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Thread: Re:- Guns
08-27-1998, 11:30 AM #1Jim PatersonGuest
The Birthright world is set in the early renaissance AFAIK.
During this period they were starting to use matchlock pistols and guns.
Flintlocks were around in the same era but were not considered reliable enough
to replace the trusty matchlocks. The matchlock was used for about 150 years.
It replaced the crossbow as a means of defeating armour, the bow & longbow were
still used throughout the era as the principal missile weapon.
The matchlocks were used onmass at short range to defeat armour and as an
emergency weapon employed by a noble, in pistol form, to protect themselves.
The accuracy of these weapons was not good, the bloke needed to be standing next to
you for you to have any chance of hitting him. The concept of "aiming" the gun
did not appear until the advent of the rifled musket some 350 years after the first
matchlocks appeared. Their was no "Aim" command for guns until the rifled musket.
The flintlock & flintlock muskets continued to be used with various improvements
until the rifled musket took over in the early industrial age.
The matchlocks were not missiles weapons in as much as they were used only in
melee when the enemy got within sword or pike distance, and the enemy had armour
or skill that presented a problem to the person with the gun. While the enemy
was taking a back swing with his sword, you would place the gun level with the
centre of his chest and pull the trigger (yes matchlocks of the early and late
renaissance had triggers) The fight would then be over, and if your gun hadn't
misfired you'd won!
During the Late Renaissance and the Age of Reason flintlocks took over from
matchlocks, although matchlocks were still used by anyone who had one, right up
until the Russians rolled into Afghanistan in 81'. Flintlocks had the advantage
that they were a bit more robust, could be used in poor weather and required less
preparation work to get them ready for action. But they were still only good for
hitting the side of a barn at any range greater than 20'. Cannons were used
almost exclusively as siege weapons. They were far to vulnerable on a battlefield.
Age of Reason flintlocks and muskets ended the need for armour. Cheap production
and better metals meant the bow was also put into the weapons evolutionary trash can.
Flintlocks were however still a melee weapon, not a true missile weapon, they were
used in much the same way as the Romans used their pillums, from massed well
formed ranks directly before contact with the enemy, followed up by closing with the
enemy for melee, this caused the enemy in most cases to flee. It is from this era that
comes the saying "Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes."
Muskets of the Napoleonic era fall into the category of an almost missile weapon.
The commands for use of these weapons was "Present, Ready, Discharge" no "aim"
command. You were required to point the musket at a mass of enemy and fire, the
concept of aiming at individuals did not arrive until the rifled musket. The muskets of
Napoleon's time were effective out to about 80' if used in a mass formation and fired at
a mass formation. This requirement for the use of mass formations also gave a second
life to cannons and field artillery, as they now had targets big enough to shot at and hit
and cause some grief too.
Rifled Muskets of the Civil War and latter were a new bread of weapon, a replacement
for the bow, to be used for killing at a good distance. The term "Aim" or pick out a
poor dumb arse sucker on the other side and kill him, came into use with these weapons.
With the improvement in accuracy came a demand for a better rate of fire and so the brass
cartridge came into being along with the replacement of black powder as the principal
The next big evolution in guns was the Mauser bolt action rifle, first used by the
Spanish in the Mexican American war. This gun formed the basic design for all bold action
rifles until the present day.
So if you want to use black powder guns in your BR campaign I'd say only Matchlocks
would be appropriate. These are a melee weapon only and should have a range of 10'
for pistols and 20' for two handed guns. They should disregard armour, in fact armour
should make it easier to hit a slower target. And should do enough damage to kill
or wound the average man. If you want to use cannons or bombards (mortars) then
these should be used as siege weapons. The concept of hitting a wizard with is a renaissance
era cannon, as put forward by a listmember, is unlikely at best. Cannons could hit
castles or towns, anything smaller was pretty safe.
Hope this helps.
BTW. We have guns in my BR campaign. They are good sentry weapons, use them
once then drop them and draw your sword.
Cheers; Jim Paterson
08-27-1998, 03:52 PM #2Pieter A de JongGuest
I earlier posted that wizards would be more cost effective than units of
Cannons. To back up this comment, I present the following bit of math.
1 Unit = 200 Men
Crew for 1 medium Cannon = 4 Men (from Combat and Tactics)
Therefore = 1 Unit can crew up to 50 Cannons.
To be conservative, assume only 25 Cannons
1 Medium Cannon costs 15000 gp (From Combat and Tactics)
25 Cannons * 15000 GP/Cannnon = 375000 GP
375000 GP * 1/2000 GB/GP = 187.5 GB
Note, that this calculation does not include crew, shot, powder, and
transportation ( It was common to use 4 trained artillery horses to tow one
cannon on a trunion), etc. It also does not include any research and
developement costs. IMC you could buy out half the college of sorcery for
that kind of money, never mind highering yourself a wizard or three!
Therefore, if you included magic in your campaign, I suspect that gunpowder
will not prove cost effective, especially as some mage will develop as spell
designed to detonate gunpowder from a distance beyond line of sight.
Pieter A de Jong
Graduate Mechanical Engineering Student
University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
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