Ranged Weapons
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ID: 655


January 16, 2007, 4:34 pm

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Cheka Man

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A firebow, though no longer the staple weapon that it was during the era of it’s modernity, is still a powerful and versatile missile weapon in it’s own right.

The firebow (also called the Nail of God, comet-bow, or forge-bow) was first produced in 1224, during the Xhiklus Trade-War. The first, prototypical firebows were seen in the hands of the famously skilled and innovative 3rd Contract Rangers, a skirmishing and marauding unit of the Xhaussapus Trade Union, under the command of General Heprion Anavunculax. These early firebows were not as precise and elegant as modern ones- they were modified crossbows with jury-rigged heating-elements which were generally tacked (or in some rare cases, tied!) onto the body of the bow, and which were imprecise in their heating of the bolt, rendering shots of motley quality. They were, however, a powerful and quick weapon, one which (along with the skill of the 3rd Contract Rangers) led to many victories in the early days of the War.

By the middle of 1225, however, the soldiers of the Trade Union were discouraged to find that fighters in the opposing Xhiklus army began to enter the battlefields of the war armed with these accurate and deadly weapons (It was later revealed that a Xhiklusian war technician had purchased one from a captured Xhaussapus soldier in exchange for said soldier’s freedom). The new and improved model of firebow (made more efficient and effective by the renegade Battle Scientists, who had in that year taken refuge in Xhiklus and were being payed by the High Kommanders to develop new weapons) largely spelled the difference in the Trade-War; almost every Xhiklusian troop was issued one of the terrible weapons, and by the end of spring in 1226, the Xhaussapus Trade Union was overwhelmed, and it’s blockades on Xhiklus and it’s rail-lines were dismantled.

Evidence points to a Xhiklusian soldier-turned-mercenary named Arkhuv Kheshpoth as the one who brought examples of the firebow to production factories throughout the Hundred. The disgruntled warrior had been stripped of a sizeable inheritance by the High Kommanders of Xhiklus for acts of treason and cowardice during the war, and it has been suggested that his actions were partially motivated by this. But whatever the reason, it is apparent that by 1229, nearly every army among the cities of the Hundred had access to firebows, and the secrets of the firebow’s construction were no longer so closely guarded.

The advent of more accurate and faster-loading firearms (facilitated by the discovery of Delayed Agents and gunner’s mercury in 1376) has made the firebow less useful today than it was in those times. However, though no longer the staple weapon that it was during the era of it’s modernity, the firebow is still a powerful and versatile weapon in it’s own right, albeit one that has become more popular among today’s adventurers than among the soldiery.


The firebow is a large, heavy-stocked winching crossbow, generally constructed of metal (to better withstand the rigours of use and the wear-and-tear caused by the heating element). Most firebows have a shoulder-stock (in order that the user is not thrown back or does not drop the weapon from the kick of the firing). Functioning like a normal crossbow, a firebow utilizes long, straight, metal bolts or rods (iron nails and heavy retainer pins can be used in place of proper bolts if necessary; the bolt must be metal, due to the nature of the weapon). The bolt is placed in the normal position for a crossbow.

The user then proceeds to wind the winch; in a normal crossbow, this prepares for firing, but on a firebow, winching serves a second purpose- it activates and charges the heating element, a long battery made of copper, filled with thermic sciofluid (in slang parlance, “fire-oil”). Water is then poured into the battery. The sciofluid, excited by the movement of the winch, mixes with the water, causing a powerful alchemical reaction generating extremely intense heat along the length of the battery, and heating the bolt to an even, red-hot glow. When the shot is fired, the fluid in the battery explosively evaporates. This, along with the natural action of the bow, sends the red-hot length of metal launching at terrific speed toward the target; this has created a second name for the weapon among users, who call the thing “the Nail of God”.

A firebow has a more powerful kick and much more speed off the shot than it’s conventional cousin, the crossbow, due to the energy generated by the exposive evaporation of the battery fluid and the strong crossbow-action. In addition, the red-hot bolts used in firing (quite obviously) are far more effective than regular quarrels, and there are many cases of victims of the firebow being pinned against walls and other objects by the missile.

Firebows require water and the special thermic sciofluid to function, and those armed with these powerful weapons will generally carry supplies of both. Fire-oil (the sciofluid) can be easily synthesized from substances readily available from street chemists and alchemists, and some even use natural ingredients, though this is considerably more time-intensive.

Firebows, due to their nature, become extremely hot during use. Older varieties and battlefield models generally are simply embossed with warnings to handle with gloves and padding, while later models and custom firebows generally have shoulder padding and insulated grips.

Most firebows are relatively simple and utilitarian, and generally lack decoration. Many firebows created in the 1270s were created by the infamous Blackbird Company, and have inlays of black iron and attached sightfinders; these are highly sought-after, not only by weapon enthusiasts and adventurers (for their high quality) but by collectors and museums (for their historical value). From the 1360s, firebows began to become more ornamented and decorated; some produced in Simblios during 1390s are extraordinarily baroque in decoration, and many find it amazing that they are still fully functional under layers of embossings, carved, hinged reliefs, and interlocking puzzle-chips.

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Comments ( 25 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

June 27, 2005, 0:54
Let me just note that this was inspired by the crossbow weapon from Half-Life 2, which fires pieces of red-hot rebar, and is way ****in' awesome.
June 27, 2005, 3:10
Interesting weapon. Non magikal and easily mass produced,allowing it to be easily inserted into any setting or campaign with great ease. Gets my stamp of approval.
Voted MoonHunter
June 27, 2005, 9:09
I like this one. Two thumbs and a tail up.

This is a perfectly mundane weapon (despite the alchemy involved) that can be added to any campaign. Instead of an equipment list listing, it gives the items description, history (and place in the world), and what makes it special in the write up. Very cool.

Others like it can be seen in the Mundane Weapon's Scroll
Voted Scrasamax
June 27, 2005, 16:05
I can see mass outcry at the horrific nature of the weapon, and the utter contempt for humanity it possesses, much like the outcry against the original crossbow, and more modern weapons such as landmines and napalm. I can almost see the History Channel doing an hour long show on the development and usage of the Firebow, and its enventual decline among the soldiery and adoption by the more more flamboyant and less pragmatic adventurer. I especially liked the last paragraph.

Voted Siren no Orakio
June 27, 2005, 19:35
The tool of a madman. I like it.
Voted Cheka Man
June 27, 2005, 19:55
5/5 A perfect entry and a very impressive weapon hat is not magical.
July 3, 2005, 20:15
Just for everyone's information...
This item has currently fallen into the hands of one of my players in my campaign (a very unscrupulous one; he tortured an enemy soldier to get it), and has been put to fairly exciting use... For more info, check the Adventure Log on the forums.
November 8, 2005, 0:23
Reminder please add to the mundane weapons codex when it goes live. :)
Voted TheST
November 8, 2005, 3:16
This reminds me of the flintbow from the Ultimate Equipment Guide II, but this is definitely way more detailed and interesting. Players always want to know how these things work. Well done.
Voted KendraHeart
November 8, 2005, 13:40
I agree. The Half Life Weapon is way, way, way cool. This weapon is very anime or steam punk, which of course makes it right up my alley. Good psuedo science to explain the weapon.

PS: Like the half scores.
Voted Zylithan
November 8, 2005, 15:00
It's a cool idea, and of course not too powerful. I appreciate the work that went into the history, but because the item seems "generic" and the history is so specific it actually detracted a little bit to me (took longer to read and added nothing).
November 8, 2005, 18:03
I'm in the HoH?!
I'm honored!
Barbarian Horde
March 14, 2006, 1:11
I'm confused. What's the point of this item? Aside from your total disregard for the laws of physics, I'm confused here.

Is the flame intended to set stuff on fire? If so, how is it a remotely effective weapon of war aside from standard flame arrows, which are presumably much cheaper? Firing flaming ordinance into a battlefield has a way of mucking up the battle and killing your own troops as well as your enemy. It's hardly a precision tactic, let alone one requiring an accurate crossbow. Instead, you'd use a longer range drawn bow (like the ones used by the British during Henry's wars in France.

Is the heat intended to make the bolt more penetrating? Heat transfer doesn't occur fast enough for the heat of the bolt to have any affect on the armor its penetrating unless its heated to near a plasma state, in which case it wont go very far before it's dispersed into the air. You are aware that heated metal is much softer and more maleable than hard metal, correct? It would kill the penetrating power.

I don't know, but it seems like this weapon bears no regard for reality and serves to fix a problem that doesn't exist. If you want to penetrate armor, get a regular crossbow. If you want to set things on fire, do it at much greater ranges with a drawn bow.

Otherwise, good post.

--Schroedinger's Phat--

PS: Making things hotter doesn't increase their kinetic energy or speed. Energy may be conserved, but that doesn't mean heat and kinetic energy are directly equivalent without some meaningful method of conversion.
March 14, 2006, 9:28
Now, without assuming anything about the function of the weapon (where your points may be valid), let me just note two things:

1. Most of us are not striving for strict realism in our posts.

2. The weapon is not just an addition on the equipment list, it also serves to add more colour to a game world, a different take on the oft tried ranged weapons (sure, bows and crossbows are the way to go, but sometimes, they are just... boring).

Just the obligatory 2 cents.
March 14, 2006, 21:08
Now, now, Schroedinger's Phat, don't be so condescending. The item isn't a personal insult to you.

Oh, and by the way, I don't care about how physics work in the real world, but thanks anyway. :D
April 26, 2006, 16:46
Maybe it's heated enough so that the bolt spreads out on contact with the target. So while it may cauterize the wound on entry it would still provide a rather larger hole than a standard crossbow bolt. And as to your comment about firey ordinance being used in battle causing as much damage to friend as foe, so does anything that deals damage remotely. Friendly fire isn't. This applies as much for cold crossbow bolts as warm/hot ones.
Voted axlerowes
October 8, 2010, 10:37

I think this is a perfect sub because it set a mark (not high mark, just writing up the Fing awesome crossbow from a video game)  and gives it a story, depth and a links it to a culture.

Voted valadaar
October 8, 2010, 13:52

I like it too and there could be many uses for such a device. For example, it could be a good anti-material type weapon - set fire to mantlets, siege equipment and the like, and used to terrible effect against calvary.  Maybe a regular arrow might not cause a war horse to throw a rider, but a red hot one?


Voted Silveressa
April 30, 2011, 1:32

Against unarmored foes and animals this weapon could have a excellent demoralizing effect, in that most animals will fleet fire and heat, and a man impaled with a red hot bolt is likely to scream and writhe in agony far more so then a cold one. (Especially in the penetration is minimized from the softer hot metal.)

Practical against heavily armored knights? Probably not, (that;s what basic crossbows are good for or using this one without heating the bolt.) but when facing gryphons, or other feathered/furred beasts a heated weapon is the perfect companion.

Voted Ted
April 30, 2011, 4:41

I'd love to know more about the Fire-Oil. Is it naturally volatile. Does it have other applications? Is it toxic? Does it explode violently when touched to electricity?

April 30, 2011, 5:10
Sadly Captain Penguin hasn't been around since early April of 2009 so I wouldn't expect an answer from him anytime soon.

If you feel creative feel free to put together a sub detailing the oil and its properties, I doubt the Captain would mind as long as you give him credit for the initial idea. (It also would make a nice companion piece to his crossbow)
April 30, 2011, 19:51

really good cp good background detail over all freaking awesome 

Voted MysticMoon
August 20, 2011, 10:58


My first thought is that this would be perfect for a nation which despises magic on moral grounds. I liked the specifics in the history; makes it seem more grounded in reality.

Voted hylandpad
August 27, 2011, 16:33

Do want IRL. That's all.

Seriously. Awesome. Weapon.

Voted Murometz
December 11, 2015, 18:55
Only voted

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