View Full Version : Heated shot?

01-12-2014, 14:09
So as I understand it some forts would use heated shot that would do extra damage and aid in starting fires on board the ships that would be attacking.

So this would apply only to fort batteries, not ships. I think either have something like +1 damage per chit like WoG has, or something like every 3 or 4 damage (# of chits) starts a fire, unless one of the chits drawn has the fire symbol, only one fire is started. Or the possibility of it starting multiple fires?

What do you guys think, does it sound too overpowered?

01-12-2014, 15:37
You are correct about heated shot Timothy, forts would use them to set fire to ships rigging, sails etc or hope for a lucky hit on powder. They were of such danger to ships, particularly anchored ships, that the siege of Toulon (1793) was successfully completed by placing artillery in a position to bombard the Allied fleets in the bay and forcing them to sea. The fleets could not fire back due to lack of elevation of their guns and were outranged byt he falling shot anyway.

To produce heated shot required placing the ball in a furnace and using special tools to remove it and place it the gunbarrel, the process was not without risk due to the risk of premature explosion of the gunpowder bag.

A hot shot furnace was typically a free-standing brick structure with special iron racks and grates, varying in size according to the number of round shot they were to heat and the number of cannon they served. They were commonly 6 - 8 ft (2.4 m) wide, and anything from 8 to over 30 ft (9.1 m) in length. A brick chimney was situated at one end with a firebox located in the front or side of the opposite end. The interior of the furnace was lined with fire brick (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_brick) and had sloping iron rails sized to hold round shot. Cold round shots were placed in the furnace and allowed to roll down the inclined rails in rows. The first shots halted over the firebox at the low end and were heated "cherry red" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_heat). When they were removed, the next shots rolled down to take their place and be similarly heated. A large furnace might hold 60 or more round shot. (wiki)

The danger of fire on board a ship of this period is probably the single most dangerous threat to it's existence. A ship is essentially a large "fire starter", a wooden box packed with ropes covered in oils and fat, tar and caulking, turpentine and gunpowder. Just about everything on board was highly flammable, thus the powder magazine was in an isolated area low in the ship, where the cartridges were prepared in a room by sailors with felt slippers (to stop sparks?, reduce powder being carried on the feet outside?), candles in enclosed compartments separated from direct exposure to the room by thick glass and casting only a very poor light, heavy tarpaulin like curtains over the entrance to prevent any cinders or other possible cause of ignition from entering the room. Completed cartridges were passed to powder monkeys , young boys usually, who would scamper to the gun decks and wait to pass them to the gunners, a task that must have been exhausting during battle.

To replicate the effects of heated shot remember not all forts would have had the capacity to fire it but if they did I think adding a damage chit is reasonable, though your second option of a fire regardless of the chit every fixed number of hits is possibly better

01-12-2014, 15:50
Thank you for the info, I was out and about when I thought of this and wasn't able to do much research on it. I do realize not all forts would have had the ability, thankfully the forts that Ares has produced thus far range in size, so I would think perhaps the larger half of the forts would be considered as having "heated shot"

What I meant by +1 damage is not an extra chit, it would mean a 1 damage becomes 2, 3 becomes 4, and so on. Though a 0 is always 0. Although there is the possibility of an extra chit per 3 or 4 damage akin to the raking rules instead of +1 damage for each chit drawn. But I think the most realistic would be causing a fire on board per so many chits. Though combining extra damage and causing a fire would seem overpowered to me.

The Mad Hatter
01-12-2014, 15:53
I've even read they tried using heated shot on board ship (scary thought) but in the few instances it was done, it was determined too dangerous I believe. I don't believe any navy used it consistently aboard their ships. If memory serves me right, I believe the USS Constitution had a shot furnace installed, but not sure how much it was ever really used.

David Manley
01-12-2014, 16:20
Heated shot is another of those "wonder weapons" that isn't really. There are very few instances where its effects were significant enough to record them, for various reasons. Including low rate of fire, time to prepare (shot needed to be heated for a very long time prior to use), training (or rather lack of it, hence not widely used), danger to the shooters as well as the target, and ships companies who knew what to look out for and who knew how to deal with it (buckets of water and axes).

There were attempts to use it at sea - some French frigates and a few SOLS were outfitted with shot furnaces, but they were rarely, if ever used (although the furnaces did make excellent auxiliary ovens!). Constitution does have one, but its not clear if it was ever used. I believe it was used occasionally during the Civil War, the Congress being a possible victim (sorry, away from my references just now). The RN also experimented with a variant in the mid 1800s with hollow shells filled with lead that was molten when heated - a more technically exciting variant, but similarly not all that effective and probably never used in combat. Beloved of rule writers looking at the Crimea though :)

Having said all that, heated shot is one of the "classic" elements of AoS warfare and it is worth having a rule available that is not overly powerful and that is to be used sparingly.

Comte de Brueys
01-13-2014, 00:43
Good information, Daniel & David. :thumbsup:

02-17-2014, 21:02
How about this?

Draw damage chits as normal, IF a fire damage is not drawn then draw ONE more, keep this chit ONLY if it is a fire damage, otherwise put it back into the bag/cup/bowl/empty human skull etc.. This I think would represent the higher probability of a fire occurring without over powering the forts cannon.

Of course I might be WAY off.