I'm trying to figure out weaponry for one of my stories. The setting is based in Victorian-esque time period. There is magical energy in this world, called evthene, which is divided into two categories: revtha (physical) and kethna (spiritual/mental and so far, is greatly unexplored). The civilized cultures have learned to harness the power of revtha waves as a general energy source (At the beginning of the story is the first tranport run, which would probably be equivalent to the first train/railroad in the US, and the tranport is powered by revtha waves/energy). Kethna waves are pretty much unexplored, except by a few people. Evthene is a somewhat limited natural resource, probably along the lines of.... coal? Lumber? I don't remember what the figures are at for those, but something that there happens to be a lot of right now, but they are using it up. There is another source for it, but they haven't discovered it yet.
So. weaponry. Bladed and crushing weapons are commonly used everywhere. What I'm trying to figure out are ranged weapons.
I've got a former pirate (MC) who, as a boy, ends up making friends with an aristocratic boy(A) on a ship he's supposed to be helping raid, making friends with him, and saving his life by getting him and his servant away from the ship before the pirates attack, and ends up going with them and abandoning his ship (This is that short story prequel I'd been having trouble with earlier). Fast forward about eight to ten years (main story), and MC has been living with the aristocratic family, gets engaged to an aristocrat from another country(F), and meets up with his former crew and captain, who wants him back on the ship, and is willing to use force to get him there.
So we have aristocrats vs. pirates. The aristocrats(MC, A, and F) are all pretty good fighters with a sword, at least (fencing is popular), though other than MC, none of the others have been in a real blood fight before. A's sister (S) isn't a fighter, but she's smart (she's the "science" geek and oohs and aahs and tinkers with mechanical and evthene related things. Personality-wise, she reminds me a little of Gadget from Chip'n'Dale's Rescue Rangers). But the pirates have new weapons, developed in the realm of organized crime.
My first thought was that these new weapons were guns - revolvers or pistols, maybe. But, quite frankly, I'm pretty sure those would have been available for a long while, and MC, at least knows how to use them. The other aristocrats ought to know them, too, even if they aren't favored weaponry. So, my next thought is: technologically advanced guns.
I know. My imagination is failing me.
These guns would probably use evthene/revtha somehow, and would give the pirates an unfair advantage over the aristocrats. They would also be something that could be dropped, so that S could find it, start tinkering with it, reverse engineering it, improving on it, and possibly bringing an advantage back over to the aristocrats.
So, my questions:
1. What kinds of ranged weaponry, specifically guns, were commonly in use in the Victorian period?
2. Do you have any ideas for what these weapons could do/be other than "Ooh! We have ranged weapons that explode and you don't!" ("Nyah, nya, nya, nyah, nyah")
Sorry if that wasn't very coherent. If you have questions, I'll try to explain further.