CT!: The Costs of War
The majority of firearms in the Iron Kingdoms are breech loading, meaning that to reload a firearm, a trap door on the rear of the firearm is opened, the round is placed within the firearm, and then the trap door is closed. Then the firearm is ready to be fired. The cartridge sits snugly in the chamber until the trigger is pulled. By pulling the trigger, the shooter releases a pin that drives itself into the rear of the round, through two silk pouches. This causes the two components of the blasting powder within the pouches to mix, inciting a chemical reaction that explodes, driving the bullet that sits ahead of the pouches forward out of the weapon’s muzzle.
In the beginning, the first firearms manufactured by the Order of the Golden Crucible utilized a multi-part loading process that included dropping two silk pouches, each with a different component of the two part blasting powder down the muzzle of the firearm, followed by a bullet tucked inside a bit of wadding and tamped down with a rod before being fired. Once fired, the bullet and wadding would be ejected from the muzzle of the weapon and the silk pouches would burn up, leaving the barrel empty and waiting for another load.
A major development of the firearm was moving to a breech loading system, where the bullet and silk pouches containing the blasting powder could be placed into the chamber through the rear of the firearm. A minor but cost saving development was to place the bullet and the powder into one paper cartridge. This paper is thin to leave as little fouling in the chamber as possible. Though these paper cartridges can withstand normal handling on a battlefield, should they become wet or receive any significant trauma, the paper falls apart. The components can still be useful if loaded individually, but the gunman’s reload is slowed. Paper cartridges were seen as an improvement over the multipart loading process of the past, but the extra paper has two detriments on the internal workings of the firearm. First, more fouling is caused, which can lead to more malfunctions if the weapon is not properly cleaned after significant use. Second, the firing pin has more material that it needs to drive through to puncture the silk pouches within. This extra stress on the firing pin can cause the sharp firing pins to be dulled or bent and rendered useless. Thus, for a firearm that uses paper cartridges to remain reliable, the weapon needs to be regularly maintained following any extended use.
Around the same time the breech loading firearm was developed, the muzzle loading pepper box mechanisms were developed and a while thereafter, the ammo wheel was developed. The ammo wheel allowed the shooter to reload the wheel’s chambers through the rear of the weapon using paper cartridges. In addition to being easier to reload, the pin that holds the ammo wheel in place can be pulled, allowing the ammo wheel to be removed and replaced with another preloaded ammo wheel This simple feature meant that in the time it took an average shooter to reload one round in a breech loading rifle, the ammo wheel of a weapon could be replaced and the weapon fully reloaded.
The pepper box and ammo wheel actions contain multiple preloaded chambers. The first pepper box actions were advanced by hand, but later developments possessed clockwork mechanics that advanced the chamber with the pull of a trigger before striking the cartridge with the firing pin. This made the idea of rapid firing firearms a reality.
Gunsmiths changed the battlefields of western Immoren again with the development of the metal cartridge. By placing the two silk pouches inside of a metal cartridge capped with a bullet, the gunsmiths created a cartridge which would leave less fouling and that could guide the firing pin into the round through a small well without causing the firing pin a lot of damage or dulling. By capping the rear of the cartridge where the pin enters with a small drop of wax, the gunsmiths also created a water-resistant cartridge. The rounds with metal cartridges are easily dumped out of their breech loading actions with a flick of the wrist to clear the chamber for the next round, but the paper cartridge remains the favored cartridge of gunfighters, since the weapon is left with an empty chamber following the round being fired. Further, paper cartridges are more easily acquired and loaded in the field. It was not until the introduction of the ejector that the metal cartridge’s greatest contribution would come to be known in automatic weapons.
Now that gunsmiths had metal cartridges that slid with less resistance when compared to paper cartridges and ejectors to remove the spent cartridges, firearms in western Immoren could take their next major leap in advancement: the belt fed automatic gun. The lack of friction from the metal cartridges allowed for gravity fed magazines that could drop rounds into a cycling action somewhat reliably. But it was the belt feed action that allowed for battlefield reliability and consistency. These new weapons recycle the energy being blown out of the weapon to power the cycling of the automatic action, which ejects the previous cartridge while reloading a new cartridge into the chamber and recharging and releasing the firing pin. This results in one man being able to fire so many shots with one pull of the trigger that he could outperform the capabilities of the barrel of the weapon, necessitating the development of water-cooled barrels.
|Firearm Reload Times|
|It takes a quick action to load a cartridge, either paper or metal, into a breach-loading firearm. Loading a muzzle- loading firearm, or loading the separate elements of the shot (the two blasting powder packets and bullet) into a breach loader separately takes a full round rather than a quick action.|
Cost: This is the cost of the weapon in Cygnaran gold crowns (gc).
Ammo: This is the amount of ammunition the weapon holds. Once its ammunition has been expended, the weapon must be reloaded before it can fire again. Reloading one round of ammunition (or nocking a bow) requires one quick action, so fully loading a repeating firearm in the heat of battle can take some time.
Effective Range: This is the practical range of the weapon in combat. A ranged weapon can hit targets and deal damage up to its extreme range, but attacks against a target past the effective range of the weapon suffer –5 to the attack roll. The effective range of the weapon is listed in feet, with its tabletop range in inches in parentheses.
Remember that one inch on the tabletop is equal to six feet.
Extreme Range: This is the extreme range of the weapon, given in feet. Thrown weapons do not have an extreme range.
Skill: This is the skill used when making an attack with the weapon.
Attack Modifier: Some weapons affect attack rolls made with them.
POW: When making a ranged attack damage roll, add the POW of the weapon to the damage roll.
AOE: This is the size of the weapon’s area of effect. Description: This is a description of the weapon.
Special Rules: This section describes any special rules of the weapon.
|Blasting Powder and the End of Monopoly|
|Though blasting powder was once an expensive and carefully regulated commodity of the Order of the Golden Crucible, their virtual monopoly on its manufacture has long since ended. Every kingdom has developed its own supply and methods of manufacture. The dissolution of the Golden Crucible following the Khadoran invasion of Llael saw the secrets of its creation spread to hundreds of independent chapterhouses and alchemical shops throughout the Iron Kingdoms.|
|Blasting powder is now available throughout the Iron Kingdoms in great supply. The quality of ammunition varies, and certain groups such as the Free Order of the Golden Crucible have a reputation for higher quality and consistency of product, and can charge a premium accordingly.|