In 1600 the next major change in firing mechanisms arrived in the early 1600s. The flintlock uses a simplified and more reliable version of the snaplock’s triggering mechanism which strikes a flint against the steel frizzen to drop sparks into the flash pan and ignite the charge.
The flintlock firearms enjoyed an extremely long lifespan starting in the late Renaissance and lasting through the American Revolutionary War and beyond. Flintlock rifles were even used in the early parts of the American civil war.
In part 1 and 2, we covered the Snyad and Mite respectively, two closely related cousins that complement each other quite well. One is the pick pocket while the other is a trap master. I even presented some monster variants. Today, we’ll complete the exploration of the tiny threats hiding amongst the monsters.
This time though we’ll look a creature that despite being smaller is the most aggressive of the three pesties. One that relies on sheer numbers to overcome much larger prey. I am, of coures, talking about the Jermlaine.
The Snaplocks and the Snaphaunce are early forms of flintlocks that use a trigger to release a spring-loaded flint onto steel to strike sparks which ignite the powder.
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.
Last time we covered the Snyad in our quest to explore the vermin that hide in the shadowy corners of the deepest, darkest dungeons. The Fiend Folio (1981) was released in 1981 as a compilation of monsters from various authors and sources. Within that hallowed tome, a trio of pests was introduced to the gaming community – the Snyad, the Mite, and the Jermlaine – and in my opinion, these little critters deserve to live on in 4E.
In part 2, we’ll focus on the trap maker of the bunch, the Mite.
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.
Ooh boy, do I love the off-beat wackiness of the Fiend Folio (1981). From the heights of the death knight, drow, and githyanki … we fall to the depths of the flumph and crabmen that look nothing like crabs. The book immediately had two things going for it. The monsters were a compilation of widely varied sources – TSR modules and issues of White Dwarf. Let’s just say that the editorial standards of the various publications were vastly different. Say for instance I want to pit my players against a pacifistic blanket that eats rocks and smells like old farts? Enter the Denzelian!
Secondly, it was originally supposed to be published by Games Workshop with TSR’s blessing, but disputes led to TSR releasing it directly to kick off its UK division. Regardless of which publisher’s name is on the spine, one thing is for certain. This is what the English mind, motherland of Tolkien and Moorcock, think is epic fantasy – such as the Spirit Troll, a monster created when invisible stalkers and trolls make nasty.
Well, in my D&D senility (25+ years of playing) I have taken a grumpy, old man fondness to the strangest and least attractive monsters in that oft-derided tome. So why not take the unrepentant shoplifters of the Underdark and convert them to 4E.
I am of course talking about Snyads, Mites, and Jermlaine.
Weapons in the D&D game provide a small piece of inspiration in the fantasy setting with a decisive European flavor. In that approximate time setting for most fantasy campaigns (1000 – 1300 AD), new technology that was quickly adapted into Europe has been presented within the D&D context somewhat reluctantly and inconsistently. Such as the crossbow.
It is clear that the English longbow is the nostalgic weapon, ascending to mythic status within D&D. As a result it has been the pinnacle ranged weapon in 4E D&D, trumping the crossbow in almost consideration. But history actually teaches us that it was quite different …
We have been working through the logic and science of firearms to create rules for guns in Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Let’s look at the pinnacle of wanton destruction, the Boomstick!