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  • Black Powder Weapons - Firing Mechanisms

    Here's an overly granular question for folks who know something about Early Modern firearms and who appreciate getting overly granular with their Savage Worlds homebrewed settings. (I know there's a few of you out there. ) I'm looking at running some adventures set in Europe in the early 17th century, and I'm trying to figure out how I would differentiate among the different types of pistols and muskets PC's could get their hands on in terms of the firing mechanism for each type. (Yes, I have the Savage World of Solomon Kane, and Ultima Forsan. They're great, but the options for guns are simpler than what I'm looking at here.) In a nutshell, how would you differentiate the matchlock, wheellock, and the various types of precursor flintlocks (doglock, snap-latch, etc.) from one another in the Savage Worlds rules to give players a meaningful choice about what sort of gun they carry?

    My research in this area is pretty basic, so I welcome anyone with better knowledge to share it. As far as I know, by the 1620's you have the:

    Matchlock - been around forever at this point, but there's a lot that can go wrong with it, especially when it rains.

    Wheellock - probably the most reliable type of gun in this age, but relatively expensive to produce, and according to some sources, the mechanism might be complicated enough to require a clock maker, rather than a gunsmith, to produce or repair it. The best equipped standing army in Europe in the 1630's, the Swedish, relied on wheellock muskets. Also, if you were rich and had a fancy breech-loading weapon custom made for yourself, it was probably a wheellock.

    Various types of early flintlock weapons, such as the doglock, snaphance, snap-latch, and probably several others I'm missing - many of which had features that were eventually incorporated into the true flintlock. It seems historians don't agree on whether the true flintlock (that we've seen in pirate movies, and every movie set between 1650 and the American Civil War) existed at this point, but if it did, it certainly wasn't in widespread use. I'm not sure if any of the precursor flintlocks had any advantage in reliability over the wheellock.

    So what's the best strategy for making these different types of weapons matter in a custom gear list? Different ranges? Different chances of critical failure (misfire)? Differing amounts of damage or armor penetration?

    I appreciate your thoughts.

  • #2
    Flintlocks and Matchlocks will not work in the rain. A wheel lock CAN be made to work in those conditions. Matchlocks are slower to fire than a wheellock, which is slower than a flintlock. ANY of these in real life can be dodged, if you are good enough. I have seen it done. However, converting this to game play I have NO idea on how to do it.

    DUCKFOOT pistols are good, I just use a cone for the area of affect, but they are a use it then drop it and cannot be reused in combat.

    Also remember that Black Powder is not a load and forget gun, moisture will get into the powder and ruin your shot, causing a misfire or just no fire.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by zero mostel View Post
      Matchlocks are slower to fire than a wheellock, which is slower than a flintlock. ANY of these in real life can be dodged, if you are good enough. I have seen it done.
      I know that flintlocks load faster than matchlocks or wheellocks. Do you mean that they fire more quickly as well when you pull the trigger?

      Good suggestions, by the way, about the duckfoot pistol, and the concerns about moisture after loading.

      Comment


      • zero mostel
        zero mostel commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes, Flintlocks Fire faster than a Wheel lock and wheel locks are faster than a matchlock. Seen in slow motion it is impressive. But I have seen people dodge a flintlock rifle round by seeing the flash in the pan before the explosion. How to mechanic it is something I am not comfortable with.

    • #4
      But how to make these specs work for FFF gameplay? That's the thing.

      Comment


      • #5
        In a small unit skirmish the easiest way, IMO, would be to include an agility check for the target. For each success and raise grant a -1 to the shooters attack roll. To account for the faster shooting cycle impose a penalty to that agility check. (-1 for wheellock, -2 for flintlock) This of course presumes that the target knows she is the one being shot. If not then no "dodge check" is allowed.

        Perhaps if the shooter is in cover apply an additional dodge penalty as it is harder to judge body position and aim intent. -1 for light cover, -2 for heavy cover. Of course at this point you are starting to loose some of the Fast of the FFF so maybe not.

        In larger battles there is no accurate way of knowing where a particular enemy is aiming, specially with volley fire, so the dodge chance would not apply.
        I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

        Comment


        • #6
          Hi, I might be able to be of some help here! I actually make guns for a living!

          I wouldn't allow agility rolls for "dodging shots" personally, adding more rolls will just bog things down. That said, there are enough variables that you can give each of them meaningful distinctions.

          Personally, I would divide them into 3 categories (Matchlock, Wheel-lock, Snaphance). Here are some ideas.
          - Matchlock - While these are outdated by this time period, they have the advantage of being cheap. Some gun makers also produced multi-shot weapons with revolving barrels or cylinders (The use of the match cord as an ignition system makes this far easier and cheaper). Single shot Matchlocks generally fired a big, slow projectile.
          Matchlocks require a burning match, making them a poor choice for stealth (Notice roll to smell the match), are very susceptible to wet (even fog can foil the exposed priming powder), take forever to reload (4 actions, and that's being generous) and are the least accurate firearm (I'd honestly give them a -2 to shooting rolls or reduced range). I would compensate for these downfalls with better than average damage (but no AP). Multi-barrel "revolvers" can be "Reloaded" by simply rotating a new barrel into firing position (using a single reload action, until all barrels are fired)
          Example: Matchlock Musket Range: 10/20/40 (-2 to rolls) or 8/16/32 (Pistol 4/8/16) Damage: 2d8+1 (Pistol 2d8)


          -Wheellock - These are going to be you're best bet for "all weather" guns. You're also going to pay the most for them. This is the fastest to fire ignition style, and the guns can be carried "ready to fire". As long as they are in working order, you're golden, but if they break (crit failure) you're going to need a locksmith or clock maker to fix it. I'd use the stats for a Musket, but double the price and increase loading time by 1. It's interesting to note the rifling has been invented by this point and is used in some hunting arms. A rifled Wheellock would make a great hunting gun ( and would be really, really expensive)

          -Snaphance - While these are the most "Modern" design (use the standard Musket stats), they have two things working against them. They have no half ****, which means if the gun is loaded and cocked (ready to fire), it is very easy to have an accidental discharge. Add to this they are more prone to failure to fire (partly because adjusting the flint is difficult to get right). To cover these, I would give them a Fragile quality. Any time the user is struck in melee combat while using the weapon, he must make an Agility Check. On a failure, the weapon discharges if loaded (hitting an ally if the Agility check is a 1), or the flint is misaligned if unloaded (requiring a repair roll at +1 to adjust)

          And remember, gunsmiths in this time period are coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff... so go nuts!

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by Dexion View Post
            Hi, I might be able to be of some help here! I actually make guns for a living!
            You've been very helpful. I'll be using some of your suggestions for sure. Thanks!

            By the way, I knew that early gunsmiths tried to create multi-shot matchlocks, but I didn't know that any succeeded. Any examples of museum pieces online that you can link me to?

            (I do have a book with photos of some wheellock combination weapons from Henry VIII's armory. I find the idea of the 5-shot war hammer hilarious.)

            And remember, gunsmiths in this time period are coming up with all sorts of crazy stuff... so go nuts!
            You betcha!

            Comment


            • #8
              So I have a bit more time, so I'll try and simplify what a wrote to make it easier for gameplay. First, lets assign some base statistics to both the Longarm (2 handed) and Pistol (1 handed). Please forgive any formatting issues, it's always hard to get it right on forums. I simplified things a bit to better keep with the FFF moto of SW. Also, while Rifling, Multi-barrel and Revolver style weapons were incredibly rare, I included them to present additional options. You can of course simply ignore them if you choose.

              I want to be upfront, I actually know more about swordsmanship from this time period then Firearms lol. My detailed knowledge of the development of firearms generally starts around the civil war. But I think what I'm listing is close enough to give you the feel you are looking for.

              Personally, In this time period, my go-to would be a pair of Wheellock pistols, a fast horse, and a sharp saber!

              Blackpowder Longarm - Range (10/20/40) - Damage (2d8) - RoF (1) - Cost (300) - Weight (15) - Shots (1) - Min Str (d6) - Notes: 2 actions to reload
              Blackpowder Pistol - Range (5/10/20)- Damage (2d6+1) - RoF (1) - Cost (150) - Weight (3) - Shots (1) - Min Str (-) - Notes: 2 actions to reload

              Ok, Now we add some Trappings to represent the different actions, Multi-Shot capacity, and rifling.

              Matchlock - This firearm is fired by the use of a primitive trigger that lowers a burning match into a pan of exposed powder. It is bulky and unreliable, but cheap.
              Range (-2/-4/-8) - Damage (+1) - Cost (x0.5) - Min Str (d8) - Notes: +1 Action to Reload, can't fire in wet conditions, -2 Stealth Checks dew too smell of burning match

              Wheellock - This firearm uses a complex, enclosed clockwork device to bring a flint into contact with a spinning steal wheel when the trigger is pulled.
              Cost (x2.0) - Weight (+1) - Notes: +1 Action to Reload, If the Shooting Die results in a 1, the mechanism must be repaired (Repair Skill, 1 Action). If the Repair check results in a 1, the mechanism must be replaced (1/2 cost of firearm).

              Snaphance - This firearm brings a flint into contact with a steal plate when the trigger is pulled. While reliable, it is prone to accidental discharge if abused.
              Notes: Fragile - If the user is struck in melee combat, they must make an Agility Test. On a failure, the weapons fires (if loaded) or is damaged (if unloaded, Repair, 1 action).

              Rifling - A gunsmith has cut grooves into the bore of this firearm, increasing range and accuracy, but at the expense of loading speed.
              Range (+2/+4/+8) - Cost (x3.0) - Notes: +1 Action to reload.

              Multi-Barrel - This firearm contains multiple barrels (max 5), each containing it's own charge of powder and shot. After firing, the user may rotate a new barrel into position (1 Action), and be ready to shoot again. Multi-Barrel firearms are offered by only the most well respected gunsmiths, and are extremely rare and always specially built at the customers request.
              Cost (x2.0 per addition barrel, max x8.0 for 5 barrels) - Weight (+2 per additional barrel) - Notes: Each Barrel must be reloaded individually.

              Revolver - This weapon contains a cylinder that holds a number of charges (generally 4-8). Once fired, the user simply indexes the cylinder to the next shot by hand (1 action), and is ready to fire again. Because of size and pressure limitations, weapons of this type fire smaller, less powerful rounds. Revolver firearms are most often Matchlock, and are always special order pieces.
              Damage (Reduce Die Type by 1) - Cost (x1.5 per shot) - Weight (+2) - Notes: Each chamber must be reloaded individually.

              Example (Matchlock Multi-Barrel)
              Click image for larger version

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              Example (Matchlock Revolver)
              Click image for larger version

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              • #9
                Thanks for getting me looking into this! I'm learning a lot! Upon looking into this a bit more, I have learned that I missed a few things... Like Breech Loading (I had no idea this was a thing this early), Set Triggers (Same), and even Adjustable Sights!. Just watched a video that featured a Breech Loading Wheelock, that fired from a reusable self contained cartridge, that had sights and a set trigger?! The gun was made in 1625. Holy cow that's space-age compared to what most folks had (Clearly the person who commissioned this gun was LOADED with cash).

                These trappings are firmly in the "Not necessarily historically accurate, but possible given local gunsmith technology". You will notice that I didn't restrict any of these too one type of action or another... Example: While i don't know of any historical Breech Loading Snaphance, I didn't prevent them from being made.

                In an effort to "Balance" some of the options (such as Breech Loading), I imposed some common sense (to my mind as a machinist) restrictions. In the case of Set Trigger and Adjustable sights, I put them together and called it Accurizing. It has the same effect as Rifling but doesn't increase loading time (But costs more and adds weight). Of course, you can have both Rifling and Accurizing on the same firearm, but it would be really expensive.

                The costs I assigned to everything are basically arbitrary of course. The idea is that having anyone starting out with an Accurized, Rifled, Wheellock Longarm, or Rifled Multi-Barrel Snaphance Pistol should be out of reach unless the hero is starting out wealthy.

                Breech Loading - Weapons of this type are equipped with an opening near the back of the gun, into which a metal Cartridge Tube containing powder and shot can be inserted. This greatly increases the speed of reloading, as long as additional Cartridge Tubes are available. Dew too the pressures and manufacturing limitations of the day, Breech Loading weapons must fire slightly less powerful projectiles, and may not be used with Rifled barrels, Multi-barrels or Revolver style weapons. Weapons of this type are always custom built. Additional Cartridge Tubes can be ordered at the time the gun is commissioned, at a cost of 100 per additional Tube.
                Damage (-1) - Cost (x5) - Notes: -2 Actions to Reload (Minimum 1 Action)

                Accurizing- Weapons that have been Accurized feature improvements such as adjustable sights, set triggers, and meticulously straightened heavy barrels. These firearms are generally meant as hunting arms, and are capable of actually hitting targets much farther than standard firearms of the day.
                Range (+2/+4/+8) - Cost (x4) - Weight (+1) Notes: Gains Snapfire

                Example: Breech Loading Wheellock Pistol



                ‚Äč
                Last edited by Dexion; 08-11-2017, 06:31 AM. Reason: I keep finding more interesting stuff

                Comment


                • #10
                  Ok, So lets take what we have here and stat out the example's that I posted. Not surprisingly, they are all going to be prohibitively expensive. You can always adjust the values if you want them to be more common.

                  Matchlock Tri-Barrel Pistol:
                  Range: 3 / 6 / 12, Damage: 2d6+2, RoF 1, Cost 300, Weight 7, Shots 1 (x3), Min Str (d8), Notes: Can't fire wet, 3 actions to reload each barrel. 1 Action to rotate to a loaded barrel.

                  Humm, Not sure I'm happy with that, It packs a heck of a punch, and the cost isn't too bad, but the range feels too short. Would be good stats for a less fancy version a hero could start with. So Let's add Accurized (it has fairly long barrels, sights, and is rather fancy). Not 100% sure I like requiring a d8 Str for all Matchlocks, looking for comments on that.

                  Accurized Matchlock Tri-Barrel Pistol:
                  Range: 5 / 10 / 20, Damage: 2d6+2, RoF 1, Cost 1200, Weight 7, Shots 1 (x3), Min Str (d8), Notes: Can't fire wet, 3 actions to reload each barrel. 1 Action to rotate to a loaded barrel.

                  Ok, that's one mean cavalry pistol. The cost is a problem, but I wouldn't expect anyone who isn't starting out Noble, rich or Filthy Rich to have something like this anyway.

                  The Picture doesn't actually show if the matchlock revolver is a Longarm or Pistol, so lets do both. I think going 8 shot's is a bit excessive when everyone else has 1, but hey, more bullets is better, right?

                  8 Shot Matchlock Revolver Longarm:
                  Range: 8 / 16 / 32, Damage: 2d6, RoF 1, Cost 1,800, Weight 17, Shots 1 (x8), Min Str (d8), Notes: Can't fire wet, 3 actions to reload each chamber. 1 Action to rotate to a loaded chamber.

                  8 Shot Matchlock Revolver Pistol:
                  Range: 3 / 6 / 12, Damage: 2d4+1, RoF 1, Cost 900, Weight 17, Shots 1 (x8), Min Str (d8), Notes: Can't fire wet, 3 actions to reload each chamber. 1 Action to rotate to a loaded chamber.

                  Finally, The Breach Loading Wheellock Pistol. This is interesting. Compare this too the Accurized Matchlock Tri-Barrel. The Accurized Matchlock Tri-barrel has a big edge in damage, and cost, but the Breech Loading Wheellock weighs less, doesn't have a Min Str requirement, can be used when it's wet out, has no penalty to stealth, and can keep being reloaded assuming you purchase a good supply of Cartridge Tubes with the gun (I bet 5 would be plenty).

                  Breech Loading Wheellock Pistol:
                  Range: 5 / 10 / 20, Damage: 2d6, RoF 1, Cost 1500, Weight 4, Shots 1, Min Str (-), Notes: 1 Action to reload if additional Cartridge Tubes are available (3 Actions otherwise), If the Shooting Die results in a 1, the mechanism must be repaired (Repair Skill, 1 Action). If the Repair check results in a 1, the mechanism must be replaced (1/2 cost of firearm).

                  Comment


                  • Baiyo
                    Baiyo commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Well-above and beyond the call of duty my friend. Thanks!

                • #11
                  Originally posted by zero mostel View Post

                  DUCKFOOT pistols are good, I.
                  Never heard of those before, so I googled them. They are evil looking
                  Like what you have read in someone's post? Hit that like button and let everyone know.

                  I run Deadlands Reloaded. One of my players writes an incharacter blog here --> http://ballgownsandbattleskirts.blog...deadlands.html

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Fascinating reading, thanks

                    Originally posted by Dexion View Post
                    Not 100% sure I like requiring a d8 Str for all Matchlocks, looking for comments on that.).
                    I only run Deadlands with SW so haven't really seen minimum strength needed for firearms, but I would hazard a guess that this weapon packs a punch of recoil and the minimum strength is actually hold and fire with any sort of accuracy, rather than simply picking it up. Therefore I would impose a simple shooting roll penalty for each step the users strength is below the minimum. Say -1 or -2?

                    Like what you have read in someone's post? Hit that like button and let everyone know.

                    I run Deadlands Reloaded. One of my players writes an incharacter blog here --> http://ballgownsandbattleskirts.blog...deadlands.html

                    Comment


                    • Jounichi
                      Jounichi commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I don't think I've ever seen a pistol with a strength requirement, but the long guns (carbines, rifles, and shotguns) almost all have at least a d6 requirement.

                  • #13
                    Originally posted by Dexion View Post
                    Not 100% sure I like requiring a d8 Str for all Matchlocks, looking for comments on that.
                    Think of it like the Min Str for (early) bows. Sure you can draw a bow with lower Str but holding the draw to get a good sight on your target is another matter.
                    For Matchlocks the issue is you know the thing has a kick like a mule and how much flinching are you going to do between trigger pull and discharge? Even more so if it is a long arm. Perhaps adjust the Min Str to equal the damage die type; d6 for pistols, d8 for long arms.
                    I have way too much time but do not always edit myself properly. Please do not take offense.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Originally posted by lunchmoney View Post
                      Fascinating reading, thanks


                      I only run Deadlands with SW so haven't really seen minimum strength needed for firearms, but I would hazard a guess that this weapon packs a punch of recoil and the minimum strength is actually hold and fire with any sort of accuracy, rather than simply picking it up. Therefore I would impose a simple shooting roll penalty for each step the users strength is below the minimum. Say -1 or -2?
                      I think a minimum d8 for matchlock longarms makes sense. The core rules already describe how to handle it. -1 for each step of difference between the shooter's Strength and the required Strengh. (So someone with d4 Str suffers -2 when firing a matchlock musket, but only -1 with a d6.)

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Glad this was helpful, I had fun with it. I had actually forgotten that it was -1 per step difference. That works good for my tastes.

                        If I get a chance, I'll statistics up some more of the cool wheellocks I found, like Hand Morters and double Barrel Pistols (with two independent wheellocks)

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