Handgonnes: Hand-Cannons and Culverins 4E (1100-1400)

In 1476 the Battle of Morat Featured 6,000 Swiss Handgonnes

With the majority of the design work finished (The Joy of Guns: part 123 | 4 ) , we can now present our first collection of weapons: The Handgonnes.

The Old Guns

(Asia 1100+, Arabia 1260+, Europe 1380+) These weapons were invented in China in the twelfth century and propagated from there to Europe.  The early hand-cannons consisted of a small bombard attached to a piece of wood and were fired with the weapon over the shoulder, under the arm, or braced against the ground.  In order to ignite the powder a slow-burning match was manually pressed against the touch-hole.  Some included a lower spike or blade which could be used to secure the device on a block of wood or shield.  The spike served as an additional weapon in hand-to-hand combat when the handgonne could be used as a mass weapon.

Historically, the old firearms were called by a variety of different names and there is very little consistency.  For game purposes I am breaking them into Hand-cannons and Culverins.  The hand-cannons will do a bit less damage, will be faster to reload, and will have shorter range.  In addition, the hand-cannon will be able to fire scattershot rounds.  The culverins will be heavier and longer in the barrel which will provide greater range and power, but require longer reloading times.  The Culverins will not be able to fire scattershot rounds.

Handgonne Tables

Misfire Die: When a weapon uses a Misfire Die roll it along with your normal attack roll.  If a character without the correct weapon proficiency reloads the weapon, the gun will misfire 50% of the time.  If the character does have the required proficiency they will use the Misfire Die specified in the weapon description.  If the Misfire Die rolls a 1, the weapon misfires and must be cleaned before it can be used again.  Cleaning a weapon requires a short rest.  The dungeon master may add penalties to the misfire roll to account for adverse conditions like mist, light rain, heavy rain, or lack of proper maintenance.

MILITARY RANGED
Long Arms (two-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Light Hand-Cannon 4 lb.
(Bullet) +0 3d4 3/6 REF 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 3, High crit
(Shot) +1 2d4 2/4 AC 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 3, High crit, Scattershot, Brutal 1
Mid-Sized Hand-Cannon 8 lb.
(Bullet) +0 3d6 3/6 REF 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High crit
(Shot) +1 3d4 2/4 AC 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High crit, Scattershot, Brutal 1
(Club) +2 2d4 AC Mace
Light Hand-Culverin 5 lb.
(Bullet) +1 3d6 5/10 REF 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit
(Club) +2 2d4 AC Mace
Hand-Culverin 10 lb.
(Bullet) +1 3d8 5/10 REF 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High Crit
(Club) +2 2d6 AC Mace

 

 

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As promised I have included something special in the superior weapon table… The Axe Handgonne.

The Axe Handgonne

SUPERIOR RANGED
Long Arms (two-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Heavy Hand-Cannon 15 lb.
(Bullet) +0 4d6 3/6 REF 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High Crit, Brutal 1
(Shot) +1 3d6 2/4 AC 1d4 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High Crit, Scattershot, Brutal 1
Heavy Hand-Culverin +1 4d8 5/10 REF 1d4 1 20 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 6
Axe Handgonne 7 lb.
(Bullet) +0 3d6 3/6 REF 1d4 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 3, High crit
(Shot) +1 3d4 2/4 AC 1d4 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 3, High crit, Scattershot, Brutal 1
(Axe) +2 1d10 AC Axe Versatile
3-Barrel Hand-Cannon 15 lb.
(Bullet) +0 3d4 3/6 REF 1d4 3 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4 (per barrel), High crit
(Shot) +1 2d4 2/4 AC 1d4 3 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4 (per barrel), High crit

 

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Light Culverin on Horseback

The Light Culverin on Horseback

Weapon Properties

Scattershot: This weapon causes damage with a spray of small projectiles. The weapon’s damage, 1[W], is broken up into individual scattershotshot damage dice, 1[S], and applied individually to the target.  In addition, the bonus to damage based on the dexterity  modifier is also applied individually.  For example if 1[W] is 3d8, the damage will be 1[S] + 1[S] + 1[S] where S = 1d8.  If the target has damage resistance it applies to each shot die and the dexterity modifier.   In addition, any creature adjacent to the target takes 1 damage for each scattershot die as well.

Example:

Edward has a dexterity modifier of +2.  He fires a Mid-Sized Hand-Cannon with shot at an orc leader standing adjacent to 3 goblins.  The Mid-Sized Hand-Cannon does 3d6 damage + dexterity modifer.  The orc has a temporary resistance 5 to all weapon damage.  Edward rolls his scattershot damage (1[S] + 1[S] + 1[S] + DEX) for the orc and manages 3, 4, and 6 with his dexterity modifer of +2.  The orc’s resistance absorbs everything but 1 point of damage from the third scattershot die. The adjacent goblins have no resistance and each take 1 point of damage for each scattershot die for 3 damage from the spray.

Handgonne Descriptions

Handgun damages are based on tests performed with recreated handgonnes by Alan R. Williams in the early 1970s with a 19 mm barrel and a 38 gram lead ball with muzzle velocities ranging from 500 feet/second to 1,850 feet/second.  Muzzle energies ranged from 320 foot-pounds up to 4,500 foot-pounds.

Light Hand-Cannon: These weapons are small cannons mounted on light staves and are fired from the shoulder or under the arm.   The weapon is manually ignited by dropping a slow match into the touch-hole.

Mid-Sized Hand-Cannon: These weapons are small cannons mounted on staves or large wooden stocks. They are fired from the shoulder or or by bracing the weapon against the shoulder.   The weapon is manually ignited by dropping a slow match into the touch-hole.  This gun can also be used as a club using the entry in the weapon table.

Heavy Hand-Cannon: These weapons are small cannons mounted on staves and are fired from the shoulder or by bracing one end of the staff into the ground.   The weapon is manually ignited by dropping a slow match into the touch-hole.  The heavy hand-cannons are cumbersome but genuinely terrifying.

Light Hand-Culverin: The light hand-culverin is a small cannon mounted on staff or cast as a single piece.  It has a longer barrel than a hand-cannon but is similarly ignited by dropping a slow match into the touch-hole.  This gun can also be used as a club using the entry in the weapon table.

Mid-Sized Hand-Culverin: The mid-sized hand-culverin is a small cannon mounted on staff with a longer barrel.  The weapon is manually ignited by dropping a slow match into the touch-hole.  This gun can also be used as a club using the entry in the weapon table.

Heavy Hand-Culverin: The heavy hand-culverin is a small cannon mounted on staff or onto a fixed firing platform such as a wall or ship.  It has a a longer barrel than is typical of the hand-cannons and is ignited by dropping a slow match into the touch-hole.

Axe Handgonne: The axe handgonne is a combination of the traditional battle-axe with the light hand-cannon.  After firing, the weapon can be reversed and used as a normal battle axe using the entry in the weapon table.

Images of Early Firearms

Videos of Early Firearms

Handgonne vs. Breastplate

Handgonne with Spike

Reloading a Light Handgonne (3 shots in a minute)

Speedloading a Light Handgonne without a Bullet

Firing Line of Hand-Cannons



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