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D&D 5E Why do guns do so much damage?

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
D&D absurdly overvalues firearms, particularly late medieval and early Renaissance firearms. Plate Armour exists to counter firearms, the conquistadors were staggering around with breastplates on while they had guns. The utility of early firearms was in their ability to be used enmasse. A single person wielding a blunderbuss wasn't actually that deadly.
That's pretty much how I feel about it, yeah.
That kind of sinks real-world descriptions of how weapons work, though. We are left with game-balance and narrative-needs reasons.
I was referring to the poster ignoring the discussion about D&D weapon values and instead throwing off an off-topic catchphrase about knives and gunfights.

As to game balance and narrative needs... that's ultimately what I'm looking at, here. They're out of balance with comparable weapons and if they're meant to be in the setting there's no need to make them do damage significantly out of line with conventional weapons for D&D characters. It just seems senseless, to me.
I think to simulate how gunpowder helped end the era of armored knights in our timeline. Because D&D doesn't use armor as damage resistance, you have to make guns more powerful.
In a different system they would do similar damage but with a higher Armor Piercing rating.
D&D -does- use Armor as Damage Resistance. And also Deflection. That's why AC is treated as an abstraction and a Monk or Barbarian, wearing no armor, gains just as much protection from firearms as someone wearing Full Plate armor.
Because people think guns should be deadlier than swords
That's what I'm thinking.
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Because people think guns should be deadlier than swords

Not quite.

The average difference between a d8 and a d10 is a single point of damage per hit. That is meaningful to a peasant, who only has a half-dozen hit points at all. But, it isn't a big deal to, say, a 5th level fighter, which is really the kind of target the rules are intended to deal with.

In the nominal use case, the firearm is merely as deadly as a sword - honestly the attributes of the wielder, and their feats and class abilities, will have far more impact on how much damage the strike does than a difference of one die step up.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
So, then speed, in and of itself, isn't the point.

A bullet that passes through the body does not deposit much energy or momentum in the target. What it does to the body roughly equivalent to a thrust with a fencing blade, no matter what speed the bullet was moving.

Well bullets decent at punching through armor as well. Hard to reflect in D&D rules (2E tried).
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
On the one hand I feel like bringing back "Exploding Criticals" and stuff might work, or the x3 damage values from 3e for crits...

But a critical hit from a sword is, likewise, going to do OBSCENE quantities of damage to whatever critical component it hits, so... it's still unneeded.
Well bullets decent at punching through armor as well. Hard to reflect in D&D rules (2E tried).
Through some types of armor, sure. So does an arrow. So does a Rapier. So does a Mace. Depending on the type of armor.

Rather than go into that detail, 5e just made AC both resistance and deflection. Which is why a Monk or Barbarian with an 18 AC takes the same damage from that bullet as a fighter wearing Plate Armor.
I mean, I guess you could do a system where guns get a huge bonus to hit, but do moderate damage. And give armor DR.
If we were talking about rifled rounds and stuff maybe... But a ball from a flintlock can be deflected by a helmet, or a breastplate, or trapped in particularly thick clothing or a book.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
On the one hand I feel like bringing back "Exploding Criticals" and stuff might work, or the x3 damage values from 3e for crits...

But a critical hit from a sword is, likewise, going to do OBSCENE quantities of damage to whatever critical component it hits, so... it's still unneeded.

Through some types of armor, sure. So does an arrow. So does a Rapier. So does a Mace. Depending on the type of armor.

Rather than go into that detail, 5e just made AC both resistance and deflection. Which is why a Monk or Barbarian with an 18 AC takes the same damage from that bullet as a fighter wearing Plate Armor.

Not complaining. They had to have them deal more damage otherwise they're useless. Bows can fire multiple times, xbows have a kickass feat.
 

Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Not complaining. They had to have them deal more damage otherwise they're useless. Bows can fire multiple times, xbows have a kickass feat.
I'm bringing this all up because I'm considering using firearms in my campaign setting... but literally just making them into Crossbows for mechanical purposes.

Hand-Crossbow for Pistol. Heavy Crossbow for Rifle. Complete with the Crossbow Expert feat, because I sincerely feel like the amount of damage they do to a person is quite similar.

Plus I love the image of a swashbuckler with rapier and pistol because c'mon... that's -classic-.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I'm bringing this all up because I'm considering using firearms in my campaign setting... but literally just making them into Crossbows for mechanical purposes.

Hand-Crossbow for Pistol. Heavy Crossbow for Rifle. Complete with the Crossbow Expert feat, because I sincerely feel like the amount of damage they do to a person is quite similar.

Plus I love the image of a swashbuckler with rapier and pistol because c'mon... that's -classic-.

I've used them, put in the cartridge ones.

Getting the ammo was a lot harder.
 


Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Cause bullets are faster.

If D&D was Anime or Star Wars based, swords would be faster than bullets and thus deal more damage.
The speed isn't important. It's the amount of damage done that matters.

A bullet puts a finger sized hole in your body. A battleaxe will put a hole you can fit your ENTIRE HAND IN.

The speed of the bullet is how it punches that hole in the body, but it's the size of the hole and the amount of damaged material that matters.
 

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