Dragonstones became much more plentiful throughout the World That Was in the Littlest Peace between the Second Crusade and the Twilight Rebellion. Some speculate that this was due to the proliferation of dwarven mining of the Wyrmsteeth in the wake of the pacification of the Draconic Empire.
Not every dragonstone brought up from the mines was suitable for use, either inherently flawed or ruined in any of the various cutting and refining processes.
Still, the stones were too valuable — and dangerous, in the wrong hands — to cast aside. Many of these were ground down into fine powder, and used in alchemical research. In the heyday of the Late Imperium, there was quite an abundant trade in the various dragonstone powders, known on the black markets as “Sands.”
While a whole dracosilicate stone is inert when exposed to the major elements, Sands were known to become extremely volatile, particularly those of the red and gold varieties. Using them in place of certain spell components increased the effectiveness of some spells. Other varieties could be used to counter certain magical effects if scattered in the path of the oncoming spell. Shields and armors coated with a glaze of such Sands displayed some remarkable effects on the battlefields of the North.*
It was only a matter of time before this glazing process was applied to projectile weapons: first the tips of bows and quarrels, then ball and shot from longarm cannons and wheel-locks, and finally to the cased-ammunition of modern pistols and rifles.
This process only allowed Magewrights to prepare a round for spell binding at the moment of firing, and then only with the conscious effort of a wizard. This had the effect of only being able to use those spells known by the wizard, and once used, they were wiped from the spell caster’s mind as if cast by conventional means.
By mixing certain proportions of black dragonstone powder with red, spells could be cast in suspension, held in a tiny fragments of red dragonstone positioned within the body of the projectile. The precise alignments vary from spell to spell, as each requires a specific “constellation” of gem fragments within the metal shell to function properly.
Oddly enough, though designed for war, the most commonly used rounds were used by peace keepers, and contained suspended Hold Person, Sleep, and Entangle spells.
Spells of levels one through three can be suspended into specially prepared pistol ammunition, while rifle rounds could hold up to fifth level spells. Only spells targeting an individual can be suspended within a round. Spell effects take hold, even if they are touch-based, on a successful hit. The bullet itself does no damage, disintegrating when the spell effect is discharged.
* these will be explored in future Magitech articles
Some shards of dragonstone were sturdy enough to undergo partial refinement, and were crafted into either the body or tip of modern bullets. These rounds were mainly used by Imperial Special Forces against fully manifested demonic foes. They did not see widespread use on the larger battlefields of the Afridhi Wars or Beastman Crusades.
Incendiary: Rounds crafted from red dragonstones can be made to ignite, either in flight, or upon striking a target. Lesser rounds detonate for 4d4 points of damage; Minor rounds deal 6d6 points of damage; Greater rounds burst for 8d8.
Gorgon rounds will petrify a target if the damage dealt is more than half the target’s hit points, if a Save vs. Turn to Stone is not made. Otherwise, they will only turn the target partially to stone, resulting in a −4 penalty to Strength, Dexterity, and a reduction in speed to 30’ (10’). A successful Save vs. Turn to Stone against this effect results in a halving of penalties, and a reduction in speed to 60’ (20’)
Gale rounds are crafted from blue dragonstones, and produce tremendous winds in the wake of the bullet, knocking down Small and Man sized opponents, and causing Large opponents to Save vs. Dragon Breath or be knocked prone. Firing a gale round amidst sands or loose dirt will kick up enough dust and debris to mimic the Obscure spell’s effect at 5th level. Open flames of a torch’s size or smaller are extinguished, while those larger are fanned into a conflagration, dealing 3d8 points of damage to anyone in the wake of the surging flames.
Glacial rounds are crafted of green dragonstone, and are often icy cold to the touch. They have the effect of either Holding their target in place, or slowing them if a successful Save vs Turn to Stone is made.
Hailstone rounds shed icy destruction in their wake, or on impact, as the Ice Storm spell, dealing cold damage on par with Indendiary rounds, listed above.
Sunfire rounds are crafted from amber dragonstones and the golden filaments from within a white dragonstone. When fired, they emit a burst of light equal to a summer’s high noon, dealing damage to undead and inflicting daylight penalties on races with a sensitivity to sunlight for 1d6 rounds. If a specific undead is targeted and hit, there is a possibility of it being turned (or destroyed), as if the shooter were a cleric of equivalent level. Sunfire rounds fired within the effect of a Bless spell have their effects increased by 2 levels.