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    Gunpowder on Oerth
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    Sun Jul 26, 2020 10:21 am  
    Gunpowder on Oerth

    In my campaign, i would just state that saltpeter is not found in the ground on Oerth. As such gunpowder cannot be made. Removing saltpeter as a found raw material does not greatly affect the rest of the development of a world so it is a quick and easy way of explaining away gunpowder without having to hamper all the other technological advances.

    What this permits is that if Murlynd or a spelljammer ship arrives, it can have workable gunpowder with it. As long as its stores last the weapons can be used. But once the gunpowder is used up, they cannot make more ammunition on Oerth.

    I believe this would work, unless somebody else knows of a huge historical repercussion that would entail if we remove saltpeter as a found component?
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    Richard Di Ioia (aka Longetalos)
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    Sun Jul 26, 2020 1:26 pm  

    Isn't saltpeter a material component for the Fireball spell?
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    Sun Jul 26, 2020 2:01 pm  

    Vulcan wrote:
    Isn't saltpeter a material component for the Fireball spell?


    Bat Guano and Sulfur were the material components back in AD&D, anyway.
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    Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:15 am  

    Also, remember that classically, saltpeter was also gathered from manure deposits. The manure was mixed with decaying vegetable material and then the saltpeter collected. I believe the same thing can be done using urine in place of manure.
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    Mon Jul 27, 2020 9:40 am  

    If it does not exist then extracting it from manure would be impossible. If we can add mithryl as a material, we can remove potassium nitrite as occurring on nature.
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    Richard Di Ioia (aka Longetalos)
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    Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:38 pm  

    My mistake.
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:18 am  

    Longetalos wrote:
    If it does not exist then extracting it from manure would be impossible. If we can add mithryl as a material, we can remove potassium nitrite as occurring on nature.


    Adding mithral as an element doesn't necessarily change how other chemical reactions work, so that's different.

    My understanding is that it's calcium nitrate that's extracted from manure/urine, which is then converted into potassium nitrate by filtering it through potash.

    So if you're postulating a world where this doesn't work, it's more than potassium nitrate not occurring in nature, you've got to postulate a universe where chemistry is different so that nitrogen, oxygen, and potassium can't bond into stable molecules.

    Which is fine. Maybe the periodic table of elements doesn't apply to Oerth at all; maybe everything is just different proportions of fire, earth, air, and water infused with negative or positive energy. If that's the case, anything goes.

    Or maybe potash doesn't exist either. But then alchemists could still make gunpowder if they find another source of potassium.

    Ed Greenwood posted his thoughts a year ago on Twitter about why gunpowder doesn't work in the Forgotten Realms. Basically, he said the local deities decreed that gunpowder burns, but doesn't explode. It exists, and can be used for example to polish metal, but you can't make bombs or guns out of it.


    Last edited by rasgon on Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:24 am; edited 2 times in total
    GreySage

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    Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:19 am  

    double post
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    Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:30 am  

    There is actually a book series called Novels of the Change (or somesuch) by S.M. Stirling where he did exactly that, the laws of physics changed and explosions no longer work.
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    Richard Di Ioia (aka Longetalos)
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    Tue Jul 28, 2020 8:24 am  

    I always thought the idea gunpowder can't work is completely bogus. It's GM's fiat.

    Which is fine if that's what you really want. But I'd rather not contort myself into knots trying to redesign physics and chemistry.

    IMHO, gunpower simply hasn't been invented, or if it has, is misattributed as magical in nature. Why invent machines, develop science, when magic is readily and easily accessible?
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    Tue Jul 28, 2020 2:19 pm  

    rasgon wrote:

    Ed Greenwood posted his thoughts a year ago on Twitter about why gunpowder doesn't work in the Forgotten Realms. Basically, he said the local deities decreed that gunpowder burns, but doesn't explode. It exists, and can be used for example to polish metal, but you can't make bombs or guns out of it.

    Wow. Does Greenwood ever think of anything Greyhawk hasn't done first?
    His explanation is exactly the same that Mentzer gave for Greyhawk/Aquaria space in 2017:
    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=8652

    Longetalos wrote:

    unless somebody else knows of a huge historical repercussion that would entail if we remove saltpeter as a found component?

    The reverse, allowing imported gunpowder to function, has a repercussion in that the spacefaring Scro and Spelljammer's Inhumane Wars could be much more significant in Greyspace.

    Roger Moore wrote the book for DM's considering gunpowder in GH. His article in Dragon #232 (Sorcerous Six-Shooters) covers all of the ramifications and Dragon Annual #1 (The Scro) helps connect the Inhuman Wars to GH and is truly inspiring.
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