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Firearms Are Revolutionary

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"Until the invention of gunpowder weapons, 'eaten by predators' was still the number one cause of krogan fatalities. Afterwards, it was 'death by gunshot'."
Mass Effect 2's Codex entry on the Krogan

The introduction of firearms into real-life theatres of war ushered a major change in the nature of warfare, strategy, and society as a whole. Consequently, when works depict the invention and spread of firearms, including either handheld guns, cannons or both, into a medieval or medieval fantasy setting, this is likewise shown as the start of significant changes in the world, changes that are not always for the better.

In many cases, the arrival of firearms is portrayed as a sign or cause of the End of an Age. To begin with, advanced firearms and artillery render war more devastating, long-ranged, and impersonal; whereas combat was originally dependent on close-range fighting and the strength and skill of individual soldiers and warriors, it now becomes dominated by the mass dispensation of death from afar. Even bows, the primary form of ranged combat before firearms were developed, are generally outclassed due to the immense training requirements to learn archery (months at a minimum, usually more like years), while training to competently use a firearm such as a rifle can be done in weeks. Mainstays of a setting or era's approach to warfare up to that point, such as massed infantry and stone forts, are also swiftly rendered obsolete by guns and cannons' ability to effectively counteract them. This development will also often end the dominance of warrior-nobilities by rendering the ritualized and honorable (or "honorable") forms of combat they specialized in suicidal and obsolete. The arrival of firearms is also a usually very rapid affair, and they're spread and developed quite quickly and suddenly.

The stories resulting from this will often see characters worry about the callous ease with which death can be dealt, the death and devastation that such weapons will bring, and the unforeseeable ways in which the world and its balances of power will change. In some stories, this will be portrayed as a strictly negative change, to be counteracted or avoided if possible; this is especially likely to be the case when the pre-firearm society and form of warfare is highly idealized and its loss is thus a stricter negative.

If the introduction of firearms is portrayed in a positive light, it will usually emphasize the equalizing effect firearms can bring to a nation. No longer dependent on a professional standing army or warrior caste, countries can now be defended by a force of citizen-soldiers or short-term volunteers. In addition, such weapons can be (relatively) easily made and used by revolutionaries, making it easier to rebel against oppressive regimes or colonial powers. In more magical societies that subvert or avert Fantasy Gun Control, firearms can act as an equalizer between magic-users and Muggles, giving the latter a means of facing spellcasters that's both fast and powerful enough to serve as a counter to spells.

Other stories will split the difference and portray this as simply a major, destabilizing event that will fundamentally rework or collapse preexisting power structures, but not as strictly a change for the worse (or the better).

In most cases, these fictionalized depictions are an exaggerated version of real events. Firearms did displace older staples of combat and warfare, but did so fairly slowly — early guns were weak, slow to reload, and unreliable, and it took a long time for them to gradually develop into more dominant factors of warfare — early guns, for instance, usually weren't terribly useful against plate armor. As they did so, however, older elements of warfare, such as stone fortresses and specialized warrior nobilities, were indeed gradually displaced by the more effective style of combat. Outside of Europe, guns tended to make their debut when already advanced models were imported from European nations, and were often rigidly controlled and limited by the ruling class or colonial power precisely because of the impact they could have had — at least until one faction decided to use them to assert its own rule, as was done by the Japanese imperial government during the Meiji Restoration.

If the weapons are introduced by a more advanced people to a less advanced one, this may overlap with This Is My Boomstick.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Drifters: This is detailed in length by Drifter Oda Nobunaga after seeing first seeing the Western guns in action and the key to the Drifters' superior firepower. Historically, he is known for being the daimyo who took the first step to unify Japan, and one of the first Japanese military commanders to utilize arquebuses in battles and carry one himself. When he sees the Gatling gun and Colt pistol being used, he goes on tangents about how revolutionary such weapons are on the battlefield and how they render all previous traditional modes of combat obsolete. Even his fellow Drifter Hannibal Barca remarks how he'd be able to take down Rome in a day if he had one functioning Gatling gun. However, the metallurgy and mechanics to make the weapons are too advanced for the blacksmiths of the setting to recreate, at least until the Drifters get the Dwarves to join their ranks.
    Oda Nobunaga: If you have these weapons, you won't need to do what I did. More than that, the battlefield itself will change. Large battalions clustered together will be killed in the blink of an eye. No need for rows of riflemen. They should be dispersed in strategic points. Horseman? Spearman? What for?
  • Dr. STONE: After humanity gets sent back to Stone-Age level technology due to a mass petrification event, the reintroduction of gunpowder weapons is a major shift in the status quo. It's treated as a major victory for science by the story, because it means the Evil Luddite villain can no longer remain in power solely because he's able to beat up everyone else.
  • Final Fantasy: Unlimited: Most of the Comodeen rely on blowguns, so Cid is impressed by the potential of Kaze's gun when he sees it.
  • Inuyasha: Zigzagged when the Band of Seven are resurrected and one of them, Jakotsu, comes face to face with soldiers armed with matchlock guns who boast about their "new weapons". Naturally, as a resurrected specter given life by a shard of the Shikon Jewel, it's a complete No-Sell and Jakotsu is merely staggered and surprised by the bullets before slaughtering the soldiers effortlessly. However, he's still impressed enough by them to gather them up and show them to Renkotsu, who in turn is inspired by them and upgrades their ally Ginkotsu with cannons and firearms.
  • Princess Mononoke: When Lady Eboshi arrived in Iron Town with a group of elite warriors, her introduction of hand cannons and arquebuses drastically tip the balance of power between humanity and the supernatural to the point that the humans dominate the nature gods, leading to dramatic consequences later on.
  • Slayers: Late in the book series, the Kingdom of Saillune manages to mass-produce cannons and hand cannons for its army after hiring a one-shot villain who came from the far West and brought firearms tech with him, as well as beginning production of a pseudo-ICBM with the destructive capabilities of the Dragon Slayer spell.
  • Wolfsmund: Handgonnes, an early type of firearm consisting of a shot canister and powder charge on the end of a stick, come into play in the Forest Cantons' uprising against the Habsburgs. They're quite primitive and short-ranged, but when they work, they're very effective: in the assault on the Wolf's Maw the Swiss rebels use them to breach the gates of the castle.

    Fan Works 
  • Zero no Tsukaima: Saito the Onmyoji: The introduction of guns is a significant challenge to the current system of rule by mages, giving commoners a means of fighting against the magical aristocrats.
  • The Price of Flight: The Ankh-Morpork City Air Watch is part of the police force most of the time; however, when a more martial Air Force is called for, the Air Witches have recourse to the "warbirds", purpose-built battle-brooms. One is the Mig-21, which Sam Vimes notes looks effectively a broomstick built around a massive repeating crossbow, with the covered risers and limbs looking like strange triangular wings sticking out to either side. Vimes calls it a "flying gonne", eyeballs the Air Watch commander and deputy, and tells them straight that those bloody things are not to be used in routine police work and should remain locked in a remote hangar where, he, Sam Vimes, doesn't need to have to look at them. It is, in fact, a gonne by any other name.

    Films — Animation 
  • Kung Fu Panda 2: Shen invented giant cannons with which he intends to take over China. Judging by Shifu's descriptions of them being weapons that breathe fire and spit metal, firearms were unheard of until then, and he further states that Shen's victory would mark the end of Kung Fu. However, numerous tactical flaws of the bulky cannons are exploited by Po until the end where he learns to deflect the cannonballs back, thus destroying all the cannons.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Iron Bodyguard, set in the twilight of the Qing Dynasty, deals with the waning days of kung fu and Manchurian dictators getting their hands on Westernized weapons, namely guns. During a big battle between heroes and the main villain, General Chong's soldiers quickly turn sour when Chong unveils his rifle legion, who quickly makes short work of the good guys. Incidentally, General Chong ends up being Hoist by His Own Petard — the film ends with him being accidentally gunned down by his own riflemen in an attempt to shoot the hero.
  • The Last Samurai: Downplayed. Set in the 1870's, firearms have already existed for centuries, but Japan's rapid technological advancement is still a work in progress. While attempting to train the locals in their usage, Tom Cruise's Captain Nathaniel Algren comments disparagingly in his journal that the soldiers are largely peasant conscripts who have never so much as seen a gun. The first battle scene has the infantry levies trampled over by the mounted samurai in spite of being armed with guns. However, this was largely due to the infantry's poor training with them and how they panicked rather than sticking to proper firing lines, and with more training and the introduction of advanced, powerful firearms makes they basically make the samurai outright obsolete. Once the government gets gatling guns, the samurai are brutally wiped out before they can even get close.
  • The Man with the Iron Fists: The plot (which takes place somewhere in China during the late 19th Century) becomes a Race Against Time for the heroes at the film's midpoint when they find out that the Emperor is sending his Praetorian Guard to find whoever stole a cargo of gold that was meant to be a tithe, and they are armed with rifles, a Gatling Gun, and orders to riddle as much of Jungle Village with holes as necessary. As there is only one character who can survive the threat of a Multiple Gunshot Death in the cast (that being Brass Body), the heroes are quite alarmed. Thankfully they are able to solve the problem Just in Time.
  • Once Upon a Time in China: This trope is an essential plot point, as the presence of firearms is symbolic of the End of an Age where the era of the noble and heroic Chinese warrior ends to pave way for materialistic Westernization. Firearms in the film completely avert the usual Guns Are Worthless treatment that is often seen in this film genre, and gun wielding colonialists are ruthlessly effective at mowing down even the toughest fighters. Even Master Yen, one of the greatest examples of traditional Chinese martial arts skill in the film series, who was able to deflect swords off his body without injury, is easily killed after being riddled with bullets by nameless mooks. Summed up by Yen himself upon his death.
    Master Yen: We can't fight guns with kung fu.
  • In a supplementary video of Prometheus, Peter Weyland lists the numerous achivements of mankind in his speech at the fictional version of TED 2023 conference, with him emphasizing the invention of gunpowder in particular.
    Peter Weyland: 100,000 BC, stone tools. 4,000 BC, the wheel. 800 BC, sundial. 9th century AD, gunpowder. Bit of a game changer, that one.

  • 1632: Downplayed but still present. Guns are already a thing that has changed warfare in the Europe of the 1630s that the year 2000 town of Grantville, West Virginia gets transported to. However, the townspeople are still the beneficiaries of 369 years of firearms development and in sufficient numbers their modern, high power, rapid-fire weapons can absolutely crush any "pike and shot" formation of the day. Even when due to lack of tools they must "tech down" to a 19th century standard that can be mass-produced, their weapons still maintain a significant advantage in rate of fire, range, and accuracy over those carried by everyone else on the planet. Together with advanced designs for ships, artillery, armored vehicles, and aircraft, advanced tactics and strategy, plus a few cleverly negotiated alliances, their firearms allow them to establish a brand new and very powerful liberal democracy in an age of absolutism, several hundred years ahead of schedule.
  • The Accursed Kings:
    • Played with during the first appearance of siege guns which produce a lot of smoke and noise when firing, but the old marshal remains unimpressed, especially when compared to trebuchets. Due to the city walls, the besiegers don't see that the shot obliterated a house.
    • In the final book, an approaching siege tower is obliterated by point-blank cannon fire that had been hidden in the walls. Everyone knew it was a dumb idea except the king (whose idea it was).
  • Achaja: The invention and spread of rifles leads to an End of an Age, as this development creates a world where a mere peasant familiar with the basics of shooting can put a Master Swordsman down with no difficulty.
  • Altina the Sword Princess: Cannons are present in continental wars, but infantry mostly still fight with melee weapons, while Belgarian cavalry use lances and muzzle-loaded carbines. When High Britannia invades the Belgarian Empire in volume 5, their breech-loaded rifles and more advanced cannons prove devastating against the outclassed Belgarian Army. At the end of the battle in that volume, the narrator states point-blank that the age of the Belgarian pikeman's dominance is over.
  • Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest: Hajime Nagumo's main weaponry is guns. Even with very powerful magic running around, a gun is an incredibly deadly weapon, particularly Nagumo's railgun. A knight Nagumo shoots down with a deliberately underpowered bullet realizes that guns will definitely bring about a massive change to Tortus.
  • Artamon's Tears: The people of Tielen make extensive use of guns and, consequently, conquer the rest of the world, which makes no use of firearms.
  • The Books of Ember: Sparks is the only settlement known to have recovered a machine gun, while most other characters would have a knife or machete at most. When Ben tries to use it on the Emberites, however, he mishandles the weapon and very nearly kills both himself and his nephew Torren.
  • The Children of Man: Firearms are a recent invention in the setting, and the Merchant House Evensong has a monopoly on their manufacture. This makes securing Evensong's loyalties a major priority for both sides in an upcoming war.
  • Crosstime Traffic: The effects of this are seen in the first book, Gunpowder Empire. Set in a Roman Empire that never fell, the world is divided among several competing empires (Rome, Lithuania, and Persia, to name a few), all armed with Renaissance-level guns. The empires crush any attempts at breakaway states, but can't defeat each other because the central governments suppress any attempts at advancing gun technology to maintain their monopoly.
  • Discworld:
    • Men at Arms: It's revealed that the Disc's greatest inventor came up with a rifle, which briefly terrorizes Ankh-Morpork when it's stolen by an unhinged assassin. Something about the "gonne"'s singular nature and sheer killing power turned it into an Evil Weapon capable of possessing its wielders, and it actively enforces Fantasy Gun Control by killing an artisan that was trying to duplicate it. When the thing is finally defeated, it's buried forever with a fallen guardsman so that he can have a peerless weapon in the afterlife. The people most affronted by the gonne are the Assassins Guild themselves, who see it as the antithesis of the rules of fair play they insist they operate by.
    • The one-shotte crossbow, essentially a cylinder containing a powerful spring (or a compressed air reservoir) attached to a handgrip, isn't actually banned but is frowned upon, as in the eyes of opinion-formers this is too damn close to being a gonne. (The Assassins Guild will only use them outside the city, it being tacitly considered that the rules of fair play mentioned above only really apply in Civilisation.)
  • Draconis Memoria: The invention of fairly advanced firearms by the humans of the world, such as silenced pistols, six-shooter revolvers, repeating carbines and breech-loading rifles, means that hunting and killing drakes is much easier and safer, and also provides Contractors with a much-needed counter to the overwhelming numbers of the native Spoiled.
  • Empire Of The Moghul: In the first volume. Raiders from the North, Babur is introduced to cannons and matchlock muskets by his comrade Baburi. This technological advantage plays a major role in Babur’s conquest of India and the establishment of the Moghul dynasty.
  • The Five Ancestors
    • Much of the story details the Chinese soldiers’ use of (somewhat anachronistic) flintlock weapons imported from Europe. Even commoners find it easy to get ahold of pistols and muskets, and the warrior monks often find themselves at a loss when their years of training with kung fu aren’t enough against bullets.
    • Hok also realizes the medical side of this when she helps treat wounded characters. While she’s more than prepared to deal with cuts and dislocated limbs, she’s stymied by the fact that the bullets just tear straight through people, leaving holes and splintering bones.
  • Gate: A medieval, fantasy Roman-esque army appears in the middle of modern-day Japan and begins a campaign of conquest. They effortlessly cut through unarmed civilians and do mildly well against metropolitan police armed with revolvers, tear gas, and riot gear, but once the JSDF forces arrive, things rapidly change for the invaders. Within a short period of time, armoured vehicles, rifles, and attack helicopters make short work of the invaders and are eventually pushed back into the Gate. When the JSDF sends their expeditionary force through the Gate, they practically turn every skirmish into a Curb-Stomp Battle for them. 100,000-strong massive army? Firing lines, barbed wire, and high-explosive artillery beats them back. Flying, massive fire-breathing dragon? Anti-tank rocket launcher drives it off. The denizens of the Gate-world are amazed at how terrifyingly effective guns are, especially at just how many Japanese soldiers can be equipped with them and the ranges at which the weapons can be deployed striking at their foes with impunity.
  • Guardians of the Flame: When a group of roleplayers is transported into their characters' bodies in a fantasy world, after electing to return and stay they start introducing more advanced technological concepts into the world as they gain a foothold and start building a larger community. This includes firearms, which soon triggers an arms race with their opponents who replicate the concept using magic.
  • The Prodigies from High School Prodigies Have It Easy Even in Another World resolve to establish their new form of government to fight back against the Freyjagard Empire. While firearms do indeed exist in this world, mostly they exist as simple one-handed flintlock pistols that are often carried by select members of the Nobility as a last resort weapon. After securing their control over Findolph, Ringo starts up several factories in order to produce modern day Breech-loader carbines to issue to their own forces to fight back against invading Freyjagard Soldiers to great effect.
  • Island in the Sea of Time (Series): The people of Nantucket are sent back in time to 1250 BC. As they work to survive their new circumstances, they quickly realize that the fact that they know how to make guns gives them a massive advantage over the other major world powers, who are still getting the hang of iron weaponry. On the downside, when William Walker defects and tries to build his own empire, he builds alliances by offering to share the secrets of gun manufacture with potential allies.
  • Legacy of the Drow Series: In Passage to Dawn, Captain Deudermont's pirate-hunting ship faces off against a vessel armed with a smokepowder cannon, a rare alchemical invention that easily penetrates their wizard's wind wall spell, normally proof against enemy arrows. They find the weapon terrifying and are at a loss for how to deal with it until Catti-brie manages to hit the powder magazine with a magical arrow.
  • The Lord of the Rings: While not dealt with directly, anything resembling gunpowder or firearms is treated profoundly negatively, such as the sapper bombs in Helm's Deep. As the Behind the Scenes of the movies explains, Tolkien felt that the romance of battle was lost once you were able to easily deal death at a distance, which may explain the Medieval Stasis setting of Middle-Earth. This is reflected in the films: the Uruk-Hai use crossbows that can be quickly reloaded with a pump-action, making it like a medieval shotgun.
  • The Lost Regiment views the introduction of firearms as a positive event, when an American Civil War regiment gets sent through a portal onto a world where people are being kept in a feudal (or even earlier) level of technology and used for food by the alien horde ruling over them. By introducing gunpowder and firearms to the people living on this planet, the regiment is able to overthrow both their alien rulers and the aliens' human puppets, ushering in a new era of independence and democratic government.
  • Maoyu: The introduction of firearms to a Standard Japanese Fantasy Setting is an enormous game-changer for the human armies. It's much easier to train ranks of riflemen than archers or mages and the rifles possess enough stopping power to badly wound if not outright kill powerful demons with enough rounds. Even Hero, a Person of Mass Destruction, notes that he probably wouldn't win against the combined might of Central's army thanks to their teams of riflemen shooting him down.
  • An Outcast in Another World: Discussed, but averted. Rob wonders about how the introduction of firearms would shift the balance of power in the fantasy world of Elatra. Then he remembers that he has no idea how to make them, and no longer has access to the internet to research how.
  • The Powder Mage Trilogy: Firearms and gunpowder don't just revolutionize warfare, they revolutionize magic, as powder mages can use gunpowder to strengthen themselves and enhance their senses, and can also aim their bullets with impossible accuracy and at ranges far greater than the Elemental magic-wielding Privileged, thus making them the only viable battlefield counter to them other than other Privileged.
  • Tales of the Otori: Firearms are rare imported curios in the feudal Japan-esque setting. Takeo is quick to realize their devastating potential; after gaining power, he takes great pains to ensure that only his military has access to them. This drives the main conflict in the sequel novel when the chief warlord of the Eight Islands wants in on the secret.
  • That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime: Played with. In a fantasy world where magic has reigned supreme for hundreds of thousands of years, the Eastern Empire has looked to both their own science and the gathered technological and scientific knowledge of the dimensionally-displaced Otherworlders to boost their military might. The result has been the construction of various real-world firearms and Magitek equivalents, from handguns to sniper rifles, to tanks and airships. This progress resulted in the disbandment of the Empire's Magical Corps and folding the majority of which into the Armored Corps, with many boasting that the age of magic is over and the Empire is truly the most powerful force in the world now. No one on either side doubts these weapons' power, with it being noted even a simple handgun can kill humans much faster than a sword or melee weapon, and a tank's main gun could easily destroy a fortified armored gate capable of withstanding full-on sieges and kill a dragon. Some even muse the age of the sword might be over. However, where the Empire proponents of these weapons fall on their face is that they underestimate just how powerful magic and monsters can be. There exist monsters strong enough to tear apart tank armor and withstand tank shells or the reflexes/toughness to pull off a Bullet Catch, magic is still needed to supplement the destructive power of these weapons and the strongest magics still surpass the strongest military weapons (there are magic spells that are more destructive than real-world nukes in frightening supply), and their users are still humans themselves with physical limits. And ultimately, the true trump cards of the Empire are not these weapons of war, but the Imperial Guard who are each a One-Man Army and wield magically-enhanced firearms at technological best, the Marshall who is in fact the Planet Destroyer True Dragon Velgrynd, and their emperor Rudra who wields and is possessed by a divine power given by the multiverse's creator dragon god. Basically, firearms are revolutionary, but they're just another weapon of warfare at the end of the day.
  • The Wheel of Time: A rogue firework maker in the Medieval Stasis setting invents cannon and obtains a royal commission to manufacture them late in the series. A general is uncomfortably aware that the face of war has changed forever, but is glad to have them for the Final Battle, where he deploys cannon volleys through Thinking Up Portals for especially devastating effect.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Into the Badlands: In the final episode, a Clipper finds a working gun. Since the Barons who controlled the Badlands ordered all guns destroyed and banned their manufacture centuries earlier, it's implied this is the next great force that will threaten the Badlands. However, the series was not renewed after this so the full implication of this discovery remains unknown.
  • Marco Polo: As Marco and company approach China’s western border, they are ambushed by a group of Kublai Khan’s elite cavalry troops. While their gunpowder weapons are indeed primitive by modern standards, the Venetians have never seen anything like them, and they prove to be only one of many wonders Marco encounters throughout the story.
  • Shadow and Bone: It's mentioned that a few centuries ago Grisha were almost considered a One-Man Army due to their powers enabling them to outclass the average soldier. After firearms were invented though, soldiers armed with guns are considered to be on increasingly equal footing with Grisha and considering Grisha have to make certain gestures to use their abilities as opposed to just squeezing a trigger, it can make things a lot dicier.
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Original Series: In "A Private Little War" Kirk is surprised to find that the people of Neural, who only had bows and arrows the last time he saw them as a young Lieutenant, suddenly have flintlocks. Some of his crew argue that they could've discovered the technology naturally, but it turns out the Klingons introduced them to one faction as part of a plan to take over the planet. Paradise has been destroyed, and all Kirk can do is give the other faction the same level of weaponry to try to equalize the balance of power.
    • Star Trek: Enterprise: T'Pol mentions that the invention of gunpowder and chemical propulsion of metal bearings marks one of the Human race's major turning points in their history, which wouldn't be truly surpassed until the invention of warp technology.

  • Sabaton: "Shiroyama" depicts the Last Stand of the samurai and the end of Japanese feudalism, as the old warrior class finds itself outmatched by modern armies equipped with guns. In the song itself, 500 Satsuma samurai are outnumbered sixty to one and armed with swords against Imperial guns — the fact that they even survive until dawn is impressive. This romanticizes the real battle somewhat: firearms had in fact been present in Japan since the mid-1500s (at one point during the Warring States period there were more gunsmiths in Japan than in the whole of Europe) and all of the Satsumans had them, but the Gatling guns and greater numbers of the Imperial Japanese Army simply outgunned Saigo's samurai.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Banestorm: The powers-that-be evidently believe that firearms would be revolutionary in this fantasy world, because Fantasy Gun Control is being explicitly enforced by... someone.
  • Forgotten Realms: Defied. The theoretical development of firearms is deemed so damaging to the balance of power on Toril that Gond, god of craftsmen, divinely prevents the relevant chemistry from working altogether. An alchemical substance called smokepowder is allowed to be produced in sharply regulated amounts by his priests instead, reducing firearms to rare curiosities.
  • Ironclaw: Wheellock guns are starting to level the playing field between mages and non-mages, assuming one can afford them. In particular, the Anatolian Empire's new cannons have proved a match for Calebria's more traditional wizard artillery.
  • Legend of the Five Rings: This is the main reason for Rokugan's extremely strict ban on gunpowder. Their society believes strongly in the Celestial Order, and their legal system is based on duels where the winner is considered to have the blessing of the Kami and thus must be right. Guns and cannons allow untrained peasants and criminals to kill samurai and daimyo with ease, violating the Celestial Order and threatening to eliminate the culture of swordsmanship they had cultivated for millennia. The tipping point was the Battle of White Stag, when a group of Gaijin pirates managed to kill the Empress with cannons during an attempted coup, and gunpowder became illegal and Gaijin deported unless they had sponsorship by a powerful samurai.
  • Pathfinder: A mechanical example. The optional rules for firearms introduced in Ultimate Combat have dramatic effects on game balance. Guns roll against the target's touch AC rather than their normal AC when fired within their first range increment, making them quite deadly given their above-average damage dice and critical multipliers. This can get really crazy if the setting's tech level is advanced up to "Commonplace Guns" or higher, which reclassifies firearms as martial or even simple weapons instead of exotic weapons, making many classes proficient with them without needing to spend a feat. Several classes have since gained archetypes that allow the use of firearms. Examples include the Spellslinger Wizard (who can fire their spells through their firearm), the Holy Gun Paladin (who channel their Holy Smite through their firearm) and the Picaroon Swashbuckler (who get up close and personal with their sword and pistol).
  • Warhammer: Played with in regards to the Empire and Bretonnia.
    • The Empire is at a Renaissance/early Industrial Revolution level of technology, and so uses guns and gunpowder artillery in its armies. The neighboring kingdom of Bretonnia is resolutely stuck in the kind of pre-modern chivalric warfare seen in Arthurian tales (to the point where ranged weapons like bows and trebuchets are considered fit only for peasant levies), but the Lady's magic allows their knights to be highly resistant to firearms. It's been implied the Lady is actually a Wood Elf deliberately hindering Bretonnian technological progress to ensure they remain as unwitting meat shields around their forests.
    • The Bretonnian navy, on the other hand, is the most powerful in the world due to their enthusiastic adoption of cannon (the issue of them being unchivalrous weapons is irrelevant to the navy as guns only aren't allowed on Bretonnian soil), and the harbor cities and some border towns are trying to take the more pragmatic option of using guns to defend themselves.
  • Age Of Ambition is set in fantasy world that is beginning to enter its own version of the Renaissance. This means many ships are being armed with cannons and soldiers outfitted with matchlock firearms now compete with mounted knights and crossbowmen.

    Video Games 
  • Zig-zagged in Age of Empires II. While gunpowder weapons are certainly powerful game-changers once the game allows their availability, for game balance reasons civilizations without them are still capable of competing without them, or have viable alternatives. Not to mention that due to this being at the time gunpowder weapons were only making their debut, they tend to be Powerful, but Inaccurate.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura: Firearms are one of several technological inventions to arise from the Industrial Revolution, and the Unified Kingdom quickly cottoned on to the fact that it's much easier to train a soldier to aim a gun than to swing a sword, draw a bow or cast a spell and made a point of outfitting their entire armed forces with firearms. They put them to great use during their war with the kingdom of Cumbria (a conservative nation that values chivalry and "traditional" forms of combat), and at the start of the game, the Unified Kingdom's capitol Tarant is an industrial powerhouse and the financial and political hub of the continent while Cumbria is a dying shadow of its former self.
  • Colonization: If natives manage to get guns, either by trading with colonists or stealing them from them, then they can manage to better survive against colonization.
  • Fable II: While firearms are absent in the first game, pistols and rifles are invented between it and the second and in the second are used alongside crossbows, swords, axes, and maces. The invention of firearms seems to have been a deciding factor in the decline of the Heroes' Guild, as the availability of pistols meant that people no longer had to be reliant on arrogant Will-users. In Fable III, the Hero has a variety of pistols and rifles to use as ranged weapons, and cannons are also seen in use: one side-quest involves killing hollow men with a mortar.
  • Final Fantasy XIV has the Machinist questline treated like this. While there have been guns within Eorzea, they were limited to the Musketeers of Limsa Lominsa and were loaded with powder. Conversely, the Machinist's Magitek firearms are loaded with the wielder's own aether. The Ishgardians consider guns to be a dishonorable weapon as they've always fought dragons with the Good Old Ways: swords, shields, spears, bow and arrow. The nobility also fear guns because they can be effectively wielded by commoners without intensive training, thus threatening to destabilize the strict social structure that the nobles value by giving the lower classes a chance to rise up out of the Brume, the city's ghetto.
  • GreedFall: The various nations colonizing the island all have pistols and rifles, which give them a big advantage against the natives in conflict.
  • In Hades, the Adamant Rail is kept a secret by the Olympian gods for this reason, as they fear that if humankind discovers it and replicates it, their wars would grow even more savage and efficient.
    Achilles' Codex: While other weapons of the gods inspired mortal counterparts, I am relieved to say the Rail's cruel design has not yet been discovered in a stroke of mortal inspiration, to conduct their wars. Let us pray for their sake that it never shall.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has a Magitek version with the Guardians, enchanted machines commissioned by the Royal Family of Hyrule to fight against the nearly all-powerful Calamity Ganon, displacing most of the traditional army in the process. Each Guardian has an onboard laser cannon capable of destroying almost anything. It ended up working a little too well, since Ganon was able to take control of them with his magic and reduce most of the land to ruins.
  • Mass Effect: The Codex entry for the Krogan begins by establishing this. The warrior Krogan race evolved on Tuchanka, a veritable Death World if ever there was one. The invention of gunpowder was a turning point that allowed them to kill each other with far more frequency than their homeworld's flora and fauna could, exacerbated by their short tempers, clan disputes, and lust for battle. As you might expect, splitting the atom resulted in the quick destruction of the climate of their homeworld through nuclear attacks and forced themselves to live underground.
  • Pillars of Eternity takes place in a world that has just developed gunpowder technology. The setting's War Goddess takes firearms into her aspects, because they even the playing field between magic users and non-magic users, and allow even more people to participate in war. In a bit of Gameplay and Story Integration, Pillars diverges from its D&D roots by allowing wizards to equip armor, something the lore states was a response to the fact that musket bullets can penetrate magical shields.
  • Soul Series: Early in the series, Heishiro Mitsurugi's motivation for hunting Soul Edge was to find a way to defeat the Tanegashima rifle, which he saw as an emerging threat to his way of life after witnessing them in action during the Battle of Nagashino. This would be a Subverted Trope as the series went on, however, as Mitsurugi eventually becomes skilled enough to defeat a rifle-wielding opponent without the cursed sword, and the rise of firearms (even in Europe itself) is barely acknowledged after that.
  • Total War:
    • Medieval II: Total War: Played With. Gunpower is discovered in-game during the mid 13th century and acknowledged as "a new discovery that could change the course of warfare". However, the initial handgun units available are quite weak and the cannons, whilst powerful, are only so much so than other siege engines (as well as carrying the danger of exploding). It requires being quite far down in the technology tree (which often takes factions quite a while to accomplish) for gunpower units to become a truly clear advantage, and even by the end of the game they are still outdone in several areas (such as range and speed) by other missile units. Cannons on the other hand become the most powerful siege weapons available and drastically increase the ease of sieges.
    • Total War: Shogun 2: In the trailer for the Fall of Samurai DLC, a traditional samurai practising archery is juxtaposed with a bombastic announcer praising the advantages of a gatling gun as one mows down a number of charging troops armed and armored in a Sengoku-era style. That being said, this is Downplayed in the actual game itself as the Japanese of the time period already are using firearms — the true cultural conflict within the setting is Japan opening up to foreign concepts and (advanced) technology after having segregated it from the outside for over two-hundred years.

  • No Need for Bushido: The comic is set during the beginning of widespread use of flintlock muskets in Japan, bringing about the end of the age of melee warfare and warrior-nobilities.

    Web Video 
  • Critical Role: The invention of the gun and gunpowder in the magical land of Exandria comes about through an unwitting deal between protagonist Percival de Rolo and a demon. The spread of firearm use becomes a major theme for Percy's arc in Campaign 1, as he attempts Fantasy Gun Control ... and fails, due to his enemy figuring out how to manufacture and spread their use. By Campaign 2, taking place ~25 years later, guns have become commonplace among millitaries and a black market trade, though they are not sold to citizens. This continues in Campaign 3 (31 years after Campaign 1), where guns are still expensive but relatively commonplace and able to be bought by civilians. The technology of the guns have also advanced, using percussion caps instead of packed powder. The party even encountered a Mini-Mecha armed with a gatling gun-type weapon called a "Kshatriya Special".

    Real Life 
  • Colt revolvers were infamously this, with the quote "God made men, Colt made them equal" pretty much summing it up. Although Samuel Colt was not the first to invent a revolver, he was the first to mass-produce good quality revolvers. Before then, short-barreled pistols and revolvers were prohibitively expensive and quite inaccurate, but Colt six-shooters held six shots, were relatively simple to reload, could easily kill someone in a single shot, and were affordable. Their parts were produced with specially made molds which allowed for quick manufacture, assembly, and repair by anyone rather than skilled gunsmiths which made them available to pretty much anyone who wanted one. With the Colt Armory in Hartford, Connecticut alone pumping out 150 of these things a day they played a massive role in the Mexican-American War and the The American Civil War and became a mainstay icon of the American frontier. There's a reason Revolvers Are Just Better is a trope: it's called the Colt Revolver.
  • George Orwell wrote an essay titled "You and the Atom Bomb", in which he mentioned the introduction of firearms as a positive change because it made it easier for commoners to both make and use weaponry, resulting in a number of successful revolutions, allowing for the formation of new democracies and independent nations.
    The great age of democracy and of national self-determination was the age of the musket and the rifle. After the invention of the flintlock, and before the invention of the percussion cap, the musket was a fairly efficient weapon, and at the same time so simple that it could be produced almost anywhere. Its combination of qualities made possible the success of the American and French revolutions and made a popular insurrection a more serious business than it could be in our own day. After the musket came the breech-loading rifle. This was a comparatively complex thing, but it could still be produced in scores of countries, and it was cheap, easily smuggled, and economical of ammunition. Even the most backward nation could always get hold of rifles from one source or another, so that Boers, Bulgars, Abyssinians, Moroccans — even Tibetans — could put up a fight for their independence, sometimes with success.
  • After Portuguese sailors arrived onshore near Tanegashima in 1543, firearms quickly became an in-demand weapon for the warring clans of Japan during the Sengoku period with the aforementioned Oda Nobunaga extensively utilizing them to take the first steps in unifying the country such as the utter annihilation of the vaunted Takeda cavalry during the Battle of Nagashino. Following the beginning of the Edo period, however, firearms fell mostly to the wayside due to a combination of a lack of large-scale conflict and increased restrictions on their use by the Tokugawa shogunate, save for being hunting implements or to deal with crop pests, until increased contact with the West during the mid-19th century increased demand for modern firearms. These modern firearms would be used to deadly effect by both sides but especially the Imperial forces during the Boshin War who would put an end to the feudal system imposed by the Bakufu government and pave the way for the creation of the modern Japanese state.
  • This trope is what effectively led to the end of the Songhai Empire. In 1591, Moroccan soldiers and mercenaries were hired by the sultan of Morocco to take over Songhai's lucrative salt and gold trade and chose a Spaniard with no military experience named Judar Pasha to lead as general. Despite only 1,000 of the original 4,000 troops remaining upon reaching the Songhai capital of Timbuktu and outnumbered by 9,700 Songhai infantry armed with bows and 18,000 cavalry with spears, the Moroccans won the day and Timbuktu easily fell. This was all because the Moroccan troops were equipped with cannons and harquebuses, the most modern rifles of the day.
  • Guns were one of the big factors in the Atlantic slave trade. By the 16th century, Europe's firearm technology had progressed to the point that having guns gave a massive advantage in warfare against foes that did not. European slavers went to the west coast of Africa and offered to trade guns to any kingdom that would give them slaves. Once a few kingdoms began doing so, every kingdom was effectively forced to also do so (typically by attacking their neighbors and capturing a bunch of prisoners). The whole ordeal basically turned into a slavery-driven arms race which nobody but the European slavers actually won.

Alternative Title(s): Guns Change Everything, Firearms Change Everything, Guns Are Revolutionary