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Old 09-28-2021, 09:24 PM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

I'm currently working on planning a big Dungeon Fantasy hexcrawl with key locations represented by maps from 0one Games. It occurred to me to try to incorporate their Wild West maps, because hey, why not. The idea would be that the town and its surroundings would have been dropped into the Dungeon Fantasy world by a Banestorm-like event. But I need to figure out some details of who and what can be found in the town's various structures. Notably, the map features a train station, a small fort (barely big enough to house a platoon), and a Native American encampment.

The Platonic ideal of a Western seems to be set in the late 1870s, halfway between the end of the Civil War and the Census Bureau's announcement of the closing of the American frontier. But dropping late 1870s weaponry—particularly rifles—into a Dungeon Fantasy setting could potentially make that weaponry the focus of the entire campaign. So there is the question of the last possible date at which it would be plausible that the soldiers in the fort would still be using muzzle-loading caplocks. From the research I've done thus far, this definitely seems like a possibility in 1866, but I might be able to push things a bit later, I'm not sure. The exact date would affect what weapons the other people in the town might be carrying.

Once I figure out how people are armed, there's the question of how much ammo they have—crucial because things like Minié balls and percussion caps could not have been manufactured without specialized equipment unavailable in the average town. I have found a lot of sources online for how much ammo Civil War era soldiers carried while on march, but less on how much might be stockpiled at a fort. I suspect the answer is a smallish multiple of the amount they would have carried while marching, but I don't really know. I suspect civilians would have tended not to carry much extra ammo at all, but I'm not really sure of that either. It might be interesting to issue some of the non-U.S. Army locals (including possibly some of the natives) with rifles that were in some sense "better" than what the soldiers have, but with very limited ammo. ("Better" rifles might mean repeating rifles, or converted to fire metallic cartridges.) I have no idea what's realistic though in terms of ammo supplies, and if someone knowledgeable about the era can give input, I'd be appreciative.

Then there is the question of what non-weapon gear I should be prepared to have PCs potentially get their hands on. Introducing TL5 photography to the campaign might might change much in the dungeon, but it could be amusing to have NPCs treat photographs as if they were artistic masterpieces. TL5 optics are a bit better—but not overwhelmingly so—than what's in Adventurers. The town bank will of course have a small safe that may befuddle the party thief—or be an excellent place to keep the party's valuables safe. TL5 medicine is mostly unimpressive, but morphine and smelling salts would be new to people in a pseudo-medieval fantasy setting. That's about all I can think of—so much of the really impressive high-tech stuff isn't available until TL6 or later. But I'm open to other suggestions.
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Old 09-28-2021, 11:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

I'd expect the fort to have 7-10 times what the daily issue is so it can hold until a relief column can arrive.

The general store should have bulk black powder for the locals to replensih their personal stock of ammo. So maybe a 20 pound keg in a outbuilding?

If you want long term implications a treadle sewing machine and animate object would revolutionize the local sewing industry. Maybe a spinning wheel also.
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Old 09-29-2021, 12:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

Don't forget that by 1870 lever-action cartridge rifles were coming into play, having first been fielded in 1864 or '65 during the Civil War.

One of the first things the fort would do would be to send out scouts; not just to map the area they fell into, if it was noticeably different (two moons, different constellations, etc.), but to find fresh sources of food, water, and materials. These scouts often included men of Amerindian descent, so the practice of hiring locals - and here I mean an adventuring party/the PCs - has precedent.
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Old 09-29-2021, 01:05 AM   #4
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

The GURPSwiki has Weapons of GURPS Old West (1830 to 1917) - provided by Curtis Handsaker (Z09SS). Cap and ball would be the rule clear up to the 1880s when the bullet as we know it appeared.
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Old 09-29-2021, 08:52 AM   #5
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
The GURPSwiki has Weapons of GURPS Old West (1830 to 1917) - provided by Curtis Handsaker (Z09SS). Cap and ball would be the rule clear up to the 1880s when the bullet as we know it appeared.
Cartridge rifles were becoming a thing (particularly in the form of lever action repeaters) in the 1860s. Smith & Wesson introduced the cartridge revolver in the 1850s. It would be some time yet before the cartridge designs could compete in power with cap and ball designs.

1873 marked the adoption of breech-loading rifles and cartridge revolvers as standard US Army issue.

The 1880s saw the introduction of "the bullet as we know it" only in the sense of the small caliber, smokeless-powder rifle, in the form of the Lebel Mle 1886. Or the boat-tailed spitzer bullet in the Balle D round for the same rifle in 1889.
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Old 09-29-2021, 11:03 AM   #6
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

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Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
Don't forget that by 1870 lever-action cartridge rifles were coming into play, having first been fielded in 1864 or '65 during the Civil War.
What's the significance of the 1870 date? After 1873 or thereabouts the standard rifle of the U.S. Army was the Springfield M1873, which was not a lever action. But as you say lever actions like the Henry showed up earlier, and were in fact one of the things I had in mind when I mentioned the possibility of non-U.S. Army shooters having better guns than the Army. But for purposes of outfitting the fort, the question for me is the last date at which the soldiers might have been equipped with muzzleloading caplocks like the Springfield M1861 or M1863. GURPS High-Tech: Adventure Guns (p. 27) has this to say about those weapons:
Quote:
From the late 1860s, many of these rifles were converted to fire metallic cartridges, typically the .50-70 Government. The most common conversion was developed by Erskine Allin and made at Springfield Armory as the Model of 1868.
It seems possible that by 1868, older Springfields were still in use but the vast majority had been cartridge-converted to fire metallic cartridges. Or maybe the process of converting muzzle-loaders took longer than that. I'm not sure.
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Old 09-29-2021, 11:35 AM   #7
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

If the town survives long enough it's going to change the DF world.

Just the things the people in the town have to know are possible will make a difference, specifically black powder and printing. I'm not sure 1870s medicine (especially that in a small town) is much of an improvement over what the DF world would have even if you don't take clerical healing magic into account.

But that's not the sort of thing a DF campaign normally worries about.
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Old 09-29-2021, 11:54 AM   #8
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

This paper makes me think the cartridge-conversion process was not totally complete until 1869, though significant numbers of cartridge-converted rifles would have been issued starting in 1867. The paper does not offer much insight into how it was decided which units would get the converted rifles first. I suspect frontier troops living in relatively close proximity to Native Americans would have been highish priority, but I don't know. The paper indicates natives were caught off-guard by the use of breechloaders in a battle the following year in 1867, so maybe the use of those weapons was unusual then.

Here's another useful link about the weapons of a 1866 battle.
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Old 09-29-2021, 12:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

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Originally Posted by Michael Cule View Post
If the town survives long enough it's going to change the DF world.

Just the things the people in the town have to know are possible will make a difference, specifically black powder and printing. I'm not sure 1870s medicine (especially that in a small town) is much of an improvement over what the DF world would have even if you don't take clerical healing magic into account.

But that's not the sort of thing a DF campaign normally worries about.
The impact of black powder might be limited at first, if people don't have the know-how to make effective black-powder firearms from raw materials. Once they run out of percussion caps they might be forced to fall back on essentially TL3 designs. I had not thought about the impact of printing, though. Since the standard DF world is really TL4 in a ton of ways, it is probably ready for the printing press in terms of e.g. metalworking technique.
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Old 09-29-2021, 12:42 PM   #10
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Default Re: Dropping a small Wild West town into a Dungeon Fantasy setting

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
The impact of black powder might be limited at first, if people don't have the know-how to make effective black-powder firearms from raw materials. Once they run out of percussion caps they might be forced to fall back on essentially TL3 designs. I had not thought about the impact of printing, though. Since the standard DF world is really TL4 in a ton of ways, it is probably ready for the printing press in terms of e.g. metalworking technique.
DF is, as you say, TL4-ish and at the master smiths and dwarves end of things their metalworking is at least that good. You might be able to hold off the arrival of mass produced firearms but it will not take long at all for top artisans to be able to make flintlock muskets and pistols with rifled barrels and Minié balls. Which would only be slightly outdated by uptimer standards, and more modern than some of the guns used in the Civil War.

Dungeon Fantasy alchemy probably would provide a way to make percussion caps but they might be a lot more expensive than uptime industrial production.

It might take a bit to get good powder production, though. I don't think a 1860s-70s town would necessarily have any expertise there as opposed to bringing the stuff in from factories back East. Probably someone knows enough theory to get things started but there might be working up from bad serpentine.
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