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Guns in D&D - A Hot Take

I have guns in one of my games but I've never spent that much time thinking about it because honestly, trying to mock up accurate ballistics and firearms development in a 5e game just sounds like more trouble then it's worth to me. I'm not running a realistic physics simulator, I'm running a fantasy tabletop game. I'm much more concerned with the mythology of firearms then the physics of it.
 

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Satyrn

First Post
I have guns in one of my games but I've never spent that much time thinking about it because honestly, trying to mock up accurate ballistics and firearms development in a 5e game just sounds like more trouble then it's worth to me. I'm not running a realistic physics simulator, I'm running a fantasy tabletop game. I'm much more concerned with the mythology of firearms then the physics of it.
Yeah!

For the guns in my game, I just reflavored the crossbow stats, giving the pistol and rifle (hand crossbow, and light crossbow) the reload property from the DMG.

The heavy crossbow became two different weapons. The sniper rifle has an increased range, and disadvantage at normal ranges instead of long. The shotgun does double damage at an extraordinarily reduced normal range, and minimal damage at long ranges (the damage die, with no extra bonuses from anything, pretty much no matter what) without disadvantage.

And to help capture the feeling of the shotgun being the best weapon to shoot a pigeon with, you can choose to take a long range shot with advantage, but the attack only deals 1 damage. Period. . . . unless the shotgun is a TORGUE, in which case the pigeon EXPLODES dealing +1d6 damage.
 


I like the types of guns included in the setting of the Pillars of Eternity games.

Based on that game, the range of the guns from short to long would be, blunderbusses followed by pistols, with only arquebuses having the same range as bows or crossbows. Regarding damage, I would make a blunderbuss 2d4 (blunt/pierce), pistol d6 (pierce) and arquebus d10 (pierce). I would give all guns the loading property as well. Basically I would treat guns more or less as crossbows, without getting into to much realistic details.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
In my own homebrew system, I take a stance that any weapon that CAN incapacitate you with one attack, without requiring a freak accident or incredible strength, does 1d10 damage on a hit. Characters generally start with 15-20 Health, so it takes 3 average hits to take you out of a fight. Critical success on an attack can either give an advantage on the next check you make in that scene, or give an advantage on the damage. An advantage adds a bonus equal to your skill ranks, or to an attribute, GMs discretion. So, you’re looking at a bonus from 2-6, generally.

Guns stand out and are valuable because they have good range, many are very concealable, and they deal Penetrating damage, which mitigates most armor DR.
 


In my 3.5 pirate campaign, flintlock pistols do 1d10 damage, and flintlock rifles do 1d12. And this seems pretty well balanced for this particular system. It makes guns pretty deadly, but there is the drawback of the long reload times, and the possibility of gunpowder getting wet, and misfires. To balance things out, I allow feats and spells that normally only work with arrows/projectiles, to also work with bullets. Feats such as Quickdraw, allow you to quickly draw multiple preloaded pistols, as long as you have them within easy reach (thats what bandoliers are for!). And yes, a monk can use deflect arrows to deflect a bullet. This is fantasy after all.
 

TiwazTyrsfist

Adventurer
And to the OP's premise: people have survived dozens of knife wounds at a time, but I'm sure you wouldn't argue that a dagger should do 0.1-0.5 points of damage right?
That's an outlier.

Also, in a thread that I titled "Hot Take" I just might. But I won't today. :p
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
That's an outlier.

Also, in a thread that I titled "Hot Take" I just might. But I won't today. :p
People surviving several knife strikes is not an outlier. an outlier is the teenager in Brighton in 2016 suffering over 100 knife wounds (in case you're curious, the highest number of gunshot wounds to survive is 21, in 2010 in New York). I'd love to see your citation of where you came up with your first statistic. I can't find any study that was done for how many bullet wounds vs how many knife wounds each survivor had, but I did find a study by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. 4,122 patients who showed signs of life when they got to the hospital, over a few year period in Philadelphia, of both gunshot and knife wounds resulted in fatality rate of 33% for gunshot victims compared to 7.7% of knife victims.

There are other studies, like this one, that are more specialized like the mortality rate of being shot or stabbed in the abdomen (gun fatality is 3x as high as knife attacks)

I guess my point is that if you're going to use your logic in the OP to determine that guns should only do that little damage, then by the same logic, you'd have to put dagger damage at 1 point or less, since people survive knife attacks at a significantly higher rate than gun shot victims.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Here is the Real Hot Take:

This thread, and the literal decades of people arguing ballistics and/or forensics, are exactly the wrong way to try and figure out damage dice for a gun in D&D. You need to address the mythology of the gun in order to make it fit into D&D.
Just curious, but how would you go about doing that? And which mythology do you have in mind?
 

Just curious, but how would you go about doing that? And which mythology do you have in mind?
I'm guessing that it would be dependent upon the place that you want guns to have in your system.
Which would both help determine and be determined by the sort of guns that exist in the setting.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Just curious, but how would you go about doing that? And which mythology do you have in mind?
I'm guessing that it would be dependent upon the place that you want guns to have in your system.
Which would both help determine and be determined by the sort of guns that exist in the setting.
What Cap'n Kobold said.
Guns in a Wild-West setting (where they are the defacto iconic weapon), are going to be significantly different than guns in an Age-of-Sail setting (where they are a "sometimes" weapon).

Though I did come up with a custom mechanic to emphasize the "ease of use" that is often associated with guns:

Equipment Bonus
If you are proficient with this weapon, you may substitute your Ability Modifier with this weapon's Equipment Bonus whenever you make an attack or damage roll with it.

It's not quite a perfect mechanic. But it allows commoners to be deadlier than normal, allows for things like masterwork weapons to be a thing again, and it addresses some problems I have where Dex would be even more dominant than it already is.
 

Celebrim

Legend
What Cap'n Kobold said.

Guns in a Wild-West setting (where they are the defacto iconic weapon), are going to be significantly different than guns in an Age-of-Sail setting (where they are a "sometimes" weapon).
Well, yes, but in no way have you explained what that has to do with mythology.

A Colt .45 Single Action Army or a Winchester 1873 is a significantly different piece of technology from a 17th century wheellock pistol, and even if I paid absolutely no attention to mythology at all and merely tried to simulate those weapons by "ballistics and/or forensics" the difference between the impacts that they would have on a game by being available would be tremendous.
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Well, yes, but in no way have you explained what that has to do with mythology.
Oh, that's what you were asking.

Here is something to stimulate thinking about that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=os3lWIuGsXE&vl=en

Yes, I know it's about video games, and seems slightly off topic.

But now, think of the Sword.
Who wields a sword? Why do they wield a sword? How often do they use a sword? Why a sword instead of any other weapon in the entire world? And even how is a person described as acting while using a sword? These are the kinds of questions that influence the design of weapons in 5e.

Consider the Greatsword and the Greataxe.
Why is a Greatsword 2d6 and a Greataxe 1d12? Both of them will cut your head off if wielded by a strong enough person.
Because the Greatsword is for Warriors who have Power and Control (as reflected by the Great Weapon Fighting Style), and the Greataxe is for Warriors with an explosive bloodlust (as represented by Brutal Critical and Savage Attacks).

That's more or less how all of the weapons in 5e are designed. Heck, even the questionable design of the trident was based off of iconography instead of physics.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Here is something to stimulate thinking about that:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=os3lWIuGsXE&vl=en
Great, Extra Credits. Even though I'm very familiar with Extra Credits, and it has over the years influenced heavily how I think and talk about gaming, it's always good to spread the word around.

But, it still doesn't address where I'm going to with this question, which is your assertion that the mythology of the weapon rather than its physical properties ought to define it's mechanics.

Who wields a sword? Why do they wield a sword? How often do they use a sword? Why a sword instead of any other weapon in the entire world? And even how is a person described as acting while using a sword? These are the kinds of questions that influence the design of weapons in 5e.

Consider the Greatsword and the Greataxe.
Why is a Greatsword 2d6 and a Greataxe 1d12?
Are we speaking of 5e? The answer is probably that that is the way the two weapons were in 3e D&D, long before Brutal Critical or Savage Attack was conceived of.

But as for the mythology of the axe, the axe is a primitive weapon associated with the European Dark Ages and even the pre-Roman Gaelic past, and the sword requires a much higher level of metallurgy to forge and so didn't really supersede the ax until the Medieval period. The great sword itself was a relatively rare weapon, which didn't get much use until you had musketeers and Pikemen on the battlefields of Europe, so it's associated with a more civilized era.

None of that has any clear relationship to why in 3e they gave the great sword 2d6 damage and the great axe 1d12. I doubt it was that well thought out, since initially there wasn't support for the sort of weapon style you are talking about in 5e. That's a later development based on later refinements in the game. You might say that as the game became defined designers reached for mechanics that suggested, for example, the savage brutality of the axe because of the mythology of the axe. But then you might also reasonably suggest that that is not wrong, since it is not mythology that the axe is a brute force weapon that sacrifices defense and whose successful employment requires heavy continuous strikes, and that real battlefield ready great swords are lighter in weight than axes of equivalent size.

Nor does the answer of swords get at what I was getting at, which is given a particular gun mythology (say American to keep it easy) what does that say about stating out a 14th century hand gonne or a 16th century puffer wheellock - or can you even apply American mythology to a gun that preexisted the concept of America?
 

Hussar

Legend
And, really, it's the iconography more than physics that has driven weapon stats in D&D since day 1. Why is the long sword the best weapon in AD&D? Granted, that's arguable, but, largely, it really is - best damage for a single handed weapon, best weapon vs armor adjustments for the damage it does, most common magic weapon etc. Because, well, the game is based on fantasy genre works and everyone and their mother in the genre uses a sword.

Realistically, a longsword should be far, far less effective than it is presented. Your sword was your weapon of last resort, by and large with spears and various other weapons being employed first because they were far more effective weapons.

When we're talking about guns, the same thing tends to apply. Sure, if we're talking wild west, guns are popular. But, shotguns were far, far more effective and more commonly used than pistols which were wildly inaccurate weapons. It would be much more likely that someone heading to a gunfight grabs a shotgun than a revolver. And, really, shotguns would probably be more commonly carried as well. Pistols in the mid- to late 19th century were just not a terribly effective firearm. If I'm more than about 50 feet away from you, you might as well use harsh language because you're not going to hit me.

IMO, that's largely what you have to deal with. The "Hollywood" effect of what people expect from firearms in the game.
 

Coroc

Hero
This ^^^^^
Plus armored body parts were immune to arrows and slingstones and thrown Spears. Not so much versus bolts and even less versus bullets
 

Coroc

Hero
Mechanical realization:
Muscat 1d12
Pistol 1d10
RoF 1/rd maybe a feat like crossbow expert.
Ban all inferior ranged weaponry especially bows, you may keep crossbows though. Reason: They do not penetrate armor anymore. Otherwise you will have a conflict in dpr with bows which will turn out highly unrealistic
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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