What's the point of firewands?

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/13/2018
Originally posted by Sagara View Post
Wasn't part of the point also to avoid the classic RPG debate of "why aren't guns dominating the battlefields?"
Yes. I think he wanted something sufficiently like guns as to evoke, well, the tech level of the Musketeers in a few places in the setting, but sufficiently unlike guns that he wouldn't be fielding a hundred million arguments over whether I can use Craft Charms to upgrade them to modern assault rifles and then win every fight forever.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/14/2018
Originally posted by SpoonR View Post
Also, IIRC "cannon" type artillery are either alchemy (beam o'death) or steam based (scary hissy boiler lofting pumpkins/cannonballs with a mighty hiss)
Shore cannons were powered by huge amounts of firedust in 1e, and then in 2e they were changed to be steam-powered to address the question "If you can build firedust cannons, why can't I scale that down to firedust rifles and then use Craft Charms to upgrade them to modern assault rifles and win every fight forever?" In 3e we changed them back to being firedust-powered because we're satisfied with the answer "Because firedust doesn't combust like gunpower below a certain quantity threshold, which is too big to fit in a personal-scale weapon" and because the description of the firing mechanism for the steam-powered shore canons (the canonball seals the pressure chamber and is held in place by a plank, and then you fire it by pulling the plank aside really quickly) was, uh, dumb. And because we figured giant bronze shore cannons cast from a single piece of metal are cooler than clanking hissy steampunk canons powered by a boiler. Not everything is made better by sticking some gears on it and calling it steampunk.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/15/2018
Originally posted by Verzio View Post
Actually, you can just find saltpeter lying around; it's extracted from manure. You can even sometimes find crystals of it in old manure piles.
There was a whole episode of Star Trek about that, in fact!

Originally posted by Aliasi View Post
In addition, the "I build assault rifles and win every fight forever" is a fallacy in and of itself, as Shards of the Exalted Dream set out to demonstrate.

Exalted don't stop being Exalted because someone has a gun. I don't expect Shards to ever get a 3e update, but I think the philosophy still holds. Wuxia isn't the only ingredient in the stew, and "Kung fu fails before guns" is not a thing in Exalted. All that happens is you give some bright person the idea to start inventing Firearms charms.
From context, it was clear that Grabowski knew that’s a fallacy—which is exactly what would have made it so unbearable for people to keep throwing it at him as something that ought to be possible for as long as he ran the gameline. So he did an end-run around it by doing small flamegout weapons instead. The issue is as much how people expect guns to work as it is how guns actually work, and he estimated that bringing in rifled slugthrowers would inevitably invoke the myth of the gun as the great equalizer against which all elites must fall, and he just didn’t want to deal with saying “No, that’s not how it works here” over and over again.

[#][F] Stephen Lea Sheppard - 7/15/2018
Originally posted by Epimetheus View Post
Yeah, why didn't he just stat a gun, make it no stronger than a good bow and say that's the best you can do with guns? I mean, even for an exalt a gun wouldn't be much better than a slightly stronger bow. It seems like the issue has nothing to do with guns and more to do with the aesthetic of guns. You already have ballista cannons and other weapons that imitate conventional warfare but they also look a lot more medieval than a modern canon does.
Because the history of attempting to stat guns in D&D is the history of people complaining that guns with reasonable stats are underpowered, and he didn't want to deal with people complaining that his no-stronger-than-a-good-bow Creation guns were underpowered.