Wheellock Firearms 4E (1500-1540)

William the Silent: Assassinated with a Wheellock Pistol (July 10, 1584)

The next step in firearm evolution after the matchlocks are the wheellocks.

This weapon uses a trigger to release a spring-loaded rotating steel wheel against a lowered piece of pyrite which strikes sparks to ignite the powder. They were expensive to produce and were often used by nobility.  With the expense of creating the striking mechanism, the overall quality of the gun was often improved as well.  The weapon could be pre-loaded and then fired later without a lit match which made it ideal for cavalry and assassination.  William the Silent was the first head of state assassinated with a handgun.

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

Wheellock Firearm 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.

Special Treats: In the superior weapons table, we are including some exotic items like the wheellock pistol-dagger and these four pretty babies from Nuremberg. These weapons are chock full of awesome. I did not include the wheellock sword, but based on the model I present below, you can stat out any combo weapon you like.

Three Pistol-Axe-Picks and a Pistol-Axe-Hammer

MILITARY RANGED
Side Arms (one-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Wheellock Coat Pistol +1 2d4 5/10 AC 1d8 1 1 lb. Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit, Off-hand
Wheellock Puffer (pistol) +1 2d6 10/20 AC 1d8 1 3 lb. Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit, Off-hand
Wheellock Horse Pistol +1 3d4 10/20 REF 1d8 1 4 lb. Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
Wheellock Dragon +2 2d4 1/2 AC 1d8 1 3 lb. Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit, Boomer, Brutal 1
Short Bayonet +2 1d4 AC 1 lb. Light Blades Off-hand
Long Arms (two-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Wheellock Carbine +2 3d6 12/24 REF 1d8 1 7 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
Wheellock Half-Musket +2 4d6 22/44 REF 1d8 1 10 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
Wheellock Full-Musket +2 4d6 35/70 REF 1d8 1 15 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit, Brutal 1, Reach
Wheellock Blunderbuss +3 3d4 5/10 AC 1d8 1 5 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit, Scattershot, Brutal 1
Long Bayonet +2 1d6 AC 2 lb. Light Blades Reach
SUPERIOR RANGED
Side Arms (one-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Double-Barreled Wheellock Pistol +1 2d6 10/20 AC 1d8 2 4 lb. Light Ballistic Load Standard 5 (per barrel), High crit, Off-hand
Wheellock Pistol-Dagger 2 lb.
(Bullet) +1 2d4 6/12 AC 1d8 1 Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
(Dagger) +3 1d4 AC Light Blade Off-hand
Wheellock Pistol-Mace 7 lb.
(Bullet) +1 2d6 8/16 AC 1d8 1 Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
(Mace) +2 1d8 AC Mace Versatile
Wheellock Pistol-Axe-Pick 8 lb.
(Bullet) +1 2d6 8/16 AC 1d8 1 Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
(Axe) +2 1d10 AC Versatile
(Pick) +2 1d8 AC Pick High crit, Versatile
Wheellock Pistol-Axe-Hammer 8 lb.
(Bullet) +1 2d6 8/16 AC 1d8 1 Light Ballistic Load Standard 5, High crit
(Axe) +2 1d10 AC Versatile
(Hammer) +2 1d10 AC Hammer Versatile
Long Arms (two-handed)
Weapon Prof. Damage Range Defense Misfire Payload Weight Group Properties
Double-Barreled Wheellock Musket +2 4d6 22/44 REF 1d8 2 14 lb. Heavy Ballistic Load Standard 5 (per barrel), High crit

 

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Wheellock Pistol-Dagger

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:

Katherine has a dexterity modifier of +3.  She fires a Wheellock 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. Katherine rolls her scattershot damage (1[S] + 1[S] + 1[S] + DEX) for the kobold leader and manages 1, 3 and 4 with her dexterity modifer of +3.  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 = 3 – 2 = 1

Total = 0 + 1 + 2  + 1 = 4

The kobold leader’s resistance absorbs most of the attack but he still takes 4 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.

Boomer: This short-barreled close range weapon causes damage with a spray of small projectiles.  This weapon creates a blast 2 within its range as chosen by the attacker.   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] + DEX where [S] = 1d8.  If the target has damage resistance it applies to each shot die and the dexterity modifier.

Example:

Katherine has a dexterity modifier of +3.  She fires a Wheellock dragon at a kobold leader standing adjacent to 2 kobold minions who are within the blast.  The dragon does 2d4 damage + dexterity modifer.  Because of an encounter power the kobold leader has temporary resistance 2 to all weapon damage.  Katherine rolls her scattershot damage (1[S] + 1[S] + DEX) for the kobold leader and manages 1 and a 4 with her dexterity modifer of +3.  The kobold leader’s resistance is applied to each die and to the dexterity modifier individually.

  • 1[S] = 1 – 2 = 0
  • 1[S] = 4 – 2 = 2
  • DEX = 3 – 2 = 1

Total = 0 + 2  + 1 = 3

The kobold leader’s resistance absorbs most of the attack but he still takes 3 points of damage.  The adjacent kobold minions have no resistance and each take the full 8 points of damage.

Handgun Descriptions

Wheellock Coat Pistol: This pistol is small enough to be carried in a coat pocket. It trades range for portability. Assuming a 15.1 gram bullet makes ~30 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 400 ft/s = 83 foot-pounds force. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism.

Wheellock Puffer: This finely crafted wheellock pistol could be used in either hand and was probably the same type of weapon used to assassinate William the Silent.  Assuming a 15.1 gram bullet makes ~30 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 500 ft/s = 129 foot-pounds force. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism. You may add a short bayonet to this weapon.

Wheellock Horse Pistol: This heavier wheellock pistol was often used by mounted soldiers and carried in saddle holsters.  Assuming a 22.7 gram bullet makes ~20 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 550 ft/s = 235 foot-pounds force. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism. You may add a short bayonet to this weapon.

Wheellock Dragon

Wheellock Dragon: This primitive precursor to the shotgun was used to spray bullets at close range.  It is a shortened single-handed wheellock version of the blunderbuss. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism.

Double-Barreled Wheellock Pistol: This weapon is identical to the Wheellock Puffer but has two barrels which are fired independently. A misfire in one barrel does not affect the other barrel.

Wheellock Pistol-Dagger: This weapon is identical to the Wheellock Coat Pistol but has a dagger integrated into the design.

Wheellock Pistol-Mace: This weapon is identical to the Wheellock Puffer but has a mace integrated into the design. (See the image in the gallery below.)

Wheellock Pistol-Axe-Pick: This weapon is identical to the Wheellock Puffer but has a battle axe and a pick integrated into the design.

Wheellock Pistol-Axe-Hammer: This weapon is identical to the Wheellock Puffer but has a battle axe and a war hammer integrated into the design.

Long Arm Descriptions

Wheellock Carbine: This short wheellock carbine was a specialized musket favored by scouts and cavalry.  It featured a standardized bore size which allowed the mass production of bullets. Assuming a 18.9 gram bullet makes ~24 shots per pound firing with a muzzle velocity of 1,000 ft/s = 647 foot-pounds force. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism. You may add either a short or long bayonet to this weapon.

Wheellock Full Musket: The wheellock full musket 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. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism. You may add either a short or long bayonet to this weapon.

Wheellock Half-Musket:The wheellock 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. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism. You may add either a short or long bayonet to this weapon.

Wheellock 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. In the event of a misfire, this weapon requires a successful Arcana check (DC:15) before it may be used again due to the complicated nature of the trigger mechanism.

Double-Barreled Wheellock Musket:This weapon is identical to the Wheellock Half Musket but has two barrels which are fired independently. A misfire in one barrel does not affect the other barrel.

Images of Wheellocks

Videos of Wheellocks

Wheellock Pistol

Wheellock Musket


2 Comments on “Wheellock Firearms 4E (1500-1540)”

  1. Roger Odom says:

    I have a wheel lock lockwork that was given to me. I have no idea of it’s age, but recently discovered that what I thought to be engraving is actually silver inlay. Can someone give me an idea as to what I have?


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