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    Default The Peasant Railgun?

    So, my friends informed me of a strange way to break the game called, "the peasant rail gun."

    Creating a Peasant Railgun
    Hire a ton of peasants; let's just say that it is two thousand two hundred and eighty. Line them up in single file; this will form a chain of peasants two miles long. It'd have been four miles back in MY day (witness me hiking up my 2nd Edition suspenders).
    Buy a ladder. Just buy a standard, ten-foot ladder. Disassemble the ladder into a bunch of rungs and a pair of mighty ten-foot wooden poles. Hand a pole to the peasant at the back of line.
    First round of combat. Peasant at the front of line readies an action to throw the pole at the enemy. Every peasant behind him readies an action to hand the pole to the peasant in front of him.
    Next round: peasants fire off their readied actions, passing the pole two miles down the line and hurling it in six seconds or less. Pole accelerates to the speed of 1188 miles per hour, or Mach 1.546875 in dry air, at 20°C/68°F, at sea level on our planet.
    Peasant Railgun can be reloaded and fired in less than 12 seconds
    How do you guys feel about the peasant railgun? As a DM, would you allow it?
    Last edited by TheManicMonocle; 2017-04-28 at 09:08 PM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    This is kinda the wrong section to post it in. But no, it doesn't really work and if someone at my table pulled it I'd pull them.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Things like the peasant railgun are generally my response to people who think the GM should never say "no, you cant do that."
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Tbh in the current campaign I'm running I would allow it just because the whole point of the game is to see how ridiculous you can get within the rules but with the only limitation being no infinite loops (to avoid pun pun and similar things)
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    There's a couple reasons why this wouldn't work.
    A) Nothing about readied actions allows to accomplish things normally beyond your abilities e.g. accelerate an object passed the speed of sound with just your arms.
    B) D&D doesn't have real world physics, so unless the rules explicitly say otherwise real world physics are ignored when it comes to RAW. In this case specifically you could have a stick travel down a chain of peasants that's a billion miles long over the course of six seconds, and at the end it would still be an improvised weapon with a range of 5 ft that deals 1d4+str damage.
    Note: The last bit might not be entirely accurate as I am not very familiar with the rules for improvised weapons.
    Last edited by frogglesmash; 2017-04-28 at 09:41 PM.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Peasant railgun relies on combining RAW - the way readied actions work - with real life - the way that objects travelling at high speeds work. But imagine that humans had the magical ability to accelerate the pole: it would tear their arms off. The ultimate tensile stress of bone is... high, but nowhere near high enough. There's a reason humans can't actually use their full strength most of the time: we have a psychological limit on how much strength we're allowed to exert unless our emotions are running so high that the limit goes. Or put it another way: if you're given an object that's moving that fast - bear in mind it doesn't get faster with each commoner, it has to be travelling at 1188 mph all the time (or at least on average) not just at the end of the movement. If someone passes you something at speed, they're effectively hitting you in the hand with it. Normally, that doesn't matter 'cause you're usually passing something to someone at maybe 5 mph tops, but each commoner has to take the hit at 1188 mph.

    Also, given the efficiency of a human, assuming all wasted energy is thermal and not accounting for air resistance (or common sense), you would cause your own body to heat up by ((3.62874*486.37952/2)/0.2)/(80.7*4.184)=6356 degrees celsius during the throw. There's a reason real railguns use something with a way bigger efficiency than a human's 20%, and even they practically destroy themselves during the shot ("the stresses involved in firing this sort of device require an extremely heat-resistant material. Otherwise the rails, barrel, and all equipment attached would melt or be irreparably damaged. In practice, the rails used with most railgun designs are subject to erosion from each launch."). As is, any attempt to fire the peasant railgun would destroy the peasants, the shot, and practically anything nearby. That velocity squared is a killer, I tell ya.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Were I to DM, I wouldn't have a problem with the pcs using such a thing as a message system should they manage to arrange it, but it doesn't work as a weapon. The projectile would fire down whatever distance in 6 seconds, but the final would just use their own strength to throw it, and I am comfortable with that disconnect.
    Last edited by Kaje; 2017-04-28 at 10:39 PM.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    I would be fine with allowing the commoner railgun if and only if the player were able to correctly translate the amount of force such an object traveling at such a speed would translate to in D&D damage terms--which I frankly suspect to be pretty low for the amount of effort--and if he could satisfactorily coordinate the whole thing in actual RP (not just making a diplomacy check). There may even have to be some sort of training for the commoners, without which I'd probably have to roll a percentile to determine whether they screw up passing the pole at some point along the way.

    But if he could do both of those things, I'd absolutely allow it for the sheer entertainment value that telling the story would give me and my players.

    That said, depending on the circumstances, it's entirely possible there would be RP consequences from arranging such a feat, and regardless he may find it difficult to coordinate a second time.
    Last edited by Ellrin; 2017-04-28 at 11:02 PM.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Yeah, the general issue here is that the railgun relies on converting real life physics into in-game physics, partway through an event.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    It is, however, a very effective weapon at devastating armies of cat girls.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Create an army of simulacrums.
    Manifest Fusion until there is only one of the army left.
    Dismiss Fusions until you have a gigantic line of creatures.
    Manifest Fusion (in order) until there is only one character at your destination.
    Congratulations, you've done something like teleporting but didn't rely on the Astral Plane! With enough simulacrums you probably could go farther than a teleport spell would go (accuracy may vary).
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    The peasant railgun by RAW doesn't work as a weapon because the item being passed never actually increases its speed (when the last commoner throws it, the attack is resolved as normal for an improvised thrown weapon), but it works wonder as an instantaneous travelling method, provided your commoners are burly enough to lift you or another character and pass you around.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    The Railgun doesn't work as a weapon, because there's no default speed-damage conversion in dnd. It does, however, work as a very effecient messaging system. Because of this, i would allow it to work, assuming the PCs could wrangle up a line of people. Or, more realistically, get a line of skeletons to do the work. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of the fact that dnd world has different physics from ours. After all, isn't human history much of a long, storied history of 'step 1: figure out how world works. step 2: engineering. step 3: profit'.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Just using kinematics: You have a 3.6 kg object accelerating from rest to 531 m/s in 6 seconds, or 88.5 m/s^2. This turns out to be about 320 Newtons. In comparison, a fastball accelerates at about 42 m/s^2 and weighs about .150kg, for about 6.3 N.

    In sillier games, I allow it, but my players know that then I get to pull similar **** on them. Also, if they're using kinematics, I'm going to use material science.

    So you have a wooden pole accelerating twice as fast as a baseball, rubbing on all these hands. At the end, I'm going to say the wood is worn down to a splinter that does 1d4+str with a 5' range increment.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    If I were DM, I'd ask, "what action does it take to hand the ladder rung from one peasant to the other?"

    Sounds about like a move action. Maybe 3 seconds to hand off a baton in a relay sounds about right. So in a single 6 second round, you could pass it 2 times (or 3 with some decent Dex checks).

    You can't cherry pick when to use RAW and when to use physics. Physics only really comes in as a pseudo default. If RAW hasn't already defined the circumstances, physics is used to craft an approximate RAW. RAW says clearly that the ladder rung used by the last peasant is used the same as if the rung had never been passed to begin with. Physics has no authority to override that.

    What is really being broken by the theoretical strategem is action economy. You are talking about an army of 2000+ humanoids holding their initiative to act in unison. We're talking about the need for mass combat rules (possibly swarm rules, depending on how you look at it) and that's what makes the illusion that the peasant railgun works by RAW.

    It wouldn't be fair to most parties to have to survive 2000+ goblins holding their initiative to deal 2000+ attack rolls against the heroes. Even if they're just crit fishing, 1/5 of 2000 is still 400 automatic hits for double damage and it's breaking the game to put the players (or just about any creature or character) up against those kinds of numbers.

    The game was not designed to function that way.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Quote Originally Posted by atemu1234 View Post
    Yeah, the general issue here is that the railgun relies on converting real life physics into in-game physics, partway through an event.
    Yeah, this. It's not even the mixing of the two, it's the sheer bloody-minded flip-flopping from RAW to physics and back again whenever it would be convenient.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Yeah, this. It's not even the mixing of the two, it's the sheer bloody-minded flip-flopping from RAW to physics and back again whenever it would be convenient.
    Yep. You can resolve it the RAW way (the quarterstaff travels the full length of the line, and then does 1d4 damage) or the physics way (the quarterstaff only goes a limited distance a round), but in neither case does it achieve massive impact force.

    If going pure RAW, you could use it as a transportation system though. It doesn't seem appropriate for most campaigns, but maybe a particularly silly one.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    If going pure RAW, you could use it as a transportation system though. It doesn't seem appropriate for most campaigns, but maybe a particularly silly one.
    I'm just imagining it now. A row of houses between two cities, each housing about 80 people. At any time two are off duty for every one working, either in the 'commoner teleporter' or on a watchtower. These people stand in a line between the two cities, with an occasional break to change shifts, passing things along. They survive by occasionally using their standard action to take some money or food from what they transport (or they get a transport of deliveries once a day from each city, which is the only one not in a sealed crate.

    Occasionally bandits think that if they can attack the commoner teleporter and set up a station in the middle they can become rich by taking goods for themselves. However, whenever a watchtower spots bandits approaching they signal the line, which promptly develops a break and sends a message to each city. The exits on either side are right next to guardhouses, as soon as the message is received a call is sent out and a couple of minutes later the first guard arrives on the scene, and another teleports in from each city every six seconds (I like to think that the commoners are using their move action to teleport guards in, and their standard action to transport wounded guards and messages back to the cities. Once the threat is dealt with the guards are teleported back and service resumes as normal.

    Seeing as the Tippyverse was dependent on abusing the Teleportation Circle spell, I christen this system the 'low-tippy', and any setting built around the idea a 'low-tippyverse'.

    I can see weaker cities being taken over in order to use the low-tippies to get troops into well defended cities.
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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    The instantaneous transportation method also works with an arbitrarily long line of horses with 5' gaps in between them, using the Fast Mount/Dismount rule -- all you need is a +10 to your Ride check (or +19 if you can't Take 10).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malimar View Post
    The instantaneous transportation method also works with an arbitrarily long line of horses with 5' gaps in between them, using the Fast Mount/Dismount rule -- all you need is a +10 to your Ride check (or +19 if you can't Take 10).
    But there's language that suggests curtailing the use of certain free actions per round for a single character to the DM--it's very reasonable, even with a pretty strictly RAW interpretation, for a DM to just say "No" to someone fast mounting and dismounting an arbitrary number of times per turn. There's nothing written to suggest curtailing the coordination of actions taken by multiple people, however, which means that by strict RAW the DM has no reason to stop the commoner transport conga.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Quote Originally Posted by Malimar View Post
    The instantaneous transportation method also works with an arbitrarily long line of horses with 5' gaps in between them, using the Fast Mount/Dismount rule -- all you need is a +10 to your Ride check (or +19 if you can't Take 10).
    So, that's basically one character playing the world's fastest game of leapfrog over a long line of horses?

    Let's math this one out.

    For a CL 10 Teleport, so, 1000 miles of travel.
    Which means you'd need 352,000 horses for it to work (15 ft per horse. 10ft for the horse itself, and a 5ft space).
    I'm going to say that repeatedly jumping on and off horses is a pretty distracting action when done at such speeds, so I'd probably disallow the ability to take 10.
    We're going to take the cheapest horse, but we'll need a saddle, because -5 on the checks can go a long way.
    So, someone that manages to get +19 on ride checks could spend close to 30 million gold to get an at-will teleportation from one point of a line to another, that doesn't go through walls, but does avoid teleportation-locking.

    Given that for the same cost, you could have a skilled spellcaster use Teleportation Circle - a spell with no range limit that isn't impeded by water, wars, wildlife or walls - on your behalf 10,685 times, I don't see this use of horses as breaking the game's balance.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    One big problem with the peasant railgun is that it assumes that, in a six second period, one person begins acting, then finishes, then another person begins acting, then finishes, and so on.

    That's not how it works. If it did work that way, your speed would be dependent on the population: if you're in a universe with only yourself, you move at standard speed; if you're in a universe with millions of other people, you finish your round in a few microseconds and then wait around for a while, like a stop motion actor.

    No, you all act at the same time, and each action takes the same amount of time.

    The first peasant grabs the pole, moves it over, and drops it in the next peasant's hands. That takes six seconds. The next peasant does the same thing -- in the same six seconds. When they pass the pole, they're not just moving it through space, but through time. Backwards in time, six seconds each time, once for every commoner's hands it goes through.

    So at the last commoner, the pole is only traveling 5/6ths of a foot per second.

    But this uncovers the hidden use of the commoner railgun. You have a pesky BBEG whose trusted lieutenant keeps resurrecting them? Can't resurrect someone of old age. Send them through the commoner railgun loop a few million times.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    Peasant railgun relies on combining RAW - the way readied actions work - with real life - the way that objects travelling at high speeds work. But imagine that humans had the magical ability to accelerate the pole: it would tear their arms off. The ultimate tensile stress of bone is... high, but nowhere near high enough. There's a reason humans can't actually use their full strength most of the time: we have a psychological limit on how much strength we're allowed to exert unless our emotions are running so high that the limit goes. Or put it another way: if you're given an object that's moving that fast - bear in mind it doesn't get faster with each commoner, it has to be travelling at 1188 mph all the time (or at least on average) not just at the end of the movement. If someone passes you something at speed, they're effectively hitting you in the hand with it. Normally, that doesn't matter 'cause you're usually passing something to someone at maybe 5 mph tops, but each commoner has to take the hit at 1188 mph.

    Also, given the efficiency of a human, assuming all wasted energy is thermal and not accounting for air resistance (or common sense), you would cause your own body to heat up by ((3.62874*486.37952/2)/0.2)/(80.7*4.184)=6356 degrees celsius during the throw. There's a reason real railguns use something with a way bigger efficiency than a human's 20%, and even they practically destroy themselves during the shot ("the stresses involved in firing this sort of device require an extremely heat-resistant material. Otherwise the rails, barrel, and all equipment attached would melt or be irreparably damaged. In practice, the rails used with most railgun designs are subject to erosion from each launch."). As is, any attempt to fire the peasant railgun would destroy the peasants, the shot, and practically anything nearby. That velocity squared is a killer, I tell ya.
    So what you're saying is, we need creatures that are immune to fire damage.

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    Default Re: The Peasant Railgun?

    Quote Originally Posted by dhasenan View Post
    One big problem with the peasant railgun is that it assumes that, in a six second period, one person begins acting, then finishes, then another person begins acting, then finishes, and so on.

    That's not how it works. If it did work that way, your speed would be dependent on the population: if you're in a universe with only yourself, you move at standard speed; if you're in a universe with millions of other people, you finish your round in a few microseconds and then wait around for a while, like a stop motion actor.

    No, you all act at the same time, and each action takes the same amount of time.

    The first peasant grabs the pole, moves it over, and drops it in the next peasant's hands. That takes six seconds. The next peasant does the same thing -- in the same six seconds. When they pass the pole, they're not just moving it through space, but through time. Backwards in time, six seconds each time, once for every commoner's hands it goes through.

    So at the last commoner, the pole is only traveling 5/6ths of a foot per second.

    But this uncovers the hidden use of the commoner railgun. You have a pesky BBEG whose trusted lieutenant keeps resurrecting them? Can't resurrect someone of old age. Send them through the commoner railgun loop a few million times.
    The speed is dependent on the population. All the commoners act in the same round and since readied actions don't create additional time when executed, we have to resort to the normal definition of round:
    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. A round presents an opportunity for each character involved in a combat situation to take an action.
    Do note that even without readied actions shenanigans, the "duration" of a round is already dependent on the population. That's why you generally don't want groups with a dozen players: because rounds last too much. You could set up a peasant railgun without readied action and still get an object from one end to another in 6 seconds flat since each commoner gets to act on any given single round, but this is the playground: we don't want things done in 6 seconds, we want them instantly.

    The way you stop a pesky BBEG from being resurrected is by stripping him naked, chain and gag him, make sure he can't teleport through planes, plane shift him to the Far Realm and wait a fraction of a second: given how time flows in the Far Realm relatively to the Material Plane, even a fraction of a second on the Prime is enough for him to die of old age.
    Last edited by Uncle Pine; 2017-04-30 at 02:20 AM.
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