Ok from now on I’ll stop replying to Verumkai. I frequent this forum because of my interest in history and in the game, not because I wanna argue with some Indian nationalist about who’s better or who’s earlier.
Though I’d still like to debunk some of the claims that he has made here so that people who don’t know much about East Asian history won’t be misguided.
First of all, there’s no evidence whatsoever to suggest that any form of existing Chinese martial arts can be traced back to Bodhidharma who is said to have lived some 1,500 years ago. Even the oldest forms of existing Chinese martial arts (including those practiced at the Shaolin Temple) are only a few hundred years old at most. I’m not denying that Bodhidharma might have influenced the development of Zen Buddhism in East Asia that’s a possibility, but saying that he’s the father of East Asian martial arts and even invented weapons is just pure fantasy.
Plus I’d like to mention that Buddhism was only dominant in China from the 5th up until the 9th century AD. With the demise of the Tang as well as internal rebellions, civil wars, and external threats following the collapse of the Tang in the 10th century AD, Chinese started to mistrust foreign ideologies and religions (Buddhism being considered one of them) and turned back to their old conservative and autocratic Confucian roots, which marked the following Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties (yes I know Yuan and Qing weren’t Sinitic but still they followed this trend).
And regarding the firelance, here’s a documentary made by the Chinese Central Television (CCTV for short) a couple of years ago. Unfortunately the documentary is in Mandarin Chinese with no English subtitles and I couldn’t find a version which has subtitles. However I guess you could pickup what they’re saying simply by watching the reconstructions and tests they’ve done, without understanding the exact meaning of every sentence. I’m not saying that I necessarily agree with everything said in this documentary, I especially don’t like its political and nationalistic undertone. However credit where credit is due, they’ve done some decent reconstructions about the various types of firelances used in medieval China, including the flame-spewing type, the short-range shotgun type, and the smoke screen generating type. Despite this doc has been out for a couple of years already, I’ve yet to find another reconstruction better than the ones presented in this doc. Of course from a modern POV you may say that this weapon is just for show with limited effect, however you have to consider that this thing was invented more than a thousand years ago, and at that time it certainly caused a lot of shock for the people on its receiving end.
[《古兵器大揭秘》 第二季 第八集 梨花枪 | CCTV纪录 - ##################################################### (sorry the hyperlink is censored for some reason, you can copy and paste the above characters on Youtube and you should be able to find the documentary)
Since the hyperlink doesn’t work I’ll basically post some screenshots from the documentary
First type tested is the flame-spewing type
Flame-spewing firelance against a person wearing fire-retardant suit
Flame-spewing firelance tested against a pig carcass. The pig carcass sustained almost no burns, however the experts concluded that pig skin is thicker than human’s if it was an actual human being then it will cause some damage particularly to the eyes, face, and clothing.
Next to be tested is the shotgun type filled with iron shrapnel. First they tested its range and concluded that the range is only around 5 to 8 meters. Second they tested it again on a pig carcass and yet again the carcass only sustained very minor injuries and burns, and the experts reached a similar conclusion to the first one.
The last one to be tested is the smoke screen generating type. The experts said that the smoke is made by adding bits and pieces of charcoal, sulfur, and camphor into the gunpowder mixture, and concluded that it can cause irritations to the people on the receiving end of the smoke such as coughing, sneezing, and lacrimation, which decrease their combat effectiveness. In some sense you can think of this as one of the earliest chemical weapons.
Based on the above, I think that if ever the fire-lancer will be introduced in the game, it should be a siege infantry for East Asian civilizations and trained at the siege workshop. It’s like a land version of the fire ship with similar range and attack, and deals bonus damage against siege weapons and buildings. Against other targets such as cavalry, infantry, and archers it deals minimal damage, however it comes with the side-effect of slowing their speed by X% percent.
Alternatively like some others have suggested, it could also be a castle age version of hand-cannoneers trained at the archery range, with shorter range and weaker stats.