Tag Archives: gaming

Art & Craft of Writing: Using Maps And Games

(A prior, simpler version of this article appeared as a reply to a thread [on using maps in the writing / marketing process] in the writer’s forums on How To Think Sideways)

I’ve been a wargamer almost as long as I have been a writer, and have been creating scenarios or adapting published material to game systems pretty much since Day One. Ergo, I have quite a number of odd bits available when I want to haul in a working-space for my story characters — and have dealt with some really creative game rules for approximating 3-D line-of-sight using a 2-D map for the playing surface (the FASA BATTLETECH system has been my fall-back there, although the earlier methods of the Avalon Hill SQUAD LEADER game system appeal to others of my acquaintance). This can be a real help when checking LOS (line-of-sight) for story continuity and visualization.

I find that it helps some people to use hexagonal grids instead of the commonly-available square-grid graph paper when creating or interpreting maps, but that may be an anomalous personal bias of mine showing. With either of those aids, or several other possibilities, it can help to find or make a (semi-)transparent overlay that can be laid on top of any printed or created map. This provides an immediate visual scale that can be simpler to read than measurements acquired by repeatedly moving a ruler. Transparency sheets (like those used with overhead projectors) allow for marking up a map without damaging the original; with a little practice, this concept can be used to show damage effects, terrain additions (where DID that parking garage go up?), temporary structures / “placed” equipment, etc.

The concepts of Frontage, Depth-of-Ranks, and March Times I learned in gaming translated well to my own writing, and may help in “feeling” / visualizing the relationship of map to real- / created- world:

Frontage is not just how wide a person or vehicle or critter is, but how much width of passage they need to function at a given rate of effectiveness for a desired activity — movement, hold-the-line defense, active fighting, et cetera. Frex, that five-foot hallway can be run through if “empty”, but add just one console table and a big guy may have to slow and sidle past (or smash the furniture accidentally while fighting).

Depth-of-Ranks or alternately Formations:
People and objects are three-dimensional at the least, and that includes length as well as width! A covey of quail, a homecoming parade, or an army on the march all take an amount of time to pass by any given reference point. If for some reason the moving group stops, it still has an area-of-coverage greater than the sum of the individuals making up the group. Think for a moment about a marching band. Unless there are VERY careful rehearsals and practice involved, each band member is separated from all those nearest by a minimum of an arm’s-length, or (roughly) one pace.

To further complicate our writing and gaming lives, movement is required — both physically and in terms of position-over-time — to shift from normal marching into any selected formation, either for static (“motion-less”) position or relative to allies, enemies, and features yet still in motion.

One Special-Case class of examples in military formations is any infantry unit maximizing defense through use of shields. “Special” here also involves nomenclature: a Testudo is not a Schiltron, and neither of those is a simple Shield-Wall… and all three have cultural variations. These (and most other) formations require varying amounts of acreage depending upon current circumstances as well. Each has benefits, each has limitations, and each has failed spectacularly when faced with advances in tactics or technology. (Massed archery or gunnery, and area-effect weaponry, being the death of most close-quarter formations at one time or another…)

The classical Phalanx is a fourth often-used description for shield- and spear- / pike- intensive infantry formations, and is perhaps the one most often MIS-used or simply misunderstood. Any discussion of the phalanx is further complicated by placement in history: a phalanx in the army of Alexander the Great at the time of his death was different in composition from that of the Athenians a mere three or four generations earlier, and both were different still from the Greek phalanx that would face Roman legions a few generations afterward, and NONE of those really relate to any modern (20th-century or later) military unit, although usage might make us want to believe otherwise.

The basic phalanx CONCEPT was little changed for at least two millennia, however: a mass of men arranged in a rectangular formation, all carrying a spear or spear-like primary weapon and usually also armed with a secondary (dagger / knife / short sword / etc.). Later descriptions indicate some specialization in the ranks: first rank shield, spear, and short secondary weapon; second rank shield and medium-length weapons (or “choked-up” longer ones), third and fourth ranks pike or other long weapons, sometimes without shields. Additional ranks were usually added up to a depth of eight or more, and a minimum front of ten men, usually more. A “true” Phalanx was seldom less than a hundred soldiers in number, although the more common camp & march unit was based upon the file (column or sometimes pair of columns within the deployed phalanx). Some of my sources are loathe to give the title of Phalanx to any formation of less than five hundred or so…

A convoy of vehicles has a minimum-safe separation distance that increases with speed (if you have been through Driver’s Ed or similar learning experience, remember the discussions about reaction time required to brake to a complete stop?), but ALSO typically has a minimum separation distance when parked in a line. That separation should be enough for crew and passengers to move between convoy elements without crawling through / over / under. There may be special circumstances where the minimum separation is reduced or eliminated due to any of several factors. These include but are not limited to providing cover to dismounted forces (use of vehicles as a temporary fortification, a la “Circle The Wagons!”, whether stationary or on-the-move), reducing threat from dismounted opposition, temporary fencing for herds, etc.

March Times: individual or group, living or mechanical (or other), humans assume that it takes some amount of time to move from Point A to Destination B. (Even with teleportation, Glinda – havta at least think about destination / initiate the transfer, after all!) In the simplest cases, this is a straightforward calculation. At a slightly more complex level, add in meal-times / fuel stops / potty-breaks. For any journey requiring more than the normal amount of time between two meals, it is best to include deliberately-scheduled rest time(s) and other possible fatigue factors.

The astute writer also does a little research into the perils of forced-march and subsequent effects upon performance of not only people and animals but also machinery not given extra maintenance attention.

* = * = * = *

(YES, I do happen to also design or expand / correct the rules for games in an attempt to make the experience more realistic. There is a balancing act involved quite simple to exposition in a given story, where too much detail detracts from enjoyment of the experience. I also happen to sharpen knives, swords – and wits…)


Roughing It In: Weapons Classification & Theory (Part III: “MODERN”)

Roughing It In Part III – “MODERN”

(Caveat: I’m not only a writer, I’m an old-school wargamer… and the following is at best a SUMMARY of the field)

The Modern era of weapons will be defined for purposes of this summarization as beginning with the end of the Medieval period and ending anywhere in the next ten minutes. It is generally characterized by firearms of increasing lethality and complexity, but also includes an increasing array of ranged yet non-lethal alternatives. Of necessity, sections covering underlying and auxillary technologies are also needed.

Perhaps the single most important thing to note about both the modern and future epochs of weaponry is that they are still ultimately vulnerable to the ancient and medieval. One rock delivered to just the right location at just the right time can as easily destroy a war machine as a single life. That said, onward!

Is it a weapon or ammunition: With the exception of the Naval Weapons section, the majority of the following listings after the AMMUNITION section are for durable weapons and not the associated expendable ammunition. Some categorization is purely arbitrary, and certain weapons may be shown in more than one category.

Solid shot: ball / sphere / roundshot, cone, cylinder / slug, flechettes / needles, “rubble”, chains, chainshot, hollowpoints, shaped (Minie ball, boattail, wadcutter, etc.); frangible

Explosive projectiles (shells, bombs, warheads, grenades): fused explosives, contact explosives, timed explosives

“Specialty” / “chemical”: Incendiary, tracer, “dispersal”, poisoned, marker/tagger, gas‑dispersal

Modern Artillery Warheads: AP (armor piercing), APDS (AP Discarding Sabot); HE (high explosive), HESH (HE Squash Head); Case / Cannister / Beehive (in essence, turns an artillery piece into a very large shotgun expelling small projectiles in a spreading cone, typically used to defend gun position against infantry or to disable “soft” targets); nuclear warhead

Bombs: “iron”, typically HE with casing that produces shrapnel; concussion; fire / inciendiary, FAE (thermobaric); chemical (typically gas: irritants, contact toxins, neurotoxins); radiation-enhanced (any other classification to which radioactive materials have been added BUT which are not intended to produce a nuclear reaction – in other words, a “dirty” bomb); biological agents (powders or mists usually dispersed by a small HE charge); nuclear explosive (fission, fusion, neutron, etc.); propaganda dispersal / other non-lethal delivery

self-propelled (rockets, missiles, cruise missiles, remotely-piloted-vehicle drones) Rockets are unguided once launched, missiles are rockets with on-board course correction capability of some type (steerig vanes, movable canards, steering / attitudinal “jets” {small controllable secondary exhaust nozzles}, cruise missiles use aerodynamic surfaces to maintain altitude and maneuverability, RPV drones commonly are used as weapon delivery platforms intended to be recovered and reused)

Propellants: pneumatic, tension/torsion, or explosive chemical
(Examples of each being respectively: blowgun / “paintball” marker; elastic band or compressed spring speargun / spring-launcher such as a Piat; firearms / rockets)

loose powder, packeted powder, “soft” cartridge, “hard” cartridge, “caseless”

Muzzle-loading, breech-loading, “external” loading (e.g. speargun or catapult or sling)

Loading style: single-shot, repeating (manual or autoloading/semiautomatic), automatic, internal magazine, revolving magazine, multi-barrel, clip-fed, drum-fed, belt-fed, cassete-fed

Sighting aids / sensor systems: none (“sightless”), bead (“shotgun-style”), post-and-ramp / open (“iron”) sights, closed (“peep” / aperture) sights, optically enhanced: telescopic, infrared, Starlyte, laser-designated, laser-guided

RADAR, SONAR, LIDAR, Magnetic, pressure-differential

Guidance: direct-fire / indirect-fire; unguided / ballistic, ATG (active terminal guidance), wire-guided, radio-guided, actively piloted (suicide pilot / kamikaze), homing (laser “painted”, IR signature, RADAR signature, SONAR signature, other), GPS-designated coordinates; combined

Weapon mounts: hand-held, sling, suspended / hanging, monopod, bipod, tripod, “fixed”, semi-fixed, pintle, wheeled carriage, tracked carriage, skid / ski carriage, sponson, turret, railcar; anti-aircraft, anti-ship, anti-submarine, air-to-air, surface-to-air, air-to-surface, surface-to-surface, “universal”



  • Handguns: Hold-out Pistol, Pistol, Revolver, Auto-Pistol
  • Longarms: Musket, Musketoon, Rifled Musket, Rifle, Carbine
  • Smoothbores: Blunderbuss, Shotgun, Grenade-launcher
  • Military: Submachine Gun, Light Machine Gun (see following, under Machine-Guns), Assault Rifle; grenades, “anarchist”/terrorist bombs, booby traps
  • Specialty: Gyrojet Pistol (and Rifle); Taser, Speargun, duckfoot, riot gun

“Heavy” / “Squad-Support”

  • Swivel Gun
    originally a light cannon or carronade mounted atop a post or ship’s rail, often loaded with small-shot for use in boarding actions. Loaded with chain or “debris”, also effective in attacking an opponent’s rigging and sails. Possibly one direct ancestor of the modern breech-loaded grenade launcher.

    Later developments place very large caliber shotguns, grenade launchers, and even small rocket launchers into this role prior to the broad availability of machine-guns (See Also: Trap Gun)

  • Grenade Launcher (man-portable)
    As a distinct and separate weapon, found in single-shot and pump-action (auto-loading variations tend to be crew-served and emplaced or field-mounted or vehicular-mounted)
  • Volley Gun
    Consisting of multiple barrels capable of being fired simultaneously, volley guns fell into disfavor as machine-guns gained a reputation on the field of battle. Some examples of the type allowed for only partial firing of volleys, giving extended threat / coverage to a lane of approach while other guns in the battery were being reloaded.

    Removable pre-loaded breech-blocks holding fifty or more cartridges appeared in later models, increasing the effective ROF for as long as the supply of loaded blocks held out. In at least one variation, these blocks provided all of the barrel the weapon had and the firing action plus large clamps to hold the block in place made up the “gun”. Another variation on the theme figures prominently in alternate-universe fiction as part of the 1632 universe (created and edited by Eric Flint)

  • Trap Gun
    A gun intended to be used as part of a trap, often fired by a trip wire or some other unattended method. Also used to describe very large bore shotguns used for harvesting migratory birds, in which mode the gun is mounted upon a tripod or other mount allowing pre-aiming at a baited / decoy-populated area. (Such shotguns were never intended for firing from the shoulder, and were almost invariably single-shot and required re-setting the aim after firing.)
  • Light Mortars
    the general designation includes tubes of no more than 81 millimeters diameter; in the World War II era, “knee mortars” provided an alternative to grenade launchers in the squad-support role. Modern light mortar bombs consist of a warhead attached to the top of a propellant charge, most often fired by simply dropping the prepared round into an open tube which has a firing pin at the base. Individual bombs typically have two separate “safeties”, one for the warhead and one for the propellant.
  • Anti-Tank Rifle (man- or semi- portable)
  • Flame Throwers
    1. LIGHT MACHINE-GUN a.k.a. Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW)

      The M249 SAW/LMG in 5.56mm caliber has been the standard LMG in USArmy deployments since 1984CE. Although rated at a Cyclic ROF of 775RPM, it is considered to have a sustained ROF of 50 RPM and a “rapid” ROF of 100 RPM (the typical content of a single belt of ammunition).

      Although the USMC is now opting for the M27 in the SAW role, they too used the M249 for most of 25 years (1984ce through 2009ce, with some remaining in use afterward).

      During World War II, German machine-guns deployed in the “light” role (models MG34 and MG42) had cyclic fire rates in excess of 1300 rpm. The German design decision was biased in favor of high volume bursts in the belief that defenders would only be exposed to the machine-gunner’s fire for very limited amounts of time before going to cover.

    2. Medium Machine Gun
      In some armed service deployments, substantially similar to the deployed LMG except for mount(s) and ammunition supply.
    3. Heavy Machine Gun
      Generally deployed in a larger caliber than the LMG or MMG, with some notable exceptions


  • Land Mines:
    anti-armor (AKA anti-tank),
    “Rommel asparagus”
    (SEE ALSO booby-traps, above)
  • Foxhole
    a simple pit providing cover against incoming fire
  • Trench
    an excavated ditch typically no wider than it is deep, providing relatively hard cover against incoming small arms fire and varying degrees of protection against indirect weapons. A firing step is a raised platform or ledge along the side of the trench nearest the enemy which allows a soldier to use his ranged weapon in direct‑fire aimed mode while maintaining 90% or greater hard cover
  • Bunker
    sense 1 – a field fortification which includes a substantial roof to protect occupants / contents from indirect‑fire weapons and aerial bombardment. The classic bunker includes openings facing the enemy that allow for observation and use of weapons from under cover. Bunkers often serve as emplacements for heavy weapons

    sense 2 – fuel storage areas on a ship, esp. the [u]coal bunkers[/u] on steamships

    sense 3 – a protected storage area, usually roofed / enclosed, for the materiel used in warfare, including particularly such categories as fuel and ammunition

  • Revetments
    raised areas of hard cover used to provide field fortifications; most often include few specific accommodations for active defense (beyond possibly firing steps
  • “Nest”
    a defensive position used by a single weapon or weapon crew. The most commonly seen specific forms are the machine-gun nest and the sniper’s nest
  • Blockhouse
    primarily a thick-walled building with provisions for defensive weapons‑fire through firing ports (a.k.a. Loopholes) or from positions on the roof. On the American frontier, often of roughly equivalent length and width, and often with nearly matching height.
  • Stockade
    sense 1 – (as associated with the American frontier) a fortified enclosure where the exterior walls are made up of log palisades, often with one or more blockhouses included as part of the outer defensive wall

    sense 2 – a military jail

  • Redoubt
    in field fortifications, an area providing hard cover in advance of the main body of troops in a given force. In fixed fortifications, may more often be a fall‑back position outside the primary works / compound
  • Fire Base
    a field fortification intended for long term use, most often associated with artillery in battery or greater strength but usually including a significant infantry presence. Most often has near‑complete encircling cover provided by revetments, ramparts, trenches, etc.
  • Compound, Post, Fort, Fortress
    increasingly larger fortifications
  • Tank trap
  • Fougasse
    an incendiary positional defensive area trap / general‑purpose “installation” producing effects similar to a thermobaric bomb (a.k.a. FAE) by the engineered detonation of a semi-contained flammable gas such as propane or butane; gasoline vapors or a deliberate mist of other flammable liquids may also be used to create the effect. Particularly effective against infantry, cavalry, and “soft” vehicles. Distinctive in that a well‑built fougasse can conceivably be reused multiple times as long as the feed tubes and ignition method are undamaged, repaired, or replaced AND additional tanks of gas are available (as opposed to most explosive‑based mines).


  • Artillery – Heavy Mortar, Spigot Mortar
  • Artillery – Cannon
  • Artillery – Guns: Anti-Tank Gun, Infantry Gun, Multi-Purpose Gun
  • Artillery – Howitzer
  • Artillery – Anti-Aircraft / Area Suppression:
    1. Flak cannon
    2. Rocketry
    3. Missiles
    4. Phalanx
    5. Minigun, Gatling


  • Ram
  • Spar Torpedoes
  • Torpedoes
  • Depth Charges
  • Naval Mines:
    1. Limpet
    2. Magnetic
    3. Tethered
    4. Drift (free-floating)
  • Chains / Booms
  • Anti-Submarine Nets
  • Fireship
  • Q-ship

With a relatively narrow range of exceptions, vehicles CARRY weapons and are not specifically weapons themselves — although “field expedient” usage may still be lethal. (Rolling an AFV track over someone can be fairly darn lethal – cf. Tianamien Square…)

Land Vehicles
Note that the generic types of propulsion are used here, and given greater detail under the Naval Vehicle topics. An exception is for vehicles dependent upon a prepared roadbed / fixed route: trolleys, trains, canal barges being the most-common examples coming to mind.


  • Wagons:
  • Trolleys:
  • Canal / River Barges:


  • Automobiles: Staff Cars, “soft” Scout Cars, etc.
  • Trucks / Lorries
  • Rail Trains
  • Specialty Vehicles: Jeep, HMMMV, “Universal Carrier”

SELF-PROPELLED – “hard” (Armored)

  • Armored Cars a.k.a. “Scout Cars”
  • Armored Personnel Carriers a.k.a. APC
  • Armored Fighting Vehicles a.k.a. “Tanks”
  • Armored Trucks incl. Half-Tracks, Payroll Trucks, etc.
  • Armored Trains / Armored Rail Cars
  • Other Armored Vehicles: Armored Engineering Vehicles, Hum-vee, Armored “Universal Carrier” (a.k.a. Bren carrier), etc.

Naval Vehicles
Sail-driven vessels ultimately span the full range of epochs in this study of weapon systems: under nearly all conceivable circumstances where a planetary surface can support life without major technical insulation (space / environmental / armored suits) – and a good many where Terran-origin life might not survive in the open but which could still be profitably inhabited – the winds will blow and can be harnessed to propel ships. Or other things…

By necessity, Age of Sail examinations should also mention some muscle-powered watercraft that remain of importance even into the Modern era…

  • Rowed/Poled Craft (MAY have sails in addition to oars / paddles / poles): raft, coracle, dugout, pirogue, keelboat, kayak / umiak, canoe, rowboat, liburnian, longboat
  • “Hybrid” Craft (use sails more often than oars, but both are relied upon for the full range of water conditions accessed): barge, galleas, longship (drakkar), galley (monoreme, bireme, trireme, quadrireme, quinquireme), dromund
  • Sailing ships (may occasionally still have long oars known as sweeps, but typically pulled by another oared vessel if the winds fail or the sails are destroyed): galleon, cog, sloop, barkentine, clipper, brigantine, man-o-war, frigate, cutter, etc.


  • Paddle-wheel
    1. Side-wheel
    2. Double Side-wheel
    3. Rear
  • Screw (propellor) drive


  • Direct Drive
  • Usually used to power a screw propeller, although some early or special-purpose vessels powered by IC engines used paddlewheels.

  • Electrical Motor Drives
  • Typically using DC current generated from an array of batteries, EM Drive is the basis for both Hybrid and Nuclear ship’s motive power

  • Hydro-jet Drive
  • The actual propulsion in these vessels is provided by using the engines to drive pumps, and the outflow of the pumps provides thrust.

  • Hybrid Drive
  • Common in pre-nuclear submarines, a combination of IC electrical generation, battery storage, and electric motors to drive the screws (or pumps, if a hydrojet design). In port, external electrical supplies can also be used to recharge the on-board batteries.

technically driven by electricity produced from steam generated by heating a fluid as far as is generally known…

(experimental) siphon drive: water drawn through filters from surrounding environment is flash-heated and expelled through nozzles to produce thrust. Due to environmental concerns, publically believed to have been abandoned as a viable alternative by USNavy.


  • Diving Bell
  • Bathyscape
  • Submarine

Air Vehicles: LTA

Air Vehicles: HTA

Amphibian Vehicles

Ground-Effect Vehicles

  • Hovercraft / GEM (ground-effect machines)
  • Hydrofoils
  • Maglev (fixed-track, “rail”-dependent)

Tri-Phibian Vehicles

Roughing It In (Part II: MEDIEVAL) Weapons Classification and Theory

See Part I for some relevant definitions as to materials and construction

Weaponry in the post-Ancient pre-Modern world increasingly takes advantage of stored energy, as opposed to immediate use of muscles, with a progressive shift towward mechanism and – most importantly – chemical storage/release.

At least in part, the divide between Ancient, Medieval, and Modern weapons follows the development of gunpowder and other explosives more than any single other substance. (Yes, crude black powder existed well before the generally-accepted start of the Medieval period.)

In another way, the progression may be summarized as

  • Ancient: “Fire good, fire pretty”
  • Medieval: “Cannon deliver fire to the masses at the command of kings and the Church”
  • Modern: “Fire may be delivered to the masses wholesale, but it may be more efficient to make retail delivery systems accessible”

Medeival weapons are, as a broad generality, all about being bigger, better, and more lethal. In the realm of gunpowder alone, the progression is from generally inefficient rockets through small inaccurate firearms like the “pot du feu” and thence up the scale to massive artillery pieces such as the bombard.

Polearms: Incresingly elaborate and often increasingly massive. The “ultimate” forms may not be the best-known, but the best-known beat out some of the more complex for various good reasons.

  • Awl Pike – the ultimate “knife on a stick”, in that it was cheap to produce in quantity, easily taught to mass numbers of conscript or other non-professional troops, and when deployed in sufficient numbers able to stand fast in the face of even numerically superior armored cavalry.
  • Halberd: the best known of the “hybrid” polearms, the better control offered by the halberd made it the preferred replacement to the pole-axe, the shorter pole made it more useful in cluttered terrain, and the incorporated spear-point made it a stand-in for pointy-ended offerings like the pike without the pike’s serious problem of becoming a handicap if opponents got past the hedge of points. The relative survival rates of lone pikement as opposed to lone halberdiers did not go unnoticed…
  • Other notable polearms: glaive (“sword-on-a-stick”, with the naginata and nagimaki being Japanese variations on the theme worth noting), guisarme, voulge, bardiche, partisan, bill / billhook, bec de corbin (crow’s beak), and the ever-notable “scythe-blade thingy” (any available agricultural sharpened blade mounted upon a pole, often after being straightened in relationship to the tang)

Axes specifically created for use in battle date to ancient times (survinvg Egyptian examples attest to their existence), but even the lowly wood-cutter’s blade-and stick found effective use in war.

  • Battle-Axe – often had handles reinforced or even replaced by metal.
  • Hand-Axe – usually differentiated from the battle-axe in that they were often expected to either be thrown or used in a parrying role similar to that of some daggers
  • Francisca – the Frankish axe, a multi-role weapon associated with the cavalry of the Franks. With a smallish head and longer handle, extended the reach of the mounted warrior while still allowing use as a thrown weapon. (Reported usage was to charge in, hurling a volley of francisca before drwing swords or ramming home with lances.

In general, a two-edged blade shorter than a sword, but may also include special-purpose items like the stiletto and misericorde (both with negligble edges but murderous points as originally constructed).

While in fact a very broad category of long blades ultimately derived from the knife, the most iconic of medieval swords typically had blades that were double-edged, between two and four feet in length when designed to be used in one hand, and as much as six feet or more when carried two-handed. As with many other forms of weapon, the various elements that make a sword recognizable as a sword varied over time and with intended purpose.

  • Two-edged:
    1. Broadsword
    2. Longsword
    3. Hand-and-a-half (AKA Bastard Sword, sometimes “War-Sword”)
    4. Two-Handed Sword (zweihander, flamberge)
    5. Shortsword
    6. Rapier
    7. Sword-Rapier
  • (primarily) Single-edged:
  • (To improve the point penetration – and removal after a successful thrust – single-edged blades often invlude an often unsharpened “false edge” on the tip portionof the back of the blade. False edges seldom extend more that one-third of the blade’s length.)

    1. Falchion
    2. Cutlass
    3. Saber
    4. Scimitar
    5. Tulwar
    6. Wakizashi
    7. Katana
    8. No-dachi

Non-firearm Artillery and Missile Weapons
The entirety of the Ancient artillery arsenal remained in at least occasional use even as guns were making more and more inroads. The form of catapult known as a trebuchet is often regarded as an advancement of the medieval era, but references to examples have recently been found dating well before 800ce.

The materials used tended to be those immediately available still, and some substances like “Greek fire” became unknown by the end of the medieval timeframe. As transportation systems re-developed in the wake of the Dark Ages in Europe, there were exceptions: naptha was a prized flammable for siege purposes, both in defense and offense.

Crossbows (AKA arbalest) were man-portable, efficient, and took less training time to train for individual soldiers. They also existed in some form since the time of Imperial Rome, although this was yet another area in which Europe “lost” the knowledge or will to produce more. Once re-introduced, religious edicts sought to govern the use of their (perceived) greater lethality. “Arms control” laws are considerably older than many people realize…

Personal Firearms
“Handgonnes” in the very early stages of development generally trailed after developments in artillery. While examples are certainly found prior to 1400ce, wide-scale use of smaller guns exploded over the following two centuries and can be considered largely responsible for much of European colonial expansion successes.


[B]Artillery Firearms[/B]
Beginning with the use of (very inaccurate) rocketry in ancient times. gunpowder artillery developments in many ways battered the medieval way of life into oblivion. With almost-negligible experimental models to the contrary, firearms of the Medieval timefrrame are muzzle-loaded and delivered solid non-explosive projectiles to their targets. Mortars and very early howitzers become the exceptions relatively later on.

For purposes of the current study, consider the Medieval period of firearms to close with the introduction of methods to fire a cannon that do not begin with open flame (the wheel-lock and flint-lock or similar igniters producing sparks, as opposed to the torch or slow-match). Note also that even though available, costs and battlefield expediencies left open-flame cannon-firing a standard up through the American Civil War (1861-65ce).

The improvements in artillery both drove and followed developments in materials science and various design matters throughout the timeframe. Construction methods and materials for the guns themselves spilled over and drew upon other areas where cast metals and alloys were important (bell foundry, cooking vessels; layout of defenses created new models for city planning (the whole notion of a PLANNED city in some ways follows from seeing a city as more than a walled enclosure).

Mortar (and Bomb)
(primitive) Howitzer