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Black Powder Close Up

Black powder with an American coin

Gunpowder, also called black powder, was a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate, that burned rapidly, producing a volume of hot gas made up of carbon dioxide, water, and nitrogen, and a solid residue of potassium sulfide.

Because of its burning properties and the amount of heat and gas volume that it generated, gunpowder was used as a propellant in firearms both on Old Earth and on Safehold.

Knowledge of gunpowder as with all but the most basic muscle-powered technology was erased from minds of Safehold's colonists, but was rediscovered some years before the arrival of Merlin Athrawes in the Year of God 890. Merlin theorized that the basic concept of the material originated in Harchong and became widely adopted through a combination of practical demand and bribery of Temple officials charged with ensuring conformity to the Proscriptions of Jwo-jeng. It was thus an example of how Adorée Bédard's societal matrix to permanently prohibit technological advancement was steadily unraveling.

At the time Merlin arrived in Charis, gunpowder existed only as a fine "meal" powder that was dangerous to work with due to its tendency to easily spill and leak from storage containers. Permanent injury to regular handlers of the material was common. Its nature also made consistent arming of artillery weapons which required precise measurements of powder a slow process. To solve this problem Merlin introduced granular, "corned" powder which could be packed into pre-made charges which were much more stable and safer to handle and store. (OAR)

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