SOUTHERN CLAW FIELD MANUAL: WEAPONS, Part 2
The previous entry provided an overview of most of the traditional weapons a soldier can be issued as a member of the Southern Claw military. This entry provides an overview of the Southern Claw’s more potent but far rarer armaments: thaumturgically powered weapons.
While these devices have been crafted by mages (usually witches, who for unknown reasons are more adept at creating arcane technology than warlocks are), they have been specially designed so that all of the required magical components needed to power the weapons are either supplied as ammunition or else are contained within the weapon itself. The presence of a mage is not necessarily needed to use these armaments, though it is advised.
Also note that these weapons require a considerable amount of resources to produce, and are constructed only sparingly. Field commanders must exercise extreme restraint when issuing any of these weapons; most are reserved for the defense of Southern Claw city-states or for issuance to elite Hunters, or to members of the White Guard stationed at The Scarab.
Melee Weapons: Arcane melee weapons are not fueled by ammunition in the traditional sense. Rather, these arms are generally coated with a thaumaturgic coagulant. The weapon is then treated under intense flame in conjunction with a particular magical ritual, when a mage’s spirit permanently seals a fraction of itself to the coagulant and to the weapon. (There are mages and spirits who specifically train for this purpose. Such a mage’s spirit is otherwise only used for reconnaissance or other supportive functions, as after the construction of these weapons they are generally considered too weakened to be combat ready.)
Razorwire: Specially enchanted concertina wire that is secured on metal spools. Razor-sharp and capable of cutting through bone and light armor. Usually used to secure perimeters in hostile areas, razorwire can also be used as garrotes or to craft deadly bola, but the wire is so sharp is must be handled with extreme caution.
Flame Sword: This is a broad term used to refer to any melee-weapon covered in a spiritual arcane unguent called soulfire. The thaumaturgic coagulant in this case is specially enchanted so that it can be ignited by a flint or a low flame, which allows the weapon to be yielded while the blade is cast in a sheath of supernaturally hot fire that causes no damage to the weapon itself. Handy for immolating zombies.
Artillery & Explosives: Arcane power, by its very nature, tends to be somewhat volatile, as the majority of magical effects that a mage can produce take on a directly physical manifestation. Because of the highly unstable nature of this expressed power, harnessing and containing arcane energy for later use is incredibly dangerous, and is done infrequently. The Southern Claw has, however, had limited success with a handful of different weapons, primarily by extracting small portions of a spirit’s energies and creating a variety of alchemical mixture with explosive properties. These mixtures are then applied to various specific devices.
Hex grenades: A standard M67 ball grenade that has been fused with explosive arcane energies. These energies are held dormant until triggered by the grenade detonation, at which point a pre-determined effect – generally a blast of ice, fire or acid – is released in addition to the grenade’s explosion. Highly unstable, and used infrequently.
Hex bombs: A larger and deadlier version of the hex grenade. A hex bomb is usually a block of C4 that has been coated with the same type of arcane energies stored inside of a hex grenade, only a much larger quantity of energy is used. Hex bombs are only used for extremely important missions where the goal is to destroy something large and formidable.
Flame cannons: One of the simplest large weapons that can be produced through the use of magic, the flame cannon is essentially an M2-2 flamethrower that has been mounted on a tri-pod (flame cannons are never used as portable arms), equipped with a longer barrel, and provided with an arcane fuel source rather than traditional flamethrower fuel. This magical fuel is rendered to an unstable fluid state that can be drawn and expelled as a supernatural flame capable of damaging incorporeal undead in addition to corporeal creatures. The extremely volatile fuel cells are specially reinforced and are dangerous to move long distances.
Ice launchers: An experimental mounted weapon based on the M252 mortar, the ice launcher is specially retrofitted to fire modified mortar rounds loaded with explosive frost energies. These shells detonate with the same explosive force as a mortar shell with the additional benefit of releasing icy shrapnel as hard as steel and covering the blast area plus 20 feet in an aura of subarctic temperatures. At this point in the time, the process for creating the shells is costly and inefficient, and the shells themselves are extremely unstable; this weapon is considered to still be in the testing phase.
Ammunition: Unlike the weapons noted above, arcane ammunition is directly enchanted by a mage to carry a specific property. The difficulty with arcane ammunition has been in crafting effects that are long-lasting, which usually means that the enchantment in question needs to be fairly simplistic and not too powerful. To date, two types of ammunition have been perfected, but more are in development.
Ghost Slayers: Bullets that can harm incorporeal undead like wraiths, specters and ghosts. This is achieved by affecting the sub-harmonic resonance of the bullet itself, creating a round that vibrates at such intense frequency it cracks the ethereal barrier; unfortunately, the bullet strikes incorporeal creatures at a reduced state of impact, but the rounds are still more effective than traditional bullets, which are entirely ineffective.
Vampire Slayers: Cold iron shells infused with minor explosive capabilities. Only usable in heavy weapons due to the size required to infuse the shells with the enchantment, which breaks down smaller bullets and renders them useless. The arcane explosive imbedded in the round sends a destructive wave of energy that ripples along the victim’s body; one round is usually enough to destroy a vampire, creatures that normally require multiple hits from even heavy weapons to destroy.
Vehicles: The number of arcane vehicles are few. Most vehicles operated by the Southern Claw are holdovers from Before the Black, run with what limited fuel reserves are still available. The only significant thaumaturgic advancement in vehicle design has been the Bloodhawk, a long-range aerial transport and combat vehicle. Roughly the size of a small sailing vessel, the Bloodhawk runs off of a specially arcane-treated fuel mixture that, while volatile, is incredibly efficient: a fully fueled Bloodhawk can run for nearly 3,500 nautical miles before needing to refuel. Bloodhawks are generally armed with heavy-caliber weapons loaded with Vampire Slayer ammunition.
Hexed Soil: One of the most efficient and least costly long-term military contributions made by magic is a special enchantment placed on sandbags used all throughout the Alliance. The enchantment emits a low-grade arcane resonance field that temporarily disrupts incorporeality, as well as the destructive energy fields emitted by vampire combat armor. These sandbags are called “hexed soil”, and while soldiers cannot rely on them for complete protection, their use has become standard practice due to the measure of extra security they afford.