Firearms all over Mystara?

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Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by stebehil »

I am toying with the idea to allow the use of renaissance-era firearms in general in the setting. The setting has to me a more renaissance vibe than "true" medieval, especially looking at Darokin and Glantri. (Yeah, I know that the real-world analogies used there are full of anachronisms, but still). Has this been discussed before? Has anybody actually done this?

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Sturm »

I started playing in a more or less low tech Mystara as found in earlier products, but later I started introducing firearms mostly as gnomish and dwarven technology, and I planned to slowly expand their reach.
Initially, i.e. in 1,000 AC, gnomes and dwarves had only cannons-like siege weapons and were very jealous of the tecnology and tried to monopolize it, but after 1,020 AC I would like to have firearms becoming more and more common. But the campaign never reached that date so it may happen or not in future campaigns.

There is also the issue of the letalithy of firearms. Rules proposed for BECMI and D&D as far as I know treat them just as arrows. Personally I think missile weapons should be more dangerous (and I introduced similar house rules to make them so), but probably firearms even more so, as they should inflict critical hits, damage armors and the like, as they did.
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by stebehil »

I like the idea of dwarves and gnomes as inventors.

The thing with detailed rules about firearms is that this opens a can of worms with the rules (no matter what edition). The D&D combat rules were always quite generalized, and did not want to accurately reflect the realities of combat. To introduce a higher level of "realism" invites a lot of trouble (called shots, long-term consequences of injuries and the like). To reflect the real-world advantages of firearms, I think adding critical hits (or giving them a higher chance) is enough, and maybe giving them a higher damage output, offsetting this with a low fire rate (these weapons would generally be muzzle-loaders).

The meta-gaming aspect of improving firearms (introducing breech loaders, cartridges and so on) would need some considering as well. I would not want PCs running around carrying machine guns at some point. OTOH, the use of magic as a reliable and fast source of high damage output would perhaps negate the need to improve guns that far (it makes perfect sense that the non-magic dwarves invent them in the first place.)

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Sturm »

Well there are many possibilities, also that dwarves and gnomes will try to limit their spread, going as far as attacking produrcers of other races. The same negative opinion about firearms may come from wizards and clerics. States, such as the Thyatian empire, may try to keep monopoly of them in the army.
In real history, rulers, nobles and the Church tried several times to ban firearms through the XV and XVI century, so for more than a century at least before finally giving up. And firearms for private citizens in general have been strictly regulated or outright prohibited in most European nations through most history.
Even in a magic world firearms will have a revolutionary effect by allowing non trained people to fight on equal terms with trained warriors/wizards/clerics. Indeed several historians supposed the introduction of firearms was a decisive factor in the fall of feudalism and the democratization of societies, as it was apparent in the American and the French revolutions.
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Seer of Yhog »

IMC, firearms do exist but they are mostly muzzle-loaders. Currently, Thyatis and Rockhome produce them in the Known World (the latter is in the lead, technologically, and is on the verge of developing flintlocks), but there are gunsmiths producing them on a small scale in the cities Darokin. The dwarven diaspora in the Savage Coast also manufactures them (again, on a fairly small scale), and they are available from them in Bellayne and Renardie. Texeiras and Vilaverde have also seen the utility of them (especially given Hule is next door), and are beginning to manufacture them as well - although they are less advanced. Canons are another matter....

The main damper on the spread of firearms is that the technology is relatively new (rediscovered about 200 years ago in fits and starts), and magic is still more effective. Why muster musketeers (whose weapons have a decent chance of misfiring or blowing up, or become useless when the shot gets wet), when a decent mage or two could be hired for about the same cost?

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Robin »

I knew I had a D&D BECMI compilation on this matter, especially as per Old rules Gunpowder could not work on Mystara due magic.
Bruce Heard in DRAGON magazine 199 (Ready, Aim Fire) and the IM1 Best of Intentions regarded to this matter.
I sought and found my compilation of these sources. I added some pictures whhere they were missing, and removed the trispace notifications and such anmd altered these to the Planar Mystara as we know, I added the magic rule that a Dispel Magic will trigger a chance of explosion, and a Antimagic effect like a beholder nullifies the explosive power.
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It is a simple Word File, so Pictures may shift I learned

I hope this compilation helps
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Sturm »

Well firearms have still advantages over other things, as wizards, and in the medium/long run people should be able to realize it.
In the XV century a heavy knight was far more effective against infantry than some arquebusiers but with the same money you could hire more arquebusiers than knights, and training them was much more quick and easy than training a knight. Also knights were independent nobles, while arquebusiers were hired soldiers, and therefore much more controllable by the ruler. Substitute knight with wizard and the same things apply.
Also firearms were new and scary.
And wizards can fire magical bolts and fireballs, but once they exaust their spells that's all. While arquebusiers , with adeguate ammunitions, can fire for hours. So in the long run I think rulers would prefer firearms over alternatives. And many people will not like this.
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by stebehil »

I´ve seen several times that "Gunpowder does not work here" (Mystara and Greyhawk at least). It would be interesting to know the reasoning behind that, from a game design viewpoint. (Physics are mainly intact on most game worlds, so it should work). But that is an aside.

Robin, thanks for your "collected works" ;-)

The interaction between guns and magic is an interesting field. Is gunpowder inherently magical? That would explain the rarity of guns, and would let mages and perhaps clerics have ultimately control about that. If it was magical, how widespread could it be? If based purely on real-world physics, dispel magic would do nothing against it. (There would be magical bullet-proof vests, and specialized protection spells for sure, if guns were a greater threat that other weapons) Or does the production process draw on magical energies without the craftspeople even knowing this? That way, it could be more widespread than if gunpowder was in effect a "true" magic item.

Firearms having an advantage against magic holds true, like all weapons being usable for a much longer time than the magic power of a caster lasts. But if you equip spellcasting tactical units with magical wands (e.g. boltmen in the Princess Ark series), this difference is pretty much leveled again. 50 magic missiles should be a match for an arquebuse, to say nothing of small elite units wielding even more destructive spells (imagine a shock troop using wands of fireball - a 10-person unit would suffice then to lay waste to quite some enemies.) I think that in a world with quite some magic available, firearms are perhaps not that big an equalizer than in the real world.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Khedrac »

I don't ever remember seeing a statement that "gunpowder doesn't work" for Mystara which, since pre-Hollow World was supposed to be our Earth, just millions of years ago, would be quite a change of tack (though not as big as making the world hollow).

(Oerth is explicitly stated as not having gunpowder function within the atmosphere, I think in one of the Spelljammer books, but again since Murlynd used six-shooters he brought back from Boot Hill, it is also a canon change.)

Personally I don't like the idea of firearms everywhere - unless very, very, tightly controlled gunpowder changes life in so many ways, something hard to reconcile with thousands of years of fairly static technology. Mystara does have technological advancement, but it is supposed to be much much slower than earth's was.

That said, I do think they suit certain areas, and those mainly near the lands of the red steel - so how about making it something connected to cinnabryl and the red curse? It can be exported, but since there is only one area as its source it would remain a curiosity everywhere else (and less than that if it had negative effects).
Last edited by Khedrac on Fri Feb 14, 2020 10:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by ricks03 »

stebehil wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:33 am
I am toying with the idea to allow the use of renaissance-era firearms in general in the setting. The setting has to me a more renaissance vibe than "true" medieval, especially looking at Darokin and Glantri. (Yeah, I know that the real-world analogies used there are full of anachronisms, but still). Has this been discussed before? Has anybody actually done this?
As long as you treat fire arms not dissimilarly to crossbows, you'll likely be able to get that vibe you're looking for without game-changing effects. Just don't decide that they're critical or multiple shots, etc moreso than crossbows. They work better at short range, and less well at long range. They just pack smaller, and you can carry a couple. OF course, I already ramp up bow damage by a die, and it hasn't made any massive changes, so if you wanted your pistols to be 1 die better, the players love it but it only averages 1 more HP of damage.

You have to think more about the impacts of cannon and explosives than the firearms themselves. If gunpowder works, but only in small quantities, you can work past that and give yourself a more 16th-17th century melee feel.

Fireball becomes really scary tho...

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by stebehil »

One point about controlling or hedging in firearms would indeed be to make gunpowder susceptible to fire damage. Getting caught in a magical fire? All charges carried might go off at the same time. These charges would probably not do too much individual damage (say, 1d3 at most for a handgun charge), but this would discourage carrying dozens around, not to mention cannon charges. Mixing magical fire with gunpowder surely should be a recipe for disaster.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Dread Delgath »

I'd allow them, but I'd ditch the "no gunpowder/gunpowder doesn't work here, etc." rules, and simply allow it to work.

But, I know my players would want to take the basic "handgonne" and refine it until they get something like a Civil War era rifle, and that is far outside the scope of the type of campaigns I run. My idea to limit the min/maxing player with a firearm is to treat firearms as if it were a magical device. That is, yes, YOU know its a firearm, but your character must still do certain things (load powder & shot, clean it, make sure the powder doesn't get wet or too close to fire! etc.) to make it work, but like a magical item - they cannot copy the design & create a working model, even with all the relevant materials, nor can they improve on the design.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Doc Necrotic »

I'd rule them if you could figure a way to funnel enough of them out of the Savage Coast (especially Cimmaron) and into the wider Known World. Perhaps a trade war with Darokin and Minrothad is sparked looking for that extra leg up. And short of using Slagovich, how would one smuggle without either Inheritors, the Master's grunts or whoever showing up to ruin their day? And even then, I'm imagine all means of trade embargo and interceptions would take place from cautious neighbors.

Maybe Glantri could take a bit from Cimmaron, maybe down a visiting Spelljammer for "research" and craft their own smokepowder equivalent?
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Sturm »

Yeah I think the political and social consequences May be the most interesting thing, for a campaign, stemming from the introduction of firearms. Trouble should surely ensue. Players with guns may be targeted by thieves, adventurers and governments.
And wizards Indeed can use magical Fire against firearms with nasty effects and special glee...
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by antesse »

I think the best solution, at least mechanically, is to just equate firearms to crossbows...possibly with some sort of quick benefit and drawback like dealing more damage but having costly ammunition. From my experience, making up a whole new set of rules for firearms rarely works out well.

As for the fluff and flavor, I don't see everyone having firearms. I definitely see "smokepowder" instead of "gunpowder". Most militias and militaries wouldn't pay for the higher price except for the most specialized soldiers. Adventurers would likely own them as well as elite mercenaries (who might charge per round used). If not exclusively from the Savage Coast, I could see Glantri and Darokin and Minrothad possessing the technology not to mention dwarves and gnomes.

Despite the real world reputation of poor accuracy and very slow reloads, I don't really see fantasy firearms having either so I guess my assumption is early adoption of rifling and cartridges. And I see sharpshooters and marksmen carrying them by choice.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Havard »

Robin wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:58 pm
I knew I had a D&D BECMI compilation on this matter, especially as per Old rules Gunpowder could not work on Mystara due magic.
Bruce Heard in DRAGON magazine 199 (Ready, Aim Fire) and the IM1 Best of Intentions regarded to this matter.
I sought and found my compilation of these sources. I added some pictures whhere they were missing, and removed the trispace notifications and such anmd altered these to the Planar Mystara as we know, I added the magic rule that a Dispel Magic will trigger a chance of explosion, and a Antimagic effect like a beholder nullifies the explosive power.
Image
https://drive.google.com/file/d/13cNme- ... sp=sharing
It is a simple Word File, so Pictures may shift I learned

I hope this compilation helps
I allow these all over Mystara (well Known World mostly) for my current campaign AC1036.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Havard »

Khedrac wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:35 pm
I don't ever remember seeing a statement that "gunpowder doesn't work" for Mystara which, since pre-Hollow World was supposed to be our Earth, just millions of years ago, would be quite a change of tack (though not as big as making the world hollow).
Yes, I don't think that was ever written in any Mystara related material.

The Savage Coast Smoke Powder weapons do not work outside of the region because of their connection to the Red Curse. However, that is not the same as Black Powder/Gunpowder.

IM1 has rules for transporting Gunpowder across planes giving it a high risk of exploding when moving such weapons from one plane to another. This is an effective way of preventing the high tech weapons from "Earth" of that module back to Mystara. So there are some restrictions to how this works in Mystara's cosmology.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by RobJN »

Havard wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:40 pm
Khedrac wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 9:35 pm
I don't ever remember seeing a statement that "gunpowder doesn't work" for Mystara which, since pre-Hollow World was supposed to be our Earth, just millions of years ago, would be quite a change of tack (though not as big as making the world hollow).
Yes, I don't think that was ever written in any Mystara related material.

The Savage Coast Smoke Powder weapons do not work outside of the region because of their connection to the Red Curse. However, that is not the same as Black Powder/Gunpowder.

IM1 has rules for transporting Gunpowder across planes giving it a high risk of exploding when moving such weapons from one plane to another. This is an effective way of preventing the high tech weapons from "Earth" of that module back to Mystara. So there are some restrictions to how this works in Mystara's cosmology.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by pawsplay »

Other than "a lot of Immortals don't like firearms" I don't see any reason why they should not work. As to whether it makes sense, I think it depends on the campaign. I think they fit in fine with a world of elaborate clockworks, where demihumans rely on "infravision"," and dragons expel chlorine gas. On the other hand, I came into Mystara through the boxed sets, and while I became of later developments, including "suit armor," my earliest introduction placed D&D firmly in the Dark Ages. As far as lore, I see no reason you couldn't advanced the timeline a few decades and say there are now some number of firearms. Firearms from the Savage Coast would just need a new source of powder, whether black powder or magical incendiary.

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by Traianus »

We use blackpowder firearms. Ierendi (Think more Port Royal and less Magnum PI) and Minrothad are the primary consumers- officers and selected crewmen using flintlocks (pistols or muskets) and ships have cannon replacing catpults/ballistae. Dwarves use blackpowder in mining and for some traps and weaponry, but generally are not heavily into firearms. Goblins are the only non-humans that use blackpowder- usually in traps or crude grenades (it is also how they keep other non-human tribes at bay and from taking their territory.) Darokin is experimenting with a few pike and shot regiments deployed towards the Broken Lands. Ochalea knows how to make blackpowder, but only uses it for fireworks and refuses to sell it to outsiders. Alchemists can learn how to make it, with both Ierendi and Minrothad having significant production. Minrothad will sell it in small quantities to reputable individuals, and Ierendi will sell to anyone with enough coin to pay for the considerable expense. Darokin regards it as a state secret, and the government controls the only production. The Dwarves do not discuss or acknowledge the existence of blackpowder with outsiders.
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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by KtA »

I don't think firearms, at a Renaissance tech level, are going to be dominant over "classic" fantasy weapons (swords, pikes, bows) -- or even much use to PCs -- if the limitations of that era's weapons are taken into account.

IMO - Firearms at the kind of tech level implied (1500s ish) are worse than bows for your standard D&D PC group's uses (as opposed to use by large national armies). The real advantage of firearms over bows at this time is the vastly shorter training time - very important for armies which are conscripting a bunch of farmers, but not for a small team of highly-skilled experts/heroes.

Firearms of this era aren't really that much better in terms of damage / armor piercing than more "primitive" weapons, and rate of fire is way worse. The rate of fire issue would make them practically useless for your average adventuring group.

Firearms took over primarily because it was much easier/quicker to train people to use them, well before they actually outperformed e.g. longbows. And in the 1500s that shift hadn't entirely happened yet even at the national military level. (The Tudor-era Mary Rose, sunk 1545, had hundreds of longbows aboard.)

I don't think firearms clearly outperformed bows in more "wilderness" situations until the mid 19th century - even in the ~1840s the earliest Texas Rangers are supposed to have had issues with really long reload times when fighting Comanches with bows and spears/lances - the Comanche would charge while the Rangers were reloading...

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Re: Firearms all over Mystara?

Post by stebehil »

KtA wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 6:45 am
The real advantage of firearms over bows at this time is the vastly shorter training time - very important for armies which are conscripting a bunch of farmers, but not for a small team of highly-skilled experts/heroes.
That is a valid point, I think. So, firearms would in 5e game terms be "simple" weapons, if that training requirement would be reflected. I think I can go with that. Firearms were relatively slow until breech-loading handguns and metal cartridges came into use, in the 19th century. Even then, changing a whole pre-loaded cylinder was faster that reloading the cylinder.

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