Alchemical magic, curse, and blessing
Silently Piper handed him an opened canteen and a vial of gunpowder. He smiled – a sadder smile than he might have offered just an hour before – and he sprinkled a pinch of gunpowder into the container to form the holy water of the Order. He poured it over his hands, to wash them clean of their guilt.Gunpowder is an alchemical explosive compound, most commonly used in ammunition, artillery, and firearms; but also fireworks and pyrotechnics. It consists of a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels, while the saltpeter is an oxidizer. When ignited, gunpowder explodes, propelling a projectile (such as a ball or bullet) towards the target. The force of the explosion causes the projectile to travel at a velocity greater than the speed of sound, doing considerable damage when it hits the target it was aimed at. The Gunslinger Order and the Desperadoes also use gunpowder as a magical substance like salt for the purposes of blessing or cursing.
Gunpowder is a finely grained black powder with a slightly shiny undertone, like the colour of hematite.
Physical & Chemical Properties
Gunpowder is extremely flammable and explosive. It must be kept dry in order to fire, and it is sensitive to heat and static, so large amounts are kept sealed or in powder rooms (called "magazines") under special conditions designed to reduce the amount of potential static or other electric sparks.
- 74.8% saltpeter
- 13.3% charcoal
- 11.9% sulfur
Geology & Geography
Charcoal is easily acquired by burning wood. Saltpeter requires some difficult processing, but the raw ingredients are not hard to come by either. Sulphur is mined in several locations in The Dominion 's Western regions.
Life & Expiration
Gunpowder keeps for a long time. Stored in an airtight, dry container, it keeps indefinitely, and it still lasts a long time when exposed to air and kept from getting damp.
History & Usage
It is said that the ancient Chinese invented gunpowder in an alchemical quest for immortality. It has been used for thousands of years.
Firearms, artillery, and fireworks all require gunpowder to function.
Cultural Significance and Usage
In addition to its practical uses, for obvious reasons, Gunslingers and Desperadoes also consider gunpowder to be a holy compound. It is used by Gunslingers in blessing and protection rituals, and by the Desperadoes in dark magic. Gunslingers typically add a pinch of gunpowder to water to form the holy water of their order, or blend it with salt as a sacred protective substance. They use it to bless, protect, consecrate, and purify. Their holy water is used in the ritual of The Benediction, magic circles, consecrating the dead, banishing spirits, and their Cleansing Ritual, in which they wash the sin of bloodletting from their hands. Desperadoes use gunpowder to empower necromancy and the dark magic of their Cursed Shot.
Very rarely, gunpowder may be used for mining explosives in certain "safe" areas where the technology is less unstable.
Manufacturing & Products
Gunpowder is the essential compound that makes ammunition cartridges function.
Sulphur is toxic, and should not be absorbed through the skin in any significant amount. Handling sulphur regularly requires gloves, face masks, and possibly other protective equipment. Gunpowder is highly flammable and explosive once mixed, and should be handled with care.
Trade & Market
Almost all gunpowder is manufactured by Gunslingers and Desperadoes, although occasionally, enterprising Gnome Alchemists figure out how to create it relatively safely as well. It is extremely difficult to acquire on the open market. Desperadoes don't tend to share, while Gunslingers will only sell it to people they trust.
Gunpowder is typically stored in airtight containers, or in a powder magazine. Metal and flame are banned in magazines, for obvious reasons.
Law & Regulation
It is illegal to possess gunpowder for non-Gunslingers in most areas throughout The Dominion, unless one has a pyrotechnics license; and usually, Gunslingers oversee the issuing of such licenses.
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Books in the Wyrd West Chronicles
Once Upon a Time in the Wyrd West
Graeme dismounted and drew a cross in the dirt where the blood must have fallen. The hard-packed prairie had drunk it down like a gargantuan vampire. Graeme knelt and sprinkled salt and gunpowder on the cross. He considered the swinging body, but decided it was simply too high up and he wouldn’t be able to fetch it down. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust,” he intoned. “From ashes we come, and to ashes we return, and the Lord and the Lady watch over all. I reckon your life weren’t so pleasant,” he said to the corpse as he rose to his feet. “But rest in peace now, sir sorcerer. If such you were.”