Dr. Rihll has informed me that there are some original glandes in the collection of the British Museum that are of similar weight and shape as the 400 gram version we are using here. However, from what I can make out, the majority of them appear to be much smaller, perhaps half the weight of our slug. Which, of course, would make them ideal fodder for hand slings — as well as smaller, open framed inswingers. (My instincts are telling me that inswingers, smaller and lighter limbed than Firefly, could pump out 400 fps with a 200 gram glans. Talk about mud in your eye.)

One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to be in the vicinity while someone was trying that pouched-double-string technique with a closed frame outswinger. Too much danger of projectile bounce back off the center stanchions for my taste.

Nothing like an internal richochet to brighten your day. A fella might get to see stars and everything.

4 Responses to “Stars and everything.”


  1. Randi Richert says:

    The larger ones could be from a staff sling I suppose. It is interesting to see how quickly and easily the weapon can switch between sharps and shot. Personally, I’m most intrigued by the potential to throw a large number of smaller, standard sized shot. I can imagine it being like Civil War cannon that would switch from shells and solid shot to grapeshot and eventually canister rounds as the enemy advanced. That is really the only way they could make up for their slow rate of fire.
    I seem to recall somewhere a reference to ballistas being used for crowd control or in urban environments. I know there’s mention of the vigiles having artillery used to knock down burning buildings, but I’ll have to do more reading. Perhaps Ms. Rihll or Duncan will know of instances to support or defeat this notion.
    This is reminiscent of the development of DaVici’s ducksfoot gun and other multi-barreled “battery guns”. Some of the earliest purchasers of gatling guns were not the military, but rather big city police forces. If the iron-framed ballista was useful for supressing riots in a way not shared by wood-framed catapults, it might explain why stand-mounted artillery only starts to appear in the iconography of Rome itself after their introduction. Before that artillery would have been kept mostly with the Legions and outside the City.


  2. Nick says:

    It seems to me that the real question should be, how often were sharp casters temporarily converted into glandes projectors? A question we can never really know the answer to, of course. However, a dual use scenario seems logical as it would maximize the tactical advantages of all the pre-existing gear.

    I follow a “nature abhors a vacumn” philosopy when it comes analyzing mature systems. If an idiot like me can figure it out, surely our betters from the past made something of it too. Sharps or single glandes? The ratio of that utility will always be a guess.

    As for the grape shot idea: so long as one didn’t expect too much from the terminal ballistics of any one of the projectiles, (no more than welts, contusions, minor concussions etc.) I suspect that machine’s of Firefly’s size would really be just too small to produce anything devastating. As you suggest, crowd control might be a possibility. But even there, I have my doubts as to the effectiveness of a multi-shot pattern delivered by mid-sized machines.


  3. Randi Richert says:

    I guess you’ll have to experiment and find out what the real differences in the ballistics and terminal effects are between sharps, single large shot, and the blunderbuss approach. Then you have to relate that to the types of targets they might be expected to engage.

    I would imagine that the of the first two would both have significant range and be able to punch though any shields and/or armor they encountered. Sharps would be more accurate (rifle vs smoothbore) but the glandes would be better at bashing through stouter targets like vinnea and siege towers, though I don’t know how important that would be to the Roman’s offensive style.

    If you test it, I think you will find that a number of shot equal in mass to the other two would have a distinct advantage at closer ranges. Single shot, slow firing weapons are at the mercy of the press of infantry once they close the distance. That is of course if you can’t ask them nicely to all stand in a straight line. In the confined space of an alleyway or wall breach the effects, even if only debilitating would have more weight than just killing one man.

    The important part would be demonstrating that the change can be made quickly and without inventing any “missing” parts that weren’t at least known to them in a similar context.


  4. Nick says:

    I guess that I have obssessed for so long about precision shooting with these machines that I never really considered their value in repelling human wave attacks. However, next time I’m foolin’ with pouches and the like, I’ll see what can be arranged for a multi-shot discharge.

    My research to date has left me pretty much stuck on them as being invaluable sniper weapons. The glans potential would largely be about cost effectiveness. You want to engage the enemy, but heck, let’s save our sharps for all that “one shot, one kill” stuff. Afterall, a lead egg in the kisser is better than no action at all. (That is, if you’re the one tossing the eggs.)

    Your sharps/glandes and rifle/smoothbore analogy is right on the money. No way a glans will shoot with the same kind of precision as a good bolt.

    Hey, all that stuff from Onasander about hot glandes burying themselves in the enemy, that “friction from the rushing air” malarky and all that, what’cha figure? I’m envisioning the artillery men in some kind of established position where they are zipping glandes out at the enemy fresh from some kind of casting operation. This might imply a situation where they were running low on ammo. …Or perhaps they were just being perverse and heating them up deliberately. Sizzlers would be such a psych. Rebecca just suggested it was probably the burning sensation from getting hit. That probably makes the most sense.

    In any event, I see toasted glandes on the menu. Just for the hell of it, you understand.

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