Firearms: bullets, but also smoke and thunder

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Zebulon
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Firearms: bullets, but also smoke and thunder

Post by Zebulon »

In reading another thread on the recurrent subject of firearms in D&D, I came to the realization that gunpowder weapons aren't all about doing 1d8 or 1d10 (or whatever) of damage. Primitive firearms are also much noisy and smoky compared to a bow or crossbow. Maybe when designing firearms for C&C (or AD&D, OSRIC, etc.), this could be taken into account. For example:
Matchlock Pistol

-- ROF: 1 attack per two rounds.

-- 2d4 of damage + 1 per point of attack roll above the target's AC.

-- Natural 1 on attack roll: gun backfires doing damage to the wielder, and being rendered definitely useless.

-- Ignore armor at point blank range (less than 30 feet)

-- Thundering: automatically attracts attention; within 60 feet horses must save vs fear or panic (1d4 round are disoriented, etc.), as must mot living creatures of 1d8 HD or less.

-- Smoky: leaves a smell of powder that is easy to follow.

Comments, suggestions?

By the way: I was watching Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood, and it appeared in this movie that a guy (a commoner, then a sheriff) had to take many bullets in the body before eventually dying, so adding to the idea that ancient firearms shouldn't be all powerful weapons.
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Re: Firearms: bullets, but also smoke and thunder

Post by bighara »

Zebulon wrote:
By the way: I was watching Pale Rider with Clint Eastwood, and it appeared in this movie that a guy (a commoner, then a sheriff) had to take many bullets in the body before eventually dying, so adding to the idea that ancient firearms shouldn't be all powerful weapons.

While Shane- I mean Pale Rider uses more modern bullets as opposed to a black powder gun (musket, etc.), it's true that getting shot once often wouldn't kill a person outright. Head or heart shots notwithstanding. Usually, the person would either bleed to death within a few minutes, in which case they may or may not be still able to function somewhat; or, they'd die of a subsequent infection. In a fantasy game with magical healing of wounds and curing of diseases, this is a lot less likely to happen. Especially if healing even one HP of damage stops the bleeding.

As for your rules, the "Thundering" and "Smoky" aspects aren't something I'd quantify too much. They exist, certainly. But why would a horses in a C&C game be spooked by a gun but not by a Fireball. Here is where CK common sense should be employed. Also, instead of the bonus to damage per roll above target's AC and ignoring armor, I would simply give the gun a "armor piercing" mechanic. i.e. Armor and Shields are less effective v. guns. Historically, guns (and to a degree crossbows) were about beating the armored knightly types. They also required less training than bows to use semi-effectively. Maybe a maximum bonus to AC of +2 (not including magic)? DEX, etc. still applies. Along the same lines as how touch attacks work.
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Zebulon
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Re: Firearms: bullets, but also smoke and thunder

Post by Zebulon »

bighara wrote:
As for your rules, the "Thundering" and "Smoky" aspects aren't something I'd quantify too much. They exist, certainly. But why would a horses in a C&C game be spooked by a gun but not by a Fireball. Here is where CK common sense should be employed.

Good point... I will try to remember that next time a PC casts a fireball.
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Post by DangerDwarf »

Cantrips rock against matchlock men.

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Post by johns »

Monte Cook (he of TETSNBN) made a good point about firearm damage when he explained that arrows and crossbow bolts were capable of punching through some types of armor, and yet were not given a special armor-piercing ability in the rules. I give pistols a d12 for damage and muskets a 2d6 (and backfire on a natural "1") and leave it at that. I so think the poster's idea of "thundering" has merit, and I might adopt it.

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Post by Breakdaddy »

I've fired said firearms (flintlock pistol) and they are horribly innacurate but extremely loud and produce a huge cloud of acrid smoke. They also have a nasty lag time between when you press the trigger and when the projectile finally deploys to the target.
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Re: Firearms: bullets, but also smoke and thunder

Post by gideon_thorne »

You could always use some of the arcane spells that produce obscuring smoke or fog as a guide to various penalties.
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Jonathan of White Haven
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Re: Firearms: bullets, but also smoke and thunder

Post by Jonathan of White Haven »

bighara wrote:
While Shane- I mean Pale Rider uses more modern bullets as opposed to a black powder gun (musket, etc.), it's true that getting shot once often wouldn't kill a person outright. Head or heart shots notwithstanding. Usually, the person would either bleed to death within a few minutes, in which case they may or may not be still able to function somewhat; or, they'd die of a subsequent infection. In a fantasy game with magical healing of wounds and curing of diseases, this is a lot less likely to happen. Especially if healing even one HP of damage stops the bleeding.

While I'm not claiming to be an expert (nor did I sleep at a Holiday Inn Express any time recently), I believe Pale Rider is set a bit earlier than Shane. That being said, both settings would have used black powder for the propellant, as opposed to smokeless powder, which was generally available much later. The former produces a big boom and lots of smoke, while the latter produces a sharper *crack* and much less smoke. I *do* have experience there, having fired both types of cartridges. And yes, flintlock (or matchlock) guns do have a slight delay when fired. Sort of like a *click* (flint striking frizzen) *whoosh* (priming pan charge ignites) *Boom* (main charge ignites) type of effect.
Quote:
As for your rules, the "Thundering" and "Smoky" aspects aren't something I'd quantify too much. They exist, certainly. But why would a horses in a C&C game be spooked by a gun but not by a Fireball.

Hmmm. I've always imagined Fireball to be more of a *Whoomph* than a *Boom*, but that's just me. Jonathan Like Big Boom!
Quote:
Here is where CK common sense should be employed. Also, instead of the bonus to damage per roll above target's AC and ignoring armor, I would simply give the gun a "armor piercing" mechanic. i.e. Armor and Shields are less effective v. guns. Historically, guns (and to a degree crossbows) were about beating the armored knightly types. They also required less training than bows to use semi-effectively. Maybe a maximum bonus to AC of +2 (not including magic)? DEX, etc. still applies. Along the same lines as how touch attacks work.

Back in the day, in a campaign far, far, gone, a few PCs were allowed to acquire S&W Model 29s. You know, the-then "Most Powerful Handgun In The World, Able To Blow Your Head Clean Off." The GM allowed for a +5 to hit, 2d6 damage. Crits made the effects that much worse. Seemed righteous to me.
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Post by Lurker »

Quote:
it's true that getting shot once often wouldn't kill a person outright.

That is true of even current bullets. Even on today's battle field people can take a hit in a "kill" area and actually suffer very little damage. Even head shots aren't a sure thing. Of course that isn't true of the big bore sniper type guns, but that is a different mater

Other times a grazing round just happens ti nick the main artery and the guy is dead with in a minuet from a simple leg wound.
Quote:
Quote:

As for your rules, the "Thundering" and "Smoky" aspects aren't something I'd quantify too much. They exist, certainly. But why would a horses in a C&C game be spooked by a gun but not by a Fireball.

Hmmm. I've always imagined Fireball to be more of a *Whoomph* than a *Boom*, but that's just me. Jonathan Like Big Boom!

Great point... Next time the FB might just scare off the party's pack horses..

Also oddly enough I to pictured the Whoomph as opposed to the boom despite knowing what real explosives sound like...
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Post by serleran »

Bullets need a bleeding rule to make them efficient. They tend to cause a lot more damage, over time, than a simple slash cut thrust like a sword would cause, though, the sword is likely more capable of killing you in one hit... depending where it goes, naturally. A bullet can drop you right quick, too.
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Post by Jonathan of White Haven »

Lurker wrote:
I said:

Hmmm. I've always imagined Fireball to be more of a *Whoomph* than a *Boom*, but that's just me. Jonathan Like Big Boom!
Quote:
Also oddly enough I to pictured the Whoomph as opposed to the boom despite knowing what real explosives sound like...

Heh. The GM previously mentioned also allowed us to acquire dynamite from the same source(s) we got the M29s from. 4d6 damage. The fuses had a 3-round delay. Bog help you if you fumbled a lit one.
Also, the only "real" explosive I've ever made acquaintance with was *way* back. Kinda depends on your definition, though. On the 5th of July one year, I collected up a bunch of dud firecrackers, field stripped them, and poured the collected cracker powder into a Buzz Bomb tube. You may remember those--dark green wrapped paper, about 5/32" thick, and about 3" long. (Jean Shepard's famous "Three Incher". And no, I'm *not* old enough to directly remember those. I always envied my sainted mother who, during the Thirties, had access to such things.) Sealed the thing up with about 3" of cannon fuse sticking out of the end cap.

Boy, did that thing ever make a *Big Boom*! Much louder than my 5" Ruger Redhawk (.44 Mag) ever thought it could be...
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Post by Jonathan of White Haven »

serleran wrote:
Bullets need a bleeding rule to make them efficient. They tend to cause a lot more damage, over time, than a simple slash cut thrust like a sword would cause, though, the sword is likely more capable of killing you in one hit... depending where it goes, naturally. A bullet can drop you right quick, too.

You could treat them as a Sword of Piercing (?), or whichever weapon it is that inflicts continuing bleeding damage after the target has been hit by it. Make it a d4 per round. Or a d6 for a large caliber (.70+ cal.) bullet.

Then again, perhaps firearms in a fantasy setting isn't all that great an idea...
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Post by Zebulon »

I think victims will bleed more from a large slash cut from a battleaxe than a small hole from a bullet.
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Post by Lurker »

Zeb

The danger for bleeding from a bullet is more from the internal damage. The bullet does odd things in a body, everyone pictures it interring, continuing on a strait path and then going out the other side. It actually bounces around in there, ricocheting of bones or shattering them, which causes even more bleeding, and then blowing a BIG hole out the back, or even worse stopping in the body somewhere which will cause more bleeding and infection.

I think it is a good idea for the "sword of piercing" type of affect to apply to bullets.
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Post by Jonathan of White Haven »

Zebulon wrote:
I think victims will bleed more from a large slash cut from a battleaxe than a small hole from a bullet.

Actually, damage done by a projectile (in this case, a pistol or rifle bullet) is more than just the amount of blood loss. Google "Thompson-LaGarde Tests" and you'll find a wealth of information on the subject. The tests were originally conducted to help the US Army decide what kind and caliber(s) of new weapons to develop. The outcomes were the .45 ACP pistol cartridge (and Colt M1911 pistol) and the .30-06 Springfield cartridge and rifle, two of the finest rounds/weapons ever devised. (Thompson was also the inventor of the (in)famous Thompson sub-machine gun.)

Basically, slow-moving, large-caliber bullets do lots of smashihng damage to bones and can create medium wound channels. Smaller, faster-stepping bullets do lots of hydrostatic shock, tend to bounce around inside the body, and can also create medium-to-large wound channels. With the former, it's the smashing of bones that does the real damage. With the latter, the hydrostatic shock and subsequent bleeding that does the real damage.

However, for FRP purposes, you can simulate the initial damage, which has to be based on the caliber (size) of the bullet. Generally speaking, the larger the caliber, the greater the initial damage. Something the size of a .45 ACP or .45 (Long) Colt could perhaps a d6+2. Something the size of a .69 "Brown Bess" musket round, a d8+3 or perhaps a d10. Large, high-speed rounds (such as any of the bigger British "express" big-game rifles), well, I've never bothered to work those out. Off the top of my pointy head, big damage, probably in the 3d6 or greater range, depending on the caliber. (.600 Nitro Express? Probably in the 4d6 or greater range! Bad medicine for cattle or rhino-sized animals, and perhaps almost instantly lethal for man-sized PCs. Kobolds would disintegrate. )

"Ongoing damage" (that is to say, the danger of "bleeding out" can be handled by the Sword of Piercing rules, or something like them.
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Post by paladin2019 »

Based on modern d20 games, .45ACP is d10+2, .30-06 2d10 and the .600 Nitro 2d12 or 5d6 or so. Of course, these are also for VP/WP games, not HP, so YMMV.

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Post by Treebore »

Yeah, in D&D/C&C terms when we are trying to figure out what damage would be we have to remember the "average person" in the game only has a couple of HP's. So guns aren't necessarily more powerful than a sword or arrow when being adapted to an RPG.

Plus I am not so sure a fantasy world would develop fire arms. You have clerics and wizards to fill those roles.

So either the world would push for a "great equalizer", guns, or they wouldn't because there isn't such a need. Plus you would have scrying wizards and clerics working to keep such discoveries from ever becoming known.
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Post by Jonathan of White Haven »

paladin2019 wrote:
Based on modern d20 games, .45ACP is d10+2, .30-06 2d10 and the .600 Nitro 2d12 or 5d6 or so. Of course, these are also for VP/WP games, not HP, so YMMV.

True, to the best of my knowledge. I was basing my damage estimate more on AD&D/C&C lines, where HP totals tend to be a bit smaller and combats tend to be somewhat less deadly, sort of.

While modern (or even futuristic) technological items really don't have a place in a fantasy setting (IMO), they can be fun, or even humorous. In one campaign where I very infrequently played, one of my PCs ended up with a Starfleet communicator. My character had absolutely no idea what it could have been, and was extremely startled when it *booped* while he was examining it. After picking it back up off the ground, he fumbled around and finally figured out how to open it up. He heard a voice come out of it and hurriedly closed it up again.

If he hadn't, he probably would have found himself on a starship's transporter platform...
In another game, one of my PCs (and his twin brother, both Hebrew Dwarvish fighter/thieves--Oy, go figure) found or somehow acquired a couple of thin leather hats or headcoverings, with little sticks attached to them. When worn, those sticks paralleled the jaw line and ended up close by the wearer's mouth. They discovered that when worn, if they spoke the person's voice came out of the earpads in the other person's headcovering. It would even work when whispering!

How cool is that?!? It certainly made it a snap to plan and work out thieving activities, even when separated by fair distances. Not to mention being able to trade jibes and jokes about the other PCs without them noticing.
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