Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

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Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:19 pm

{{ I was thinking about Middle-earth and weaponry. And its absence of fire arms. And it occurs to me this was actually a bit odd.
So my speculative question for you is how long after Aragorn established his realm did humanity invent firearms?

I ask because it occurred that everything you need already exists during the time period of LotR's.

Historically its roughly equivalent to the middle-ages in terms of metallurgy and castle building.

Post Aragorn it would presumably move into something closer to late medieval- where defense has become less important and the same architectural designs are being adapted for aesthetic and romanticized history purposes. And by this time period in our own history we had the first explosives in use and our first guns (1364AD).

In LotR's we know smithing has been elevated to a high art. And we know that gunpowder exists and its properties are known about- Saruman uses it to bring down the walls at Helms Deep and the dwarves use it to make fireworks with.

So we have all the technology required already in place.
So how long do you think it would take for humans in a post Sauron world to invent firearms and start shooting each other?! }}}

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Re: Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by azriel on Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:13 pm

That's a dam good question. Sometimes the need for weapons depends on the enemy at your door. How long could Aragorn, or any other king or leader have kept harmony & status Quo. I'm guessing, when all the monsters are defeated & there isn't any evil in the world it might not be for quite some time, but, there's always someone who wants to push the bar higher.
I have found a snippet in the chapter "Scouring of The Shire". It mentions something quickly in passing..........

" The ruffians came tramping along the East road, & without halting turned up the Bywater Road, which ran for some way sloping up between high banks with low hedges on top. Round the bend, about a furlong from the main road, they met a stout barrier of old farm carts upturned. That halted them. At the same moment they became aware that the hedges on both sides, just above their heads, were all lined with hobbits. Behind them other hobbits now pushed out some more wagons that had been hidden in a field, & so blocked the way back. A voice spoke to them from above.
"Well, you have walked into a trap" said Merry, "Your fellows from Hobbiton did the same, & one is dead & the rest are prisoners. Lay down your weapons ! Then go back twenty paces & sit down. Any who try to break out will be shot."
But the ruffians could not now be cowed so easily. A few of them obeyed, but were immediately set on by their fellows. A score or more broke back & charged the wagons. Six were shot, but the remainder burst out, killing two hobbits, & then scattering across country in the direction of the Woody End."..........................................

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Re: Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by halfwise on Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:50 pm

That was shot by arrows.

I think Tolkien may have started the way it did historically, with mortars.  But orcs would be using them, as anything noisy was orcish in Tolkien's mind. Also in Tolkien's world technological craft belongs to the good guys and invention to the bad.

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Re: Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by azriel on Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:30 pm

yeah, well, ok, it could be arrows Razz it just says "shot", might be a Beretta 12 gauge shotgun ? you never know Laughing

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Re: Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by David H on Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:33 pm

Some quick thoughts.  Firearms in the beginning of their development weren't really superior in range or accuracy to archers or the old-school siege engines. The main thing they offered was power.
On the other hand, there's a lot of reasons not to develop them. They're tricky and unpredictable, and can often be as dangerous to the operator as to the guy on the other end. So you'd expect them not to be developed until there was a real need for more power. In the case of mortars, that would presumably mean needing to pierce the walls of stronger castles, and in the case of small arms that would presumably mean needing to pierce better body armor.

But stronger castles and armor really only make sense in an environment of prolonged war. So really, unless there's a period of prolonged war and the arms race that often accompanies a stand-off, I'd think firearms could wait for ever to be invented. Shrugging

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Re: Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:15 am

{{Sure somewhere Tolkien talks about orcs love for creating devices so long as they are destructive and/or cause pain and suffering. And just about sure I read somewhere in reference to the undergrad war of the dwarves and orcs the use of explosives too.
And depending on how you want to take the reference in TH the sudden opening of Bag Ends door resulting in heap of dwarves on the floor is described as being like a childs pop gun being fired. }}

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Re: Tolkien's- what ifs and what might be's

Post by malickfan on Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:08 pm

Doesn't Bilbo own a mechanical clock in The Hobbit? and I think there are a couple of other apparent anachronisms in Shire technology of the age, always thought it was quite ironic the Hobbits of the Shire were considered a rather quaint, rustic soceity by the other nations of Middle Earth, yet in their own quiet way they are a resourceful, inventive people.

IIRC in Unfinished Tales references are made to Numenor's technical abilities-they were at one point able to forge bows made of hollow steel, and some of their mariners explored into the far corners and other continents of Middle Earth, it's not too hard to imagine one of their scientists was able to invent prototypes of the weapons of 'blasting fire' that Saruman later employed, the knowledge being lost with the destruction of Numenor, or perhaps Saruman uncovered the knowledge himself in one of his journeys into the East of Middle Earth before he settled at Orthanc (description of the various factions of Khand and Rhun is quite sparse in the books, but the little information we have does point towards a nomadic warlike race akin in some ways to the Mongols, gunpowder was invented in 9th Century China...)...

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