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-   -   Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy (http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread.php?t=63789)

SimonAce 07-09-2013 01:13 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Being clockwork is already TL5 in this setting suggests good metallurgy and that wheel-locks and maybe even flintlocks might be already available skipping the whole matchlock phase

Likely something akin to a wheel-lock mechanism for firestaring might already might be available to the wealthy as a convenience items and modifying it for use on a whatever muskets are called would not be hard.

The matchlock was cheap and and easy to make but that was its only real upside . In a setting where its ammo is rare and expensive as well as there being advanced clockwork no need for the developmental steps.

In such a case I'd use the stats in High Tech or Low Tech

Icelander 07-09-2013 01:36 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SimonAce (Post 1609852)
Being clockwork is already TL5 in this setting suggests good metallurgy and that wheel-locks and maybe even flintlocks might be already available skipping the whole matchlock phase

For certain experts in the richest areas, this is true. On the other hand, these experts can replicate TL5 results with their personal experience and intuition, not a body of advanced theory that is easily transferable to mass production.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SimonAce (Post 1609852)
Likely something akin to a wheel-lock mechanism for firestaring might already might be available to the wealthy as a convenience items and modifying it for use on a whatever muskets are called would not be hard.

The matchlock was cheap and and easy to make but that was its only real upside . In a setting where its ammo is rare and expensive as well as there being advanced clockwork no need for the developmental steps.

In such a case I'd use the stats in High Tech or Low Tech

This is true and the PCs are already investing in wheellock and even magelock* weapons. On the other hand, while you can train TL2-3 bronzesmiths to cast bronze matchlocks fairly easily, they can't make TL4 iron/steel guns with advanced TL5 clockwork trigger mechanisms.

When you need a 1000 weapons yesterday, that's a real concern. Of course, that's a rare situation, but for PCs, somehow, it seems to be the standard. Nothing ever happens fast enough for their purposes.

Happily, some of them are merchant princes, warlords or aristocrats with impressive administrative, social, mercantile and organisational skills, and they are successfully leveraging an initial technical advantage into a very successful naval and military campaign. But since the other side has a much larger reserve of men, wealth, magic and material, even if they are slower to mobilise it, the PCs need to maximise the benefit from their newfangled weaponry and tactics while the other side is still figuring out the ramifications.

Hence, solutions that can be made with a few TL4 (advanced)/TL5 (some fields) engineers instructing TL2 and TL3 craftsmen, using TL 3 tools and infrastructure.

Sling-launched grenades appear very promising, as the PCs can recruit plenty of skilled slingers and train them to use the new weapons. And while the PCs are unlikely to buy new firearms with a matchlock mechanism, they do have 300 of those in their arsenal**. It's possible that they'll convert them to wheellock eventually, but it's not as if they have any spare engineers available now that don't have more important tasks.

I don't know how long they'd take to convert or how easy it would be to train blacksmiths to do it, though. If TL3 blacksmiths can do it with TL3 blacksmith tools, once you show them how, that means they'd change over instantly. But I suspect wheellock mechanisms are finicky and require more skill and more advanced tools than a typical TL3 blacksmith in a society where copper and bronze is used more than iron and steel will be likely to have.

So it's use them as matchlocks or not use them at all, at least for the upcoming battles. Unless you can order a conversion kit from abroad which handy soldiers could fit themselves, but that's probably not an option.***

*A minor cantrip provides the spark necessary to fire the powder.
**They are equipping their by-now experienced and elite caliver corps with magelock weapons, but they won't throw away their old weapons.
***The PCs would probably spring for up to $500 per gun to change over to wheellock quickly, but most of the best smiths in all the neighbouring cities are already making armaments for one side or the other, ranging from steel arrowheads to TL2+2 mechanical artillery.

Icelander 07-09-2013 03:34 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
A real TL4-5 grenade was made by taking a hollow 6-lb cannonball and stuffing like 2 oz. of black powder in there, with fairly poor fragmentation effects. It gets 3d cr ex [1d], weighs 2.2 lbs. and has a Cost $10 (inc. less than $1 for real-world black powder) in HT.

Does it sound reasonable to have skilled blacksmiths at TL3-4 (advanced) make superior versions* according to designs proposed by TL5-ish theorists among the PCs and their henchmen?

And for these to be ovoid sling projectiles with thinner cast-iron casing, thus better designed to fragment but exactly strong enough to contain the explosion, as well as containing closely packed sharp iron fragmentation material and a double charge of 4 oz. of smokepowder? This would be around 80mm long and 45-60mm wide, I'm guessing.

I'm aiming for stats of 4d cr ex [2d], Weight 2 lbs. and Cost $30 in addition to the cost of the smokepowder (which comes to an additional $50 at the cut-rate prices the PCs got it for this time).

This is more or less equal to the effects of the TL6 blackpowder Stielhandgranade with a hypothetical fragmentation jacket (well, it exists for the TNT version), except the fusing is not TL6 and the weapon is thus much less reliable unless magic is used.

How about the same size of projectile, but using fired clay, scrap metal fragmentation and only 2 oz. of smokepowder?

I'd guess we could get 3d cr ex [1d+1], Weight 1 lbs. and Cost $10 (and then a further $25 for the smokepowder).

The cheapest version I can see would be a fired clay one with just 1 oz. of smokepowder and sharpened stone or ceramic that breaks up in sharp shards used as fragmentation material. 2d cr ex [1d], Weight 0.5 lbs. and Cost $2.5 (as well as $12.5 for the smokepowder). The fragments would have an Armour Divisor of (0.5) against anything other than leather or cloth.

These would all fit in a Heavy Sling or, ideally, a Heavy Staff Sling.

*In the real world, it was definitely not worth the extra cost to build high-value casing instead of just throwing more of these cheap ones, but the cost of smokepowder makes it worthwhile to maximise the effects of each bomb instead of aiming for more volume.

martinl 07-09-2013 04:11 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Have you considered clay vessels wrapped in iron wire for strength, heft, and fragmentation?

Icelander 07-09-2013 04:33 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 1609950)
Have you considered clay vessels wrapped in iron wire for strength, heft, and fragmentation?

Is there a particular reason to have the iron wire on the outside? I don't know much about slinging, but I think smooth surfaces are helpful. I guess that the wire should be smooth enough, though.

Of course, iron wire is expensive to make until TL6. I have no idea how the price compares to cast iron, using the TL5-ish (magically-assisted)* manufacturing that the PCs are adopting.

Or, for that matter, how it compares to using TL3 methods to make an iron shell in several parts and fastening them together.

*A red dragon was really into metallurgy, using his breath weapon to power furnaces. With the aid of elemental creatures, the PCs are using his furnances and other tools.

Ulzgoroth 07-09-2013 05:13 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Skipping the wire and simply making the casing clay with embedded cast-iron shrapnel might work. They'd be fragile, but might be much cheaper than casting hollow iron balls of any sort with such a low technology level.

I'd think shells assembled from multiple parts would be prone to leak, unless they were welded shut somehow.

Icelander 07-09-2013 05:19 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth (Post 1609974)
Skipping the wire and simply making the casing clay with embedded cast-iron shrapnel might work. They'd be fragile, but might be much cheaper than casting hollow iron balls of any sort with such a low technology level.

Yep. This would be the mid-to-cheap versions mentioned above.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth (Post 1609974)
I'd think shells assembled from multiple parts would be prone to leak, unless they were welded shut somehow.

I was thinking about closing them with wax before you put the powder in through a single hole, which you close with a cork.

johndallman 07-09-2013 06:05 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 1609931)
Does it sound reasonable to have skilled blacksmiths at TL3-4 (advanced) make superior versions according to designs proposed by TL5-ish theorists among the PCs and their henchmen?

Iron could not be actually melted, and thus not cast, in historical Europe until the 1400s, because appropriate furnaces weren't developed. Can your blacksmiths do it? If not, hand-forging shells in pieces and joining them will be quite expensive.

Icelander 07-09-2013 06:57 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johndallman (Post 1609996)
Iron could not be actually melted, and thus not cast, in historical Europe until the 1400s, because appropriate furnaces weren't developed. Can your blacksmiths do it? If not, hand-forging shells in pieces and joining them will be quite expensive.

TL4 (advanced) craftsmen do it, yes. The PCs are importing all they can of such experts, but frankly, they already have a list of tasks longer than a really long thing that they want from them.

On the other hand, the magical furnace chamber on the newly conquered Isle of Tan allows the fire elementalist PC to cavort with fire elementals and melt iron all he wants. I'm guessing he could develop a method of doing this. But, again, he could also produce steel arrowheads, spearheads, armour and a lot of other useful things.

The local infrastructure near where these would actually be deployed, as opposed to the PCs' home base, is only barely TL3 and fairly backward in blacksmithing, with a lot of TL2 aesthetic and remnants. Maybe fair to call it TL 1+1 or TL2 through TL1+2 or TL2+1, with the neighbours/enemy having discovered all the theory necessary to be TL1+3 centuries ago, but being stuck at TL1+2 or TL2+1 due to social and religious factors.*

They are more likely to cast bronze shells, frankly. How would that work?

Given that they have enormous reserves of ancient loot made from the stuff, it might not be all that expensive if you can melt old bronze items into useful material. About which I have no idea.

*Being ruled by immortal gods can suck for progress, because being divine actually makes them sort of like autistic monomaniacs for their portfolios. The priesthood of Thoth is allowed to experiment with what they want as long as they keep it a secret from the populace at large and so have access to a lot of cool stuff, but are extremely marginalised in politics and few of their inventions are used in warfare or on any large scale. Smokepowder was discouraged, with prejudice, after some events a few centuries ago. The PCs have caused a lot of young priests to start asking questions and dig up old scrolls and measurements... as well as their seniors to start quietly preparing mystic keys to certain safeholds.

Icelander 07-09-2013 08:58 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
There is a decent ceramic and glasswork industry locally.

Does anyone have any idea about the thickness of earthernware, ceramic or glass needed to contain the explosion of black powder? I'm wondering about amounts between a half-ounce up to around 4 ounces, primarily, as bigger amounts start to justify using metals.


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