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Old 10-18-2016, 08:45 AM   #261
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

As far as non-magical solutions go? Could use the same stuffing as one would use for beds and pillows. It may need more frequent replacement than even unvulcanized rubber, but, it would fit the cheap, readily available, and easy to replace requirements.

Have you decided on what type of plant the in-setting natural rubber comes from? Some are more easily cultivated than others, which would affect the price if it ever comes up in game.
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:37 AM   #262
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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As far as non-magical solutions go? Could use the same stuffing as one would use for beds and pillows. It may need more frequent replacement than even unvulcanized rubber, but, it would fit the cheap, readily available, and easy to replace requirements.
It doesn't have to be all that cheap, just cheaper than a plant product imported over half the world, mainly in small batches for alchemists and Gond-worshipping engineers. It can be quite well-made leather or canvas, possibly with a filling of some sort.

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Have you decided on what type of plant the in-setting natural rubber comes from? Some are more easily cultivated than others, which would affect the price if it ever comes up in game.
I have not, no. Natural rubber exists, that's as far as I've thought. I did consider its use in mechanical artillery, but the established fact that it grows nowhere it is easy to get to from the Inner Sea makes it unavoidably expensive.
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:48 AM   #263
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I have not, no. Natural rubber exists, that's as far as I've thought. I did consider its use in mechanical artillery, but the established fact that it grows nowhere it is easy to get to from the Inner Sea makes it unavoidably expensive.
Looking at two real-world sources, there are vines that one cannot cultivate at all, and trees that are relatively easy to cultivate. If the PCs find rubber to be of value, there may be some sort of adventure to get some seeds home.
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Old 10-18-2016, 09:59 AM   #264
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Semi-disposable cork but plates, leather you have mentioned but maybe laminated or stuffed with horse hair or wool. Another possibility would be complex basket weaves of hemp/sisal/linen rope. Oilskin or oiled canvas with padding.
All good ideas. Oilskin might risk slipping off the armour, though.

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A more complex leaf spring maybe, torsion and compression springs for that matter.
Probably too expensive and much trouble for the minimal benefit. Useful spring steel is very expensive in the setting, especially as it has a major military purpose, it cannot be made by local craftsmen in the area and there is a war on.

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Alternatively padding could be part of a soldier/sailor/marine's uniform.
I like that. A strengthened leather patch on the shoulder for firing a fusil or musket could be part of the arming vest of marines and soldiers. Also, adding extra padding to one point on the arming vest should be trivial.

Would it be worth having a leather pad on the buttstock of a standard musket in addition to strengthening armour to deal with recoil? It's probably not a huge expense, so if it doesn't interfere with using it, I think I'd rather do that as well. After all, not all PCs wear armour on the shoulders and they might like to borrow armaments from their men.
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Old 10-18-2016, 10:01 AM   #265
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Would it be worth having a leather pad on the buttstock of a standard musket in addition to strengthening armour to deal with recoil? It's probably not a huge expense, so if it doesn't interfere with using it, I think I'd rather do that as well. After all, not all PCs wear armour on the shoulders and they might like to borrow armaments from their men.
It would be better than nothing for when you need to grab your gun, but, don't have time for armor.
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Old 11-03-2016, 03:50 AM   #266
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Default Practical bronze firearms for manufacturing quickly

So far, I haven't calculated exactly what firearms the industrial base the PCs can call upon have been making for the last six months. I've guesstimated that it was enough to supply a given number of pistols, blunderbusses, wall pieces, swivel-guns and rifles for the PCs' navy and calivers for their land-based caliver corps, as well as their marines.

In addition, I've stipulated that efforts were ongoing to recruit, train and equip more smokepowder-armed troops. Until they were deployed, however, it wasn't important to establish exactly how many and what kind of guns they would have. It could just be boiled down to an ongoing expenditure*, as well serving to occupy Allies, Contacts and hirelings with appropriate skills and requiring the occasional Administration, Diplomacy, Finance, Freight Handling, Leadership, Merchant and Politics checks by PCs.

The training of the troops is one issue, but I already have a fairly good idea of how that will go. I'll play out some political intrigue with the PCs as they try to get reluctant allies to accept policies that will inevitably mean that some of their best armed retainers will seek to desert and take service with the PCs, successful and famous foreign mercenaries who pay their men on time**, as well as organising their enterprise impeccably, equipping, transporting, feeding and housing them reliably.***

Being willing to ignore local status requirements for 'proper' warriors, the PCs will at least be able to recruit as many healthy, willing women, former slaves and other persons who were not previously considerated suitable for military service as they want. People like that who have spent several years as camp followers in a warzone should have the appropraite Hiking, Scrounging and fieldcraft skills, as well as a base of knowledge quickly expanded into decent Soldier skill, especially for recruits with highly above-average willpower, drive and adaptability, not to mention decent genes for health.

But what guns would there be for them to take up once they are recruited, trained and drilled?

The local economy has been disrupted by war, but before the war, there was a strong TL2+1 metallurgy industry in Messemprar, the largest city of the PCs side. There was a surplus of hoarded bronze available, as there was limited fuel for foundries or armories, as well as a lack of buyers who could pay for bronze armour.

Several hundred brownsmiths and brassfounders, as well as several dozen blacksmiths, whitesmiths and goldsmiths were, if not unemployed, at least employed only in a limited capacity in very unpopular forced labour by a weak central authority which could not effectively compel them to reveal stockpiles of materiel nor supply them with sufficient fuel. A wide range of other artisans were in the same situation, of course, with the local finecarvers, weavers, glassblowers and potters perhaps most notable for their number and the fame of their wares.

The PCs have a very good working relationship with the Hegemony of Artisans, the guild-like confederation of middle-class skilled workers that has taken on a quasi-governmental, para-military role in the Artisan Quarter of Messemprar since the collapse of the regime of the former God-King of Unther.

They've also brought some masters familiar with TL4 gunsmithing to the city; two bronzesmiths, two locksmiths, two alchemists, a jeweller and a jack-of-all-trades tinkerer/inventor. Most of them are gnomes, from a community that lies at the end of a trade route to the Far East (where smokepowder has been trickling in for a generation or two), and all of them know how to make firearms, with some of them having refined the TL4 designs that were current 15 years ago considerably.

They can easily make very intricate wheelock firearms, but I get the feeling that the wheellock is time-consuming to make. The setting also has alchemical 'Lucifer' matches that are fairly widely available and rarely cost more than $10, even in small towns, which suggests that a lock-design that incorporates the alchemical substance in question might be a good idea.

What are some factors that I ought to bear in mind in designing the firearm they'll make?

When you have an abundance of labour that is skilled at brassfounding and bronzemaking (and an effectively infinite supply of willing assistants ready to learn), but only a dozen people familiar with the ins-and-outs of gunsmithing, what are good designs to focus on?

Are there certain lengths of barrel that take longer to cast than others?

Would there be appreciable time**** savings in casting nine hundred 24" bronze barrels rather than nine hundred 39" barrels?

How much extra work is involved in making three hundred 24" barrels, three hundred 39" barrels and three hundred 42" barrels?

How long does it take for a TL4 master gunsmith to train a TL2+1 master bronzesmith to be able to supervise apprentices of his own in making a single design of firearm, say a TL4 caliver or fusil? How about TL2+1 journeymen, how long does it take to train them for the same purpose?

In all cases, assume that two TL4 wizards and their apprentices are standing by ready to cast the Measurement spell or other Information or Making and Breaking spells during the casting process and on finished products, to ensure no subpar alloys are poured or gun barrels with hidden flaws are accepted.

One wizard has Alchemy at a high level and the other has Metallurgy/TL5. At least one has any one of the following skills: Armoury (Smallarms), Blacksmith, Bronzesmith, Engineering (Smallarm), Jeweller, Locksmithing, Mathematics (Applied) and Metallurgy at 14+. Apprentices have Alchemy 12+, Metallugy 12+ and at least Dabbler or a point or two in some of the above skills, for skill 8-10+.

There are two designers available for new types of weapons, who have TL5 skills in Armoury (Smallarms) and Engineering (Smallarms). One is a gunner with skill around 18 in Armoury and 15 in Engineering, but that's mostly default in Engineer and he's improving his theoretical knowledge rapidly with the aid of the other, an invoker wizard who started with Engineering (Combat)/TL5 and Metallurgy/TL5 at 16 and has been adding Armoury and Engineering for Heavy Weapons and Smallarms.

I realise that some firearms are better made from cast iron, wrought iron or steel and there is a concurrent effort in that direction as well. I'll address that better in a later post, but suffice it to say that in addition to two gnome blacksmiths who have become gunsmiths, a gnome clockmaker and a young gnome master who was the first in his community to be certified as a master gunsmith without having previously trained in another profession, the PCs have been buying from various human communities where the metallurgy and smithing is solidly TL4 and guns have been known for some years. They also have access to a dragon's lair where the dragon in question was an avid metallurgist and had built a contraption for melting and casting metals with his fire breath and mastery of the element of fire. With summoned fire elementals and a powerful enough fire mage, the PCs can use this contraption to melt any metal down easily and make cast iron or steel with the ease of a much higher TL.

*A fairly minor one compared to building a navy capable of taking on an empire while aiding the development of the local economy to make it not only self-sustaining, but profitable, and finding a way to employ enough of an estimated million refugees (as well as another million or so either underemployed or connected to one of a dozen armed factions, none of which was contributing much to the war effort while occupied with internecine rivalries) to forestall a further famine and crisis.
**Not to mention paying three times the extremely low local market value for the lowest ranks and at least 25% over it for the highest.
***If PCs want to dabble in empire-building, it helps to have multiple characters with one or more of Accounting, Administration, Economics, Finance, Leadership, Market Analysis, Merchant, Politics, Propaganda, Public Speaking, Teaching and Writing at 20+.
****As opposed to just materials.
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Old 11-03-2016, 04:08 AM   #267
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

Found a page with a few methods of casting a barrel for you. As it turns out, people were using a technique that makes decent gun barrels in India long before guns became a thing.

The audio quality isn't the best, but, here's a video of one of these techniques being used with modern equipment.

Looks like you'll have plenty of manual labor for the large number of people in need of a job, and you can use multiple techniques to make multiple types of gun.

If rifling is known to some of the gunsmiths the PCs brought in, it may or may not be possible for somebody with sufficient skill to work the grooves into your molds, allowing for at least a few good marksman.

As for what kinds of guns to make? Muskets are simple, rifles if skill checks go well, and a few blunderbusses/shotguns can work for anybody. While the shotguns won't be killing many military men in full plate, they still stop the occasional bandit, wild animal, or anybody else not wearing significant armor. It also doesn't hurt that you don't have to make proper ammo for them, as rocks and broken glass work just fine.
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Old 11-03-2016, 04:49 AM   #268
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Default Practical firearms for manufacturing quickly

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
Found a page with a few methods of casting a barrel for you. As it turns out, people were using a technique that makes decent gun barrels in India long before guns became a thing.

The audio quality isn't the best, but, here's a video of one of these techniques being used with modern equipment.
How much work is involved in making a firearm like a musket and caliver apart from casting the barrel?

And what special skills are required?

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
Looks like you'll have plenty of manual labor for the large number of people in need of a job, and you can use multiple techniques to make multiple types of gun.
How much of this is labour that can make use of untrained people or artisans from quite different disciplines?

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
If rifling is known to some of the gunsmiths the PCs brought in, it may or may not be possible for somebody with sufficient skill to work the grooves into your molds, allowing for at least a few good marksman.
Rifling is known, but from all I can gather, it is much more time-consuming to make rifles than smoothbore barrels.

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
As for what kinds of guns to make? Muskets are simple, rifles if skill checks go well,
I think that making a rifled barrel from bronze would be suboptimal. The rifling needs to be hard enough not to be worn out by repeated fire, after all.

I think rifled barrels are steel and probably were even at TL4 (if perhaps less uniform quality steel).

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
and a few blunderbusses/shotguns can work for anybody. While the shotguns won't be killing many military men in full plate, they still stop the occasional bandit, wild animal, or anybody else not wearing significant armor.
Blunderbusses are present on the naval ships for boarding actions and may be indicated for shock cavalry.

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It also doesn't hurt that you don't have to make proper ammo for them, as rocks and broken glass work just fine.
I doubt many people are improvident enough to spend $10 on smokepowder to shoot $0.00-0.1 rocks or broken glass at wild animals, driving them away, when slings can do the same job much cheaper.

An ounce of shot will cost around $1-2 locally, which means that anyone able to afford a shotgun and powder will be able to afford the shot. On the other hand, smokepowder is not likely to be sold to private citizens any time soon, due to the wartime needs of the PCs and their merchant house. The only firearms made locally will be ones made to fill their orders.
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Old 11-03-2016, 05:11 AM   #269
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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
How much work is involved in making a firearm like a musket and caliver apart from casting the barrel?
You'll need a stock and a firing mechanism.

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
And what special skills are required?
The hard part is a decent firing mechanism, and you appear to have that covered.


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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
How much of this is labour that can make use of untrained people or artisans from quite different disciplines?
Gathering wood to make a stock can be done by nearly anybody, just about anybody can gather clay or sand for molds, and watchmakers could probably be taught how to make something similar to a wheel-lock.


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Rifling is known, but from all I can gather, it is much more time-consuming to make rifles than smoothbore barrels.
Thus is why you make relatively few of them. Save those for somebody who appears to have some Talent for rifles.


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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
I think that making a rifled barrel from bronze would be suboptimal. The rifling needs to be hard enough not to be worn out by repeated fire, after all.
You did say steel was possible to melt. Save it for rifles, not muskets. Possibly good for cannons, though.

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I think rifled barrels are steel and probably were even at TL4 (if perhaps less uniform quality steel).
I don't doubt that.


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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Blunderbusses are present on the naval ships for boarding actions and may be indicated for shock cavalry.
Faster methods of producing them are always a good thing.


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I doubt many people are improvident enough to spend $10 on smokepowder to shoot $0.00-0.1 rocks or broken glass at wild animals, driving them away, when slings can do the same job much cheaper.
Sometimes you can't afford the time it takes to use a sling, vs the point and kill of a blunderbuss. It's inefficient, but, it beats dying.


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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
An ounce of shot will cost around $1-2 locally, which means that anyone able to afford a shotgun and powder will be able to afford the shot. On the other hand, smokepowder is not likely to be sold to private citizens any time soon, due to the wartime needs of the PCs and their merchant house. The only firearms made locally will be ones made to fill their orders.
Shot has weight, however. Rocks and broken glass tend to be readily available, and glass changes the damage type to Cutting. One should never assume that you will always have proper ammo on hand, especially when using weapons intended to be loaded with random crap.
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Old 11-03-2016, 01:22 PM   #270
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

Another collection of descriptions of early gunsmithing is Tatterton's book on indian and oriental arms and armour. You will need the other books I suggested for descriptions of gunfounding, since after the very beginning that was mainly a technique for artillery not smallarms. Welding and boring iron gunbarrels was much more efficient in our world.
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