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What's the point of firewands?

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  • What's the point of firewands?

    If the point is to have something kind of like guns, but still appropriate to the setting's technology level, I'm not sure how improbable flamethrowers using semi-magical gunpowder are more appropriate than crossbows. Rate of fire isn't an issue in that regard either, since firewands also have to be reloaded after every shot... and their ammunition is actually harder to come by than bullets!


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  • #2
    I believe the point is not to have something like guns, but have something that reflects that early flamethrowers of European and Asian military use. Making them more like guns is to allow them to be more functional personal weapons (the Byzantine and Chinese designs required people pumping the fuel for them to work). Sure, it also lets Exalted get a bit of "gun-fu" in too, but that feels secondary rater than primary as a consideration.

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    • #3
      The bayonet.

      Jokes aside you could ask that about any other thing in Exalted. They're just cool.

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      • #4
        I feel as though firewands were intended as a cross between ancient world flame weapons and being something evocative to the pulp setting by being exotic, but not outright supernatural. Like a kind of dramatic exaggeration of ancient fire shooters.


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        • #5
          I'm not sure if you're asking "why do people in-setting bother with firewands when they could have crossbows" or "why does this game have firewands when crossbows make a perfectly good gun-analogue" OR "why doesn't Creation just have guns?" So, in order!

          People bother with firewands because they're powerful weapons that don't leave you screwed in close combat. This is useful for cavalry (ride up, shoot a mook in the face, parry with your sword, disengage and reload) and formation infantry (blast them with a sheet of flame and then rush in with bayonets).

          This game has firewands because the designers thought they fit Creation's aesthetics, and crossbows were already a weird Northern innovation. They also, as noted, fill a niche for switch-hitters that crossbows can't. It's not really a technological issue - Creation has stuff from the classical period all the way to high medieval tech (we do have cannons as of Arms; they're stupid-heavy fixed batteries that cost a literal fortune every time you fire them, even with a Southern firedust supply.)

          Creation doesn't have guns either because nobody's thought of them, or nobody's found them worth the trouble. They seem an obvious thing to us, because we live in a world where guns have dominated for the past 700 years, but in Creation, where the force multipliers of the major military players are "bring a sorcerer " or "deploy the superhuman firebender shock-troops". or (in Lookshy's case) "we brought a plasma cannon", it hasn't occurred to anybody that improving an already expensive niche weapon would be worth it.

          Which is to say, have your Twilight make 'em and your Eclipse sell 'em, if you really think Creation needs new murder tools.

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          • #6
            I think the better answer is they resemble, aesthetically, guns more than crossbows do. And chunks of creation have at times evoked genres were guns were a major presence (Westerns, for instance). So a Firewand stands in in appearance and genre function--if they used real guns, well, we've had how many forum arguements over the effectiveness of guns in exalted?


            I did a lot of homebrew over here. PEACH.

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            • #7
              Flame pieces and firewands are things shaped enough like guns that players in West or South set stories don't feel compelled to invent guns just so they can play pirates or gunslingers, and thus avoiding setting off an arms race.

              They are things enough unlike guns that they don't seem wholely out of place in any exalted setting - exotic and not precisely "modern".

              You may use crossbows as gun stand ins if you like, but they don't quite have the same shape.
              Last edited by Greyman; 07-13-2018, 04:58 AM. Reason: Spacing

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Amayad View Post
                we do have cannons as of Arms; they're stupid-heavy fixed batteries that cost a literal fortune every time you fire them, even with a Southern firedust supply.)
                We've actually had those since the first chapter fiction of the first Exalted book. Literally one of the very first things we learn about the setting is that the security of Chiaroscuro's port is maintained by gigantic shore cannons.

                When I wrote my first response, I actually wondered if the idea for firewands might have developed out of a sense of what a small arms version of one of those cannons might have been, with consideration for the unusual kind of propellent that they used. But Scavenger Sons was being written so early that the scale of the map wasn't even finalised, so who could say?

                Incidentally, as a person who went through a phase of firearms appreciation, I've always found pre-modern pistols very aesthetically unpleasing for things like their asymmetrical shape or how stubby they often are, or how often the barrels are either too wide or weirdly taper; very inelegant weapons. I don't even like a lot of the pistols in Bloodborne for that. For whatever strange reason, the idea of them being in this kind of setting and a gout of flame coming from the end rather than a bullet alleviates a lot of that.


                I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                • #9
                  Wasn't part of the point also to avoid the classic RPG debate of "why aren't guns dominating the battlefields?"

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                  • #10
                    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.

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                    • #11
                      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?"
                      One of the Dev Diaries confirmed that almost verbatim. They wanted to avoid the question of "how many bullets does it take to bring down a War God" and thus makes Solars mostly irrelevant.

                      If you watch Wuxia films, that's a major point in most of them set around the British Invasion and Opium Wars- Kung Fu just can't stand up to bullets. A lone master can take down an entire school of mooks, but even if he kills 10 rifleman he'll be shot to death by the 11th, and thus the entire age is over.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post

                        One of the Dev Diaries confirmed that almost verbatim. They wanted to avoid the question of "how many bullets does it take to bring down a War God" and thus makes Solars mostly irrelevant.

                        If you watch Wuxia films, that's a major point in most of them set around the British Invasion and Opium Wars- Kung Fu just can't stand up to bullets. A lone master can take down an entire school of mooks, but even if he kills 10 rifleman he'll be shot to death by the 11th, and thus the entire age is over.
                        Or the master, in preparation for such an eventuality, trains himself in the iron-body technique, letting him shrug off the bullets and slay the 11th.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Stephen Lea Sheppard View Post

                          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.
                          It was probably a good call. I've seen enough Exalted players who basically wanted to play Syndrome and arguments about how well the modern USA would fare against Exalts to be glad that they're not regular occurrences.




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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord View Post
                            the question of "how many bullets does it take to bring down a War God"
                            It depends; have you invented a gun that can hit dematerialized things?

                            Originally posted by Sorcerous Overlord
                            thus makes Solars mostly irrelevant.
                            I think the difference between a Solar with a sword and a mortal with one is a bit more dramatic than the difference between a mortal with a sword and one with a gun.

                            That and, if guns exist, then Solars can use them as well.

                            There's also a weird bias inherent to the sentiment that guns would make Solars mostly irrelevant even if they did effectively close the gap; per First Edition, the Solar with Taboo-Inflicting Diatribe can probably retain relevance by shaping widespread attitudes about who to use guns against.




                            I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                            Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                            https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                            • #15
                              It's not really a mechanics sense of "guns make Exalts irrelevant", so much as themes associated with the Gun as a Gun. "The Gun that Tamed the West", "God Made Men, Colt Made Them Equal", etc

                              Firewands allow for a weapon that is stylized in a similar fashion to a gun and allows for similar gunplay stunts, but is adequately NOT a gun in order to keep the themes of the game coherent and avoid tonal/cognitive dissonance like "why, if we have mass-produced slug-thrower weaponry, do armies still use swords and spears?". The answer is "because fighting against armies wielding melee weapons is cool", but it creates a weird sense of "Why are ostensibly realism-grounded armies being trained in swords and spears and not square musket formations?"

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