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D&D 5E Why do guns do so much damage?

jasper

Rotten DM
Um D&D has plenty of minions, NPCs, and other critters knocking out high quality magic items. Plus gawds of knowledge. So I would say Caspar, Jasper’s no magical brother, could corner the market on high end smoke powder. Why in the world do these threads reach for ancient tech when your pc is living in a world which has magic as tech?
My question is can I mount a 50 cal on a red dragon? and if so what location?
 

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Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Musket rounds were hardky ever producers of "clean bulket wounds." I don't understand why people in this thread keep on trying to use claims about modern bullets and applying them to musket bullets., despite those same people mentioning about how D&D uses muskets and such.

I didn't know we were talking about muskets specifically. I answered the question in the thread's title. I agree that getting shot by a musket will almost always be worse than getting stabbed.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that the adoption of guns was no primarily about their lethality, but instead their ease of use. Same reason why the crossbow gradually overtook usage of the longbow. Less skill and athletics are necessary to use them, an important innovation. This is not really reflected in 5E rules.
 

wellis

Villager
So I would say Caspar, Jasper’s no magical brother, could corner the market on high end smoke powder. Why in the world do these threads reach for ancient tech when your pc is living in a world which has magic as tech?
Often because wizards, in a lot of the more archetypical fantasy settings, seem to be more like boutique, handcrafting specialists, and often the world outside of magic hasn't advanced enough that interchangeable parts are a thing.

Something like guns, in such settings, often still probably require laborious individual handcrafting.

Honestly, in some settings, you probably should see everyone and their dog using some form of magical gun wand. Like Eberron is good about looking at how magic would advance normal life.

But settings like say Forgotten Realms has w8zards be cliqueish and potentially few enougb they have no interest in helling ease production of items.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
Like seriously, muskets produced nasty wounds. Wounds that could get easily infected. Very much maiming wounds.
Your view is supported by this excerpt from The personal cost of war: injuries from firearms and their treatment during the Civil Wars:

A key consideration when removing the bullet was to also remove any fragments of clothing that were carried in when the bullet struck. As a musket ball was spherical, a small circle of cloth from the soldier’s clothing would potentially enter the wound. As Wiseman described, these fragments (from typically quite dirty clothing) could lead to serious consequences, including what we would now refer to as sepsis, or blood poisoning: 'for the Bullet pierceth not any Part without carrying Rags along with it, which corrupt in the Wound … occasioning a prolonging the Cure'.

Wiseman described two instances where contaminating rags caused problems for treatment. The first was the servant of a nobleman, shot by highwaymen, 'yet was his Gun-shot more vexatious then all the rest, until I extracted the Bullet, and Rags carried in with it … I united and healed it in ten or twelve days, which I doubt would not have been cured in three months.' Similarly, a wounded soldier, shot in the shoulder was treated by Wiseman: 'After several unsuccessfull Applications, I made an Incision by the side of the Scapula into the Cavity, and pulled out the Rags that had been carried in by the Shot: and from that time all Accidents ceased, and the Wound cured soon after.' Once the rags were removed, the wound could heal. Wiseman lamented that the lack of removal of rags from the wound would lead to poisoned wounds. He noted that 'while any of the Rags remain in the Wound, it will never cure: but the extraneous bodies drawn out, there is little difficulty in the healing these Simple Wounds'.​

The quotations are from Richard Wiseman's Severall Chirurgicall Treatises (1676).
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I meant specifically getting impaled through the chest by a longsword like the image below (couldn't find a PG sword version). The average sword strike is much less deadly than a gun shot, but this type of wound is really really bad, because of the two cuts that are made when someone stabs you in the front and then cuts you again when withdrawing the blade. It is not the same as a clean bullet wound passing through the front and through. I was trying to compare a really bad sword attack to a really bad gun attack (although if you shoot someone in the heart, they're pretty much instantly dead too).

View attachment 137998

That said, I agree movies aren't reflective of guns lethality.
Well, yes, if you're stabbed through the heart, you die. But, again, you're Hollywooding what happens when you're shot by a bullet. There aren't any "clean bullet wounds," especially with a musket ball. Flesh is mostly water, which means it's incompressible, so when the bullet or ball passed through, it's transferring it's force in a wide area which gets essentially pulped. Further, the round typically tumbles and cavitates, creating additional damage near the wound channel. What you're thinking bullets (or balls) do in flesh is largely due to Hollywood teaching us there's such a thing as 'clean through' or the idea that bullets just poke holes. If bullets just poked holes, we'd be using explosive rounds. We don't, because you don't need to -- the actual effect of a bullet is brutal and massively damaging.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Musket rounds were hardly ever producers of "clean bullet wounds." I don't understand why people in this thread keep on trying to use claims about modern bullets and applying them to musket bullets., despite those same people mentioning about how D&D uses muskets and such.

Like seriously, muskets produced nasty wounds. Wounds that could get easily infected. Very much maiming wounds.

Bullets clean punching theough is more something that would happen with an FMJ bullet, hardly the sort of thing you would see in a fantasy D&D setting.
Yup, but even FMJ rounds cause quite a lot of damage, but they do get much closer to the Hollywood conception of a 'clean through' bullet wound.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I didn't know we were talking about muskets specifically. I answered the question in the thread's title. I agree that getting shot by a musket will almost always be worse than getting stabbed.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that the adoption of guns was no primarily about their lethality, but instead their ease of use. Same reason why the crossbow gradually overtook usage of the longbow. Less skill and athletics are necessary to use them, an important innovation. This is not really reflected in 5E rules.
Again, the actual truth is that bullets are more lethal as well. The number of people that recover from stab wounds is far more than the number that recover from bullet wounds.

This doesn't mean that swords aren't lethal -- they most certainly are. Swords are not made lesser in people's eyes by the advent of nukes, but there's such hue and cry over the idea that a firearm can possibly create a nastier wound than a sword. But, on average, they do. If you have a clean strike against a target that isn't fighting back, I'll agree you can cause more damage with a sword than a single bullet, provided you aim well and strike clean and strong. But, this is not how most wounds are made, and so, again, the bullet outdoes the sword in average lethality. By a pretty fair margin.

It's okay, there's a reason no one really carries swords anymore, except ceremonially. But, in D&D, none of this matters -- you should do what's best for the game, and that's never realism.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
It's okay, there's a reason no one really carries swords anymore, except ceremonially. But, in D&D, none of this matters -- you should do what's best for the game, and that's never realism.

I feel like you keep ignoring my point, which is that it is way easier to land a lethal hit on someone with a gun than with a sword. Which is why the attack bonus should be higher than a sword (or more accurately, a bow). But they're not; the attack bonus for a gun is the same as those with a bow and arrow (dexterity). This isn't reflective at all with real-life.

But getting stabbed through the heart vs. shot in the heart? Not much difference there really. So the damage on a hit shouldn't be that different, as damage is just reflective of the type of hit. And someone can get grazed by a bullet for minimal damage, just like how they can get grazed by a sword strike for minimal damage. The scale is from "minimal damage," to "maximal damage" and on that scale, the two weapons aren't that different. It's the attack bonus, not the damage dice, that are way off.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Mainly because the Native American bows were not compareable to European war bows and in war numbers count which is why the Japanese were glad to have guns in addition to their bows.
Depends on the Native people in question. The Wabanaki bow was powerfully lethal, for instance, but expensive, time consuming, and requiring of pretty high expertise, to make. Much easier to just trade for a musket or rifle.

That, and the musket is a pretty good club. I’ve seen someone swing a recreation musket as a club from horse-back to show how effective it was...it’s very effective.

But a lot of Native people’s got Pushed from their land into what is now the Midwest, which impacted their culture and that of the nations they were moving into the territory of, so trying to use that part of history to glean useful information about now technology is...complicated, at best.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I feel like you keep ignoring my point, which is that it is way easier to land a lethal hit on someone with a gun than with a sword. Which is why the attack bonus should be higher than a sword (or more accurately, a bow). But they're not; the attack bonus for a gun is the same as those with a bow and arrow (dexterity). This isn't reflective at all with real-life.
Most people are terrible shots -- they get lucky because they can fire quickly. It takes practice and effort to actually shoot accurately, especially in combat conditions. If you're in a line with muskets while enemy horse is charging down on you, it's very hard to actually make a good shot. Which is why armies didn't just conscript soldiers and stick them in lines -- they drilled them extensively. The benefit of the firearm wasn't that it was more accurate, but rather that you didn't have to spend much time teaching people how to use it -- you could go very quickly to how to be a solider in a line and do your job effectively.


But getting stabbed through the heart vs. shot in the heart? Not much difference there really. So the damage on a hit shouldn't be that different, as damage is just reflective of the type of hit. And someone can get grazed by a bullet for minimal damage, just like how they can get grazed by a sword strike for minimal damage. The scale is from "minimal damage," to "maximal damage" and on that scale, the two weapons aren't that different. It's the attack bonus, not the damage dice, that are way off.
Sigh, you're arguing about game rules again, which I've expressly said shouldn't be based on anything like realism at all. Pick a die, that one works. In real life, bullets are more likely to kill you when they hit than a sword is. This isn't something that a game like 5e handles well at all, though, so I have no idea why people keep making arguments for game rules as if it does.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Why musket balls? Why muskets? The DMG just gives damage and range. Why not mime ball? Why not square bullets? Tulip shaped bullets? Little tiny katana bullets? bulette bullets? ETC?
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
Sigh, you're arguing about game rules again, which I've expressly said shouldn't be based on anything like realism at all. Pick a die, that one works. In real life, bullets are more likely to kill you when they hit than a sword is. This isn't something that a game like 5e handles well at all, though, so I have no idea why people keep making arguments for game rules as if it does.

Yeah, you're definitely not reading my comments... because I agree! It's not possible to reformate guns to makes sense in 5E without reorganizing attack roles and damage for other weapons (which won't happen).

Anyway, I completely disagree with you that guns are not easier to use than a bow and arrow, or a crossbow... of course they are. Anyone can pick up a gun and kill someone (happens every day by accident and on purpose), it's pretty hard for a complete novice to kill someone with a bow and arrow. This is why armies gradually shifted from bowmen to crossbowmen, then to riflemen. Every army requires training, but the amount of training necessary for well-trained ranged troops went down dramatically.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It's also potentially lost almost all of it's momentum, not hitting a vital spot and so on.

Sometimes one bullet will kill you, sometimes a couple dozen will not. The real question is, what's fun for the game?
And one bullet only kills a person in the minority of cases, to boot!

Even when victims do buy the farm, bleeding out kills more of them than the actual wound, ie they die of lack of medical treatment, and thus would have died from a sword wound to the same place.

I mean the stats on gun violence are very counterintuitive in terms of lethality vs unjury.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Modern stats on gun violence and mortality are pretty useless for the topic at hand, no offense to anyone in particular.
Death from stab wounds today is also irrelevant because 99% of stab wounds are going to be from knives, not swords.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Yeah, you're definitely not reading my comments... because I agree! It's not possible to reformate guns to makes sense in 5E without reorganizing attack roles and damage for other weapons (which won't happen).
Then why are you making arguments about minimum and maximum damage on dice and comparing swords and firearms this way? I mean, if you agree it's all arbitrary and being unrealistic is best for the game, why even make those kinds of arguments?
Anyway, I completely disagree with you that guns are not easier to use than a bow and arrow, or a crossbow... of course they are. Anyone can pick up a gun and kill someone (happens every day by accident and on purpose), it's pretty hard for a complete novice to kill someone with a bow and arrow. This is why armies gradually shifted from bowmen to crossbowmen, then to riflemen. Every army requires training, but the amount of training necessary for well-trained ranged troops went down dramatically.
You're disagreeing with a ghost, not me. Guns are clearly easier to use than bows. However, easier to learn to use doesn't mean more accurate. You were claiming that speed to proficiency is the same as being more accurate, and that I disagreed with -- it's actually challenging to hit a target trying to not get hit AND kill you. I don't at all disagree that guns are easier to learn.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Modern stats on gun violence and mortality are pretty useless for the topic at hand, no offense to anyone in particular.
They really aren't, or, more likely, actually show better how lethal guns are. This is because if you get to a trauma center with your heart beating, you're more likely to live. This should be pretty even if everything else is equal -- if swords cause wounds of similar severity to guns, then this should be level. But it's not -- no where close. .
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
They really aren't, or, more likely, actually show better how lethal guns are. This is because if you get to a trauma center with your heart beating, you're more likely to live. This should be pretty even if everything else is equal -- if swords cause wounds of similar severity to guns, then this should be level. But it's not -- no where close. .
What I meant is that they aren't useful in terms of discussing how mortal black powder wounds would be. That wasn't a comment about swords at all btw, which pretty plainly don't do the same kind of mortal damage based on historical evidence, at least not to armoured targets. That said, you'd be amazed at the number of medieval war dead that are missing hands and arms. That's down to swords and whatnot.
 

wellis

Villager
Honestly, it's possible that one could up the damage of blackpowder firearms or something, having them be balanced by issues like keeping the powder dry, and the difficulty it takes to reload powder, wad, and ball.

You have one shot, and after that, unless you have the time or speed to do a reload, best to use it as a club.

And in the case of pistols, just have multiple pistols loaded so you're ready for action.

Of course this is probably all at earlier levels. By later levels, I suspect a lot of weapons just aren't damaging enough to players generally unless magical or enhanced in some manner.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
The reload rule is probably key. If you want differentiation, up the damage, and maybe the crit range, but push the reload time to start and maybe up the fumble range as well. Just my two cents there...

In the case of an entire Black Powder setting, I'd definitely start monkeying around with the above, as well as the crit multiplier. In general, less attacks, but massive damage potential. That seems fun. Also less prone to abuse.
 

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