firearms and game balance

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Deleriad
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Postby Deleriad » Wed May 04, 2011 10:11 am

RosenMcStern wrote: When I ran my conquistador game years ago, I used the musket stats for Land of Ninja (3d6 damage, a big hit in RQ3).
What I don't know is whether historically there is actually that much difference in the damage inflicted by say a hit from a longbow, a crossbow and a musket at 20m. I'm sure that the evidence is likely to ambivalent but for example would the velocity of the bullet at 20m be much different from the arrow of a crossbow, longbow etc. I'm wondering what the evidence is.

The other thing is that in MRQ2 missile damage is lower than previous RQ. E.g. Longbow has gone from 2d8 to 1D12 (IIRC) while a heavy crossbow has gone from something like 3D6 to 1D12. On the flip side, CMs make missile fire more dangerous to face. My first instinct would be to have damage from muskets be broadly similar to a longbow but to possibly give them a new CM (or access to a critical CM). E.g. I could imagine "bypass armour" not requiring a critical for a musket. However if there's evidence out there that a musket routinely killed or disabled its targets with greater reliability than a bow then clearly bumping up the musket damage would be the obvious way to go.
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Postby havercake lad » Wed May 04, 2011 11:07 am

Most opinions on effect of archery are biased towards sometimes spectacular tresults of long bows etc. Often bows carried as 'support' type extra weapons etc had poorer performance.
Archery from used by Russian irregular cavalry was considered as unimpressive by the French Troops on the recieving end in the Napoleonic Wars.
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Postby Dan True » Wed May 04, 2011 1:06 pm

The problem is also that when you're talking about a "musket" as a generic type of weapon, you're actually trying to talk about a Roman Gladius, a high-medieval 1½-hand sword and a renaissance rapier at the same time.

There is a huge difference in whether you're talking a late 15th century hand-cannon, a 16th century musket, a 18th century musket from napoleonic areas or a rifled forward-loader from the mid 19th century (the Danish, French and Russians still used musket in the 1860s - it wasn't until the German-French war in the 1970s that backloading rifled firearms were getting common place, and these were quickly superseded by cartridge-firearms such as revolvers).

I have no evidence or first-hand knowledge of how they performed, as Deleriad is pointing out is missing from this argument. But we also need to establish for what period we're trying to determine anything.

As far as I know then shots from early hand-cannons were pretty large and deadly, but very, very inaccurate and dangerous to use. I once heard at a Medieval faire that in the 1500s, it was commonplace for knights in Gothic Armour to carry a loaded pistol at their side. When they met other cavalry, they would shot the first one they met and then fight on with very ineffective swords. If this is true, then a handheld pistol could punch through Gothic armour (nearly impenetrable by non-armour piercing weapons) with ease... albeit with a short range.
The same is probably true for early muskets, since if this wasn't true, why would armour have lost it's usefulness?

Later on, when people stopped using armour, I believe bullet sizes were reduced and thus would have done less damage. Now people simply didn't use armour as it was too cumbersome to use it, if fighting by the day's military standards. Muskets were still very, very inaccurate - though you could produce rifled firearms, but these were too expensive to give to common troops - so they were mostly used by hunters, skirmishers etc.

Also, according to a book I have following the Siege of Dybbøl in Denmark in 1864, most casualties were either from shelling (which was very new! a precursor to trench warfare), or from diseases from the wounds. It was most common to get wounded and then die from the disease that wrecked you afterwards, than to die from the wound itself.

Soo... depends on period, but I think firearm damage can better be described using new CMs than opping damage.

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Postby Greg Smith » Wed May 04, 2011 1:38 pm

Some other interesting facts:

Early muskets/arquebuses were not sufficiently well manufactured to be of a standard size. Balls often had to be filed down to fit.

Musket balls were more likely to cause gangrenous wounds, partly because they took dirty wadding from the gun with them when fired, partly because the drove scraps of dirty unifom deep into the wound and finally because they caused little bleeding, instead crushing flesh, which would die and rot. This did lead to accusations of using poisoned bullets.

Early muskets were heavy - requiring a stand.

I think it may have been already mentioned, it was easier to train troops to use a musket than a longbow. And shooting one was far less tiresome than the shooting bows.

17th century armour makers used to claim that their breat plates would stop bullets. In fact many were 'factory tested'. But it was common practice to simply hit them with a hammer to leave a dent.

Matchlocks required that the match be kept burning. So they couldn't be used in the rain. They also made sneaking around at night rather difficult.

The amount of smoke generated by regements of musketeers was huge. Often obscuring the entire battlefield and cause massive confusion.
Last edited by Greg Smith on Wed May 04, 2011 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby PhilHibbs » Wed May 04, 2011 1:55 pm

Greg Smith wrote:I think it may have been already mentioned, it was easier to train troops to use a musket then a longbow.
Why would it be easier to learn the longbow after learning the musket? Oh, you mean "than", not "then"?
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Postby Mixster » Wed May 04, 2011 2:30 pm

Dan True wrote: As far as I know then shots from early hand-cannons were pretty large and deadly, but very, very inaccurate and dangerous to use. I once heard at a Medieval faire that in the 1500s, it was commonplace for knights in Gothic Armour to carry a loaded pistol at their side. When they met other cavalry, they would shot the first one they met and then fight on with very ineffective swords. If this is true, then a handheld pistol could punch through Gothic armour (nearly impenetrable by non-armour piercing weapons) with ease... albeit with a short range.
The same is probably true for early muskets, since if this wasn't true, why would armour have lost it's usefulness?
The late 17th century Cuirass was tested by firing a musket at 10-30 meters distance. If the Cuirass was pierced, the armour was worthless. So you would have to be incredibly close to pierce a cuirass with a none-rifled pistol.

Napoleon re-instated his fighting Cuirassiers with Plate Body armour in 1814, since they were partially effective against pistol fire, and also useful against long range fire. As well as being almost impervious to swords.

And Greg is also right on the thing amount of smoke muskets make, smokeless gunpowder was developed in the late 19th century, and until then, the battles were everything is foggy from the smoke is very realistic.

Muskets are also much easier to produce than a proper bow. A proper bow requires proper wood, and bending of it. While a Musket can pretty much be forced.
Until the arrival of rifling (which was invented in mid 16th century, but made by hand until start 19th century), hunting would still have been done with a bow in most of Europe, and after that those that couldn't afford a rifle (which would have been expensive when made by hand), would probably stick to a bow.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smokeless_powder
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuirassier
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rifling
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Postby Dan True » Wed May 04, 2011 3:08 pm

Mixster wrote: The late 17th century Cuirass was tested by firing a musket at 10-30 meters distance. If the Cuirass was pierced, the armour was worthless. So you would have to be incredibly close to pierce a cuirass with a none-rifled pistol.

Napoleon re-instated his fighting Cuirassiers with Plate Body armour in 1814, since they were partially effective against pistol fire, and also useful against long range fire. As well as being almost impervious to swords.
But a late 17th century or napoleonic plate armour, is also much better than plate from the 1400-1500s, simply by quality of iron, melting & smithing techniques and carbon amount. I don't think it can be directly used on determining damage from earlier muskets.

But again, just proves my point that we need to determine what period we're trying to determine proper weapon damage for.

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Postby Greg Smith » Wed May 04, 2011 4:37 pm

PhilHibbs wrote:
Greg Smith wrote:I think it may have been already mentioned, it was easier to train troops to use a musket then a longbow.
Why would it be easier to learn the longbow after learning the musket? Oh, you mean "than", not "then"?
Yes. :oops:
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Postby Deleriad » Wed May 04, 2011 6:26 pm

It does look to come down to the fact that many of the advantages of the early muskets (of various types) were down to elements that aren't easily emulated in RQII. E.g. the sheer physical demands of the longbow, the difficulty of finding the right wood, the need for lifelong practice etc while in theory you can spend a few weeks with a musket and be about as good as bowman with a decade's experience.

I remember there are stats in both Pirates (MRQ1) and Clockwork & Chivalry but I don't remember if they bump up the damage or whether they try something more complex.
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Postby Verderer » Wed May 04, 2011 10:01 pm

At least in RQII Arms and Equipment and C&C musket damage is the same, ie. 2d8+1. Personally, I also rule that firearms can choose Impale damage as CM. Increases the chance of penetrating armour and/or turning the target into mush.
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Postby Mankcam » Wed May 04, 2011 11:37 pm

Not having seen the stats in C&C yet, but I suspect that black powder weapons wouldn't unbalance things too much if you are using Magic in your setting.
However if you don't have magic commonly available in your setting, then logically black powder weapons should unbalance things, just as they did historically.
But some very good advice has been given on how to regulate it in a setting
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Postby RosenMcStern » Thu May 05, 2011 12:03 pm

Greg Smith wrote: I think it may have been already mentioned, it was easier to train troops to use a musket than a longbow. And shooting one was far less tiresome than the shooting bows.
In 17th century, well-trained Samurais used longbows, while the peasant ashigaru were equipped with muskets. The samurais were deadlier, but because of higher skill and rate of fire, not sheer damage.

Unfortunately, one of the flaws of MRQ2 is that it does not represent weapon ease of use. In the case of the crossbow and musket, it is a problem, as their great advantage is that you can give them to hordes of untrained peasants and still expect some casualties from close range fire. Doing this with bows is just an exercise in futility.

That explained, I would say firearms is one point where MRQ2 is still inferior to classic BRP. It is true that adding new combat manoeuvres for firearms could fix the thing, but I think that special combat manoeuvres are required for ranged combat in general, at the moment.
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Postby Aneirin » Thu May 05, 2011 12:38 pm

It's simple, make them innacurate, and liable to blow up and takes a while to load. Yeah when they hit their strong...but is it worth blowing your hand off and missing and frantically tryign to reload whilst someone caves your skull in with an axe?
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Postby PhilHibbs » Thu May 05, 2011 12:50 pm

Aneirin wrote:It's simple, make them innacurate, and liable to blow up and takes a while to load. Yeah when they hit their strong...but is it worth blowing your hand off and missing and frantically tryign to reload whilst someone caves your skull in with an axe?
You're solving one imbalance by applying another unbalancing factor. A high-damage weapon with a high chance of going wrong will make the game unpredictable - maybe this is ok, if that's what you want. If it's fun to have characters blow their fingers off, then go for it. And I mean that genuinely and honestly, not as any kind of implied criticism. One of my most memorable encounters involved my character disembowelling himself, RuneQuest has always been famous for brutal fumbles.
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Postby Aneirin » Fri May 06, 2011 1:55 pm

I do like risk, but I play orks in 40K. My mantra is if I'm throwing less than 15 dice at once...something weird, randomn or funny should have a chance of happening.
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Postby weasel_fierce » Sat May 07, 2011 6:31 am

Im not sure how C&C handles it but my general rules of thumb (and I am rather interested in a horse&musket era RQ game):

Damage is high but not insanely so. (poor propellant but a big soft lead ball does bad things to you)

Slow reload times obviously. Once skill reaches 75%, reload times drop by 1.

Archers must spend 1 action to "prepare aim" before they start getting aim bonuses. This is removed at skill 75%.

Crossbows handled as is currently.


If its a pure gun powder period (say, 18th or 19th century) its simpler as no profession really gets non-blackpowder missiles as a skill.
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Postby Mixster » Sun May 08, 2011 7:54 pm

Would guns be able to sunder like crossbows?

I'd rule yes, but would like to know whether you guys have anything to say on it.
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Postby havercake lad » Mon May 09, 2011 9:13 pm

If you are getting ghoulish, then septicimea is more likely from gunshot wounds due to residue of powder and the patches of matrial that are rammed into a wound.

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