So, now, here is my problem. I'm making a video game, and I wish to make it so that teams use tranquilizer dart-like weapons to capture each other (this is a continuation of my previous question that has been deleted). However, if one were to use a basic tranquilizer dart, as shown below, imagine if this bad boy hit your eye.

Can't you just imagine the pain of this hitting your eye or, really, anywhere?!?

So, obviously, we can use gas, but that's more of an AOE weapon (grenade-style). So here's the question: What is the best design for ammo that can effectively paralyze/stun an opponent with minimal risk of bodily harm?

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    $\begingroup$ To quote War Games: "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play." $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 17:55
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    $\begingroup$ As they teach in the armed forces: there is no such thing as a non-lethal weapon, there are only less lethal weapons. (In the particular example of the question, the major risk does not come from the dart hitting a lethal spot, which are very small targets; the major risk comes from the uncontrolled fall of a two hundred pound animal. People do die from uncontrolled falls.) (And about hitting the eyes: that is why when playing paintball people wear protection.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexP, right; the obvious answer is for the participants to just wear goggles. Whether or not this is plausible, we can't really say without more context. As for falls, realistic tranquilizers aren't instant. We use them on much more massive animals than humans, and they are relatively safe because the animal doesn't just keel over, it grows increasingly lethargic over the course of several minutes and usually lays down at some point. (Note that I said "relatively"; there is always a danger the animal won't wake up again...) $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ Have you considered having the players wear appropriate PPE, like goggles, to prevent injuries to sensitive areas, and just using the traditional tranq dart? $\endgroup$
    – Mathaddict
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, so goggles is a go. Probably sunglasses though, because they look awesome, and make you look like the govenator. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:28

7 Answers 7


TL;DR ignore all the text and look at the cute asian girl in the gif.

What is the best design for ammo that can effectively paralyze/stun an opponent with minimal risk of bodily harm?

There is an unwritten rule in World Building, that we should never use just an image as an answer. The whole text in this answer is just filler to bypass that, because the weapon you are looking for already exists in the real world - you can buy it online - and I've got an animated gif with it below.

A woman operating a net launcher against a man. The man is easily snared.

Literally Google for "buy net launcher" and you get good results. The first one I got is a kit for rescuing animals that goes for like a thousand bucks. I am totally buying one when I have my own kids so I can stop them from connecting their little fingers to the mains from a distance. #parentingSkills

These would be usable in a game as well. If your game is an electronic one, frameworks like Unity will handle the physics of it. Otherwise if your game is a live action call me because I wanna participate.

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    $\begingroup$ Very helpful! I should really consider making it live-action haha! This will be very helpful, if I can make the appropriate meshes (dying noises). $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ Awesome. and.........NONE of those weighted balls on the edges can damage an eye? Even though there seem to be 16 or so of them being hurled? $\endgroup$
    – user79911
    Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ @MarvinKitfox they can, but it's much less likely to happen than a dart hitting an eye. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 31, 2020 at 13:35

What sort of range do you need?

If even basic tranquilizer darts are too potentially damaging, then that excludes ANY projectile weapon. Dissolving drug flechettes, stun balls, tazer darts, drug-delivering paintball pellets even. All of these could take out an eye.

Gas would work, but you have explicitly excluded that option.

How about a SuperSoaker type squirtgun, spraying liquids? Tranquilizing drugs, superglue, etc..

Unfortunately the effective range of a portable squirtgun is rather limited. Even with the very best technology and a gel-like liquid, the stream will fall apart over more than about 20 yards, and very likely less than that.

Sonic stunner? Not sure how one would focus this to work as a directed weapon rather than an AoE device.

Microwave beamer? There is a crowd control device that is somewhat aimable and drops people by induced nerve pain. (some slight scortching smells from the skin are just propaganda, this device is really harmless!)

P.S. If the worry of a dart to the eye bothers you, then ANY tranquilizer should concern you. What happens if I get hit by your trank, and try to run away down stairs? Bonka-bonka-bonk-crunch-splat-dribble-dribble-gasp-die

  • $\begingroup$ Microwave beamer sounds really cool! I'll see if I can impliment it! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ The OP's objection seems to focus on getting hit in the eye. Seriously, that will give you a bad day. OTOH, to be honest, I think that might be a little overrated, as the chance of that happening is pretty low. I also like the microwave gun idea, though, and I suspect it's not that hard to give it a fairly narrow beam. (Well... a man-portable device might be an issue...) $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:47


What you want is a weapon that can fly from where you are to where your target is and inject them with a tranquilizer without all that messy business about flying into the target and hurting them. That implies something with a great deal more precision and control than a bullet, something capable of guided flight, like a small drone. The drone flies over to its victim, latches on using one or more claws, searches for a good injection site, and does its work. (If possible, a drone that can reliably target veins would give you much better onset time with a more predictable result than intramuscular injection.)

If that's too slow and short ranged for you, you could try a drone gun! Take your miniature drone, package it in a disposable shell, and use an airgun to launch it near the target. Then, the operator takes over using a remote guidance controller attached to the launcher, like a guided missile.

  • $\begingroup$ Very cool! I could use this to balance out a scout class or so! $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 29, 2020 at 19:29


A taser is a great way to subdue people. It takes effect near immediately, only requires minimal contact with the skin of the target and generally isn't dangerous. The one that is fired has small hooks to stay in the target, but doesn't penetrate deep enough for any dangerous penetration damage. Although you can still hit an eye, people are more inclined to shoot centre mass as it's terribly effective on most of the body.

There are some restrictions, like some loose clothing can apparently sometimes prevent the hooks from reaching the skin, so too little of the current reaches the person. The same could be said for tranquilliser darts though. Two hooks are generally required, as well as a physical line towards the battery. The advantage is that the projectiles can be relatively low powered and lightweight. In your game you might check how your persons are clothed for protection, which might make some of the restrictions a non-issue. Alternatively to hooks you can have a sort of glue substance, but penetration of clothing is often required to supply enough electricity to the body. You could always go with the option of an electrified net, as someone else suggested.

There are obviously dangers with tasers if someone has a heart condition or something, but there are also dangers for using drugs. Tranquillisers can also take a moment before they take effect, leaving you open to counter attack or the target fleeing. This window with tasers is very limited.


Electric Shocks

Unless someone has some sort of medical condition (eg pacemaker), electrical shock is probably the least-lethal method of temporarily subduing someone / rendering them insensate. Here I'll outline other methods and why they're no good:

  • Beanbag rounds and rubber bullets are commonly used as less-lethal munitions however can still easily cripple someone. A beanbag to an unprotected chest can break ribs and a rubber bullet to the eye can permanently blind someone. Furthermore, they're generally used more in a "deterrence" than "subdue" case and people shot by them are either able to run away or hospitalized
  • Net guns and bola launchers are weapons that shoot some kind of entangling device such as a net or a bola which are designed to trip or restrain a target. Unfortunately, this does not really "stun" or "paralyze" and can also be quite dangerous because for them to have any range, the weights need to be thrown/shot at high speed.
  • Tranquilizer darts are not a good weapon against humans and basically only work in games and spy movies. This is because tranquilizers and sedation in general are very difficult to do properly/safely and heavily dependent on many different factors such as body mass, fitness level, activity level, etc. In reality, tranquilizer darts are mostly used against large safari animals and it often takes minutes or even hours until the animal passes out.

Therefore, I see a taser (conventional), electrolaser (sci-fi), shock suit as the optimal solutions:

  • A Tazer shoots two darts attached to thin wires at a target and then applies a high voltage to shock the target. This does require needles to penetrate the skin though, so they aren't that safe. People could get the needles/barbs in their eyes, or get them stuck in their skin and then fall on top of them (not comfortable)

  • An Electrolaser is a weapon which does not currently exist so is consigned to the realm of sci-fi but it does work in laboratory settings. The basic principle is that you use a powerful laser to ionize a channel of air which then becomes conductive enough to "shoot lighting" along the beam. This type of weapon could deliver a powerful shock without shooting darts. Still, this type of weapon isn't perfectly safe so you'd either need to set the wavelength of the laser to something non-damaging to eyeballs or have everyone wear laser safety goggles.

  • A Shock Suit doesn't exist but could easily be made with today's technology. Essentially, it's a laser-tag-vest combined with a taser. Everyone wears the suit and it constantly scans for "hits" by opponent laser-markers (like you'd use in laser tag). When the suit registers a hit, it shocks the wearer and disables their weapons or something.



Create an air cannon/potato gun that shoots jars of bees. Make sure to use auto glass for the jars so that they will shatter into small pieces and will not sever an artery. For combatants allergic to bees this could be fatal, but to others it would just be terribly unpleasant and distracting.

enter image description here


  • The character with the bee cannon must have a bee keeper suit or comparable "armor", so they can apprehend the enemy that has been beed.
  • The enemy can't have a bee keeper suit or full body covering.

Tranquilizers have a dosage problem

Drugs always have a dosage dependent on the body weight of the person they're being used against. In the real world, this is why cops and the military don't have tranq weapons. Zookeepers sometimes do, but they're dealing with large animals, and they simply wait for the tranqs to take effect and can shoot the animal a second time if it's not enough.

Perhaps the most illustrative example is the nearly-twenty-year-old Russian theater hostage crisis. Chechnyan separatists took 800 people hostage in a theater. They rigged the place to blow and a standoff ensued. For whatever reason the Russians felt they had to storm the theater. They decided to use exactly this sort of James Bond-style knockout gas.

Casualties were awful. Probably significantly less awful than if the terrorists had detonated the explosives, but still awful. And many of those who died were children because they're so much smaller than a grown-up. They got a comparatively much bigger dose, because they had to blanket the area with enough gas to effectively knock out the terrorists.

So gas is right out. Too chaotic and fundamentally uncontrollable. Darts have a similar problem, but are more tractable. Especially with the Power of Sci-Fiᵀᴹ. You need smart darts. The gun has cameras. Sophisticated software estimates the target's body mass. The smart dart is pre-calibrated based on this, but also administers a controlled dosage. Biotech in the dart monitors the target's vitals (not too hard, considering it already has access to the target's bloodstream)


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