[Runequest] Flaming attacks

Styopa styopa1 at gmail.com
Wed May 15 01:02:15 EST 2013

I'd guess swamp-damp thatch would be extremely hard to light, about like
live grass at least - the main problem with thatch in such a climate would
be mold and damp, ie not much help.

Having done a fair bit of experimentation with flaming projectiles in my
youth, I can confirm that flaming arrows are rather harder to get 'right'
than the movies make it seem.  Generally, whatever lights and burns easily
also goes out with the flight of the arrow most of the time.  Even shooting
pitch-coated shafts, with a small rag tied behind the head (not to carry
the fire per se, but in an attempt to create a 'protected' spot where the
fire wouldn't blow out either behind or under the cloth along the shaft)
into a pile of DRIED LEAVES....didn't set the pile alight.  Personally, I'd
say the likelihood of lighting damp thatch or hard wood is functionally

Tennis balls soaked in gasoline WILL however light such a pile of leaves
quite handily.

On the other hand, if they happen to have large Estes rockets with which
they can coat the inside with wax and fill with a jelled gasoline, when
over-engined (for the weight) I can certify that these will work REMARKABLY
(one might say surprisingly) well at setting many things alight such as,
for example, a neighbor's roof while they're off at work.  It will then
prove equally challenging to find a ladder and extinguish said blaze before
anything catastrophic happens, will result in ongoing cardiac arrest while
waiting for the inevitable discovery and communication to your parents, and
will cost you a fair bit of your savings and summer break re-shingling the
portion of said home.

Hypothetically, of course.

On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 9:06 AM, Ben Turner <ben.turner at pobox.com> wrote:

> Hi all,
> I'm running a "bog standard, medieval style fantasy setting" for the
> latest Runequest version, and my players have come across a tower with
> stone walls, two floors (the dividing floor being made of thick, hard
> wood), and a thatched roofing.
> There are a large number of foes on the second floor of the tower, and
> assaulting it via the ladder has only led to one of them disarming a single
> opponent - by dropping off the ladder with his spear still impaled in his
> chest.
> With this in mind, the party have decided to... burn them out.
> So my questions are around the realism of the following:
> * Burning Arrows. Using standard arrows, strips of cloth and oil (lamp
> oil, I guess) they are hoping to burn the tower. Would manufacturing such
> arrows be a simple enough task ? And would it have much effect on a wooden
> floor (assuming solid wooden planks) ? I am guessing a thatched roof might
> be easier to go up - although this tower is in a swampy atomsphere, so
> assuming some dampness around.
> * Molitov cocktails - does lamp oil burn like alcohol ? Was never sure
> about this from my D&D days. Thought it just smouldered...
> I guess I don't want to say "no", but it strikes me that in the middle of
> a (semi) abandoned swamp tower, manfacturing flaming weapons might not be
> as easy as my players were insisting. In any case, the session came to an
> end, and I said we'd pick it up next week after hearing there plan, so
> buying me a little time to look into the realism of it all.
> (I think the tower occupants will be coming out regardless; they are just
> waiting for the summoned river spirits to appear - should only take a
> minute or two to heed their call...)
> Regards,
> Ben
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