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Old 10-30-2009, 08:45 AM   #31
Joseph Paul
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Kraydak View Post
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.
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Old 10-30-2009, 09:40 AM   #32
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Default 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. :-)
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Old 10-30-2009, 10:58 AM   #33
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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?

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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.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:05 AM   #34
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Kraydak View Post
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.
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:37 AM   #35
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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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.

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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.
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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?
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Old 10-30-2009, 11:42 AM   #36
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Pragmatic View Post
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).
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:03 PM   #37
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by martinl View Post
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.

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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!
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:06 PM   #38
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Default 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...
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:12 PM   #39
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Kraydak View Post
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.

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Originally Posted by Kraydak View Post
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.
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:14 PM   #40
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Kraydak View Post
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.


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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.
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