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Old 11-07-2016, 02:39 AM   #11
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Default Why it would be optimal to be able to use bronze to make firearms

Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
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.
In our world, bronze was from two to six times more expensive than iron or low-quality steel at the time those guns were being made.

Was the actual labour of welding and boring iron gunbarrels easier than casting bronze ones or was it just more economic because the materials costs were so much lower?

In any case, in my campaign, the short-term economic conditions are such that bronze guns look likely to be much more popular than in real history. Copper is incredibly abundant locally, trade with dwarves and the presence geomancers and of priests of earth deities means that obtaining tin has historically been easier than in our world. Bronze is cheaper than on real Earth. I've been using +2 CF rather than +3 CF and that only because the past fifteen years of civil strife and the past two years of all-out war have driven up the costs of all war materiél.

Not to mention that there has been a very strong cultural preference for bronze in two empires that have been civilised Bronze Age (well, Bronze Age Plus, reaching TL1+3 at one brief flourishing of science and technology) polities for more than three millenia. There are a lot of bronze heirlooms around and the past two years of war have resulted in a truly enormous amount of storerooms and temple basements being emptied out for the war effort, yielding untold tons of bronze weapons and armour.

While the 'modern' mercenary units that do most of the fighting in the Old Empires are usually armed with TL3-4 iron and steel weapons and armoured in mass-produced segmented plate, any self-respecting noble has a retinue clad in ancient (or ancient-looking) bronze armour. A not insignificant part of it is magically hardened to be the equivalent to hardened steel and elites may have orichalum armour, with enchantments of +1 to +3 DR and Hardened being not uncommon.

Assuming that functional bronze can be usefully extracted by melting down ancient bronze gates, temple bells and armaments too badly degraded to be worth using in combat, there are literally thousands of tons of bronze not being used. And since the 'government' of what remains of Free Unther doesn't really have much money, they'll be happy to have at least something valuable to use as part-payment for the foreign mercenaries. This bronze would be available to the PCs at very preferential rates.

Even if this is difficult, there are several hundred tons of copper and tons of tin available to the bronzesmiths and brassfounders of Messemprar and Shussel, surplus from the now-closed mines close by that the guilds and craftsman's collectives have been unwilling to disclose to the ruling factions due to their previous inability to pay in more than promisses. As the PCs have a considerable supply of gold and silver bullion as well as a license to mint their own coinage, they'll be able to buy bronze fairly easily.

The PCs arrived with a navy armed with TL4 mechanical artillery and crossbows and have been buying a lot of TL4 and TL4+1 steel springs from the best armourers and blacksmiths in neighbouring countries. Their soldiers also wear TL4 steel helmets, munition plate, brigandines and mail, so steel and iron are a vital resource for them.

They've already bought so much good steel and contracted with so many of the best master armourers of all the neutral cities that they have contacts in that it is foreseeable that any additional steel and TL4 metalworking will be at a considerable premium. Granted, they will be doing their own TL4+1 steelworking at a colony they are establishing around the captured dragon's lair with the controllable lava flow, but there is a limit to how fast they can expand production from there.

All in all, I expect the fact that making iron and steel barrels relies on the cutting-edge metallurgy and blacksmithing of foreign cities whereas casting bronze guns can be done by adapting methods that have been practised locally for millenia to result in bronze guns being, if anything, cheaper than iron and steel ones, at least for the first few months.

On the other hand, I don't really know how the amount of work per gun barrel compares, with the two methods.
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