Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Wonderbuss

Magical blunderbuss-type firearms were used by some wealthy Dwergen in their early conquest of the Strange New World. The weapons gave these sorcerously inept folk help against the shamans of the Natives and the thaumaturgists of rival Grand Lludd. Today, these antiques sometimes find their way into the hands of adventurers--in this world, and perhaps others.

Though they were manufactured in a variety of styles, they’re all muzzle-loading weapons with short, large caliber barrels and flared muzzles. They all can fire relatively normal projectiles of appropriate size (provided there is gun powder) , but their real power lies in specially designed spherical ammunition called “shells.” Interestingly, it appears likely that it was the prior existence of these magical shells which spurred the development of the gun, and not the other way around. No one knows who originally designed the shells, nor for what weapon.

Thaumaturgists (with alchemical aid) can manufacture new shells, but the process is tedious and expensive, so they tend to be rare. Sometimes, a supply is found in Ancient ruins or even other planes. The shells are classified by number, which denotes their effect. All shells of the same number historically tend to be of similar appearance, and modern manufacturers have kept with this tradition. Shells don’t not require gunpowder.

Magic Blunderbuss (Wonderbuss)
Dmg: 1d10 or special; Rof: 1/2 ; Range: 50’/100’/300’

Shells: (all spell references per the SRD)
#1: appears to be a lead ball, but too light for its apparently size. +1 weapon; Dmg. 1d12.  These are 80% of all shells found.
#2: brass-appearing. Casts two shadows, one distinct the other shimmering like heat-haze. Leaves a fiery streak when fired. 4d6 fire damage.
#3: appears to be a steel sphere etched with three 7-pointed stars. +2 to hit, 2d8 points of damage.  These are 5% of shells found.
#4: glass, containing a roiling green liquid. On a successful strike creates an Acid Fog as per spell.
#5: glass, faintly glowing and warm like the mantle of a lantern. Acts as the spell Sunburst, though it misfires on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6, and only does 1d10 damage.
#6: smoked glass. Faint moans can be heard within. Target’s soul is imprisoned on sucessful hit as per Magic Jar.
#7: silver and etched with glyphs which seem to shift when its not being watched. 1d10, deals double damage to lycanthropes, and extraplanar beings of evil. These are 5% of shells found.
#8: white, with the look of fine china, cool to the touch. Explodes for 5d6 damage in a 20 ft. radius.  Sleeping near (2 ft.) of one of these shells has a 75% chance of causing a ringing in the ears (leading to a penalty for rolls to detect things by hearing) lasting 1-4 days after removal of the shell from that distance.  Wrapping the shell in cloth will prevent this effect.
#9: appears as a flawless sphere of obsidian. Acts as a Sphere of Annihilation, though it can’t be moved, and exists only for 1 round before winking out.

Some scholars believe that more shell types are yet to be discovered.


Porky said...

The wonder's in the ideas. I love your side effect for #8 most of all - wonderfully arbitrary..!

Unknown said...

We used the Wonderbuss to great effect in last Saturday's game. I included a shell that catastrophically polymorphs a target into a swarm of butterflies. The effect works even on inanimate targets, such as when you miss you intended target and want to do a little collateral damage.

Anonymous said...

Of course, there are other ways than a wonderbus to use the shells. Occasionally other relic weapons are found that can use them, though this is not always readily apparent.

It is said that the flying ace Billi Cardinal carries a long pistol that fires shells and that weapon is responsible for at least two of her aerial kills.

John Matthew Stater said...

Very cool!

NakiaPope said...

When I saw the post title, I thought it was going to be about another means of transportation. And I had The Who's "Magic Bus" all queued up.

But this is even better. The shells idea also reminds me of Roland's guns in The Dark Tower. No overt magic there, but the group put the shells in their ears to mute the maddening call of a magical rift.

Trey said...

@Porky - Indeed, as I think magic should be more often. :)

@Risus - Ah, yes. Forgot that one. That's the #11 shell, isn't it? ;)

@Seaofstarsprg - Quite right. Well played, sir!

@Matt - Thanks.

@Prof Pope - Ha! Well, maybe I should throw one of those in at some point. I'm a big fan of the Dark Tower series, too. It's a shame there's not an rpg in that vein.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

#10: Appears to be a transparent geode, with spines of crystal inside. When fired it will pass into the target and shatter.

#12: This large metal shell has various warnings etched onto it in numerous languages. It will transport any living, undead, or formerly living target to a random location up 100 miles away. There is a 35% chance that the subject will turn inside out and explode.

Unknown said...

Neat boom-stick!

I've got that same image in my files, and I've been meaning to do a write up on it for a while. We'll see if I can get around to it.

Trey said...

@C'nor - Nice. You've apparently got access to some heretofore undiscovered records. ;)

@Harald - I look forward to seeing that.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...


Extradimensionality helps. :D

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

#13: This clear glass sphere holds a candle-size fire in the center. It causes the Wonderbuss to spout flame equivalent to the breath of a dragon.

#14: This shell appears to be a small, ovoid, pellet. However, when fired, it will sprout blades like an arrow. If it strikes, it will inject a potent toxin into the target - the affected creature must save vs. poison or lose 3/4 of its total HP. Anny creature kill by it explodes in a 30' radius, dealing 5d6 damage.

Trey said...

Found those in a seldom used drawer, didn't you? ;)

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

It's amazing what can be found in the attics around these parts.

#15. This shell will travel 10' and then explode, inverting all states in a 100 foot radius. (All ghosts become solid, but all solids become etereal, water turns to fire, functional becomes infunctional...). of course the sublte danger of s=this shell is rarely realized. Valuable becomes valueless - but its appearance doesn't change! Gold coins? Previously undiscovered mine floods the market. On the flip side, that worthless club is now worth more than a good horse... because there was recently a massive fire, which has rendered them needed for being brought back to treedom magically.