D&D (2024) Make firearms "magic items"

Italian armoursmiths used to grade armour against early firearms. Like shooting a fullplate to prove that it could protect against bullets. These were probably from back when barrels were smoothbore.
well, sort of - what happened is that even before rifling got big, firearms got powerful enough that bulking up the plate simply wasn't practical anymore. that, combined with the move to mobility-centric warfare, lead to the widespread abandonment of full-body armor in europe (cuirasses were still used a fair amount all the way up to WW1, where it was abandoned because they realized machinegun fire rendered it largely useless).
 

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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I use the rules for Firearms in the "Seas of Vodari" campaign setting by Tribality Games: firearms are basically just really heavy, really expensive crossbows. Sure, they do a little more damage, but they are a lot slower to fire.

But if I'm being honest, I find most firearms to be a bit too....ordinary. A gun is a gun is a gun, you pull the trigger and it goes BANG and that's that. The size and shape can vary, but at the end of the day, if you've fired one gun you've fired them all. So to add versatility and customization without having to invent twenty different kinds of mostly-similar firearms, I added new propellants to the game. These are alchemical preparations that add additional effects to your firearm...they are essentially potions or scrolls that gunslingers can load their weapons with (red powder is essentially the burning hands spell, for example). So instead of just the usual boring black powder, my players can load their guns with...

Blue Crystal: this propellant looks like coarse sugar crystals, and are bright blue in color. When a firearm is loaded with this propellant, it creates a glittering cloud of thin, pale blue smoke in a 5’ cube, adjacent to and directly in front of the shooter. This cloud lingers in the air for 1 minute. Creatures that enter the cloud or begin their movement there must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 13) or be stunned, as they choke and gag on the fumes.
Cost: 100gp per shot.

Green Powder: this propellant produces a great deal of smoke when burned, which creates a rudimentary “smoke screen” on the battlefield. When a weapon is loaded with green powder and discharged, it creates a 5’ cube of thick smoke adjacent to and directly in front of the shooter, obscuring them from view until the beginning of their next turn. (You are considered to be “heavily obscured” from creatures on the other side of the smoke cloud.)
Cost: 25gp per shot.

Nitrocotton: this propellant has four times the expansive capability of standard black powder. It gives firearms considerable power, but is more dangerous to handle. A weapon loaded with nitrocotton deals an extra +2d6 damage on a hit, but its Misfire score increases by 2.
Cost: 50gp per shot.

Red Powder: this rust-colored mixture of gunpowder and thermite creates a shower of sparks, superheated gasses, and droplets of molten iron slag when discharged. A weapon loaded with red powder functions normally, except that all creatures within a 15 foot cone directly in front of the shooter take 3d6 fire damage. A DC 13 Dexterity save throw reduces the fire damage to half.
Cost: 200gp per shot.

Silver Powder: this mixture of magnesium and gunpowder creates a brilliant burst of light when discharged from a firearm. A weapon loaded with silver powder functions normally, except that targets within 20 feet must make a DC 13 Constitution save throw or be blinded until the end of their next turn. Creatures that are sensitive to bright lights make this save throw at Disadvantage.
Cost: 150gp per shot.

Yellow Powder: this propellant produces a greenish-yellow cloud of smoke. When a weapon is loaded with green powder and discharged, it creates a 5’ cube of thick smoke adjacent to and directly in front of the shooter, obscuring them from view until the beginning of their next turn. (You are considered to be “heavily obscured” from creatures on the other side of the smoke cloud.) Creatures that move through this cloud, or begin their turn there, take 1d12 points of poison damage. A DC 13 Constitution save negates this poison damage.
Cost: 50gp per shot.

White Powder: also called a “magnum load,” this highly-reactive powder combusts with great force. A weapon loaded with this propellant deals double damage on a successful hit (and triple damage on a critical hit), but the Misfire score is also doubled.
Cost: 50gp per shot.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
One thing I very much dislike about firearms in d&d is that gunpowder becomes perfectly safe to carry up to strength*15 or whatever pounds of it and in those quantities they double as some kind of super predictable shaped charge/dynamite analog that the GM has very little say in. They should use a magical compound or enchantment instead of gunpowder.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I'd place Firearms in the DMG -- anything in the PHB becomes fair game for players IME by default, but good enriching options in the DMG clearly marks it as campaign-dependent. There could even be a hort paragraph about the implications of making them be simple weapons, martial weapons, or require a separate proficiency of "firearms" (I can make a case for all 3, and different games will want different solutions).
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
In principle, there is not much difference in the amount of damage between a bullet thru the gut, an arrow thru the gut, or a sword thrust thru the gut. The piercings are comparable. Roughly 1d8 damage.

What makes the gun differ is the attack, not the damage. A bullet is more likely to hit.

The gun is a simple weapon that most people can use.

The bullet is more likely to pierce − thus ignore − armor.

The biggest change that firearms introduce into gameplay is, combat typically becomes ranged, and cover becomes more useful than armor. This distancing of combat reduces the visceral quality that makes melee combat more exciting and more entertaining. To introduce firearms dramatically changes the nature of the D&D game. Guns have their own kind of entertainment, such as suspense because a bullet can come from anywhere at any moment. But it disresembles melee combat.

Maybe the best way to handle firearm mechanics is, instead of rolling an attack d20, the target rolls a Dexterity (Reflex) save. The armor is less relevant. Mechanics can assume the shooter has general competence to aim the gun in the direction of the target. It is up to the target to become less easy to hit, by moving around and taking cover.

For modernesque heavy firearms that do extraordinary amounts of damage, these are more expensive. To put these heavy weapons in the magic item category or its technological marvel equivalent can gatekeep these well enough.

But in all cases, having firearms use the Dex save mechanic rather than the attack mechanic seems to work realistically enough and within gaming balance. In other words, firearms are more like a magic cantrip or magic spell or consumable magic item, even tho they are Martial technology.
Yeah but this needn't be modeled in D&D; I mean, it isn't for crossbows, really, which can totally have iron sights, yet aren't any more accurate than any other ranged weapon.
 

Except it won't happen that way because the 20th level wizard cast shield and caused the gun to miss (or even if they didn't they took something like a mere 8 points of damage out of their 80 hit points), and then incinerated the nobody with a mere Firebolt before reanimating them as a zombie. Because any 20th level character can very well defeat a nobody without much effort.
Except the "spell" does not stop bullets....bullets are special! And bullets don't do "damage" , it's hit and auto die!

That's the firearms players want. Not....I shoot the wizard for 1d4 damage. They could just use a sling for that.
 

Except the "spell" does not stop bullets....bullets are special! And bullets don't do "damage" , it's hit and auto die!

That's the firearms players want. Not....I shoot the wizard for 1d4 damage. They could just use a sling for that.
It's clearly 1d10 damage for a pistol and 1d12 damage for a musket, as it outright says so in the rule books whether it be a new PHB or the existing DMG.

Anything else here is just a bunch of people arguing houserules and what should or shouldn't be allowed in their own campaign settings.

There's also many other RPGs out there which are not D&D, that have had guns built in at the start. And firearms roughly use the same hit and damage rule as anything else in their respective systems, minus special things like firearms doing bashing/non-lethal damage against vampires in one particular RPG system. A cyborg hacker in another RPG system will just take some damage from a gunshot, while their magician friend mana-balls and finishes off a corporate black ops team.
 

Why don’t simply make a section in the PHB to explain what is the concept of a setting, and explain that some game elements may be missing or add in a specific setting. Elements which may include, armor, weapon, spell, feat, class, sub class, background, race.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Why don’t simply make a section in the PHB to explain what is the concept of a setting, and explain that some game elements may be missing or add in a specific setting. Elements which may include, armor, weapon, spell, feat, class, sub class, background, race.
Because thats what the DMG is for?
you could just put everything in one book and forgo have PHB, DMG and MM entirely
 

Because thats what the DMG is for?
you could just put everything in one book and forgo have PHB, DMG and MM entirely
For now without any warning in the PHB, some DM may feel compelled to offer all that is described in the PHB as the core features available in any setting. There is actually Variant warning in the PHB that warn the players that some material may not be used by the DM. Just expand those warning slightly.
 

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