In a fantasy world steeped in magic, gunpowder has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Cannon and muskets have become commonplace on the battlefield; and far from replacing magic, have synergized with it to create deadly enchanted weapons.

Cannon in Copenhagen. Wikimedia Commons

Assuming a magical system like that of Pathfinder (please, no delving into the Rules As Written) how can magic plausibly turn mundane cannons into devastating weapons?

Also assume:

  • American Revolutionary War era technology. (Late 18th, early 19th century)
  • Culture has no bearing. Assume full and unconditional acceptance of magic.
  • Pervasive and commonplace magic.
  • Must be militarily practical: repeatable, cheap, portable, reliable, etc
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but this is just too broad IMO. Try instead asking "how can technology/science/... plausibly turn mundane cannons into devastating weapons?"; that is pretty clearly too broad. Substituting "magic" does not make it less broad. In fact, since "magic" can pretty much explain anything (depending on the magic system in use) it can presumably be considered even broader in that case. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 20, 2014 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling See chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/18235059#18235059 and following discussion. $\endgroup$
    – Shokhet
    Oct 20, 2014 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. This just has too many possible answers most of which will end up being lists. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Oct 20, 2014 at 15:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No. Just No. "Writing questions because we want more questions" is NEVER the answer to anything. SE is about solutions to problems. Not making up problems. We had this problem during the first few days of beta. RPG.SE had it when 5e came out. Forcing out questions to seed results in a high number of low quality questions. $\endgroup$
    – Mourdos
    Oct 20, 2014 at 15:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ My apologies. I did not know that was so strongly disapproved of. Rest assured, i asked the question in sincerity with no ulterior motives. I can think of no way to further narrow the question. $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2014 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


The system of magic references (pathfinder) has a lot of impact on my answer.

Magical Ammunition: Mages craft ammo, keeps them safe

There are endless uses for lobbing spells at the enemy. Siege engines ammunition even has their own section in the rules because of its versatility. You could make ammo that does the following when it hits:

  • Create fireballs (the obvious choice)
  • Raising the dead to fight for you
  • Charm spells to turn the enemy against their friends
  • Shattering their weapons and armor but leave the troops alive afterwards.
  • Covering large areas of the battlefield in oil or ice
  • The options are almost endless.

Automated weapons Less work for the gunners, fires faster, more reliable

  • Loading the weapon
  • Making sure the powder is dry
  • Creating cannonballs and cannons
  • Perfectly times fuses
  • Fire that doesn't go out in the rain
  • Animate the cannon (useful if on a mount)

Aid the gunners keep them safe, make them better at aiming

  • Visual overlays for range finding
  • A real time map as an illusion
  • Make the position harder to see / invisible (so you don't get targeted)
  • Aim multiple weapons at once
  • Guide the projectiles
  • Protect the gunner from attacks

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