There has always been D&D campaign settings that featured firearms, even the Forgotten Realms had their share of boomsticks with the gnomish smokepowder weapons. In 4th Edition Wizards has not only made Gnomes monsters (“Yarr! I am a monster now!”) but they have also dropped firearms. Here’s my take on firearms for 4th Edition D&D.
Usually you need firearms for flavor purposes. If you want to have a world that resembles renaissance more than medieval times, you probably want to introduce muskets and pistols. But some DMs make the mistake to make firearms much to powerful. Although it might be realistic, it often breaks the game, if you make firearms too deadly. So let’s create a weapon for D&D that “feels” like a gun but does not break the game.
So let’s check if there’s something similiar to a gun in the game? We need something that’s point-and-shoot and which takes some time to reload. If you check your Player’s Handbook, you’ll see that the crossbow fits that description close enough. Let’s have a look at the available crossbows:
|Hand crossbow||+2.||1d6||10/20||25gp||2lb.||Crossbow||Load free|
Both weapons are from the simple ranged category. And in my opinion everyone who can point and shoot a loaded crossbow can obviously point and shoot a flintlock pistol as well (no, I will not take recoil into consideration, let’s keep things easy). So firearms are simple ranged weapons also. Any character class with the simple ranged weapon proficiency can use them. And since they are pretty close to crossbows, every class with proficiency in hand crossbows is proficient with pistols. The same is true for crossbows and rifles.
Early firearms usually took very long to reload. But long reloading times makes firearms almost unusable in the game. So, let’s make them somewhat slower to reload. I think “Load two minor” sounds good. So you can still take a standard or move action after you have reloaded your weapon.
Because the muzzle velocity of a handgun is higher than the speed of a crossbow bolt, the resulting range is higher. To not overpower firearms, I go with the ranges of short- and longbows for pistols and rifles. Blunderbuss have a shorter range, so I go with 6/12.
Some people recommend making firearms Dex vs. Ref but I think that’s too powerful, so I stick with Dex vs. AC. But they should be a bit more powerful than crossbows, so I settled for 1d8 for pistols, 1d10 for musket rifles. And I think making blunderbuss High Crit weapons sounds ok.
Ok, let’s have a look at those stats:
|Dragon pistol||+2.||1d8||15/30||50gp||2lb.||Firearm||Load two minor|
|Musket Rifle||+2.||1d10||20/40||75gp||4lb.||Firearm||Load two minor|
|Blunderbuss||+2.||1d10||6/12||60gp||4lb.||Firearm||Load two minor, High Crit|
I’ve decided to make firearms more expensive than crossbows to reflect that they are a) a bit more powerful and b) perhaps more rare. Ammunition for pistols, rifles and blunderbuss costs 1gp and you get enough powder and balls for 10 shots.
I haven’t playtested those weapons yet, so handle those firearms with care. If you have tried them out in your campaign or if you have some ideas on how to improve them, please let me know!