I still maintain that cavalry was the prime threat however. Most pike units just weren't that maneuverable, wore lighter armor than plate and didn't use shields. The elite units were better than that, but almost any cavalry was a threat to unsupported archers.
Cavalry always exist to assault weak points, but as we go into early modern period - we simply stop seeing knights riding in heavy armor. It could be that pike and shot is just that good and heavy armor just isn't worth the cost. That said, cannons are the end all vs. pike and shot - they have better range. A falconette can devastate infantry (according to age of empires, anyway).
Crossbows were very popular throughout most of europe for all the reasons that firearms couldn't be - longbows were made with yew wood, which only grew from trees in england, apparently. I think the longbow was discontinued when the yew became endangered - at that point, I think was when the redcoats and musketmen lines/hussars came about and it was basically just all firearms.
Crossbows require less training, although they still need training. Crossbowmen (popular everywhere; france particularly favoured crossbowmen) carry metal shields (essentially tower shields that they could shoot over; they also wore helmets, so they were pretty much completely protected), whereas longbow men are unprotected, but shoot fire faster. Both are equally accurate. I imagine longbowmen are like skirmishers. The advantage of the crossbow is that there's many different types too - the arbalest is a long range very slow shooting crossbow that was probably used for sieges, and it's draw weight was so powerful that it required a device.
The heavy crossbow of D&D is probably not an arbalest - it doesn't involve a windlass (double crank wheel pulley; which takes a very long time to work, but the arbalest range is something like 300 yards; definitely a castle siege weapon - essentially a hand hend ballistae). I think it uses a crank to draw the string, whereas the light crossbow has a light enough draw weight to reload completely by hand (hence why it reloads faster).
However, the spanish still used horsemen with lances, apparently. The saber and other curved swords evolved as the ideal horsemen's sword, because it was good for chopping cuts and going by momentum (the scythe principle) - most earlier swords worked like steak knives - pull and draw in order to cut the flesh; it isn't just simply waving your sword at the foe (at least that's the case with early medieval norse swords). Many europeans favoured straight swords as well, not for their cutting power (that's where curved swords were good), but as stabbing weapons. Naturally, this met trouble against armor; hence why swords of late medeival/early modern period became two handed, and had thicker blades that angled to a point - sort of the wedge principle, but not in axe form; btw the axe had it right from the beginning, only it had to be swung and was quite heavy. As always, a general rule goes that swords that are good for dueling and handiness are terrible vs. armor, but are still efficient killing weapons. The actual longsword
according to wikipedia has a haft intended for two hands - making it a late medeival/rennaissance sword useful for slaying horses and penetrating armor, while D&D's (or pathfinder's?) longsword is more like the 'knightly sword
' - basically just a straight edge weapon that allowed for so-so cutting or stabbing, long duels between armored opponents (or for use against peasants, I suppose; basically just have a knight wade through a bunch of unarmored poor people, since this weapon was probably not so great against the better armor that could appear above chain mail, such as coat of plates, splint mail, etc.) and was also a status symbol (naturally the name 'arming sword' implies that it is to be used with armor (not out of logic, but aesthetic appeal, I guess), meaning the user is rich if they can afford more than ring mail or chain mail or whatever).
And yes, pikemen tended to suck because they didn't have armour
It wasn't hard for a medieval pikemen (11th century onwards) to wear chainmail. Early modern ones even had cuirass and helmets evolved brims (when before, they were just conical, because conical is easier to forge with lower tech, I guess). Vs. high velocity arrows though, such as short range longbow skirmishing or arbalest at mid-range, it wouldn't help (unless it deflects off the helmet or something; I think helmets were the strongest armor pieces).
Originally Posted by Age of Empires 2, Warfare in the Middle Ages
The traditional and popular understanding of European warfare in the Middle Ages held that mounted knights dominated European battlefields during the years 800 to 1400. Knights were encased in plate armor and charged with lances, scattering, skewering, and riding down any foot troops in the way as they closed with each other to decide the battle. The era of the knight came to an end when infantry reestablished a prominent battlefield role with new weapons (firearms) and revived skills (formations of massed pikeman). This view was fostered by the art and limited accounts of the era that featured the mounted nobility while ignoring the commoners and peasants who fought on foot. The perception that knights dominated and that warfare consisted mainly of cavalry charges is false.
Foot troops were an important component of all armies in the Middle Ages. They fought in hand-to-hand mêlées and as missile troops (bows of various types and later handguns). Foot soldiers were critical for both sides in sieges against castles and fortified towns.
Warfare in the Middle Ages was dominated actually by sieges of one sort or another. Battles on open ground between armies were infrequent. Armies played a sort of chess match, maneuvering to take important castles and towns, while avoiding engagements where a large and expensive force might be lost.
On those occasions where pitched battles did occur, knights could be devastating. A determined charge by armored knights was a powerful force. It was more likely, however, that victory went to the side making best use of the three major army components together-mêlée infantry, missile troops, and cavalry. Also important were the factors that have always influenced battle, such as intelligent use of terrain, troop morale, leadership, discipline, and tactics.
Originally Posted by Age of Empires 2, Pole Arms
The basic spear was a useful weapon throughout the Middle Ages because it was cheap to make and simple to use. Common foot soldiers and peasants could be armed with it and pressed into battle service. In most cases such an expedient was of little use, but with experience and some training large bodies of spearmen could be effective.
Pole arms evolved through the medieval period and eventually reached a point where formations of foot troops skilled in their use were extremely effective. Advanced pole arms consisted of a spear point with one or more weapon faces below the point. This additional weapon might be a large long blade, an axe, a billhook, a hammer, or a spike.
Long pole arms evolved in response to the mounted knight and resulted in a revival of a formation something like the ancient Greek phalanx. Horses would not charge a disciplined formation of men that bristled with extended pole weapons. A dense formation of pole arms held high also served as some protection from arrows.
Foot soldiers first learned to stand behind wooden stakes set in the ground to ward off cavalry. They then learned to deploy spears, pikes, and other pole arms to ward off cavalry. This allowed the formation to move and take its anti-cavalry stakes with it, in effect. In a mêlée, the various attachments at the end of the pole were used to pull horsemen off their mounts, push them off, or cause wounds to the rider or horse. Although armored men were not helpless when prone on the ground, as some have thought, they were at a disadvantage, at least temporarily, to men wearing little or no armor before they could rise.
As the towns grew in the second half of the Middle Ages, they built up their own militias of troops for defense and for feudal military service. Pole arms were popular weapons with the town militias because they were relatively cheap to provide and effective for the cost. Town militias trained with these weapons and developed useful battlefield tactics. In time, formations of pole-armed men learned to be aggressive, not simply defensive. Massed formations of pikeman could physically attack other infantry and even cavalry. The Swiss lacked the pastureland to support horse armies but became famous as pikemen. They often served as mercenaries in other continental armies. The lowland cities of Flanders and the highlands of Scotland also fielded pike units that were highly regarded.
Originally Posted by Age of Empires 2, Infantry Tactics
The tactic of foot soldiers in the Dark Ages was simply to close with the enemy and start chopping. The Franks threw their axes just before closing to disrupt the enemy. Warriors relied on strength and ferocity to win.
The rise of knights put infantry into a temporary eclipse on the battlefield, mainly because disciplined and well-trained infantry did not exist. The foot soldiers of early medieval armies were mainly peasants who were poorly armed and trained.
The Saxons and Vikings developed a defensive posture called the shield-wall. The men stood adjacent and held their long shields together to form a barrier. This helped to protect them from archers and cavalry, both of which their armies lacked.
Infantry underwent a revival in those areas that did not have the resources to field armies of heavy cavalry-hilly countries like Scotland and Switzerland and in the rising towns. Out of necessity, these two sectors found ways to field effective armies that contained little or no cavalry. Both groups discovered that horses would not charge into a barrier of bristling stakes or spear points. A disciplined force of spearmen could stop the elite heavy cavalry of the richer nations and lords, for a fraction of the cost of a heavy cavalry force.
The schiltron formation was a circle of spearmen that the Scots began using during their wars for independence around the end of the thirteenth century (featured in the motion picture <i>Braveheart<i>). They learned that the schiltron was an effective defensive formation. Robert Bruce offered battle to the English knights only in swampy terrain that greatly impeded the heavy cavalry charge.
The Swiss became renowned for fighting with pikes. They essentially revived the Greek phalanx and became very proficient at fighting with the long pole arms. They formed a square of pikemen. The outer four ranks held their pikes nearly level, pointing slightly down. This was an effective barrier against cavalry. The rear ranks used bladed pole arms to attack enemies that closed with the formation. The Swiss drilled to the point that they could move in formation relatively quickly. They turned a defensive formation into an effective attacking formation also.
The response to massed pikemen was artillery that plowed through the ranks of dense formations. The Spanish appear to have first done this effectively. The Spanish also fought the pikemen effectively with sword and buckler men. These were lightly armed men who could get in among the pikes and fight effectively with short swords. Their buckler was a small and handy shield. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Spanish also first experimented with the combination of pikemen, swordsmen, and handgunners in the same formation. This was an effective force that could take on all arms in varying terrain, on both defense and attack. At the end of this era the Spanish were the most effective fighting force in Europe.
Note also that a well placed medieval artillery weapon with big and heavy projectiles such an as an onager (essentially, a catapult) or ballistae can devastate infantry, though it was bit harder to manage than cannon, simply being lower tech, I suppose. Trebuchet shot to wide to aim at infantry, but it was most useful for castle sieges.
The british became strong because of their social mores and strong inter-class links. That and their focus on a strong navy that let them use trade to become incredibly strong economically. The longbow was a strong arrow in their arsenal during the hundred years war, but it wasn't the decider. It just helped balance out the fact that france had more and stronger knights.
Didn't every empire of the era fight for control of a good navy? The ability to protect your colonies was obvious, at least to me.
Regarding army, Britain's army of the times was pretty much all longbows and just a few cavalry (relatively). Having less cavalry probably meant that they were only there to protect other regiments, such as longbows. So maybe, instead of having a lance to stab at a line or cluster of infantry in a heavily armored charge, they employed anti-armor weapons such as morning stars/flails to clobber at enemy cavalry that tried to break up their valuable infantry. Just hazarding at filling in the blanks here.
Originally, it was just flashpan, then it was matchlock, wheel lock and then flintlock, and finally, percussion cap and cartridge.
- Used by chinese in the 13th century against post-genghis mongols, this type of format is for rockets and bombs only. Without a primer, it's simply impossible to configure any sort of cannon. Also, hope it doesn't explode in your face when it gets set off improperly.
As a rocket, it's good for long range only - it can be aimed, but not in even the precision that a ballistae can be aimed (probably). Projectiles were essentially arrows, propelled by the exhaust. Rockets are the most mishap-prone of these weapons. At one point, they killed an emperor (when he tried to build a rocket chair, but nonetheless...).
As a bomb, pouches of it can be attached to burning arrows and then let loose. The arrow must strike its target in a reasonable time frame to create any sort of danger for the enemy. If the arrowhead still remains intact, then it still does damage on impact (it can still penetrate armor that way). I'd rule in a small attack penalty, since attaching the pouch to a shaft would make the missile less aerodynamic. Mishap means it explodes while still in the air (usually when fired at long range, giving the missile the hang time), or it explodes significantly after the enemy has seen it and moved away. I'd assume nobody with an INT of even 3, is foolish enough (after all, you'd have to ignore not just rationale, but primal instinct) to set it to explode before they can fire it, unless it's their first time handling the stuff. Of course, a detonating arrow cannot be recovered, and would be more expensive than a regular arrow. Without an arrow head, it might lower the misshap (the bag is farther from the ignition), but it doesn't do damage on impact; the projectile therefor becomes a splash weapon.
As a splash-damage arrow head, a missed attack (or lack of an arrow head) means that you shouldroll to see if it ends up in the proper space.
It's not hard to consider that matches could have easily been invented at this period for charge delays, but nothing I've read has confirmed that. Nonetheless, a player will mostly likely complain if they think their character is too stupid to consider the possibility of whicker or hempen match as delay (especially if tinder twigs already exist). The main issue with matches is, I think, the material, rather than the rationality. The chinese probably used less effective materials for the same purpose - so in other words, matches did exist, but they weren't of the proper material to provide an effective delay (therefore, it could burn irregularly, hence increasing the mishap).
The final weapon is the iron-pot bomb. No idea how this is set, but these things can be filled with so much black powder as to be heard for up to 30 kilometers (I read it, so it's at least pseudo-fact) and have a 600 yard radius of effect (also read; shrapnel could fly up to 600 yards from the origin point). Essentially, a medieval nuke - probably does mostly sonic damage within maybe 2000ft. radius (so that not even longbow snipers can escape it; you'd, of course, need a wizard) and can also do slashing/piercing damage if they roll a natural 1 on their save (within point blank radius of 30ft., they're dead no matter what). Anyone setting this up is probably going to lose life or limb, unless they manage to take cover and have improved evasion (and the cover isn't destroyed).
Such weapon exists on the level of sense something makes, when you consider the sense of desperation of having to fight an agile, otherwise mostly untouchable force capable of city-wide massacre, like the mongols. That said, I think stealth could have been better employed by the chinese - garrisoning entire forces underground within a city to strike out, ie (given that the mongols can stab and shoot down any force that marches, no matter the size).
Flashpan and nothing else
- Incorporates a flash pan for priming and a charge within the barrel. Also known as the hand cannon, but could also be used as artillery in the form of bombard cannon. Cannot aim. Must use two hands. Reloading this is simply a matter of piling in more gunpowder on the pan, and inside the barrel I guess. May require some knowledge of how powder behaves, if the setting assumes that gunpowder is relatively new. I don't really know how this works, but it's your decision how long it should take in pathfinder. This is as simple a firearm gets.
- You can aim, but only before the initiative order in which the weapon fires. Reloading may take longer than flashpan, because you have to set a whick, as well as refill the flashpan and barrel, and then light the whick. Matchlock is good for skirmishes, while flashpan still probably remains popular for extended sieges - a flashpan probably allows the operator to take cover behind a shield or terrain, while the barrel pokes out and just explosively lobs shot into the target area; sorta the principle of the bombard cannon, I suppose.
- The origin of the pistol came with this invention. Takes about as long as flash pan to reload, I guess. The good thing is you can carry several of these, and use them one-handed (like a pistol). This is an early modern era weapon (1500 AD).
- Kind of like the wheel lock (I guess), and in fact I dunno how it'd differ in game mechanics. This is 1560 era.
- You can delay the prime of this weapon, making it ideal for shooting right away or later. It's about as quick to reload as other weapons, but it's easy to ready and fire. This era introduces the rifle, which has more range and accuracy, but takes longer to load (sorta like the heavy crossbow/light crossbow). Rifles should have statistics that make them ideal for skirmishers (shooters that shoot horizontally to an enemy line, inducing the fear of being flanked from all directions, especially when said line has to confront an enemy line).
- Reduces the need for maintenance. Firearm now works in all conditions. 1830 era. Reloads faster too, since there's no need for a flash pan - place the cap on the nipple and bullet and charge in the barrel, and the percussion ignites the prime for the charge straight off. You still have to extract the blown cap after firing, which might take longer, depending on whether or not you botch your strength check (maybe?). Certain weapons probably were harder to extract, such as revolvers and 'duck guns'. 'Pre-modern' revolvers shoot surprisingly fast
(though I dunno how, if it still uses a charge within the barrel).
- Modern stuff, such as conical bullet and smokeless powder. Basically, much faster than percussion cap because it combines primer and charge with the bullet itself, all-in-one. Later inventions are mechanized, providing automatic casing extraction, which itself allows handheld automatic weapons to exist. I suppose the gatling gun automatically extracts cases (assuming the gatling gun was cartridge based, since having percussion caps tied to a belt is confusing; not so sure how that'd work). Conical bullets make things more accurate, or whatever (I don't really know anything about how conical bullets changed the face of warfare; someone else will need to help me here - all I really know is that pointy bits penetrate better than bits that have larger surface areas).
Originally Posted by Kind of a weird excert in Wiki about cartridges in early modern period and onward
Paper cartridges have been in use for nearly as long as hand-held firearms, with a number of sources dating their use back to the late 14th century. Historians note their use by soldiers of Christian I in 1586,[not in citation given] while the Dresden Museum[which?] has evidence dating their use to 1591, and Capo Bianco wrote in 1597 that paper cartridges had long been in use by Neapolitan soldiers. Their use became widespread by the 17th century. The 1586 cartridge consisted of a charge of powder and a bullet in a paper tube. Thick paper is still known as “cartridge paper” from its use in these cartridges. King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden had his troops use cartridges in the 1600s. The paper was formed a cylinder with twisted ends; the ball was at one end, and the measured powder filled the rest.
This cartridge was used with the muzzle-loading military firearm, the base of the cartridge being ripped or bitten off by the soldier, the powder poured into the barrel, and the paper and bullet rammed down the barrel. In the Civil War era cartridge, the paper was supposed to be discarded, but soldiers often used it as a wad. To ignite the charge an additional step was required where a fine-grained powder called serpentine powder was poured into the pan of the gun to be ignited by a flint or burning match.
The evolving nature of warfare required a firearm that could load and fire more rapidly, resulting in the flintlock musket (and later the Baker rifle), in which the pan was covered by furrowed steel. This was struck by the flint and fired the gun. In the course of loading a pinch of powder from the cartridge would be placed into the pan as priming, before the rest of the cartridge was rammed down the barrel, providing charge and wadding.
Later developments rendered this method of priming unnecessary, as, in loading, a portion of the charge of powder passed from the barrel through the vent into the pan, where it was held by the cover and hammer.
The next important advance in the method of ignition was the introduction of the copper percussion cap. This was only generally applied to the British military musket (the Brown Bess) in 1842, a quarter of a century after the invention of percussion powder and after an elaborate government test at Woolwich in 1834. The invention that made the percussion cap possible was patented by the Rev. A. J. Forsyth in 1807, and consisted of priming with a fulminating powder made of potassium chlorate, sulfur, and charcoal, which ignited by concussion. This invention was gradually developed, and used, first in a steel cap, and then in a copper cap, by various gunmakers and private individuals before coming into general military use nearly thirty years later.
The alteration of the military flint-lock to the percussion musket was easily accomplished by replacing the powder pan by a perforated nipple, and by replacing the cock or hammer that held the flint with a smaller hammer that had a hollow to fit on the nipple when released by the trigger. The shooter placed a percussion cap (now made of three parts of potassium chlorate, two of fulminate of mercury and powdered glass) on the nipple. The detonating cap thus invented and adopted, brought about the invention of the modern cartridge case, and rendered possible the general adoption of the breech-loading principle for all varieties of rifles, shotguns and pistols. This greatly streamlined the reloading procedure and paved the way for semi- and full-automatic firearms.
But this big leap forward came at a price. It introduced an extra component into each round — the cartridge case — which had to be removed before the gun could be reloaded. While a flintlock, for example, is immediately ready to reload once it has been fired, adopting brass cartridge cases brought in the problems of extraction and ejection. The mechanism of a modern gun not only must load and fire the piece but also must remove the spent case, which might require just as many added moving parts. Many malfunctions involve this process, either through failure to extract a case properly from the chamber or by allowing the extracted case to jam the action. Nineteenth-century inventors were reluctant to accept this added complication and experimented with a variety of caseless or self-consuming cartridges before finally accepting that the advantages of brass cases far outweighed this one drawback.