View Full Version : "This Is My Boomstick!" Deth Muncher's Guide to Gunpowder

Deth Muncher
2009-10-20, 07:27 PM
Although not as much recently, this forum gets a fair share of questions on the subject of "Hey, I want to put firearms in my D&D 3.5 game, but there aren't really any rules. How much damage do you think an X should do?" In fact, there are, both in the DMG under "Alternate Rules" as well as in Dragon Magazine 321, which contains things originally presented in the DMG but also other fun things. (Which I highly suggest you go get from Paizo, now. Buy it. It's good for you.) This guide's purpose is to inform you, the Playground, about just how you too can scare the peasants with your boomstick and show them who's boss. Here's a picture, in case you have a store who sells old magazines but don't know what to look for:


A Caution To DMs:
To fully make use of D&D firearms, you have to realize that you're going to be using variant rules. This can be both fun and dangerous. For example, when you tell your players "Okay guys, we're gonna have gunpoweder in our game, from Dragon Mag 321," some people might leap to the conclusion that Dragon is now an acceptable source, and start taking other optional rules. While this may result in hilarity, (such as if someone takes Chicken Infested, and proceeds to recreate one of the bonus levels in Maximum Force, where you get to shoot chickens being flung into the air for fun and profit.) However, you should always be clear to your players what is and isn't kosher.

"Don't touch that please, your primitive intellect wouldn't understand alloys and compositions and things with... molecular structures."
So you want to be a gunslinger, do you? Lob grenades at your foes? Perhaps you're just fond of the noise that guns make? No matter what your motive, you have two different kinds of gunpowder weapons: Ranged and Splash. You should be familiar with these, as there are plenty of non-gunpowder ranged and splash weapons in the PHB. It's pretty simple. You load, you shoot, you reload. Alternatively, you just chuck the thing. Not mind-blowing. The issue is, however, just how are your PCs going to stumble across gunpowder? Some suggestions:

-DM fiat that they "just exist," don't ask about it.
-Pick a race: Gnomes, with their tinkering ways, have accidentally combined the correct series of chemicals, which much to their chagrin has resulted in several casualties, but now they're patched up and churning it out! Dwarves have much the same story, or perhaps they took the gnomish invention and turn in militaristic. Humans could have stumbled across it in their adaptability. Elves in their infancy could have used it as a precursor to magic. Whatever you choose, it's up to you.

But what if you're not playing in Greyhawk? Eberron's artificers could have much the same story as gnomes. Perchance on of Faerun's Master Alchemists made it? The possibilities are endless.

"Good, bad, I'm the guy with the gun."
So you've decided on their origin. How to make them available to PCs? It depends on the relative tech level of the campaign. They might be quest items, handed out by the worthiest of nobles, or so common that any non-Luddite owns one. As well, it depends on availability, which leads to...

"Shop Smart! Shop S-Mart!"
Where are you getting your weapons? As previously mentioned, you need to know know the tech level of the campaign, so that you don't look dumb when you say "Hi Mr. Shopkeep, I need a rifle," and he responds "A whosy-what?" Arguably just as important, you need to know what they are and what exists. You may want a revolver, but the only thing you can buy is a blunderbuss! The point is, the PCs either need to be told what's available, either through common knowledge or perhaps via some Knowledge or Profession checks.

Dakka - An Ork's Thoughts on Shootaz
Wen u'z gotta kill some 'umies, u'z gotta do it roight! Iff'n u'z ain't gotz dakka on ur side, u'z ain't nuffin! -Ork Shoota, shortly before a Bolter shell blows him to "bitz."
Okay, you've gone through how they came to be and how to find them, so you're wondering "Okay, so just what can I USE?!"
*Unless otherwise noted, a gun requires shot (specially made bullets, not like sling bullets) and gunpowder to function. Depending on the firing mechanism (Matchlock, Flintlock and Wheelock) and type of gun, reload rate is different. Unless Roland gives me the OK to post that (or a related ranged item from the PHB), go look it up on your own.
Two-Handed Infantry Guns

-Blunderbuss: Dutch, literally "thunder gun." A gun that uses LOTS of shot and four times as much gunpowder. On the plus side, you can use stones or other hard things, not necessarily bullets, and you don't need an attack roll. On the downside, it's a spray weapon, and can't cause crits. Reflex save required for half.
-Carbine: The intermediate weapon between rifles and pistols. It's meant for mounted combat, so you only take half penalty for firing from mount-back.
-Hand Cannon: The cheapest, easiest to make gun. It's weak, but easily producible.
-Rifle: Like a musket, but better.

There are lots of variations on the pistol, so be sure the pistols available match your tech level.

-Pistol: It's a pistol.
-Dueling Pistols: A set of masterwork pistols. Always sold as a pair, generally fancy.
-Grenade Pistol: A pistol that launches thrown weapons, same range increment. Do fun things like launch a Thunderstone and recreate Final Fantasy Tactics abilities! Gundpowder wise, you can launch Bombs (gotta light it, and pick when you want it to explode - much like a Delayed Blast Fireball) which do splash damage, a Bomb Casing (in which you can do my aforementioned FFT idea by loading alchemical goodies in it) with same procedure of the Bomb, and a Canister (which doesn't do damage but is used to transport scrolls and such at a distance).
-Hilt Pistol: It's a pistol that goes on the hilt of a sword. You can use both in an attack, but take the normal TWF penalties. Enchanting a sword does not enchant the pistol - you've gotta do that separately.
-Holdout Pistol: A tiny pistol that you can hide on you like a dagger. Fun for people who want to shoot people and not be carrying around something obvious.
-Shield Pistol: Like a hilt pistol, but on a shield. You can use it in a bullrush to do extra damage. Same limitations on enhancement as hilt pistol.
-Spear Pistol: A pistol on...you guessed it! A spear. Same limitations on enhancement, and the added bit that you can only fire on a successful melee hit with the spear.

ROCKET LAUNCHER: Yeah, a friggin' Rocket Launcher. Similar to the Bomb Pistol, you have options for what to fire - Explosive (does big damage to what it hits, less to surrounding things), Incendiary,(just like Alchemists Fire), and Spear (exactly like it sounds). These are rare items.

Tired of ballistae? Perhaps a siege weapon of the gunpowder variety is more your forte. Remember kids, to use siege weapons, you need Profession(Siege Engineer).


-Bombard: It's the ancestor to modern artillery. Firing requires a crew, and uses the Catapult rules to hit (DMG 100).
-Field Gun and Organ Gun: They look like this. (http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/catalog/productDetail.jsp?catId=cat1300254&prodId=prod780881) Organ Guns are like a dragon on crack, as it does its damage in a line as wide as it is (10ft) to its maximum range, whereas Field Guns are a 5ft line of damage.. Both follow the same rules as the blunderbuss (no attack roll, Reflex for half).

Dragon Mag suggest you use a Misfire Chart should people fail the skill checks/attacks. It's on page 37 of Dragon Magazine. It is very similar to the Dwarfs Misfire chart of WHFB, except that it's done on a d20. It's pretty intuitive: the more critical the failure, the more failriffic the result.

"'You're dead.' *click* 'Uh oh...'" - Accesories
Just as important as the gun is the accessories. You can't shoot your gun over and over and not reload! What is this, an action movie? Here's a list of gun and gunpowder related items that you should think about:

-Bullets: You need bullets to fire from a bullet-firing gun.
-Gunpowder: Uh...yeah. You need this to shoot. You can buy it by the barrel, but that's tricky to reload with. You should also buy a Powder Horn, which holds a bit of powder in it and is much easier.
-Bayonets: There's several forms of these, but they all allow you to make stabby attacks with guns as opposed to pistol-whipping - Fixed (stays in place), Plug (fills the barrel of the gun, can't shoot), Ring (sits on the end, impedes loading and shooting), and Spring (moves out of the way when you shoot, but induces a penalty).
-Breechloading: An enhancement that reduces the loading time of a gun by one category.
-Gunman's Bandolier: A place to hold your extra stuff. You can wear two, but you lose a spot where they overlap. Doesn't provoke to retrieve something.
-Eyesting Cylinder: A new kind of splash weapon that blinds people for a few rounds and does some damage. Handy. It's a cloud though, so it's subject to wind.
-Gun Rest: Usable for 2h guns, gives you an aiming bonus.

"Say hallo to hmy LEETLE frand!" - Other Fun Things
So, what else is there? Two traps, that's what.

-Springboxes are traps that are generally hidden. Triggering it makes it go BOOM in a small cone for some fire damage. Not bad, considering it's mundane fire. Use it against low level NPCs.
-Whirligigs chuck a little disc with guns on it, hitting everything within a decent radius.

"Thee-uh-th-thee-uh-th- Oh forget this." The End?

Are there other things in other books that could be useful? Sure. I'll update this later (or if you want to, you could search it out). The main purpose of this, however, is about non-magical means of shooting stuff, so I was planning on leaving out magical explosives and aids. Also, you'll notice some very pertinent information missing: namely, the stats. This is, of course, due to the OGL. I have, however, told you where to search it out (it's not on the SRD, I don't believe), so if you're using firearms, go search out Dragon 321.

Inhuman Bot
2009-10-20, 07:43 PM
Out of curiosity, why didn't you just post this on one of the threads asking the question?
And I can't help myself. (http://privateerpress.com/iron-kingdoms)Sorry. ._.

Deth Muncher
2009-10-20, 07:45 PM
Out of curiosity, why didn't you just post this on one of the threads asking the question?
And I can't help myself. (http://privateerpress.com/iron-kingdoms)Sorry. ._.

I haven't seen any lately. But now, it's here for posterity, so if such a thing comes up, there's a reference. Kinda like with Solo and Sorcerors, TLN with Sorc/Wiz, Tippy with Traps, Gi...nevermind.

And yes, I do love Warmachine, although I've not played the RPG.