I was working on a science fiction story with a variety of alien species. Most of them seemed entertaining and plausible enough, but I got stuck on one particular species that I could use some help on.

So, I came up with an idea that a classical warrior culture could be sustained into past the modern age by limiting how useful a species would find long ranged weaponry. The thinking was: without the ability to kill at a distance with relative ease, power and prestige would remain with those who had the time to learn melee combat and martial arts. Essentially, it would keep aristocratic systems of warriors (knights, musketeers, samurai, ect.) around centuries longer than what happened with Earth's history.

I tried this with a species I called the Ohgunate, and they have limited use with projectiles due to having terrible depth perception. They have an incredible field of vision, but a very narrow field of actual binocular vision. For example, humans have a total field of vision of 210 degrees (horizontally), and 140 degrees of binocular field of vision. Ohguns' ratio might be more like 320/80. They can still aim a projectile with accuracy, but the process takes significantly longer. Plenty of time for another Ohgun to run up and stab the chum, savy?

If the root concept about depth perception and warrior culture makes sense (and feel free to tell me if it doesn't), what head shape/eye type would allow for this ratio of field of vision? I thought about a system with three or more eyes, but couldn't work out if that was plausible. Just in case its relevant, the Ohgunate are humanoid bipeds and have a omnivorous diet that leans more to vegetation compared to humans.

Note: humans do have a huge military advantage over this species. Post-first contact boasting turned out embarrassingly for the Ohgunate.

**edit- I've got some good answers and will probably choose in a few hours, but, wow, this question got downvoted a lot. If anyone has any idea why, would you mind leaving a comment? I would like to learn from any mistakes I made.

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    $\begingroup$ If you have one eye, you won't have good depth perception. More eyes gives you better perception. $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Jun 9, 2018 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ You can have depth perception with one eye, by moving it around. Human brains can do it with some practice; aliens who evolved with wide-set eyes presumably would be even better at it. With that said, a widely spaced eye setup isn't hard to justify - cows have it, and some other herbivores. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jun 9, 2018 at 5:26
  • $\begingroup$ Your argument for denying them long range weaponry makes little sense in that the purpose of war is to win. The instant a side thinks it can be beaten (e.g. because it's outnumbered) it will start developing long range weaponry to remove their disadvantage. Once started, this process logically concludes with all sides having and using long range weaponry. No Earth based warrior culture (AFAIK) has not used e.g. long range bows and later incorporated long range rifles and artillery into their arsenals. War is about winning, everything else is secondary. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2018 at 9:06
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    $\begingroup$ Also, depth perception doesn't play much of a role in judging longer ranges (the angles are just too steep). Mostly humans get by with the stadia principle. Basically, if we know the size an object (like a person) "should be", we can judge its rough distance by its apparent size. It's not all that accurate, but it's good enough that for pre-modern weapons, the weapons themselves are more of a limiting factor than rangefinding. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jun 9, 2018 at 9:57
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    $\begingroup$ Attention VTCers! On this site, "primarily opinion-based" means "the OP hasn't provided enough information or justification to identify a best answer." With rare exception, every question on WB.SE involves opinions. We're all about fiction, after all. If you don't think the nature or placement of eyes on a head is sufficiently limiting to allow the OP to select a best answer, please leave a comment to justify your choice to VTC. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 10, 2018 at 6:54

4 Answers 4


I'm going to go to mother nature for my answer: Rhinoceros

So it turns out rhinos have pretty poor eye sight with the only answer I got from the internet is that they can only see roughly 15 feet in front of them clearly and are forced to rely heavily in their other senses to survive, but some research (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myopia_in_animals) suggests that they can focus their vision better by using only one eye.

Physical build they would most likely be a rather bulky build with their eyes located much like a Rhinos and with a similar size (of course scaled up or down depending on the size of the Ohgunate)

Having to focus with one eye could lead to not only the accurate but time consuming shots you described but also fun posturing and creature design to mess around with and some slang for the mean humans to call them. Ex: squints.


Eyes on the side of the head, like some birds

Eagles have great depth perception, but their eyes are set like ours, on the front of their heads. Birds like my beloved parakeets have eyes set wide, on the sides of the head. I'll be honest with you, their depth perception stinks. Field of vision? No match whatsoever. You can't sneak up on a conscious parakeet. But as far as they're concerned, you're standing right in front of them even when your twenty feet away.

By the way, poor depth perception doesn't mean you can aim accurately with more time. It means you can't aim accurately. If what you're looking for is slower aiming then what you need is poor or slow distance focus. In otherwords, distances are blurry until the eye has a chance to focus. Poor or no depth perception means they won't hit the side of the barn on the first shot. If they do, it was either divine intervention, luck, or both. Now, the second shot, people without depth perception can be trained to estimate distances, but it usually takes a second shot to hit the barn.


They'd look like humanoid powerhouses. They must compensate their visual lack with body strength. Hulking, yet agile and more resistant to injury than others.

Without an adequate depth perception, their society would suffer from a severe underdevelopment, since such handicap would affect ALL skills in various technological fields.

Nevertheless, if they are specialized in the art of brutal fight and compensate with excellent physical attributes -stamina, endurance, adaptability, strength- they'd make for formidable allies to treat with respect, but they'd be good only for the hand-to-hand combat. Their usefulness as soldiers would wane as the rest of the world evolves and ends up using them only for manual labor.

  • $\begingroup$ Eh, they still discover agriculture, mathematics, medicine, the combustion engine, and space travel. I don't think spotty depth perception would hamper their technological development except maybe slowing it for a few centuries. "Us humans went from horses to self-driving cars in 190 years" "Oh, it took us 240. I guess we rely on public transportation more" Good point about the physical attributes. That makes good sense to me. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2018 at 16:29


They have only one eye, they can determine a vague depth perception useful enough not to be cripplingly blind by determining the distance at which they focus specifically on an object, but would never have true depth perception as we know it. They would be compensating for not having it rather than actually having it so to speak. This still leaves them at somewhat of a disadvantage. Their lack of ranged weaponry doesn't have to necessarily ONLY come from poor depth perception. Warrior-centered cultures tend to very rigidly organized and highly resistant to change, perhaps this combines with their poor depth perception. They find such weaponry to be an affront to their ancient code of honor, a real warrior gets up close and personal, risking as much as he's gaining to fight on equal terms, and he kinda sucks at using ranged weapons.

The samurai actually had access to gunpowder and firearms a few centuries before Europeans did, they just shunned their use as dirty and dishonorable as well as being disruptive to their rigid power structure. When a lowly peasant with two weeks of training can pull a trigger and kill a mighty samurai who has been training all his life for this moment it throws the power balance into disarray. So they banned all ranged weapons save for bows to protect their social order.

  • $\begingroup$ The samurai weren't as anti-gun as people think, either. Miyamoto Musashi wrote extensively about using matchlocks, considering them one of the five weapons a samurai should learn, and the best in a siege situation. And during the Boshin War, both sides used rifles and cannon often. Samurai didn't use guns during the Tokugawa period because they didn't need them; they were living under an enforced peace. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Jun 9, 2018 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ True enough, however the fact is that samurai held thier culture in a relative stasis. My main point is that not everything in a story has to fall to a single factor or physical trait. $\endgroup$
    – TCAT117
    Jun 9, 2018 at 5:43

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