Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? Not since the gunblade thing…Anyway, let’s get this show on the road!
In the world of The Star-Runner Chronicles, magic powers technology in a number of ways. From the elemental battery properties of magicels to devices which only work if the user pours his or her own magical power into them. Magi-ammo guns take advantage of just about every single way that magic can possibly power or augment technology. But, where did they get their start…?
People have been enhancing weapons with magic for thousands of years. From mystical enchanted swords to staves that can summon ice storms, magical weapons—or magi-arms as they’re often called—have been used to win wars and strike down monsters since those first mages discovered how to infuse inanimate objects with magical power. Some of those weapons, like the indestructible holy sword Lavilkia, have become legendary.
But, early magi-arms were few in number due to the sheer difficulty of enchanting them. The process of infusing a weapon or piece of armor with elemental magic or a specific spell can take days, weeks, or even months of hard and very delicate work. Extreme focus and attention to detail are required, and even the tiniest slip of the tongue while reciting an incantation or unintended scratch while carving runes into the object can either infuse it with the wrong spell or cause the whole process to fail entirely.
Because of this, magi-arms were never used in anything approaching mass quantities until 1 W.D.—the second year of the War of Destruction. It was in this year that the wizard Xavier Tillins developed a runic inscription which, when engraved into a weapon, allowed the wielder to cast spells through it using his or her own magical power. The inscription still needed to be carefully hand-engraved, however, which made such weapons so expensive that they were reserved for high-ranking officers. Still, it was a start.
The Rise of Magi-ammo guns
In the 850’s P.W.D., firearms were finally beginning to gain popularity. Their long range, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness made them attractive to people from all walks of life—especially military leaders looking to reduce the amount of time and effort required to train new recruits. The earliest firearms actually dated back to the 720’s, but they were crude, hard to aim, complicated to load, and prone to backfiring. By the 850’s, however, most of these problems had been solved and firearms had become even easier to use than crossbows.
Firearms in those days still had disadvantages, mind you. If something went wrong when firing or the weapon wasn’t loaded properly, the gun could jam up. Also, a wet firearm is generally much less effective than a dry one…and then there’s the whole “running out of ammo” problem. These were the days before interchangeable clips, when every model had to be re-loaded by hand—thus, making running out of bullets really, really annoying.
Meanwhile, a new process of engraving runes and other magical symbols into weaponry—which made weapons enchanted in such a way more affordable and easier to produce—had just been developed. This technique, called spirit stenciling, uses a stencil made of aluminum to focus the magic and prevent unwanted nicks or typos during engraving. Of course, spirit stenciling was only cheap because the dwarves had just recently perfected a cheap and easy method of extracting and smelting aluminum a few years beforehand. Before then, it was even more expensive than platinum.
Spirit stenciling not only made traditional enchanted weapons easier to produce, but also enabled the creation of the very first magi-ammo guns. The earliest, the Blue Herron, was developed in 854 P.W.D. by enchantress/weaponsmith Quincy Deluth. Her inspiration had come from a customer who had come into her shop looking to have his revolver enhanced with air magic so that, should he run out of bullets, he would be able to use the weapon to cast a wind lance spell with it until he could reload.
Unfortunately, even with a spirit stencil, the enchantment failed because the pistol simply had too many moving parts and not enough uninterrupted surface area to carve the necessary runes on. Still, the experience sparked the idea in Deluth’s mind to create a gun specifically designed to use spells for ammo. Thus began her work on the Blue Herron—a rune channel gun which, when the wielder squeezed the stationary trigger prong, drew from their magic reserves to cast an armor-piercing wind lance spell at the target.
Deluth shared her innovation with her colleagues, who spread her techniques throughout the weaponsmithing community and improved upon them. Soon, rune channel guns capable of shooting spells of almost every elemental type were being developed. The only drawback to these guns—other than the fact that they were still more expensive than firearms—was that they could only be inscribed with two elemental spells at a time, which had to be of either the same element or complimentary elements or the gun would either not work at all…or explode.
While one camp of weaponsmiths worked out the bugs to try and make rune channel guns more elementally versatile, a second camp emerged in the early 920’s who saw the potential of magicels as a power source for magi-ammo guns. After all, magicels could be swapped out or loaded up revolver-style to make elemental swapping easier, and 3.5 inch magicels were so cheap that they could easily be purchased on a child’s allowance. With cheap ammo and much better potential for mass production thanks to not requiring specialized engravings like the rune channel types, cel channel guns soon became the more affordable option. Also, because they drew their power from magicels instead of the user’s own magic reserves, they were an ideal fit for fighters lacking in raw magical power.
The best known and most successful cel channel gun was the Wonder Shot A-31. This weapon could be equipped with seven magicels at a time and could switch elements between shots in the blink of an eye. However, unlike modern magi-ammo weapons based on its design, it was unable to combine elements. In addition, although it was very powerful, it shared also the same design flaw as all other early cel channel guns—it drained magicels like the Atari Lynx drained batteries.
Between the expense of the rune channel guns, the poor energy efficiency of the cel channel guns, and the fact that firearms were not only very efficient on their own but also becoming easier to reload thanks to the invention of the ammo clips in the late 920’s, magi-ammo guns never really got their chance to shine. Instead, they remained sort of a niche product for the about the next hundred and fifty years. It wasn’t until the gunblade revolution of the 1020’s that magi-ammo guns began to gain some prominence in the weapons market.
Today, magi-ammo guns and gunblades of all shapes and sizes exist. Although magi-ammo guns are still pricier (ten percent more expensive for cel channel models and fifty percent more expensive for rune channel models on average), magi-ammo gunblades tend to hover close enough to the price range of their live ammo equivalents that they are just as commonly seen. The energy efficiency of these cel channel types has become much better as well, thanks to the perfection of a mechanism for setting the power output to preset or custom levels ranging from “Stun” to “Kill”…or “Overkill” on models which use 7 and 10.5 inch magicels.
Magi-ammo guns are also gaining popularity as main cannons on both air and seagoing battleships. These models use 21, 24.5, or 28 inch magicels to deal massive damage to targets. Rumor has it that some are even being developed for use with 56 inch magicels (for perspective, a 56 inch magicel contains enough magical energy to power a small town for about a year…or blow up an area of about seven city blocks in one shot)! Seeing as how there has not been a major war since the end of the Age of Coal and Oil, though, that is probably just a rumor.
Well, that does it for this week. Join us next week for another Tech of the Town special on my personal favorite tech from this world…AIRSHIPS!!! Until then, you can social media stalk me on Twitter and Pintrest, buy the paperback and Kindle editions of the Star-Runner Chronicles books on Amazon…Or, you can get in on the August, 26th Smashwords launch! (Note: I know it’s going down on a Wednesday, but it’s my birthday, so I’m throwing a party.)
Use the promo code SL69V for The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner or BN33W for Wolfie Star-Runner Plays with Hellfire when pre-ordering or purchasing the books at Smashwords through August 30th to get them 50% off! Smashwords provides the books in .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .rtf, and .lrf formats for your reading pleasure. Post-launch, you’ll also be able to find The Star-Runner Chronicles in ebook format at the following fine online retailers: Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple iBooks, Oyster, Scribd, Baker & Taylor, Inktera, txtr, Flipkart, and OverDrive! We’re goin’ global, bay-bay!
So, until next week, thanks for reading…And don’t forget to review the books after you read them and spread the word to your friends if you enjoy my books or my blog!