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Old 07-13-2013, 10:42 AM   #181
Icelander
 
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
Has anybody in your world discovered aluminum? Even if the metallurgists have no use for it, a creative (or lucky) aalchemist could come up with a few destructive uses for it.
While wizards can make pretty much what they please, so far, aluminum is not made on any large scale or by any known non-magical means.

I suppose the frustrated inventors of the Church of Thoth know of it, but their marginalised status within Mulhorandi society means it is treated as a curiosity and nothing more.

I suppose that the Thothians launching an aluminum catamaran armed with smokepowder weapons would be a pretty scary adventure seed. They have all the theory... I wonder how long it takes them to realise the need and the potential benefit to their prestige and political power, obtain the Pharoah's consent and build a prototype?
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Old 07-13-2013, 02:14 PM   #182
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

Not exactly the use I was going for there...
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:04 AM   #183
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Default Giff Heavy Weapons

Giff Assault Gun; 4-bore four-barrelled wheellock shotgun:
Dmg: 8d pi++ or 2d+2 pi+;
Acc: 2;
Range: 130/1,600 or 60/900;
Weight: 55/1.4;
RoF: 1 or 1x9;
Shots: 4(40i);
ST: 20†;
Bulk: -8;
Rcl: 4 or 1;
Cost: $6,200;
Notes: Robust (+1 CF).


This monstrous weapon consists of four massive barrels attached to a short and wide stock. It is a wheelock (Malf. 15) muzzleloader and can fire various loads, including 26mm round lead balls (1600 grains) or nine 12mm grapeshot (160 grain each). Each barrel requires a charge of 600 grains of REF 0.5 smokepowder, but the weapon can be safely overloaded to 700 grains (Dmg 9d+2 pi++ or 3d+1 pi+; Range 150/1,900 or 60/1,100; ST: 22†; Rcl 5 or 1).

Against unarmoured foes at point blank range, a favourite load is a 27 pellet canister, each pellet 8.5mm in diameter and 55 grains in weight. This has Dmg 1d+2 pi; Range 40/750; RoF 1x27; Rcl 1. If overloaded with 700 grains of smokepowder, it has Dmg 2d pi; Range 40/900; RoF 1x27; ST: 22†; Rcl 1.

When facing armoured opponents in a boarding action, Giff like to load up with heavy grape. This loading consists of five 15mm round balls (each 320 grains) and 700 grain charge of powder. Dmg 4d+1 pi++; Range 75/1,350; RoF 1x5; ST: 22†; Rcl 1.

Another popular loading with Giff mercenaries is Buck-and-Ball; a full-bore 26mm round ball (1600 grains) and three 12mm subcaliber balls. This does 7d+1 pi++ and 2d pi+; Range 120/1,400 and 60/800; RoF 1x4; Rcl 1. This loading adds +1 MinST. If overcharged with powder, it has Dmg 9d-1 pi++ and 2d+1 pi+; Range 135/1,500 and 60/1,000; Rcl 1.

If using high-quality Gondish smokepowder (REF 0.8), 375 grains are enough to achieve the listed performance and 437.5 grains equal the overcharged stats. As even a short measure of binary smokepowder generates much higher pressures than the REF 0.5 version, add +1 to any roll on the Firearm Malfunction Table (p. B407) when using the higher power smokepowder in a Giff Assault Gun. If the result is an explosion, the damage is 3d cr ex [2d+1]. This ruins the gun and may set off other barrels (roll Malf. normally for each barrel, with the same +1 to the Firearm Malfunction Table if a malfunction occurs).

Furthermore, failing to reduce the powder charge from the full 600 grains while using more powerful smokepowder means that the gun is dangerously overcharged. With that load, it has Damage 12d pi++ or 4d pi+; Range 200/2,400 or 60/1,300; ST 24†; Rcl 6 or 1. A canister load is Dmg 2d+1 pi; Range 40/1,200; RoF 1x27; Rcl 1. Heavy grape is Dmg 5d+1 pi++; Range 75/1,700; RoF 1x5; Rcl 1. Buck-and-Ball is Dmg 11d-1 pi++ and 3d pi+; Range 180/1,900 and 60/1,200; RoF 1x4; ST 25†). In all cases reduce Malf. by 1 and add +2 to the Firearm Malfunction Table roll (p. B407). An explosion at that level of loading does 4d cr ex [3d] damage, ruins the gun and may set off other barrels (roll Malf. for each barrel at the same penalty).


Giff Blunderbuss; 8-bore wheellock blunderbuss:
Dmg: 6d+2 pi++ or 2d-1 pi;
Acc: 2;
Range: 105/1,150 or 40/800;
Weight: 7/0.2;
RoF: 1 or 1x15;
Shots: 1(30);
ST: 14†;
Bulk: -4;
Rcl: 7 or 1;
Cost: $1,500;
Notes: Robust (+1 CF).


A short-barrelled (15") wheellock (Malf. 15) with a flared blunderbuss barrel that excempts it from the Guns-2 roll to reload on horseback or in a moving vehicle. It can fire a variety of ammunition, but the listed stats are for either a single 8-bore 875 grain lead round ball or 15 8.5mm lead pellets (each 55 grains).

The blunderbuss is generally loaded with 300 grains of fast-burning 0.5 REF pistol smokepowder, but can be safely overloaded to 350 grains (Dmg 8d pi++ or 2d pi; Range 125/1,400 or 45/900; ST 16†; Rcl 8 or 1). Using standard 0.5 REF smokepowder, not fast-burning, some of the power is lost due to the short barrel. The damage becomes 5d pi++ or 1d+1 pi; Range 100/900 or 40/600 and overcharging the weapon does not improve Dmg or Range.

Around 188 grains of the more powerful REF 0.8 smokepowder are required for the listed stats and 218.75 grains of REF 0.8 for the overloaded stats. As even a short measure of binary smokepowder generates much higher pressures than the REF 0.5 version, add +1 to any roll on the Firearm Malfunction Table (p. B407) when using the higher power smokepowder in a Giff Blunderbuss. If the result is an explosion, the damage is 2d cr ex [2d] and the gun is ruined. The weapon can be loaded with 300 grains of the more powerful smokepowder, but this causes -1 to Malf. and +2 to Misfire rolls. An explosion causes 3d cr ex [2d] and ruins the gun. Stats for such a dangerously overloaded charge are Dmg 9d+2 pi++ or 2d+2 pi; Range 150/1,900 or 45/1,100; ST 18†; Rcl 9 or 1).

This weapon is also available with a pistol grip instead of a stock. This makes Shots 1(20); Weight 6 lbs.; ST 17 (ST 20 if overcharged; ST 22 if dangerously overcharged) and adds +1 to Rcl (except when Rcl is 1). It does not change other stats.
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Last edited by Icelander; 10-08-2016 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 09-14-2016, 04:37 PM   #184
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Default Maybe this has been covered . . .

. . . but you might want to have also a fairly lightweight (c. 60-65 caliber) fusee with wheellock or "spark-lock" for use in guarding these trains of smoke-powder.

Lit matches + wagons of highly-flammable explosives = bad idea.

Spark-lock -- a spring-loaded serrated metal bar held in tension. Pull the trigger, the bar zings! over a flint showering sparks into the powder pan.

Basically a horizontal flintlock. Might be easier & cheaper to produce & gnomish-dwarven metallurgy should be up to the task.
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Old 09-14-2016, 05:58 PM   #185
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
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.


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.
I should think it the reverse. Smokepowder is way to valuable to use as a glorified blowpipe. It should be used for siegework and naval warfare. The only reason anyone ever thought of gunpowder small arms was that it was cheap enough.
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Old 09-15-2016, 03:43 AM   #186
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Default Types of Locks

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Originally Posted by fredtheobviouspseudonym View Post
. . . but you might want to have also a fairly lightweight (c. 60-65 caliber) fusee with wheellock or "spark-lock" for use in guarding these trains of smoke-powder.

Lit matches + wagons of highly-flammable explosives = bad idea.

Spark-lock -- a spring-loaded serrated metal bar held in tension. Pull the trigger, the bar zings! over a flint showering sparks into the powder pan.

Basically a horizontal flintlock. Might be easier & cheaper to produce & gnomish-dwarven metallurgy should be up to the task.
Ignition and lock-types is an interesting subject. As noted earlier in this thread, the Church of Gond is famous for craftsmen who can make high-quality gears and even clockwork.

That means that ever since 1358 DR, the Time of Troubles, when Gond lifted his strict restrictions on the dissemntation of smokepowder and weapons using it, there will have existed wheellock mechanisms. Really no way to prevent it, when clockwork engineers are unleashed near matchlock firearms.

Before 1358 DR, there were some smokepowder bombards* in an isolated island in the far western ocean, Lantan, and there had actually been a fairly rapid evolution of technology relating to them in the century from their introduction. Unfortunately, most of the innovative research was made by Gond worshipping priests or lay engineers in the service of the church and was highly secretive by order of the deity.

In the far eastern lands of Kara-Tur, another variety of smokepowder was also known. It was less powerful and less safe than the more magically potent binary smokepowder, but on the other hand, it required less valuable alchemical reagents. Combined with the many, many alchemists in Kara-Tur, low-quality smokepowder was cheap enough there to be used in fireworks and other amusements for the rich.

Experiments with its use in warfare started a few years before 1358 DR. The first weapons were crude rockets and fire-lances, which were a huge waste of resources, but still popular with certain rich lords. As an incendiary, smokepowder actually contributed materially to a great victory over invading Tuigan in 1359 DR, burning a captured city with an army still inside. To the great disgust of traditional commanders, this resulted in further experimentation with its military use that has continued to the present day.

Kara-Turan weapons were all cannonlocks until very recently. The general TL in that insular empire is TL3 and while alchemists are tolerably respected and might even have a position at a noble's court, engineers and craftsmen are generally too common to ever interact with the aristocracy that forms the upper ranks of the military. The nobility of the robe, i.e. the bureaucrats and mandarins, are even less likely to listen to scruffy workers of their hands.

It is, however, a very large empire and the frontier provinces are beset by dangers that the cosmopolitan elite of the central provinces consistently underestimate. Unofficially, therefore, many frontier provincial nobles, military officers, merchant captains and militia commanders have found ways to improve upon the first primitive cannonlocks. Whether by encouraging clever local engineers or hiring foreign mercenaries with technical aptitude, they have fielded many solid matchlock designs.

Matchlocks were also the favoured type of lock for those who have obtained smokepowder from alchemists or wizards unaffiliated with the church of Gond in the 1350s and early 1360s. While many of those who hear about smokepowder also hear about such Gondish wonders as starwheel pistols (wheellocks), the average blacksmith may not be able to make a wheellock easily (nor, indeed, would he necessarily be able to make a sound barrel at the first try, but at least he has the tools and knowledge for that).

On the other hand, it is now the year 1373 DR in play. There have been fifteen years for blacksmiths and engineers all around the Inner Sea and Western Heartlands to obtain models of wheellocks, to experiment with firearm designs and to learn to make their own locks. And the Church of Gond has invented many intricate ignition mechanisms, some astonishingly clever.**

The PCs employ one Burgell Tavartarr, a mercenary gunner who has served in Kara-Tur, where he was employed as a miniature*** white devil military engineer and took part in designing matchlocks. He later learned to make wheelocks from Gondsmen, without officially joining the church, but his favourite lock is the flintlock, which he learnt from the Tethyrian master gunner aboard a stolen pirate airship in 1368 DR.

This being a fantasy setting, however, technological lock designs are not the sole alternative. As noted in the part of this thread on fuzes for bombs and grenades, alchemical self-lighting matches exist and cost around $10.

A long-term comrade-in-arms to the PC and co-owner of their merchant house, Karamazzar the Magnificent, is a gnomish magician of no small power as well as a superlative alchemist. He has designed a small nib with the same substance as such a match that can ignite the charge of a musket.

On being told that this was a very expensive method to replicate the performance of a much cheaper flintlock, he added a waterproof covering over the substance, so that until pierced with the hammer of the flintlock, it was protected from rain and spray. As the PCs have a large navy, that is not to be despised.

At the moment, such nibs cost $20, but the materials for them are not more than $4 per nib and might be found cheaper in bulk. Once Karamazzar has instructed his apprentices and all alchemists that work for the PCs on how to make these nibs, their price should stabilise below $10. As the alchemy involved is fairly easy, it might be possible to use apprentices and journeymen from trades such as distillers, glaziers, painters, decorators and apothecaries to perform many of the steps, meaning that the price could go down even further.

Smokepowder can also be ignited by magical means, i.e. a weapon enchanted with Ignite Fire. With a permanent enchantment and Power 1, such a weapon is far too expensive to arm soldiers with, but one PC and three of their NPC allies have firearms with such enchantments. If made of a material that can tolerate constantly being heated to a furnace level blaze, such a design is not only perfectly reliable and can be constructed without any weak points that went gasses, it is also all but self-cleaning, as all the smokepowder burns up inside the heated barrel.

A less expensive version of this Ignite Fire enchantment uses a fire opal with charges, either a Powerstone that recharges on its own or a Manastone which must be recharged by a wizard. An Ignite Fire enchantment can also be designed to allow use several times per day, which is fine for a hunting weapon or a back-up pistol, but not sufficient for a military firearm.

The PCs are calling all firearms using magical means of ignition Magelocks and their reliability around salt spray means that they are trying to equip all their marines with them. Unfortunately, a fire opal that allows 3 shots per day (and must then be removed to recharge) costs $1,500 and one that allows 30 shots per day (a reasonable minimum for a military weapon) costs $10,000.

It may well be that the alchemical igniters will be more practical, in the long run. As it is, the PCs are stuck using a eclectic mixture of guns, matchlocks, wheellocks, flintlocks, alchemical-ignitors and magelocks. They can't get magelocks fast enough to use them exclusively, even if they could afford it, and so far, they do not make alchemical nibs fast enough to supply many soldiers. They're building as many flintlocks as they can get, but, again, that will not be enough to replace existing wheellocks and matchlocks in service. At least not yet.

*The wizard kingdom of Thay, in the eastern Inner Sea, has had bombards for over a century, very likely copied from magical visions of those on Lantan. Thay, however, does not charge theirs with alchemical smokepowder, but instead uses a magical propellant, an explosive oil that can only be made by wizards.
**Though few of them are robust enough for field use or within the capabilities of any but a genius master craftsman to reproduce. Gondsmen are inspired inventors, but they generally only seek to prove a concept and find mass producing an invention to be disrespectful.
***He is a gnome.
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Old 09-15-2016, 06:12 AM   #187
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

I admit I find it a bit odd a 80lb 4 barrel weapon costs less than twice that if the single barrel 7lb weapon
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Old 09-15-2016, 06:22 AM   #188
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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I admit I find it a bit odd a 80lb 4 barrel weapon costs less than twice that if the single barrel 7lb weapon
For the 4-barrelled Assault Gun, I took the Wall Gun, shortened stock a little and knocked 2 lbs. off thereby and added three more barrels, in each case +80% Cost and Weight. Then I doubled Cost for a wheellock... which might not be the right approach.

I probably should double Cost anyway, as firearms are made by skilled craftsmen in the setting and need good metal for the barrel, which is expensive. But each wheellock should probably have a Cost, which does not depend on the Cost of the gun.

I'll call it $250 per lock, so that adds a $1,000 to the big gun, which is not unreasonable.

The 8-bore blunderbuss is so expensive because I based it on the Greener 8-bore rifle. Remove one of the two barrels ($3,000-$1,200=$1,800). I'll admit that reducing Malf. and Acc by 2 from the weapon I based it on should probably be good for a further reduction in Cost.

A case could be made that the weapon should be $850. On the other hand, it is well made and can tolerate incredible pressures, so I'll settle for a more or less arbitrary $1,500.
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Old 09-16-2016, 11:47 AM   #189
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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I should think it the reverse. Smokepowder is way to valuable to use as a glorified blowpipe. It should be used for siegework and naval warfare. The only reason anyone ever thought of gunpowder small arms was that it was cheap enough.
Small arms are also useful for siege work and naval warfare. As most sieges were resolved by means of treachery, it is by no means to be despised to have a few blunderbusses and pistols ready for the scuffle for the gate once your pet traitor opens it for your men. And Nelson was shot from the rigging.

The expense of smokepowder strongly supports using it only in quality weapons, with more accuracy than at low TLs and skilled users. And to never use more powder than is needed. There are roles for cannon, but battering wooden ships with poor accuracy is probably not one of them.

Note also that the wasteful Giff weapons above were developed on another world, where normal black powder works, but have been brought to the campaign world and there loaded with the cheap kind of smokepowder (equivalent to good TL5 black powder, if much more expensive).
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Old 09-16-2016, 12:57 PM   #190
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

Is there anything that prevents you from using a simple clay vessel, filling it with shrapnel, and then pouring in the powder?

This is how smaller air bursting firework shells are made (not with clay...but you get the idea).
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