Matchlock Firearms 4E (1400-1500)

 

February 25, 1525: Gunmen at the Battle of Pavia

After the age of Handgonnes came the Matchlocks in the 1400s.   The weapon has a lit fuse or "match" attached to a trigger mechanism on the weapon.  Pulling the trigger drops the burning match into the flash pan and the powder charge is ignited. Matchlocks improve the previous manual ignition systems but maintain the smoothbore barrel.  Their weight can make them difficult to aim and the wielder must ensure that the burning match stays lit.  There can be a considerable delay between pulling the trigger and firing the projectile.  Matchlocks are the least expensive firearms to produce for soldiers which makes them relatively common even when newer firing mechanisms are still available.

Arquebus

(Author's Note: How did we get here?  Review the previous articles The Joy of Guns: part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Handgonnes ) 

Matchlock Tables

With muzzle loading weapons, training is required to operate a firearm.  Therefore, there are no simple ranged weapons in the matchlock collection.  Historically, bullets were weighted and sized as "shots per pound" and I will provide the numbers I used to calculate the muzzle energy. 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
Side Arms (one-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Matchlock Pistol +0 2d6 3/6 AC 1d6 1 2 lb. Light Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit
Long Arms
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Matchlock Petronel +1 3d4 8/16 REF 1d6 1 7 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit
Matchlock Arquebus +1 3d6 10/20 REF 1d6 1 10 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit
Matchlock Half Musket +1 4d6 20/40 REF 1d6 1 13 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit
Matchlock Full Musket +1 4d6 30/60 REF 1d6 1 17 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit, Brutal 1, Reach
Matchlock Blunderbuss +2 3d4 5/10 AC 1d6 1 5 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High Crit, Brutal 1, Scattershot
 
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For our exotic superior weapons we present two special treats based on historical pieces: the 5-barrel Revolving Musket and Musket-Glaive.

The Matchlock Musket-Glaive

SUPERIOR RANGED
Long Arms
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Matchlock Caliver +2 3d6 10/20 REF 1d6 1 7 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit
Revolving Matchlock Musket +1 4d6 20/40 REF 1d6 5 8 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 6 (per barrel), High Crit, Reach
Musket-Glaive 10 lb.
(Bullet) +1 4d6 8/16 REF 1d6 1 Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 4, High Crit, Reach
(Glaive) +2 2d4 - AC Heavy Blade, Polearm Reach
 
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Weapon Properties

Scattershot: This weapon causes damage with a spray of small projectiles. The weapon's damage, 1[W], is broken up into individual scattershot 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:
Arturo has a dexterity modifier of +4.  He fires a matchlock blunderbuss at a kobold leader standing adjacent to 2 kobold minions.  The blunderbuss does 3d4 damage + dexterity modifer.  Because of an encounter power the kobold leader has temporary resistance 2 to all weapon damage.  Arturo rolls his scattershot damage (1[S] + 1[S] + 1[S] + DEX) for the kobold leader and manages 1, 3 and 4 with his dexterity modifer of +4.  The kobold leader's resistance is applied to each die and to the dexterity modifier individually.
  • 1[S] = 1 - 2 = 0
  • 1[S] = 3 - 2 = 1
  • 1[S] = 4 - 2 = 2
  • DEX = 4 - 2 = 2

Total = 1 + 2  + 2 = 5

The kobold leader's resistance absorbs most of the attack but he still takes 5 points of damage.  The adjacent kobold minions have no resistance and each take 1 point of damage for each scattershot die for 3 damage from the spray.

Handgun Descriptions

Japanese Matchlock Pistol

Matchlock Pistol: When the matchlock was pinnacle of technology within Europe, pistols still were not in use.  Most of the matchlock pistols still in existence today are Japanese or Indian.   Modern gunsmiths have created functioning matchlocks in historical styles but these are more imagined than historical pieces.  Assuming a 22.7 gram bullet makes ~20 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 450 ft/s = 157 foot-pounds force.

Modern 20-Gauge Matchlock Pistol with a Crossbow-Style Trigger

Long Arm Descriptions

 

Arquebus and Short Sword

Matchlock Arquebus: The matchlock arquebus was a smoothbore longarm which later evolved in two different directions to form the shorter caliver and the longer musket.  A typical arquebus had a caliber of roughly 13.9mm.  Assuming a 15-16 gram bullet makes ~30 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1100 ft/s = 663 foot-pounds force. Matchlock Petronel: The matchlock petronel was a lighter and shorter version of the arquebus usable by cavalry which was braced against the chest and was a precursor to the carbine.  Assuming a 28.3 gram bullet makes ~16 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 610 ft/s = 361 foot-pounds force.

Resting the Weapon on a Staff

Matchlock Full Musket: The matchlock full musket was a much longer and heavier version of the arquebus and the Spanish version actually fired massive 2-ounce balls.  The weapon was so heavy that it could not be fired without resting the gun barrel on something to stabilize it and the gunman carried a staff for this purpose.  Because the weapon is heavy and long, it has the Reach property and cannot be fired at an adjacent target.  Assuming a 57 gram bullet makes 8 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 ft/s = 1,943 foot-pounds force. Matchlock Half-Musket: Introduced by the Dutch, the matchlock half musket was a lighter version of the full musket.  The weapon could be fired without a musket staff.  Assuming a 45 gram bullet makes 10 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 ft/s = 1,542 foot-pounds force. Matchlock Blunderbuss: This primitive precursor to the shotgun was used to spray small balls (shot) at close range.  Reliable muzzle energies are difficult to calculate for this weapon but our estimates place it at about 400 foot-pounds. Matchlock Caliver: The matchlock caliver was a lighter and shorter smoothbore longarm useful for scouts and cavalry.  The modern term "caliber" is derived from the word "caliver" because it introduced a standard bore size which allowed the smiths to create a single ammo type which could easily be shared between soldiers.  Like the petronel, it was a precursor to the carbine.  Assuming a 22.6 gram bullet makes ~20 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 ft/s = 774 foot-pounds force. Matchlock Revolving Musket: This matchlock musket contains a revolving magazine which can store up to 5 shots.  Because the weapon is heavy and long, it has the Reach property and cannot be fired at an adjacent target.  Assuming a 45 gram bullet makes 10 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 ft/s = 1,542 foot-pounds force. Matchlock Musket-Glaive: This matchlock weapon combines both a musket and a glaive into a single firearm.  Because the weapon is heavy and long, it has the Reach property and cannot be fired at an adjacent target.  Assuming a 45 gram bullet makes 10 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 ft/s = 1,542 foot-pounds force.

Images of Matchlocks

Videos of Matchlocks

Spanish Arquebus

Firing Arquebuses

Firing a Matchlock Musket

Loading and Firing a Matchlock



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