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Implementing Guns in DnD

Implementing Guns in DnD

Okay, I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who asked about guns in a fantasy world where they usually don't exist... okay I know that I am not. However I have a specific niche about it which is why I've come here instead of just doing a google search for house-ruled versions of this.

The setting that I'm using is of a higher tech level than normal DnD settings (and no I don't mean it's steam punk). It's really more like a mix/in-between of the Renaissance Era and the Industrial Era in terms of technology level. More traditional DnD weapons are widely used, however guns, cannons, and other gunpowder using weapons exist. The reasons for them not replacing other weapons is that factories don't really exist so they are all hand crafted and take time to make and rifling hasn't been invented, and thus firearms aren't too strong nor very accurate making less technologically advanced weapons more appealing to use.

So far I've been just handwaving to my players that since such weapons are not easily attainable since not many of them are made, but I know that it's going to get to the point where someone is going to want one. So I've been thinking on it and I've wanted to know how I should handle them in my games. However since I'm not very good with making balanced things from scratch, I would like some aid in trying to make the rules for them.

I already know to keep a few things in mind. That they have to be:
  • Strong, but inaccurate
  • Expensive to obtain and maintain
  • And impractical to use in most situations

Since bullets are really nothing more than the kinds of pellets one would use for slings, the ammo won't be a problem, however keeping track of things like gun powder is. I'm also not sure how I should make the weapons' properties, such as damage, range, weight, etc.

I'm specifically interested in how to make pistols and muskets. I was thinking that pistols could be used very well in close range without provoking opportunity attacks when fired due to them being small and perhaps even easier to maneuver than swords or maces, but at the cost of being not as strong as muskets and that loading them still provokes opportunity attacks so they can't be repeatedly fired without risk. While muskets are like normal ranged weapons but pack more of a punch than any other one but are more difficult to reload than any other weapon either and are very inaccurate against targets that are well within normal range for other ranged weapons.

Any help and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Pathfinder and Iron Kingdoms both have rules for dealing with firearms. Might want to look over the rules in both those systems if you wanted done so already.

Pathfinder as some of rules for firearms in their SRD. -

Privateer Press. as some of the firearms rules free from their site -

What D&D edition are we talking about? You can easily use anything from say.. Gamma World/Alternity/Dark Matter or Stars Without Number for older D&D, then anything d20 Modern-related for current. Most of that should port over with minimal issue, if any, and also give you a plethora of things to look through for inspiration.

Also maybe Oriental Adventures for d20, and if I remember correctly(could be wrong!), they have rules for simple firearms in there, a la Japanese matchlocks. But d20 Modern Era-books might be what you are looking for, particularly d20 Past.
AD&D Combat & Tactics might also have firearms, for that system.

Sorry I should've said that in the first place. Its for 4e. As for that other stuff, how would I get my hands on them?

I really just want to know what to keep in mind to homebrew the stuff myself. If there are examples I can look at then that'd be great, however the Oriental Adventures thing you mentioned seems right up my alley, though like I said I'm not sure how I'd be able to get my hands on it.

I believe most of the d20 Modern books are open content and posted in an SRD somewhere. Google-fu should turn up results. D20 Past should have practically all eras of firearms up to modern.

Glad to have helped!

The Zeitgeist setting from EN World uses guns. They're high damage, but not necessarily low accuracy. Still, it might give you a start on the sort of stats and necessary/optional feats you would need to provide. The Player's Guide and the Campaign Guide are both available in their free Intro Pack. They should contain helpful information.

Ok so here is my spiel on the whole guns in DnD thing and this of course will take me back through two of my campaigns in which the first guns were encouraged and two guns were allowed but highly disencouraged.

The first campaign involving guns that I did was a 3.5 DnD oriental campaign set in Japan at around the time that their was war for the territories, the fight over spiritual belief and whether practical ritual was still to be practiced, and the use of guns was becoming more popular and for the most part threatening the way of the samurai.

This was a positive experience with guns and this campaign ended very satisfactory; showed me some very interesting rules and tactics that work well with guns, cannons, gunpowder, etc. So the statistics for guns are inside of the DM guide for the 3.5 and it contains many different models for a few kinds of guns during different eras I however found some to be inaccurate and a lot of weapons to be a bit overpowered especially considering that this campaign started with the PC's at level 3.

The solution I came up with (before I even knew what pathfinder was) included a series of rules involving guns for that time since this was the whole gunpowder loaded guns situation ex. wet gunpowder doesn't work (very inconvenient when fighting a water spirit or when it is raining), misfires with guns cause explosions (this only had to happen once for the PCs to realize I meant it when I said fire at own risk), etc. The point was with these rules guns became a fun and interesting part of the campaign and actually added a hint of depth to the story and a major point of conflict in the party for those who were "traditional" and did not use guns.

To save time though I will just list the pro's and con's of guns for that campaign as well as why it was a pro and why it was a con.

Pro's- They were a good equalizer in combat (a group of bandits with at least 1 or 2 wielding guns allowed me to keep an encounter at their level without making it too easy to dismiss it as not a problem). The short range of guns kept it fair so that even an archer well acquainted with keeping their distance or a fighter brave enough to know to run in could fight on even terms with a gun user.
The reload time made it so that they were seen more as burst damage at one time (measured over combat a good melee combatant did as much damage as a gun wielder), gunpowder was a great utility tool when things got too rough and PC's lacked a skill that could be solved by blowing it up, once again this was the time when guns were emerging so guns were still not readily available unless it was a major city or place that specialized in production so in that regard ammo and guns were EXPENSIVE to buy, EXPENSIVE to repair, and quite often if misused were easy to break (literally 10% everytime you tried to loot a gun from a corpse that it was NOT going to be a usable piece of equipment), not to mention almost no shop keeper would buy a broken one. Also added a feat with pre-requisite deflect arrows called deflect bullets that made a particular fight with a monk very very annoying but fun.

Cons- Early levels especially the PC's wielding guns dominated combat and made enemies seem like rice paper in a hurricane and showed me that should I ever do this again to not allow two-weapon fighting to apply to pistols EVER. If you were unaware of how to take advantage of battlefield modifiers, techniques and proper positioning a person with a gun would tear you to pieces in four to five rounds. The reload time like a crossbow could be overcome with rapid reload or my least favorite tactic employed by a PC carrying six loaded guns at any point and having a companion who would pick up the dropped guns and load them for him before handing them back (seriously scumbag move by my player). Misuse of explosive potential of gunpowder is easy to fall into for instance why fight those ten guards when I can just throw a small make shift grenade between them and devastate them.

Quite honestly guns are only as powerful as you make them to be but in 3.5 I found them to be more balanced then in pathfinder.

Now for part 2 my experience with pathfinder guns.

Quite honestly if you allow guns in pathfinder short of a caster you need nothing else. Guns do a lot of damage (especially if they crit), will always hit their target (attacks touch AC which even high level creatures possess the worse touch AC's imaginable seriously the tarrasque has a touch AC of 5), and if you are a gunslinger a negligible range increment penalty and will very rarely blow up in your face for early firearms...I hate guns in pathfinder I really really do; take what you want from the pathfinder rules for firearms but for the most part I suggest using the good judgment the gaming Gods gave you to decide what is too OP for characters and what is appropriate before making a final decision.

I saw the dnd 3.5 gun rules and, if you keep a good handle on your characters use of firearms, they should be manageable in power. I would suggest finding a way to limit the extra uses of weaponry. (Gunpowder grenades and whatnot) but don't do it by shutting down player ingenuity.


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