log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D 5E Why do guns do so much damage?

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
One of my thoughts on extensive black powder in a campaign was to replace black powder with something more obviously alchemical, although not necessarily 'magic' per se. That allows me to sidestep any need to conform to historical examples.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

MGibster

Legend
One of my thoughts on extensive black powder in a campaign was to replace black powder with something more obviously alchemical, although not necessarily 'magic' per se. That allows me to sidestep any need to conform to historical examples.
Just the fact that I'm playing D&D allows me to sidestep any need to conform to historical examples.

Player: Uh, actually, a wheelock would be totally impractical and they didn't work like that in real life.
Me: You're flying 60 feet above an active volcano shooting ice out of your fingers. Don't lecture me about real life!
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Just the fact that I'm playing D&D allows me to sidestep any need to conform to historical examples.

Player: Uh, actually, a wheelock would be totally impractical and they didn't work like that in real life.
Me: You're flying 60 feet above an active volcano shooting ice out of your fingers. Don't lecture me about real life!
Well, in addition to that, I can also make the effects and implementation anything I like. So when it comes to the fluff for whatever I decide the weapons should be able to do, in the context of the weapon list and game mechanics, it all fits like a glove. In my case it's also one of the primary exports of a particular country, which has all sorts of interesting political and faction related effects.
 

That is not a complete understanding of reality. I small object moving very fast can do more damage ( more force) than a large object moving slow
That is -also- not a complete understanding of reality.

Force is a function of Velocity and Mass. A very tiny object with a very high velocity and a much larger object with a much slower velocity can impart the same, or similar, force.

Like the Pistol throwing out around 400J and the Longsword throwing about 300J. Even though the pistol ball is moving much faster, the amount of force either imparts is similar.

And both of those are limited by the amount of force that an object can take. Since any force which punches through is essentially "Wasted".

And then there's the use variance... While the pistol uses all that energy to punch a straight line, the sword is dragged across the wound to deepen the channel further because that's how an edged weapon works.

So even the strict comparison of Jules and Resistance provides, at best, an incomplete image.
 

This has been pointed out to her repeatedly; the amount of energy contained in that bullet (which is transferred to the body via terminal ballistics) doesn't just 'punch a small hole' in someone.
If you consider a 1.4 inch diameter hole to be Large then you'll be shocked at the kind of holes a sword, axe, or spear can put into someone!
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If you consider a 1.4 inch diameter hole to be Large then you'll be shocked at the kind of holes a sword, axe, or spear can put into someone!
Yes, but just remember that tests with ballistics gel at relatively short distance at a gun range with all the time in the world to aim and either modern guns or high quality blackpowder tell a completely accurate story of what happens when a bullet hits 100% of the time. Meanwhile a video of a pig carcass being cut in half with one swipe is totally unrealistic and irrelevant because ... reasons.
 


If you consider a 1.4 inch diameter hole to be Large then you'll be shocked at the kind of holes a sword, axe, or spear can put into someone!
You're fixating on 'holes' and not on the damage to surrounding tissue.

A musket bullet is hitting a person with 2,000 joules of energy (that the body absorbs decelerating the bullet). An arrow OTOH generates 75 joules of energy.

The arrow will just punch a hole in you. When fired into ballistic jelly (or flesh), there is little cavitation caused by rapid expansion of tissue and then decompression in absorbing that energy.

A bullet OTOH causes rapid expansion and then retraction of tissue as the tissue around the bullet absorbs the energy transfered by the bullet.

This is called terminal ballistics. The energy transfer on target, and the damage this transfer of energy causes. Something you are completely ignoring (repeatedly).

The other thing you're repeatedly ignoring is the ease of putting that 'hole' in a vital organ with a gun (point and shoot) as opposed to doing so with a longsword against anything other than an incapacitated target. It's much MUCH easier hitting and destroying a critical vital organ with a gun (center of seen mass, and then bang), than it is with a sword against a creature fighting back or otherwise defending themselves.
 

Yes, but just remember that tests with ballistics gel at relatively short distance at a gun range with all the time in the world to aim and either modern guns or high quality blackpowder tell a completely accurate story of what happens when a bullet hits 100% of the time. Meanwhile a video of a pig carcass being cut in half with one swipe is totally unrealistic and irrelevant because ... reasons.
Well... to be fair...

It is way easier to hit a shot with a bullet than a sword.

The real issue at hand, which Flamestrike continues to refuse to even approach, is how much damage is dealt on a successful hit. It's not a question of how easy it is to hit, but how much total damage is done between the two attacks. At least for the purposes of this thread.

They're arguing on a different battlefield against a group of strawmen and trying to present victory against them all.
 

You're fixating on 'holes' and not on the damage to surrounding tissue.

A musket bullet is hitting a person with 2,000 joules of energy (that the body absorbs decelerating the bullet). An arrow OTOH generates 75 joules of energy.

The arrow will just punch a hole in you. When fired into ballistic jelly (or flesh), there is little cavitation caused by rapid expansion of tissue and then decompression in absorbing that energy.

A bullet OTOH causes rapid expansion and then retraction of tissue as the tissue around the bullet absorbs the energy transfered by the bullet.

This is called terminal ballistics. The energy transfer on target, and the damage this transfer of energy causes. Something you are completely ignoring (repeatedly).

The other thing you're repeatedly ignoring is the ease of putting that 'hole' in a vital organ with a gun (point and shoot) as opposed to doing so with a longsword against anything other than an incapacitated target. It's much MUCH easier hitting and destroying a critical vital organ with a gun (center of seen mass, and then bang), than it is with a sword against a creature fighting back or otherwise defending themselves.
Mmmmnah.

Go back. Read my review of the Cap and Ball video where I actually outline the damage outside of the wound channel itself and how it's terrible but not lethal on it's own.

If it was, the survival rate from the study you presented which showed 24% survival rate of those who had been DIRECTLY HIT IN THE HEART by modern firearms would have to be 0 since that wound channel and surrounding tissue damage would "Destroy" the heart... Rather than causing reparable damage.

I get it. I know what you're talking about. I'm not handwaving it or disregarding it. I have DIRECTLY ADDRESSED IT multiple times.

You just keep ignoring the fact that I've addressed it and going to a singular specific example of the 2,000J mark which used to be the bottom of what you thought a Pistol did 'til I posted the Wheellock video that showed it to be in the 400J range.

Pick up your moving goalposts and throw them on top of your strawman and ad hominem attacks and just -go-.
 

You just keep ignoring the fact that I've addressed it and going to a singular specific example of the 2,000J mark which used to be the bottom of what you thought a Pistol did 'til I posted the Wheellock video that showed it to be in the 400J range.

A 69 caliber musket ball is 420 grains at .65" diameter. It would need to be travelling at 'only' 560 feet per second to generate 400j of energy:

ShootersCalculator.com | Bullet Energy Calculator

While theoretically possible in a firearm with minimal gunpowder to propel it, it's on the low end of the scale (muzzle velocities range from approximately 120 m/s (390 ft/s) to 370 m/s (1,200 ft/s) in black powder muskets):

Muzzle velocity - Wikipedia.

Meaning a 420 grain .69 caliber musket ball is delivering between 200 and 2,000 joules of energy on target (making 400 joules on the very low end off the scale).

At a midrange of those speeds (800' per second) you're looking at around 600 ft/lbs or 800 joules of energy transfer.

In so far as what kind of damage that kind of energy transfer causes to the human body:

1623346613302.png


1623346649321.png


A projectile travelling through tissue with that kind of energy behind it, causes a temporary cavity (this can be seen with the displacement of ballistic gel in slow-mo videos posted above, causing the gel to expand well above its normal size and shape before rapidly contracting back down again).

This effect causes catastrophic damage to the tissues in that temporary cavity (over and above the damage caused by the 'hole' plus any fragmentation effects).

Bullets dont just punch holes in people. Anyone that thinks they do is ignoring terminal ballistics and basic physics of what happens to the human body when the energy contained in a bullet is absorbed by the human body.
 

If it was, the survival rate from the study you presented which showed 24% survival rate of those who had been DIRECTLY HIT IN THE HEART by modern firearms.

Err no. They're the incredibly rare guys that survived the gunshot to the heart (i.e. didn't instantly die) long enough to make it to hospital.

Most people shot in the heart just die, and within seconds. Surgeons dont treat dead people.

If you're extrapolating that medical data to mean 'only 1 in 4 people shot in the heart die' you're doing it wrong.
 

Err no. They're the incredibly rare guys that survived the gunshot to the heart (i.e. didn't instantly die) long enough to make it to hospital.

Most people shot in the heart just die, and within seconds. Surgeons dont treat dead people.

If you're extrapolating that medical data to mean 'only 1 in 4 people shot in the heart die' you're doing it wrong.
I'm not extrapolating anything, Flamestrike. I'm saying that if the damaged tissue area caused by the cavitation of the passing round "Destroyed all tissue" in the area no bullet to the heart would EVER be survivable, because there's no goddamned way someone would get to the hospital with a direct bullet wound to the heart, get treatment, and survive at -all-.

Because the cavitation doesn't -destroy- the surrounding tissue. The shockwave pushes it all out of the way, causing some damage from crushing forces, and then strains it back in the direction of travel, causing damage from tensile forces... but not destroying all of the affected tissues.

Is there a permanent cavity that is often larger than the wound channel? Sure. And you can see what it'll look like with a 20% gelatin mix rather than the 10% mix that is used to demonstrate the temporary cavity.

10% is what was used in the test of the Flintlock Rifle that was generously provided by PsyzhranV2. And at it's widest point, the musket shot (Traveling at 414m/s) created a temporary cavity around 8 centimeters in diameter. For those of you playing the American game that's a 3 inch temporary cavity!

The temporary cavity then collapses down to the permanent cavity which is about 1.4 inches in diameter, about 3.5 centimeters for those of you anywhere without the Imperial system.
A 69 caliber musket ball is 420 grains at .65" diameter. It would need to be travelling at 'only' 560 feet per second to generate 400j of energy:
Are you even TRYING to have a good faith argument, here? The section you quoted specifically refers to the Wheellock. As in the Wheellock Pistol that we saw in the video, together. Which had around 400J of energy. You might have realized that by reading the word "Pistol" in the quote that you took out to complain about.

That is what I'm talking about, not the Brown Bess which you keep comin' back to.

But hey. Since you like to talk about the BIG BORE Muskets. Maybe go back to the video.


In it, they load the musket with the charge of 96 grains of 1 and a half F Swiss Powder. Which I acknowledged would be roughly equivalent to a decent blend of powder in the period that hadn't been carried a long distance, though in grain rather than loose powder form. How big is the ball? The musket is a .8 caliber so it's probably in the .7 to .66 range, but since the bore is right where the Bess is, let's call it .69 just for you!

Traveling at 414m/s. Or 1,358f/s. So that's -over- your 2,000J of force. Hang on. Let's quantify it!

A .69 ball of Lead weighs how much? 32 grams. Here's an online calculator, in case you don't trust me: Sphere | Ultraray

32 grams is 0.032kg. We can load that into our handy online Joule calculator right here: Kinetic Energy Calculator

Add in the M/s of travel at 414 and we'll get 2,742J!

The damage is a temporary cavitation of 8cm which would wind up being about a 3.5cm permanent cavity. Or 3 inches and 1.4 inches for the Americans.

He goes through the muzzle bore, the gunpowder type, weight, load, muzzle velocity, and shows clear reference images for the damage done by the shot with centimeter measurements. It's an excellent reference point!

And one I went over in great detail that you ignored. Which is HILARIOUS because of this:
While theoretically possible in a firearm with minimal gunpowder to propel it, it's on the low end of the scale (muzzle velocities range from approximately 120 m/s (390 ft/s) to 370 m/s (1,200 ft/s) in black powder muskets):
You flatly acknowledge that the upper range is around 370m/s or 1,200ft/s. Which is lower than what we see in the video!

Which caused a tiny hole and then a 1.4 inch (3.5cm) cavity.

It's almost like I've been talking about the same thing but you're trying to make it sound BIGGER and MORE IMPRESSIVE than it is by throwing around the big ol' Joule counts.

Also, at the highest muzzle velocity examples they put on Wikipedia for you? It's just under 2,200J. But drop it down to 300m/s, about halfway between the two extremes, and it drops down to 1,440J. And if it's at the low end of Muzzle Velocities (Maybe a shitty old weapon with crappy gunpowder) it drops down to 230J of force! Less than the Wheellock Pistol.

So thanks, Flamestrike. I was literally giving you EXACTLY what you wanted in my long post about the two different ammo types, gunpowder, and wound channels. And you flatly ignored it in order to try and make something else seem SO MUCH BIGGER and MORE IMPORTANT when it was -less than- what I examined in detail.

Kudos, Man. Kudos.
 

It is way easier to hit a shot with a bullet than a sword.
And this is the answer to the question. In real life there is no such thing as hp. You will be equally dead (or disabled) from a good hit with a dagger, a sword, and axe, an arrow or a bullet. But it's a lot easier to make that good hit with a gun than with a knife, assuming the target is trying not to be hit. But in 5e pretty much all attacks make the same hit roll, the damage dice really represents haw easy it is to score an effective hit with that weapon, not how much meat it can destroy.
 


I'm not extrapolating anything, Flamestrike. I'm saying that if the damaged tissue area caused by the cavitation of the passing round "Destroyed all tissue" in the area no bullet to the heart would EVER be survivable, because there's no goddamned way someone would get to the hospital with a direct bullet wound to the heart, get treatment, and survive at -all-.

Because the cavitation doesn't -destroy- the surrounding tissue. The shockwave pushes it all out of the way, causing some damage from crushing forces, and then strains it back in the direction of travel, causing damage from tensile forces... but not destroying all of the affected tissues.

Is there a permanent cavity that is often larger than the wound channel? Sure. And you can see what it'll look like with a 20% gelatin mix rather than the 10% mix that is used to demonstrate the temporary cavity.

10% is what was used in the test of the Flintlock Rifle that was generously provided by PsyzhranV2. And at it's widest point, the musket shot (Traveling at 414m/s) created a temporary cavity around 8 centimeters in diameter. For those of you playing the American game that's a 3 inch temporary cavity!

I don't want to burst your bubble but a 3 inch diameter cavity is a fair bit worse thing to happen to you over a longsword's 3 inch wide (and a few mm high) wound channel.

The temporary cavity then collapses down to the permanent cavity which is about 1.4 inches in diameter, about 3.5 centimeters for those of you anywhere without the Imperial system.
And what happens to those displaced arteries, organs and tissue that cant just 'stretch and move out of the way allowing the cavity to form, and then bounce back'?

Arteries get torn, organs get ripped from the tissue housing them and so forth, plus those organs that got displaced 'a mere 3 inches' inside the body in a split second get damaged (to say the least).

And you still haven't come back with a counter to the fact that even if the wound caused was identical relative to a firearm and a sword , it is far easier to deliver that wound to a vital organ (head, chest, spine, abdomen) with a firearm that it is with a sword (unless your target is restrained).

In other words, I can place that wound where it counts the most (dealing more damage) much more easily with a firearm, than a swordsman reliably ever could with a sword.
 


I don't want to burst your bubble but a 3 inch diameter cavity is a fair bit worse thing to happen to you over a longsword's 3 inch wide (and a few mm high) wound channel.


And what happens to those displaced arteries, organs and tissue that cant just 'stretch and move out of the way allowing the cavity to form, and then bounce back'?

Arteries get torn, organs get ripped from the tissue housing them and so forth, plus those organs that got displaced 'a mere 3 inches' inside the body in a split second get damaged (to say the least).

And you still haven't come back with a counter to the fact that even if the wound caused was identical relative to a firearm and a sword , it is far easier to deliver that wound to a vital organ (head, chest, spine, abdomen) with a firearm that it is with a sword (unless your target is restrained).

In other words, I can place that wound where it counts the most (dealing more damage) much more easily with a firearm, than a swordsman reliably ever could with a sword.
Ohhh my good lord.

3 inch diameter TEMPORARY. CAVITY. This means that it gets pushed out of the way by the forces involved, then falls back into place. The 1.4 inch PERMANENT CAVITY is the result of cut tissues sagging because the human body is kinda like water balloon full of Jello fruit salad with chunks in. The actual WOUND CHANNEL is where the material was perforated and cut. Is everything in the permanent cavity still intact? No. Obviously. Muscles get torn and displaced, small bones get pulverized, etc. Is it a full hole in your body at that size? Also no. naughty word's still hanging down or flopped at the bottom of it, it just got cut along the line of the wound channel. And on the left and right of the bullet's path there'll be a lot of damage, some stuff torn, but the tearing is radial not linear. (And since the body of a human is mostly oriented vertically...)

Also, it isn't "A mere 3 inches". It's a mere 1.5 inches in any given direction from the wound channel itself. Then it collapses inward to a 1.4 inches, diameter, PERMANENT Cavity. So if this musketball passes your heart, but doesn't hit it, your heart gets shoved away by 1.5 inches and then falls back into place as the cavitation ends and gets strained down into the wound channel before popping back up to where it belongs, roughly. Will it take some damage? Absolutely! Will it still work? Unless you've got some kind of heart problem and it getting tugged triggers that problem, yes it'll be fine.

And as to the difference between the Longsword and the Bullethole?

Average longsword was 1.75 inches wide, not three inches, in fact. So let's -start- with that. First thing we'd need to do is look at a Blade Geometry to determine thickness. I'm partial to Lenticular, myself! But for ease of math let's go for the Diamond, Hmm?
Sword_cross_section.jpg

That's a cross-width of about 1/3rd the diamond length at it's widest point. 1.75 inches/3 is 0.58 inches or right about 1.4 Centimeters.

So right away, the height of the wound is .11 inches smaller than the rifle ball point of entry. However it's also over an inch -wider-. And this might shock you, but most naughty word in your body is laid out on a vertical plan, not a horizontal one! All the naughty word that sword slices through on it's horizontal thrust way in is gonna dangle into or flop at the bottom of... are you ready? A Permanent Body Cavity! However unlike the musketball, this permanent wound cavity isn't going to be tall. It's also going to be the -actual- wound channel.

Well. Unless you thrust it in on a vertical angle. In which case it's going to thrust more deeply because all that stuff laid out vertically? It'll hit less of it and face less resistance, like cutting pork with the grain instead of across it. Musketball is round and does not care. Sword cares.

But then comes part two: Cutting force. That -widens- the wound channel even further as the blade presses against the (current) edge of the wound to widen it.

So we've already got a wound channel wider than the ball and only marginally shorter at it's tallest point. Then we make it go wider as we pull the blade out, doing more damage. All those arteries and organs are going to get cut. Not pushed and crushed and stretched. Cut. Actual perforations.

And, of course, you're partial to the "Vital Organs" but it might surprise you to know they're all pretty close to the skin. How close? Stabbing someone in the heart only requires about 1.2 inches of stab-depth. Very hard, on account of the ribs. But if you go under them it's only about 2.7 inches of stab required, so still not much.

And then you've got that larger wound channel. And then the draw cut to go with it. Widening everything up.

But hey, let's not forget that an Arming Sword (What most people -think- of as a longsword) tapers to about 2cm (.78 inches) right near the point. Still gonna wind up with a wider hole than your average musketball (Traveling at 300m/s with 1,440J) once the wider portions of the blade follow, and then the draw cut happens.

Anyway. It doesn't really matter in the end.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well... to be fair...

It is way easier to hit a shot with a bullet than a sword.

The real issue at hand, which Flamestrike continues to refuse to even approach, is how much damage is dealt on a successful hit. It's not a question of how easy it is to hit, but how much total damage is done between the two attacks. At least for the purposes of this thread.

They're arguing on a different battlefield against a group of strawmen and trying to present victory against them all.
If guns were so overwhelmingly powerful, we wouldn't have had hundreds of years of overlap. Yet we did. In addition, there are several proponents of the idea that the reason we didn't continue to see armor used was because of the changing nature of war and armies. The idea is that basically wars were once fought in large part by nobles and expensive mercenaries. That changed when nations started having standing armies; it's easier to train someone to use a gun and lives were cheaper than armor that was high quality enough to withstand firearms.

But we're also not talking about ranks of soldiers duking it out on a battlefield here. Were talking about (generally) individuals facing combat on a regular basis against what are oftentimes monstrous enemies.
Ohhh my good lord.

3 inch diameter TEMPORARY. CAVITY. This means that it gets pushed out of the way by the forces involved, then falls back into place. The 1.4 inch PERMANENT CAVITY is the result of cut tissues sagging because the human body is kinda like water balloon full of Jello fruit salad with chunks in. The actual WOUND CHANNEL is where the material was perforated and cut. Is everything in the permanent cavity still intact? No. Obviously. Muscles get torn and displaced, small bones get pulverized, etc. Is it a full hole in your body at that size? Also no. naughty word's still hanging down or flopped at the bottom of it, it just got cut along the line of the wound channel. And on the left and right of the bullet's path there'll be a lot of damage, some stuff torn, but the tearing is radial not linear. (And since the body of a human is mostly oriented vertically...)

Also, it isn't "A mere 3 inches". It's a mere 1.5 inches in any given direction from the wound channel itself. Then it collapses inward to a 1.4 inches, diameter, PERMANENT Cavity. So if this musketball passes your heart, but doesn't hit it, your heart gets shoved away by 1.5 inches and then falls back into place as the cavitation ends and gets strained down into the wound channel before popping back up to where it belongs, roughly. Will it take some damage? Absolutely! Will it still work? Unless you've got some kind of heart problem and it getting tugged triggers that problem, yes it'll be fine.

And as to the difference between the Longsword and the Bullethole?

Average longsword was 1.75 inches wide, not three inches, in fact. So let's -start- with that. First thing we'd need to do is look at a Blade Geometry to determine thickness. I'm partial to Lenticular, myself! But for ease of math let's go for the Diamond, Hmm?
Sword_cross_section.jpg

That's a cross-width of about 1/3rd the diamond length at it's widest point. 1.75 inches/3 is 0.58 inches or right about 1.4 Centimeters.

So right away, the height of the wound is .11 inches smaller than the rifle ball point of entry. However it's also over an inch -wider-. And this might shock you, but most naughty word in your body is laid out on a vertical plan, not a horizontal one! All the naughty word that sword slices through on it's horizontal thrust way in is gonna dangle into or flop at the bottom of... are you ready? A Permanent Body Cavity! However unlike the musketball, this permanent wound cavity isn't going to be tall. It's also going to be the -actual- wound channel.

Well. Unless you thrust it in on a vertical angle. In which case it's going to thrust more deeply because all that stuff laid out vertically? It'll hit less of it and face less resistance, like cutting pork with the grain instead of across it. Musketball is round and does not care. Sword cares.

But then comes part two: Cutting force. That -widens- the wound channel even further as the blade presses against the (current) edge of the wound to widen it.

So we've already got a wound channel wider than the ball and only marginally shorter at it's tallest point. Then we make it go wider as we pull the blade out, doing more damage. All those arteries and organs are going to get cut. Not pushed and crushed and stretched. Cut. Actual perforations.

And, of course, you're partial to the "Vital Organs" but it might surprise you to know they're all pretty close to the skin. How close? Stabbing someone in the heart only requires about 1.2 inches of stab-depth. Very hard, on account of the ribs. But if you go under them it's only about 2.7 inches of stab required, so still not much.

And then you've got that larger wound channel. And then the draw cut to go with it. Widening everything up.

But hey, let's not forget that an Arming Sword (What most people -think- of as a longsword) tapers to about 2cm (.78 inches) right near the point. Still gonna wind up with a wider hole than your average musketball (Traveling at 300m/s with 1,440J) once the wider portions of the blade follow, and then the draw cut happens.

Anyway. It doesn't really matter in the end.
Personally I think of a rapier as an arming sword - it can only be used 1 handed. In D&D parlance they got rid of the bastard/hand and a half sword and it became the longsword. After all a longsword was just a sword that was a bit longer than a "typical" sword of the era and region.

The other thing being ignored that you frequently don't just "punch a hole" in someone with a sword. Depending on the weapon you're slashing, or even while stabbing move the blade around a bit to increase the size of the wound. Well, in real life you were probably slashing, stabbing, using the pommel and the guard to punch, wrestling, parrying and a bunch of other things with many weapons.

But it's all D&D oversimplification, getting proficiency in a firearm means that you can handle accurately aiming while under pressure. I don't think anybody is arguing that it's not easier to use a gun, but D&D doesn't go into enough detail for it to matter.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top