Phaser Settings - When did they use one option over other?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Cadet49, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. Cadet49

    Cadet49 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I noticed in the Star Trek movie, 2009, that when Kirk and Spock boarded the Romulan ship, they had their phasers set on "kill", which struck me as odd, since Star Trek characters usually fire on "stun". Suddenly, I realized that we almost never saw a Vulcan or Romulan stunned in TV Trek. Is it possible that the stun doesn't work well on Vulcans and Romulans?

    Makes me wonder:
    1) How long does a stun last? Was it effective in knocking out an enemy for hours? If then, I would think they would rely on stun in most situations...

    2)Why, on DS9, did they often seem to fire their phasers on the lethal setting (e.g. against the Klingons in "Way of the Warrior"; against the Jem'Hadar whenever they encountered them) and blow up enemy ships, yet in TNG, they established that Starfleet officers almost always fire to stun, and to disable, rather than destroy, other hostile vessels. The situations often seemed similar, so I didn't understand where they would make the decision to use one option over the other? One thing I always liked about Star Trek was that it was one of the only shows I watched as a kid where the heroes fired nonlethal weapons, so the enemies could recover once the conflict was over - I liked that, compared to other sci-fi shows.
     
  2. Saturn0660

    Saturn0660 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    War my friend... You always set your phaser to kill.
     
  3. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If you stun your enemy, great, they're temporary unconscious. If you have the personnel, you can now watch them, or carry them to a detention location.

    Otherwise when they wake up, they are able to oppose you again. If your on a fast raid this would make little difference. But in a protracted war, if you merely stun your enemy, you screwing yourself over.

    Add to this the psychological factor, if a enemy truly believes that the worst that will happen to them is that they will be stunned, there will be no hesitation in charging your position, or your raiding party.

    A dead enemy can't keep coming at you. When Starfleet uses phasers and torpedoes on a enemy ship, they are killing people by the hundreds, and in a major fleet engagement by the tens of thousands.

    :)
     
  4. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    "We come in peace."
    (Shoot to kill, shoot to kill)

    Lethal force has always been an option in regards to phaser weaponry, even during TOS (Kirk sometimes had to give an order for phasers to be set on stun during a landing party). In TNG's very first episode, we saw a "cricket" phaser that was set on stun, but many other times we saw phasers drawn and already employed on a lethal setting.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    One would think this would vary significantly from individual to individual, with several parameters affecting the outcome:

    - Species
    - State of health
    - Size
    - Age
    - Armor or other clothing
    - Exposure (standing out in the open; half of torso obscured; completely behind foliage; etc.)

    This may be why stun is definitely an option in warfare (Kirk and Spock use it in "Errand of Mercy"), but only when you have good intel on your homogeneous target.

    For shortest recovery, I think LaForge in "Samaritan Snare" might qualify - it was possibly a matter of minutes, but cuts in the action clouded the issue. For longest, there are explicit stun fatalities in ST6 (Burke and Samno), and an implicit fatality in ST3 (Kirk fires an odd-looking pulse at the Klingon extra after reaching Kruge's camp)...

    Apparently, stun is easy to shield against, so it never works against starships; disabling, non-lethal shots with lethal weaponry in turn are almost impossible to achieve if the target is resisting.

    But the ground troops? Well, one does hope the cumbersome "armor" worn by Klingons, Cardassians and Jem'Hadar does some good. It is established not to stop kill phasers or sharp objects or even help against punches and kicks - but perhaps it stops stun blasts cold (despite always lacking a helmet or other head protection component)?

    One would think Kor's guards in "Errand of Mercy" would have been wearing stun-stopping armor, though. Granted, the "chainmail" or "fishscale" vests of the era aren't cumbersome and thus might defend their role as mere affordable decoration - but in the wider Trek context, Klingons have been dealing with stun blasts for centuries before TOS, and have been witnessed wearing cumbersome padding in the 22nd century already. Perhaps the TOS smoothheads were a special kamikaze unit that chose to fight unarmored as an extra sign of courage, to offset the shame of their mutated faces?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    "Star Trekking across the universe - on the starship Enterprise under Captain Kirk..."? Had almost forgotten the filk song, great reminder :techman: (sorry for going OT)

    Bob
     
  7. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    When facing a horde of Borg drones or a legion of Jem'Hadar soldiers, why didn't they switch to wide beam? It would thin out the Jem'Hadar no problem and take out several Borg before they could adapt.

    But then that doesn't really help with plot structure and ramping up the tension :)
     
  8. Angry Fanboy

    Angry Fanboy Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Angry Fanboy

    Presumably there is some kind of significant trade-off to be made when using a phaser on wide-beam rather than narrow/normal mode - I'd hazard a guess that it uses vastly more power, perhaps to such an extent that only a few wide-beam shots are possible, thereby leaving oneself vulnerable should the engagement continue. :)
     
  9. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Heavy stun on a narrow beam, might translate into extremely light stun when set to wide beam.

    You could also lose effective range.

    :)
     
  10. Santa Claws

    Santa Claws Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What about "The Man Trap"? IIRC, the stun setting just sort of... dazed Professor Crater. (I know, early episode and all... :))
     
  11. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's why you go in with a couple of rifles, half a dozen hand phasers strapped to your waist, and a harness loaded up with photon grenades--if you're going to fight Borg, go whole hog and do it right :lol:
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If stun is the only setting available on wide beam mode, then it won't do much good against a frontal assault by armored opponents (that is, Klingons, Jem'Hadar and so forth). And the very few times we have seen wide beam or multibeam modes, they have been with the stun setting - allowing us to think that a technological limitation indeed exists.

    Excellent example! I was going to amend mine with "Gambit" where Picard's alien sidearm stuns Riker for just 40-50 seconds, just enough to fool a group of people in a hurry yet still eager to see Riker go down for good, but "Man Trap" beats that one.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I always figured that there was a "light stun" setting that only incapacitates people for a very short period of time, a less painful version of a Taser.
     
  14. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    They did use the stun setting on the Romulan ship in Star Trek (2009). True most of the shots fired where the kill. From memory when the emitter was red it was kill, but when the emitter rotated to blue is blue (stun) can't exactly mind-meld with a dead romulan.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In comparable situations, Shatner's Kirk always used stun setting through and through, though. You can't interrogate the victim of kill setting, but there's no similar disadvantage to spraying everybody with the heavy stun setting, assuming the effect keeps the victims down for at least a couple of minutes.

    In STXI, Kirk and Spock really only appeared to have a tactical need for stun: to capture a source of intel, and then to plow routes to Captain Pike and to the supply of red matter. Kill provided no obvious advantage...

    ...Unless we assume stun is unreliable and frequently fails to down the target on the first or even the third shot. Which is quite possible, as in many other situations Kirk was in a position to take an ideal shot (thus ensuring downing at first shot against odds), rather than engage in a complex firefight where all shots were unideal as in STXI.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Not in all of the few the times wide beam/multibeam was shown to be stun-only. "The Enemy Within" had Sulu heating up rocks. It is more likely that wide-beam loses its effectiveness with range as I do not recall instances of it being used further than 20-30 feet.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, too bad - because a range limit would not explain why wide beam wasn't used to thwart the various frontal assaults of the TNG era... Those all involved an exchange of fire just a few meters before the attacking horde hit the defense line.

    Indeed, widebeam might be tactically the most effective at point blank ranges anyway, utilized like a claymore mine to deliver a devastating surprise strike that demoralizes as much as it destroys.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We know that phasers don't have unlimited power - the landing party phasers in the Enemy Within were almost drained of power just from heating rocks. Wide angle drains the batteries so it's not practical for extended firefights IMHO.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That shouldn't be a major problem. Ron Tracey killed at least hundreds with just a single phaser and two, possibly three exhausted power packs. His method of killing left bodies, suggesting either a TNG type kill shot, a TOS type stun followed by Kohm knifework - or massive vaporization of thousands, leaving a few hundred Yangs panicking and easy prey for Kohm spears and swords.

    Whichever the method, this sounds very much like widebeam or multitarget firing (since we have a somewhat clearer picture on what sort of an attack the Yangs would have mounted), and should easily cater for the stopping of any and all of the "massive" assaults seen in later Treks, as they only involve dozens of attackers at most.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Don't forget the TOS phaser can be set to kill and leave a body - see "The Conscience of the King". Also, we don't know what the battery status was of the phasers from "The Enemy Within", only that one "quit on us" - reason not specified. And then there is "The Omega Glory" where 5 phasers (4 drained) held off or killed thousands of attackers.

    I'd argue that the TNG phasers or TNG continuity phasers might not have had the same capabilities as the TOS ones.