hard pacifist. Their most advanced weapon is a NUKE (Notification of Unified Kindness' Envelopes), the "NUKE" blankets the area with thousands of polite yet stern letters.
  • Averted in Order of the Stick, of all places. The dwarven assassin who tries to kill Roy (believing that he's the King of Nowhere) wields a pistol and uses barrels of explosives to (unintentionally) destroy the inn where Roy is staying. Guns probably aren't widely utilized given the prevalence of magic in this setting and the fact that no weapon is particularly lethal due to Hit Points.
  • In Endstone, one is introduced to deal with Anti-Magic.
  • Firearms are present in Strays which is otherwise Medieval European Fantasy or thereabouts. The exact kind/"tech level" of firearms available is undetermined as only one has been seen, and even then not clearly.
  • Partially averted in Tales of the Questor: The Racconans figured out not just gunpowder but rifling centuries ago - it's just that "Boomslangs" capable of killing a hardened target(such as croco-centaurs or thugs with lux-reinforced armor) are too big and heavy for most of them to carry, let alone fire.
  • Skullkickers has no practical guns EXCEPT for Baldy's surprisingly sophisticated revolver.
  • Arguably Minecraft; it has a very vaguely fantastical setting, with swords, dragons, zombies, and yet it has pseudo-electronic circuitry, coal-powered railroads, TNT, Jukeboxes and Records, and more. But no guns. And, arguably, in the community, since any thread on the forums suggesting guns gets shot down pretty quickly.

Western Animation

  • Pirates of Dark Water had guns that were actually some sort of acid spraying or dart throwing creature encased in a tube, with a grip and trigger much like a pistol. Much of their technology was based on the indigenous ecology of Planet Mer. Like using a sea star as a shuriken.
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic is possibly the strangest show to avert this. Rainbow Dash mentions she wants a pet "fast, like a bullet," names the pet she gets "tank," and Pinkie Pie has a party cannon. This is really strange considering A. it is a show about magical ponies, and B. no pony actually has fingers and a third of the population has access to magic.
    • Not SO far-fetched; basically every construction in the show is something you wouldn't expect of a species with no thumbs, and much of what's seen is done by the Earth Ponies. Don't forget, this is the same show where one episode shows a train being pulled by six burly Clydesdales, and another episode shows it going by standard coal-fired steam. Best not to think too hard about it.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel The Legend of Korra are an interesting case. Guns don't appear, although by the second series technology had progressed to cars and sky-scrapers. This is explained by the fact that the rudimentary early fire-arms wouldn't have stood a chance against powerful benders, especially the metal-benders. However, gun-powder and other explosives are quite prevalent, and used in both war and terrorism.

Real Life

  • Feudal Japan adopted firearms and cannon shortly after contact with the Portuguese. They used them in warfare amongst themselves and with foreign powers (for which see Ran), and even made some modifications of their own. After that, they stopped, because the solidified Shogunate liked the way things were before guns, when a warrior class meant something. They managed to keep the whole gun business under tight wraps for over two hundred years. Then Commodore Perry steamed into Tokyo Bay with his "black ships" and the prohibition quickly came to end. Most Edo Period armies still included guns — but the Shogunate placed restrictions on who could have armies, where before, there had been all kinds of irregulars, militias, and warrior monks running around. Also, the martial art of iaido (Quick Draw) became popular because it let a swordsman get close to a gunner with his sword still sheathed, negating the range advantage before the opponent realized he was a threat.
    • To clarify, the Shogunate restricted firearms so they could control them and make sure that only their supporters would have regular access to them. It didn't have to do with warrior class, but monopoly of force.
  • The Chinese, the very people who invented the whole shebang: gunpowder, guns, bombs, rockets, stagnated in their development by the 1700's. By the late 19th century, they were still using matchlock firearms alongside polearms and crossbows. Reasons why one of the most technologically advanced cultures in the world suddenly declined in progress remains debatable to this day. General consensus seems to hold that the Chinese somehow intentionally repressed their development, while others point to a superstitious approach to scientific research.
    • One source puts this down to not inventing glass: Famous tea-drinkers, they went with porcelain (china) cups forever, while Europeans used glass vessels to store their wine etc. Glass is of course used to make lenses for spectacles and magnifying glasses, as well as other scientific advancements that China never invented.
    • It is not that hard to come up with a plausible explanation. The Chinese by the 1700s were more or less unified under the Manchu Qing Dynasty and lacking enemies with similar sizes and strength as it was (at that time anyway), it was no wonder that they paid little attention in improving their existing military technology. Europe, on the other hand, was wrecked by constant warfare amongst relatively equal powers (which changed over the years). The 1700s for example include the infamous Seven Years' War. And it was in such a context did military technology advanced rapidly, as states tried to upstage their opponents with better weapons. Although by "better", it usually means weapons suited for mass-training purposes....
      • Indeed. China's wealth and immense power as an empire wound up biting the Chinese in the ass in the long run, as they withdrew from international trade along the Indian Ocean(which they'd dominated for the better part of the millennium thanks to their very powerful navy) around the middle of the medieval era. As a result, they went into Medieval Stasis that they were violently jerked out of by the enterprising European countries.
      • The reality is more prosaic than that. Despite China's long history of warfare, they primarily fought against enemies who relied heavily on mobility rather than on massed armies, so the Chinese tactics were designed specifically to combat those threats along with the occasional civil war. They noticed early on the effect of gunpowder weapons and their weaknesses. They decided to stick with crossbows.
  • A reasonable explanation as to why a fantasy culture might eschew firearms is that, up until the invention of repeating firearms in the mid-19th century, guns were not actually as effective as longbows. For example, an English longbow from Edward III's time (1300s) had an effective range of 400yds (~366 meters) and could be fired between six times per minute (if the archer was going for endurance) to ten (in a pinch). By contrast, a musket, even in the hands of the most experienced troops, had an effective (accurate) range of only around 100-150yds, and could be fired only five times a minute by a crack company (6 if they were astonishingly good). The Duke Of Wellington, Genre Savvy as he was, actually inquired if a corps of archers could be trained for the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, there were not enough men in England still able to use the weapon (it took daily training from age six to develop the muscle structure needed to draw the weapon), and the idea was shelved.
    • This explanation only seems reasonable for someone who has no idea of the place of archers in medieval warfare: the musket replaced the crossbow, what destroyed the bow was the cannon, while the pistol replaced the lance (although it made a comeback in the west through Napoleon's polish lancers), as archers were indirect artillery weapons. Musketry drills at the time of the napoleonic wars also reached four to six shots a minute, while ten shots is actually nearly unheard of in actual combat for bows. The english romantic attachment to the longbow was even skewered as early as the 16th century by english military men who had fought on the continent and had seen what war had evolved into.
  1. A wizard could spend years in study to cast a fireball, went the logic — whereas someone with enough money could purchase a keg of gunpowder for roughly the same effect in less than a day.