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Old 09-19-2016, 03:26 PM   #201
Polydamas
 
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Default Re: Pistols

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
The existing Low-Tech and High-Tech pistols at TL4-5 are mostly very low powered.

Does anyone know of a technological reason why black powder pistols with 12" and shorter barrels were limited to 1d+ to 2d-1 Dmg?
Pistols in the 16th and 17th century were meant to kill armoured cavalry and pikemen who had not invested in pistol-proof armour, but you would need to look up historical powder loads and compare the loads used for the tests at the Landeszeughaus Graz (pretty sure that they were one of the main sources for LT).

Their effectiveness against armour feels reasonable except for the usual problem that GURPS is optimistic about the ability of swords and lances to penetrate armour (so armour assigned stats based on resistance to bullets often feels a bit weak in a game with daggers and arrows).

I would assume that the 19th century black powder pistols have the stats which historical data + Doug Cole's model give them, because the people who wrote those stats are 'gun people' and there are fewer questions about powder quality and loads in very recent times. For earlier periods you will need to do the research and use your judgement, because there are not many sure facts.
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Old 09-20-2016, 05:42 AM   #202
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Default Re: Pistols

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Pistols in the 16th and 17th century were meant to kill armoured cavalry and pikemen who had not invested in pistol-proof armour, but you would need to look up historical powder loads and compare the loads used for the tests at the Landeszeughaus Graz (pretty sure that they were one of the main sources for LT).
I've had a lot of trouble finding historical loads for pistols, as opposed to muskets, arquebuses or fusils.

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Their effectiveness against armour feels reasonable except for the usual problem that GURPS is optimistic about the ability of swords and lances to penetrate armour (so armour assigned stats based on resistance to bullets often feels a bit weak in a game with daggers and arrows).
Very true.

The 19th century fighting pistols are not any better against armour than a slight woman or young boy with a composite crossbow (ST 7-8; thr+5 imp) or the smallest kind of TL2 Scorpion (1d+2 imp) weighing 2 lbs., a an average innkeeper with an affordable hand-spanned crossbow under his bar (ST 9-10; thr+4 imp), a modestly skilled archer with a reflex bow (ST 9-10 and Strongbow Perk; thr+3 imp) or a strong man with a sling (ST 13; sw pi).

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
I would assume that the 19th century black powder pistols have the stats which historical data + Doug Cole's model give them, because the people who wrote those stats are 'gun people' and there are fewer questions about powder quality and loads in very recent times. For earlier periods you will need to do the research and use your judgement, because there are not many sure facts.
Well, my problem is that I don't know what baseline assumptions were made when the pistols were statted for High-Tech. There were many possible loads and I don't know if this represents an average of some kind, a fairly weak load, a fairly strong load or what.

Before I plug anything into Doug's spreadsheet, I'd have to have data on pressure, burn length, fps and suchlike, which I don't know for these muzzleloading black powder weapons. I can look up powder charges, but I don't know which powder charge the HT stats are modelling and I have no idea about the velocity of black powder pistol balls.
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Old 09-20-2016, 10:48 AM   #203
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Default Re: Pistols

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Before I plug anything into Doug's spreadsheet, I'd have to have data on pressure, burn length, fps and suchlike, which I don't know for these muzzleloading black powder weapons. I can look up powder charges, but I don't know which powder charge the HT stats are modelling and I have no idea about the velocity of black powder pistol balls.
I have some web tools that might be helpful, for making muzzle-loaders. The data is presented using various house rules, but that can easily be modified back into GURPS standard form (for example, damage of 4.5 would be 1d+1 - it lists the average damage).
http://panoptesv.com/RPGs/Equipment/...s/GunStuff.php

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Old 09-20-2016, 01:02 PM   #204
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Default Re: Pistols

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Well, my problem is that I don't know what baseline assumptions were made when the pistols were statted for High-Tech. There were many possible loads and I don't know if this represents an average of some kind, a fairly weak load, a fairly strong load or what.
Did 19th century factories produce multiple loads for army-issue firearms? I did not know that, so I would be interested in a source!

I thought that people who wanted to hand-load black-powder firearms mostly did it themselves, except in that brief interval after brass cases and before smokeless powder. That avoided problems like the cartridge factory cutting the powder with inert material to save money.

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
Before I plug anything into Doug's spreadsheet, I'd have to have data on pressure, burn length, fps and suchlike, which I don't know for these muzzleloading black powder weapons. I can look up powder charges, but I don't know which powder charge the HT stats are modelling and I have no idea about the velocity of black powder pistol balls.
I don't know of any tests of low-tech weapons which try to measure the first two things, since if you have the weapon to hand its so much more practical and precise just to measure v0 and bullet mass. You would need someone who has spent a lot of time and money researching early firearms for the powder charges.

The pistol racks at the Landeszeughaus Graz fill whole walls the length of the building, and I think they tested some of them too (but you would need to find and read the book to decide whether they used a reasonable amount of modern black powder). People who study Napoleonic warfare love publishing weapons data, drills, and other minutia.

I think that Bert S. Hall talks about the problems estimating the REF of early gunpowder in his book. The explosion of a ship full of powder in Leiden in 1807 let an engineer compare Napoleonic and modern black powder in the International Journal of Impact Engineering 2001.
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Old 09-20-2016, 02:59 PM   #205
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Default Re: Pistols

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
Did 19th century factories produce multiple loads for army-issue firearms? I did not know that, so I would be interested in a source!
I've seen it occasionally for carbines and rifles, but, no, I was rather referring to muzzleloading pistols of the early 19th century.

The last time I did some research, I could find mention of heavy loads or light, according to preference. There was a paper cartridge for the British Sea Service Pistol at various times, (I've found references between 35-55 grains for various times and calibers), but it was trivial to use less or use some powder from another cartridge.
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Old 09-21-2016, 10:02 AM   #206
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

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So, it's not a "firepower" question. What you really want is something that maximizes your powder to casualty rate.
That's an excellent metric to keep in mind for weapon designers who want to sell their weapons on any scale, certainly.

On the other hand, real life sees some powers use fantastically expensive Hellfire missiles and even Tomahawk cruise missiles to target comparatively cheap SUVs, because of the perceived danger of their passengers. It's all a matter of whether some enemies are dangerous enough to justify spending thousands and even millions of GURPS $ just to kill them.

The PCs have been happy to expend hundreds of pounds of the finest REF 0.8 binary smokepowder (at absolute minimum $700/lb*, usually around $2,000-$3,000/lb and can go up to $$7,000/lb**) to kill a single target in the past. Of course, that target was a great red dragon that was trying to sink their ship and eat their men, not to mention the PCs themselves.

They've also happily parted with smokepowder kegs of varying sizes for such targets as a platoon of shape-shifting, divinely-blessed, superpowered Royal Guards to a Pharoah who had boarded their ship and were in control of the deck, a few other dragons (not as all-fired huge as the great red, but pretty damn scary) and a magic-powered Astral warship filled with angry githyanki.

Frankly, against any kind of experienced adventurer***, it's probably a bargain to spend less than $1,000 to kill him at a range. It's not as if non-magical arrows do much against DR 10 field plate with Armor +3, Deflection +3 and Hardened 1; or even just a squishy wizard with DR 5 Bracers of Armour combined with Shield spell for DB +3 and a DR 3 (Tough Skin) Amulet of Natural Armour.

Especially as powerful warriors are liable to have HP 13-30 and Injury Tolerance: Damage Reduction /2 or /3. Even a respectable thief or wizard can manage IT:DR /2 and/or HP 20 (Massless +0%) by the time they are among the masters of their craft.

And the PCs are bound and determined to fight all the most powerful heroes in the nation of some 5-6 million, along with a bunch of dragons, centuries-old dragon cultists, demons and a whole host of other powerful things.

So from their perspective, firepower is good. But it's not as if the PCs are the only thing driving the design of firearms in the setting, and even if they were, they have plenty of uses for efficient killing instruments, that achieve maximum effect with minimum waste.

Better to be able to supply a crack force of three thousand troops armed with smokepowder than just a couple of hundred, if all other things are equal. Even if the really elite may receive very powerful custom-designed weapons that 'waste' smokepowder compared to less eye-popping, more efficient designs in smaller calibers.

*The price the PCs got for a shipment whose owner was dead and whose current possessors did not have the contacts to sell it quickly and were terrified of storing such a huge amount.
**The price from the Church of Gond, the deity of invention and machinery, the only seller which always has some in stock and is absolutely reliable and trustworthy, as opposed to some of the fly-by-night alchemists who offer better rates.
***Meaning, "superhero", really.


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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
IRL, the big advantage of gunpowder was "cheap way to deliver potentially lethal wounds" and "makes walls go away". Those are fairly cost prohibitive.
In both real life and my setting, add that firearms can wound or kill armoured people on the battlefield. Arrows and sling stones mostly cannot, realistically. Their role is to distract, slow and wound with occasional incidental hits to unarmoured parts.

In my campaign, superpowered champions with magical arrows and sling stones can kill armoured foes, but magic works both offensively and defensively. Magical arrows and sling stones that blow through non-magical armour will bounce off magical armour like non-magical arrows and sling stones of non-magical armour, assuming that both sides have similar resources.*

On the other hand, Dmg 3d+ firearms will serve well against typical armoured infantry. Dmg 4d+ might serve against the less affluent type of champion or heavy infantry with shields and light armour. Dmg 6d+ will serve against almost any non-magical armour and shield and usually be quite effective against champions too. Not to mention monsters.

Given how tough dragons can be and the fact that from the remains of a great red wyrm may be made a suit which combined with all other magical gear on a stupendously rich knight gives DR 29-45 (Hardened 2), no matter how powerful one could make a man-portable weapon, there would be some tactical use for it in the hands of proper heroes.

*If anything, defence is cheaper than offence, at least over any sustained period.

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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
So we're left with the other advantages it can offer. Lethality at range without respect to ST. Explosion and dispersal of damage. The ability to crack just about any nut with enough expense (aka Plan B).

Lethality at Range Without Respect to ST:
People not strong enough to use a bow in combat can use the musket. Is that better than the crossbow? Probably depends on your people and your enemy. However, giving your high value people a first shot or last shot via a pistol is a decent idea.
It's not just a matter of ST. Apart from maybe a few exceptional people, who are good at all physical things, most people cannot be taught to be archers in a few months. They grow up archers or they aren't archers.

Crossbows are realistically much inferior to firearms in penetration. I don't use the GURPS Crossbow, Composite Crossbow, Pistol Crossbow or Repeating Crossbow, as they are far too effective compared to realistically statted firearms. I use Doug Cole's Pyramid article "The Deadly Spring" for crossbows.

Even so, with very good TL3+1 and TL4+1 steel, powerful crossbows can be made. They are not going to be reloaded quickly, however, being most likely slower to reload than muskets while not quite matching their power. Of course, it's much cheaper and more accurate against immobile targets at ranges between 150-250 yards. Using the Bullet Travel rules for arrows and bolts makes non-magical bows or crossbows a much less attractive prospect for sniping at anything that could move between your shot and the arrival of the arrow/bolt.

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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
Explosion and Dispersal:
Mines/grenades. A few small cans rolled into enemy formations (assuming close formations) loaded with shot can cripple enemies. Buried mines are probably cost prohibitive, but could be effective in set ambushes. The can devices could also be air dropped. This is a disruption and casualty weapon. Could be very effective in healer power attrition.
Explosives are useful in creating ambushes. Bringing down the right building or wall can cut off escape, or provide one. Traps were noted above, but think about the ability to change the terrain. Demo is...well, no one in the campaign has a lot of training in it...so no guts no glory. I think your battlefield is urban, and suspect this is where the best use of the powder in terms of battlefield surprise and shaping can be.
All true. This has been smokepowder's most valuable role so far.

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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
Plan B:
Low level ranger Sandy and the family's dolphin companion could limpet quite a few ships. An underwater limpet is an expensive smokepowder weapon, but quite reasonable if you have a proper delivery mechanism.
Ulgor the Unstoppable, Giant Tyrant and Champion of the Bloody Fist Vanguard of the...BOOOOOM!!!! Sometimes you just don't have the time to deal with someone in a civilized manner. It's the sort of thing that can make a GM smile and cry at the same time, but anyone who's location you know with enough time, can be blown completely to smithereens.
Absolutely a thing that my PCs have been doing a lot of. Granted, for limpet mining specifically, they prefer Oil of Impact, which is a REF 1.5 liquid (basically magical nitroglycerine).
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Old 09-21-2016, 10:02 AM   #207
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Default A note on snipers

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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
A note on snipers:
Snipers would be great...if you have accurate smokepowder weapons. Given the cost of the powder, use the AP adamant bullets. If you don't, it's a bit of a toss up. There are amazing counter sniper abilities in FRish settings. Of course, there's also a bizarre tech scale. Rifling may well be in use for another technology already, just waiting as an obvious adaptation.
There is rifling available, if desired, though it requires a skilled craftsman and is more expensive and takes more time to make than smoothbores.

No Miniť balls, though, or even any projectiles other than round balls. That's a breakthrough that won't arrive unless a PC takes Gadgeteering and has the flash of insight required.

Murlak (PC) has a sniper rifle, really. It's a double-barrelled muzzleloading 15mm dragonbone rifle, with the smokepowder ignited magically upon pulling the trigger. The magical ignition instantly turns all the smokepowder in the barrel to rapidly expanding near-plasma and as the bone of a great red dragon that the rifle is made from is impervious to heat and flame, as well as being very much stronger for its weight than the best TL8 steel alloys, it can take a pretty hefty charge.

It has Quick-Aim 2 and Hawk Vision 3 always active. It's also enchanted for Distance, x5 the Range, which I interpret to mean partially phasing the ball out of the plane until impact, as it does not affect Dmg. I do allow it to affect the bullet travel rules, meaning that the ball travels 750 yards in the first second (500 yds per second after that out to the limits of useful range).

It will hit the sniper's triangle out to 700 yards with the greatest of ease and can usually be relied on to engage point targets out to 1,200 yards.

Ankhapet (PC) uses a bow for long distance, but as his reflex bow is made from the horn and bone of a black dragon and powerfully enchanted, he is deadly up to about half a mile with it. And if he needs more distance, he uses Imbuements like Far Shot and Guided Shot. Even with a magical ST 21 bow, Very Fine magical arrows and Weapon Master, though, Ankhapet does very little damage compared to Murlak's rifle.*

Weapons that allow more normal soldiers, skilled, but not superhuman, to threathen enemy forces at very long ranges, however, are obviously useful. For one thing, it's much, much easier to suppress one or two powerful champions who are killing the leaders of an army at 500+ yards when a score of snipers is also shooting at that range. If people other than legendary heroes can reach 500 yards, the enemy can't be certain that every sniper is worth using powerful, irreplacable magical resources on.

*Although his Dmg 2d+11(3) imp at point blank range, 2d+11(1.5) imp at distances over 200 yds, is respectable compared to most non-magical firearms, certainly.
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Old 09-21-2016, 12:40 PM   #208
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

An observation on the use of really pricey weapons, such as missiles, against lightweight targets: The equation in those cases isn't really $ per casualty. It may well be $ per Morale, and not necessarily your side's or even combatant morale. Similarly, you can get into situations where preventing allied casualties is paramount, and the equations change again.

I suspect I was wrong about using a powder per casualty metric. It's too valuable and the best bang for the buck isn't in whacking soldiers. You want a powder per capability metric, using it to deny or disrupt things that require a substantial time critical response. That sounds like directed fire to me.

That said, it occurs to me that guided missiles and torpedoes are well within the reach of your party. Impact triggers + elementals are a pretty devastating combination. A natural tactic is to use a relatively low expense/high threat lure, say a sniper (assuming we're talking sharpshooters not SF types), and a forward observer that can direct an elemental guided bomb to immediately counter the reaction to the sniper. You can reverse this just as easily, drawing elite teams into sniper traps as they try to eliminate controllers, but I'd imagine the ability to direct elementals is more rare than the ability to be above average with a long gun.

Were I to do this, I'd continuously deploy air elementals to do the drops, whittling away at the elite and counter sniper capability, until they adopt some sort of overlapping close in counter fire. The described opponents can come up with some pretty natural tactics to shoot down weapons and protect troops close in. Then I'd switch to an earth elemental deployment system with a heavier load (with cobbled streets, you don't even need fragmentation effects on your warhead).

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Old 09-21-2016, 01:07 PM   #209
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Default Re: Emerging smokepowder weapons in my fantasy

Spending 1k to kill someone wearing much more than 1k of loot able enchantment dripping armor is always a good deal

Its just an issue of how many 1k shots are needed
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Old 09-21-2016, 03:21 PM   #210
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Default Accuracy &

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Originally Posted by Gedrin View Post
. . .Explosion and Dispersal:
Mines/grenades. A few small cans rolled into enemy formations (assuming close formations) loaded with shot can cripple enemies. Buried mines are probably cost prohibitive, but could be effective in set ambushes.
[See the siege of Badajoz, 1812 <?> for an example. The French defenders buried gunpowder charges in the breaches & killed numerous attacking Britons. Note sure how they handled the fuzing -- either make a guesstimate of when the British will be crowded into the breach and cut the slow-match accordingly . . . or have a powder train and a valiant fuse firer to hand. Make sure the latter owes you no money.]
Quote:
. . .


A note on snipers:
Snipers would be great...if you have accurate smokepowder weapons. Given the cost of the powder, use the AP adamant bullets. If you don't, it's a bit of a toss up. There are amazing counter sniper abilities in FRish settings. Of course, there's also a bizarre tech scale. Rifling may well be in use for another technology already, just waiting as an obvious adaptation.
IIRC during the siege of Malta (1565) the Christian defenders were sorely tried by the Turkish sharpshooters. The latter used smoothbore matchlock muskets, but were apparently able to often hit defenders peering over walls at distances c. 100 yards. (Note that the latter is pretty much a head-sized target.)

While not as primitive as fifteenth century cannon locks the Turkish muskets were, obviously, far more so than 18th century Brown Bess weapons.
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