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Black Powder Rules?


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I think worlds of cthulhu had a section in the second issue about using black powder... http://catalog.chaosium.com/product_info.php?cPath=43&products_id=676

But I'm afraid mine is buried at the moment, so I can't be any more sure about what it actually covers. But then you should probably know that...

Edited by MrJealousy
after thought added

Mr Jealousy has returned to reality!

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What kind of setting are you going for? If doing a gritty Napoleonic setting like Sharpe's Rifles I'd make firearms fairly effective. If you're playing a Zorro setting make sure the Alcalde's men can't hit the broad side of a barn with their muskets:)

Shouldn't be too hard to gin something up. Let us know what you're looking for and we can bounce ideas around.

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I played in an excellent BRP Sharpe game at Continuum, thanks to Nathan Bishop, and there was a reload skill that allowed you to reload in a round if you made it and 3 rounds if you didn't. You could adapt idea to ensure that skill plays a part in the reloading process - Critical (1 round), Special (2 rounds), normal (3 rounds), failure (4 rounds) and fumble (1D3+4 rounds).

RQ Pirates had some black powder rules, if I recall correctly. And it's about Pirates so it's always a good thing to have.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 


Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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Here's some notes and firearms stats for you. I am toying with pulling this into a proper document and adding some more spot rules and info. Sorry for the lousy formatting. Can't seem to figure out how to get tabs to work in this...

Name Skill Base Dmg Attk Special Rng Hands HP STR/DEX Ammo Value Enc

Blunderbuss Shotgun 30 3d6/1d6/1d4 1/4 Impaling 5/10/20 2 12 9/5 1 Average 2.5

Fowler Shotgun 30 1d6/1d4/1d2 1/4 Impaling 10/20/30 2 10 9/5 1 Average 3.0

Musket, Military Musket 25 1d10+1 1/4 Impaling 50 2 12 9/5 1 Average 3.5

Musket, Trade Musket 25 1d10+1 1/4 Impaling 50 2 10 9/5 1 Average 3.0

Musketoon Musket 25 1d8+1 1/4 Impaling 30 2 10 8/5 1 Average 2.5

Pistol, Dueling Pistol 20 1d6+1 1/4 Impaling 12 1 8 7/5 1 Expensive 1.0

Pistol, Flintlock Pistol 20 1d6+1 1/4 Impaling 10 1 8 7/5 1 Average 1.0

Pistol, Horse Pistol 20 1d6+2 1/4 Impaling 12 1 8 8/5 1 Average 1.5

Pistol, Pocket Pistol 20 1d4+1 1/4 Impaling 5 1 6 6/5 1 Average .5

Pistol, Turn-off Pistol 20 1d6+1 1/3 Impaling 10 1 8 7/5 1 Expensive 1.0

Rifle, Kentucky Rifle 25 2d6 1/6 Impaling 100 2 10 9/5 1 Expensive 3.0

Rifle, Ferguson Rifle 25 2d6 1/3 Impaling 100 2 10 9/5 1 Expensive 3.0


Skill: I'm pedantic - can't call it the rifle skill when used for the musket... In actual play I stick with a more generic "long arm" skill for both muskets and rifles.

Attack: Musket rate of fire is estimated at 2-3 rounds per minute when using prepared paper cartridges. Rifle rate of fire is estimated at about 1 round per minute. I punted with this and went with the rules in the gold book for rate of fire. I suggest the following "spot rules" to increase the rate of fire to more realistic rates:

• If character has a weapon skill of 50% reduce load time by 1 turn.

• If character uses both his "attack & defense" actions to reload, reduce load time by 1 turn. All soldiers are trained to do this.

• Combining these will give experienced soldiers a rate of fire of 1 shot per 24 seconds which is pretty close to reality.

• Loading with loose powder and ball should add 2 turns to load time.

Parry: No

Malfunction: Misfires were common and had little to do with the skill of the shooter. I use a house rule that anytime a "double" is rolled the weapon misfires "flash in the pan" and the shooter must take an action to re-prime. A critical failure indicates the firing mechanism is damaged: Make a Luck roll and it is something you can repair/replace in 1d4 turns. Failure indicates a trip to the gunsmith.

SR: You're on your own. I don't use them:-)


Length: varies, Weight: varies, Caliber: varies

Also known as a coachgun. This early shotgun fires small-caliber balls. They are rather short compared to muskets - 3-4 feet long. Rumors that the weapon was loaded with scrap iron, glass and other "junk" are unfounded. The bell-shaped muzzle was designed to make it easier to load on horseback or in a coach, not to "spread" the shot as you'll see in many game books.

Military Muskets:

Come in a great variety, but for game purposes they have identical stats. Some typical muskets in the American Frontier:

British Long Land Pattern Musket

Length: 62.5", Weight: 10.4 lbs, Caliber: 0.75"

The long land pattern remained in service through the 1790's and there were likely many in service in the colonies.

British Short Land Pattern Musket

Length: 58.5", Weight: 10.5 lbs, Caliber: 0.75"

The short land pattern was the standard musket issued to British troops from 1768. American forces would also have used these weapons. As far as I know, British Dragoons carried the Short Land Pattern musket in this time period.

French Charleville Musket

Length: 60", Barrel: 44.75", Weight: 10 lbs, Caliber 0.69"

The French supplied the American forces with these weapons in large numbers.

Spanish M1757

Length: 58.5", Barrel: 43.5", Weight: ?, Caliber: 0.75"

Other Muskets

Trade muskets were traded to Native American and often carried by hunters and trappers. They come in many sizes and calibers. They are typically shorter and lighter than military weapons. A "fowler" could fire either a bullet or birdshot. A musketoon was a shorter musket and was often a cavalry weapon. Civilian muskets could not typically mount a bayonet.

Turn-off Pistols

Turn-off pistols are also known as cannon-barrel or "Queen Anne" pistols. The barrel of the pistol was unscrewed to reload the weapon so no ramrod is used. They are thought to be faster to

Duelling Pistols

Fine weapons sold only in cased pairs. Makers include: Wogdon & Barton, Durs-Egg, Manton, Mortimer, Nock, and Purdey

Other Pistols

Horse pistols were popular during the early 18th century. Barrel length was up to 14". Later in the century barrel lengths on military pistols (what I'm calling the flintlock) shortened to 9-10" on average. Pocket pistols are small, short-barreled weapons similar to a derringer.

Long Rifle

Length: varies, Weight: varies, Caliber: 0.36-0.60"

Kentucky & Pennsylvania rifles are somewhat mythical in the USA. They are fine weapons, beautiful and hand-made for the purchaser. The weapon length was usually the height of the buyer's chin. The accuracy of the weapons was very good in the right hands. Daniel Boone was reported to have shot a man who peeked out from behind a tree at 250 yards! Damage is for the larger caliber weapon most likely carried by a player character. I'd rule a 0.36 caliber weapon 1d8 damage and a 0.45 caliber 1d10 damage.

Ferguson Rifle

Length: 48", Barrel: ?, Weight 7.5 lbs, Caliber: 0.65"

Introduced in small quantities during the American War of Independence. They are breech-loading weapons and are quite before their time. Great idea that did not work well in practice due to expense and fragility of the weapon.

Cheers - Mike

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  • 3 weeks later...

One of the old Elric/Stormbringer books "Rogue Mistress" has rules for blackpowder

misfires, loading etc (all IIRC). There were also rules for cannons.

Is there any chance someone could provide me with a summary/photocopy/PDF of the section above in Rogue Mistress? Stormbringer/Elric was one BRP game I didn't get into.

It would certainly qualify under the 10% rule for photocopying library books for quotation purposes.


If anybody's interested, I got myself a copy of Runequest Pirates. Its nice, but doesn't help.

Adam Crossingham
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief | Sixtystone Press Limited


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I took a look at my copy of Rogue Mistress this morning. I'm not going to post the info to this thread. I'll list what it contains to help you make an informed purchase:

  • Descriptions for cannon, pistols, horse pistols, musket and blunderbuss. Ranges are shorter and Damage is typically higher than what I put together above.
  • The weapons also have an "Armor Piercing" rating that ignores the first X points of armor.
  • Weapon skill determines how quickly you can fire and reload.
  • A fumble table with 6 results.

I highly recommend Rogue Mistress as an adventure. If you're just buying it for the black powder rules there is not much more than what this thread already contains.

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