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Old 01-15-2020, 05:55 PM   #1
Siliconhobbit
 
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Default Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

So try as I might, I cannot seem to find stats for Depth Charges and I'm not even sure Fire Barrels (as used in AC4: Black Flag) really even existed in the Age of Sail.

From what I can gather, the first Depth Charges were developed during WW1, with the original concept emerging in 1911.

While I've no doubt that the modern day Depth Charge (TL6.5+) is well ahead of the Age of Sail (TL4), I wouldn't call it a huge stretch of the imagination if an earlier design involving gun powder in water-tight barrels and water-proof fuses could have been created by enterprising individuals in a Fantasy Campaign setting, especially at the tail end of TL4 going into TL5.

As for Fire Barrels (seen in AC4: Black Flag), I'm not even sure they actually existed during the real Age of Sail. However, my lack of finding any real information on Fire Barrels could be because of my poor internet searching skills.

In any case, I'm at an impasse for both items.

Are there are stats in any GURPS books for Depth Charges? If so which one?

Does anyone know if Fire Barrels actually existed in the real Age of Sail? If so...again are there any GURPS stats on these?

Last edited by Siliconhobbit; 01-15-2020 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

Can you describe Fire Barrels, or provide a link, for people unfamiliar with the franchise? I'm pretty sure they weren't widely used under that name.
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Old 01-16-2020, 06:49 AM   #3
The Colonel
 
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

If you're interested in pre-WW1 depth charges, Hornblower and the Atropos (IIRC) includes something similar (used in underwater demolitions given that there was no submarine threat in that era) - and may give some idea of the challenges they were up against (air supply to the fuse, avoiding premature detonation waterproofing, that sort of thing).

From what I can see, fire barrels seem to be some sort of anti-pursuit mine - I've never heard of them being used historically (not even by Thomas Cochrane who could well have been expected to love the idea) but they don't seem like a massive tech jump. You'd probably have to use a time-fuse and need the enemy to be alarmingly close before they could be deployed though.
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:22 AM   #4
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

Naval mines based on barrels or crates of gunpowder date back to 15th c. China, and were tried in Europe a couple centuries afterwards, but never saw much use.

Last edited by Dalillama; 01-16-2020 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 01-16-2020, 10:32 AM   #5
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Can you describe Fire Barrels, or provide a link, for people unfamiliar with the franchise? I'm pretty sure they weren't widely used under that name.
It took me a couple of days to even figure out that "AC4" is probably "Assasin's Creed 4". That still doesn't make me familiar with the source though I do tend to believe it's of low historical fidelity.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:06 AM   #6
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

Depending on one's sources it may not be obvious, but depth charges are not (and never were) weapons used against surface targets. They're anti-submarine bombs. Some video games will have you try to blow up boats or ships with them, and that might be technically possible but it's incredibly impractical and wildly off-purpose.

Because they are bombs, it's trivial to figure out their damage (see Explosions, Basic Set 414-415) based on the amount of explosive they contain, which you can probably dig up with a little search engine effort (and might find on Wikipedia). The Explosions In Other Environments box on 415 also covers the adjustment for blast damage underwater.

Rules for resolving an attack with them, or things like fuse reliability or sink rate, I don't think are likely to be readily available.


I don't think the video game staple of mines that are hastily dropped to deter or damage a close pursuit, as opposed to mines that are laid in advance to block areas or cause damage to non-specific future passers-by, has much real existence in history. (Though I think I've seen listings for an infantry model. Probably never actually used.)
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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Can you describe Fire Barrels, or provide a link, for people unfamiliar with the franchise? I'm pretty sure they weren't widely used under that name.
Here's the fairly quick (and only slightly informative) description I found.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:16 AM   #7
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
D
Here's the fairly quick (and only slightly informative) description I found.
Ah, never heard of anything even remotely like them used in the Real World.

I strongly suspect that they were created by the video game devs and thus did what those persons wanted them to. A GM who wants to include them in his world is in an analagous position.
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Old 01-16-2020, 11:35 AM   #8
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Ah, never heard of anything even remotely like them used in the Real World.

I strongly suspect that they were created by the video game devs and thus did what those persons wanted them to. A GM who wants to include them in his world is in an analagous position.
It would be fairly easy to model them as a barrel of gunpowder with a fuse. I suspect doing so would quickly demonstrate that they're not much use as a weapon.

Additional reasons to not even consider such a thing in reality that might escape notice in play include how basically terrible a life choice it would be to have a barrel of gunpowder in an exposed location during a naval battle...with fire right next to it, to make it even better. That stuff was confined to magazines for a reason!
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Depending on one's sources it may not be obvious, but depth charges are not (and never were) weapons used against surface targets. They're anti-submarine bombs. Some video games will have you try to blow up boats or ships with them, and that might be technically possible but it's incredibly impractical and wildly off-purpose.
I've heard rumors that various torpedo boat forces developed a technique of running directly across the bows of a larger target and dropping a depth charge set to minimum depth so that it exploded as their opponent ran over it. I've never heard of it actually being used in combat - a few surface vessels have been sunk by depth charges, but in almost all cases, they came from the same vessel they sank.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
I don't think the video game staple of mines that are hastily dropped to deter or damage a close pursuit, as opposed to mines that are laid in advance to block areas or cause damage to non-specific future passers-by, has much real existence in history. (Though I think I've seen listings for an infantry model. Probably never actually used.).
The only infantry anti-pursuit mines that I've heard of being used are essentially regular mines that you lay on your back trail although I think the US had a funky self deploying one. Possibly there may have been an occasion where warships laid mines to deter pursuit - IIRC either Beatty or Jellicoe was convinced the Germans had trained their scout cruisers to do this and trained against crossing their wakes if it could be avoided. Also I don't know if Kolchack ever actually did that thing from the opening of The Admiral but if so that was a minefield he was laying anyway.
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Old 01-16-2020, 01:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Depth Charges & Fire Barrels

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Originally Posted by The Colonel View Post
I've heard rumors that various torpedo boat forces developed a technique of running directly across the bows of a larger target and dropping a depth charge set to minimum depth so that it exploded as their opponent ran over it. I've never heard of it actually being used in combat - a few surface vessels have been sunk by depth charges, but in almost all cases, they came from the same vessel they sank.
USS Yorktown (CV-5) was already crippled, but the depth charges of USS Hammann certainly didn't help matters.
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