Epbuls and Firearms
The world of Habololy has known of firearms
for over 1400 years. The first firearms were clumsy, inaccurate, unreliable,
and prone to failure. These facts did not deter the inventors of the time, or
of future generations. A gnome by the name of Graitain Fizzlelaway is credited
with the first firing of a firearm. Unfortunately, the incident left him blind
in one eye and one step forward led to two steps back, as many inventors left
the project of creating a working firearm.
About forty years later, Graitain and his
son successfully, and without injury, fired their new firearm. Unlike its
predecessor, this version had only one possible exit for the explosion that
occurred when the powder was ignited. The results of this test were that a
quarter pound iron ball was launched 100 feet, about 50 of which was considered
effective for doing any real damage. Despite this meager result, the thought of
the firearm being a possibility crept back into the minds of inventors.
By the dawn of the fourth century BC,
firearms had become deadly but were still not widely used. They were slow,
inaccurate, and cumbersome. The main uses of the firearm were in demolition,
where the target didn’t move, or to scare those that didn’t know how inaccurate
the firearm actually was. The few firearms in use at the time were exclusively
found on the Great Plateau. The firearm faced another major problem in the
fourth century, cost. The explosive powder used to propel the ball was so
difficult to make or to find that it would cost an inventor 5 gold coins per
time he used a firearm.
These problems began fade in 370 BC, when
a cleric of the deity Pfot developed a better version of the explosive powder
used in the firearms. His name was Andrew Tarther, and his mixture quartered
the cost of using a firearm and made him a wealthy man. Fifteen years after
that innovation, Witchell Gnowitdal is believed to have invented the first
firearm that could be used without the use of a tripod or pedestal. Witchell
was quick to strike a deal with the monarchy of the plateau, and within thirty
years, his were the only firearms that could be found.
Although the firearm had found a niche, it
still had many problems. Witchell’s weapons dominated the market and stagnated
the industry. Every five years, he would roll out a new, slightly improved
model. The monarchy would buy into it, and any private buyer had few options
other than a Witchell firearm. To further ensure his monopoly, Witchell would
buy out all supplies of the powder used in the firearms that he could find.
Many other inventors couldn’t find the resources necessary to test and
demonstrate their own firearms. This cycle continued for two centuries.
Witchell did little to improve his products, and the other inventors were forced
into other fields to make a living. Outside of the Great Plateau, firearms were
met with scorn, hatred, or laughter. Governments and spellcasters wanted
nothing to do with the silly invention.
That was the state of the firearm for
nearly two hundred years. Only the Gnomish Kingdom of the plateau used the
firearm, and they did so successfully. Those two hundred years are considered
the golden age for the kingdom. The renowned strategist Gnais Dovurnal led the
armies of the plateau and designed the basics of nearly every known battle plan
involving the firearm or epbul in mass combat.
The golden age of the Gnomish Kingdom, and
the stagnation of the firearm came in 167 BC with the dawn of the Doggeden War.
The kingdom determined that their army, armed with firearms, could stand up to
any threat. They were proven wrong when a pack of Doggedens rampaged across the
plateau. Iron bullets and balls did nothing to slow the Doggedens. The war
threw the Gnomish Kingdom into a chaos that would take them a century from which
When the chaos ended in the mid first
century BC, inventors and tinkers went about the business of coming up with ways
to prevent the destruction of the Great Plateau in another war. The first place
they turned was to the firearm. It came to a poor human inventor named Timon
Karsley. He saw the paths that wealthier inventors were taking. The accepted
theory of the day was that bigger firearms with a longer range were the answer
to creatures such as the Doggedens. Since the money lie in a contract with the
government, that’s where most inventors wanted to go. Knowing that he did not
have the resources to build bigger firearms, Karsley tried to build more
accurate firearms. He designed the Karsley 24, which became the prototype for
all firearms for a century. His demonstrations proved that a well-placed shot
could penetrate any non-magical armor of the day. While it did not appeal to
the military, the average merchant or traveler of the plateau loved it. The
firearm had taken a big step, but it was still far from economical to use.
Whereas the age of the Witchell firearms
stifled the firearm, the age of the Karsley firearms was a boom time. The
firearm became the choice ranged weapon of the wealthy. It became a status
symbol. Enough firearms were used that four or five other tinkers made their
own designs based on Karsley’s, and were able to stay in business. This
attitude remained for four hundred years until the next breakthrough.
By 430 AC, the firearm had crept into the
lives of virtually everyone on Habololy. While only one in a thousand owned one
worldwide, everyone knew what it was, and most had at least seen a firearm.
This came about despite the attitudes of spellcasters and the price, which was
still too high for the average man to buy. In that year, a cleric of Pfot by
the name of Lorn Whirlson discovered that when he mixed two particular liquids
together, they would explode. Many of his contemporaries claimed that he had
discovered it accidentally, a claim he denied. Regardless, he quickly went to
his tinker friend Gnairgophar Weselly, who designed firearms. After several
years, the two produced a firearm that launched a bullet by combining the two
liquids instead of exploding a powder. Weselly called it an Explosively
Propelled Bullet Launcher, which Whirlson shortened to EPBuL. Weselly named the
liquids used to launch a bullet Hammer Activated Explosive Liquid, which
Whirlson shortened to HAEL.
The successor to the firearm looked very
similar to it, but it had several key differences. No epbul ever used a fuse,
because no fire was needed. They use a hammer that crushes a cap containing the
two liquids in separate compartments. Bullets had to be used to ensure the cap,
which was attached to the bullet, was in the correct position to be hit by the
hammer. Balls could roll onto the wrong side. The lack of powder made the
epbul easier to keep clean, easier to maintain, and easier to load. Most
importantly, the liquids were less expensive than the powder. The cost of one
shot from an epbul was one-third of the cost of a shot from a firearm.
The epbul was met with both awe and
horror. The common person saw it as a great weapon, while spellcasters and
established nations saw it as a threat. The economical machine of the plateau
went into full swing. With no controlling government of the Great Plateau,
dozens of tinkers began to produce epbuls, and the clerics of Pfot began to
produce the liquids necessary to fire them. By 500 AC, epbul manufacturers had
appeared in the Kingdom of Icefia and in the Destroytian Republic. The epbul
made the crossbow and the firearm obsolete among all but the poor. Only the
bow, which was far faster and quieter, remained a viable alternative.
The epbul’s fame turned to infamy quickly
in 525 AC when Habololy fell victim to the tinkers. As the Tinkocracy grew in
power, the world saw the epbul and other such inventions as the instruments of
the destruction. That was all of the leverage that the spellcasters needed to
convince the races and nations that the epbul and the tinkers that built them
were in the wrong. Their warnings could not stop the Tinkocracy, and for the
next hundred years, the epbul helped rule the world.
During the reign of the Tinkocracy, more epbuls were produced than were produced in all other years combined. Epbul
manufactures became wealthy, and tinkers strived for more wealth and constantly
designed new epbuls to meet demand. As a result, by the end of the 6th
century AC, it was reported that there were epbuls in existence that could fire
one bullet every second, with deadly accuracy up to 100 feet, and able to punch
through magical plate armor. These advances would have no doubt continued had
it not been for the death of Highlander, the deity of Technology, and the fall
of the Tinkocracy.
Without a deity or a nation to aid them,
the tinkers fell into complete disarray. They were tried and often executed for
their crimes against the nations and religions of the world. It became illegal
to own an epbul in most nations. The reign of the Tinkocracy led to a backlash
against technology, which included the epbul and the firearm. Most tinkers that
were left alive refused to produce any item that might get them arrested or
executed. Many epbuls and firearms were destroyed when the other nations took
turns claiming retribution from the Great Plateau. The clerics of Pfot, who
produced hael, slowly faded from the world after the death of their deity. The
epbul’s golden age had come and gone quickly.
In the years since the fall of the
Tinkocracy, the world’s hatred of technology has waned. It is, after all,
difficult to turn away from devices that make work easier. Some nations have
lifted the ban on epbuls and firearms, although they still pose restrictions.
The cult of Arsenal is devoted to technology and the epbul in particular. The
cult of Drunnbar and the nation of Nomagrok are proponents of any non-magical
The average Habololian most likely knows
what an epbul and a firearm is. Unless they have been to the Great Plateau, are
well traveled, or well educated, the average Habololian has probably not seen
one. Most religions preach against advanced technology, which includes the
Firearms and epbuls are similar in some
ways, but do have slightly different effects. The following gives a breakdown
of the specialized rules for both and for each type separately: