Friday, February 14, 2014

Firearms in Fantasy Campaigns I

  Introducing firearms into a fantasy campaign can destabilize the balance of
the game, as it allows a 0 level with. 45 caliber wand to take out a 20th level
fighter with one shot.
  Often firearms are handled through exclusion from the rules, when they are
included they tend to be shoehorned into being just another ranged weapon.
When modeling firearms for inclusion in a game, firearms need to be defined
in terms of rate of fire, accuracy and damage. Rate of fire and damage are 
supported across game systems, which explains why firearms get 
shoehorned in.  However, accuracy (to hit) with firearms and the way they 
do damage are are significantly different than bows and hand hurled 
weapons, requiring more finely tuned mechanics to model their behavior.
Technology is the biggest factor affecting these terms - the technology used
 in the manufacture English Civil War matchlocks is as far from the 
technology used to manufacture US Civil War Springfield Muskets as that 
technology is from current firearms.Not simply the firing mechanisms, but 
the quality of powder and shot available has a huge impact on the firearm's 
effectiveness. 
The next factor to consider is occurence - how common is that type of firearm
 in the culture, not specifically tied to how many guns are available, but rather 
how widespread is the basic knowledge of firearms?  
Finally, we need to consider playability, a complex set up of rules and tables 
that worked fine in boardgames becomes kludgey and unworkable in a role 
playing game.

I'll be discussing these aspects in a series of posts, starting with a discussion of 
firearms technologies by era
.

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