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Would it make much sense in a sword (and possibly sorcery) world to have trains and light bulbs but no guns?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Cort Ammon, kingledion, Renan, Ender Look, rek Nov 30 '18 at 2:51

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ If you can make a steam engine compact enough to carry its own weight, you can make a gun. So you need to prevent gunpowder, so I hope somebody with chemistry knowledge can suggest materials to remove from your world. $\endgroup$ – Bald Bear Nov 30 '18 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ Sure. Just outlaw firearms. Cut off their limbs in punishment if they are found with one (with a sword, of course) Make firearms be devil's work. Change the physics such that there are no reactions which occur fast enough to cause a firearm effect. Magically prevent firearms from working! Any number of ways. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Nov 30 '18 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Can a technological world exist that does not have the means to invent guns or explosives? $\endgroup$ – rek Nov 30 '18 at 2:51
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    $\begingroup$ @BaldBear, if you can make a steam engine, you can propel projectiles with pressurized steam. You wouldn't need black powder anymore. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 30 '18 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ the first 'steam engine' was already produced by the first century ad, iirc. knowledge of electrical current and a relationship with magnetism was around long before. triggering photon emission once one has an electrical current to play with is simplicity itself. the question does not suppose that guns would never appear, only if one could appear without another. 'light bulbs' could even be bowls filled with bio-luminescent algae or such. Placing the question on hold seems childish. $\endgroup$ – Giu Piete Nov 30 '18 at 6:38
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I can't say that science will back up my answer but here goes. Lets say that iron ore on your world has a contaminate that doesn't get purged out during smelting process. Items cast or forged work as expected by normal physics i.e. cast iron cookware heats, steel construction beams hold things up, super sharp swords, etc. However, when the iron is exposed to rapid heat expansion (i.e. explosion from gunpowder, volatile gases, etc) it causes the contaminate to rapidly oxidize the iron - turning it into rust. After only a few uses the gun barrel or cannon becomes a danger to use as it will most likely misfire injuring whomever is use it instead of enemy it is pointed at.

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  • $\begingroup$ If the heat triggers the reaction with this component, how can the ore be worked in the final pieces? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Nov 30 '18 at 6:12
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Gunpowder requires charcoal/coal, petrified poop (potassium nitrate) and (optionally) sulphur.

A steel culture would probably have stumbled upon this somewhere along the line.

Imagine a technological culture which nevertheless retained a clerical autocracy, which had maintained a high degree of compliance even while encouraging technological advance, by recourse to a relentless use of terror against dissent. Such a culture's elders could ban certain practices or uses of technology simply by fiat, or on the basis of good public order, or on some sense of chivalric honor where the use of such weapons would be considered cowardly or ungodly or satanic.

However, even in this scenario, the rulers would still surely require weaponry sufficient to remain secure from popular challenge - perhaps poison or bio-weapons or chem-weaponry, with a good quantity of force troops kept organized in well-isolated cadres, to ensure the imposition of good order.

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