• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Work with all your cloud files (Drive, Dropbox, and Slack and Gmail attachments) and documents (Google Docs, Sheets, and Notion) in one place. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free. Now available on the web, Mac, Windows, and as a Chrome extension!


Pulp Explosives

Page history last edited by Michael 3 years, 7 months ago

back to the Pulp Index or the Demolitions Kit


Types of Explosives


The oldest commonly used explosive is black powder, aka gunpowder. A combination of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate, it has been largely replaced by smokeless powder for firearms and military applications in the more civilized parts of the world. Black powder is still used in mining, as it's very cheap in bulk, and suitable for earth-moving types of blasting. Other nitrates can be substituted for the potassium nitrate for some applications.


Dynamite is created with nitroglycerin, a powerful but very unstable explosive. The transportation of nitroglycerin is prohibited almost everywhere; if needed, it's usually manufactured on the spot.


The first practical military and industrial replacement for black powder was dynamite, first manufactured by Alfred Nobel in 1867. Dynamite is cheap, with 60% more power (per pound) than TNT, but too sensitive to be used in artillery shells, exudes nitroglycerin, and is bad at high and low temperatures. Various trade names and variations include gelatin dynamite (sensitive, more powerful than plain dynamite, won't exude nitroglycerin, some water resistance, creates lots of poisonous fumes). Another variant is ammonium dynamite, which contains ammonium nitrate, has 85% of the power of "straight" dynamite. Dynamite is sold in various strengths:   30% ("loggers' dynamite"), 40%, 60% and 80% are fairly common. The usual stick is 1/2 pound in weight.


Unlike commercial dynamite, military dynamite contains no nitroglycerin compounds -- it's a mix of RDX and TNT, and has about 40% less power per pound compared with regular dynamite. It's issued in 1-pound sticks at "full strength".  


TNT, or trinitrotoluene, is a very useful modern explosive. It is a component of (or closely related to) many other explosives, such as amatol (mixed with ammonium nitrate), hexanite, hexogen, cyclonite, and RDX. While invented in the mid-Nineteenth Century, the first military application was for German naval shells, in 1902. TNT and the smoke it produces is toxic, but very safe from a demolitions point of view -- insensitive (POWx0.5% chance of detonation when struck by rifle bullet), flammable but won't explode from fire, excellent water resistance. A version of detonating cord developed in the U.S. before the Great War, cordeau, is a lead tube filled with TNT; it detonates at 5200 feet per second.   


Invented before the American Civil War, nitrocellulose (also known as guncotton) has uses as a cheap explosive, artillery and rocketry propellant. Nitrostarch is a similar explosive, used for filling hand grenades and artillery shells during the Great War -- sensitive, very flammable, good water resistance, creates poisonous fumes.


Gelignite (also known as blasting gelatin), a mix of guncotton, wood pulp, potassium nitrate and nitroglycerin, was the first plastic explosive, invented in 1875 by Alfred Nobel. It is one of the cheapest explosives, and was the main explosive used by the IRA. While technically "plastic", gelignite doesn't have that nice modelling-clay consistency of later plastic explosives, being more like a thick jelly. It burns slowly, and can only be exploded by detonators or other explosives; it is thus relatively safe. 


The German government developed PETN before the Great War (they call it nitropenta), and used it in booster charges and detonators. Its most notable use is as the core of the modern, fabric-covered versions of detonating cord (developed in 1938), known in British military service as cordex, with a detonation rate over 8000 feet per second. Other names for PETN-filled detonating cord will include primercord, primacord, det cord, etc.


Currently, the British military use Nobel 808, or plastique, a green plastic explosive (which smells of almonds).


The Munroe Effect


This refers to the partial focussing of blast energy caused by a shaped charge. Discovered in 1888 by (unsurprisingly) Charles Munroe, the military usefulness of this effect is not appreciated until the Second World War. An War Department engineer, Henry Mohaupt, produced the first hollow-charge ammunition in the late 1930s as experimental anti-tank hand grenades for the U.S. Army. The first-ever military use will be during the attack on the Belgian fort "Eben Emael" by German troops on May 10th 1940, using Pionierhohlladung H 15 engineering shaped charges -- 10.43" in diameter, 27.5 pounds, and able to penetrate 3" of armor plate.


The "Fury Gun" is an early non-military example of a hollow-charge weapon.


The Misznay-Schardin effect, discovered during World War 2, is related, and is the basis for claymore mines.


The first Faustpatrone weighs 7 pounds, and is 39" long; the 14 ounce warhead has a diameter of 4". Effective range when aiming at tanks is about 33 yards, and the projectile is launched at about 100 feet per second. I'd call the Call of Cthulhu range value against people 10 yards, at most - the first ones don't even have any sights. Armor penetration is 5.5" of plain steel; the Call of Cthulhu blast effect would be 5d6 (there's no fragmentation effect to speak of, except inside the target), with a 3 yard range. In the real world, the first ones were delivered to the German army in August of 1943. But then again, the PIAT was introduced that same year, and we've seen those in the Rocketship Empires world! The first American bazooka enters service historically in 1942, but we'll see!


Damage Values


Just got this from Kevin, these new values are the valid ones for Pulp. The referee will adjudicate damage beyond the first range given, or for larger amounts of explosives than given in the examples.


  • 6 pound muzzleloading cannon     1841     4D6/2y

  • 9 pound muzzleloading cannon     1841     6D6/2y

  • 81mm mortar         6D6/6y +3D6/9Y +1D6/12Y

  • 10 pound muzzleloading cannon     1841     7D6/2y

  • 12 pound Napoleonic cannon     1815     8D6/2y

  • Model 1841 12 pound muzzleloading cannon     1841     9D6/2y

  • 75mm M1897 field gun 'French 75' (75x350mmR)     1895     10D6/2y

  • 15" Rodman muzzleloading cannon     1861     12D6/2y +6D6/4y +3D6/8Y Y

  • 5" naval gun         12D6/6y +6D6/9Y +3D6/12Y


  • blasting cap     1875     1D10+2/1y

  • Nitroglycerin, 2oz     1864     2D6/3y

  • generic pipe bomb         2D6+1/2y

  • Cheddite (France) 4oz.     1910     2D6+3/2y

  • TNT, 4oz     1863     3D6+2/3y

  • Gelignite, 4oz     1875     3D6/3y

  • dynamite stick (8oz)     1867     5D6/2y

  • Amatol, 4oz     1914     3D6+2/3y

  • RDX or Cyclonite, 4oz     1921     3D6+2/3y

  • Plastique (Nobel 808), 4oz     1939     3D6+2/3y

  • Composition B, 4oz     1939     3D6+2/3y

  • Composition C, 4oz     1940     3D6+3/3y

  • C2, 4oz     1942     3D6+2/3y

  • C3, 4oz     1943     3D6+3/3y

  • C4, 4oz     1956     4D6/3y

  • Semtex, 4oz     1964     4D6/3y

  • generic hand grenade         4D6/3y

  • FI hand grenade (570gr., 60gr Cheddite)     1915     3D6/3y

  • MK I grenade     1917     3D6+2/3y

  • stick hand grenade M.24 (8oz., 6oz TNT)     1917     4D6/4y

  • MK II fragmentation grenade (595gm., 57gm TNT)     1918     4D6/3y

  • MK II white phosphorus grenade (19oz, 10oz WP)         1D4/1y+1D6+2/8y

  • MK V tear gas (CN) grenade        POT 10/10m

  • generic 40mm grenade (0.23kg, 32gm Comp B)     1953     3D6/2y

  • VOG-25 40.6mm Russian (48gm HE)     1932     2D6+2/2y

  • VOG-25P 40.6mm Russian (37gm HE Frag)     1932     2D6/2y +1D6/4y


  • generic AP mine         4D6/5y

  • M18 Claymore mine     1960     6D6+3/3D6+2/1D6+4


  • 2.5" Lyle line Gun     1877     3D8+1


  • flamethrower (15m effective range)     1914     2D6+4 Burn +1D6+1 Shock

  • 26.5mm Very flare     1915     1D10+1 +1D4 burn

  • M12 Billy Club     1932     1D10+1 +1D4 burn

  • Molotov cocktail (Malf 95+)     1936     1D10+2 +1D4+1 burn

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.