Spoilers ST Discovery - Starships and Technology Season Three SPOILER Discussion

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Mark_Nguyen, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Captain Captain

    May 23, 2015
    When Picard is taken prisoner by Cardassians he and his group has a hockey puck size shield emitter for blocking a corridor so they can escape. If that isn’t phaser resistant it would be useless. Same for the larger shield emitter used in Insurrection to block the cave.

    I believe in The Siege of AR-558 they experience supply shortages due to the intensity and length of combat. If they had personal shield emitters, either for the body or puck style area shields, they could have already been depleted by the time the episode begins.

    By the time of DIS we might assume the defense-offense balance to have swung to offense in the realm of small arms. Or, we might consider organizations still provide only basic equipment to shipboard combatants the same as they always have. In TOS we see the Gorn have a phaser sniper rifle, and Starfleet has a photon grenade mortar. In a movie security personnel get ballistic shields, but we never saw anything like that for red shirts in TOS. In TNG and DS9 combat robots exist. In DS9 soldiers get that inch thick foam rubber jacket which might be phaser resistant and we know crates in TNG and DS9 can resist normal kill shots. In DS9, when they talk about enacting military law that’s when they also talk about distributing personal shields and photon grenades. All together, that means we don’t see better equipment in DIS because they aren’t at war.

    Alternatively, we are seeing improved defenses and don’t know it. Season 3 episode 1, people vaporize when hit by the donut guns. Later episodes they just die from wounds. Later we see one more person vaporize. What if the people who don’t vaporize have phaser resistant clothes. On its own it’s not that useful, but if you quickly get help a doctor might save your life.

    Sure, even in TNG they should have personal shields all the time, and DIS Season 3 should give everyone SPARTAN armor which grows from their tricomms, but they don’t. In TNG a combination of budget and story restriction probably stayed their hand. They wouldn’t want to write battles around people with defenses, they rather they Matrix dodge the phaser aim-bots.
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    It would suffice for the puck to be phaser-resistant, I guess, as the purpose of the forcefield itself isn't to stop enemy fire, but to prevent enemy access...

    This nicely covers a variety of issues in the scenario. Grenades or other mass effect weapons? They spent all of those already. Anti-personnel mines and other traps? Exhausted against the endless Jem'Hadar sallies and recce parties, so they now have to steal from the enemy. Support vehicles? The very first thing to go...

    Then again, there's little need to assume changes in balance in the bigger picture: the choice of equipment could be on case-by-case basis, and the TOS redshirts just didn't anticipate needing anti-bullet shields at any point (indeed, only three Earth-copy planets used bullets against the heroes, and no redshirts were involved there).

    Paintings hanging on walls can resist normal shots, too. Phasers simply appear to be selective things, their effect spreading from the impact point to the surrounding material but generally not jumping from one material to another (not even from "harder" to "easier"), so SF HQ wall art is safe, as are lumps of meat inside steel kettles.

    So why doesn't Kirk wear a steel kettle for armor? Probably because the kill setting is trivially and automatically tailored to take into account the material barriers when needed, and it takes special attention to command a phaser to only do the kettle and not the meat for demonstration purposes. But no special attention to only do shirtsleeves opponents but not pretty paintings, because this is the expected mode.

    Then again, that's a lie - nobody is attacking, and Leyton only wants to control the citizens of Earth in case they want to riot against the junta. So possibly personal shields are only useful against rocks and Molotov cocktails, and photon grenades are the closest future equivalent of tear gas or flash-bangs, much as the MACO grenades in ENT S3 were.

    Or because Vance doesn't quite trust Saru's posse...

    (And/or because Starfleet is short on ammo in their current predicament.)

    Indeed, there's no such thing as bulletproof wear today, but assorted protection is still worn to help with lesser hits. And armor-like clumsy wear is common in Trek, despite clearly and infamously providing no protection against death rays, bullets, knives or even fists when the attacker presses home the attack. It's just a matter of how much clumsiness and other penalty you accept for the off chance of not dying.

    Armor generally comes with a penalty, and donning it may doom you to lose your battles and die. Certainly it's not you should don lightly, even if none of the penalties is weight...

    Shields specifically are avoided by Star Trek players in all contexts. Starships never raise them, even in war zones, unless there is no other alternative. "Just in case" is flat out, for some completely unknown reason. If mighty starships can't wear shields for, say, power reasons or because they do some sort of self-harm, an infantryman is unlikely to be any better off!

    Timo Saloniemi
  3. SolarisOne

    SolarisOne Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Jun 7, 2016
    stuck between a rock and a kiss-ass place
    I'm wondering how well any kind of personal shielding might handle hypersonic bullets. I know firearms are taboo in canon Trek, but there are plenty of instances where they would be superior, or even just usable vis-à-vis energy weapons, especially in situations when caring about casualties isn't a priority (like if you're fighting Jem'Hadar).
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Since one of the key technologies of Trek is nullification of inertia and (aka?) manipulation of gravity, I could see kinetic attack becoming utterly outdated as a method of warfare. Sure, you can still commit random crime with it, sniping at folks who aren't expecting to be gunned down, but it wouldn't seem unlikely that bullets in the battlefield are stopped by a thing sewn into your shirt.

    ...That is, sewn in there some time after TOS, where our heroes still got gunned down or had to yield to folks pointing slugthrowers at them. Even in TNG, it would be something that doesn't quite fit inside a commbadge, so Worf has to McGyver a bit to get protected in "A Fistful of Datas".

    The fancy chest pattern of the TMP-style security "football armor" would be an excellent candidate for bulletproof wear IMHO, a relatively novel technology (at that level of miniaturization) and just barely competitive with "conventional" bulletproof, inertia-defying, roll-out riot shields such as seen in ST5:TFF. Give it one more century and it gets sewn in to the coveralls worn by the troopers in those DS9 episodes featuring 'em - at which point no adversary sees any point in carrying the dead weight of a slugthrower gun any longer, and instead concentrates his strength on rayguns and knives that get past the anti-bullet defenses on two sides.

    Timo Saloniemi