Magic bullets - Myth-Weavers


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Magic bullets

   
Magic bullets

I have a small problem. The setting we're using normally has few magic items, and its magic items either follow a simple infusion model, or they're very special items that aren't anywhere near as good as normal items of their level overall and are much more expensive but have interesting special abilities that could work into a particular build, strategy or context very well. The problem is applying this approach to ammunition.

A flaming arrow is... Well, it's functional. Very functional. All infused arrows are. A silver bullet has obvious applications, though its exact effects may be a bit different than expected. A holy bolt works very well for slaying a death priest across the way. The problem is using special projectiles with unique applications.

For example, take a special-made ball we definitely have in the setting: The freikugeln. It's a homing musket ball, which tracks a single target, and is even able to drive through a target, circle around and hit them again, so it can hit multiple times if the target is close enough. It has some rather harsh limitations, particularly regarding how far it can travel, but shot that may hit a target repeatedly for full damage is VERY tempting. (Given its very obvious inspiration, I'd recommend you sing
Mein sohn, nur mut! Wer Gott vertraut, baut gut!
Jetzt auf! In bergen und klüften! Tobt morgen der freudige krieg!
Das wild in fluren und triften, der aar in wolken und lüften! Ist unser, und unser der sieg, und unser der sieg, und unser der sieg!

English: Courage, my son! Who trusts in God, builds well!
Up now! In mountains and ravines! The joyful battle will rage tomorrow!
The game in meadows and pastures, the bird of prey in clouds and breezes! Is ours, and ours the victory, and ours the victory, and ours the victory!
Oh, Diese Sonne in your deepest operatic range while firing it. It won't make it work better, it's just a respectable degree of cultural propriety.)

The problem is, projectiles are consumable. The freikugeln gets away with it by being a homing bullet, making it easy to recover and keep using (just with different powder), so the freikugeln can be great. Other very special projectiles that are not so easy to recover or maybe can't be recovered at all, on the other hand, are a niche use consumable that isn't overall as good as a normal projectile and is more expensive. So it's a larger investment that's more likely to get wasted, especially in a game where ammo is not cheap and bad decisions can cost lives.

How can I make very special ammo work? Does anybody have any suggestions?

Make the ammo from magical mother dough?

The magical ingredients you feed it determine the effect of a particular batch. Maintaining a perfect refreshing regimen means the mother dough's magic becomes more potent over the course of weeks, months and years.

The portion you remove from it every day hardens quickly, but before it does it can be shaped into bullets. They're expendable, but at the same time the source dough can become highly valuable because caring for it takes time and effort and makes it more and more powerful.

For added creepiness make very old magical mother doughs sentient and have them run their own staff who make sure they are well fed and cared for, and decide who gets to make bullets from them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cairo View Post
Make the ammo from magical mother dough?

The magical ingredients you feed it determine the effect of a particular batch. Maintaining a perfect refreshing regimen means the mother dough's magic becomes more potent over the course of weeks, months and years.

The portion you remove from it every day hardens quickly, but before it does it can be shaped into bullets. They're expendable, but at the same time the source dough can become highly valuable because caring for it takes time and effort and makes it more and more powerful.

For added creepiness make very old magical mother doughs sentient and have them run their own staff who make sure they are well fed and cared for, and decide who gets to make bullets from them
That is completely nonsensical in the setting in question and none of it at all answers the question I actually asked.

What makes the special projectiles not as good as a standard nonmagical projectile?

Obviously they cost more, and something like silver has obviously inferior ballistic properties compared to lead, but how else are special projectiles inferior? A blessed crossbow bolt should fly just as true (if not moreso), with the added bonus of being more effective against certain types of creatures.

The freikugeln you describe would suffer from a velocity drop after the first hit, making the successive passes much less effective. That's an inherent problem with ballistic weaponry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalar View Post
What makes the special projectiles not as good as a standard nonmagical projectile?

Obviously they cost more, and something like silver has obviously inferior ballistic properties compared to lead, but how else are special projectiles inferior? A blessed crossbow bolt should fly just as true (if not moreso), with the added bonus of being more effective against certain types of creatures.

The freikugeln you describe would suffer from a velocity drop after the first hit, making the successive passes much less effective. That's an inherent problem with ballistic weaponry.
The problem is comparing them to something of about the same tier that isn't magic. The freikugeln is a beauty, but by the time it becomes available muskets are no longer viable weapons without it. A holy bolt is nice and when effective it scales with faith, but it's an infusion and those have drawbacks one of which is costing spirit points to actually get the benefits you paid for and in this case the fact that holy weapons' main benefit of healing the user when attacking doesn't apply to projectiles. (I mean, unless you take the bolt and stab somebody with it.) Other specials have to deal with the fact that the money spent on them could have been spent on a larger quantity of ammunition that was of higher quality and would deal more damage.

That barely applies to infusions as the price hike is only 100%, but for truely special ammunition, the hike could be 900%, and for legendary ammunition like the freikugeln the hike is more like 99900%. You could buy ten counts of alchemical powder musket balls, five hundred infused musket balls or one thousand regular musket balls for the price of a single freikugeln. The freikugeln is returning and reusable, though, if you have powder.

Further, often the alchemical powder musket balls are better since they do twice normal damage and freikugeln are not compatible with alchemical powder. Sometimes, even just an infused musket ball is better than a freikugeln, since the freikugeln's individual hits deal normal damage, and if you need to fire beyond the freikugeln's range limit then any musket ball is better.

It's still an absolute beast, though, just only if you use it right. Ideally, that should be true for all magical ammunition, but I'm concerned that a non-reusable special, or even worse legendary, ammunition type will be too much investment for a single use and not be worth it unless you're certain its niche is going to come up. I can't see them just being kept in stock, except for infusions since they're so cheap and readily usable.

Sllliiiiding on in, bullets are a...hobby. Are you thinking just musket balls (loose fit, patch is the seal), or are you considering early rifled projectiles as well? Asking because the composition of the projectile matters greatly in the latter, less so in the former.

Using silver as an example since it was brought up by Dalar: musketball, the patch is your contact with the barrel, material matters only so far as the projectile mass and amount of powder. Rifled barrels though can’t use silver (or any harder metal than copper/brass really) without destroying the barrel in a couple shots.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin View Post
Sllliiiiding on in, bullets are a...hobby. Are you thinking just musket balls (loose fit, patch is the seal), or are you considering early rifled projectiles as well? Asking because the composition of the projectile matters greatly in the latter, less so in the former.
Both. The tech base is similar to the latter half of the 19th century, so some repeating weapons are available, just with limited availability and high prices.

Quote:
Using silver as an example since it was brought up by Dalar: musketball, the patch is your contact with the barrel, material matters only so far as the projectile mass and amount of powder.
Right, and the mass is lower, which isn't great when dealing with resistance.

Quote:
Rifled barrels though can’t use silver (or any harder metal than copper/brass really) without destroying the barrel in a couple shots.
Pretty sure most cheapo ammo is steel cased, because I used to use it. (Back when I only owned a Glock 26, tiny little thing.) Has issues cycling, kinda crap performance-wise. It's bad for the barrel, sure, but I wouldn't say it "destroys" it, and steel is harder than silver.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avianmosquito
Both. The tech base is similar to the latter half of the 19th century, so some repeating weapons are available, just with limited availability and high prices.
You can also have muzzleloading rifles as well, as an added option. More accurate than a musket, but with the same issues with load speed compared to a metallic cartridge round.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Avianmosquito
Right, and the mass is lower, which isn't great when dealing with resistance.
Yep, although you do kick up the muzzle velocity. To a point, increased velocity can overcome lower mass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avianmosquito
Pretty sure most cheapo ammo is steel cased, because I used to use it. (Back when I only owned a Glock 26, tiny little thing.) Has issues cycling, kinda crap performance-wise. It's bad for the barrel, sure, but I wouldn't say it "destroys" it, and steel is harder than silver.
The case is steel, yes. The bullet jackets though are still copper. You won't see steel jackets (or silver) for the bullet jacket because they will destroy the rifling terrifyingly fast. This has been an issue recently with some new (and very brief) company entries with solid copper bullets, though less from destroying the rifling as much as copper lining (and thus destroying the barrel in a different way due to being oversized.

Steel casings aren't great for the barrel chamber and can increase the wear, but they're worst for the extractor due to steel on steel wear.

If you were interested in going with silver as the bullet (or any harder metal), you could easily make it as the core, with a copper or brass jacket that strips off. Another option would be for the magic bullets to be saboted, allowing solid, harder metals to be used at the expense of longer range accuracy.

I should probably clarify slightly... I call it a hobby, but my side business is high precision bullet manufacturing for long distance competition (primarily for the folks that load their own stuff). I love talking ballistics.







 

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