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Tiadoppler
2019-06-03, 11:16 AM
This a long-term project of mine that has just reached its second draft. I've been using these items in my (high level, plane-hopping) campaign for about 9 months now, and it's definitely changed the balance of the classes, but it hasn't broken things too badly. PEACH

Premise: making an item guide for realistic modern and historical weaponry in D&D5e. This guide includes:

Firearms (sorted by historical era)
Modern Armor
Modern Grenades
Feats
Class Proficiencies






Homebrewery Link (Best visited with Chrome, because of Homebrewery's rendering): Firearms through the ages (https://homebrewery.naturalcrit.com/share/BkQY2bECn4).

Is this balanced with RAW 5e? NO. NO, IT IS NOT. Just like real world firearms, the modern firearms on this list will break the meta.



Things to do:

More historical armors and grenades

More crew-served weapons

Changing item costs and values around for ease of use

Moving historical notes to its own section, for formatting needs.

blackjack50
2019-06-04, 10:44 AM
The important thing to remember about firearms and ďbreaking the metaĒ is that OF COURSE they do. There is a reason our soldiers donít go in to battle with Spears, axes, and swords now. It is also why even lowly civilian guerrillas and police donít either. Firearms DID break the meta. If you look at history like a game that is.

Think about it. For thousands of years the weapons of choice on the battlefield? Spear and sword (with axes and hammers intermixed). And the equivalent of a tank? A man in a horse with a spear and lots of armor. Rich people. Nobles. Anyone who could afford armor was important. Average people? Not as much. But when gun powder and guns came along? You could shoot an armored man off horseback. That was a game changer.

Firearms broke the system. A small frame young man or woman is now equal to the barbarian or rich noble. on the battlefield. In fact...sometimes he was the better. Just ask the starving skinny Vietnamese and Japanese who survived on maggots and rice while killing colonials and Americans.

Iím glad you brought this up actually. Some things to consider now with a changed ďmetaĒ would be the importance of cover, concealment, and then accuracy vs range vs speed. Shooting at someone behind a solid stone wall with a handgun or an ar15 with soft point ammunition isnít going to hit them unless they expose themselves to shoot. So you better hit first.

But if you have a .300 win mag you might tag them through the wall enough to injure or maim them. or if you have .50 BMG with FMJ? That wall might as well be made of balsa wood.

Bjarkmundur
2019-06-05, 04:38 PM
You've done one hell of a job! I love all the text! So much information and insight, all very helpful. Looking at the first group (the most-applicable to 5e), I feel like they do very little damage for a once-per-short-rest ability. Did you do this intentionally, to keep them historically accurate, or did you do this arbitrarily to keep them in line with other 5e weapons? This does not apply to the Black Powder Revolver, due to its six-shot ability. From a balance standpoint, wouldn't a weapon that requires 5 actions to use twice, at least deal more damage, or have some armor piercing ability (require a dex save instead of targetting AC)?

Just some thoughts, not suggestions, since you've used these rules in a game and they worked as intented. No need to fix what ain't broken ;)

Tiadoppler
2019-06-05, 06:35 PM
You've done one hell of a job! I love all the text! So much information and insight, all very helpful. Looking at the first group (the most-applicable to 5e), I feel like they do very little damage for a once-per-short-rest ability. Did you do this intentionally, to keep them historically accurate, or did you do this arbitrarily to keep them in line with other 5e weapons? This does not apply to the Black Powder Revolver, due to its six-shot ability. From a balance standpoint, wouldn't a weapon that requires 5 actions to use twice, at least deal more damage, or have some armor piercing ability (require a dex save instead of targetting AC)?

Just some thoughts, not suggestions, since you've used these rules in a game and they worked as intented. No need to fix what ain't broken ;)

Thanks for the feedback!

I chose to make the early firearms generally inferior to existing 5e weaponry, but perhaps they could use a slight damage boost (I'll look into it tonight, most likely. I agree that the earliest firearms seem lackluster). My intention was to roughly model the slow rate of fire that these early weapons had, and maintain verisimilitude: for a long time, firearms were the inferior option in many ways.

In small scale combat, the best use of these weapons would be to fire and then take cover until you are able to reload, or switch to a melee weapon/fix bayonets. Alternatively, you could carry multiple single-shot pistols, firing one at a time, or even have several assistant loaders who take your fired weapons and hand you freshly loaded ones.

One of my gripes with 5e's weapons is how it handles crossbows (and, to a lesser extent, bows): by default, you can fire a heavy crossbow ten times per minute, and faster shots are only a few class levels and a feat away. This is frankly absurd. Twice a minute would be a more accurate rate of fire. I've been considering adding a "Siege Crossbow" to this document, with 2d6 damage and 2-3 Actions required to reload. That would represent the real-world crossbows that required mechanical assistance to span.



With regards to armor piercing/DEX saves, I've gone back and forth on that. Generally, I'm trying to stick to 5e's design conventions where possible, and weapon attacks target AC as a matter of course. In addition, I don't see early firearms (especially firearms that fire relatively slow and soft lead balls) as being exceptionally good at penetrating armor backed up by padding (Historically, metal armor was nearly always backed up by a thick, quilted coat, or gambeson, which would serve as a light armor by itself), and even if it did penetrate, it'd likely be slowed considerably, doing less damage.

As a historical note, Ned Kelly's late-1800s 'experiment' with metal plate body armor showed that it was still fairly effective at protecting people from the firearms of the day.



In terms of modern weapons and armor, I'm still working on that problem. Modern cartridges fire harder, lighter projectiles much faster than historical arms did, and they are much, much better at defeating simple metal armor. Currently, I allow modern weapon damage to increase drastically (up to 4d6 per anti-materiel cartridge), offset by adding resistance to nonmagical piercing damage to modern armors (bringing the expected damage back down), and I'm in the process of adding a list of additional ammunition types, including armor piercing (counts as magical for the purposes of resistances), hollow point (damage boost, but does less damage to resistant targets) and precision (accuracy), to the document.

Crisis21
2019-06-05, 07:45 PM
Just dropping a historical note (based on the mythbusters episode regarding paper armor if I recall where I heard this correctly): Metal armor actually stood up really well to early firearms. Well enough that it was common practice for smiths to shoot the armor they'd just made and note the dent to prove to buyers that it could withstand a bullet.

Furthermore, early firearms were often outpaced by spears and swords on the battlefield. They were highly inaccurate for one, and the loading methods meant that rate of fire was horrendous compared to, say, an archer. The main benefit of firearms was in how long it took to train in them. Many old style weapons took months to learn and years to master, but you could give a random shmuck a week's training and they'd be competent with a gun.

Potato_Priest
2019-06-05, 09:28 PM
Furthermore, early firearms were often outpaced by spears and swords on the battlefield. They were highly inaccurate for one, and the loading methods meant that rate of fire was horrendous compared to, say, an archer. The main benefit of firearms was in how long it took to train in them. Many old style weapons took months to learn and years to master, but you could give a random shmuck a week's training and they'd be competent with a gun.

The other major advantage was the maximum range. If I recall correctly (and itís definitely possible that I donít), an early colonial musket could shoot four times as far as a bow, and while they certainly werenít accurate at that range, the problem can to some extent be solved with more dakka.

Edit: John Smith at least reported colonistsí muskets outranging native americansí arrows, so it seems my memory was pretty fair. Though the natives probably werenít using a proper longbow either.

In D&D terms, Iíd account for that by giving those guns a lower close range but a greater long range than the longbow.

Crisis21
2019-06-05, 09:59 PM
The other major advantage was the maximum range. If I recall correctly (and itís definitely possible that I donít), an early colonial musket could shoot four times as far as a bow, and while they certainly werenít accurate at that range, the problem can to some extent be solved with more dakka.

Edit: John Smith at least reported colonistsí muskets outranging native americansí arrows, so it seems my memory was pretty fair. Though the natives probably werenít using a proper longbow either.

In D&D terms, Iíd account for that by giving those guns a lower close range but a greater long range than the longbow.

Well, a longbow is 150/600, so... 50/800?

As far as early firearm 'more dakka', well that was the idea of firing lines. Having about twenty or so people shooting at once to create an area of effect with another twenty behind them to switch out while the first group reloads.

Potato_Priest
2019-06-05, 10:06 PM
Well, a longbow is 150/600, so... 50/800?

As far as early firearm 'more dakka', well that was the idea of firing lines. Having about twenty or so people shooting at once to create an area of effect with another twenty behind them to switch out while the first group reloads.

Yeah, 800 or 1000 would both be good round numbers for ranges.

Tiadoppler
2019-06-05, 10:22 PM
The other major advantage was the maximum range. If I recall correctly (and itís definitely possible that I donít), an early colonial musket could shoot four times as far as a bow, and while they certainly werenít accurate at that range, the problem can to some extent be solved with more dakka.

Edit: John Smith at least reported colonistsí muskets outranging native americansí arrows, so it seems my memory was pretty fair. Though the natives probably werenít using a proper longbow either.

In D&D terms, Iíd account for that by giving those guns a lower close range but a greater long range than the longbow.

Keep in mind that all of these firearms are affected by the Marksman feat. While standing unsupported, the musket has a range of 75/300, but that increases to 150/600 while prone. That means that muskets are slightly inferior in range to shortbows (80/320) while standing, and equal to longbows (150/600) while braced, kneeling, or prone. I felt that that was a decent estimate for balance purposes, but I don't know that much about shortbow/longbow ranges.

Arguably, there should be a volley fire option for all ranged weapons, allowing you to double the maximum range, but having only a chance of hitting any person in an area. I may eventually write rules for that, but it's not on my to-do list at the moment. I could imagine firing a projectile into a 100' diameter circle, and having a 1% chance of hitting any given person in the zone, for example, but it seems math-heavy, and more suited for mass combat than D&D scale encounters.


Edit: I just bumped some of the Early Black Powder Firearms' damage dice up, to help balance their reload times.

Edit 2: And gave the Muzzle-Loading Rifle a bit more range.

Edit 3: And added a Siege Crossbow, with the stats: 2d6 Piercing damage, range 120/480, heavy, two-handed, loading requires two Actions. This item represents real world high-draw-weight crossbows that required mechanical assistance to reload.

Edit 4: Added a double-barreled shotgun to Late Nineteenth Century Firearms. Its wording (regarding how the loading trait is modified to allow up to two shots per Action) is awkward, so feedback is welcome.

Ashtagon
2019-06-06, 12:58 AM
Thanks for the feedback!
One of my gripes with 5e's weapons is how it handles crossbows (and, to a lesser extent, bows): by default, you can fire a heavy crossbow ten times per minute, and faster shots are only a few class levels and a feat away. This is frankly absurd. Twice a minute would be a more accurate rate of fire. I've been considering adding a "Siege Crossbow" to this document, with 2d6 damage and 2-3 Actions required to reload. That would represent the real-world crossbows that required mechanical assistance to span.


It is, frankly, accurate.

With about a month of practice, I was able to achieve a sustained rate of fire with a bow of about 20 rpm.

GURPS, a game noted for its focus on real world faithfulness, suggests that highly trained archers can achieve 30 rpm, and that 10-15 rpm is not unreasonable for a trained crossbowyer.

There are youtube videos of "trick performer archers" achieving 60 rpm, but the techniques they use would result in arrows not really travelling far or doing serious injury much beyond point blank range.

Tiadoppler
2019-06-06, 01:36 AM
It is, frankly, accurate.

With about a month of practice, I was able to achieve a sustained rate of fire with a bow of about 20 rpm.

GURPS, a game noted for its focus on real world faithfulness, suggests that highly trained archers can achieve 30 rpm, and that 10-15 rpm is not unreasonable for a trained crossbowyer.

There are youtube videos of "trick performer archers" achieving 60 rpm, but the techniques they use would result in arrows not really travelling far or doing serious injury much beyond point blank range.



Out of curiosity, do you know the draw weight of your bow? A modern 20lb target bow is very different from a 100lb war bow, and both historical accounts and modern experiments usually talk about maximum fire rates of 12 arrows per minute, and sustained fire of 6 arrows per minute, from a longbow. Lighter draw weight shortbows would certainly be able to reach higher rates of fire.

Crossbows... I guess you could be talking about a crossbow that could be spanned by hand, like a modern compound crossbows, or a very, very lightweight historical crossbow. You're definitely not talking about historical crossbows which would use pulleys/windlasses or (for slightly lighter weights) goat's foot levers. These were separate devices that had to be physically attached to the crossbow between shots, and used to pull the string back into the firing mechanism of the crossbow. Generally, 1-2 shots per minute would be considered an average firing rate for such a crossbow, but you could imagine a highly trained warrior going even faster in some circumstances. Perhaps four shots per minute?



Personally, I wouldn't rely on GURPS being a realistic representation of reality.

I agree completely that some archers have setups with which they can fire incredibly quickly, which is why I was mostly calling out the crossbow inaccuracies. Keep in mind, action movies and trick shooters on youtube tend to use the very lightest possible draw weights to make the bows as safe and easy for the actors as possible. These light weight bows would not be able to launch a heavy arrow any real distance, or penetrate armor at all. Frankly, they're not even really made to penetrate skin or clothing.

Ashtagon
2019-06-06, 04:49 AM
The bow that I was using had a 40lb draw weight.

We had one veteran archer in the club who used a 110lb self bow. He could comfortably do 15 rpm with it given enough arrows.

Those very heavy crossbows you are describing were properly speaking siege weapons used from fortifications, rather than infantry weapons.

Light crossbows could be drawn back by a strong individual. Heavy crossbows typically had a stirrup to assist and the person would draw it back in a "stand from crouch" motion. The siege crossbows (arbalests; distinguished by having a windlass drawing mechanism) would typically do about 2 rpm as you say.

In none of these cases am I talking about compound bows or crossbows (a relatively modern invention dating to the 1960s).

Tiadoppler
2019-06-20, 12:48 PM
Added a Historical Notes section.

Modified the new Siege Crossbow weapon (based on real life crossbows with 1000lb+ draw weights, using windlasses to reload).


To do:
Crew-served weapons?

Prices for accessories and non-lethal options.

Optional rule: ammunition types.


Edit: COMPLETED!
separate the Cost column into a Cost column (representing the cost to purchase the item in places where such weapons are commonly manufactured) and a Value column (how much the weapon should cost for balance in D&D terms).

A campaign set on modern-day Earth would use the Cost column for pricing, but a campaign set in more traditional D&D settings would use the Value column (or some combination of the two columns) for item pricing.