Weapon proficiency is a measure of training with a given weapon. It takes time to learn how to properly swing a sword or learn to use a bow. Firearms, however, changed this dramatically. You pick it up, you point it, you pull the trigger, and BOOM. If you held your arm steady, odd are whatever you were pointing at is seriously hurt and on its way to dying. The suggestion for "denying attack bonus for anything other than point-blank range" as a way of dealing with the overall inaccuracy of early firearms is a good idea, but it gets a bit squicky trying to fit that kind of language into the existing 4E rules. I've some suggestions for dealing with that.
First, I'd call all firearms "Simple ranged" weapons. Pretty much every class in the game has proficiency with this category of weapon. From there, consider creating a "firearm" weapon group. This lets you create special rules which apply to only weapons in that group, such as:
Weapons in this group share the following characteristics.
Extreme Range: Firearms are able to shoot projectiles much farther than a bow or crossbow, but with reduced accuracy. Attacks made at Extreme range take a -5 penalty to hit.
|Ranged-based penalties to attack rolls already exist. Adding another range increment for firearms fits nicely into this existing mechanic. |
- Reload: Reloading a firearm requires all of your actions in a given round. You automatically reload a firearm at the end of a short or an extended rest.
- Misfire: If the d20 result on your attack roll is this number or lower, your firearm has misfired. Your attack automatically misses and the weapon becomes jammed. Jammed weapons cannot be used to make ranged attacks until cleaned and cleared at the end of a short or an extended rest.
- Armor Piercing: The ability of firearm projectiles to penetrate armor was one of the things that quickly helped them replace the bow and crossbow. Ranged attacks made with firearms target Reflex instead of AC.
From there it's simply a matter of deciding on the specifics of a given weapon: [W] value, range increments, and Misfire value. From a balance perspective, longer range weapons like muskets should have higher damage and higher Misfire than short-range weapons like pistols. Ferinstance:
|Short (no penalty), Long (-2 penalty), Extreme (-5 penalty) |
If the varying Misfire values don't do it for you, consider:
Misfire: If the d20 result of your attack roll is a 1, your firearm has misfired. Your attack automatically misses and the weapon becomes jammed. Jammed weapons cannot be used to make ranged attacks until cleaned and cleared at the end of a short or an extended rest.
Personally, I think that's inappropriate for flintlock weapons, but would be a great option for percussion caps.
It's worth noting that as I was Googling for a typical real-world misfire rate, I ran across the Pathfinder Firearms Rules
. Oddly enough, they're pretty darn close to what I've posted.