Making guns palatable in high fantasy [Design Theory]

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Mundane ranged weapons and alchemical grenades are an integral part of most of my high-Dex PCs- especially Monks- to soften up foes and control the battlefield.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Glade Riven

Adventurer
On the lethality of swords in movies..Lancelot did mow down half a wedding entorage with a sword.

Gun-fu also has a tendency to lessen the deadliness of firearms in movies, unless it's a mow-down-the-mooks scene. Doubly true in most anime.
 

TheAuldGrump

First Post
Haaaah, I stand corrected.

I always forget about those darn humans.

And [MENTION=6957]TheAuldGrump[/MENTION], how so? I'm curious.
Among other things, a wizard with more kills to his name than the fighter (at second and third level) - not because of spells, but because he was a dab hand with a light crossbow.

His feats went into being a wizard, but even at later levels the fighter would introduce him as 'the steadiest hand with a crossbow that I have ever met'. :)

Good Dex, for the AC bonus, but not a single feat. And human, not elf.

Half-Elf fighter-sorcerer - feats went into hand to hand, aiming at the obvious prestige class, would start combat off by shooting the person that she thought was the enemy leader. Did take feats later, but effective at level 2. Liked poison, when she could get it. Again, good Dex. Hiding the fact that she was a half elf. (Elves had disappeared from the world, and were only now coming back.)

A lot of it was luck, but other was just using the bow/crossbow when it was most useful. Sometimes neither Eric nor Jen would use their spells, because bolts and arrows did the job.

Both kept their weapons long after they stopped relying on them. The half elf actually got better with hers, liking the idea of popping through the shadows and taking a shot. (She ended up being the most multiclassed character in the game, taking rogue and prestige classes on top of sorcerer and fighter.)

At higher levels, there were some specialized characters, with bows, crossbows, and handgonnes. (As you may guess, I made blackpowder weapons martial, not exotic. High damage, short range, good crit multiplier but no bonus to critting. 2 silver per shot, including ball and powder. Muskets, also available, got longer ranges, but were otherwise the same. Using a musket rest gave a further bonus to range.)

But at low and mid levels, there were some fairly deadly shootists, even without that many feats.

Things were different for the Orc and Elf War scenarios (C. 1750 in our world - orcs and elves against humans; dwarfs and ogres were hired mercenaries). As Pathfinder puts it 'Guns Everywhere' - farmers, militia, trappers, scouts, coachmen, rivermen, guns, well, everywhere. The elves still used bows, but for their silence and speed. Both the orcs and the elves tended to harass the human troops by night, and the elves would pay the orcs for any human scalps they could take. (Sound familiar? French & Indian War....)

Most of the kills were with guns, because everybody had guns. Not a crossbow in sight, and only the elves and some orcs used bows. (Other orcs used guns.)

Cannonades, grapeshot, terrain to channel the foe into a killing box.... But meanwhile the humans were pissing off those orcs that could have been their allies.

The Auld Grump
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
For me, I had a halfling ray/orb focused spellcaster...meaning he had several of the feats required to make for a decent D&D archer, so he carried a sling big enough for grenade-like weapons.
 

TheAuldGrump

First Post
For me, I had a halfling ray/orb focused spellcaster...meaning he had several of the feats required to make for a decent D&D archer, so he carried a sling big enough for grenade-like weapons.
Heh, now I am picturing a Pathfinder alchemist - in my head he is nicknamed Morty the Mortar....

The Auld Grump
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
IIRC, Patihfinder has brought back the sling-staff in some form or other.

[edit] They sure did!

Sling Staff, Halfling

Made from a specially designed sling attached to a short club, a halfling sling staff can be used by a proficient wielder to devastating effect.



Description: Your Strength modifier applies to damage rolls when you use a halfling sling staff just as it does for thrown weapons. You can fire, but not load, a halfling sling staff with one hand. You can hurl ordinary stones with a halfling sling staff, but stones are not as dense or as round as bullets. Thus, such an attack deals damage as if the weapon were designed for a creature one size category smaller than you and you take a –1 penalty on attack rolls. A halfling sling staff can be used as a simple weapon that deals bludgeoning damage equal to that of a club of its size.

Action: Loading a halfling sling staff is a move action that requires two hands and provokes attacks of opportunity.

Racial Specialty: Halflings treat halfling sling staves as martial weapons.
 

Hassassin

First Post
The "problem" is that D&D doesn't handle crossbows particularly well either, if your goal is to have missile weapons that can kill a man or a deer with one shot (or not with five or six).

I think this is an important point.

It is easy to see why a skilled fighter could avoid lethal hits from a sword due to pure skill. It is not so easy to see why a skilled fighter could avoid lethal hits from a missile weapon due to pure skill.

I'm not saying one is significantly more realistic than the other on strict terms, but the former seems plausible, while the latter doesn't. Plausibility > realism, IMHO.

(If both seem plausible, consider 1 vs. N situations.)
 

Glade Riven

Adventurer
I think people are mixing up plausibility, realism, and suspension of disbelief. The technical definition of Suspension of Disbelief simply requires that a world is consistant with itself. That doesn't mean there aren't "deal-breakers" that ruin it for individuals, though.
 

mmadsen

First Post
It is easy to see why a skilled fighter could avoid lethal hits from a sword due to pure skill. It is not so easy to see why a skilled fighter could avoid lethal hits from a missile weapon due to pure skill.
We should probably be more precise. I can easily see a skilled fighter dodging a thrown axe or a long-distance arrow-shot -- especially if he has a large shield to put in the way -- but I can't see him dodging a bullet or a short-range crossbow bolt from an unseen attacker. More importantly, a skilled fighter would either get hit or not; he wouldn't get ground down by blocking and dodging the first five shots from a six-shooter, and he certainly couldn't charge a gunner knowing he'd be able to close the gap with zero chance of being stopped, even by a hit.

These kinds of rules change how characters behave in the game world, and some of them make guns feel especially unrealistic.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
Well Pathfinder's rule on firearms make more sense to me.

The first range increment for firearms works as ranged touch attack. This means any armor with enhancement bonuses, those bonuses remain as part of AC, but the armor itself provides no AC benefit at that range. With the appropriate feat or grit ability - additional range increments can be paid for with 1 grit point spent each. (Note: grit is from the Gunslinger class's grit pool).

In Pathfinder your touch AC does not include Dex modifiers, thus you cannot effectively dodge a firearm discharge as it is a ranged touch attack.

At a greater distance both AC and Dex applies, as long as the shooter has no special abilities that grant a longer effective range with firearms.

All this seems to make a lot more sense, and IMO is much closer to reality.

The secret with firearms is not that they cause more damage (as they don't) but they cannot be effectively defended against - as AC and DEX/Dodge does not work against it (at least in Pathfinder). Magic can, but not mundane defenses.
 
Last edited:


TheAuldGrump

First Post
But Pathfinder's hit points work like D&D's, right? So the first few shots are somehow shrugged off, like clockwork.
As is the first sword stroke, magic missile, giant rat nibble, etc..

As long as it is applied to all options then it does not fret me none.

Right this very minute I am waiting for the primer to dry on a halfling with a musket... and a turkey. :)

03526_w_1.jpg

A-hyuck!

The Auld Grump
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
But Pathfinder's hit points work like D&D's, right? So the first few shots are somehow shrugged off, like clockwork.

Unless you're first level, then you might be dead. It's not 4e though, so hit point loss is real hit point loss, nothing that can be healed with a surge.

The way I look at the reality of guns vs. RPG guns is simple. Most non-D&D humans are equivalent to 0 level humans - a 1st level character might have 6 - 10 hp + possible CON bonus, but 0 level. Any successful gunshot at a 0 level human = death.

I don't see the gun as something that causes massive damage. A bullet just moves so fast and with such velocity that an arm block (which could deflect a sword blade or cause a non-mortal wound) is not effective at all. This to me, is the same as a ranged touch attack. I don't have the effective armor vs. a ranged touch attack. Thus the Pathfinder gunshot is no more mortal of a wound than a sword, but your AC is not going to stop the damage.
 


Mercutio01

First Post
In Pathfinder your touch AC does not include Dex modifiers, thus you cannot effectively dodge a firearm discharge as it is a ranged touch attack.
This is untrue. Touch AC does include Dex, deflection, and size modifiers, but doesn't include any armor, natural armor, or shield bonuses.

That said, I do think the way PF handles firearms is one of the better systems I've yet seen in FRPGs.
 

gamerprinter

Mapper/Publisher
WHAT?

I run 4e, but am playing in a Pathfinder campaign. I had NO idea of this.


No, I was wrong, see below...

This is untrue. Touch AC does include Dex, deflection, and size modifiers, but doesn't include any armor, natural armor, or shield bonuses.

That said, I do think the way PF handles firearms is one of the better systems I've yet seen in FRPGs.

Actually, I was corrected on this point earlier today on another site - you're right of course.
 

mmadsen

First Post
As is the first sword stroke, magic missile, giant rat nibble, etc..

As long as it is applied to all options then it does not fret me none.
I can see the logic of saying that all weapons are equally unrealistic, but I don't think they really are, because single-shot guns, which should work for dueling, hunting, or breaking the enemy line, simply don't work plausibly if that first and only shot has no chance of killing the opposing duelist, the deer, or the enemy officer.

Unless you're first level, then you might be dead. It's not 4e though, so hit point loss is real hit point loss, nothing that can be healed with a surge.
The problem, as far as realism is concerned, is not that guns are insufficiently deadly; it's that they can't kill in one shot. (The only time they can kill with one shot is when the target is "weak" enough to be guaranteed to die in two shots.)

This stands out, because (a) period guns only had one shot, and (b) guns should be able to stop some troops closing to fight hand-to-hand.
 

TheAuldGrump

First Post
I can see the logic of saying that all weapons are equally unrealistic, but I don't think they really are, because single-shot guns, which should work for dueling, hunting, or breaking the enemy line, simply don't work plausibly if that first and only shot has no chance of killing the opposing duelist, the deer, or the enemy officer.


The problem, as far as realism is concerned, is not that guns are insufficiently deadly; it's that they can't kill in one shot. (The only time they can kill with one shot is when the target is "weak" enough to be guaranteed to die in two shots.)

This stands out, because (a) period guns only had one shot, and (b) guns should be able to stop some troops closing to fight hand-to-hand.
Two samurai are squaring off, neither has a chance to kill the other with that first strike.

Humperdink is squaring off against Montoya, he doesn't run - there is no chance that Montoya will kill him with a single strike.

Bilbo is not worried about the spiders of Mirkwood - he knows that they can't kill him with a single chomp.

Sorry, they really are the same - each of these should be life threatening, on the first strike, none of them are. Why, in the name of cheesy fish shaped crackers, should guns be different?

Change all or change none - don't make guns of the period special. They really, really weren't. I love a blackpowder piece, but they were not much more effective than a crossbow - only faster.

Join a recreation society - there are plenty in the US. Try blackpowder weapons, shoot some targets, get a feel for them.

I am not saying 'look at me! I know more about this than you!' I am saying try it out. Prove me right, prove me wrong - just try it. :) Who knows, you may enjoy coming home smelling like the Devil's own flatulence. I know that I enjoy myself.

Other than New York (which has some very strict gun and weapon laws) most major cities will have at least one recreation group.

Check with Universities.

England has (or had) the Knights of the Knot, a BCW recreation society. One of the Perry Twins from Games Workshop lost a hand when a cannon blew up. (Wait, that didn't sound fun, did it?)

If it sounds like I am recruiting for blackpowder reenactment, well, yeah. :)

The Auld Grump
 

Fanaelialae

Legend
I can see the logic of saying that all weapons are equally unrealistic, but I don't think they really are, because single-shot guns, which should work for dueling, hunting, or breaking the enemy line, simply don't work plausibly if that first and only shot has no chance of killing the opposing duelist, the deer, or the enemy officer.


The problem, as far as realism is concerned, is not that guns are insufficiently deadly; it's that they can't kill in one shot. (The only time they can kill with one shot is when the target is "weak" enough to be guaranteed to die in two shots.)

This stands out, because (a) period guns only had one shot, and (b) guns should be able to stop some troops closing to fight hand-to-hand.

The same is true of any weapon though.

A longbow ought to be quite capable of killing a deer outright, but in D&D it can't.

Miyamoto Musashi won dozens of duels against experienced swordsman, sometimes reputedly with a single strike. That doesn't work in D&D either.

The simple fact is that while they work well with mimicking heroic fiction, hp do not work realistically, and they never have. You might add some plausibility to the hp system by using exploding dice for damage (making a one shot kill with any weapon possible, albeit nonetheless unlikely). That still wouldn't make hp behave realistically though.

In order to even approximate modeling reality, a system would have to allow for one shot kills, people sustaining dozens of serious injuries and still living, short term wound penalties, and long term wound penalties. D&D doesn't even come close to that.
 

Glade Riven

Adventurer
I can see the logic of saying that all weapons are equally unrealistic, but I don't think they really are, because single-shot guns, which should work for dueling, hunting, or breaking the enemy line, simply don't work plausibly if that first and only shot has no chance of killing the opposing duelist, the deer, or the enemy officer.


The problem, as far as realism is concerned, is not that guns are insufficiently deadly; it's that they can't kill in one shot. (The only time they can kill with one shot is when the target is "weak" enough to be guaranteed to die in two shots.)

This stands out, because (a) period guns only had one shot, and (b) guns should be able to stop some troops closing to fight hand-to-hand.
WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT REALISM?!

Realism has nothing to do with D&D, pathfinder, or most roleplaying games.
 

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top