I have a question to the forum about Fremen Weaponry

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Nicodemus
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I have a question to the forum about Fremen Weaponry

Postby Nicodemus » 18 Mar 2008 19:52

One of the things that just didn't seem right to me about the entire DUNE storyline has to do with what the Fremen were said to be armed with; Crysknives, Maula Pistols, and Dart Guns.

Well it seems to me that all three of the handheld weapons mentioned were close quarters weaponry and better suited for indoor/urban fighting than conflicts in the open desert. I would think that long range weapons would have been preferred on Arrakis as they are here on Earth in the 21st century.

Also, something else to consider. The use of personal shields was not a common practice on Arrakis due to the effect the shields had on the Sandworms close enough to detect it. It seems the shields agitated the giant worms for some reason and whipped them up into a killing frenzy if used too close to one. Because of this lack of shield use, the use of Lasguns on Arrakis would have been more viable than anywhere else in the Universe. The risk of Laser/Shield interactions would be far lower than any other place within the Empire and serve as a key defensive weapon not for the Fremen, but for any of the Imperial forces occupying Arrakis at the time, seeing as the Fremen did not use ANY shield technology what so ever. The benefits outweigh the risks in this case. Most of the foriegn personel on Arrakis didn't use any type of personal shielding as things were (mainly because of the worms) so the risks of a shield/laser reaction being used against them by the Fremen would have been minimum at best. What the Lasguns offered their opperator was a handheld weapon capable of eliminating multiple enemy soldiers over a greater distance than any of the weapons previously used there by either the Fremen or the Harkonnen.

If Lasguns were too much of a risk, good old fashioned firearms could have been implemented by the Fremen to wage war against any of the Imperial forces that threatened them. The technology would have been ancient by that time, but no more so than the heavy Artillery the Baron Harkonnen used against the Atreides military at the Battle of Arrakeen. Unlike the heavy guns however, hand held firearms would have suited the Fremen to the "T". Maula Pistols had been mentioned in the books but they had an effective range of only 40 meters. Basically useless on the open sands of the desert.

As it stands, warriors of Earth's "Dark Ages" were better armed for wide range warfare than the Fremen. All the "weirding" training in the universe would have been useless if the Fremen weren't allowed to get close enough for hand to hand combat. Bow's and Arrows are effective for 100's of yards, a Crysknife or dartgun would be severely outclassed.
One decent Sardaukar or Harkonnen Archer would have been able to dispatch a dozen or so Fremen before having to reload.

When you think about it, Crysknives and Maula Pistols are little better than Stone Axes and slings.

Had it been Frank Herberts intention to portray warfare to be Stone Age primitive in his futuristic setting in DUNE? Because without the use of some type of long range weapon in the hands of the Fremen? That's exactly what it would have been.

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Postby Freakzilla » 18 Mar 2008 20:02

"Projectile launchers, rockets, all the ancient weaponry--that's one thing
we'll give the Fremen," Paul whispered.

~Dune

Those were used against the spice mining and in the Battle of Arrakeen.

Who needs a gun when you can just crush your enemies under a column of sandworms?

:P

Firearms and lasers can give away your position, too. That's probaly one reason the Fremen liked the dart guns, they're almost silent. The Fremen relied heavily on stealth.

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Postby orald » 19 Mar 2008 03:22

40 meters is a long distance for a one hand held weapon w/o good sights(i.e pistol class) as Freak could undoubtablly tell you.
The weapon might have great accuracy and range, but this kind would be still limited to the human opperator(as always, the human factor is at fault :D I just love CABAL)

You should also remember this is a universe with hard-coded limiting fighting techniques that have been used for thousands of years(they could just blast the whole lot from orbit, no? that was a last resort threat at the end)- hence the surprise by the usage of artillary by the Baron and later the Fremen.
They relied so heavily on shielded hand-to-hand warfare that practically everyone was blind to changing it(another point of criticism against conservatism by FH?).

Moreover, lasguns were somewhat bulky(as Teg ponders to himself in HoD, and these were weapons from Leto II's reign, maybe 1000 years after Dune). They also have very limited ammunition, even the high quality Harkonnen ones Teg uses(several quick sweeps and it's gone).

Furthermore, most fighting didn't, in fact, take place in the open desert in ranges of dozens of meters, but were guerrila attacks in urban areas(they were raiding Harkonnen outposts), and they also used camoflauge.
Remember when Thufir sees the Fremen highjack a Harkonnen 'thopter?
They use some decoys, get the 'thopter to land and then jump on it from under blankets.
Then the Harko's use a 'thopter's lasgun to prevent just that- they blast the landing area to clear any ambushers.
Later they use explosive shells to try and gun down Paul 'thopter.

And last but not least, being basically outgunned if they ever tried long range warfare(heck, they haven't even got air superiority) resulted in their guerrila warfare, and, guns being called "the great equalizer" would've only worked in their disadvantage- their superior fighting skills would've been wasted. So they had to usually resort to getting into the enemy's ranks ASAP. Remember- this isn't standart Cold War tactics, this is guerrila- they choose were and when to fight(Paul takes the initiative and the Harkonnen's crumble, thinking themselves secure behind their impegnetrable defence lines).
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Postby Nicodemus » 19 Mar 2008 04:19

True, the "human factor" does play a huge part in the effectiveness of a projectile weapon, however being that Arrakis was so unique within the Empire (as to which types of weapons and defenses could be used) there was no reason to implement the use of (ancient) firearms for such a terrain. True, Lasguns were cumbersome and each held only a limited charge and they did run the risk of shield/lasgun interaction when used anywhere else in the Universe, but the chances of such an event to happen on Arrakis (during that period) were significantly less than most anywhere else in the Empire.
If not lasguns, then why not firearms? If not firearms, then why not Crossbows or longbows both of which had significantly longer range and accuracy compared to Dartguns and Maula Pistols?
It's true, a large amount of the Fremen/Harkonnen exchanges did occur in more 'urban' areas during Fremen raids on Harkonnen outposts (as you said orald) and Spice Factories, but allot of conflicts occured just outside of the shield wall in open terrain too.
In any case, no matter how successful the Fremen were on Arrakis with thier hit & run guerilla tactics using their Close Quarter Combat weapons, how well do you think they would have fared Offworld during Muad'Dib's crusades? No Sandworms at thier disposal then Freakzilla. Not ambushes to set up when you become the invading force. (at least not as it was done on Arrakis) Not to mention that the Fremen would have been encountering shield fighting techniques for the first time on the Crusades as well.
Call me a pessimist, but I find it a little hard to believe that Muad'Dib's crusades would have been so successful if his Fremen were armed only with close range weapory. If a dart gun could be calibrated to pierce a personal shield, so could a bow or similar type weapon to give the Fremen a little distance between themselves and the enemy.
Some might say that Muad'Dib's Fremen could have used Atomics to conquer some worlds during the crusade, but I doubt it very much judging by their reaction to the people of Naraj using a stone-burner during the battle there.
I still say some type of distance/projectile weapon should have been present among the Fremen, hell, with EVERYONE involved in fighting on Arrakis. This issue was addressed in the Artisian version of DUNE (2000) by having guns in the hands of the Atreides, Harkonnen, and Sardaukar (those water-pistol looking rifles with no triggers and then 6-7 barrelled shotgun thingy Stilgar was waving around in the end that he shot that Sardaukar with). I wonder how the new movie will protray the battle scenes?

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Postby orald » 19 Mar 2008 06:58

As Freak already mentioned, they did, in fact, use long range projectile weapons, and it, comebined with better organization and tactics, led to their quick capture of Arrakis.

I haven't read DM for some years now, but I don't recall anywhere being said that they didn't take their ranged weapons with them, not that they refrained from using shields on other planets.

A cross/bow might have a good range, but it takes an expert marksman(much better than a rifle-using one) to hit a *stationary* target at such far distances, and the arrows are way too slow to be able to hit a moving target that far away. You'd need to have a volly of hundreds of archers to do some decent hits, and they can be circumvented using low tech metal shields(heck, with plasteel and such around there's no way a man-powered bow would penetrate it)- that's exactly what they did until 600 years ago, and they were using rigid, slow moving troop formations too.

A real bowman would spend years in training, and if good, would have a few shots per minute for a crossbow or about 20 for longbow(from Wiki', I was bored :) ). There's just no real advantage for a bow over a Mula pistol, since, like I said, bows are for slow moving targets at best and have poor rate of fire.

Also, I think it's been mentioned before that a lasgun would probably be somewhat like a light machinegun in that it was more of a squad support weapon, so not everyone had it.
BTW, when the Baron instructs Raban about controling Arrakis after the take-over, Raban asks for lasgusn just because the Fremen don't use shields, to which the Baron replies he'll leave him "some", and declines to leave the artillary, prefering to scrap it for the metal.
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Postby loremaster » 21 Mar 2008 11:34

I know shields summon worms like KJA novels attract flies but i kinda always figured other things did too, or similar.

I should imagine the regular thrumming of an automatic firearm might have a similar effect. The multiple loud bangs from rockets and similar would probably attract worms too (the way i see it, whatever you do out in the desert you do until the worms find out and turn up, there is no defense against those really).

But i think the real reason ORALD already hit on: that fighting just didnt take place as we think it did, this is the "war of assassins" after all.

Plus, no-one actually thinks there are enough fremen to fight. It was all about unity in the fremen (with the exception of jacurutu) and so they only had "honourable" crysknife fights. When they do it was always about stealth, ambush etc.

Plus, given the REALLY limited resources on dune its hardly surprising. The planet was a wasteland, there is never one mention of mining anything other than spice, of significant-non-spice industry or anything. All the planet did was spice! Everything else was shipped in and traded for. At high cost. But when paul first gets introduced to a seitch he tells jessica he can smell explosives etc. So they obviously had those too.

I think that big bulky weapons (explosives etc) just werent that much use on the sand, they tended to attract worms and they werent suited at all to the fremen style of fighting.
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Postby The Sons of Idaho » 21 Mar 2008 13:59

I think it makes sense that it was just a cultural thing that had developed over the years. The invention of shields changed the way people thought about fighting, much like the invention of guns did today. Like Orald said, it had been that wasy so long, it became kind of "hard-coded".
This is one of the things I like about the series. It examines how certain things like this have long-term cultural effects.

an example of using atiquated technology today -
Like if today, there was some situation during some battle in which a catapult would be the perfect tool (for some reason). Chances are, no one would recognize this and think of using a catapult as an option. People just don't typically think that way, and if they did, where the hell would they get one?

When artillery was used on Dune, the Baron recognized that it was possible, but it seemd his motivation for using it was more for "flair" - wanting to use something exotic because he could.

Paul, however, seemd to truly recognize the advantages. I think this was an example of him effecting change through unconventional thinking. Someone else wouldn't recognize the opportunity, but Muad"Dib had the insight to see it and take advantage of it.
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Postby orald » 21 Mar 2008 14:53

The Sons of Idaho wrote:an example of using atiquated technology today -
Like if today, there was some situation during some battle in which a catapult would be the perfect tool (for some reason). Chances are, no one would recognize this and think of using a catapult as an option. People just don't typically think that way, and if they did, where the hell would they get one?

Actually, catapults were used by French units as late as WWI.
Wikipedia- Catapult wrote:The last large-scale military use of catapults was during the trench warfare of World War I. During the early stages of the war, catapults were used to throw hand grenades across no man's land into enemy trenches. These were eventually replaced by small mortars.

Clicky for picture.

Far be it from me to note the ongoing list of French military failures and how this anecdote may be connected to them. :roll:
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Thanks for the replies everyone!

Postby Nicodemus » 26 Mar 2008 08:40

I really appreciate it. I do have some things to comment on:

Orald,

On several occasions you have brought up the issue of training (as in the need for it) to master such a weapons as a bow, but would this be any different to master than the knife? Being that most of us do not live in a "Knife Culture" I think many people tend to dismiss the amount of training and technique that is required to master close quarters battle with a knife. In the Philippines for example the the martial art of Kali centers around the use of an edged blade in conjuction with kicks and blows along with a stylized feinting and distraction. This martial art has flourished there and in the Indonesian islands due to the culture itself, and the blade being the weapon of choice.
It is a mistake to assume that Arrows or bolt shot from a bow cannot be successful in engauging fast moving targets. In a recent demonstration by the Mongul restoration society a mounted Archer was able to accurately hit 12 2' x 2' targets while at a brisk gallop: demonstration the Monguls 180 degree field of fire while on horseback. The rider was able to shoot at his targets as he approached them, as he passed along side them, and behind him as he passed. 12 arrows in 13 seconds demonstrating the deadly speed and accuracy of the great Mongul army of Ghengis Khan. I used this example only because I had just recently saw the demonstation on TV and it is fresh in my mind.
Yes! Of course the Monguls were expert archers and therefore able to achieve such results, but were the Fremen any less skilled in the use of a Crysknife? Do you believe the mastery of knife fighting to be easier to master than that of a bow?
The advantage of he bow above a Maula pistol is clear: Range. Depending on the length, shape, and thickness of a bows limbs arrow speeds could be adjusted accurately to pass through a personal shield, just as a thrown knife was able to (For example Pauls hit on Alia's practice Mek).
As an avid bow hunter, I must point out that it is wrong to assume that a bow, especially one of a modern design is ineffective against fast moving targets or capable only of a low rate of fire.

Loremaster,

Perhaps the style of fighting was different at that time (though the "War of Assains" had occured decades before the Atreides move to Arrakis...the "official" War of Assasins in which Thufir Hawat had served Paulus Atreides in his prime if my memory is correct) Still, numbers are numbers and no matter the manner in which the Harkonnen troops were being taken 50,000 men over a 3 year peiod of time is still warfare n matter how you look at it. I'm not saying that the Harkonnen hadn't under estimated the Fremen's strength in numbers, but after the loss of over 15,000 men on an annual basis the Harkonnen (at least some of the Bashars onworld) had to have known that they were dealing with more than a handful of tribes.

Sons of Idaho,

I am not going against what you and orald were saying about the shield technology being engrained into the mindset of the other people of the universe I agree.

But what happened when the Fremen Jihadi's went out into the Universe to fight against these shielded forces is what I am talking about. Remember what a hard time Paul had fighting against Jamis, and how he couldn't get his timing right? Now put that in reverse and imagine all those non-shielded Fremen going to war against Shielded Sardaukar forces (there were still remnants of Shaddams empire everywhere at first) as well as any of the Houses that were against the Atreides (Like whomever 'owned' Naraj and launched that Stoneburner on the Fremen forces. The Fremen would have speed on their side (defensively) but armed with CQB weaponry? They wouldn't have gotten very far. Somewhere somehow along the line they needed to have changed weaponry.

And orald,

Yeah, but them French would call them "Trebuchet's" just to be different! LOL!

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Postby orald » 26 Mar 2008 14:37

That's not what I mean about "moving target"- those archers you mentioned are shooting at stationary targets as they themselves move, it's different.
Please link us this demonstration of someone firing(let alone acurately) 12 shots in 13 seconds, since this sounds a bit over-the-top IMO.
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Postby Mandy » 26 Mar 2008 19:15

I know wikipedia isn't the greatest source but they have an interesting article on horseback archery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseback_archery

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Postby Nicodemus » 27 Mar 2008 04:25

orald wrote:That's not what I mean about "moving target"- those archers you mentioned are shooting at stationary targets as they themselves move, it's different.
Please link us this demonstration of someone firing(let alone acurately) 12 shots in 13 seconds, since this sounds a bit over-the-top IMO.


It was on the Discovery channel (Or History channel) just last week, and I really don't think the Chinese stood still to allow the Monguls to shoot them.

The program was about ancient technology and covered catapults and trebuchets as well.

I did find this article:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseback_archery

and found this statement of speed though it is different from the program I saw:

QUOTE: "To ensure rapidity of shooting Kassai has developed a technique of holding up to a dozen arrows in the bow-hand from which the archer can re-draw quickly. Kassai's research has shown that the previously envisaged pulling arrows from a back quiver or saddle quiver to be too cumbersome and slow - it is not known how the Mongols or their predecessors managed the task as no records remain of this facet of horseback archery. Kassai himself places great emphasis on this technique and can shoot up to 10 arrows in 12 seconds.[citation needed]"

Oh! It's the same article you found Mandy, thanks!!!

**On the topic of "Moving Targets" You are right, shooting from horseback is different than shooting at moving targets: it is FAR MORE DIFFICULT. Even more so when shooting from horseback at moving targets as in battle.

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Postby Crysknife » 27 Mar 2008 11:41

I think this thread can be summed up rather easily. When a planet decided that it wasn't going to "join" Paul's empire, it would have been sanctioned and cut off from trade completely. After a few years of this, any Fremen mop up crew would have an easier time going after whoever remained defending the planet. They would also quickly adapt to any fighting style they encountered....after many generations on Arrakis, they were bred for it. Any heavily defended position would be recognizable from space(which probably meant spice hoards or weapon hoards), and the Guild could knockout any satellite communications. It would just be a matter of time before the Fremen could go in a clean house.

Paul controlled the Guild, therefore he controlled all trade. When the Fremen were hankerin for a fight, they could choose whatever battles they liked. Sure, there were probably times when they walked into a few fights throwing caution to the wind, but they were never in danger of losing anything in the long run.

The spice ran the universe, and Paul controlled the spice. Even if the Sardaukar were better fighters, it wouldn't really change the outcome.
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Postby Spice Agony » 20 May 2008 15:58

When it comes to lasguns specifically on Arrakis, also remember that the sand quickly destroyed any equipment. A lasgun is pretty complicated and easily messed up, while I'm guessing maula pistols and dart guns were relatively simple. Besides being less likely to be damaged, they are much easier to fix if they are.

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Postby Spice Grandson » 20 May 2008 16:57

Crysknife wrote:I think this thread can be summed up rather easily. When a planet decided that it wasn't going to "join" Paul's empire, it would have been sanctioned and cut off from trade completely. After a few years of this, any Fremen mop up crew would have an easier time going after whoever remained defending the planet. They would also quickly adapt to any fighting style they encountered....after many generations on Arrakis, they were bred for it. Any heavily defended position would be recognizable from space(which probably meant spice hoards or weapon hoards), and the Guild could knockout any satellite communications. It would just be a matter of time before the Fremen could go in a clean house.

Paul controlled the Guild, therefore he controlled all trade. When the Fremen were hankerin for a fight, they could choose whatever battles they liked. Sure, there were probably times when they walked into a few fights throwing caution to the wind, but they were never in danger of losing anything in the long run.

The spice ran the universe, and Paul controlled the spice. Even if the Sardaukar were better fighters, it wouldn't really change the outcome.


Muad'dib's Jihad only took 12 years in total, FYI...

From Dune Messiah:

"You Jihad only took twelve years, but what a lesson it taught!"
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Postby Spice Grandson » 20 May 2008 17:01

Spice Agony wrote:When it comes to lasguns specifically on Arrakis, also remember that the sand quickly destroyed any equipment. A lasgun is pretty complicated and easily messed up, while I'm guessing maula pistols and dart guns were relatively simple. Besides being less likely to be damaged, they are much easier to fix if they are.


That's the best point I've seen so far. Equipment always faired poorly on Arrakis.

From Dune...

Lasguns would knock them down, but lasguns were expensive and notoriously cranky of maintenence -- and there was always the peril of explosive pyrotechnics if the laser beam intersected a hot shield.
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Postby Spice Grandson » 20 May 2008 17:05

And, as Thufir said..

"Arrakis has special problems, costs are higher, and there'd be maintenance and the like."
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Postby Seraphan » 06 Jul 2008 11:47

Exactly! That's where the Fremen's guerrilla tactics gave them advantage. Arrakis is described by many in the novels has a hellhole, so it's not your run of the mill desert, and firearms in such conditions would actually be dangerous, sand gets everywhere and it wouldnt be hard for a gun to jam so maintenace of such equipment would be costly. What FH wrote makes sence, nowadays weapons and military equipment is hard to maintain in desert conditions, imagine it on Arrakis with such powerfull sand storms.
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Postby Anathema » 08 Jul 2008 10:14

But what happened when the Fremen Jihadi's went out into the Universe to fight against these shielded forces is what I am talking about. Remember what a hard time Paul had fighting against Jamis, and how he couldn't get his timing right? Now put that in reverse and imagine all those non-shielded Fremen going to war against Shielded Sardaukar forces (there were still remnants of Shaddams empire everywhere at first) as well as any of the Houses that were against the Atreides (Like whomever 'owned' Naraj and launched that Stoneburner on the Fremen forces. The Fremen would have speed on their side (defensively) but armed with CQB weaponry? They wouldn't have gotten very far. Somewhere somehow along the line they needed to have changed weaponry.


In the original Dune, when the Fremen are waiting for the storm it's mentioned that some of the scouts use body shields to protect them from gunfire from Sardaukar. I don't see why Paul wouldn't have trained some of the Fremen in shield fighting, since he especially would see that it could have its benefits.

Besides, I don't think that the Fremen during the jihad faced many proffessional men-at-arms, let alone Sardaukar. I imagine that the Great Houses grudgingly accepted Paul's ascension but that there puritan mobs of the old Empire religion who refused to be ruled by Fremen.

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Postby inhuien » 09 Jul 2008 05:17

I’m sorry to have to contradict you here Anathema but you have to be wrong as I’m sure you know the usage of Shields in the open Bled would attract all the Worms for miles around to attack in a Killing frenzy. Now I can’t recall off hand the passage you’re referring to but it’s must be the “Shield Wall” that you’re thinking of which is a geological feature rather that a Holtzman shield.

Edit to subtract a crazy ass errant comma.
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Postby Anathema » 09 Jul 2008 11:04

Paul gestured to a Fedaykin lieutenant, said: "Otheym, start moving the
check patrols out of the blast area. They must be out of there before the storm strikes."
The man bowed, followed Stilgar. Gurney leaned in to the rock slit, spoke to the man at the telescope: "Keep
your attention on the south wall. It'll be completely undefended until we blow it."
"Dispatch a cielago with a time signal," Paul ordered.
"Some ground cars are moving toward the south wall," the man at the
telescope said. "Some are using projectile weapons, testing. Our people are using body shields as you commanded. The ground cars have stopped."

In the abrupt silence, Paul heard the wind devils playing overhead -- the
front of the storm. Sand began to drift down into their bowl through gaps in the
cover. A burst of wind caught the cover, whipped it away.
Paul motioned his Fedaykin to take shelter, crossed to the men at the
communications equipment near the tunnel mouth. Gurney stayed beside him. Paul
crouched over the signalmen.

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Postby Freakzilla » 09 Jul 2008 11:10

They were on and within the Shield Wall using shields, in and above the Imperial Basin.

Also, shortly after that quote, Paul yells at the Fremen for cutting rubble from the atomic blasts because they have men with shields down there.
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Postby inhuien » 09 Jul 2008 11:23

Well you live and learn, ty :)
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