Black sands draw ye straight to Hell!The days of knights on soldiers and archers with bows live on, but the shadow of war rises its head with cruel invention. Colourful sparks of fireworks overhead give rise to the advent of powerful bombs, of guns not powered with magic but with mundane powder, of killing devices that need little skill to destroy their opponents. War never changes, but the weapons and words involved do. Arcane magic may have shifted the landscape of the world once, but gunpowder needs no special power to set nations on a path to do the same again. Magic changes things, but even so it is restricted to precious few - gunpowder, however, can be produced for millions. It only takes one shot to set the world ablaze.
Origin & Source
Gunpowder is usually constructed as a mixture of charcoal, saltpetre, and sulphur. If less sulphur is used, it becomes more incendiary than explosive - a less-used property, but one occasionally useful when incendiary weapons are needed. Purified saltpetre - often done using wood ashes and grinding mills - leads to a higher quality of gunpowder; other forms of nitrate can also be used.
History & Usage
Most commonly, gunpowder is used in bullets and cartridges for popular styles of firearms (such as pistols), or for enabling the use of cannons and other forms of projectile and/or explosive weapon. Bombs, for instance, make good use of black powder depending on the type of bomb involved. Involving alchemical substances (and, indeed, the use of alchemy in general) with gunpowder can lead to drastically more powerful bombs, cartridges - or even fireworks.
Cultural Significance and Usage
Fireworks are when the everyday peasant is most likely to encounter gunpowder, as a number of nations like to utilise the flashy explosive devices in larger festivals. Goblin tribes covet fireworks and particularly use them to indicate worship of both Sarenrae and Gorum, whilst adherents of Besmara - from any species and culture - tend to fire their pistols into the air to celebrate the pirate-queen. Each year, Liangxin holds its annual Festival of the New Spring to usher in the new year. Fireworks and other gunpowder-fuelled explosions shine brightly here (literally) as key pieces in the celebration's three-day long festivities, with magical fireworks intermixed with powder-fuelled - and indeed, even some that combine magic with gunpowder for more interesting effects.
Mining finds black powder useful: the explosive charges that can be created from it are incredibly usedful for shattering rock. Though the explosives are low in power compared to something a wizard might create, they are far more accessible and damage the stone less. It has also been used in processing machines, often aiding clockwork mechanisms.
Gunpowder is dangerous. It's flammable at worst, explosive at best. Too many lives have been lost through fumbled shots and dropped pouches. Far too many more have been lost through idiocy: smoking around a barrel of powder, for instance, or practicing magic.
Black Powder by Mondebleu
Boiling / Condensation Point
Do not boil.