Post apocalyptic without gunpowder

What kind of weapons could you make in a setting with no ability to make gunpowder for whatever reason?
Obviously melee weapons, bows, and crossbows, but was thinking air guns would be interesting. Pic related.
I figure you could hide advanced scifi crap in pre-fall caches, lasers, railguns, portal gun, etc.
What else would be interesting?


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Air guns. They are pretty good, but never really caught up for military use because gunpowder was strictly better. (look up Girandoni Air Rifle)
And you should able to propel projectile with gasoline, similar to how a single cycle of combustion engine works.
High quality rubber gives whole new possibilities to crossbows. Spring guns. Biological weapons, flame/acid throwers. Remotely piloted drones. Autopilot drones. Trained animals. Feral animal throwers.

Honestly, little homemade coil guns are worse in every way than airguns but man are they cool.

That said, you're gonna have to jump through some hoops as to why you can't make gunpowder. It's pretty easy, easier than making airguns by a wide margin too.

>no ability to make gunpowder for whatever reason

This is retarded. Percussion caps and flintlocks are going to be what people go back to immediately once they shoot through all their brass, with some of the smarter ones reloading the brass with blackpowder and cast lead projectiles and primers made with match heads.

This is going to ruin your thread, and you'd have been better off saying instead
>So what kind of neat weapons are going to crop up in the apocalypse given that guns aren't going to be nearly as cheap and easy as they are today?

Bows and crossbows and melee weapons are great, you are particularly going to see a shitload of crossbows because they are more straightforward and the institutional knowledge necessary to make bows really shine died hundreds of years ago.

Air guns, yeah, they had those with blackpowder. I could see them made up like this

If you can figure out a way of generating a bunch of compressed air very quickly or storing it up, I could see smooth bore airguns made out of metal plumbing fittings and PVC. Even a bike pump would do the job if all you need is a single shot, it would make it a muzzleloader analogue that takes longer to reload but that's still good for hunting. All the way up to pneumatic potato cannons lobbing rocks and wood slugs and other dense projectiles.

Advanced scifi stuff is gonna be your ace in the hole material. You find it and you hang onto it for scenarios where your existing weapons just won't cut it, because it has limited uses/ammo/energy stored and even if you can recharge it you can't build the parts to fix it when it inevitably breaks from wear.

You will also arguably see a return of spears, blowguns where you can take poison from the wildlife, and maybe even the atlatl in the odd post-mayincatec settlement. The atlatl was fucking deadly

In my mind, no one has been using gunpower for hundreds of years before the Fall, because of all the scifi shit. So no records of how to make it still exist. It's a stretch, but it sort of works.

How does this argument hold sway when I can go on the internet and look up a recipe for it AND where to find all the necessary ingredients in ten seconds of googling?

It's like saying there's no way in hell anybody would be able to learn how to use or make a sword because we haven't used swords for combat for hundreds of years, and yet I can find manuscripts and clubs literally dedicated to studying and learning from those manuscripts and developing the techniques. There still exist blacksmiths to this day that make them the old fashioned way.

You're going to see preppers writing it down if nothing else, just like there exist preppers who practice with bows today, and if you're that far in the space future then pretty much anything with a screen is probably going to have its own copy of wikipedia onboard if for no other reason than convenience. You could easily find the recipe in there, particularly because at that point it'll probably be considered about as dangerous as a slingshot.

If people are that isolated from the dirt then they're probably going to have problems with things like agriculture and hunting and nature in the first place, so the only ones that survive are going to be the ones that made it their business to know that stuff and it would thus be in their interest to look into how to make gunpowder.

Or these alternative weapons you like!

But the point is, it isn't that easy to forget

>How does this argument hold sway when I can go on the internet and look up a recipe for it AND where to find all the necessary ingredients in ten seconds of googling?

I think what he's saying is that it's far enough in the future that there are no hardcopies, only on the cloud, and the cloud disappears, so all the knowledge goes with it other than the few random people who happen to be medieval 21st century recreationalists who make their own homemade gunpowder and LARP as historical school shooters.

Also, you're always going to have weird shit like the Amish.

I would not be surprised if the Amish still existed in a couple hundred years at all, because their whole hat is living sustainably on a village level.

They have gunpowder muzzleloaders

Well then there's two ways to go.

Either what weapons exist depends heavily on what you say does survive the fall. People will use what they can find.
People are working from scratch building their way up. This again comes back to GM decision as to how much time they've had and how many people are working together. It this case you're building up, starting with simple and working up to whatever. Bare in mind that anyone who actually remembers a university level chemistry course could easily think of how to get explosives, then you just need an old nerd or history buff like us to remember what the old weapons were. The 2 together get the what and how of a gun, then it's just time and effort.

I don't know when you're setting this, and all power to you if you just want no gunpowder, but imo it's easier to make a gun than a bow assuming available scrap and garbage. My recommendation would be have one group have a near monopoly on cheap and effective powder production. They do it so well that for the most part no one else tries, so while they and those they favour can get clean fast burning smokeless powder, any kook who does try to mix up their own is gonna get black powder at best, an explosion at worst, and just a slow burning mixture useless for guns most likely.

Point, and then I suppose it depends on whether gunpowder beats out airguns cobbled together out of future materials and fed with future air compressors that run on water or solar or something... at least in the short term, until that breaks down.

But I think the gunpowder will at least be viable in competition to these things, and it's rather silly to go
>Well there just WON'T BE ANY GUNS AT ALL

I'll be honest, I've been building an 'ecopunk' style setting inspired by CATastrophe, Anno 2070, and Subnautica, among others. I know its retarded, and I like guns, but gunpowder just doesn't fit into clean aesthetic I want.

If for whatever reason combustion isn't feasible (magic, science, no gun powder, coal, petrol, etc), then we end up with :

- tension based weapons (crossbows, slingshots, catapult)
- pneumatic weapons (air rifles, spearguns, blowdart tubes)
- hydraulic weapons (arguably difficult to manufacture without combustion but not impossible ; powered drills, crush claws or pilebunkers)

Realistically people would probably autistically focus on crossbow development and make deadly gas/acid rounds.

Don't forget magnetic or electric weapons!

If you're going for oceanside waterworld style stuff, and your PCs are going to be spending a lot of time on the coasts, then you could relegate gunpowder to the land dwellers further inland and have it only really ever come out for serious warfare things like boarding and counterboarding efforts. Kinda minimize its presence. Particularly if you're going to have your PCs spending a lot of time in the water fighting beasties and exploring stuff rather than interacting with people.

Depending on how your apocalypse came about, you might consider that everyone's got solar powered indestructible survival 3D printers that'll happily spit out the piping and compressors to make air guns that are better than muzzleloaders all day long, but they won't do actual weapons themselves. Borrow the subnautica solution

>you are particularly going to see a shitload of crossbows because they are more straightforward and the institutional knowledge necessary to make bows really shine died hundreds of years ago

Sorry but no. Simply no. Why do you think the earliest weapon resembling a crossbow was invented ~500 BC when bows were used since ~30.000-10.000 BC? Because they are REALLY easy to produce. Even inventing them completly anew is no big hurdle.

Yeah, bows are easier to produce - although that gap's going to be much smaller in the scenario of an apocalypse because there will be piles of perfectly good spring steel and cordage laying around to make into crossbows that people didn't have for all of those years when the bow reigned supreme.

I'm not saying the crossbow is easier to make, I'm saying it's easier for everything else.

Bolts are less material intensive than arrows and it's much, much easier and quicker to teach someone how to use a crossbow competently than it is to teach someone how to use a bow. The point and shoot mechanism is much more straightforward and is going to make much more sense to your average joe than trying to aim a bow, particularly because he's been looking at guns all his life.

So you're looking at way easier mastery, cheaper projectiles and higher power, particularly if you're willing to set up a crank that pulls the string back rather than wrestle with it with your own two hands. Hell, that even removes the strength requirement that a quality bow demands of you.

The bow has on all of this a slight to major advantage in rate of fire, but because the institutional knowledge on how to pull that off (throwing a bunch of arrows into a target in about twice as many seconds) died centuries ago you're going to have to figure all that out from scratch too.

If you want gunpowder guns gone, you've got three options:

- Introduce something that's better than guns for the setting so people use it instead of gunpowder. For example, have something like a 40k lasgun be common. Approximately as lethal as gunpowder weapons* but it will last longer due to less moving parts and it's much easier to acquire more ammo for it. Meaning it will be easier to keep one working for longer than a gunpowder weapon.

*Depending on which author is writing that day.

- Guns are just gone, as are any gun equivalents. Don't even try to explain it. Warn the players at the start of the game that it is something they will not be able to change because you will use GM fiat to keep it that way.

- There is some powerful entity that doesn't want anyone else having guns, and they have the capability to enforce their will on everyone else. Make them characters, just so that they can get angry when a PC tries rules-lawyering.

Okay, under those assumptions I can agree to your statement, especially the "easier to learn" aspect is a huge factor.

Just wanted to add some information: Bolts being smaller than arrows is actually a disadvantage because a smaller and therefore lighter projectile has less kinetic energy and, because of that, less penetrating power. Crossbows compensate for that with higher velocity, but mostly ending with a netto plus in penetration power at close range. But I guess that wouldn't matter much in a post-apocalyptic setting as available armour likely wouldn't be able to withstand either.

Range is the other advantage bows have over crossbows. Only the most sophisticated crossbows reached equal range as longbows and I guess you can't expect that in this setting.

So it's kind of a give and take between both weapons: more training/upper body strength with more range/RoF vs. easy usage with less range and higher power only in close proximity.
So my personal guess is that history ould repeat itself and both weapons exist alongside each other. But when you assume the timeframe shortly after the apocalyptic catastrophe the training aspect is really important.

Related note: What are good weapons to use underwater?

>Not using nunpowder

Underwater is the one place gunpowder sucks because A) you have to seal your cartridges and B) you can't shoot regular bullets at any further than point blank range because water is dense as shit and absorbs their energy way too fast. The Russians made an underwater rifle that essentially shoots small spears, but by and large you are better off with larger heavier projectiles with more inertia moving at slower speeds so you can avoid losing so much energy to the thicker medium.

Spear guns are great for underwater. Usually elastic driven, for hunting fish, particularly if your spears have catch lines so you can reel them in just like they do with bow fishing. I could also see spring driven spear guns and perhaps even bows and crossbows being somewhat viable, depending on what you made them out of, but that's more speculative.

Spears are also good, although throwing them is hard because the water slows your arm.

Otherwise knives and other melee implements are a go to, there's a special kind of dive knife that incorporates a 12 gram single use C02 cartridge into the handle and has a tube to feed that cartridge out the end of the blade. So you stab something, release the CO2, and it blows up and/or freezes its innards. Great for sharks!

Of additional interest is armor you might find. There have been gags of going to swim with sharks while wearing plate armor, but more seriously chainmail is a common answer to sharks and other nasties in the water.

Airguns, possibly with ammunition stabilized with a fin of some sort.

I'd make guns that use acetylene and oxygen as the charge. Get a couple bottles, strap em on your back, get a tube, poke a hole i it, stick a blowtorch in the hole. Maybe put one of those electric lighter sparkers in it as a trigger.

The harder you want it to shoot, the longer you squirt the gasses in via unlit blowtorch

It's more during the apocalypse than after but it's the first thing that came to mind

Chem-combustion guns?
I got a channel to inspire you.

We need more details, user.
Are they not able to make regular black powder?
Not able to make smokeless?
cause the later's more realistic, but the former's impossible. You can make gunpowder with rust, piss crystals and charcoal.

Historical pneumatic guns included rifles, mortars, coastal artillery, triple spinal cruiser mounts and field cannons.

People will likely reinvent the sling, making it out of cords, leather, rags. Ammo goes from good rocks and lead bullets all the way to grenades, flasks of acid and toxic gas.

Not OP here, but I've been toying with the idea of a post apocalyptic setting, one thousand or so years after the fall of a cyberpunk style civilization, caused by lovecraftian rending of reality. Mankind mostly exists on in fortress cities, with huge stretches of monster infested wilderness with S.T.A.L.K.E.R. style anomalies in it making travel and trade nearly impossible.

Something I wanted to run with was that gun technology would be restricted to black powder and mercury or silver fulminate primers, mostly cap and ball, lever action and break action style weapons, due to the dirty and corrosive nature of these propellants preventing more complex weapons from being practical. They can't produce better propellants because of the aforementioned trade issues, and the fact that mining/resource gathering outside the cities is very high risk.

Anyhow, I've been wondering if a more chemically-minded user could tell me just how realistic such a situation is?

>What else would be interesting?
If you're doing sci-fi?

>cryo weapons
>lightning guns (atomic robo style)
>firebolt guns (guns that shoot compressed fire)
>high grade slingshots that can be used to fire specialized ammo, sharp metal discs, or rocks if you're desperate
>goo guns
>brass knuckles that discharge kinetic energy to amplify punches (brass part is optional)
>harpoon guns
>stasis bubble launchers (bubbles trap things in slow motion)
>t-shirt cannons modified to fire spikes
>push guns (shoots a beam that just pushes things away as long as they're being hit by the beam)

That's all I got right now.

What if the reason nobody uses gunpowder or blackpowdwr is because some sort of megapredator that caused the apocalypse is drawn to noise?

People would be afraid of even killing each other because the dying guy could just scream as loud as he can to attract the super predator.

If he was drawn to the smell of gunpowder or something it might be a bit better but crazy people would still not care.

Police are drawn to the sound of gunshots and people still shoot each other.

Because there wasn't shitloads of scrap and leafsprings to easily make crossbows out of, user. And yes, bows are really, really easy to produce. What's hard is making them good bows that don't suck. As you say, it took over 30k years to perfect the bow, and it was outperformed by the crossbow after only a few hundred years of development. Your own assertion defeats you.

Post apocalypse, remember? Not wilderness survival.


Except, smaller in this particular only means shorter. Bolts have a larger cross-section and diameter than arrows, which roughly evens out their mass. And there's nothing that says you can't aim a crossbow up to improve range. With the greater force available to crossbows than longbows, you can pretty easily equal or exceed the maximum range. Remember, in your example, the crossbow is firing roughly level, whereas the longbow man has to aim up at about a 45* angle.

The only advantage bows have over crossbows is rate of fire.

Why do you want a setting without gunpowder, I'm really curious
I do think you'd also may see atlatl's make a return

I just want something different.

So, based on stuff said here, and things I've been reading, I figure air guns would be the most common weapons in the setting. High draw bows and crossbows would be your heavy weapons, with crossbows being more common overall. Scifi tech would be incredibly rare status symbols, something you only pull out for fighting pre fall military mechs and super predators.