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-Ã¡-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.
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? Responses (9)
I liked the various types of special ammunition. Nice touch that. All in all i thinks it's a nice write up for a fantasy setting firearm.
More, more, every post of yours is good.
Nicely written. I do like all the fantasy-esk details added to a technical weapon.
I think you have worked the balancing of fantasy and science nicely. I have a "musketeer" setting which is fantasy (magic is suppressed and what most D20 players would consider cantrip, with a fairytale rather than Tolkien fantasy style). It takes jsut a bit of work to make sure that neither side is without its limits.
Since Urban Fantasy and the Iron Kingdom settings shows us that you can easily have technology and fantasy combined, not in a techno-magic sense but in a both are present sense, we should have more of these kinds of submissions.
I have added the Black Powder free-text to this one.
I like it, and here are some nit-picky questions/observations:
I'm thinking the engineering to get a good seal on the breach might be a bit advanced - I thought it took a metal cartrige to ensure the gases did not get out and make life difficult for the firer.
Similarly, that firing pin better be very tough since it will be exposed to the burning powder each time it is used. I'll bet spare pins will be need to be carried by the soldiers.
Val, here´s the link to the gun I drew my inspiration from, a firing pin-mechanism that used paper cartridges: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needle_gun Check it out! But now I got this great idea about Breech-Loader users having "powder tattoos" on hands and forearms because hot soot from the breech has burned itself into their skin....The spare firing pins is a good idea, too...gotta add that, Thanks!
Updated: Added the powder tattoos (no pun intended) and that users must carry spare firing pins with them. Thanks, Valadaar!
I like it. As a random thought about the power sigils being visible at night, wouldn't it be fairly simple to just wrap the stock with a cloth? It wouldn't work for the pin or the barrel, but the stock shouldn't be a problem...
This is good. It reminds me, actually, of a great many Elephant hunting guns from the Elizabethan era. Veracity in such an item is good.
As for technical feedback - (Sorry, I have to. It's in the blood.)
As a curiousity... Is there a particular reason that the pin has to penetrate the primer? A typical primer is an unstable concussion explosive that provides heat to ignite the major propellant, and you just have to bang on it to make it go. Good steel will last tens, if not hundreds of thousands of rounds, while bad steel will still last a few thousand rounds. Brass, on the other hand, that might be a problem.
Good breech loading seals are not -that- advanced, they just require a complete knowledge of metallurgy, and an appropriate sealing ring. This is probably the hard part for the Locastus setting. Poor rubber will break down quickly, leading to the 'powder tattoos'. Now, breeches being where they are, personal experience dictates that zee goggles, zey will be an important part of life, as zey will do summfink. Powder tattoos are going to grace their cheeks and temples, too, especially if it's a top breaking action. Blow back SUCKS.
Siren - When I was doing a bit of research I came across something called a needle gun (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Needle_gun) that i´ve used as a template for the breech-loader. In the cartridge of a needle-gun, the primer is located not at the base of the cartridge, but directly beneath the slug itself, so the firing pin must penetrate the entire propellant charge to reach the primer. I think it has something to do with slow-burning gunpowder - if you ignite it from behind, most of it will shoot out of the barrel, adding no gas expansion to the bullet´s velocity. If its set alight front to back, it stays in the weapon. I thought that was a neat idea..:-) /David