Age of Pike and Shot

Admittedly I've been reading far too much boys' own fiction lately (G A Henty's works are free on Project Gutenberg), and I recognise there were some very nasty, total wars in the 17th century. But I keep coming back to the notion of running a game set then, possibly with the PCs as a sort of "home defense force" of partisan dragoons keeping bandits, marauding soldiers and others away from their homes.

Basic firearms rules are already there, courtesy of Alex and LotFP:

- All gunpowder weapons deal 1d8 damage
- Pistol range: 25' / 50' / 100'
- Arquebus and Musket range: 50' / 100' / 200'
- Double range and penalties and no DEX bonus at Medium and Long range, unless Rifled
- Matchlock/wheellock reload requires (10 rounds + ENC - DEX mod)
- Flintlock reload requires (5 rounds + ENC - DEX mod)
- Pistols and Arquebus ignore 5 points of armor at close range
- Musket ignores 5 points of armor at all ranges
- Musket has -2 to hit unless used with resting-fork

Any thoughts on artillery?

Military units are pretty straightforward; the main sorts of infantry are pikemen, arquebusiers (gunmen) and musketeers (sword and shield men). The main sorts of cavalry are heavy who close with swords or use pistols and dragoons who carry carbines and usually fight as dismounted infantry.

Also how might you model the various armours available? It goes right up to a sort of half-plate for the richest officers, but most would wear less.

Money? How much are pistoles and ducats and livres and so on worth?

I'd do much as I did with Mercenary, Liberator, Tyrant, use a channeled sort of semi-random and start the PCs at level 3.


Kiero, I’m about 90% finished with GUNS OF WAR, the Pike & Shot supplement for ACKS/Domains at War.

You want to playtest it?

three games have conspired to make me excited about these possibilities.

First, obviously, ACKs made me interested in the economics of fuedal/medieval society as it relates to adventuring and magic.

Second, many of the things about medieval times I learned from ACKs were reinforced while playing Crusader Kings II by Paradox Entertainment that covered playing a ruler from (at the time I played it) 1066 to 1453.

Third, the same company made Europa Universalis IV, which similarly let’s you play grand strategy but during the renaissance instead of medieval times. In particular, the fineley detailed descriptions of how firearms were slowly integrated with pikemen in different formations and percentages over the centuries really sparked my imagination.

Now I’m extremely curious what it would be like to be adventuring in world that was more of a magical renaissance than magical medieval times. Would you be in fear of orc highwaymen shooting you? would kobolds be handy with cannons? All very interesting stuff.

Do the assumptions of ACKS necessarily mesh with this style of game?

ACKS postulates that the baddest dude around is pretty much always going to be the local ruler or maybe their vizier or something. But was (e.g.) William of Orange really the most hardcore guy in Britain? It seems like gaming in this era is reaching the point where you’d want to use skill-based advancement rather than level-based advancement.

Also, ACKS wants characters to get most of their XP from going into the homes of other sentient creatures, (usually) killing them, and taking their stuff. Certainly people of this era did this (e.g., proto-imperialists and colonialists). But should it be presented as the default mechanism of advancement?

Alex has been working on Guns of War for some time now, so I suspect he has thought about these questions to some extent?

To be completely honest, I ditched both of those assumptions for my ACKS historical game anyway. I don’t track XP at all, which means getting rich doesn’t cause you to gain levels, nor does administering a prospering polity. Works just fine so far.

I’d love to; but given how packed my group’s schedule is, I’d probably only be able to read, rather than give a proper playtest. Unless I used it for a PbP game, which is also possible, but not as good as face-to-face.

I’ll send you a copy to read. What’s the best email to use? You can PM me if you want.

Check your PM box, Alex. I dropped you my email address.

I’ve been reading the draft, interesting stuff. Where/how do you want feedback? Is there already a thread for it, should I send by PM/email?

Send it to me via email! Thank you.

Thinking about your second point, there’s still plenty of scope for XP from “gold” in this era. Battle means plunder, if you win. Both in terms of cash and goods/equipment, but also horses and ransom of officers and other important personages. Successful sieges result in large volumes of plunder, and taking the surrender of a place without assaulting it can mean they pay a ransom to be left alone.

You don’t need to go into someone’s home to loot them, though if we’re looking at the nastier side of things, plenty of that took place as well. After all, this was before the Napoleonic era when governments began to realise logistics mattered, and you got a friendlier response from the native populace when you didn’t allow your troops to “live off the land”. Ie steal and plunder from civilians at will.

Calling Alex!

I was reading through a Guns of War draft that I think I downloaded during the DaW kickstarter.

It is obviously incomplete but I wanted to verify something. The equipment detailed in the draft seems to describe armaments during the Early Modern Era (1450ish to 1750ish).

The Modern Era is usually considered to start with the French Revolution but the kind of warefare of the Napoleonic wars go up to around the end of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The rest of the modern era is very different, WWI warfare and so on.

Is there any plan for Guns of War to cover that early part of the Modern Era to portray Napoleonic warfare?

The draft I reviewed seemed to imply there were two main “junctures” the technology and units assumed: circa 1500 and circa 1630.

As Kiero said, the eras it covers are 1500-1630. This is designed to work specifically with the setting of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and the rules are compatible.

I’m actually running a campaign where the initial setup was very much based on the Thirty Years War. If you’re willing to share, I would love to try out GUNS OF WAR!

Could I also get a draft to make sure the ship rules are compatible with the artillery rules? I don’t know if I’ll get much playtesting in, but I would like to avoid any incompatibilities in various books.

Every mage/spellsword/etc will want to learn Protection from Normal Missiles. Maybe elite warriors would have magical items with that spell to protect them, allowing heavy armor to linger a bit longer than it did in our reality. Artillery parks would also be vulnerable to magic - a fireball into a cart of gunpowder would be a Bad Thing (although at St. Sauveur-le-Vicomte in 1375, the French siege train had only 31 pounds of powder).

One additional small arm I would add is the caliver, which is a shorter two-handed firearm suitable for use on horseback. In LotFP terms, it would probably be the same cost as an Arquebus, 1d8 damage, 40/80/400 range, and take two fewer rounds to reload. As written, the Arquebus could be used mounted, but I feel it shouldn’t be, because the cavalry longarms should have (slightly) shorter range than infantry longarms.

One of the ways to play it is as explorers. Rather than the “decaying empire” of the Auran setting or the pseudo-feudalism of most fantasy settings, take advantage of the Age of Exploration and have characters traveling to new lands. This would allow the various classes to still be used, since any “lower tech” classes could come from the lands being explored (or other lands that aren’t as technologically advanced). This also lets just about any module be dropped in, since the rigors of internal consistency drop a bit when you’re going through multiple lands.

Please email me at to discuss playtesting!

Please email me at to discuss playtesting!