D&D 5E Guns and D&D - are we doing it wrong? An alternative

for the exact same reason guns replaced bows in real life: logistics.

even in settings with reliable magic, the general assumption is that learning magic is really hard and takes a long time (kind of like training to effectively use a longbow). learning to use a gun is neither.

now, learning to make a gun? that's a bit of a tossup, but i think it's relevant to note that gunpowder was (allegedly) originally created as an attempt at an elixir of immortality (i.e. a failed alchemical experiment). that sounds like classic wizard/artificer shenanigans to me. my guess, though, would be that making normal guns would probably be less difficult and expensive then making rune guns (and, by the stats you've given for them, absolutely more efficient - 7 shots a day max without specialist attendance is flat out pathetic, even for an arquebus or hand gonne).

or, you know, you can go the zeitgeist route and say "because COUNTRY SIZED ANTIMAGIC ZONE!" that works too, i guess.
If I remember rightly, making a gun is much harder than making gunpowder. Gunpowder had been around for quite a while before advances in metallurgy (driven by demand for church bells IIRC) allowed the creation of an actual effective firearm. Making a metal tube strong, straight and smooth enough to send an effective projectile down is the hard part, particularly for a tech level that has stopped developing metallurgy at swords and armour.

This is why rune guns may well be cheaper to make, because the knowledge and capability for them might already exist, whereas that for firearms might not.
 

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If I remember rightly, making a gun is much harder than making gunpowder. Gunpowder had been around for quite a while before advances in metallurgy (driven by demand for church bells IIRC) allowed the creation of an actual effective firearm. Making a metal tube strong, straight and smooth enough to send an effective projectile down is the hard part, particularly for a tech level that has stopped developing metallurgy at swords and armour.

This is why rune guns may well be cheaper to make, because the knowledge and capability for them might already exist, whereas that for firearms might not.
sure, but DND metallurgy is at the point where smiths can make full plate fairly reliably, and wizards(/artificers) can make clockwork machines. i think their metallurgy is probably good enough to make gun barrels (by default, anyway).
 

Celebrim

Legend
Guns - how to incorporate them in a D&D game?

There are plenty of good rules for guns out there at any level of granularity from casual to gun nut.

The problem is twofold and IMO has nothing to do with the concerns you raise.

The first is that guns are principally NPC powers. You see, heroic fiction is based on the idea of single heroes prevailing against overwhelming odds. But this isn't the reality that guns create and no RPG fully deals with that without creating some compensating idea. Heroic ages are ages in which defense overwhelms offense in battle, so that single armored individuals if sufficiently well trained can overcome a dozen foes. But when offense overcomes defense in battle, you get ages of conscription where battles are determined principally by numbers and logistics and the influence of the individual is small. In ages of conscription the focus is not on the hero but on the commander.

If you bring guns into D&D NPCs always get a bigger advantage out of the democratization of power than PCs do. The more realistic your guns, the more a low-level character can successfully threaten a high level one in ways they couldn't before. Sam Colt makes all men equal, or at least more equal than they had ever been. You can make up shields or jedi powers or whatever to return the heroic balance, but with the addition of guns alone you are changing the tone of the campaign. Guns will become like the magical engines of death in Kirosawa's "Seven Samuraii". A squad of Musketeers need not be high level to be threatening, and even if they get off only one volley that volley can tell.

D&D just isn't set up for this.

Worse in my opinion is that if you allow guns you are allowing stable explosives. And explosives change the equation more than guns do. At least with guns you can have a heroic shoot out. But explosives mean demolition and sabotage and highly unheroic activities as the means of conflict resolution.

So no guns. It's not the guns or the gun rules that are the real problem.
 

nevin

Hero
Guns - how to incorporate them in a D&D game?

(for clarity, this is for low tech guns - muzzleloaders, not modern metallic cartridge weapons)

So far the approach has been to have them be a bit like an "extra" crossbow - even more damage, even slower rate for fire. But then people want to shoot their guns all the time so there are feats/ways to load them faster, and now there are potential balance issues. Other ways include adding them some kind of armor piercing bonus, something that is easier to do in some rulesets than others (3.x did it well, 5e would be more clunky).

I've never been fully satisfied with this state of affair. On one hand, the rate of fire often becomes rather ludicrous compared to historical weapons (given the short 6 second rounds). On the other hand, the extra damage often isn't... that much more, for balance reasons. Having a gun pointed to your head is not much more threatening than a bow. So how do we make them "better", more... gunnish?

I think the answer can be found in an element of 4e. Guns are encounter powers. D&D battles are not the long, slow battles where ranks of gunners shoot at each other from a fairly great distance. They are intense, close combat skirmishes that go fast. So a gun using PC would fire a pistol or two at the start of a fight, then switch to other weapons. Because they are used once, rate of fire issues go away. And because they are used once, they can do more damage without being unbalanced.

I'm not sure how to balance this exactly, the devil is in the details, after all. But I think this would be a much more satisfying way to incorporate guns in a D&D game than the current approach.
Thing is if you are staying with muskets and early cannons then they aren't much better than siege weapons and crossbows. In fact they load slower. If we are worried about not doing guns right then longbows have been screwed since 1st edition and a longbow should do the damage a sword does and should get just as many attacks per round as a sword for a fighter of thier level. But then we get to the real reason that we've screwed ranged damage since the beginning. effective bows and guns will kill things far outside the range of most spells and all melee and will tend to make combat very unfun. Killing the bad guys from 300 meters away with your Longbow, or smoothbore musket, (quite easily doable in real world. though longbows are more accurate and can be reloaded faster) Really takes the heroic fun out of combat. Unless you have monks to bat em away or wizards can use all thier anti arrow spells on bullets as well.
 

nevin

Hero
There are plenty of good rules for guns out there at any level of granularity from casual to gun nut.

The problem is twofold and IMO has nothing to do with the concerns you raise.

The first is that guns are principally NPC powers. You see, heroic fiction is based on the idea of single heroes prevailing against overwhelming odds. But this isn't the reality that guns create and no RPG fully deals with that without creating some compensating idea. Heroic ages are ages in which defense overwhelms offense in battle, so that single armored individuals if sufficiently well trained can overcome a dozen foes. But when offense overcomes defense in battle, you get ages of conscription where battles are determined principally by numbers and logistics and the influence of the individual is small. In ages of conscription the focus is not on the hero but on the commander.

If you bring guns into D&D NPCs always get a bigger advantage out of the democratization of power than PCs do. The more realistic your guns, the more a low-level character can successfully threaten a high level one in ways they couldn't before. Sam Colt makes all men equal, or at least more equal than they had ever been. You can make up shields or jedi powers or whatever to return the heroic balance, but with the addition of guns alone you are changing the tone of the campaign. Guns will become like the magical engines of death in Kirosawa's "Seven Samuraii". A squad of Musketeers need not be high level to be threatening, and even if they get off only one volley that volley can tell.

D&D just isn't set up for this.

Worse in my opinion is that if you allow guns you are allowing stable explosives. And explosives change the equation more than guns do. At least with guns you can have a heroic shoot out. But explosives mean demolition and sabotage and highly unheroic activities as the means of conflict resolution.

So no guns. It's not the guns or the gun rules that are the real problem.
I don't know. If someone with more resources is the bad guy sneaking onto their ship and exploding their powder would be heroic. Unless heroic is being defined as only face to face combat. In which case you've just defined Wizards, priests and all spell casters as unheroic.
 


Killing the bad guys from 300 meters away with your Longbow, or smoothbore musket, (quite easily doable in real world. though longbows are more accurate and can be reloaded faster) Really takes the heroic fun out of combat.
longbows were not effectively touching out to 300 meters. the general maximum effective range of a longbow was about 150 yards (or ~140 meters)...which is the same maximum effective range of a brown bess flintlock musket (which, yeah, isn't the same time period as the rest of the game, but it IS what most people think of when you mention muzzleloaders). though, i'll be fair, superhumans like PCs eventually become could probably get a lot more range out of both (apparently arquebuses were deadly out as far as 400 yards...if you could hit anything that far), so in that context 300 meters is probably pretty reasonable, yeah.
These days 'heroic' really means 'the writer has sufficiently convinced you that this was a good thing no matter how sense-destroyingly awful it might be'.

I call it the Dexter Effect.
god, REAL.
 

nevin

Hero
longbows were not effectively touching out to 300 meters. the general maximum effective range of a longbow was about 150 yards (or ~140 meters)...which is the same maximum effective range of a brown bess flintlock musket (which, yeah, isn't the same time period as the rest of the game, but it IS what most people think of when you mention muzzleloaders). though, i'll be fair, superhumans like PCs eventually become could probably get a lot more range out of both (apparently arquebuses were deadly out as far as 400 yards...if you could hit anything that far), so in that context 300 meters is probably pretty reasonable, yeah.

god, REAL.
correct. but the deadly max range is usally assumed to be 300 meters. though there are recorded instances of Longbow shots up to 450 yds. As skill wind velocity, direction and strength of bowman all come into play. But still as I said earlier. The longer the range that becomes normal the less important melee becomes and I think for most that's the most fun part of combat. I don't really want to play a game where my party is running through the woods and random party members start dropping dead before I'm even able to react. Realistic yep. fun nope. I'd rather escape reality for awhile.
 

nevin

Hero
These days 'heroic' really means 'the writer has sufficiently convinced you that this was a good thing no matter how sense-destroyingly awful it might be'.

I call it the Dexter Effect.
I'll give you the argument that writers these days live in a moral swamp and have no idea what morals even are. You want to argue that sneaking in and murdering everyone isn't heroic I'm right there with you. Sneaking in and destroying enemy supplies and stocks and getting out again that's pretty freaking heroic, especially if it's a larger and better supplied enemy.
 

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