As a member of the Southern Claw military action against the vampires of the Ebon Cities (as well as other enemies, living and otherwise, positioned against the survival of the human race), it is important that you familiarize yourself with the array of armaments at your disposal. Full details of any firearm or melee weapon are provided during actual training; this document is meant merely to provide a brief overview of the arms you are most likely to use in the field.
Two important notes:
— The most important weapons at your disposal at any given time are the other soldiers and mage or mages assigned to your squad. The chances of an individual soldier surviving a one-on-one encounter with one or more vampires or other undead are extremely slim, regardless of the weapons used. Only by protecting the lives of your squad mates will you ensure any chance of surviving an encounter with the enemy.
— The actual weapons available to any given squad will vary widely from location to location and from mission to mission. Since Southern Claw armaments depend on the stockpiles that have been discovered over the course of these two plus decades since The Black, it is sometimes impossible to provide the ideal array of weapons for any given situation. While every attempt is made to equip soldiers with a suitable assortment of weapons, personnel must make do with the supplies at hand.
Part One: Traditional Weapons
Sidearms: The Southern Claw has a horde of snub-nose revolvers (especially Ruger .44 magnums and Smith & Wesson Model 36 .38 calibers) acquired from a number of storehouses near the city-state of Ath. Personnel in Thornn also have access to a large number of automatic handguns, especially HK 45s (.45 automatic) and SIG Sauer P226s (9mm), but supplies are severely limited in other areas. Keeping in mind that handguns are meant to serve as a backup weapon, the Southern Claw is fortunate to have a reserve of pistols, and generally speaking those available to us are all reasonably accurate, durable, and reliable. Not every soldier is equipped with a sidearm; in areas where supplies are in short demand, pistols are reserved for officers and mages only.
Shotguns: If there is any weapon that the Southern Claw military possesses in abundance, it’s the shotgun, especially the Remington 870 12-gauge. Unfortunately, in practical military engagements against Ebon Cities forces the shotgun is hardly the ideal weapon, since it is best to engage vampires and their allies at a distance rather than in short-ranged confrontations.
That being said, the huge surplus of shotguns and 12-gauge ammunition means that practically every Southern Claw soldier is provided with such a weapon (sometimes in place of a sidearm, in areas where pistols are in short supply). The shotgun is particularly useful in engagements with lesser undead such as zombies and war wights, who are typically lightly armored, if at all.
Assault Rifles & Submachine Guns: Like handguns, the Southern Claw has only a limited array of automatic weapons, and supplies comprise mostly of Mp5 submachine guns and M4A1 assault rifles. These weapons have proved their worth in the field against the Ebon Cities and their various undead soldiers, especially when large quantities of armor-piercing or explosive-tipped ammunition are available. A good deal of your training with these weapons will be their care and maintenance since they are in relatively short supply.
Heavy Weapons: Most of the Southern Claw’s heavy weaponry is covered in Part Two, “Exotic Weapons”, as many of these devices – including flame cannons, ice launchers and hex grenades – are powered and fueled by magic.
Besides these arcane devices, the Southern Claw has a decent stock of heavy machine guns, most notable Browning M2 .50-calibers. Select Hunter squads are also given the use of either an AA-12 semi-automatic shotgun or (in the rarest of instances) an M134 “minigun”. Both weapons are high maintenance pieces of equipment that require specialized training, and quantities are so limited that they are handed out only for special missions and to the most elite personnel.
Other squads in need of an extra heavy weapon will be given either a Browning M1919 .30 caliber machinegun or a Barrett M107A1 .50 caliber sniper rifle, depending on the specific needs of the mission. (The Southern Claw armory is fairly well stocked with Browning M1919 and accompanying ammo, so unless mission parameters specifically call for a sniper weapon, the machine gun will be issued.) The aforementioned M2 .50-caliber machine guns are only assigned for use on vehicles.
Explosives & Artillery: In addition to a large quantity of hand grenades (especially the M67 ball grenade), Southern Claw armories are stocked with M252 mortars and a finite quantity of C4 plastic explosive. Grenades are issued to almost every soldier; C4 is provided only to select squad members, and only for special missions.
Artillery is attached to platoons. A variety of tanks and transport vehicles (especially M2 half-tracks) are assigned to each Platoon, as are at least two Norinco Type 69 rocket launchers.
Most of the tanks are holdovers from World War II, found in good working order as a result of what has been theorized to be a time displacement effect caused by The Black.
(It is worth noting that the Southern Claw bears a frustratingly finite quantity of any sort of RPG-style weapon. Luckily, mages more than make up for this deficiency with their magic, but all Southern Claw personnel are still asked to be cognizant of any rumors or reconnaissance regarding stores of anti-tank weaponry, and they are to provide this information to their commanding officer ASAP.)
The Southern Claw also has a limited supply of Flak 38 20mm assault cannons (also time-displaced artillery from WWII), which are issued to platoons on an as-needed basis.
Blades: In addition to shotguns, the Southern Claw has a nearly inexhaustible supply of short-bladed weapons, especially knives and machetes. Much more valuable for their practical application as opposed to their combat value, every Southern Claw soldier is equipped with one or both of these items for use in the field. Knives are good for skinning, first aid, and for use as makeshift tools. Machetes are best used for their original intent: hacking through undergrowth to clear a path for travel.
While man-to-man combat with vampires is always strongly discouraged, a well-maintained machete can save your life in a desperate situation. Vampires can be destroyed if enough bodily trauma is inflicted on their bodies, and since they have the most difficulty recovering from head wounds, using a machete to decapitate an enemy vampire can rarely be considered a bad offensive option.
Next Week: Part 2 details exotic weapons like flame swords, hex bombs, blessed soil, and other thaumaturgically enhanced armaments.