guns, pistols and gunpowder. many say no. lore, technology, magic, but... instead of M-16s and Makarovs and shellcasings and gunpowder, why not this instead?
alchemy has its uses yes? in alchemy and potion making they use MANY ingredients (fire salts in particular) that seem (at least to me) to be highly volatile.
SO instead of flintlock pistols or bullets and guns
create a gun-shaped device, that uses various elements (fire salts for flame, void salts for shock, frost salts for frost) and with some kind of mechanism or an expenditure of a certain amount of magicka, expel this 'ammunition' creating a single directed devastating blast of elemental energy. at higher skill levels with this, the player may get to use bits and pieces of things, rocks, gems etc, as makeshift shrapnel creating a primitive, magicka powered blunderbuss (shotgun)
use gun-shaped pieces of equipment, that use alchemical ingredients, to create directed elemental force blasts. it seems to fit in with the lore. it requires BASIC magical knowledge, BASIC mechanical knowledge and lets face it - a lack of sanity - in order to utilise it.
it works with physics as well. energy in a confined space (energy being the element and space being the pipe) builds up pressure and becomes more powerful. why not with magic?
instead of gunpowder, bullets and complex firing pins and steel, why not keep up with the elder scrolls universe use of magic? according to lore magic is damn hard to learn how to do. its complicated and hard to use. and if used incorrectly, you get splattered all over the cieling. unless you have centuries to live or a natural talent, magic isnt useful. alchemical ingredients that seem volatile in nature arent that hard to find.
story? simple. a boy or girl in a remote village is playing around with some leftover firesalts. she/he sticks them in a pipe or something and through some occurences ( a match, spark from a nearby fire, magical rune or something) the concoction in the pipe/barrel is set off, and an approching bandit is suddenly engulfed in a concentrated blast of flame... and dies.... horribly... lol :)
ta da! primitive, magical non-mechanical guns. have a breach loading system, make small 'pouches' of the 'ammunition' stick them in. use a carved runic symbol or maybe a small spell to set off the charge and voila. Magical Blunderbuss :)
it will of course have its negatives. very slow reload speed, expensive ammunition, very short range, easy to jam or break. it has enough power to be a useful weapon in many situationms, but juuust enough so that other weapons (and hand-casted magiks) are more useful overall or have greater use. this instead is a simple, beginner level piece of equipment that (maybe) will help the beginning magicka user to start off. as the user acquires greater ability with the control of magic, and thus more powerful spells become vailable, the magica blunderbuss loses its effectiveness.