Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Tyrant's Crew - Big Iron (an Episode 1 Interlude)

Last night I opened up photoshop with the intention to do a bit of doodling, maybe knock out a portrait of Moraine. I'm an alright illustrator. If I actually put in the effort, I might eventually become good enough to do something with it. Instead, I spend my time reading RPG systems and tinkering with my own.

I got a decent ways into the portrait before I started thinking about his seemingly now-signature Big Iron. If you're playing a western character, of course you want a good revolver, and the way I've been playing with him so far his anachronistic gear has been something that distinguishes him from the world around him (I wouldn't be surprised if the nav computer on The Tyrant was analog), so I obviously wanted something that looked old and chunky. Not at all a modern thing. Being something of a western gun nut (it's almost as bad as my medieval arms & armor fetish), my mind went wandering.

Originally I had imagined him to carry something like a Griswold & Gunnison that was somehow chambered in .44 Magnum. The Griswold is one of the iconic "confederate guns," during the war. The sort of thing that if you saw someone carry it after the war, you could wager good money which side they fought on. I have a weird relationship with gear in games. I like it to make statements about the character. We already know that because he (ridiculously enough) fires a big single-action revolver he comes from a frontier world, probably is very old-fashioned about a lot of things. Clearly either stubborn or sentimental (why not both?) because he hasn't swapped the gun out for something modern and more useful. No, I imagine the gun he carries is the gun that got him through the war. Having something as identifiable to his former allegiance as the Griswold was in the south? Perfect.

Griswold & Gunnison cap and ball revolver

Of course, I'm also too much of a fetishist for my own good. Sure, you could maybe rig a Griswold to accept a cartridge (conversion kits were made for the Colt Navy), but I can't imagine it'd be very convenient even by the standards that I'm going for. Plus, we're wasting a perfectly good opportunity to have something bigger and chunkier as the big iron.

My next thought went to something slightly newer. Well. A few years newer. The Smith & Wesson New Model No 3 in 44 Russian.
Smith & Wesson New Model No 3 in 44 Russian.
I have a serious love of this gun for purely aesthetic reasons. It started production in ..1877ish? I'm on the internet, I could look it up, but you'll have to take my word for it. Something about the oversized build makes me happy inside and there's nothing quite so satisfying as watching spent brass fly out the back of a top-break revolver when you slam it open. Despite being a relatively modern gun, it has some very distinctive lines that make it almost hearken back to much older firearms than its contemporaries. This is exactly the sort of thing I could see Moraine carrying.

This was about the time I was struck with another dumber but somehow even greater idea. If I wanted something that screamed "confederate" while being striking and unusual... I clearly needed to pattern it off of the LeMat revolver.
LeMat "Grapeshot" Revolver
The LeMat was a giant beast of an old horse pistol. It was a pistol meant for cavalry and in some ways was a mirror in use to the more well known Colt Dragoon. Only instead of 6 rounds of 44, the LeMat could load an impressive nine rounds of .42 or .36 caliber ball. The real surprise was that it also had a secondary barrel below the first that ran through the cylinder that fired a single 20 gauge shotgun round. Thus the LeMat earned its nickname "The Grapeshot Revolver."

Only around a hundred of them were made in the States, including the 25 or so prototypes. Another thousand or so were manufactured overseas and smuggled into the south with blockade runners from Belgium and France.

So. Clearly if I wanted something that would be unique enough to have a bit of mystique and be strange enough to warrant "signature weapon" status (important, given that my sentimental character will probably never trade in the side-arm that got him through the war), the LeMat was a good way to go. Did I say Le Mat? I clearly meant  La Grange. Two hours later, the La Grange Special was born.
The La Grange Special. That's right, I made a thing.

Funny how I started this trying to make a portrait of a character and instead end up a piece of homebrew gear. I definitely like the look of the result though. Something I find interesting is that even though the bits are all more or less historical (compare with the images above), the end result looks just shy of steampunk. I'd like to have one in real-life, though maybe in some lighter calibers. I don't have the benefit of space metal to keep a .44 break-top revolver from blowing itself to pieces.

UPDATE: The La Grange Special has been GM approved and retconned in as Moraine's sidearm of choice. I erased the shotgun I had on my list and we just assumed that the pistol costed as much as the shotgun and revolver combined. The upper barrel just uses the standard Revolver stats, the lower uses the standard shotgun profile with only 1 shot. The detachable cylinder works identically to a magazine for reloading purposes, save that I can crack it open at any time to replace an individual shell. 

I can't wait for Saturday. The next session is going to be great.

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