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Implementing Guns in DnD


Things are at once easier and harder.

You can simply "refluff" any existing ranged power as using a firearm. The weapon is, mechanically, the ranged weapon (sling, bow, crossbow, etc) of choice but the effects of the attack are simply described as being made with a pistol or rifle. This has the least amount of mechanical impact on the game, and I've seen this work with great effect several times.

Next, create an actual weapon. Now you need to worry about things like range, proficiency bonus, reload time, cost of ammunition, and [W] value. Plug the weapon into any weapon-based ranged power, and you're all set. Of course, classing lacking weapon-based ranged powers are limited to Ranged Basic Attacks with the firearm, but that's not necessarily a problem. The hard part is the [W] value. Too powerful, and EVERYBODY wants one, etc.

Finally, you try to craft a class (like "gunslinger") that's build around the use of firearms. This is harder and requires a lot of attention to 4E design concepts and relative power levels. With this option, however, you can build exactly what you want: special rules for firearms, class-specific abilities, etc.

It's surprising that guns don't exist in D&D (or were never really covered beyond a few extra materials), considering the earliest ones in Europe date back to 14th century - during the middle ages (the rennaissance didn't begin until much later). Also, some of these early guns include organ guns - which were essentially awesome artillery that compensated innaccuracy for a whole load of shots.

And yeah, I think Leonardo Davinci had a sketch of an organ gun at one point.

Then again, D&D never did touch upon martial arts either (the monk was actually inspired by a novel called 'the destroyer', which at first glance, has got nothing to do with unarmed combat but involves chinese vampires and other things). And also, in taekwondo, we learn to punch at least at a rate of 4 times per second (a combat round is what, six seconds?); and I'm only a blue belt of 2 years (as opposed to the 'grew up in a monastery' backstory that belongs to most monks).

So I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.

Firearms for different purposes.

I think going for the middle ages look is still effective. Joan of Arc used cannon (yes, cannon) to destroy keeps and towers.

For innacurate weapons that are impossible to hit with at certain ranges (or at all) - it's possible to just up the caliber. This might be a favourite of stronger/tougher races such as dwarves, orcs and giants. For these, rolling the dice just determines the general square that the bullet will land in.

That said, this rule could effectively apply to any projectile that explodes or is big (already applicable for acid vials and alchemist's fire; but not the rocks that stone giants throw).

Warhammer does it very effectively in a single roll of dice - however one of the dice already indicates direction automatically and is only effective with a special random arrow generator code that myth-weavers does not support; 2d8 is usually a good way to rule (however it requires rolling each dice separately, to avoid confusing which results are which; this is quick in tabletop, but in myth-weavers, I suppose the first number that comes up could be direction and the next distance - and you must not gravitate away from this houserule, if you're using it that way!); and you could make the dice explode on high rolls to reflect the effects of a bouncing projectile that hits multiple targets. Explode means 'roll again' and then count the results with the original dice.

- Hand gonnes can be aimed, but it's very difficult (you could rule that it's impossible, unless the target is unaware and you're lucky, or the target is stupid and you have them in your sights at point blank for more than one or two rounds... or anything you like to make it a sometimes). Most of these weapons are pretty high caliber, so a direct hit is BIG DAMAGE, only it never happens (and I'd also throw out critical strikes for these weapons too; a catapult doesn't critical, so why should this kind of a gun? It isn't being wielded with the same mobility that a melee weapon or bow and arrow would; basically, just be careful as heck and hope to do damage). There's also the abus gun, and the culverin which dates from the 15th century (still middle ages!). Not to mention, full plate was invented in 14th century as well! So D&D crosses over to this time period, if only for rule of cool (knight in shining armor that covers every inch of his body).

- Rifles, mortars and rockets could all exist as a result of the meddlings of other, more advanced and hidden cultures that the PCs have to discover and explore. These cultures are greedy and secretive and refuse to trade with other races - either due to an unfortunate history of war, godly influence, etc.

Firearms and Armor

Firearms might give another reason to wear armor beyond the AC for a simple melee or aimed range attack (granted the attack is possible to aim). Maybe some confer impact damage and others cause shrapnel (grenade, or from a barrel)? Heavy armor might protect you from shrapnel, while softer armor (medium if heavy/soft, or light) could protect you from heat, or make a barrage of fire useless - since it lets you just dash out of the way.

Meanwhile, a helmet would make you less aware, but it's good in a chaotic battle situation where shrapnel is flying everywhere.

There's also noise and smoke - although smoke isn't as bad as noise. A smoke cloud can probably make an atmosphere get hot very quickly.

Smoke alerts a target to the general location of the shooter, but also provides the shooter with concealment. Granted, the shooter can't see out of their own smoke either! When you include magic, it's easy enough to do a gust of wind to blow away smoke so that it's out of the picture. However, smoke can also be very hot too - considering the lack of heat control in barrels that might have existed at the time.

Also consider that a barrel is probably useless after a few shots and needs to be gotten rid of. Even so, consider that the design of a hand gonne is rather simple, so a dedicated crafter can renew the supply fairly easily. Bullets are like sling bullets, but can become larger! The main trick is measuring out the explosive powder needed and then running for cover when the gun fires.

All said and done: A gun is only useful in taking on hordes of enemies (or stupid ones). When it comes to singular combat, it's going to be sword and shield once more and without fail.

A dedicated crafter can probably construct a stand and, with the use of a wick, get a handgonne to fire from a set location - this is just like timing a fireball spell to go off. It makes a good distraction, and a whole bunch of them can be hazardous for (ie.) the gang of bandits in the keep below.

Enworld's Zeitgeist added guns that were pretty balanced I think.. You can check them out in their Free PDF player's guide. Also there's a 3rd party campaign setting called Amythest that added more types of guns and complete character classes revolving around more advanced tech. Possibly find some inspiration in those two sources

The problem I have with guns in fantasy games is usually the opposite of what a lot of people have mentioned. Thankfully it had been touched upon here and there. Regardless, the major reason early firearms became so popular was two-fold: 1) They were easy to use, requiring far less training than, say, a longbow and 2) they penetrated armor more easily than other weapons. That was really it. Anyone could be handed a pistol or musket and do some damage to an enemy soldier if they were close enough.

My problem is that you rarely see either of those things addressed in the rules for games like D&D. For starters, they're usually considered exotic weapons. That's pretty much exactly the opposite of the truth, aside from being rare. Anyone, even a silly Wizard, would be able to pick one up and use it with minimal training. Hell, fighting with a dagger is exceptionally more difficult. And instead of adding a boost to their armor penetration, which would be better represented by a boost to accuracy than damage, they just crank the damage way up for inexplicable reasons.

The major pitfalls of those early weapons are rarely ever addressed either. The biggest one was the aforementioned reload times. In personal combat, they were basically a one-shot gimmick. Constant maintenance and reliability were the other serious issues with their ownership and use, but those pale next to the reload requirements. Even in major skirmishes, rifleman had to coordinate their attacks in order to allow their fellow soldiers time to reload and to keep the enemy from getting close enough to stop them from reloading. But in D&D, it's a simple and quick task to reload.

Hell if were assuming a muzzle loaded rifle, skilled musket men in the civil war could get off 10 rounds a minute. Thats one every round, so a character with rapid reload should be able to do it. A musket can only be shot like 5 times before needing to be cleaned because the black powder would clog up the barrel. The damage is cranked up so hi because its the first weapon you could get a double kill with. One shot ended a battle during the Indian wars way back when because it killed 3 of their 5 chiefs (commanders).

Originally Posted by loveandwar View Post
Hell if were assuming a muzzle loaded rifle, skilled musket men in the civil war could get off 10 rounds a minute.
Citation please. Everything I've read and seen indicates 5 rounds per minute is the best speed for a well-drilled infantry with muzzle-loaded weapons (Springfield 1861/1862). Once you switch to percussion caps and breech-loading (both major technologic advancements in the Springfield 1863), you could get 8-10.

My bad I was working off a presentation I did a while back.

You should play mount & blade: Napoleonic Wars. It's a good simulation.

One shot ended a battle during the Indian wars way back when because it killed 3 of their 5 chiefs (commanders).
Links or didn't happen.

Also the injun wars probably went on for a long time (their were just separate wars). Considering there's waaay more than 5 tribes in north america.

Hell, fighting with a dagger is exceptionally more difficult.
Dagger fighting isn't hard. The basic idea is just a few strike patterns (over-shoulder, under-hand, and waving the wrist back and forth + stuff you get away with in unarmed combat). For a sword, it's easily more complicated (you'd never get by with a forward thrust/lunging thrust with a dagger in a fight, unless you have good reflexes/body-sense, AKA dexterity in real life - people just see that sort of thing coming and tend to side step). With a sword, a lunge or a big (faster) swing works, simply because the weapon is larger. There's more to avoid, and your opponent has more reach. Also, knife fighters tend to watch the arm rather than the blade - and seeing as a big swing requires preparation, the opponent can see it before it happens (and most likely, you'd probably end up punching someone instead of cutting them, with a faster swing).

Most people get by with waving it back and forth (this works; it prevents a target from getting closer - if they're unarmed anyway) - but because it's melee, it's chancey. Daggers assume everyone knows how to use one because it's a tool that's commonly made and I guess everyone has had a scrap at least once in their lives or something.

Well actually fighting with a dagger is pretty easy, I mean think about it. People kill other people with knives all the time. It's "knife fighting" that's hard, I.E. two people fighting with a knife. And 90% of the time, both are going to get cut.

And if you wear going to be really realistic about it. you would need a master vs a novice to ever have a knife win out against almost any larger weapon because of reach.

It was comparative. Shooting a gun versus knife fighting. Shooting the gun is point and click with a high chance of success. Swinging a knife at someone, not quite so much.

And that was pretty much my point. Guns should be exotic weapons but not Exotic Weapons. The former is about rarity, the latter is about the training required to use one. If someone has free knife training, let alone training with a quarterstaff or a friggin' crossbow, they shouldn't have any trouble learning how to use a firearm.


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