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What's the point of firewands?

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  • Originally posted by Wise Old Guru View Post
    Go read the Back Alive or Maybe Dead Quest.

    That's the point of Firewands.
    Thanks for the shout-out! To elaborate a bit - in my story, flame weapons are explicitly a fantastic replacement for guns, with some caveats.

    I describe firewands mostly using early firearms as points of reference, where dust is both ammunition and a propellant. They're intimidating weapons that make it plausible for a physically weak opponent to punch above their weight class. Moreso than a blade, using a firewand in a fight shows that the fight is deadly serious.

    On a personal level, the biggest difference is that wands are showy. Every shot from a flamepiece is like a firework going off, making them perfect for dramatic shifts in the momentum of a fight or for elaborate finishing moves. Bullets can only puncture things - flame weapons immolate.

    Flame weapons in my interpretation of the setting are relatively common in the south, 'cause that's where the dust is. But they're still not something that most people have, because they're expensive to make and maintain. Firewands did not "win the south" in the way that the Colt SAA is said to have won the west, in part because of the limitations of modern wand-smithing but mostly because firedust itself has several limitations that make it less practical than gunpowder for full-scale warfare. Namely:
    1. It has very limited range.
    2. It can't be mass manufactured.
    3. Setting everything on fire limits your forces' ability to move and may destroy strategic property you'd like to claim.

    Firewands are terrific weapons for a defensive line of infantry. Flamepieces are similarly valuable to cavalry or skirmishers that are harrying the enemy. But those aren't enough to really transform warfare in Creation, and at the end of the day, a lone wand-slinger will probably get more use out of flame weapons than a master of armies would.

    (Also, regarding the title: it comes from a song, and the transcribed lyric doesn't have any commas in it. )
    Last edited by semicasual; 08-07-2018, 10:34 AM.


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    • Honestly, if we were going for realism, I'd expect that firewands would be used against fortifications (like real-world flamethrowers), or as an intentional atrocity in order to do as much hard-to-repair damage to a civilian area as possible as quickly as possible during a quick raid in a war of annihilation or when trying to force people to flee the area (like white phosphorus is sometimes used today.) You want a settlement and its population gone, you send some crazy people on horses to ride through lighting it up and hurting people. Firewands are excellent for that. Also, I suppose, for raiding supply lines and the like. Basically you use it when raiding deep into enemy territory or when destroying stuff is easier, simpler, or more desirable than claiming it.

      I wouldn't expect the game to actually have much of this, though, since it also wants firewands to be cool / romantic / fantastic kung-fu weapons, and presenting them as tactical anti-emplacement tools at best and as portable atrocity generators at worst somewhat goes against the genre. I mean, people do horrible things in these stories, sure, but using firewands that way intersects with the fact that they're already a bit of a technology-level bend to produce a very 20th century sort of horror that isn't appropriate for the setting.

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      • I don't think I want Exalted to shy away from the use of fire as a terror weapon.

        If nothing else, horse-riders can carry and throw burning torches to light supply wagons, tents, crates, and homes on fire.

        And let's not forget the time Oda Nobunaga burned an entire castle full of ninjas and their families to death.


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        • Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
          using firewands that way intersects with the fact that they're already a bit of a technology-level bend to produce a very 20th century sort of horror that isn't appropriate for the setting.
          I'm not really sure what you mean by that.

          I know that there are Conan stories, for one thing, in which there are certain tactical uses of fire as a means of fighting, so that's the genre precedent.

          As for the era, people have been using fire for killing one another for as far back as we've had both at the same time. Possibly in some ways that are more horrifying than you can imagine. The ancient Phoenicians would heat braziers full of sand until they were red hot and dump it all over invaders; think of how sand gets everywhere, and of how scalding hot it can get just from being baked in the sun. There are reports of ancient Macedonians having lit pigs on fire and launched them at enemies, particularly as a method of spooking elephants.

          Originally posted by Sunder the Gold View Post

          And let's not forget the time Oda Nobunaga burned an entire castle full of ninjas and their families to death.
          Those weren't ninjas, they were monks.

          Warrior monks!

          Which actually meant that they employed the arms and methods of the samurai while adhering to monastic lifestyle, rather than using special martial arts while still dressed in their everyday garb.


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          • Yes, but the combination of that with the imagery of firewands, which already tread the line towards being flamethrowers, tends to evoke something more like World War II than swords-and-sandals raiders. They have to be treated more carefully than other parts of the game because they're already bending the aesthetic slightly, so I'd generally want them to be more "mythologized" rather than going for nitty-gritty realistic interpretations of them and how they'd actually be used in reality.

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            • If I'm going for modern war crimes thematic imagery (white phosphorus, Dresden firebombing, etc), my go-to is Pyre flames. Abyssals make good war criminals.

              Also, firewands are probably a decent anti-zombie army measure, once we add supernatural elements to our tactics.


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              • Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                Yes, but the combination of that with the imagery of firewands, which already tread the line towards being flamethrowers, tends to evoke something more like World War II than swords-and-sandals raiders.
                Flame throwers are at least 1400 years old.


                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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                • Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                  Honestly, if we were going for realism, I'd expect that firewands would be used against fortifications (like real-world flamethrowers), or as an intentional atrocity in order to do as much hard-to-repair damage to a civilian area as possible as quickly as possible during a quick raid in a war of annihilation or when trying to force people to flee the area (like white phosphorus is sometimes used today.) You want a settlement and its population gone, you send some crazy people on horses to ride through lighting it up and hurting people. Firewands are excellent for that. Also, I suppose, for raiding supply lines and the like. Basically you use it when raiding deep into enemy territory or when destroying stuff is easier, simpler, or more desirable than claiming it.

                  I wouldn't expect the game to actually have much of this, though, since it also wants firewands to be cool / romantic / fantastic kung-fu weapons, and presenting them as tactical anti-emplacement tools at best and as portable atrocity generators at worst somewhat goes against the genre. I mean, people do horrible things in these stories, sure, but using firewands that way intersects with the fact that they're already a bit of a technology-level bend to produce a very 20th century sort of horror that isn't appropriate for the setting.
                  Relatedly, in my Dreaming Sea game--where I failed greatly to imagine Ysyr as a sorcerous kingdom--Firewands were often used as shock and psychological weapons. Royal troops would use them to break up crowds or riots, as well as in close quarters fields. Never put them to "burning fields" but definetly making use of the fact that "suddenly, fire" startles people and horses rather easily.


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                  • I was having a lunch time chat with a friend at work, about a Western movie set in about 1892.

                    It includes roller skating.

                    The roller skating might be historically shaky for that particular part of the world at the time (at least very exotic as amusements go) but as it turns out wasn't anachronistic.

                    That said, I'd have to think about including skates if I was writing for a Western-themed game, because it took all of us right out of the movie to look it up, the first time we watched.

                    I figure Firewands (and Warstriders, and probably some other things) are similar - great if you want to include them, but if they derail the setting, out they go.

                    For what it's worth (Resources **), my current writing includes Firewands but excludes Warstriders.


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                    • Fully plated knights used guns in real life. Those were two technologies that existed at the same time and thus were used together.

                      It’s just that this period of time was so short that it didn’t become romanticized and immortalized in fiction.


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                      • Originally posted by Aquillion View Post
                        Yes, but the combination of that with the imagery of firewands, which already tread the line towards being flamethrowers, tends to evoke something more like World War II than swords-and-sandals raiders. They have to be treated more carefully than other parts of the game because they're already bending the aesthetic slightly, so I'd generally want them to be more "mythologized" rather than going for nitty-gritty realistic interpretations of them and how they'd actually be used in reality.
                        This is probably about the look. As Isator says, flamethrowers go back a long, long way (Eastern Roman flamethrowers were why the Arab Caliphates failed to take Constantinople - twice). And the flame weapons in Exalted have a bit more similarity to that than rifles, because they have really poor range. But they are always presented as looking like muskets and flintlock rifles.
                        It's not really the fact that they're flamethrowers that's the issue (though few early flamethrowers were that miniaturised), but the way they look.


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