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Gunpowder in Mystara

by Pol GinÚs

To add gunpowder in Mystara and D&D we have to consider many things:

- playability
- historic credibility: by economics and by social reasons

PLAYABILITY

Using the rules about Flintlock weapons seems quite balanced to me. They are powerful, but slow... (3 assaults to reload) and, even better, these weapons can not be magically "hasted": with "haste" (so usual at BECMI 5th level games and upper) two arrows/assault are usual, but you can not make the powder fire double speed.

Also, do "magical gunpowder weapons" exist? Perhaps gunpowder is anti-magical! This way, cold magical steel is needed against magical creatures, not affected by non-magical weapons. Also, if we use those ranges (20/40/60 for basic rifle; 80/160/240 master; 100/200/300 great master) only a master use of the weapon has a range as good as a fireball). And these weapons do not add Strength Bonuses, nor double damage with "Giant Strength Girdles, potions, spells", etc...

ECONOMICS

Here I will refer to my Table of Prizes for magical objects
These are prizes for high magical areas: Glantri City, Darokin City, Thyatis City, Minrothad City, Alfheim City, and any big city in Alphatia mainland or Bellissaria. [Prizes in other places, such as Kerendas, Specularum, Selenica or Corunglain, are 25%-50% more expensive]

LEVEL - POTION - SCROLL - WAND (10 charges)
1 - 500 - 1.000 - 5.000
2 - 1.500 - 3.000 - 15.000
3 - 3.000 - 5.000 - 30.000
4 - 6.000 - 8.000 - 60.000
5 - 9.000 - 12.000 - 90.000
6 - 12.000 - 15.000 - 120.000

So, a Wand with 10 magic Missiles (or 10 sleep spells, to sleep many arcabussiers) costs 5.000 gp.
And a Haste Scroll so a 4th level elf can Haste a great groups of 4th level archers (Skill mastery with longbow) costs 5.000 gp too.
An "invulnerability to normal missiles" potion (3rd level spell) costs 3.000 gp... and effectively blockades gunpowder weapons!

So, I think here we are a world were magic and gunpowder can coexist in quite a balanced way.

SOCIAL ASPECTS

I think that the gunpowder weapons are to be invented by Rockhome dwarves: they do not have magic, they hate Glantrians and their ranged "firepower", they have the tech and the desire. Armed with gunpowder weapons, with a surprise attack and allied with Ethengar and their clerical magic (and even with Followers of the Claymore) they can conquer Glantri. They will keep the secret of gunpowder, but Ethengarians could soon obtain it too and create a "mounted pistol-Cossack" kind of troops. Vestland and Soderfjord would be quickly conquered.

Darokin and Thyatis would pay anything to obtain this technology. Alfheim and Alphatia would dismiss it as "stupid dwarven games".

After the first surprise (and the fall of Glantri), even if Darokin and Thyatis do not obtain gunpowder, they can develop enough protective magic as to balance it. Dragons with access to "Protect against normal missiles" do not have to be afraid, and the others can be damaged but they can resist 2 or 3 shoots without problem and fry their foes after that.