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Bolts of Dwarven Ingenuity

by John Gunston

As created for Benrath Kraddashin of Everast, by his friend Dugarad Fandrok, Skilled Martial Engineer of Clan Torkrest.

Dwarven Fire Bolts:

A rough steel shaft, fletched as a regular heavy crossbow bolt, is filled with a slightly sticky, flammable substance not too unlike Greek Fire. The tip has a regular bolt-head on it, but with a difference: instead of it being securely attached to the shaft, it sits on the end of a fairly tight spring within the shaft itself, so that there is some motion upon impact...the tiny flint pieces attached to the outside circumference of the spring are vigorously rubbed against the roughened inside of the steel shaft, creating a small shower of sparks and igniting the goop as it jets forth, through the wax seal around the head of the bolt, gushing forward and setting aflame the target, and perhaps those close by, as well.
There is also a version which uses plain ol' oil instead of the sticky goop, which has a larger splash radius, but which does not burn as long.
Mechanics: Normal range, normal damage, plus 1d6 fire damage upon impact.
Save vs. Breath Weapon or be on fire for two more rounds, for 1d4 damage each round. Those in a 3' radius save vs. Breath Weapon at +2 or take 1 point of damage for the round of impact, plus two rounds afterwards as the stubborn stuff burns itself out in painful little spots which are difficult to extinguish. The victim may take a full-round action to smother the flames, preventing damage on subsequent rounds (i.e, they still take the damage of the round that they acted to smother, but it doesn't continue after that).
The oil version of this bolt is identical except for the duration of burning (only one more round instead of two, for both main victim and those splashed), and splash radius (5' radius instead of just 3'. Oil is significantly more free-flowing than the napalm-like Greek Fire stuff that the Dwarves filled the other model with.)

Dwarven Dust Bolts:

A wooden-shafted bolt, of which the tip-end third is a very fine, whitish powder packed within a slim, fired-clay end, held on by a wide steel ring.
It has only a point, with no flared edges to the head, leaving it like a target bolt, in shape. Upon impact, the jarring of the shaft jams a rough steel rod forward from within the bolt, which creates friction on the flint bits within the steel ring near the midpoint of the bolt. The clay head shatters against the target, releasing the fine powder, which is aided in its delivery by the minute explosion caused by the small amount of coal gas trapped within the flinty ring's diameter, just behind the packed powder.
The dust can temporarily blind a target, make them sneeze, create a short-lived concealment, and reveal invisible things within the confines of the cloud.
Mechanics: Normal range, bolt damage is 1d4+1 to both small and larger opponents. It creates a 10' cloud of whitish dust for the round of contact, and one round afterwards before settling and dissipating. (Wind conditions may reduce it merely to the round of impact, or less for extreme situations.) Save vs. Poison or be mostly blinded and sneezy for 1d3 rounds, being at a penalty of -4 to attack or the like (equalling a 20% penalty to those percentage skills) and being unable to cast spells or do other things that require seeing. Running could be hazardous. The settling powder reveals invisible forms, should they be within, or pass through, the cloud. It is non-addictive.

Dwarven Smoke Bolts:

A hollow steel shaft with many flutelike holes along its length, sealed over with wax. A regular end tips it, but the shaft is divided into two compartments, each packed with a single chemical goop which is inert by itself, but when shaken and combined (like when the bolt hits a surface) reacts somewhat violently, consuming itself and spewing out volumes of somewhat choking black smoke, which expands until the chemical burns itself up, and remains for a period of time. It is quite opaque, and does not smell very good at all.
The separating layer is a thin, waxy paper which is carefully perforated by needles along the inside of the shaft, which jerk and rupture the membrane upon strong contact. The slightly exothermic reaction consumes the paper as well, so only a small rent need be made.
Mechanics: Normal range, normal damage. The smoke, upon initial explosion, fills a 10' cubic area (5' radius, then) and for 1d3+1 rounds after that, continues to expand by another 10' cubic area per round - or, a 10' cube the first round, 14' cube the second round, 16' cube the third, 18' cube in the fourth, and 20' cube in the fifth possible round. (This second area-effect description is a quick-and-dirty approximation.) Note that in a windier area the smoke will shift and only last half as long, but the new smoke will always come from the source-bolt when calculating the area affected. (The 1d3+1 variability in time represents how much of the goop actually goes off.
They're not perfect yet.) Those in the blast radius save vs. Poison or cough and choke and the like, for 1d4 rounds. Those otherwise in the cloud (eg, it expands to include them, or one passes through it) save vs. Poison at +2 or gasp and cough for 1d2 rounds. It provides concealment, in most situations, as it is quite blackish-green and murky. It dissipates quickly after it stops being produced, and does not leave much of a residue at all.

Dwarven Grapple Bolts:

A small, three-pronged claw, shaped not unlike that of an eagle waiting to grasp something, tips this standard bolt-shaft. At the fletched end, a tiny eyebolt is attached to a braided length of silk threads, so far only 50' long, give or take. The claw is articulated so that its barbed arms are pulled back until the bolt strikes some surface or object, when they spring and grab the struck thing (or creature, heaven forbid). About as strong as a decent mousetrap, but with barbed hooks, it can grab onto cloth, leather, small objects, staves, rods, wands, levers, gnomes, necks of bottles, birds...that sort of thing. The whole is quite strong, and can hold up to 60lb or so before the arms may give way, given that the structural integrity of the thing grasped is sufficient. The range is poor, for the crossbow, due to its awkward shape.
Mechanics: Range is limited to half of that normal for a heavy crossbow, i.e, 4"/8"/12". The last two limits are mentioned should the line be cut or removed before firing. A hit causes 1d2 damage to a living (or undead, or whatever) target, and another 1d2 if it is just pulled out without opening the little arms (which would take a full round to gingerly do). Of course, objects heavier than 50lb may be dragged across surfaces, given resistance and such. Small things can be moved with this. Armoured riders on horseback will probably not. Called shots are the order of business for targeting things, for the most part, with modifiers for size.