Context In this world, laws of physics are roughly the same as ours. No placeholder magic involved. Wars are fought by cyborgs/mutants/synthetic mutants (super soldiers) who can manipulate certain matter/quantum mechanics/ or has other physical enhancements.

The basic idea is that (especially for cyborgs) they have a supercomputer-energy converter-primary respiratory system, etc, like thing called 'core' in their bodies, which is considered as a vital 'organ'. So we have brain and the core (sometimes the heart) which are the weak points of a cyborg. A fight can only be won if you take out either the brain/core or deplete their energy, as the cyborgs will regenerate/clot injures to bone, muscles, and other repairable organs. Technology and evolution/adaptation has enabled most soldiers to have tougher skin/muscle/bones (varies within individuals).

Question Elaborated: So, the skin is too tough for a 9mm/0.45 other pistol/pdw/smg ammo to penetrate, assault rifle/sniper/LMG can penetrate most skins but the hit points (brain/core) are too small/hard of a target to hit that often the soldiers especially cyborgs just get up close and try to pierce/bleed/chop/clobber each other till they find and remove the core/get the brain/cause so much bleeding/muscle and bone loss that they run out of stored energy.

How viable does that sound?

Addendum: Also, this world has tanks, ships, fighter jets, etc, and soldiers have all sorts of crazy abilities (i.e., muscles with high elastic energy retention so they can act like springs, trinocular vision, 5000 psi bite force, etc). The brain and the core (sometimes the heart) may further be protected with armour (biological, synthetic, external) from some angles making some soldiers more formidable. The position where the soldier has his/her core varies from soldier to soldier.

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    $\begingroup$ Outside of magical forcefields or slightly implausible improvements in material technologies, suitable guns firing appropriate ammunition will always win. Your teeth aren't going to be any match for a handful of armour piercing explosive rounds, and regenerating an evisceration or severed limb quickly enough to carry on fighting is clearly implausible. You're gonna need magic, or to give up your grand plans, I suspect. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jun 12 '19 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ Consider the "slow shield" in Dune - blocks bullets but not knife thrusts. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Jun 12 '19 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Starfish Prime, I'm talking about kevlar/carbon fiber level of toughness/strength. Like how vests that can stop 9mm/0.45 acp bullets but aren't stab resistant. Regeneration has been greatly improved (better than wolverine) so stored food is the only limiting factor. Of course the weapons too are made from alloys which are sufficiently tough/strong. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Starfish Prime I am aware but hitting the limbs and just the torso(say the stomach) simply won't do because of regen, as it'd result in overpentration/non fatal damage. The soldiers won't die unless their core/brain is hit and they will wear armour, so many fights will get into grappling distance.I'm not saying you can't kill a soldier with rifles/MGs but you'd need an awful lot of bullets or luck to hit the core without knowing. I am aware of the most real world limitations, or else it wouldn't have acknowledged my concept as 'Science Ficton'(SciFi) in the question title. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE Rum. Please check out our tour and help center. May I also suggest you take your slash key and hammer it into itty bitty pieces? $\endgroup$ – Cyn says make Monica whole Jun 12 '19 at 23:02

It sounds plausible, however you seem to be neglecting one aspect: guns, even though they might not be able to reach the core, can still cause damage.

A bullet hitting a target will cause:

  • damage that needs to be repaired, taking energy from the core.
  • transfer of momentum, resulting in stopping of the target.

It seems possible that a gunman can continuously hit a target, consuming its core in a continuous repair effort.

Or this could even be used in a paired attack, to incapacitate the target while the blade carrier approaches it.

Additional problem is, if you don't know where the core is, I doubt you might have the luxury of a second hit. Thus the gun approach seems to be mandatory, to keep the target busy while you search for the core. Quite gruesome.

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    $\begingroup$ Yes! Yes ! And yes ! Actually the MC has a sniper mate in his squad to do similar things and what I meant by healing energy is stored food. Lost limbs/broken bones affect the soldiers greatly as they regen so they get more exhausted as they fight. The descp was already so long that I couldn't add more to the context. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ If you are "continuously" hitting the target (not specifically the core) to force it to repair itself - why sniper? Seems one of the times a machine gunner would be the better option (unless distance is over a certain amount). Especially if you don't know where the core is - cause you could pepper the target more easily. Yes, I know the question says these are "too small" - I'm just stating it makes no logical sense (esp if you've actually used these weapons in real life) and wondered why you chose sniper (agree with rest of answer) $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest Jun 13 '19 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JGreenwell, fair point, edited $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '19 at 3:08

This does not sound viable to me.

Armor and projectile weapons is essentially an arms race. You state that now the armor is strong enough to sustain small arms fire of low caliber.

While this might be true, it wouldn't take long before the weapons systems catch up to the armor. Historically and presently, armor can only stop a certain subset of weapons, but this only causes soldiers to carry more powerful projectile weapons if they are known to face an enemy with this type of protection---it doesn't mean the attacker will switch entirely to melee weapons, not historically, nor today. It seems much more practical to carry a projectile based system capable of inflicting effective damage despite added weight and support systems due to the many benefits this entails. Attacking at a distance is invaluable.

As for the idea that the core is too small to hit, and the statement:

A fight can only be won if you take out either the brain/core or deplete their energy

This also appears implausible, and there is a logical contradiction here.

If the fight can only be won by attacking the brain/core, and the brain/core is too hard to hit with firearms, then what is it that makes melee weapons so effective? Attacking limbs, motor functions, nervous systems, vascular systems, etc. must also be an affective vector here as this is the premise for why melee weapons are effective. Hence a high powered rifle round or explosive rounds as already mentioned, and possibly energy based weapons, appear a lot more plausible than mere melee combat.

It is also mentioned how vehicles such as tanks and fighter jets exist, it is not clear how melee weapons fit into this scenario considering that.


Just to address some of the comments made by Rum:

You claim that:

"Well armour would be adapting with it and there's only so much power a weapon of short barrel can produce.What makes melee weapons effective is that you won't run out of ammo, and you can sever limbs which bullets can't, that'd lead to exhaustion and thus be fatal."

It seems there is a misunderstanding of how a firearm works and why a firearm is an effective weapon in the first place.

Yes, there is a limit to how much energy (you generally don't refer to a firearm as having power, as in work over time) a firearm can deliver.

However, by your own logic, why would there not also be such a limit for a melee weapon? Surely you're not saying a melee weapon has infinite power?

Then it comes down to a matter of what weapon, firearm or melee weapon, can deliver the most energy to a small area, in a practical manner? Keep in mind that the area where the energy is delivered is of great concern, the pressure is force over the area. If the area is big, the pressure becomes lower, and the damage that can get inflicted becomes reduced down to practically nothing. Conversely, if the area is small, the force can be small, and it can still penetrate. This is why a syringe can penetrate human skin with ease, while a stick would need a lot more force. This is, incidentally, how armor works in the first place, by distributing the force over a bigger surface area.

As an aside, the physics and physiology of damage inflicted by weapons is a complicated matter, and what I've already stated only barely scratches the surface of its complexity. For this reason exactly, it is better to look at history and the empirical data, the present day situation regarding firearms and armor.

So why is it, that with this fancy armor, that a melee weapon is able to penetrate it at all?

A projectile is powered by an explosion, which delivers an incredible amount of force over a short time. How will the melee weapon be powered? By muscular force? By servo motors? By what motor system, and how is this system able to generate more force and inflict it in a surface area small enough to beat a projectile based weapons system?

Then, after that has been justified, we come down to the tactics of warfare and how being able to attack at a distance is invaluable.

Basically, your melee weapons system would need to be so much more effective at delivering damage than a firearm, that it would completely negate the advantage of being able to attack at a distance. I think you would find this exercise in arguing for this to be very hard if you accept the basic premises already discussed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well armour would be adapting with it and there's only so much power a weapon of short barrel can produce.What makes melee weapons effective is that you won't run out of ammo, and you can sever limbs which bullets can't, that'd lead to exhaustion and thus be fatal. Also tanks/Rpgs/Lasers blasters like fallout aren't exactly that maneuverable. I couldn't give more context because this descp is already so long. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 18:55
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    $\begingroup$ @Rum explosive rounds can and do sever limbs. A shotgun-sized shell can carry a suitable warhead. We're not talking rocket launchers here. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jun 12 '19 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ @Rum what prevents a longer, wider barrel? Explosives can be packed into large caliber bullets and are absolutely capable of severing limbs and from a safe distance to boot. As mentioned in the answer a melee weapon is never going to be effective against any kind of vehicle either, certainly not aircraft. $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Jun 12 '19 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Also you are assuming that tanks/fighter jets are not substantial, they are , that is why soldiers won't kamikaze into them. When I said 'deplete their energy' I meant exhausting them by depleting their stored food to create new organs/heal wounds etc so losing limbs/blood/tissue will eventually be fatal. There's only so much bullets you can carry but you need more than 1( or maybe 2) melee weapons as they aren't projectiles. I'm not saying guns aren't used at all, they are, just not too effective if a cyborg rushes you and gets within 9 feet. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Rum It seems like you have an answer to this question already before asking, seeing how you basically reject every answer telling you that no, medieval weapons (swords, spears, polehammers, etc) cannot be more viable than guns in your SciFi setting. $\endgroup$ – Calvin Li Jun 12 '19 at 23:25

It's not plausible. You say these cyborgs have internal supercomputers. This seems to contradict the idea that the core is too hard to hit. Our slow, error-prone brains are good enough to land headshots at several hundred yards. Skilled snipers have hit moving people over a mile away. I would think that, given amazingly-smart computers, this range will only get higher, not shorter.

Plus, you don't even need to hit the core itself. You can use explosive bullets and just blow the whole target up. I get that they can regenerate, but can they regenerate from being blown into 50 pieces?

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes but where will you hit them if you don't know where his core is? Also, a soldier won't suicide run into a tank/rpg man pointing at him from 80 meters away. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ I had to edit my comment, but if it's a tank shell/rpg ammo, like I said he's dead if it connects well. He won't get back from that. The core is a respiratory system in some cases and if the brain is intact and core keeps it supplied with oxygen, it can get a new body, tho unlikely. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ And what fires a 20mm? Grenade launchers. GL weigh like 5-7 kg when empty, if you consider than to be within the comfortable wielding range, be my guest. Good luck trying to hit a thing that'll move fast, will regenerate so you will have to hit it directly, and within the vicinity of it's core to fully kill it, not to mention the recoil. I never said these weapons won't be used, but soldiers don't usually carry a dedicated GL , an Assult rifle , ammo and etc gear in every mission. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ Oh really? en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neopup_PAW-20 wow wonder where I got than link from.... So you are saying shotguns will magically somehow nullify super wolverine comic like regen? Ok sir you are entitled to your own opinion. Magic is something that doesn't have an explanation about how something is working, like blade on fire that never extinguishes, a scenario SciFi is like star trek where they use antimatter propulsion. Unless you categorize Star Trek movies as 'magical fantasy' it should be a bit more obvious what I'm saying. $\endgroup$ – user65681 Jun 12 '19 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ My point about explosives is that it allows you to miss the core but still defeat the target. Can it regenerate after being blown apart? Can it regenerate after being blown apart fast enough to get back in the fight? Steel core, tungsten, and depleted uranium rounds just punch holes, they don't explode. $\endgroup$ – Ryan_L Jun 13 '19 at 1:39

To put it simply, you have not created a situation where melee weapons are advantageous to ranged weapons

In fact, modern militaries have completely phased out melee weapons as a viable form of combat because they are frankly a lesser form of weapon for a single reason: The country supporting the military can produce so many bullets there is no reason not to shoot them. The US military alone has so many bullets sitting in storage that we shoot them like crazy on training exercises so they don't go bad and become inoperable.

The only reasons someone would choose melee over ranged is:

  • Enemies can move quickly enough to dodge bullets.
  • Enemies are too tough for bullets to penetrate
  • There are no more bullets
  • They are suicidal

The reason for that is as technology advances, other technologies to combat them are also advancing.

You state that soldiers are capable of tanking 9mm rounds, but nobody is issuing their soldiers 9mm weapons, standard rifles are usually 5.56 or 7.62. And even then, soldiers would just use higher caliber bullets, with physical augmentations so they could wield them. For example, the 20mm-firing Bolter rifle from Warhammer 40K. See Technology Marches On

In this world I think a much better strategy is to just fire more bullets and turn it into a battle of attrition, and the cyborgs will probably lose to the industrial might of an entire country.

Although you would miss out on the Cool factor, if your world's technology does not advance at a steady pace in all areas you could face the possibility of making your world Low Culture, High Tech

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Depleted uranium rounds and titanium rounds shoot holes in tank armour. Nobody is going to stick a killer cyborg with a spear when they can vaporise the whole torso from two miles away.

Unless you have some sort of shield tech that prevents range attacks, guns will persist. People prefer killing from a safe distance.

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  • $\begingroup$ They were also made out of Tungsten steel still went through tank armor (not as well as DU but certainly worked) so definitely a solid option $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest Jun 13 '19 at 0:13

The OP needs to look at contemporary weapons to understand how implausible this scenario is.

Most military forces use a combination of intermediate rounds (5.56 x 45 for NATO) and full power rounds (7.62 X 51 NATO) for infantry weapons. Rifles like the M-4 and light machine guns use intermediate rounds while marksmen and platoon machine guns use the larger full power rounds. Stopping these require heavy body armour with ceramic or metal strike plates, and this is just hand held infantry weapons.

enter image description here

Soldier carrying a light machine gun

Dismounted soldiers also can access explosive weapons like hand grenades and under rifle grenade launchers, as well as section and platoon level weapons like the AT-4 or Javelin ATGM to attack tanks, bunkers and other armoured vehicle targets. Specialists like snipers can use .50 cal sniper rifles to hit targets at over 2 kilometers, and anti material rifles also exist which can fire 20 or 25mm cannon shells. enter image description here

Barrett XM-109 25mm anti material rifle. This is one of the smaller weapons

Once you start adding vehicle mounted weapons you reach an entirely new level of badness, with automatic grenade launchers, .50 cal heavy machine guns, automatic cannon of calibres from 20-40 mm and heavy ATGM's available. Specialized tanks and attack helicopters up the ante even further with large caliber cannon or the ability to manouevre at high speed while attacking with cannon and missile fire. We haven't even looked at field artillery or close air support yet...

enter image description here

This convoy of Marine HMMVW's has machine guns, grenade launchers and TOW anti tank missiles mounted on them. And these are considered light vehicles.

What makes this scenario even more improbable is the sort of computer and energy storage being envisioned for the cyborg soldiers would make most guided weapons far more deadly, and if it is small enough for a gunshot wound to likely miss, then miniaturized smart rounds fired from rifles might also be possible. A sharpshooter could hit the enemy "core" from 800 m using a 7.62 mm sniper rifle, and an anti material rifle firing a "smart" 20mm cannon shell would not only hit the core but also tear the entire body apart from hydrostatic shock.

So, sadly, there is no way to make it common for soldiers to carry and use medieval weapons in modern combat. Perhaps Special Operations Forces carry blades with the intent to do silent ambushes on enemy combatants, but even then a silenced firearm is a much more effective and plausible way to carry out the deed.

enter image description here

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