"The Baker" Steam-Powered Clockwork Double Barrel Shotgun

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"The Baker" Steam-Powered Clockwork Double Barrel Shotgun

Post by supermooboo » Sun Aug 22, 2021 7:43 am

Built an endgame weapon for my character Alvin Baker. Google doc goes over the design of the weapon as well as the lore and details behind why I made the decisions I did on the weapon. Currently seeking feedback and hoping that someone can help me figure out the price of each of the 3 core sections of the weapon. The plan is for Alvin Baker to start working on the weapon at Journeyman and hopefully finish it by the time he reaches Warden (5-7 adventures I imagine). Let me know what everyone thinks and if it is too unbalanced or OP. I tried to give the weapon as many negatives as I could think of to compensate for the small list of (powerful) pros. I think the most interesting part of the weapon is that by the end of it the weapon turned into something pretty much only Alvin can use. Not like its a Weird Science thing that mechanically can only be used by him , but differently weird enough to where someone else would be hard pressed to use it. I find that cool.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yea ... sp=sharing


I thought about the weapon some more and I realized that it's basically just a +3 Flametongue Longsword reflavored as a double-barrel shotgun and with a bunch of downsides. Kind of lame when I think of it like that.

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Re: "The Baker" Steam-Powered Clockwork Double Barrel Shotgun

Post by ChrisDDickey » Sun Aug 22, 2021 11:32 am

To start with, let me say that this sounds cool. 

But I think you got a bit overzealous in cherry picking your numbers. Yes, the numbers all came from somewhere, but where they came from was not always appropriate, and then you did not choose to take the numbers next to some of those numbers, but choose to cherry pick those other numbers elsewhere.  The way they are all put together didn't really make sense to me. 

My concerns lie in several areas: Damage, Power, Weight, Construction, Capabilities, etc. 

First is damage. "The Dmg is the same as the Perkins Steam Gun". The Perkins Steam Gun is a 90 lbs, £200 stirling vehicle mounted weapon. The 90 lbs and £200 stirling numbers do not include the steam source, which is a feed off of the vehicles main boiler. This is a steam engine that can move a steam ship or a kettle with tons of armor, I don't think you can just take this damage step without taking the other two numbers and the vehicle sized power source as well. Then you add a second weapon's damage, which does not work at all like your weapon, as well. If you are calling this thing a shotgun, it ought to do something similar to shotgun damage. 

Microsteam power source. As pointed out above, the Perkins Steam Gun uses a vehicle sized steam engine. More to the point it uses an engine that can move tons of ship or or a kettles armor plating around. I would think that using a microsteam engine sized for a prothetelic hand (not even a whole arm, just a hand) would be massively, massively, massively underpowered. I would think that such a small power source might be able to throw a bullet about as fast as a human hand can throw a bullet. OK, I will grant that there are design efficiencies to be had, and grant that maybe a microsteam engine sized for a prothetelic arm might be able to throw a bullet as fast as a human hand using a slingshot could fire a bullet. This would of course be one bullet at a time. But I don't think  that such a small engine (that can run for 20 hours on a single load of fuel) is going to be shooting bullets at anywhere even near gunpowder speeds and power, much less what a high pressure steam gun would do. And make no mistake, I don't consider a microsteam engine sized to power an arm to be a very high pressure system. Nor do I think that the amount of fuel required to power a hand for 60 hours is even 1% enough to keep an "Oven" preheated to high temperature 24 hours a day. Massively, Massively, Massively underpowered and underfueled for what you are saying it will do. I mean I understand why you want to say that the tiniest of microsteam engines is a suitable replacement for a vehicle sized engine. You want a man portable gun that does vehicle weapon damage. I understand. But it is Ridiculous.

In one sentence you say that reloading the drum is time consuming and not practical in combat. In the next you say that it can be done by passing a simple test. Pick one. As described I would say the reloading a drum is a sustained action (come up with how many rounds it takes), not a standard action. However, while I hate to alleviate the only part of the gun  that is not already overpowered, I feel I must point out that if the ammo is simple metal balls, with no requirement that they all face a correct direction or anything, then it seems like the drums are unneeded and a simple single hopper is all that is needed. The hopper could drop balls into a loading tube that keeps the next 4 or 5 rounds ordered. 

The first paragraph of "the oven" section said the gun spat out "molten projectiles". I was going to call you on that, but then I saw later on that the projectiles were supposed to be heated red hot, but not quite molten. That is good since molten projectiles would have almost no ability to penetrate armor. 
I did some googling on Heat Transfer Theory, and used some online heat transfer calculators, but was unable to find some easily digestible figures on how long it would take to heat a bullet to red hot. I did find that it takes 25 minutes to heat a 24 pound cannonball in a preheated furnace. Anyway, given how long it takes a 500 degree oven to cook a pizza,  I am fairly positive that heating a .75 inch brass bullet red hot would take a lot longer than you seem to think. I would be interested in hearing what somebody more mathematically literate than me thinks it would take as far as oven temperature and time. 

Even if the oven did heat the shot cherry hot, I don't think it would do anywhere even near the damage of a flame-thrower like the Chinese Dragon. Frankly a self cauterizing bullet might in certain circumstances do less damage than a normal temperature one. 

A clockwork frame would be lighter than a standard gun frame. It would also be much less sturdy and prone to breakage due to the numerous massive shocks it would be subject to. 

I could probably go on, but in conclusion I will say that if you want something of the damage step of a combined Steam Gun and a Flame Thrower, it would require something of the combined weight and price of a Steam Gun and a Flame Thrower, and would require a massive external power source like the Steam Gun does.  I would also say that a Perkins Steam Gun with a coaxial Chinese Dragon mounted on it, since the two effects have different trajectories could not really be fired at the same target as one action. One could fire one gun, then if one had second shot, could adjust the aim and fire the other gun. Also, I would not really suggest trying to get your GM to agree on a maximized weapon that you then plan to improve later with Forge Firearm to make even better. I think you need to start with something that is within spitting distance of standard weapons that do standard damage, and then hope to improve those numbers with forge firearm. 

As for what is practical with a hand held weapon. I would say lose the Oven and the whole steam powered concept. keep the drums and make a fairly standard semi-automatic gunpowder cartridge shotgun. Add in whatever extra features and components you think you can talk your GM into. You could, if you want, maybe do a combined Chinese Dragon, but this would be fired as a separate weapon as a second action. Then you can start using forge firearms to increase from tha base. 

So what I have listed is about 80% less cool, but it is at least within spitting distance of being reasonable. 
My humble opinion only. 
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Mon Aug 23, 2021 7:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Baker" Steam-Powered Clockwork Double Barrel Shotgun

Post by supermooboo » Mon Aug 23, 2021 4:32 am

I'll respond to your comments in order

I feel the damage step is reasonable if we consider the Tier of the weapon Alvin is trying to acquire the gun at (Warden) and the rules for improving a regular firearm with Forge Firearm. RAW for Forge Firearm states that the damage step of a weapon may be improved by making a test with a TN set at current damage step of the weapon + # of enhancements on the weapon. The pump action shotgun in the Player's Guide has a base damage step of 11. So to improve this weapon to the same damage step as the Perkins Steam Gun you would have to make 3 checks.

Step 11 -> 12; TN 12
Step 12 -> 13; TN 14
Step 13 -> 14; TN 16

Averaging the TNs gets you TN 14. The proposed construction for the Clockwork frame is TN 14(3 times). Right on the money in other words. Also worth the note that TN 16 (the hardest check) is on the upper end of an Average check for a Warden character (GM Guide pg. 160). For a Warden character doing this to a shotgun is easy enough. So I don't see an issue with the primary damage step at all at least from a game mechanics perspective.

First from a realistic perspective. Well first I would like to note that realism shouldn’t apply in this case because microsteam engines are well, yeah. But anyway, Mythbusters made a steam powered machine gun with multiple boilers in a setup that I am imagining to be similar to the Perkins Machine Gun and it went poorly. It did not end all that great. I’ll provide an interesting article link on the subject

https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-t ... chine-gun/

The Perkins Steam Gun does not talk about PSI but they do mention a connection line to a steam engine which a quick google tells me the PSI is 200-300ish. The Mythbuster test is at 170 PSI and the bullets could not penetrate a pig. That said, we aren’t talking about real life, we are talking about 1879. And honestly I am just not sure. At the end of the day it would be easier said that The Baker heats the weapon with a steam powered oven and then fires the bullets off chemically per normal. Nothing wrong with a bit of the fantastical in a fantastical setting like 1879 I say.

The Drum:
The point about the hopper is a good one. However, most of the design choices here are flavor. It's made of clockwork because it's cool. Yes guns aren't made of clockwork for a reason and yes I could say it's made of some common metal instead, but that's boring. I will note that the GM Guide puts the stats for the clockwork hand and the steam powered one as the same. This implies a hardness that is just as durable at least in terms of capacity for defense (but notes one being more lightweight). That said the hopper idea is pretty good, can be wound with a clockwork spring, and look just as cool. Criticism noted. Although I like the mechanics and lore that I made up for the Drum Mag which could maybe be used for other stuff. I’ll note this about your comment on the sturdiness of a clockwork gun as well. The clockwork parts are just aesthetic and there to look cool. If that breaks immersion for the setting we can just say it is clockwork plated and the clockwork isn’t actually functioning for anything in particular.

The Oven:
The big topic here is heat transfer. I’m no expert. No idea how long it takes. That said, aluminum fins are used in microsteam engines in 1879 to greatly improve heat transfer. I note this in my design several times. I did some googling on the heat transfer of Aluminum and found that copper has a higher transfer rate for metals (see link below). I bring this up because the GM Guide on page 264 points out that Aluminum is chosen specially over copper for its heat transfer properties in reference to microsteam. Copper isn’t that rare so I assume that the fins mentioned are some kind of fantastical byproduct of alt-history 1879. With that said I really can’t comment on the numbers.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/en ... oefficient

Onto the secondary damage step. If you look at the Chinese Dragon you can see that it does Step 11/ 8 (3 rounds) damage. It does 11 dmg step and then does persistent fire damage of step 8 for 3 rounds. I assumed this meant that fire does step 8 on contact but the GM Guide page 225 actually gives more guidance. The damage step is actually based on the size of the fire. Touching a torch does step 4, campfire 6, a bonfire step 8. Narratively this step damage makes sense to me (from a game design perspective) but realistically not so much. The temperature of a torch and a campfire really isn’t that different (but I guess it could be). I’m not really sure where this puts The Baker but step 4-6 definitely makes more sense now that I have read that section.

After taking a deeper dive into the realism of the stuff in 1879 I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that anyone should. 1879 is a game that prioritizes its game design over reality (while trying to stick reasonably close to reality). I guess my big comment to come from this is: “would The Oven fit within the principles of 1879?” And I think the answer is yes. I’m biased naturally but that’s just what I feel about steam in guns after reading the Perkins Steam Gun.

I’ll leave my comments there. I’m not trying to justify my gun here as real, I’m trying to justify it as sufficiently 1879 enough for it to be a thing.

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Re: "The Baker" Steam-Powered Clockwork Double Barrel Shotgun

Post by ChrisDDickey » Mon Aug 23, 2021 9:43 pm

It sounds as if you are double dipping on the forging. You are saying that Forging can raise a damage step from 11 to 14, so you are saying that your gun design has damage step 14. But in your document you specifically say that you intend to use forging to raise the damage step from 14 to higher values. You are applying forging values not three times, but 6. Now you could say that the documents step 14 damage is the damage after the weapon has been forged three times to raise the damage, and any attempts to raise it past that value has to take the initial 3 forgings into account. But I don't see being able to design a forging bonus into a gun, and then apply forging again using the 14 as a base. I think better practice is to design and build the base weapon. Then after it is built any forging bonuses can be added. I think it is poor practice to design forging bonuses into the base design.

I agree that steampunk designs do not need to be realistic, but there is a difference between fantastical and silly, and using power source designed for a hand to do a job that requires vehicle power levels is not just fantastical, it is silly.

The aluminum fins in microsteam engines are to get rid of waste heat that has escaped the chamber. They have nothing to do with how long it takes to heat a metal ball within a furnace. Two totally and completely separate topics. Heat transfer from the oven to the ammo, and heat transfer from the frame of the gun to the atmosphere. Aluminum fins only helps with the latter. Heat transfer from the furnace to the ammo depends soley upon the heat of the furnace and the material of the ammo. And I don't think that 6 seconds is near enough to do anything significant.

I think that it is totally realistic that a campfire does more damage than a torch, and a bonfire does more still. It is not the greater heat of the bigger fires, it is the greater area that is burned. A torch does burn damage to a small area. Maybe the size of your palm. A campfire does damage to a much bigger area. possibly both legs or your whole arm, or much of your chest. A bonfire does damage to your whole body. A flame thrower does step 8 (bonfire) damage to your whole body for 3 rounds by encasing your entire body in fire for three rounds.

The baker does not encase the targets body in fire for three rounds. I am going to say that again, it does not encase the targets body in fire for three rounds. Instead it puts a very hot bullet into one very small part of the targets body. This will have the extremely detrimental effect of cooking a very small area of the target. That is bad. But on the positive side it will cauterize the wound so it does not bleed. The wound it does will be extremely difficult to heal, the cooked flesh will need to be removed, but in the short term it is merely doing further damage to an already damaged section of the body.

I would say that an appropriate game effect for the baker (which does not encase the targets body in fire for three rounds - it merely cooks any wound the bullet already inflicted) would be something like "If the baker does damage, the targets wound threshold for this shot is reduced by two. Further, if the shot causes a wound, the wound, while only counting as one wound, requires an extra wounds worth of healing". Or something like that. I mean it has a strong effect, but the cooking of the wound only really matters if you survive the fight and I don't see it doing significantly more to incapacitate the target than the bullet already did.

I know that the above is not the effect you were looking for, but I think that if you want to cause damage equal to setting the target on fire for three rounds, I think you actually have to set the target on fire for three rounds.

Once again, I think that the idea is cool. I just don't feel that you have matched the effects to the weapon description. I don't think the weapon is at all balanced with the basic weapons in the book. A gun that does step 14 damage ought to weigh about 90 pounds and require a massive external power source. Putting a base step 14 weapon into a hand-held package is wrong on first principals. Sure a weapon can be forged to step 14 or greater, but the base, preforged step should not be step 14. If the weapon was first built with a lower step and then forged several times, it should clearly state how many times the weapon was forged so that the proper target number for subsequent forgings can be determined. In my opinion, I don't see heated shot doing that much extra damage. I don't see such a tiny microsteam engine doing that much damage to start with. And I think this gun never even saw realistic and went way past fantastical.
Last edited by ChrisDDickey on Sun Aug 29, 2021 4:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "The Baker" Steam-Powered Clockwork Double Barrel Shotgun

Post by supermooboo » Sat Aug 28, 2021 8:44 pm

I won't say I think your wrong because I don't think this is a case of right and wrong here. What I think is happening is that we are playing vastly different games. Without going into too much detail as I think it's probably pretty clear after our discussion but the 1879 I am playing is one that is significantly pulpier than the one you are playing.

If at the end of the day I have to worry about heat transfer or do any kind of math to develop a homebrew item then I'm simply not interested in doing so. And I don't think I'm alone on that. Anyway for the purposes of our campaign I'll drop the idea and instead just buy a shotgun and up it to damage step 18 or whatever.

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