The Land of Progress, but how do I show it?
For a while I've been building up a custom world that I am using for all of my 4th edition DnD games. Well, so far its only been a single continent, but I'm not really looking to make new ones yet.
The main idea behind it is that on the continent of Yuvel, a huge guild of mages, made up of most of the arcane casters from throughout the continent started a war against the world which built up to a massive demonic invasion, brought on by the mages when they started to lose. Because of that most arcane users died or went into hiding after that war, mages are hated and treated as outcasts, knowledge of magic is rare, and magical items are extremely valuable because there are too few mages left to make them.
As a result, people turned from using magic and began to progress more towards science, with the most technologically advanced nation, the Crown Empire, being in an early industrial age and medical and alchemical knowledge is much higher in a wide scale, than it is in the usual medieval-esque settings of Dungeons and Dragons.
However I'm not quite sure of how to show it. So far my games have done little to change how these technological/medical/alchemical advances or lack of arcane items and knowledge really affect the PCs .
I've thought about adding new items, making character themes, maybe even altering certain classes, but I'm not really sure just how to go about doing that, as I haven't done anything like those before. Suggestions, aid, really anything would be appreciated.
Use GURPS? ;)
And being more serious - as the first step let new toys being avaible on market. They would be new inventions thus rare, expensive and not very reliable.
Play with sociodynamics. Mention people migrating from great poverty in villages to moderate poverty in cities. Mention transition of power from landlords to fledging capitalist. Mention some serious investment in infrastructure, maybe a canal for start.
Make clear that firearms negate most of advantages of earlier armors.
(Disclaimer: I'm used to D&D 3.5)
If you haven't already, go read Girl Genius from beginning to end. If that doesn't inspire you for what SCIENCE! can do in a fantasy setting, nothing will.
From there, review how Eberron handles magic-as-technology, only you're actually using technology: Gas lamps line the streets, a few inventors are tinkering with electricity (and my even put on a public demonstration of an "electric candle" at some point during the game), factories are beginning to see the first steps toward mechanization, full-on steam engines may or may not exist for trains.
The social bits TW Teczka mentions are also good.
Medicine - though still incredibly primitive by modern standards - made huge leaps in basic understanding. Spontaneous generation was disproved, serious research into germs vs "bad air" was underway, etc.
Firearms (if they exist) should get a proficiency bonus and target Reflex instead of AC as a way to show how useless armor is against them. Before tweaking damage to crazy-high levels, remember that the vast majority of people in the world are effectively minions: a single shot IS, in fact, sufficient to kill. PCs are Big Damn Heroes at Level 1, able to do things that most others cannot. That extends to being able to live through being shot multiple times.
I like these suggestions. However, as for the new toys and guns, how should I make them? Should I try basing them off of existing ones, or should I start from scratch?
Also one of the things I wanted to do with guns is make them very inaccurate and with smaller ranges than bows and crossbows, to hammer in that they aren't as reliable as other ranged weapons. However I'm not sure how to factor that in.
Read up on early firearms. In addition to the questionable accuracy (until it was largely solved by rifled bores and interchangeable parts), they had a tendency to backfire or jam (rendering the weapon permanently useless or at least requiring a lengthy clean-and-rebuild), and the reload time was abysmal (4 shots/minute standard, 5 shots/minute for the best musketeers). The only reason musket warfare was at all effective was that the combatants tended to cluster in proper military formation as though they were still pikers, which meant that even a badly errant shot had a pretty good chance of hitting SOMEONE in the other side's uniform.
Range-wise, though, they have superior range to any crossbow. Just hope the target is as big as the broadside of a barn...
Mechanics - nice damage, nominally nice range, but except point blank shots you can't use attack bonus.
First, you need to define what era you want your firearms to replicate.
18th century (1700s, circa American Revolution) "flintlock" types are probably a bit too out dated. This type of firearm was first introduced around 1630 and persisted largely unmodified for nearly 200 years. They were notoriously unreliable and tended to misfire if the flint wasn't just so or if the powder was wet, and took quite a long time to reload (as noted above). Technically, this is the sort of weapon used around the time of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but I think the movies actually used percussion cap weapons.
Percussion cap technology showed up early in the 19th century, and did away with the flint-spark flash pan ignition in favor of a small blasting cap. These were far more reliable than flintlocks, but still suffered from longish reloading times and misfires due to moisture. It's important to note that the percussion cap was a huge leap forward in firearm technology. It was a scant 10 years from their introduction in 1825 to the Colt revolver. Rimfire cartridges (pretty much what we know as a "bullet" these days) showed up a mere 5 years after that. 15 years from percussion cap to repeating weapons and sealed cartridges. Like I said: HUGE.
If you want firearms to be relatively deadly, but mostly one-shot weapons, stick with flintlocks.
I'll post some suggested rules in a few.
Weapon proficiency is a measure of training with a given weapon. It takes time to learn how to properly swing a sword or learn to use a bow. Firearms, however, changed this dramatically. You pick it up, you point it, you pull the trigger, and BOOM. If you held your arm steady, odd are whatever you were pointing at is seriously hurt and on its way to dying. The suggestion for "denying attack bonus for anything other than point-blank range" as a way of dealing with the overall inaccuracy of early firearms is a good idea, but it gets a bit squicky trying to fit that kind of language into the existing 4E rules. I've some suggestions for dealing with that.
First, I'd call all firearms "Simple ranged" weapons. Pretty much every class in the game has proficiency with this category of weapon. From there, consider creating a "firearm" weapon group. This lets you create special rules which apply to only weapons in that group, such as:
Firearm (Weapon group)
Weapons in this group share the following characteristics.
From there it's simply a matter of deciding on the specifics of a given weapon: [W] value, range increments, and Misfire value. From a balance perspective, longer range weapons like muskets should have higher damage and higher Misfire than short-range weapons like pistols. Ferinstance:
If the varying Misfire values don't do it for you, consider:
Misfire: If the d20 result of your attack roll is a 1, your firearm has misfired. Your attack automatically misses and the weapon becomes jammed. Jammed weapons cannot be used to make ranged attacks until cleaned and cleared at the end of a short or an extended rest.
Personally, I think that's inappropriate for flintlock weapons, but would be a great option for percussion caps.
It's worth noting that as I was Googling for a typical real-world misfire rate, I ran across the Pathfinder Firearms Rules. Oddly enough, they're pretty darn close to what I've posted.
As noted above, Pathfinder has some decent rules on firearm use. If you want firearms to be relatively rare, take a look at what PF has to say about
Exotic Weapon Proficiency and non-proficiency use.
What I posted above was under the assumption that firearms are fairly common in your world.
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