[D&D] Guns and Ammo

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  1. #1
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    [D&D] Guns and Ammo

    Many gamers seem to be ready to introduce firearms in their fantasy games. I was wondering what must one think about when doing this? I guess the introduction of guns requires more job than 1d8x3. As this is not the house rules forum we should keep it general.

    Rate of Fire

    Guns would become popular in a fantasy setting if you could fire them more than once per round. However, the reloading time prohibits this. I assume that revolvers are too advanced for the tastes of most gamers. Now, by carrying two pistols you could fire two shots in a round if you have the Quick Draw feat. However, as Quick Draw requires a free action you can still only use it once per round. So even if you have five guns and five attacks you would still only be able to discharge two. How can this be solved in the spirit of the Core Rules?


    Some people think that guns should inflict huge amounts of damage and possibly kill targets instantly. It might be reasonable as a bullet through your head can make you very dead. However, a dagger through your heart can be just as lethal. Therefore firearms in my opinion should do about the same damage as bolts and arrows. Let's assume that there are three different types of firearms; pistols (d6), carbines (d8) and arqubuses (d12). What profiles should these weapons have?

    Exotic weapons

    I am assuming that guns would be a new thing for most fantasy settings. Therefore all guns should require the exotic weapon feat. However, in a setting where guns have been around for decades firearms should be simple weapons. What do you think?


    Not a very exciting topic. Let's move on.


    How long does it take to reload a pistol or musket? Can you learn to reload quickly? Is the Rapid Reload feat suitable?


    How do you make it? Is magic involved or is it simply a question of a alchemy DC? I think it should be alchemy for I don't particulary like the idea of blackpowder being magical. Guns should be the great equalizer and therefore blackpowder should be able to compete with magic as well on it's own terms.


    Which races should have access to guns? Which races should be credited for the invention of firearms? I propose the gnomes invented fireworks and blackpowder. The gnomes did not invent guns however. Pistols and Carbines were invented by humans and at the same time the dwarves invented the arquebus (maybe coupled with an axe's head). The secrets have been stolen from both races by the orcs who now have access to all types. Elves don't like guns and stick to their old bows. The above is just a suggestion. I wouldn't want the elves to have their own masterwork extra super special sniper rifles, but hey that's just me.


    If blackpowder works, reasonably you could manufacture bombs. What is the difference between a bomb and a fireball? What about the cannon?

    Hm. That's what I can think of for now.


  • #2
    Heh, I really like how Ravenloft handled it. Most of what you brought up is addressed (briefly) in the core rulebook. I'd recommend picking it up, or at least taking a glance. Cool stuff.

  • #3
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    What about the DMG rules for this, Frostmarrow? That is, why start from the ground up when you could build upon them?
    "Darkness has a new avatar? That's like diaglo promoting a new edition."

  • #4
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    Originally posted by Darkness
    What about the DMG rules for this, Frostmarrow? That is, why start from the ground up when you could build upon them?
    Oh. It's not that I don't like the rules in DMG. It's just that I would like to see what people think about the issue from the ground up. It can be a touchy subject. We were discussing firearms from a different angle in another thread and I thought that this topic might interest a fair number of boarders.

    But read it again Darkness, if you have the time. I ask a few questions not adressed in the DMG.

  • #5

    NetBook 0f Steam

    Guns are something I was wanting to look into in the NetBook of Steam I am planning to ressurect in teh next couple of weeks....
    I anyone has any ideas etc.. have a look in teh NetBooks Message Boards here on ENWorld in the Hosted Section..
    Your ideas, or indeed membership onto the NetBook of Steam would be appreciated

  • #6
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    Avoiding Fire...

    Something just doesn't sit right with me about the DMG rules on firearms. Don't ask me why, I don't know. Maybe it's just a flavor thing.
    I have a player that I want to involve in my next campaign, actually, I couldn't think of not including him, but it's hard for him to really get into fantasy.
    He's more of a sci-fi fan, so I'm trying to cater to his tastes a bit by giving his character a firearm. This isn't something I'm entering into lightly, as I don't want the general populace to have access to these. I also wouldn't sacrifice the mood of my campaign just so a player can have his way, but it didn't take long to think of a reason why this device would exist and hey, I volunteered.

    I'm going to avoid the gunpowder issues alltogether and make the "rifle" a magic item. It's essentially a tube with a chamber near the back. A small pouch of specially prepared herbs must be stuffed down the barrel and into the chamber, these act just like components in a spell. When set off, this spell produces enough concussive force to expell a projectile out of the barrel. Is this a lame cop-out? Heh, I don't know.
    All I need to do is decide how much damage it does and how long the loading will take. The PC won't come into possession of this item, a gift given to an ancient hero and then lost to the ages, until the other PCs have some plussed items. The rifle is magical, but the damage it does is mundane, this and the loading time will offset the damage it will do, which will be considerable, but not rediculous.
    What I like about this is that instead of the character chucking it for a better weapon later on, the rifle can be augmented. Change the spell components for magical damage, add a scope with true seing, whatever...
    The idea is in it's formative stages, so it will hopefully get better. In the end my players don't care so much about balance or about the introduction of this weapon, so I can concentrate on making the game interesting for them, rather than stressing about getting the rules perfect.

    Despite that, I'd like to get it as sound, rules-wise, as I can.
    Blah, I ramble too much.
    DM: Mendorn the Transmuter's legs turn into goat legs and he grows horns. Your charisma drops by 2 and your dex goes up by 2.
    Dan: My PC grew goat legs and horns? Why?
    DM: You drank potions you found strapped into the armpit of a dead bugbear. Their idea of acceptable side-effects might be different than yours.
    Jason: Come on Dan, you know you should never drink a bugbear armpit potion...

  • #7
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    I run Warhammer-heavy flavored games, based on the rpg and the tabletop game, in which, some rudimentary firearms do exist (and I am kicking off a Chaos Warbands 40K version of 3E, full science fiction and grit, converting the weapons, armour and damage took ages, and I am playtesting as I go).
    In the fantasy games, the occasional blunderbuss or cap and ball persussion pistol is extremely rare, but does occur, usually as a weapon of the elite, and I use a misfire table as well as a cabal of magi who hunt down anyone who would take technology to the age of gunpowder as they foresee the great equalizer on the horizon and want to keep it down.


  • #8

    Re: [D&D] Guns and Ammo

    Rate of Fire;

    Multiple barrels, mate

    There are real examples of double-barrelled cavalry pistiols from around the time of the civil war - that's OUR civil war; the cavaliers and roundheads one

    In a high-fantasy game, you can also go gattling-gun (I'll mention my campaign where I had firearms a bit later) You don't need to go overboard; even just a flintlock with 7 barrels and a hand winch; fires 7 shots in a round, then needs reloading; swappable lock mechanisms can reduce the reload to 1 round for all 7 barrels should you desire. Organ-guns use the same concep, really.

    2-barrels and 2 guns gives up to 4 shots a round with enough attacks, you can also include rules for firing both barrels at the same time if you wish (or rules that preclude this, your call as DM)

    If you have crossbows of speed, there's no real reason not to have a blunderbuss of speed...


    I'm of the opinion that the DMG rules were... wrong on firearms. Personally I gave them not a lot of damage, attrocious range, but a very wide threat range - a bullet hit (ball + powder type) can be very nasty, but it can also be a graze. I forget the exact details of both my rule, and the DMG rule, sorry.

    Reload Time;

    Ever seen any of the Sharpe's XYZ programs (they have sean bean in them). There's at least one sequence in which they drill new recruits in reloading muskets. It takes them about 10 to 15 seconds or so. Basically they have a little fabric sausage; bullet at the end, charge and wad packed behind. Makes relaoding quite quick (it involved biting the bullet off the head of the charge, but I forget the details)

    Something similar could be done to simplyfy the reload, but realistically, it'd be a 2-round job. Remember with ball and powder you have to clean the weapon manually before you pack in the bullet and charge, then manually charge the pan (assuming flintlock) and set the hammer. (rewinding a wheel-lock takes longer, I've never wanted to include matchlock, and I'm guessing that modern cased ammunition is a bit high-tech for fantasy games in general)

    Exotic Weapons;

    Well, as I said, here's how I did things IMC. Firstly, this was a setting with a BIG gnomish empire, but they weren't technical, so it was dwarves who invented guns. For most people (the setting was mostly human, so there were many human nations rather than simple racial splits) guns were exotic, there were a couple of human nations for whom they were martial weapons, nad they were martial weapons for dwarves too. Dwarves had access to larger weapons as well; the gattling weapons mentioned above - mostly as emplacement weapons, and dwarves also had blunderbusses. Everyone else had just pistols. (muskets are a bit cumbersome for the kind of setting I was using; it was all swashbucklers with braces of pistols etc really; the dwarves were NPCs only - same with the gnomes)


    Alchemy, very secret and HARD to make. (DC35 i believe I set it as) and very expensive. (this makes it possible to have guns, but makes a NORMAL gun become a de-facto magic item, which was the feel I wanted. (so that on defeating, say, the pirate leader, his treasure is the pistol plus ammo...)


    You need plenty powder to make a bomb; I sidestepped this and cannon by making the production of sufficient powder to make a bomb too expensive (for the PCs at least).

    As for the difference between a bomb and a fireball...
    (checks SRD to be sure...)
    End of first para; "The explosion create almost no pressure." There's your difference. Bombs make real explosions, not "spreads", a fireball in the hold of a ship will conform to that shape, and may set the hull on fire. A bomb in the hold of a ship, will blow the ship apart. Big difference!

  • #9
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    Okay, so this is from the SRD. It looks pretty reasonable to me. Although I think the damage is a tad high. But lets work with it. The SRD states that it is a standard action to reload a renaissance weapon. If introduced I think that, to some extent, guns would replace crossbows.

    Renaissance Weapons (Firearms)-Ranged*
    Weapon Cost Damage Critical Increment Weight Type
    Small Pistol 250 gp 1d10 x3 50 ft. 3 lb. (P)
    Bullets (10) 3 gp - - - 2 lb. -
    Musket 500 gp 1d12 x3 150 ft. 10 lb. (P)
    Bullets (10) 3 gp - - - 2 lb. -

    Renaissance Grenadelike Weapons***
    Weapon Cost Direct Hit Splash Increment Weight
    Bomb 150 gp 2d6 5 ft. 10 ft. 1 lb.

    *Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Renaissance) gains a creature proficiency with all Renaissance weapons; otherwise, a 4 penalty is assessed against all attack rolls.

    ***A miss requires a roll for deviation as for regular grenadelike weapons, but rather than dealing splash damage to all creatures within 5 feet, the weapon deals the same damage to all creatures within the blast radius of where it actually lands.

    Gunpowder: While gunpowder burns (with an ounce consuming itself in 1 round and illuminating as much as a sunrod) or even explodes in the right conditions, it is chiefly used to propel a bullet out of the barrel of a pistol or a rifle, or it is formed into a bomb (see below). An ounce of gunpowder is needed to propel a bullet. Gunpowder is sold in small kegs (15-pound capacity and 20 pounds total weight, 250 gp each) and in water-resistant powder horns (2- pound capacity and total weight, 35 gp for a full powder horn). If gunpowder gets wet, it cannot be used to fire a bullet.

    Bomb: This round gunpowder bomb must be lit before it is thrown. Lighting the bomb is a standard action. The explosive deals 2d6 points of fire damage. Those caught within the blast radius can make a Reflex save (DC 20) to take half damage.

    If you have several attacks in a round renaissance weapons (henceforth referred to as RWs) aren't very useful to you. I guess that this means that RWs will be picked mostly by characters with a poor choice of weapons, such as sorcerers, wizards and bards. Similarily I think that RWs aren't very good for sneaky characters such as rogues or rangers. The Rapid Reload feat allows you to reload a weapon faster than normal. In this case it becomes a free action to reload a RW. As you have one free action per round this feat make the RW useful for a few more levels. However, sooner or later it's better to be skilled with a bow.

    The damage inflicted by RWs is pretty hefty. You might want to increase this damage though. If you use a bow you usually pick up a mighty one as soon as possible. Perhaps you could magnum charge your guns for some additional damage? Anyhow, it would be really cool to enchant your guns. A brace of Flaming Pistols ought to be able to wreak havoc, don't you think? Or how about a Bomb of Icy Burst!
    Last edited by Frostmarrow; Wednesday, 13th February, 2002 at 02:20 PM.

  • #10
    Just a few odd points in no particular order, hope some prove useful...

    POINT 1: Smoothbores are faster to load than rifled-bores and have a higher muzzle velocity (everything else being equal), but are much less accurate. Possible mechanics...

    Musket: Normal re-load time, Full Round + Move Equivalent; may attempt quick reload, with a successful REFL save cutting time to Full Round, but a drastic failure requiring a restart (perhaps a FEAT would make this automatic).

    Rifle: Reload as Musket, but increase times by Move Equivalent. Range increment greater than for Musket. The base damage should probably be less than for a musket, due to the lower velocity and generally smaller ball.

    POINT 2: Order of reliability (lowest to highest)--Firelock, Flintlock, Wheel-lock, Percussion. Dampness--to say nothing of actual rain--is the bane of all save the latter (though it is not immune either). The wheel-lock takes a hideously long time to load--and good luck if you've lost or dropped the winding key.

    POINT 3: While a dagger, sword thrust, or arrow striking a vital point will kill you just as dead as a similarly placed ball, the ball is much more likely to cause severe damage even with less precise placement. The increased threat range mentioned is one possible solution, as is an increase in base damage, but I'm partial to the following...

    Variable Crit Multiplier: The Crit Mult is tied to the number rolled to score the threat. ex: 1d8/18-20/x2-x4; 18=x2, 19=x3, 20=x4; or x3-x5 etc...

    Perhaps smoothbores would have a lower range (x2-x4), while rifled bores would have a greater one to reflect their greater accuracy (x3-x5).

    I think this does a good job of simulating the potentially devastating nature of firearms, while still accounting for the grazing shot.

    POINT 4: Firearms are notorious for their ability to punch through armor (as are crossbows, though to a lesser extent). Perhaps you could rule that they ignore X points of armor.

    Happy Tweaking

    Hope there are enough observations there to offset the house rules portions

    Good thing I pre-viewed my post, you can't use the technical term for the final step you take to "arm" the weapon.

    BTW-- I'm not suggesting that you necessarily use ALL of these rules together; for example, armor penetration might be used in lieu of, or in conjunction with, the variable crit mult (and vice versa). I just hope one or two might prove useful or inspirational.
    Last edited by Thorvald Kviksverd; Wednesday, 13th February, 2002 at 02:27 PM.

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