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Icelander 10-29-2009 05:41 PM

Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
In my GURPS-powered Forgotten Realms game, the Tech Level is approximately TL4 for most human polities. In trade, communications, travel, sailing, navigation and architecture, the TL is quite advanced TL4 and may even range to early TL5 in narrow areas of clockwork engineering and sailing ship construction. In other areas, it is the High Medieval period, with full plate harness wearing knights dominating the battlefield for the most part, aided by the availability of magical charms that greatly favour the rich over a multitude of peasants.

Gunpowder is unavailable. Either the required materials do not exist in the setting or the physical rules are different so that mixing them does not result in an explosive substance. It is possible to make a similar substance to gunpowder, smokepowder, using alchemical means, but until recently, that manufacturing process was a closely guarded secret.

Fourteen years ago, the method of making smokepowder became more widely known. It is still far from being widespread and only a trained alchemist can make it, but the substance has still plummeted in price from the days where it was little more than an exotic curiosity.

It is still monstrously expensive. The materials cost of manufacturing a pound of it is $350 and to that is added amortization costs for an alchemical laboratory and whatever value the alchemist puts on his time. At present, those alchemists capable of making it are so few that they are selling it for as much as they dare. It is not unknown for the price to be over $1,000/lbs. This, of course, is about fifty times what historical corned powder cost.

As a result, firearms have not caught on as military weapons. Few kingdoms are rich enough to field an army with such weapons and even those who could are likely to prefer a larger conventional army to the dubious benefit of smokepowder weapons. Mages can blast foes for less cost than cannon, archers can rain missiles on their foes with greater range, accuracy and rate of fire than the much more expensive guns and so on. Even compared with crossbows early firearms are rather anemic.

Even so, there are possibly a few roles for such weapons on the fantastic battlefield. Arrows often cannot penetrate the hide or scales of monstrous foes, whereas a powerful gun might. And when facing armoured knights, even yew warbows are unlikely to penetrate, but firearms routinely hammer through all but the most expensive plate. This ability to penetrate is also important in light of recent campaign history, since dragons are apparently running wild and traditional military forces are at loss at how to bring such creatures down.

It helps, also, that some disadvantages of historical powder are not present. Smokepowder is a binary explosive and either part by itself is inert. This makes transporting it much safer than historical gunpowder. It is also exceptionally fine-grained and powerful, with an REF 0.8, or double that of historical corned powder. More advanced manufacturing techniques compared to the time gunpowder was introduced on Earth mean that guns need not be primitive or shoddy even though they are in their infancy. Casting sound barrels will quickly be accomplished once blacksmiths that are every bit as good as historical 17th century ones start experimenting with firearms.

Edit: A list of cannon types that I decided were available in the Forgotten Realms, though not used on any large scale yet. And some notes on these cannon.

Types of locks and ignition systems.

Some explosive sling projectiles. Also, fragmentation grenades. Glass grenades. Notes on fuzes.

Heavy giff weapons. And two giff pistols.

---

With these things in mind, I thought I'd stat out the first models that are being considered for military service in some countries close to the PCs location. I'd like to know if the stats seem plausible in light of the assumptions made above and compared to historical examples. I'd also like to know if any of them are likely impractical or if I'm forgetting obvious niches on the battlefield that firearms with expensive powder should fill.

All these smallarms designs are built for the REF 0.8 smokepowder that is sold by Lantanese, priests of Gond and artificiers or alchemists who learnt from them. They can use lesser REF 0.5 smokepowder from Kara-Tur, but would have reduced Dmg and Range with such loads.

Gnomish Heavy Wheelock Pistol; 60. cal wheellock pistol
Dmg: 2d+1 pi+;
Acc: 1;
Range: 60/630;
Weight: 3/0.05;
RoF: 1;
Shots: 1(20);
ST: 10;
Bulk: -3;
Rcl: 4;
Cost: $1,450;
Notes: TL4 +1 CF; Bronze (+2 CF), Fine (Reliable (Malf. 16) +0.25 CF); Robust (+1 CF), Styling +2 (+3 CF).


A fine weapon often carried by affluent gnome alchemists or engineers for self-defence. The pistol has a long 12" barrel of cast bronze, a lock shielded from the elements and a snarling drake's head.
Fires a 300 grain, 14.75mm lead ball and uses 25 grains of smokepowder. Using a more powerful charge of 35 grains of smokepowder would result in ST 11 and 3d-1 pi+ dam, Range 65/700 and Rcl 5.

Theskan Heavy Caliver; .60 cal matchlock carbine:
Dmg: 4d pi+;
Acc: 2;
Range: 85/850;
Weight: 9/0.06;
RoF: 1;
Shots: 1(60);
ST: 10†;
Bulk: -4;
Rcl: 4;
Cost: $800;
Notes: TL4 +1 CF; Bronze (+2 CF), Robust (+1 CF), Styling +2 (+3 CF).


A well-made bronze weapon hand-crafted by gnomish craftsmen. It is inspired by Kara-Turan weapons and examples are often decorated by engravings of dragons or other monsters. The caliver is intentionally made heavy to keep the recoil managable, through the use of a substantial bronze stock, liberal brass furniture and thick cast bronze barrel. Due to the gnome origins, it is quite compact and short-barrelled (24"), with an overall length of only 32", and humans usually intend it for light infantry that would otherwise carry bows of some sort.

The heavy caliver fires a 300 grain lead round ball of 14.75mm diameter and requires a smokepowder charge of 70 grains. The muzzle velocity is around 1,350 fps. This load is very heavy for a gnome and less robust specimens sometimes use a reduced charge of 50 grains; Dmg 3d+2 pi++; Range 80/800; ST: 9†; Rcl 3.

Melvaunt Musket; .80 cal matchlock musket:
Dmg: 5d pi++;
Acc: 2;
Range: 120/1,200;
Weight: 17/0.15;
RoF: 1;
Shots: 1(60);
ST: 12R†;
Bulk: -7;
Rcl: 4;
Cost: $570;
Notes: TL4 +1 CF; Lightened (+0.25 CF; 'Weight Reduction', TS p. 70); Robust (+1 CF).


This steel-barreled heavy musket includes a rest ($10; 2 lbs.) and is hard to aim without it. The barrel is a full 56" long and the total length of the weapon is 6'. It has a truly frightful kick and is intented to be used against the ogres of the region, but has also proved useful against rampaging dragons. It looks squat and utilitarian, but is solidly built of good materials.

A charge of 80 grains of smokepowder propels the heavy 800 grain bullet.

If I decide to use house rules to account for the stopping power discrepancy between the 800 grain bullets from this monster and the 300 grain bullets from smaller weapons, this weapon would have a wounding modifier of pi+++ or x3.

Melvaunt Musketoon; .69 cal matchlock musket:
Dmg: 4d+1 pi++;
Acc: 2;
Range: 90/900;
Weight: 12/0.09;
RoF: 1;
Shots: 1(60);
ST: 11†;
Bulk: -6;
Rcl: 4;
Cost: $400;
Notes: TL5 +3 CF.


A smaller version of the heavy musket, this weapon might be introduced to arm skirmishers in the forces of Melvaunt. The barrel is 42" long, for an overall length of 58", and the weapon fires a 500 grain lead ball with a charge of 70 grains of smokepowder.

Mulmastran Caliver; .69 cal matchlock musket:
Dmg: 3d+2 pi++;
Acc: 2;
Range: 85/850;
Weight: 9.5/0.08;
RoF: 1;
Shots: 1(60);
ST: 10†;
Bulk: -5;
Rcl: 4;
Cost: $400;
Notes: TL4 +1 CF; Robust (+1 CF).


The Mulmastran caliver is based on gnomish designs from Thesk, but made from steel and in a larger bore and longer barrel (28"), with a hollow steel stock that makes the overall length 40". It lacks the extensive brass furningsings of the ghome weapon. The weapon is perhaps sturdy enough to take a hotter charge, but at the prices of ammunition, the Blades of Mulmaster would prefer to avoid buying too much of it.

The weapon fires the same 500 grain ball as the Melvaunt musketoon, but requires only 50 grains of smokepowder per charge.

Mulmastran Horse Pistol; .69 cal matchlock pistol:
Dmg: 2d-1 pi++;
Acc: 1;
Range: 60/550;
Weight: 4.5/0.07;
RoF: 1;
Shots: 1(45);
ST: 11;
Bulk: -4;
Rcl: 3;
Cost: $240;


An awkward design, a matchlock pistol is difficult to reload on horseback (roll vs. the lower of Guns-2 or Riding-2). Nevertheless, it is preferable to a longer weapon which may be impossible to reload at all. This pistol has a thick 12" steel barrel reinforced with bands of brass, though this is scarcely necessary at typical loadings. Loading with a full charge of 40 grains gives Dmg 2d+2 pi++; Range 60/750; ST 12 and Rcl 5.

The 500 grain ball is propelled by only 20 grains of smokepowder in the typical load, 40 grains in the maximum charge.

SuedodeuS 10-29-2009 07:08 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
It looks like you've got the mid-range niche covered fairly well. The powder is too expensive for close-range (handguns and shotguns), and the lack of rifling kind of rules out long-range. One option might be to have some muskets that fire smaller bullets so that you can either get more range or use less powder when engaging lightly-armored targets. Such weapons might be useful against cavalry (shoot the horses) and light infantry, while the ones you've listed are best against heavy infantry.

In a setting with extremely expensive powder, I suspect bayonets will have been thought up sooner. In fact, the concept of them as spears that can also spit fire might help the technology spread more quickly.

David Johnston2 10-29-2009 07:15 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Remember, cannon come first.

Hannes665 10-29-2009 07:29 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Well technically speaking cannons should be TL 3. Oldest surviving cannon is from the 13th century, drawings of cannons from either late 11th or early 12th century.

I remember back in early FR literature there was some claim that Gunpowder did not exist because of some Hubabbubbaaa ... but 1-2 years later there was a official supplement that showed either a Dwarf or a Gnome armed with a Pistola and reference to a army (either Dwarf or Gnome) with cannons.

Joseph Paul 10-29-2009 07:32 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
No magically wind powered weapons?

Icelander 10-29-2009 07:44 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hannes665 (Post 875389)
Well technically speaking cannons should be TL 3. Oldest surviving cannon is from the 13th century, drawings of cannons from either late 11th or early 12th century.

On Earth, sure. In FR, there's no reason to make cannons at TL3 since smokepowder was far too rare and expensive until recently to use pounds of it at a time.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hannes665 (Post 875389)
I remember back in early FR literature there was some claim that Gunpowder did not exist because of some Hubabbubbaaa ... but 1-2 years later there was a official supplement that showed either a Dwarf or a Gnome armed with a Pistola and reference to a army (either Dwarf or Gnome) with cannons.

That's because 'gunpowder' does not exist in the setting. It's not possible to mix saltpeter, charcoal and sulphur to get an explosive.

'Smokepowder' is a different substance, created with alchemical processes which utilise the inherent magic in natural phenomena. It requires magical talent to make, not just knowledge of a formula. And it is much more expensive than gunpowder.

Icelander 10-29-2009 07:44 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 875391)
No magically wind powered weapons?

I guess such would be possible, but so far, no one has proposed them.

Do you have anything special in mind?

Icelander 10-29-2009 07:49 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David Johnston2 (Post 875381)
Remember, cannon come first.

Why?

If it costs $1,020 to fire a falconet, instead of the about $30 it costs in our history, don't you think it will discourse their use a bit?

Not that I don't plan on designing some pieces designed to take down dragons, but I have to work out a rules quibble first.

GURPS rates damage by penetrative power only and then applies a corrective designed to account for the size and weight of the projectile. This is fine up to a point, but it breaks down badly once you pass .60 caliber projectiles. The wounding modifier does not get higher than pi++, which means that small artillery pieces that are maybe an order of magnitude more powerful than muskets in real life are hardly more effective in GURPS rules.

Icelander 10-29-2009 08:58 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SuedodeuS (Post 875379)
It looks like you've got the mid-range niche covered fairly well. The powder is too expensive for close-range (handguns and shotguns), and the lack of rifling kind of rules out long-range.

Well, handguns and shotguns are far from impossible. They've been useful for boarding actions on ships, for example, where the ability to rain down many bullets in one initial volley before entering melee range could be worth the price of the powder.

There's also the speciality market of nobles, knights and adventurers to consider. People with plenty of disposable income might like the idea of a small handheld weapon that can penetrate heavy plate armour.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SuedodeuS (Post 875379)
One option might be to have some muskets that fire smaller bullets so that you can either get more range or use less powder when engaging lightly-armored targets. Such weapons might be useful against cavalry (shoot the horses) and light infantry, while the ones you've listed are best against heavy infantry.

Lighter (hence smaller) spherical lead bullets would mean lower 1/2D Range, higher Max Range. Which is all but useless, since no one can hit anything out to Max Range anyway. In real world terms, you'd get a flatter trajectory, but that's not modelled in GURPS.

In any case, such weapons would be competing against crossbows and bows and in that comparision they would come out very inferior. Even if we assume that it requires training since childhood to wield warbows, even hunting bows are superior to firearms when it comes to shooting horses or unarmoured infantry. And crank-driven crossbows are powerful enough to kill horses or people in light armour and have a rate of fire that is at least as good as matchlocks, usually better. And the cost per shot is several orders of magnitude less.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SuedodeuS (Post 875379)
In a setting with extremely expensive powder, I suspect bayonets will have been thought up sooner. In fact, the concept of them as spears that can also spit fire might help the technology spread more quickly.

I wonder whether matchlocks would be less sturdy than flintlocks if the musket is used in melee. If not, I agree, bayonets would be a very fine thing to discover.

jason taylor 10-29-2009 10:19 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
The main advantage of muskets is that they require little training and allow you to mass-produce soldiers. After Lepanto the Janisaries simply were out of action, because though they knew the techniques of loading a musket they hadn't caught on to that particular point and just used them as a back up to composite bows. Used in that sense, they become just another addendum to the warrior caste and weren't very useful in that regard. By contrast, Europeans had discovered what the real advantage of muskets were and started to be able to field effective soldiers year after year.

David Johnston2 10-29-2009 11:05 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875398)
Why?

If it costs $1,020 to fire a falconet, instead of the about $30 it costs in our history, don't you think it will discourse their use a bit?

No, actually. It's more likely to be used on special occasions, like a siege whereas muskets end up being used on a day to day basis.

Icelander 10-29-2009 11:05 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 875493)
The main advantage of muskets is that they require little training and allow you to mass-produce soldiers. After Lepanto the Janisaries simply were out of action, because though they knew the techniques of loading a musket they hadn't caught on to that particular point and just used them as a back up to composite bows. Used in that sense, they become just another addendum to the warrior caste and weren't very useful in that regard. By contrast, Europeans had discovered what the real advantage of muskets were and started to be able to field effective soldiers year after year.

Very true.

On the other hand, if we postulate far more expensive propellant than black powder, it suddenly becomes much less desirable to mass produce musketeers. If just the ammunition for the minimal training of a line infantryman costs more than $1,000 and it keeping a regiment in the field can cost millions more than in our history; an army of crossbowmen, archers, cavalry and pikemen becomes more feasible in comparison.

Icelander 10-29-2009 11:08 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by David Johnston2 (Post 875531)
No, actually. It's more likely to be used on special occasions, like a siege whereas muskets end up being used on a day to day basis.

In a siege, though, battering down walls to form a practicable breach usually took tons of powder over months of labour.

In the setting, a ton of powder would cost $4 million.

That money can buy an awful lot of magic. I suspect that the magic would be more efficient.

Smokepowder is mostly useful because it allows someone without Magery to wield similar destructive power.

Crakkerjakk 10-29-2009 11:57 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875535)
Smokepowder is mostly useful because it allows someone without Magery to wield similar destructive power.

Would alchemical powder be easily detectable? Might be handy as an assassination tool if not.

Xplo 10-30-2009 12:01 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875535)
Smokepowder is mostly useful because it allows someone without Magery to wield similar destructive power.

And, on that note, you might see the occasional use for demolition. With smokepowder being nearly as powerful as TNT, a well-placed satchel charge could easily be worth the cost. Yes, you might have a mage who can do the same trick with a massive Explosive Fireball, but talented mages don't come cheap either.

If you can rig a tripwire or other trigger, or use magic to set the thing off from a distance, it becomes fairly simple (if expensive) to set lethal traps...

Icelander 10-30-2009 12:18 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk (Post 875570)
Would alchemical powder be easily detectable? Might be handy as an assassination tool if not.

Well, it radiates faint magic, which rules out carrying it into the sanctums of most powerful religious or temporal leaders, but it's not otherwise conspicious.

If someone could build a small and powerful pistol, that would be a quite handy assassination tool, of course. But as the lock-types are currently limited to matchlocks, pistols aren't very feasible.

There's nothing stopping craftsmen from building wheellocks, of course, since the necessary clockwork technology is available. It's just a matter of time before someone introduces a blacksmith familiar with the new technology to a clocksmith fond of experimentation.

jason taylor 10-30-2009 12:20 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Crakkerjakk (Post 875570)
Would alchemical powder be easily detectable? Might be handy as an assassination tool if not.

How about Iocaine powder?

Icelander 10-30-2009 12:24 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
While the theoretical discussion is indeed fascinating (and I wish on no account to discourage its continuation), does anyone have any comments directed at the stats of the weapons I have already posted?

Do they seem out of place compared to stats of similar weapons in previous GURPS products?

Miles 10-30-2009 12:52 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
I'm no gun expert, but at first glance, the pistol seems just a little overpowered compared to the comparable pistols from High-Tech. I'd drop it to 2d-2 pi++.

EDIT: Wait, Bulk -5? That's a typo, right?

Icelander 10-30-2009 01:04 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Miles (Post 875585)
I'm no gun expert, but at first glance, the pistol seems just a little overpowered compared to the comparable pistols from High-Tech. I'd drop it to 2d-2 pi++.

Maybe so.

I just worry that with period breastplates scoring in at DR 6+, a pistol which does an average of 5 points of damage is pretty much useless. And historically, military pistols could and did penetrate armour that was not proofed.

Note also that this pistol is far larger than the TL5 ones in High-Tech, with a barrel more than a foot long and firing a 500 grain bullet powered with the equivalent of 50+ grains of improved black powder. The Tower Sea Service, while having a similar length of barrel, is firing a ball of under 300 grains and using about half the powder to do it.

Icelander 10-30-2009 01:05 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Miles (Post 875585)
EDIT: Wait, Bulk -5? That's a typo, right?

'fraid not. The matchlock mechanism means that it is very unwieldy (an extra Bulk penalty) and it is, after all, a 4,5 lbs. gun with a barrel more than a foot long.

Miles 10-30-2009 01:19 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Ah, right then, my mistake on both counts.

Pragmatic 10-30-2009 01:24 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875398)
Why?

At a guess, metallurgy. Gunpowder (and smokepowder, I guess) imparts large stresses on gun barrels. Any weaknesses could cause the gun to blow up. Thus, they started off with cannons, making them pretty thick. As they grew more confident, they reduced the thickness, but still had to use bronze (it wasn't until they got super-hot smelting that they could cast iron to make cheaper cannon barrels). As their metallurgy improved, they even put it in small "hand cannons," working their way down to regular muskets and pistols.

But this is a fantasy realm, with gods of crafts and artifice. They could possibly have the high-grade metallurgy needed to not have man-portable guns blowing up in people's faces all the time.

But I'm not sure of anything I just said, so take with a grain of salt. :-)

martinl 10-30-2009 01:25 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
I thought a combination of gnomish engineering, Gondish inspiration, higher TL, and adventuring convenience had made wheel locks appear in FR about the same time smokepowder became widespread. Given the cost of the powder, it's worth it to spend more on the gun.

I'm not sure how much you've integrated the DnD flavor into GURPS, but in traditional FR, any significant town needs an anti-adventurer option, and any significant nation needs an anti-high level adventurer option. The books tended to scatter high level wizards and priests around for this purpose, but a squad of musketeers might be as useful for that purpose as against dragons.

As for smokepowder abuse, well, suicide bombers are much easier with golems, zombies, mind control, and such.

Careful manipulation of air spells and elementals might lead to "smart dust" explosives that seem mere wisps before suddenly condensing and exploding at the target site.

Icelander 10-30-2009 01:32 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pragmatic (Post 875595)
At a guess, metallurgy. Gunpowder (and smokepowder, I guess) imparts large stresses on gun barrels. Any weaknesses could cause the gun to blow up. Thus, they started off with cannons, making them pretty thick. As they grew more confident, they reduced the thickness, but still had to use bronze (it wasn't until they got super-hot smelting that they could cast iron to make cheaper cannon barrels). As their metallurgy improved, they even put it in small "hand cannons," working their way down to regular muskets and pistols.

But this is a fantasy realm, with gods of crafts and artifice. They could possibly have the high-grade metallurgy needed to not have man-portable guns blowing up in people's faces all the time.

But I'm not sure of anything I just said, so take with a grain of salt. :-)

I know why it happened in the real world.

I was just making the point that in a fantasy world where metallurgy was already at a similar level to our 17th century, it is unlikely that there is any great mystery involved with making strong gunbarrels.

Icelander 10-30-2009 01:37 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875597)
I thought a combination of gnomish engineering, Gondish inspiration, higher TL, and adventuring convenience had made wheel locks appear in FR about the same time smokepowder became widespread. Given the cost of the powder, it's worth it to spend more on the gun.

Wheellocks are canonically possible in FR, but not widespread. It has only been 14 years since smokepowder started to become known, after all.

I quite agree that it makes sense to spend more on the gun. Guns, even military models, would probably be quite well made.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875597)
I'm not sure how much you've integrated the DnD flavor into GURPS, but in traditional FR, any significant town needs an anti-adventurer option, and any significant nation needs an anti-high level adventurer option. The books tended to scatter high level wizards and priests around for this purpose, but a squad of musketeers might be as useful for that purpose as against dragons.

There is definately need for weapons that can defeat magically powerful and unpredictable outsiders with access to heavy armour and dangerous spells.

But what do smokepowder weapons do against adventurers that bows don't? Sure, the knight in his plate is more vulnerable, but the rest are glad to face 10 inaccurate shots per minute instead of sixty more accurate, if less powerful, arrows. Not to mention that the town can afford to shoot a hell of a lot more arrows than shot (which also impacts training, in that few small towns could afford to train with smokepowder weapons).

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875597)
As for smokepowder abuse, well, suicide bombers are much easier with golems, zombies, mind control, and such.

Careful manipulation of air spells and elementals might lead to "smart dust" explosives that seem mere wisps before suddenly condensing and exploding at the target site.

Interesting, but, nothing that can't be done as well or better with traditional spells.

Kraydak 10-30-2009 05:39 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jason taylor (Post 875493)
The main advantage of muskets is that they require little training and allow you to mass-produce soldiers. After Lepanto the Janisaries simply were out of action, because though they knew the techniques of loading a musket they hadn't caught on to that particular point and just used them as a back up to composite bows. Used in that sense, they become just another addendum to the warrior caste and weren't very useful in that regard. By contrast, Europeans had discovered what the real advantage of muskets were and started to be able to field effective soldiers year after year.

People say that muskets are much, much easier to use than bows. I find this extremely hard to believe. Can anyone help me?

(1) Muskets are much more complex to use.
(2) Beyond a few 10s of yards, arrow flight times become long enough that accuracy is nigh irrelevant against moving targets (working from sub 100 yd/sec speeds). At longer distances, bows move into plunging fire (forget about accuracy/skill) where muskets would still have nearly flat trajectories.

The only way I can make sense of "bows are harder" is the sheer muscle strength/conditioning needed for sustained 100+lb bow use. One the other hand, that shouldn't take too long to gain and would be easy to lose through a bout of disuse or poor food supply.

Anders 10-30-2009 05:59 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875601)
I know why it happened in the real world.

I was just making the point that in a fantasy world where metallurgy was already at a similar level to our 17th century, it is unlikely that there is any great mystery involved with making strong gunbarrels.

But they wouldn't have any experience of making strong gunbarrels, would they? While it's great to have the materials, you still have to figure out how to use them for a specific application. Unless there's a large body of physics, it's likely to be trial-and-error.

Joseph Paul 10-30-2009 08:20 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Can FR mages bind elementals? If yes make windbusche guns. What is the shot capacity of an elemental? Will it basically work until you run out of shot? Larger elmentals could be bound to organ guns. Larger elementals may be able to produce more than the 2dpi+ damage of the windbusche in High Tech.

If binding an elemental to a gun is too expensive then bind it to a resupply cart for a jaeger company armed with windbusche guns. It fills reservoirs. Constantly.

I suspect that air elementals are restricted to subsonic speeds. I am not sure why I think that but it makes sense to me. If you are already carrying fire around for matchlocks and want to go supersonic you could try using a fire elemental to create a steam explosion. Yes it will torment the fire elemental but what do you care?

It may be that the economy of the magic rules dictates that small elemental powered guns would be too expensive. It may make sense to go for a larger cannon then. I don't have Magic rules and therefore I am extrapolating from common myth.

Straight magic may prove useful too. Isn't there an Air Jet spell in GURPS? If that was enchanted into the breech how would it translate it's effects onto a 1 ounce lead ball? How about Create Air in the breech or a reservoir chamber?Again economics may interfere with it or the benefit of having it always available with the gun rather than a seperate expense may work out.

Icelander 10-30-2009 08:35 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875649)
People say that muskets are much, much easier to use than bows. I find this extremely hard to believe. Can anyone help me?

(1) Muskets are much more complex to use.
(2) Beyond a few 10s of yards, arrow flight times become long enough that accuracy is nigh irrelevant against moving targets (working from sub 100 yd/sec speeds). At longer distances, bows move into plunging fire (forget about accuracy/skill) where muskets would still have nearly flat trajectories.

Aiming bows had to be done by experience, not by sighting the arrow, since warbows were drawn so far back. And even hitting the right area is non-trivial at hundreds of yards.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875649)
The only way I can make sense of "bows are harder" is the sheer muscle strength/conditioning needed for sustained 100+lb bow use. One the other hand, that shouldn't take too long to gain and would be easy to lose through a bout of disuse or poor food supply.

Historically, it took about ten years to gain. We're not just talking about muscle mass, we're talking about developing muscular and skeletal strength in areas that most people are very weak in. Archers were built differently because they had been shooting heavy bows since childhood.

Joseph Paul 10-30-2009 08:45 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875649)
People say that muskets are much, much easier to use than bows. I find this extremely hard to believe. Can anyone help me?

(1) Muskets are much more complex to use.
(2) Beyond a few 10s of yards, arrow flight times become long enough that accuracy is nigh irrelevant against moving targets (working from sub 100 yd/sec speeds). At longer distances, bows move into plunging fire (forget about accuracy/skill) where muskets would still have nearly flat trajectories.

The only way I can make sense of "bows are harder" is the sheer muscle strength/conditioning needed for sustained 100+lb bow use. One the other hand, that shouldn't take too long to gain and would be easy to lose through a bout of disuse or poor food supply.

I will help.

Muskets have a short range due to accuracy problems. There are a number of factors that greatly influence where a ball is going to go. However up to that point the skill is point and shoot. Learning to reload and march is tougher.

As for bows you have underestimated their effectiveness.

Bows have been used against moving targets or from moving mounts or both for a very long time. They can be effective to their maximum range against moving targets. Not much in a medieval world goes faster than 50 m/s. What the archer does is practice leading the target. They practiced against 'stalking horses' - wheeled targets that were pulled across the range. Flying birds and deer on the run have been taken this way.

At long distances that plunging fire is no bar to accuracy. We have records of medieval targets being set up at 240 yards distance. The archers would need to arc their fire to hit it. They practiced at being able to do so and knew what they had to do to fire to any particular range.

Yes there are ST requirements for heavy bows but the biggest drain was the constant (at least weekly) practice that trained a bowman. The musketeer could learn to fire his weapon to the limit of it's accuracy in a day.

Remember that as weapons of war neither of these are used as a sniper would. They are massed to provide destructive power against appropriate targets and to deny territory by controlling it with their fire.

Pragmatic 10-30-2009 09:40 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Seems the main problem against smokepowder's cost is economies of scale. One individual or a small group can't compete with some entrepreneur setting up a factory in some town (preferably far, far away from the richer side of town...) and producing it by the ton. As long as it stays in little specialty shops, guns are going to be rare and expensive.

Of course, that requires someone getting the idea to set up a factory in the first place.

(Sorry, I know I'm not being much help. :-)

Kraydak 10-30-2009 10:58 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875711)
Aiming bows had to be done by experience, not by sighting the arrow, since warbows were drawn so far back. And even hitting the right area is non-trivial at hundreds of yards.

But how long can it take to learn to put an arrow "vaguely over there", which is the goal of volley fire? It certainly won't take years. It shouldn't take months, or, for that matter, weeks. Anyone with experience taking an archery class weigh in?

Quote:

Historically, it took about ten years to gain. We're not just talking about muscle mass, we're talking about developing muscular and skeletal strength in areas that most people are very weak in. Archers were built differently because they had been shooting heavy bows since childhood.
There is a very big difference between there *being* skeletal deformation and the skeletal deformation being required (or, for that matter, productive). Muscle mass can be gained rapidly, unless you have an inadequate diet, in which case people who already have it will probably lose it. Even one year is an absurdity unless the skeletal deformations are, in fact, absolutely essential.

Ulzgoroth 10-30-2009 11:05 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875792)
But how long can it take to learn to put an arrow "vaguely over there", which is the goal of volley fire? It certainly won't take years. It shouldn't take months, or, for that matter, weeks. Anyone with experience taking an archery class weigh in?

Well, my archery class never covered battlefield volley fire, so I really couldn't say. (It didn't use a war-bow either.)

I think you're seriously underestimating the desired accuracy for a weapon that's going to be delivering plunging fire, though. You may not be aiming at an individual target, but you don't have all that much margin of error either, considering how much space and time your arrow has to go wrong in.

martinl 10-30-2009 11:37 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875604)
Wheellocks are canonically possible in FR, but not widespread. It has only been 14 years since smokepowder started to become known, after all.

Right. IIRC, the knowledge was spread around after the ToT by gnomish followers of the god of invention and clockwork who's symbol is a gear. I'm also quite sure that wheellocks were on a list of 2nd ed FR guns in a book I had and probably still have somewhere. Not the rare/magic items section, the equipment section. (Aside, I also recall they were 'balanced' by doing crap damage. Sigh.)

Ofc, this is a DnD setting, and internal consistency is not a strong point. If you have different equipment reference you prefer, that's fine. However, keep the Gondites away from the guns - putting the two together will result in better locks than matchlocks in a few weeks at most. It may take a few years for the clockwork golems with Gatling cannons for arms.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875604)
But what do smokepowder weapons do against adventurers that bows don't?

Spike damage. If your adventurer model doesn't include a fair amount of DR, this isn't relevant.

However, if I was going to translate the feel of DnD mid to high level adventurers to GURPS, a lot of the DnD AC would become DR, even on the lightly armored ones. Heavily fortified light armor of high quality and materials + some misc enchantments will probably bring even the wizards to DR 6+ by the time they are equivalent to mid level DnD adventurers. DR in the 5-10 level is only so so vs giant monsters, but very important vs. mook hordes. It also serves to model the traditional DnD "peasants can only hurt you by wrassling you to the ground" paradigm.

If your 'crunchies' are relying purely on good defense rolls and luck instead, more power to them. Be careful around for mook hordes.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875604)
Interesting, but, nothing that can't be done as well or better with traditional spells.

Significant suicide bombers are easy to do with traditional spells? OK, what have I missed?

martinl 10-30-2009 11:42 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pragmatic (Post 875732)
Seems the main problem against smokepowder's cost is economies of scale. One individual or a small group can't compete with some entrepreneur setting up a factory in some town (preferably far, far away from the richer side of town...) and producing it by the ton. As long as it stays in little specialty shops, guns are going to be rare and expensive.

FR smokepowder (not gunpowder) is explicitly limited by costly ingredients, not cost of concoction.

ISTR the book suggesting that if players got too interested in mass production of the stuff, they should find out one of the ingredients was a vital organ from a beholder (a particularly nasty monster).

Icelander 10-30-2009 12:03 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875826)
Right. IIRC, the knowledge was spread around after the ToT by gnomish followers of the god of invention and clockwork who's symbol is a gear. I'm also quite sure that wheellocks were on a list of 2nd ed FR guns in a book I had and probably still have somewhere. Not the rare/magic items section, the equipment section. (Aside, I also recall they were 'balanced' by doing crap damage. Sigh.)

Ofc, this is a DnD setting, and internal consistency is not a strong point. If you have different equipment reference you prefer, that's fine. However, keep the Gondites away from the guns - putting the two together will result in better locks than matchlocks in a few weeks at most. It may take a few years for the clockwork golems with Gatling cannons for arms.

Gondites do build them, indeed. But they are master craftsmen, inventors and ideas-men, not pragmatic merchants.

The church of Gond zealously attempts to enforce a divine monopoly on the sale of smokepowder and smokepowder weapons. This means a variety of things, but for starters, they sell small amounts of powder at x20 of the prices that more business-minded alchemists demand. And they only sell their weapons to those who support their monopoly.

This is actually canon, btw.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875826)
Spike damage. If your adventurer model doesn't include a fair amount of DR, this isn't relevant.

However, if I was going to translate the feel of DnD mid to high level adventurers to GURPS, a lot of the DnD AC would become DR, even on the lightly armored ones. Heavily fortified light armor of high quality and materials + some misc enchantments will probably bring even the wizards to DR 6+ by the time they are equivalent to mid level DnD adventurers. DR in the 5-10 level is only so so vs giant monsters, but very important vs. mook hordes. It also serves to model the traditional DnD "peasants can only hurt you by wrassling you to the ground" paradigm.

If your 'crunchies' are relying purely on good defense rolls and luck instead, more power to them. Be careful around for mook hordes.

I rely mostly on defence rolls and luck, yes. I don't want humans with skin that can make knife stabs irrelevant without some form of in-setting justification.

Many adventurers have magical items which provide DR and DR 6+ is not uncommon, though. But militia armed with heavy spears or polearms can do 1d+2 imp pretty reliably and even the occasional 1d+4 cut. And having sixty attacks per minute instead of one shot makes a difference.

If peneration is the goal, large crossbows (even with my rules that are closer to reality than the RAW) can deliver two shots for every one bullet at 2d-1(2) imp for a lot less cost per shot. That's an average penetration of DR 11, which is not all that bad considering that heavy muskets only penetrate an average of DR 15.

I think that most small towns would simply be too strapped for cash to adopt this technology. It's expensive enough to be confined to specialists, rich people and the largest and richest cities.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875826)
Significant suicide bombers are easy to do with traditional spells? OK, what have I missed?

There are spells such as Firetrap, Explosive Runes and others which can be triggered by a given set of conditions. If you want to be nasty, you can specify your own conditions by casting a metamagic spell and then tying any other spell to it, up to and including the most powerful attack spells.

Cast one on a summoned monster or a piece of its equipment.

Et voila!

Anders 10-30-2009 12:06 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
One major problem I had with incorporating musketeers into a D&D setting is the presence of fireballs. You have twenty musketeers who carry something very flammable and explosive. Add fireballs to that and you have no more musketeers...

Icelander 10-30-2009 12:12 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875792)
But how long can it take to learn to put an arrow "vaguely over there", which is the goal of volley fire? It certainly won't take years. It shouldn't take months, or, for that matter, weeks. Anyone with experience taking an archery class weigh in?

'Vaguely over there' isn't worth much. You may not be aiming at a point target, but miss by 10% of the distance and you're not doing anything useful.

At battlefield ranges, people with minimal skill can miss by quite a lot. Against a moving formation of horses? Don't even think about it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875792)
There is a very big difference between there *being* skeletal deformation and the skeletal deformation being required (or, for that matter, productive). Muscle mass can be gained rapidly, unless you have an inadequate diet, in which case people who already have it will probably lose it. Even one year is an absurdity unless the skeletal deformations are, in fact, absolutely essential.

You know, there are actually people shooting warbows out there. And they don't agree with your assessment.

A massively strong man cannot shoot a traditional warbow unless he has trained those specific muscles. And if the body has not had time to develop as the archer adopts heavier and heavier bows, the archer will find that he lacks the structural basis for musculature which can handle shooting a 150+ lbs. bow.

Only those people who have been shooting great warbows for decades are currently able to use the heaviest ones. That's right. Not the biggest ones, not those who have spent a year eating proteins and building up the kind of muscle mass that bodybuilders or even strongmen have, but those who have been shooting bows from a young age. And they don't look big, they look wiry and, indeed, they have all developed the same skeletal deformations.

Joseph Paul 10-30-2009 12:14 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875792)
But how long can it take to learn to put an arrow "vaguely over there", which is the goal of volley fire? It certainly won't take years. It shouldn't take months, or, for that matter, weeks. Anyone with experience taking an archery class weigh in?

It is not "vaguely over there". Try this as a visualization: You are to put your arrows in a circle 10' in diameter at 240 yards or any distance less than that up to the point where direct fire is more effective. Gauge the wind, troop movement, variation in height of archer and target and pop the first half dozen arrows in that circle in 30 seconds. Now how big are the target butts at known long shot ranges? I don't know but I suspect less than 10' on a side. Try to figure out how to change your fire so that it stays with a moving line of cavalry advancing on your position. These guys are splitting wands for funsies just to test their skill.


Quote:

There is a very big difference between there *being* skeletal deformation and the skeletal deformation being required (or, for that matter, productive). Muscle mass can be gained rapidly, unless you have an inadequate diet, in which case people who already have it will probably lose it. Even one year is an absurdity unless the skeletal deformations are, in fact, absolutely essential.

There is a consistent pattern of skeletal deformation among bodies that are identified as being archers. Notable compaction of the left wrist and stresses on the spine. At high draw weights the spine takes on a particular curve to allow full draw of the bow. Since many aocieties trined archer from a very young age there is little doubt that the deformations are essential to pulling the heavy bows. Try looking into the MAry Rose finds and some of the latest research if you want to satisfy yourself. I did and I am satisfied.

Icelander 10-30-2009 12:14 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Asta Kask (Post 875845)
One major problem I had with incorporating musketeers into a D&D setting is the presence of fireballs. You have twenty musketeers who carry something very flammable and explosive. Add fireballs to that and you have no more musketeers...

Well, smokepowder is a binary explosive, so if it is carried seperately, that's not a danger. At least not for the supply chain.

As for exploding inside fireballs, well, if the powder is within a sturdy horn, something tells me that human flesh isn't going to come out well from a flame capable of incinerating the powder horn anyway. If your troops are inside a fireball, they are probably done for in any case.

Pragmatic 10-30-2009 12:17 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kraydak (Post 875792)
But how long can it take to learn to put an arrow "vaguely over there", which is the goal of volley fire? It certainly won't take years. It shouldn't take months, or, for that matter, weeks. Anyone with experience taking an archery class weigh in?

Again, complete novice here, pulling info out of vague opinions, but...

It's the judgment of distance and the rapid and sustained fire that make good archers so dangerous. All those years of practice have taught them how to estimate how much pull they have to put into a bow to get it to fire a certain distance. And hours and hours of practice have given them the stamina to manage multiple shots per minute, for minute after minute.

****************

I'm starting to wonder WHY smokepowder was so good. I suppose it was made so expensive because D&D doesn't handle firearms very well?

Icelander 10-30-2009 12:22 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pragmatic (Post 875851)
I'm starting to wonder WHY smokepowder was so good. I suppose it was made so expensive because D&D doesn't handle firearms very well?

This is something I'm trying to find out.

If gunpowder wasn't so cheap, would it be adopted at all, other than as a curiosity?

I'm not worried if the answer turns out to be 'no'. That's what I initially believed to be true of the setting and I had never intended there to be any significant military impact from slightly cheaper and more widespread smokepowder.

It's just that I introduced a shipment of experimental weapons as a throwaway piece of colour and the players have run with it to the extent that they are trying to get a government contract to equip at least a regiment of troops (due to having incidental contacts in a region where such weapons can be bought relatively cheaply).

I'm trying to figure out the pros and cons from the point of view of the military planners attenting their demonstration.

martinl 10-30-2009 01:31 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875838)
Gondites do build them, indeed. But they are master craftsmen, inventors and ideas-men, not pragmatic merchants.

The church of Gond zealously attempts to enforce a divine monopoly on the sale of smokepowder and smokepowder weapons. This means a variety of things, but for starters, they sell small amounts of powder at x20 of the prices that more business-minded alchemists demand. And they only sell their weapons to those who support their monopoly.

This is actually canon, btw.

Huh. I was sure that after the ToT this position of the Gondish church wrt spreading tech, especially smokepowder, was reversed via divine revelation. To be precise, the ToT put Gond in direct contact with the masses, and the god decided to stop being such a jerk. (Presumably, as a god, he had an idea of the eventual equalizing effect firearms and other tech have wrt peasants/aristocracy.)

On reflection, this would break the DnD paradigm fairly quickly if allowed to continue, so I'm not surprised it was reversed. (Assuming I didn't get it wrong in the first place.)

If the current version didn't have the Gondites spreading the powder around, who is doing it?

Quote:

Many adventurers have magical items which provide DR and DR 6+ is not uncommon, though. But militia armed with heavy spears or polearms can do 1d+2 imp pretty reliably and even the occasional 1d+4 cut. And having sixty attacks per minute instead of one shot makes a difference.
Mooks get in one to three (if lucky) attacks before getting mowed down in any case. Reload time is not as big a deal in that scenario.

If your crossbows do damage comparable to your muskets however, and are significantly cheaper and already accepted, the muskets are not likely to be adopted at all.

Quote:

There are spells such as Firetrap, Explosive Runes and others which can be triggered by a given set of conditions. If you want to be nasty, you can specify your own conditions by casting a metamagic spell and then tying any other spell to it, up to and including the most powerful attack spells.
These are not simple spells, and damage from attack spells is limited. A ribcage full of REF 0.8 powder and a suit of heavy mail over top would be nasty. Not sure of the relative costs of magic vs. powder in your game though, or the limits on and availability of boom spells. (Relatively cheap and available boom spells are effectively military artillery in most cases, and lead to more modern looking armies than the shield walls I've seen you discuss here in the past.)

Anders 10-30-2009 01:44 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 875853)
I'm trying to figure out the pros and cons from the point of view of the military planners attenting their demonstration.

I think that a huge disadvantage is that it is dishonorable. It doesn't require bravery, like lances and swords, because you are at a safe distance. It doesn't require training, like archery or magic. It is a weapon for peasants, and we don't want them[ to be too well armed.

Historically, this was a major stumbling block. It was not unknown for nobles to kill anyone found carrying a crossbow or a firearm.

martinl 10-30-2009 02:44 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Asta Kask (Post 875913)
I think that a huge disadvantage is that it is dishonorable. It doesn't require bravery, like lances and swords, because you are at a safe distance. It doesn't require training, like archery or magic. It is a weapon for peasants, and we don't want them[ to be too well armed.

Historically, this was a major stumbling block. It was not unknown for nobles to kill anyone found carrying a crossbow or a firearm.

It does require money. The more plutocratic folks (and there are a bunch in FR) would have no problem with that.

Icelander 10-30-2009 04:27 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875900)
Huh. I was sure that after the ToT this position of the Gondish church wrt spreading tech, especially smokepowder, was reversed via divine revelation. To be precise, the ToT put Gond in direct contact with the masses, and the god decided to stop being such a jerk. (Presumably, as a god, he had an idea of the eventual equalizing effect firearms and other tech have wrt peasants/aristocracy.)

On reflection, this would break the DnD paradigm fairly quickly if allowed to continue, so I'm not surprised it was reversed. (Assuming I didn't get it wrong in the first place.)

The church had previously all but forbidden its use, but now no longer enforces that ban. Instead, they hope to be able to leverage their knowledge of the formula and many competent smiths and alchemists into a monopoly position.

They hope to spread out its use, yes, but unfortunately, the clergy are not good businessmen. They equivocate between trying to hand-pick buyers and reaching out to new markets, they price themselves far above sustainable prices and in short, absuse their near-monopoly status in a way that is not only immoral, it is in-efficient.

Gods in the setting are very limited in their intelligence. They have inhuman, near omniscient knowledge of their relevant portfolios, but they are curiously blind when it comes to the portfolios of other gods. While a human may be able to see things from multiple perspectives and realise that his interests are actually intertwined with others whose interests appear at first glance to be entirely unconnected, it is by no means certain that a divine being is capable of look outside his area of focus (the realm of invention and ideas) to understand the commercial application of those inventions.

This is why the church of Gond retards progress as much as it advances it. They create marvellous works, but they are rather helpless when it comes to marketing them and, indeed, somewhat hostile to the idea that something should be manufactured using economies of scale, as that dilutes the special relationship between the inventor and his invention. In their ideal world, only prototypes are built, to prove the concept.

Church are not monolithic entities, though, and at least one arm of the Gondite church, the Lantanese, shows some willingness to change. The priests, though, are mostly the same people that were in power before the ToT and it is very hard to change institutional culture.

It is entirely possible that some of the independent gnomish alchemists selling smokepowder are serving the will of Gond, though the established church does not realise it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875900)
If the current version didn't have the Gondites spreading the powder around, who is doing it?

Good question.

There are refugees and travellers from Kara-Tur in the Theskan region. Since smokepowder has been fairly well known, if no less expensive, in that country for hundreds of years, there have already been all kinds of experiments with its military use. So that's one source of it.

Then there are those alchemists who have managed to learn the formula without belonging to the temples of Gond or who belonged to it in the past but no longer do. Those are not all that few, since new lay worshippers join all the time and there will always be those who are dissatisfied with a faith after trying it out and in addition, if a substance can be sold for three times the materials cost, there will be those who want to go into business for themselves.

Third, the church is spreading knowledge of it, even if they are demanding ridiculous prices. A learned alchemist could hear of it, buy a small sample and with research, manage to extract the formula.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875900)
Mooks get in one to three (if lucky) attacks before getting mowed down in any case. Reload time is not as big a deal in that scenario.

In a formation of pikes or polearms, that isn't a given. It's hard to kill people with Reach 2 and 3 when you've got Reach 1 like most adventurers with their fancy one-handed weapons.

If the adventurers can truly shatter the formation with ease and slaughter anyone within their reach instantly, the people need an escape plan, not a battle plan.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875900)
If your crossbows do damage comparable to your muskets however, and are significantly cheaper and already accepted, the muskets are not likely to be adopted at all.

Agreed.

Though crossbows which can almost equal muskets for penetration power do significantly worse against soft targets, so the damage is not equivalent, but it is not far away. And such siege crossbows, while cheaper to operate than muskets, are actually more expensive and equally heavy (heavier, counting the rack).

Comparing a standard battlefield crossbow with a standard musketoon/caliver gives a damage of 1d(2) imp vs. 4d pi++ or penetration of DR 6 vs. penetration of DR 13. The crossbow can shoot three or four times faster, though.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875900)
These are not simple spells, and damage from attack spells is limited. A ribcage full of REF 0.8 powder and a suit of heavy mail over top would be nasty.

There might be a narrow window of capability in which the powder is more powerful than the spells of the wizard, but he can still command some minor undead or such, but anyone capable of summoning air elementals will probably also have easy access to Firetrap spells which do the same thing for much less hard cash.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 875900)
Not sure of the relative costs of magic vs. powder in your game though, or the limits on and availability of boom spells. (Relatively cheap and available boom spells are effectively military artillery in most cases, and lead to more modern looking armies than the shield walls I've seen you discuss here in the past.)

At a guess, wizards can usually make a bigger boom for less money, provided you have wizards. They are, however, never as many as you'd wish.

The shield walls I've discussed in the past are explicitly lower TL than much of the setting, being a feature of orcish warfare in the Vastar. These orcs are not used to facing wizards that rank as much more than the equivalent to low-levels in D&D and their tactics have evolved in that environment. Most of their battles are against each other. Against humans with greater levels of magic, they consistently find themselves at a disadvantage.

Icelander 10-31-2009 12:22 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Asta Kask (Post 875913)
I think that a huge disadvantage is that it is dishonorable. It doesn't require bravery, like lances and swords, because you are at a safe distance. It doesn't require training, like archery or magic. It is a weapon for peasants, and we don't want them[ to be too well armed.

Historically, this was a major stumbling block. It was not unknown for nobles to kill anyone found carrying a crossbow or a firearm.

Well, in the Forgotten Realms, there are nobles, but they wield nowhere near the amount of power they did in historical medieval period.

The people to whom the PCs are demonstrating the weapons are mostly common-born and have their power by virtue of the support of the merchant class and/or demonstrated military competence. At least one of them has displayed willingness to use magical means to flood goblin warrens with poison gas, which is considerably less honorable than firearms, so I guess he'd get behind anything that killed enemies efficiently.

And there's no risk that peasants will ever use smokepowder weapons, mostly because what makes them peasants is that they don't have any money. This isn't a weapon for peasants, it's a weapon for merchants and their well-funded military forces dedicated to keeping the tradeways open.

That is, if it is practical as a weapon system at all. With the cost of the smokepowder, I'm not at all convinced of that.

For the cost of keeping a regiment of musketeers in the field for a month, you could equip one-third of a regiment of crossbowmen or a whole regiment of light spearmen. That's a pretty hefty operational cost.

Agemegos 10-31-2009 05:22 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Naval use.

You might have ships mounting only a few guns, if broadsides were prohibitively expensive. But nothing rivals artillery at sea.

Polydamas 10-31-2009 05:44 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Those weapons seem broadly reasonable. I think most rich armies would play around with smokepowder, and it might have a use against plate armour and large monsters, but because of the price I doubt it will be a serious competition for bows and crossbows. That seems to be the position you're leaning towards, Icelander.

For the armour piercing role, one historical approach was using cast-iron shot for smallarms. In the Realms this ammunition might be cheaper and more spherical than historical iron shot. Steel shot from smoothbores seems to have about a (1.25) to (1.5) armour divisor according to the best test I know of.
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 876482)
Naval use.

You might have ships mounting only a few guns, if broadsides were prohibitively expensive. But nothing rivals artillery at sea.

But can you cram more firepower onto a ship by hiring archers or wizards or gunners? Given the cost of powder, I'd expect most naval guns to be light things, with possibly a few heavy guns which are expected to fire once or twice in a given fight.

I doubt that smokepowder is hydroscopic, which is an advantage over early gunpowder at sea.

Joseph Paul 10-31-2009 07:49 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Caveat - don't know a thing about the FR setting. That said is there not the same economic problem with archers/wizards vs gunners? That is that as long as there is a ready supply of bodies that can be trained for the years necessary to master those arts (yes, yes not so much with the crossbow) you are OK. What happens in a long war when casualties start eating up that supply? Particularly with wizards that have often been portrayed as being a tiny minority of most fantasy populations? The high cost of the smokepowder may be offset by a situation wherein archers and wizards have become scarce. Gunners require little training making replacing them relatively easy.

martinl 10-31-2009 09:16 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Tangent Question Ice:

Did WotC put out a very good 4e FR supplement (I heard it was Meh) or are you elaborating a lot of plausibility onto the canon?

Icelander 11-02-2009 03:11 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 876574)
Tangent Question Ice:

Did WotC put out a very good 4e FR supplement (I heard it was Meh) or are you elaborating a lot of plausibility onto the canon?

For 4e, WotC decided to stop supporting the FR setting and instead publish a completely different setting under the same name.

It's set more than a century later than the previous setting sourcebooks, in order to prevent one from getting any use from their prior material, and it looks and sounds like WoW on acid.

No, I don't like it much. ;)

Icelander 11-02-2009 03:13 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 876545)
Caveat - don't know a thing about the FR setting. That said is there not the same economic problem with archers/wizards vs gunners? That is that as long as there is a ready supply of bodies that can be trained for the years necessary to master those arts (yes, yes not so much with the crossbow) you are OK. What happens in a long war when casualties start eating up that supply? Particularly with wizards that have often been portrayed as being a tiny minority of most fantasy populations? The high cost of the smokepowder may be offset by a situation wherein archers and wizards have become scarce. Gunners require little training making replacing them relatively easy.

Hmmmm.... well, yes.

But in a prolonged conflict, one would assume that capital tends to be scarce as well, so being dependant on a fantastically expensive alchemical substance would not seem all that favourable. Especially since few nations could produce great supplies of it locally (alchemists have to have a 'spark' just like wizards and also require years of training), so much of it would have to be imported.

Icelander 11-02-2009 03:14 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Brett (Post 876482)
Naval use.

You might have ships mounting only a few guns, if broadsides were prohibitively expensive. But nothing rivals artillery at sea.

Very true.

Particularly relevant since the group of PCs own seven ships that carry letters of marquee and reprisal and mean to add four more privateer ships to their fleet.

Icelander 11-02-2009 03:20 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 876490)
Those weapons seem broadly reasonable. I think most rich armies would play around with smokepowder, and it might have a use against plate armour and large monsters, but because of the price I doubt it will be a serious competition for bows and crossbows. That seems to be the position you're leaning towards, Icelander.

Agreed. Even though I use slightly less optimistic stats for bows and crossbows than GURPS RAW, those weapons still outcompete early firearms by a considerable margin if considered from a cost-effectiveness point of view.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 876490)
For the armour piercing role, one historical approach was using cast-iron shot for smallarms. In the Realms this ammunition might be cheaper and more spherical than historical iron shot. Steel shot from smoothbores seems to have about a (1.25) to (1.5) armour divisor according to the best test I know of.

The lighter steel shot will do less damage than lead shot, though. I expect that armour penetration is still better with steel than lead, but do you know how to compute the damage difference?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polydamas (Post 876490)
But can you cram more firepower onto a ship by hiring archers or wizards or gunners? Given the cost of powder, I'd expect most naval guns to be light things, with possibly a few heavy guns which are expected to fire once or twice in a given fight.

Certainly, wizards are a naval necessity. But even very rich privateering firms, such as the PCs' company, have trouble finding enough for their purposes. Minor mages abound, but the truly powerful ones that can sink a ship with their spells are not very common.

SuedodeuS 11-02-2009 04:54 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877152)
The lighter steel shot will do less damage than lead shot, though. I expect that armour penetration is still better with steel than lead, but do you know how to compute the damage difference?

Sounds to me like making it AP would work. I think that drops the damage category down a notch (so from pi++ to pi+) and multiplies damage by 0.7 or so. If that drops damage too much, you could consider it as effectively being APHC, which suffers the damage category drop but doesn't suffer any penalty to basic damage. No idea how realistic all that would be (I suspect TL 3/4 APHC is a bit much), but those options aren't terrible.

Joseph Paul 11-02-2009 05:40 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877150)
Hmmmm.... well, yes.

But in a prolonged conflict, one would assume that capital tends to be scarce as well, so being dependant on a fantastically expensive alchemical substance would not seem all that favourable. Especially since few nations could produce great supplies of it locally (alchemists have to have a 'spark' just like wizards and also require years of training), so much of it would have to be imported.


Hmm If your capital can't buy an asset that has gone off the market, such as trained archers and wizards, cornering an emerging technology might make sense. Alchemists aren't normally on the front lines and don't normally suffer the same attrition as battle wizards and archers so if their product did start becoming more mainstream they suddenly become an essential asset that needs to be collected and guarded against assasination. Hmm an alchemical V2 campaign? Collect the brains, guard the brains, get as much out as you can. Of course this may not be applicable to the situation in your campaign right now.

Capital in medieval conflicts was often scarce. Plunder and grants of newly conquered lands and titles to go with them were often used as the stop gap. Literally working with 'other people's money'!

Icelander 11-02-2009 09:06 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 877182)
Hmm If your capital can't buy an asset that has gone off the market, such as trained archers and wizards, cornering an emerging technology might make sense. Alchemists aren't normally on the front lines and don't normally suffer the same attrition as battle wizards and archers so if their product did start becoming more mainstream they suddenly become an essential asset that needs to be collected and guarded against assasination. Hmm an alchemical V2 campaign? Collect the brains, guard the brains, get as much out as you can. Of course this may not be applicable to the situation in your campaign right now.

The alchemists aren't the only limit on the supply of smokepowder. It also requires exotic and rare reagents, the cost of which is around $350/lbs.

This essentially means that even with all the alchemists in the world and the most efficient mass production system, smokepowder would still cost twenty times what black powder did.

And while alchemists might not suffer from attrition (except for the occasional explosion... which might not be all that rare), their agents which are dispatched into monsters' lairs and similar places to gather materials will tend to die pretty often.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 877182)
Capital in medieval conflicts was often scarce. Plunder and grants of newly conquered lands and titles to go with them were often used as the stop gap. Literally working with 'other people's money'!

Indeed.

But imagine that operational costs of armies were two times what they were in our history. Now you need to conquer two times as much land to make going to war worthwhile. Or if the costs were five times what they were in our history.

At what point does warfare, at least with such an expensive substance, stop being a cost-effective revenue stream?

I know that if any power in Faerun expended smokepowder at the rate Napoleonic warfare expended black powder, all the conquest in the world would not suffice to pay the bills.

Joseph Paul 11-02-2009 09:26 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Re: Needing adventurers for scrounging ingredients. Sounds like a much more logical reason for delving!

Re: Economics of warfare - Given what you have laid out I see a plot with a sneaky peace faction working hard to check the wizards and dismantle the archer corps so that smokepowder comes to the fore. Very shortly all parties realize they can have enough to defend with but not enough to mount an offensive. War becomes limited, perhaps Peace gets a chance? Or there is a huge moral dillema in it for the PCs at the critical junction? Aww now I am drifting.

Have you got enough divergent opinions to deal with your player's conundrum?

Icelander 11-02-2009 09:34 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 877604)
Re: Needing adventurers for scrounging ingredients. Sounds like a much more logical reason for delving!

Oh, it is.

Alchemy and enchantment rules depend heavily on exotic incredients, which demand a constant stream of soldiers of fortune prepared to enter foul and dangerous places.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 877604)
Re: Economics of warfare - Given what you have laid out I see a plot with a sneaky peace faction working hard to check the wizards and dismantle the archer corps so that smokepowder comes to the fore. Very shortly all parties realize they can have enough to defend with but not enough to mount an offensive. War becomes limited, perhaps Peace gets a chance?

If all the powers were relatively organised and self-interested mercantile powers, that might have a better chance of working. Unfortunately, the presence of 'savage' races that breed much faster than humans and compete for the same resources mean that constant warfare appears inevitable.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 877604)
Or there is a huge moral dillema in it for the PCs at the critical junction? Aww now I am drifting.

Their biggest moral dilemma, I would think, is that the best chance for permanent peace in the setting involves genocide against the fast breeding and primitive races of orcs, goblins, etc.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joseph Paul (Post 877604)
Have you got enough divergent opinions to deal with your player's conundrum?

Sure, but why should that stop anyone from kibitzing? ;)

In any event, I can always use more opinions.

Polydamas 11-02-2009 09:54 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877152)
The lighter steel shot will do less damage than lead shot, though. I expect that armour penetration is still better with steel than lead, but do you know how to compute the damage difference?

I can't find my data on penetration of lead vs. iron shot unfortunately (possibly The Knight and the Blast Furnace). For base damage, I think all that matters is energy and the diameter of the projectile. (Projectile diameter also determines damage type, but I think the same energy spread over a larger area gives a worse base damage). Iron has a specific gravity of 7850 kg/cubic m, lead 11,340 kg/cubic m. So iron shot is roughly 70% as heavy as lead shot, and would have 70% the energy and 84% the damage at the same speed. But it would probably travel a bit faster and gain damage proportional to the change in velocity.

Treating it as AP ammo like Suedonius suggests might be reasonable.

martinl 11-02-2009 11:30 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877609)
Their biggest moral dilemma, I would think, is that the best chance for permanent peace in the setting involves genocide against the fast breeding and primitive races of orcs, goblins, etc.

Are you sure humans shouldn't be on that list?

Also - it seems to me the only reasonable route for mass smokepowder use would involve cheaper powder, which requires cheaper ingredients, which means you can probably sucker your players into trying to ranch beholders or some such. Now there's a sadistic GM's dream...

Icelander 11-02-2009 11:45 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 877647)
Are you sure humans shouldn't be on that list?

Not from a human perspective. Races which breed faster than us and compete for the same resources are a danger, but other humans can be tolerated.

Orcs, on the other hand, would eventually overwhelm the human race. In a war, most likely, but even if the races were to find perfect peace and harmony, humans would become a tiny minority within a few generations.

Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 877647)
Also - it seems to me the only reasonable route for mass smokepowder use would involve cheaper powder, which requires cheaper ingredients, which means you can probably sucker your players into trying to ranch beholders or some such. Now there's a sadistic GM's dream...

Hmmm...

I know that at least one player empathically does not want smokepowder weapons to be widespread. His character likes individual combat, skill at arms, honour, glory and all that jazz.

Another doesn't really care if the weapons are viable, as long as he can sell them for high prices to military planners. He can get both weapons and powder more cheaply than the prices that are current in their area, so if there's any interest, he stands to profit. If the weapons end up being white elephants, well, he'll have moved on to selling something else.

The rest of the players don't have an opinion that I'm aware of on the matter. Well, other than not minding at all if the merchant PC who functions as the executive director for their company brings in a juicy contract that means they see more dividends.

DanHoward 11-03-2009 12:05 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877653)
Orcs, on the other hand, would eventually overwhelm the human race. In a war, most likely, but even if the races were to find perfect peace and harmony, humans would become a tiny minority within a few generations.

Orcs might have a higher birth rate but, judging most stereotypical orcish cultures, they have a much higher death rate too. Only the strongest live to see adulthood, and a small percentage of that live to old age. Unlike humans who try to protect all of their offspring, if an orcish parent was interested at all in his children it would only be in the strongest one.

Icelander 11-03-2009 12:14 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DanHoward (Post 877656)
Orcs might have a higher birth rate but, judging most stereotypical orcish cultures, they have a much higher death rate too. Only the strongest live to see adulthood, and a small percentage of that live to old age. Unlike humans who try to protect all of their offspring, if an orcish parent was interested at all in his children it would only be in the strongest one.

Well, part of the explanation for the high death rate of orcs is... you guessed it, constant warfare.

If someone managed to get orcs to stop fighting and start participating in a roughly human culture, well, let's just say that this would be a bad thing for everyone not in favour of humans being outnumbered by a massive margin.

martinl 11-03-2009 09:14 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877653)
Not from a human perspective. Races which breed faster than us and compete for the same resources are a danger, but other humans can be tolerated.

Alternately, they're an opportunity to take out humans who can't be tolerated.

SuedodeuS 11-03-2009 09:33 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Reading back through your examples, I realized something - you aren't including the cost of ammunition. Knowing how much these weapons cost per shot is going to be very useful in determining how likely they are to be fielded.

Of course, the primary cost of fielding musketeers is actually that of maintaining them - they burn through a lot of powder when training. How much would it cost to create a magical training musket? You would use simulated powder (probably some sort of sand), but a real match, wadding, and bullet. Upon pulling the trigger, the musket would rock back (simulating recoil) and an illusionary bullet would fly out and strike where it was aimed at. Ideally, the musket would also automatically get rid of the "powder" and shot so the recruit doesn't have to empty it before reloading (thus allowing quick powder drills). Not perfect, but if you can enchant it on the cheap you can save a lot of money in the long run.
EDIT: The "weapon" would just need to resemble a musket, so it wouldn't have a high base cost. The bullet seems like it would be a simple illusion. The big problem is the recoil - maybe some sort of wind magic?

Pragmatic 11-03-2009 10:02 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877149)
No, I don't like it much. ;)

So like what they did to Dark Sun in Dragon/Dungeon? (And what I presume they're going to do when they release the 4e version...)

Xplo 11-03-2009 10:14 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 877660)
Well, part of the explanation for the high death rate of orcs is... you guessed it, constant warfare.

If someone managed to get orcs to stop fighting and start participating in a roughly human culture...

...they would presumably starve.

Icelander 11-03-2009 11:16 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Xplo (Post 878070)
...they would presumably starve.

And so would the humans.

It's pretty hard to engineer a famine so that a minority eats well and the dispossesed majority is nice enough to die off without ever resorting to violence in order to eat.

Icelander 11-03-2009 11:39 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 878046)
Alternately, they're an opportunity to take out humans who can't be tolerated.

Well, that would be war.

But there's a wholly different character to a war where the sides are set by species lines. Humans may have a lot of reasons, some valid, some not, to prefer violence to talking when it comes to dealing with other humans. Orcs and goblins, however, have many of the qualities of an ecological disaster.

Humans, while far from ecologically sensible, will at least tend to breed fast during times of plentiful food and slowly during famines. And while a brutal form of birth control, it is a fact that human children are very sensitive to harsh conditions and without sufficient resources, human population will tend to stabilise due to infant mortality.

Orcs and goblins birth live young as humans do, but in litters of up to half dozen. The gestation period is shorter than with humans for both races and the young are born more capable than human young. Both orcs and goblins can eat a wider range of foodstuff than humans without getting sick, have a more robust constitution and tolerance for environmental conditions and diseases. The combined effect is that even living on the inhospitable outskirts of human lands, these races double their population every ten years or so.

If it wasn't for their warlike natures and tendency to band together into a raiding horde when the carrying capacity of their caves is exceeded, both races would have the capability to colonise all the lands left empty by humans and then start moving on to human lands. The regular invasions of thousands of warriors are seen as s scourge by the average human, but the alternative, that the creatures would instead scrounge peacefully for more resources and wait until they outnumber their civilised counterparts by hundreds to one, is far worse.

Pragmatic 11-03-2009 11:48 PM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
If you want to flesh out the orcs and goblins, there's a couple of d20 books you might want to try to find:
Kenzerco's KoK books, Strength & Honor (hobgoblins) and Fury in the Wastelands (orcs). It's not Forgotten Realms specific, but...

martinl 11-04-2009 12:44 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 878103)
But there's a wholly different character to a war where the sides are set by species lines. Humans may have a lot of reasons, some valid, some not, to prefer violence to talking when it comes to dealing with other humans. Orcs and goblins, however, have many of the qualities of an ecological disaster.

So you're saying humans in your FR are too sensible to risk the survival of their species for personal advantage?

Icelander 11-04-2009 12:54 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by martinl (Post 878114)
So you're saying humans in your FR are too sensible to risk the survival of their species for personal advantage?

Not at all.

I'm saying that their species, due to factors such as the frailty of infants and the reduction in birth rate during times of less nourishment, has an inbuilt resistance to explosive overpopulation. Sure, this resistance takes the form of infant mortality and is therefore not popular, but it's still a fact that humans are far less likely to build up the kind of population pressure that orcs routinely do.

While individual mad archmages or divine prophets might play with the future survival of the species, most humans are not able to do enough damage to seriously risk the survival of the species.

Icelander 11-04-2009 01:33 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Pragmatic (Post 878066)
So like what they did to Dark Sun in Dragon/Dungeon? (And what I presume they're going to do when they release the 4e version...)

I didn't see the Dark Sun changes, so I'm not in a position to compare the two.

But judging from the 4e content I've seen so far, I'd say that you are unlikely to enjoy the 4e Dark Sun unless you favour a style of game play that is dramatically unlike anything I recognise as fun.

If you enjoy WoW for the story and characterisation, for example, you might be in good hands.

Icelander 11-04-2009 02:18 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SuedodeuS (Post 878053)
Reading back through your examples, I realized something - you aren't including the cost of ammunition. Knowing how much these weapons cost per shot is going to be very useful in determining how likely they are to be fielded.

Hmm, yes, that was a bit deliberate. The cost varies enormously depending on where and from whom the smokepowder is bought.

I did include several comments about the cost per pound, though. I've added the weights of the powder charge and ball for each of the weapons in the initial post.

The cost of lead is about $20/lbs. and the cost of smokepowder between $2000-$40,000/lbs., though it only costs about $700/lbs. in Kara-Tur.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SuedodeuS (Post 878053)
Of course, the primary cost of fielding musketeers is actually that of maintaining them - they burn through a lot of powder when training. How much would it cost to create a magical training musket? You would use simulated powder (probably some sort of sand), but a real match, wadding, and bullet. Upon pulling the trigger, the musket would rock back (simulating recoil) and an illusionary bullet would fly out and strike where it was aimed at. Ideally, the musket would also automatically get rid of the "powder" and shot so the recruit doesn't have to empty it before reloading (thus allowing quick powder drills). Not perfect, but if you can enchant it on the cheap you can save a lot of money in the long run.
EDIT: The "weapon" would just need to resemble a musket, so it wouldn't have a high base cost. The bullet seems like it would be a simple illusion. The big problem is the recoil - maybe some sort of wind magic?

I've thought about this, yes.

The problem is that you'd need at least enough replicas to be able to practise platoon fire, if you hope to gain any battlefield advantage from it. Individual markmanship is pretty irrelevant and there is a great difference between loading and firing on one's own and doing it while surrounding by muskets spouting flame and noise.

bolondro2 11-04-2009 06:07 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by SuedodeuS (Post 878053)
Of course, the primary cost of fielding musketeers is actually that of maintaining them - they burn through a lot of powder when training. How much would it cost to create a magical training musket?

No. At leas in our world and time. Speaking about the soldiers in the age of Napoleon
Quote:

Britain was the wealthiest country in the world with relatively small army. They could afford high ratio of practice rounds per soldier in life fire training:
1. British 'Rifles' - 60 rounds and 60 blanks per man
2. Prussian jägers and Schützen - 60 rounds per man (in 1811-1812)
3. British light infantry - 50 rounds and 60 blanks
4. Prussian fusiliers (light infantry in line regiments) - 30 rounds
5. British line infantry - 30 rounds
6. Austrian line infantry - 10 rounds (in 1809)
7. Austrian line infantry - 6 rounds (in 1805)
8. Russian infantry - 6 and less rounds
From http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/fo...ish_army.htm#b

As you can see, the regular infantry of first line armies (entries 5 and below) was considered well trained with just ten rounds of ammo or less. The training involves no marksmanship, because the weapon was so imprecise that don't allow it. The soldier was trained in loading the weapon, in putting the bayonet, in marching in close order and change formation. But for firing, just put the musket roughly in the general direction of the incoming enemies and fire to an objective 200 yards wide.

Icelander 11-04-2009 06:14 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bolondro2 (Post 878160)
No. At leas in our world and time. Speaking about the soldiers in the age of Napoleon


From http://napoleonistyka.atspace.com/fo...ish_army.htm#b

As you can see, the regular infantry of first line armies (entries 5 and below) was considered well trained with just ten rounds of ammo or less. The training involves no marksmanship, because the weapon was so imprecise that don't allow it. The soldier was trained in loading the weapon, in putting the bayonet, in marching in close order and change formation. But for firing, just put the musket roughly in the general direction of the incoming enemies and fire to an objective 200 yards wide.

Well, let's keep in mind that entries below #5 did pretty badly in battle against those higher on the list.

Joseph Paul 11-04-2009 06:42 AM

Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Icelander (Post 878103)
Orcs and goblins birth live young as humans do, but in litters of up to half dozen. The gestation period is shorter than with humans for both races and the young are born more capable than human young. Both orcs and goblins can eat a wider range of foodstuff than humans without getting sick, have a more robust constitution and tolerance for environmental conditions and diseases. The combined effect is that even living on the inhospitable outskirts of human lands, these races double their population every ten years or so.


Hmmm. Just how does an Orc or goblin female carry six fetuses that are delivered live and "more capable"? What is the birthweight of those Orc babies? How soon do they walk on their own? How fast are they maturing?


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