D&D 5E Why do guns do so much damage?

Necrozius

Explorer
Yeah so I’d handle black powder weapons like so:

1. Simple weapons to reflect their ease of use by even farmers

2. Lower costs for ammo than other ranged weapons, however a powder horn is also needed (a separate piece of equipment)

3. Damage for pistols is d6, can be used as a small club for d4

4. Damage for muskets is d8, can be used as a club for d6. Add a bayonet and it becomes a spear (d8 if two handed)

5. because of the ubiquitous social-cultural familiarity of such weapons and relatively quick adoption, bows and crossbows become martial (only something specially trained people use)

6. the loading quality of black powder weapons cannot be offset by Feats (unless using more expensive, fancy ammo packets that include pre-measured amounts of gunpowder made by Gnomes or engineers)

7. Carrying multiple, preloaded pistols offsets the loading quality limitations until you’ve used them all, then it’s back to normal limitations

8. disadvantage on using these weapons in rainy weather or if the PC was recently submerged in water (dry up after a long rest, I guess)
 

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ECMO3

Hero
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.
Plate Armor will not stop a renaissance-era flintlock bullet. The plate (and I think it was only a breast plate, not full plate by the 16th century) is there to deflect pikes and spears primarily and to a lessor extent and arrows and such.
 

Plate Armor will not stop a renaissance-era flintlock bullet. The plate (and I think it was only a breast plate, not full plate by the 16th century) is there to deflect pikes and spears primarily and to a lessor extent and arrows and such.
My understanding was that was the purpose behind the angling on the cuirass, but I can imagine more often than not you were still in danger. Still it was better than wading in unarmoured and it was still a century or so until they gave up on armor for infantry altogether.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
Yeah so I’d handle black powder weapons like so:

1. Simple weapons to reflect their ease of use by even farmers

2. Lower costs for ammo than other ranged weapons, however a powder horn is also needed (a separate piece of equipment)

3. Damage for pistols is d6, can be used as a small club for d4

4. Damage for muskets is d8, can be used as a club for d6. Add a bayonet and it becomes a spear (d8 if two handed)

5. because of the ubiquitous social-cultural familiarity of such weapons and relatively quick adoption, bows and crossbows become martial (only something specially trained people use)

6. the loading quality of black powder weapons cannot be offset by Feats (unless using more expensive, fancy ammo packets that include pre-measured amounts of gunpowder made by Gnomes or engineers)

7. Carrying multiple, preloaded pistols offsets the loading quality limitations until you’ve used them all, then it’s back to normal limitations

8. disadvantage on using these weapons in rainy weather or if the PC was recently submerged in water (dry up after a long rest, I guess)
Bows should always be martial weapons. And/Or they should be MAD, dex to hit, strength to damage. Likewise Rapid Reload should have strength as perquisite and not dex. Only firearms should be dex only.
 
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Plate Armor will not stop a renaissance-era flintlock bullet. The plate (and I think it was only a breast plate, not full plate by the 16th century) is there to deflect pikes and spears primarily and to a lessor extent and arrows and such.
A musket at point-blank range? Probably not. But even heavy cloth has been recorded as stopping musket balls (although I'd imagine that there was significant bruising.)

One of the reasons that renaissance battlefield armour was being reduced to a breastplate was because it had become significantly thicker (and therefore heavier) specifically for the purpose of stopping flintlock ball.
Hence why the armour was often "proofed" as a point of quality by firing a flintlock into it, generally leaving a dent.
 

Coroc

Hero
So a Flintlock Pistol in 5e D&D deals 1d10 damage. A longsword deals 1d8 damage, 1d10 if you hold it with both hands.

But if you've ever seen what a sword can -do- to a human body, you know that the damage difference is incomparable!

Yeah, a bullet can be really effective at killing a person by catastrophically randomizing a narrow line through their body. If you hit something vital, death is assured in fairly short order, and if you don't hit something vital there's a decent shot the person will still bleed out over the course of the next hour or two, depending on their activity during that time and lack of medical care.

If you hit something vital with a sword, your target will -also- die in very short order. But if you don't strike something vital they will STILL DIE IN VERY SHORT ORDER. This is because a Sword catastrophically randomizes a very large area of the human body on each strike. At least when compared to something like a Pistol.

Depending on your ammo type a gun is going to put a fairly small hole in the front of your target and a moderately larger hole out of the back of your target with a relatively straight line between the two. With the appropriate training, a sword will completely eradicate your ability to have intestines that remain both inside your body and intact.

Take a look at this video if you can/care to (TW: Dead Animal, Fake Blood, Violence)


This is a Kilij. Roughly the same shape as a scimitar, it's got a slightly weighted tip to increase percussive force. It would not be out of place in most D&D campaign settings. It cuts -through- that pig on the first strike. And the second. The third sets it spinning and the fourth cuts through, again.

Compare that to a single hole running through your torso.

You could of course argue that that was a fairly small pig and thus the sword could easily pass through it. But upscale that pig and the damage would -still- be significant even if the sword didn't manage to pass through the bones. And all the internal organs in it's very wide, very deep, path would be randomized and compromised.

Now I'm not saying that pistols aren't deadly. They flatly and -absolutely- are deadly. But compared to the damage that a -sword- can do? It's not even in the same ball park. And that's not even getting INTO things like two-handed swords, axes of any variety, or spears...

Now you could argue that they do so much damage because HP is an abstraction and it shows how well they punch through armor... but you still make the same attack roll with the same bonuses and the same AC to overcome. And AC is -itself- an abstraction accounting for both the deflecting and cushioning effects of a piece of armor between you and oncoming metal.

And it only gets worse when you get into Revolvers and Rifles that jump up to the 2d8 and 2d10 damage range.

All things considered... I just feel like guns should do damage in-line with the rest of the weapons available. 1d6 for a pistol, 1d10 for a rifle. Basically a Hand and Heavy Crossbow for all intents and purposes. And then making them repeating weapons or whatever should just increase the number of shots before you have to spend an action reloading. I think the designers, and many players, overwhelmingly inflate just how much damage a gun does to a human being compared to the weapons, and monsters, D&D characters face.

That's my take, anyhow.
once more d&d s unrealistic combat simulation strikes.
ok, a sword does to little damage iypov.
so did you take into account, that full plate armor makes neigh invulnerable versus swords IRL whereas a bullet tends to penetrate mostly unhindered?

Also other types of armor, even padded linen protects quite well vs edged damage.

watch scholagladiatoria matt eastons channel on YouTube if you are interested on how weaponry and armor and the context they were used in history sevelopped.
 

Coroc

Hero
A musket at point-blank range? Probably not. But even heavy cloth has been recorded as stopping musket balls (although I'd imagine that there was significant bruising.)

One of the reasons that renaissance battlefield armour was being reduced to a breastplate was because it had become significantly thicker (and therefore heavier) specifically for the purpose of stopping flintlock ball.
Hence why the armour was often "proofed" as a point of quality by firing a flintlock into it, generally leaving a dent.
you are right for the latter development and the more costly plate armors in renaissance. For all other stuff it was rather the exception that a bullet would not penetrate, a musket bullet got four times the kinetic energy of a crossbow bolt and even more than compared to an arrow.
 

Ixal

Adventurer
once more d&d s unrealistic combat simulation strikes.
ok, a sword does to little damage iypov.
so did you take into account, that full plate armor makes neigh invulnerable versus swords IRL whereas a bullet tends to penetrate mostly unhindered?

Also other types of armor, even padded linen protects quite well vs edged damage.

watch scholagladiatoria matt eastons channel on YouTube if you are interested on how weaponry and armor and the context they were used in history sevelopped.
Pretty much this. If anything melee weapons and especially swords are overvalued in D&D,
Against someone in plate armour a sword is nearly useless. You are better off to use it as a makeshift club or a lever for grappling than as a sword.
And against a giant, dragon or other garagantuan enemy a normal melee weapon would be night useless as even when you drive it into the monster up to the hilt you have only penetrated the skin and outer fat and muscle layer without reaching any vital organ. Its like fighting a human with needles.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
British Flintlock Balls were 10.9mm in diameter and weighed 1.3g. They also traveled a lot slower, as the muzzle velocity for a Flintlock is around 253m/s while a 9mm (only slightly smaller and infinitely more bullet-shaped) can clock in at over 400m/s.
Those are late in the development of muzzle loaders, and are essentially a smaller bore than the earlier weapons. .6-.7 calibre (15.24-17.78mm) bores were common, and larger bores were sometimes used.

Also, I am pretty sure a 10-11mm diameter metal or stone ball would weigh more than 1.3 grams. A few coffee beans weigh 1.3 grams. A .64 calibre ball typically weighed around 25 grams.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
Bows should always be martial weapons. And/Or they should be MAD, dex to hit, strength to damage. Likewise Rapid Reload should have strength as perquisite and not dex. Only firearms should be dex only.
Dex to hit strength to damage was one of the good ideas from previous editions. Drawing and holding recurve bow is not trivial, or wasn’t when I took archery in college.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
Test-Firing Early Modern Small Arms

01.jpg


02.jpg
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
No its not 'unfair. We have both combatants in range of each other, with weapons ready, trained with those weapons and in appropriate fighting positions.

I know where my money is going on who wins, who backs down, and who dies.

Swordsman can't block or dodge my shot. His 'insta kill/ stop' vital areas (heart, spine and brain) are there for me to destroy with extreme prejudice.

A swordsman on the other hand has to deal with an opponent that can fight back. Who will grab his blade, block it with his arms, step inside the weapon and fight for his life (recieving multiple horrific defensive wounds in the process) before he can get a killing blow in (generally a thrust to the vitals).

Most edged weapon victims who die bleed out several minutes after the encounter, and suffer multiple (dozens in some cases) defensive wounds before a killing blow can be delivered.

Firearms just require a competent shooter to hit a vital organ. Presuming the shooter is trained, there is little the target can do to stop or delay it happening other than hope they miss.

You are seriously underestimating the lethality of firearms. They make it easy to hurl metal through someones head or heart in a way a swordsman could only dream of.
No. I'm REALLY naughty word not.

But you're underestimating three big things:

1) Time. I showed you a video of how long it takes a wheel lock pistol to fire. You've gotta hold your aim for about 1.5 seconds between pulling the trigger and the gun firing. YOU are the one who picked Wheel Lock. Not that flintlocks were -drastically- better. After the flash in the pan (if the flint ignited anything) there was a delay before the weapon went off.

2) The comparative kinetic force between the weapons. A Flintlock Pistol has around 434 Joules of force. The Longsword has about 330. The difference is not super duper significant, especially because the sword's psi on a strike is only gonna be around 10 while the Flintlock balls hits with around 60. Both of which easily overcome the 4psi to break skin, the 6psi to cut through muscle, and the 8psi to cut tendons. Meaning the ball will continue through the body much faster than the sword and retain kinetic energy as it leaves the exit wound. Meaning it's "Stopping Power" isn't what you imagine.

3) The size of a wheellock pistol. Assuming you're holding it from 3 feet away, and aiming, the barrel is pretty much touching your target. And with that 1.5 seconds before it goes off, there's no way you'll be able to keep him from deflecting your aim. Even if he just grabs the barrel and shoves it off to the side, holds it 'til it fires, and gets a burn on his hand from the barrel heat, your shot is still going to be wasted.

But you're obsessed with the absolute superiority of firearms in all situations and their perfect lethality, regardless of level of technology. It's why you're quick to shout about 5.56 ammo and the "Football Sized" internal cavity it creates (If you use a bullet designed to fragment and transfer more of it's kinetic force) when people are discussing much earlier firearms using simple lead balls.

That's why you're suggesting "Trained Users" as fighters and then comparing a skilled swordsman to the lethality of any rando who uses any kind of edged weapon, which these days is mostly knives, as your evidence rather than actually looking at the damage that a sword can do and comparing the visibly clear lethality of the weapon to "Most victims of edged weapons"

Anywho. This'll be the last post in this thread I make in response to you on this topic. 'Cause we're not gonna get anywhere.
Plate Armor will not stop a renaissance-era flintlock bullet. The plate (and I think it was only a breast plate, not full plate by the 16th century) is there to deflect pikes and spears primarily and to a lessor extent and arrows and such.
A musket at point-blank range? Probably not. But even heavy cloth has been recorded as stopping musket balls (although I'd imagine that there was significant bruising.)

One of the reasons that renaissance battlefield armour was being reduced to a breastplate was because it had become significantly thicker (and therefore heavier) specifically for the purpose of stopping flintlock ball.
Hence why the armour was often "proofed" as a point of quality by firing a flintlock into it, generally leaving a dent.
This one's for you two! The first video actually involves months of work by museum workers and weapons experts to put together actually appropriate weapons and armor to test a smooth-bore musket against the armor of the time. The second one is just a period fan doing his own thing. And so is the third.
It doesn't -exactly-. When it comes to a ball striking armor the thickness of the metal and the amount of kinetic energy it can absorb is much less important to the amount of kinetic energy it can deflect.

42-53461370.jpg

See how the center of the breastplate isn't rounded off or flat like a human chest would be? That's not a mistake on the armorer's part, it's an intentional design choice to deflect bullets, arrows, crossbow bolts, melee weapon thrusts, and other attacks. That medial ridge down the torso increases the chances that something coming directly at you is going to get deflected to one side or another. Same with the helmets all having that sort of ridge or crest down the middle.

By deflecting the attack away from center of mass, where anyone is going to tell you to aim, you increase the likelihood that the attack doesn't penetrate because it's trajectory is skewed.

That's not to say it didn't -ever- happen. But even at short ranges, plate armor could provide protection against musket fire. Take a look!



Your results will, of course, vary, based on the type of musket used, the size of the ball, the amount of powder... Lots of variables.

But it wasn't a cut and dry "Musket always wins!" type situation.

Here's an example of a Pistol -and- a Musket being fired at a single breastplate. Once the pistol dents the medial ridge, the musket punches right through the flattened out metal.

Also, the Renaissance started in 1300, not 1500. And there were píšťala in the hands of Hussars by the early 1400s. And it wouldn't be until the 16th century that infantrymen would begin wearing "Reduced Plate". Which is to say a breastplate, helm, and gauntlets. What we think of as "Conquistador Armor". Before that infantrymen mostly wore whatever they could personally cobble together, usually thick padding and maybe leather armor over it. (Though even then it was mostly "Elite" military infantry and mercenaries who could afford their own arms and armor!) which fell out of favor as the size of the armies grew ever larger, of course.

Heck! What we think of as "Plate Armor" for the age of Chivalry? Didn't -exist- until the 1300s and the Renaissance was in swing! And reached it's height of popularity while pistols and cannons were going off on the battlefield because while it might not protect you from the cannonball, it could keep you safe from shrapnel.

development-body-armour-Western.jpg

(If you could afford it, of course!)
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Those are late in the development of muzzle loaders, and are essentially a smaller bore than the earlier weapons. .6-.7 calibre (15.24-17.78mm) bores were common, and larger bores were sometimes used.

Also, I am pretty sure a 10-11mm diameter metal or stone ball would weigh more than 1.3 grams. A few coffee beans weigh 1.3 grams. A .64 calibre ball typically weighed around 25 grams.
34 to a pound.

1/34th of a pound (0.029 pounds) is equal to 0.013kg Which is... 13 grams.

You're right! I lost a decimal place when transferring. However since I used 0.013kg in the various calculators I used to determine kinetic energy, velocity, and psi, it shouldn't matter for everything else.

But you're absolutely right! I did screw that up and I apologize!
 

King Babar

God Learner
Ignoring the argument regarding swords vs early modern firearms (which is frankly silly, given that the sword you featured in the video is one that existed in a distinctly firearm-oriented ecosystem), I don't see how it's unreasonable to say that an early firearm (such as an arquebus) should generally deal more damage than a crossbow, given that firearms replaced crossbows and bows as the principle ranged weapon on the battlefield because of their penetrative and shock capabilities (not to mention their relative easy of use). There's a relatively short period of time where crossbows and firearms would be found together, but again by the time the arquebus comes into being, the crossbow and bow are distinctly inferior. Almost anything a crossbow could do, an arquebus and musket could do better (except not being incredibly loud, of course).

In addition, a lot of hullaloboo is being made about plate cuirasses stopping musket shots, at the same time seemingly ignore that a cuirass of that design would almost certainly stop a crossbow bolt, an arrow, as well as most melee weapons (such as the single-edged sword in your video).

I'm really just confused by this whole debate, if you want to homebrew your firearms and give them a d6 and d10 for damage, go ahead, no one's gonna stop you. Using bad math and questionable youtube videos to try to prove your point seems silly.
 
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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Ignoring the argument regarding swords vs early modern firearms (which is frankly silly, given that the sword you featured in the video is one that existed in a distinctly firearm-oriented ecosystem), I don't see how it's unreasonable to say that an early firearm (such as an arquebus) should generally deal more damage than a crossbow, given that firearms replaced crossbows and bows as the principle ranged weapon on the battlefield because of their penetrative and shock capabilities (not to mention their relative easy of use). There's a relatively short period of time where crossbows and firearms would be found together, but again by the time the arquebus comes into being, the crossbow and bow are distinctly inferior. Almost anything a crossbow could do, an arquebus and musket could do better (except not being incredibly loud, of course).

In addition, a lot of hullaloboo is being made about plate cuirasses stopping musket shots, at the same time seemingly ignore that a cuirass of that design would almost certainly stop a crossbow bolt, an arrow, as well as most melee weapons (such as the single-edged sword in your video).

I'm really just confused by this whole debate, if you want to homebrew your firearms and give them a d6 and d10 for damage, go ahead, no one's gonna stop you. Using bad math and questionable youtube videos to try to prove your point seems silly.
Oh, I know that plate would stop a sword, an arrow, or a crossbow bolt. Those videos were explicitly to demonstrate that plate armor was effective, even if not -perfectly so-, at stopping early firearm shots. Several people tried to convince me that plate armor was about as durable as tissue paper against firearms so I tried to dispel the myth.

It wasn't "Swords are better than muskets against plate!" it was "Plate is effective against most weaponry, even early firearms. So that's not a reason to make them do more damage"

I started the thread to discuss the idea of early firearms being weirdly strong for what they were in D&D. Mostly to try and see if someone could provide me a solid reason I shouldn't homebrew their damage and stuff down a little. And then people just started enjoying the discussion and the debate, so I kept going!
 

... that's not how damage works.

If you want to damage a piece of paper as severely as possible, pushing a pencil through it "REALLY FAST" will not compare to the amount of damage you can do with a single cut from a pair of scissors across the page that goes, comparatively, much slower.

... uh... thanks? I tend to avoid gun fights in general...

But this is about D&D. Not the real world.
To be fair, you are basing your argument on real world physics, not D&D.

I actually agree with you, and if you are using guns in conjunction with more traditional D&D weapons, they probably should do comparable damage. On the other hand, if you were running a modern or science fiction setting in 5e (as many third party publishers have produced), it is important that guns and the like have an advantage. Why? Because it encourages players to buy into the genre. The hit point system already makes it difficult for the PCs to take what would be a suicidal situation (having multiple crossbows aimed at you, for example) seriously. In a modern setting, it would be even more ridiculous. Guns need to be more dangerous or everyone will just keep their swords.
 

It’s often more important to meet audience expectations than to accurately reflect reality. In most modern people’s minds, guns are just seen as more deadly than swords, so they expect guns to do more damage in the game. It doesn’t really matter that much to most people that a larger damage die doesn’t accurately reflect the advantages guns have over swords.

All that said, I think it’d be neat if guns were like “martial cantrips.” Forcing the target to make a save instead of making an attack roll against them would be a neat way to express the “point and shoot” usability of firearms, and dealing damage that scales automatically with the level of the gunman instead of relying on Extra Attack would be a way to insure they’re effective at higher levels without having to hand wave the reload time (as much).
In my modern 5e game, I handle automatic fire by having every creature in a 5 foot radius of the target make a Dex save vs the attackers spell DC equivalent (8 + proficiency + dex). If they fail, they take the weapons damage. If they succeed, nothing.
 

King Babar

God Learner
It wasn't "Swords are better than muskets against plate!" it was "Plate is effective against most weaponry, even early firearms. So that's not a reason to make them do more damage"
But they are generally more effective against armor, because that's part of their raison d'être. The plate armor shown in those videos were designed to resist firearms, and are generally thicker, heavier and more expensive than what came before. But even so armor couldn't keep up with firearms, so by the 18th and 19th centuries plate cuirasses becoming increasingly more limited and ceremonial in their use.

The only way to really reflect this well in DnD would be not to up their damage, necessarily, but to allow firearms to ignore a certain amount of AC. Although such a design may go against the overall simplicity of 5e combat model.
 



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