April 23, 2018

Firearm Rules Redux

Variant Rules
Comments from the Finger: The old firearm rules weren't bad per-se, but the numbers could have been tuned slightly better. This time, I've done a frankly horrific amount of math to make sure that these firearm rules are perfectly balanced against regular weapons. Oh, and we did a bunch of modern guns as well.
     As before, the general idea of only adding your Dex score to attack rolls, not damage, is still in effect, since that gives firearms in general a very different (and very fun) gimmick at the table. Enjoy!

Firearm Variant Rules

Black powder represents a paradigm shift in the art of warfare, fueling everything from powerful siege weapons to concealable, handheld guns. In many campaign settings, these firearms supplant the traditional scheme of weapons, forcing arrows, swords, and battleaxes into obsolesce. They might even be commonplace, a staple tool for hunting and home defense.
     In other campaign settings, however, swords, firearms, and magic coexist equally. In these settings, since magic provides an alternative to their use, firearms are rarer and more imprecise, often requiring specialists like gunslingers to be truly effective. A setting of this type might seem very familiar, with some changes. A knight is just as likely to carry a handgun as a dagger, and infantrymen may shoulder rifles, rather than pikes, but adventurers still delve into dungeons for treasure, and castles still dot the landscape.

Damage Rolls with Firearms
Unlike other weapons, you don't add your ability modifier to the damage roll of a firearm unless otherwise stated.

Two-Weapon Fighting with Firearms
Unlike other ranged weapons, you can engage in two-weapon fighting with two light firearms. When you do so, you subtract 2 from the damage roll of the bonus attack, to a minimum of 1 damage.

Firearm Proficiencies
Characters in most campaign worlds will not have proficiency with firearms, but in settings with widespread firearms, characters gain the following proficiencies:

Class Proficiencies
BarbarianSimple firearms, assault rifle, gatling gun, light machine gun, magnum, pump shotgun
BardSimple firearms
ClericSimple firearms
FighterSimple firearms, martial firearms
MonkSimple firearms
PaladinSimple firearms, martial firearms
RangerSimple firearms, martial firearms
RogueSimple firearms, sniper rifle
SorcererLight revolver, machine pistol, parlor gun
WarlockSimple firearms
WizardLight revolver, machine pistol, parlor gun

Simple Firearms

  Double-Barrel Shotgun200 gp2d6 piercing8 lb.ShellsAmmunition (range 40/120), reload (2), scatter (2d8), two-handed
  Handgun100 gp2d4 piercing3 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 40/120), light, reload (10)
  Hunting Rifle175 gp2d6 piercing8 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 80/240), reload (5), two-handed
  Machine Pistol150 gp2d4 piercing5 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 20/60), automatic, foregrip, light, reload (10)
  Parlor Gun75 gp2d4 piercing2 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 20/60), concealable, light, reload (1)
  Revolver100 gp2d6 piercing3 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 40/120), reload (6)
  Sawed-Off Shotgun200 gp2d6 piercing6 lb.ShellsAmmunition (range 20/60), foregrip, reload (2), scatter (2d8)
  Submachine Gun200 gp2d6 piercing6 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 40/120), automatic, reload (16), two-handed
Martial Firearms

  Assault Rifle350 gp2d6 piercing7 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 80/240), automatic, reload (20), two-handed
  Gatling Gun3,000 gp2d10 piercing125 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 80/240), automatic, heavy, mounted, reload (40, 2 actions), two-handed
  Light Machine Gun1,000 gp2d8 piercing60 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 80/240), automatic, heavy, reload (40, 2 actions), two-handed
  Magnum500 gp2d8 piercing6 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 40/120), heavy, reload (6)
  Pump Shotgun200 gp2d6 piercing7 lb.ShellsAmmunition (range 80/240), reload (8), scatter (2d8), two-handed
  Sniper Rifle500 gp2d8 piercing8 lb.BulletsAmmunition (range 160/480), heavy, reload (4), sighted, two-handed

Firearm Properties
All firearms produce a loud boom, audible out to half a mile. In addition, firearms require special ammunition and some of them have additional special properties.
     Ammunition. You can use a weapon that has the ammunition property to make a ranged attack only if you have ammunition to fire from the weapon. Each time you attack with the weapon, you expend one piece of ammunition. The ammunition of a firearm is destroyed upon use. 
     Automatic. When you make an attack with this weapon on your turn, you can choose to make two attacks with disadvantage instead. These attacks always have disadvantage, regardless of circumstance. These attacks use double the normal amount of ammunition.
     Concealable. You have advantage on Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) checks made to hide this weapon.
     Foregrip. This weapon can be used with one or two hands. If used in two hands, its normal and long ranges double.
     Mounted. This weapon is normally used while attached to a tripod, vehicle, or other bracing mount. You can mount or unmount this weapon as an action. While it is mounted, it can't be moved. It can only be used to make an attack while unmounted if held by a Medium or larger creature with a Strength score of at least 15.
     Recoil. After you make an attack with this weapon on your turn, every other attack you make with it until the end of your turn has disadvantage.
     Reload. This weapon can be used to make a number of attacks before it must be reloaded. If you are not proficient with the weapon, reloading it takes an action. If you are proficient, you can reload it as a bonus action. Some weapons require longer to reload, even if you have proficiency, which is specified in the reload property. If reloading a weapon requires longer than one action, the weapon can’t be used to make attacks until reloading is finished. 
      Scatter. If you make an attack against a target that is within half this weapon’s normal range, you deal the damage value listed in parentheses instead of the weapon’s normal damage dice.
     Sighted. This weapon has disadvantage on attack rolls made against targets within 20 feet.

Special Ammunition
All firearms require special ammunition. Most firearms use bullets, but some require even more specialized projectiles. For example, cannons use cannonballs and all scatter firearms use shells.

Bullet2 sp
Shell5 sp


A feat represents a talent or an area of expertise that gives a character special capabilities. It embodies training, experience, and abilities beyond what a class provides.
     At certain levels, your class gives you the Ability Score Improvement feature. Using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking that feature to take a feat of your choice instead. You can take each feat only once, unless the feat’s description says otherwise.
     You must meet any prerequisite specified in a feat to take that feat. If you ever lose a feat’s prerequisite, you can’t use that feat until you regain the prerequisite.

Prerequisite: Proficiency with simple firearms
When you roll damage for an attack you make with a firearm with the Scatter property, you can reroll one of the damage dice, and must use the new roll. Additionally, when take the Attack action using a sawed-off shotgun, you can take the Disengage action as a bonus action.

Run and Gun
Prerequisite: Proficiency with simple firearms
On any turn in which you use your action to Dash, you can make a ranged weapon attack as a bonus action.

Spray and Pray
Prerequisite: Proficiency with martial firearms
When it comes to bullets, quantity often beats quality. By holding down the trigger and firing nonstop, you gain the following benefits:
  • As an action, while wielding a weapon that has the Automatic property, you can target a 10-foot cube area with a hail of bullets. Each creature in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw (DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity modifier) or take the weapon’s normal damage. This action expends ten pieces of ammunition.
  • You can use your Strength modifier instead of your Dexterity modifier when making attack rolls with a weapon that has the Mounted property.

Changelog: 4/24/18: Double-Barrel Shotgun: Added
Pump Shotgun: Moved to martial, Reload changed to 8
Light Revolver: Renamed Handgun: Reload changed to 10
Sawed-Off Shotgun: Recoil property added
Properties: Recoil added
Feats: Added
8/12/18: Mounted: Strength requirement lowered to 15, movement penalty removed
Scatter: Reworked: Now increases damage dice, rather than adding new dice
Sighted: Added
All shotguns reworked to follow new Scatter rules; Recoil property removed
Heavy Machine Gun: Renamed Light Machine Gun


  1. I would have given the Hunting Rifle a 5 round capacity. Also, some guns, like the Assault Rifle, looks like it doesn't cost enough. For example, I saw a SIG 550 series assault rifle (forget the exact one) that cost about 4500, and it had the full-auto fire selection switch and not just one shot/safety. Probably have a few other quibbles but not really enough to mention, overall you did pretty well! Do you think you'll end up doing a 5e Modern conversion at any point? I can't seem to find that many rules for it, and I'd like to see you take a crack at it.

    1. The prices are designed to be competitive for leveling against other weapons; there's not any reasonable D&D conversion from GP to modern prices.

      If we tackle doing a Modern rules kit, it'll be way further down the line. In general, it's hard to fit all the conventions of D&D into a modern setting. Dark Matter is getting us closer on some of these conventions (like, we just implemented hacking as a skill, which is pretty good for modern setting), but it's going to take some real work to make a full modern setting feasible in a way to that makes full use of the D&D sandbox.

  2. I posted this in the other fire arms post recently but I don't think anyone has seen it yet. So, what is your reason for your guns having less range than the bows and crossbows? The Sniper Rifle is the only one that seems like you tried to fix it but it only has 10 higher short range than the longbow and doesn't come close to the long range of it. Modern rifles have been know to hit targets up to half a mile or more away and giving the sniper disadvantage at super close range must be because of a scope of some kind.

    1. The reason is pretty simple: verisimilitude is less important than engaging game mechanics. If we're talking real-world firearms, there's no reason to pick up any other weapon: firearms are more lethal, more accurate, and more effective by far than bows, crossbows, swords, axes, and hammers. So, simply put, it's not useful to compare these to real-world guns if you want a /fun/ game.

      The power fantasies of gun-using characters are rarely that of the ultra-accurate killer (they can be, but that's a bit of a subset.) Often, firearms are used in bombastic shootouts in closer than optimal ranges, where shotguns, assault rifles, and handguns can all be used effectively. Bows, on the other hand, often complement mystically-accurate characters with improbable aim.

      So, this presents us with a categorical separation for ranged weapons: bullets can be presented as having a wider "spread" by giving them a smaller short/long range multiplier (in other words, a firearm might be 40/120, whereas a bow would be 40/160). This means that there's a reason to use bows over firearms: they have generally better ranges. Firearms, on the other hand, have a reload mechanic, shorter ranges, more damage, and an independence from Dexterity for damage. This gives us a more interesting sandbox to play with: most of the firearms are accurate within running range, but some of them (like the sawed-off shotgun) need to contend with being close to melee weapon range.

      Lastly, and somewhat importantly, these ranges are set by precedent in the DMG.

    2. Plus, didn't we include an optional scope that you could buy to increase the range of rifles in the Weird West book?

    3. Just my personal opinion here. I'd say that it would realistically be difficult to hit something at long range when you're actively dodging incoming fire. That said, if I were running a game with firearms, I'd probably homerule that you could get a big range bonus *outside* of combat, say if you're sniping or something and have time to steady your aim.

  3. Excuse me, but I noticed that the barbarian has proficiency with the elephant gun, but said gun does not have that stats provided. Am I not ready something correctly, or are their no stats provided for said gun

    1. Oh, good catch! We just cut that gun, and I forgot to remove the proficiencies. I'll clean that up right away

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  5. How will these new rules affect the Gunslinger class?

    1. Mildly. Once I'm sure there's no other major changes to be made, I'll put them in the Gunslinger PDF.

  6. How do the proficiencies play out for the other classes you've released?

  7. How do these rules affect the gunsmith crafting subclass? Parlor gun has changed, but several of those guns aren't even in this list, like the coach gun.

    1. We're gonna have to do some surgery to the Complete Craftsman when I've got a spare week to throw at it. Until I get the time to mess with everything in detail, jury's out.

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  9. I want to design some subclasses around your firearm rules. is that cool?

  10. So could these firearms be used in conjunction with the traditional starting weapons of any class, or is the main assumption that everyone converts completely to firearms? I'm liking what I'm seeing here!

    1. Either is fine! I'm currently running a modern campaign where firearms are relatively common, but these rules can also be used in renaissance, wild west or even future/sci-fi games. Or indeed, settings like Forgotten Realms where firearms have only recently been invented and are still very rare.

  11. Are you going to modify the craftsman class to use the redux firearm rules? I've noticed that the firearms listed in the class are from the old rules.

    1. Yes, Craftsman has been updated to include these changes.

  12. I see in a changelog there's a mention of "Recoil" property being added to a Sawed-Off Shotgun, yet it's not in the table.

  13. The wording of the automatic property is a little unclear. It says "These attacks use double the normal amount of ammunition."; does that mean that using the machine pistol to make two attacks with the automatic property uses *four* bullets? Or is this just confirming that each of the attacks uses a piece of ammunition?

    1. I always read it as two shots being four bullets. Really, each attack is firing four shots, but half of them have no realistic chance of hitting anything so you only make two attack rolls.