War Donkey and Cannon

Timothy the Tulip is a gladiator character in my Old School Hack game. His player wants to get into the gonzo spirit of the game, so he decided since he’s a buff pile of rippling muscle, he wants to carry a cannon. (Plus, he’ll be at sea soon, in the process of hunting…well, a dragon.)

Because this is Old School Hack, the request warrants a finger tapping the chin and a thoughtful look, rather than the flat refusal appropriate in most games.

First we had some back and forth.

  • Firing Position. I told him if he wanted to carry the cannon and fire it, he’d take 2 wounds per shot, but he could get one that would have a back spike to be grounded, and a chain attached to the muzzle to control elevation.
  • Hand to Hand. His compliment of cannon gear will serve every niche.
    • The Cannon. (Very Heavy) The cannon counts as a weapon and 2 heavy loads. It is too heavy to swing around by the chain, so it is just a very heavy weapon.
    • Cannonball. (Light and Ranged) A softball sized cannonball can be used as a light weapon in hand to hand, or be thrown as a ranged weapon. Because, you know, ow.
      • If dubious, consider the relative damage of a cannonball and a dagger or rapier used in hand to hand. I think it’s close enough.
    • Ramrod.  (Reach) The reach weapon.
    • Sack of Cannonballs. (Heavy) If he has at least 2 cannonballs in a reinforced sack, that counts as a heavy weapon.
  • Ammo Encumbrance. I decided three cannonballs  would count as 1 heavy object. Also, a small keg with 5 shots (each shot being equal to 5 shots for a pistol or musket) would count as 1 heavy object (2 encumbrance loads).
  • Armor Needs. He wondered if he could get a shoulder pad and half helmet or something to reduce the damage if firing from his shoulder, and I said no; the system is not granular enough for that, and I was more focused on the general concussive force.

To take stock, if he carries the cannon (1 weapon and 2 heavy loads) and 6 cannonballs (2 heavy loads) and the keg (1 heavy load) and the ramrod (1 reach weapon) that’s 5 loads; what he can manage with his enormous strength and his Heft talent.

But–then he can’t carry his goblin friend and weapon caddy Tibbers (2 heavy loads). Some further questions revealed other down sides to his plan.

  • Reload Time. I told him it would take 2 people 1 focus action each to load the weapon, or 1 person 2 focus actions.
  • Very Heavy Weapon Blues. They don’t get arena bonus for anything, and that hurts his desire to use it, since as a gladiator he gets great advantage from arena bonuses.
  • The Unexpected. If he loses track of his ramrod, or wants to put things besides cannonballs in the gun, or has trouble finding a way to ground it, or whatever, I’ll fall back on charging him Awesome Points and we’ll make it work.

I did brighten his day when I told him that I figured a very small cannon like that would do base 4 damage, and if hitting by 5 or more, 8 damage; and also that it could be split among everything in its path as appropriate.

Also, I figure each shot obscures vision in half an arena, adding +2 difficulty to see through it.

Reload time is not such a big issue when you plan to heft the cannon up and use its back spike to stab someone, then swing the body of it to mash someone else…

I also suggested if he got a war donkey that would help. If he didn’t want to use the cannon all the time, he could get a sturdy, expensive, top-of-the-line donkey that could carry 6 loads; give it the 5 loads he could carry, then for the last load, heavy armor!

I couldn't find donkey barding on the internet...

I am picturing steel fangs on the helm with a fierce crest , over the weary mild eyes of the donkey hefting the heavy gear.

Anyway, then he’d have all he needed on the war donkey, and he could carry his normal gear. It would be an expensive donkey, with all its stuff, so he’d need guards for it–like his two loyal goblin friends.

And, for the coup de grace, he asked if he could have the cannon fire yellow smoke in honor of its warmaster the Tulip–of course! I figure a little extra sulfur would do the trick.

I’m not sure he’ll go for it, but if he does decide to carry a cannon around, but if he does… Let’s ring up this possible outfitting:

  • 200 gold. Small cannon (very heavy weapon)
  • 200 gold. Modifications for spike, chain, handles
  • 50 gold. War donkey
  • 50 gold. War donkey barding
  • 40 gold. 5 charges of gunpowder, each worth 5 regular charges, plus the keg and a little extra for the yellow tinge to the smoke
  • 20 gold. 4 cannonballs (can be ranged or light weapons)
  • 5 gold. 1 chained pair of cannonballs (could be a reach weapon)
  • 5 gold. 1 ramrod fortified to be a reach weapon
  • 570 gold

The expression on their faces when gunned down by a one-man cannon with a war donkey looking on:


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4 Responses to War Donkey and Cannon

  1. Keith Davies says:

    I would so let this happen. Sounds like Echelon Heroic tier (level 5-8 in D&D-land) — more than you can rightfully expect in real life, but not completely impossible.

  2. fictivite says:

    I think that’s the sweet spot that Old School Hack is aiming for, and I do my best to help hit it. Thanks for checking this out!

  3. Pingback: Links of the Week: November 28, 2011 | KJD-IMC - KJDavies "In My Campaign" Articles

  4. Pingback: A Quiet Conversation. | Fictive Fantasies

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