I know for a lot of fans of 1879, firearms are a big part of the draw to the game, particularly at this point in history. The Industrial Revolution brought about a lot of experimentation with mechanical items, firearms included, particularly since this was driven onward by some major armed conflicts. Given the world of 1879 pushes the development calendar ahead a fair amount, and throws weird science into the mix, there’s a lot of room for some very interesting ways to make things shoot.
We’ve got a few new firearms being added in the Fort Alice Sourcebook, so I thought we’d break it up into a few parts to take a sneak peek look at each of them. To start things off, we’ll be checking out every Big Game Hunter’s favorite companion: the Elephant Gun.
Base Damage: 15
Success Bonus: +5
DEX Minimum: 13
STR Minimum: 15
Rate of Fire: 1*
Short Range: 100
Long Range: 200
Availability: Very Rare
*Stats given are for a single barrel model. Double barrel model is possible, but would need to be a custom order. Increase the weight and price by 50%, the size to 7, and the rate of fire to 2.
Description: Calling these weapons guns is in some ways a misnomer; they are essentially small cannons, designed to fire a single massive slug at high power, sized at the limits of what a single person can bear. Though they’ve undergone many revisions over the years, these guns still take their name from their origins of intent – taking down the extremely large game present during excursions into Africa during the early 19th century. The original models were based off of muzzle-loaded, black powder shotguns loaded with a collection of small shot for hunting birds, but instead loaded with large slugs suitable for big game. These early models were still not sufficient for penetrating the tough hides of the biggest game – some recorded cases requiring well over 30 shots to take down a single elephant. As such, developments were needed.
Current elephant gun designs are almost all breech loaders, though a few bolt-action models exist, sized to use .577 black powder express rounds. Despite having the same caliber as several machine gun models, such as the Maxim .577 Singapore, the slugs are very different, being much larger and broader in elephant gun rounds, designed to inflict a much heavier, wider blow closer to the surface on the target. As such, the rounds are not compatible between the two weapons in either direction. Beyond this, exact design details can vary quite a bit, as these weapons are often custom orders of Big Game Hunters and other wealthy sportsmen, and as such are created according to their personal preferences and often made to be just as much show pieces as they are functional weapons. Barrels tend run long, around 26 inches on average, mostly to get as much muzzle velocity and as long of a shot as possible, considering the type of game they’re meant to be used against. Some particularly bold hunters pride themselves on using weapons with shorter barrels, meaning they much get that much closer to their prey in order to land a killing blow.
Given the pattern of damage that the rounds for this type of weapon are designed to inflict, it is widely considered a violation of the Gentleman’s Code to use them against a person. This definition becomes muddied once the Samsut’s forces are brought into the picture, as there is still debate raging as to whether codes of honor and proper conduct should be extended to the undead. Beyond this, weapons with such high damage capabilities are also extraordinarily capable at contending with enemy vehicles when wielded effectively. As such, the use of elephant guns within the theatre of war has currently not been forbidden entirely, but anyone using one within an engagement will be under high scrutiny to make sure they are restricting its use to acceptable targets.
If it’s not clear by the description, these are intended to be the base stats for such a weapon, but players and game masters are encouraged to customize in order to suit the user’s unique style and needs. These are meant to be big and flashy weapons, suitable for showing off while telling tales of ones exploits over a round of brandy and cigars. No two elephant guns should be entirely alike, other than the fact that they shoot large calibur rounds with very high damage capacity.
Given most player groups’ impressive ability to get themselves into uniquely troublesome situations, having access to such high powered weaponry can also represent a chance for some out of the box thinking if they can find an acceptable target.
Any particular types of big guns you’re hoping to see added to the game? There’s more of these planned, so give us a shout on Discord and see if you can guess what the next one will be.