How do I make melee combats with swords and shield more viable in a futuristic setting, where laser/plasma weapons exist? (Assuming the combatants are durable enough to take a few shots before being incapacitated)

Some context, space travel is possible and the lore of the world aimed to be built around melee combats. Soldiers are generally specialized in either melee or ranged weapons. Ranged weapons like guns are mostly for soldiers who cannot be specialized in melee (ie. the race is not durable enough to be assigned as melee soldiers)

I would use star wars for reference, particularly Episode 2: Battle of Geonosis. In that part of the movie, we could see clones pitted against the droid army in the sandstorm, all in an open field with minimal cover. In my own twist, I would have more melee occuring across the battlefield.

So, using the scene from star wars as one of the few references, I came across several area on a battlefield that would dissuade melee combats. Aerial bombardments or artilleries are particularly problematic, especially in the open field.

My current solutions/justifications so far:
1. Keep melee combat in urbanized area suited for CQC
2. Since melee don't consume ammo, they are much cheaper to maintain (though more skills required)
3. A past comment suggests using shields (not against the idea, but if possible, less reliance on shield to have a mobile army)

  • $\begingroup$ So, what is the role of a gel? $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jan 11, 2019 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander I believe gel in this case is being used to describe wanting to make the combat feel like it all fits together seamlessly and without logical problems $\endgroup$
    – BKlassen
    Jan 11, 2019 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Hello @NullEffect404. Welcome to Worldbuilding. I'm not sure I understand your question. Do we have to answer something for Idea 3 alone or to the three ideas? Also, if you have a complex idea with lots of moving parts, I'd recommend you create multiple questions instead of asking more than one thing in the same question. The simpler the better. Be sure to check some other succesful questions to try to get the jist of it. I've recently started a series of my own here, if you're interested in a reference. $\endgroup$
    – Magus
    Jan 11, 2019 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ One question per question post, please. $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2019 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ It's really just one question, but poorly formed. He wants to know how to gel melee combat with future tech (1 question). What he labeled as "questions" are actually better labeled as "scenarios" where he is showing his work like you would on other stack exchange platforms to prove he's actually already tried solutions that have not worked out for him. He could stand to form his post more as an actual question though. "Hopefully, someone could give me insights for my ambitious ideas" is not the same as "Is there a more plausible scenario where melee and future tech could co-exist?" $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 11, 2019 at 21:06

1 Answer 1


I think the missing mechanic you are looking for are personal shields.

You see these often in sci-fi used by people like the Wakandans (Infinity War), Gungans (Star Wars: Episode 1), etc. The idea is that these shields are strong enough to deflect most ranged weapons, but Melee weapons have a way to trump them.

These shields are too complicated or dangerous to bend around your whole body so you are limited to a shield device that just protects your front arc. This will make shooting someone who is facing you very difficult, but for a weapon with a scythe-blade, you could stab someone around it giving you cause for a melee weapon.

Another model for melee weapons is if these shields can be disrupted by weapons that also generates a field. Bullets and missiles undergo too much stress when fired for the relatively delicate field generating mechanism to survive, but placed in the hilt of a lightsaber like weapon, you can cut shields much more easily than blasting through them with other weapons.

If this makes melee is the main killer, then closing distance fast is important, but charging head-long into someone's shield may is like running into a wall of star-hot plasma. This could make mounts that can quickly stop or zig-zag more desirable than say, a heavily armored ATV or even a tank. As for ranged weapons, their main roles would be flanking, ambushing, grenades that you can throw over shields, or perhaps small javelin like weapons that don't undergo the same stress as a bullet, so they can carry offensive field tech.

  • $\begingroup$ For more of a fantasy vibe, flavor it like mass combat in the Inheritance Cycle, where your "blue energy" can provide general immunity to oneself or others $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2019 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps you should mention the shields in Dune, which stop anything moving too quickly (bullets) but let in things moving slowly (swords, provided you're not swinging too hard). $\endgroup$ Jan 11, 2019 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ I considered that as an alternate answer, but that might invalidate a cavalry charge where, Opps! my lance exploded because my genetically modified cheetah horse was too fast. Also, making armor that can block a mundane sword is very easy with future-tech materials. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jan 11, 2019 at 22:37

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