Full Item Description
The Locastrian breech-loader is a black-powder cartridge weapon, its design solution something of a hybrid between musket and break-open-action weapon. The breech-loader comes in both rifle and pistol configurations, although the rifle is the most common, due to better accuracy and range.
The weapon is loaded with a single cartridge, inserted into the back of the barrel (breech-loading). The breech is made accessible by the barrel of the rifle being mounted on a hinge configuration vis-á-vis the stock and firing mechanism (also known as "top-break" loading). The barrel and front frame is secured with a top-mounted latch that keeps the weapon closed. When cranked open, the breech operates an extractor mechanism that expells the spent cartridge from the barrel.
The stock is usually carved from red oak, with a steel-shod butt and the metal parts has the characteristic blue sheen of Locastrian steel. In military rifle models, there is a compartment in the stock for holding extra cartridges.
Standard military issue rifles average 4’6" in length, with a barrel length of 2’8". There are short-barreled cavallry rifles with an overall length of 3’, and highly accurate but cumbersome sniper rifles (usually with highly advanced sighting aids) stretching to a whooping 5’6". Pistols can be any barrel length imaginable, but accuracy deteriorates quickly in the snub-nosed models.
Breech-Loader users regularly have swirling, fern-like patterns ingrained in the skin of their hands and forearms. These "powder tattoos" are the result of soot expelled from the breech when the gun is fired, and lodging into exposed skin on the shooter.
Soldiers of the Locastrian Regiments sometimes have Power Sigils carved into stock, barrel or firing mechanism of their Breach-Loaders to improve accuracy, muzzle velocity and to prevent misfires. This practise is discouraged by Commanders, however, since the glowing Power Sigils make the soldier more visible at night.
Cartridges for Locastrian Breech-Loaders are usually made of 3" by 0,5" cylinders of stiff, waxed paper, containing a half-inch, acorn-shaped lead slug, a primer and a black-powder charge. The long, needle-like firing pin penetrates the cartridge and strikes the primer attached to the slug, which in turn ignites the propellant. This firing solution puts a large wear on the firing pin, and experienced users carry spare pins with them.
Due to the relative weakness of Locastrian black powder, the propellant charge is larger than normal (150 grains (10g) as opposed to 74 grains (4,8g)). Regular ammunition has an effective range of 200 to 300 meters, depending on weather conditions.
Various types of special ammunition exists, including:
- A cartridge with the lead bullet replaced with a hollow resin shell containing an alchemical explosive charge that detonates on impact. Effective radius is around a fourth (50m/165ft) of that of regular ammunition.
Fire Wisp Round
- The slug is replaced with a small glass sphere containing an extremely volatile substance that explodes out of the barrel like a jet of flame when fired. The alchemical fire clings to the target, continuing to deliver fire damage until put out. Although the effective radius is short (less than 15m/50ft), the Fire Wisp comes into its right in urban warfare and in clearing trenches.
- Similar to the Fire Wisp, but the slug is replaced by a rune-carved pebble that, when fired, releases all its stored elyctric charge in the form of a lightning bolt. The effective radius is about 50 meters (165ft) and the bolt is more likely to hit a grounded or a metal-clad target.
For the Locastus setting, which is semi-industrialized, I wanted a credible black-powder weapon slightly more sophisticated than a flintlock, but still not too powerful to move the setting away from good fantasy, and into munchkin territory. The Locastrian Breech-Loader is my answer to that dilemma; It´s single-shot and thus takes a while to reload, but would still deliver a punch similar to that of a modern fire arm. I feel it works well in this type of setting, and doesn´t really break the power balance. With this weapon I wanted a feel that every shot counts, and that ammunition must be hoarded.
The Breech-Loader is my own invention - in the real world invention went from musket to repeating rifle (via percussion-cap weapons) in a relatively short time.