Wednesday, 14 June 2017

5e: Firearms

Today I present an expansion to the arsenal of weaponry available to a 5e character, with my take on firearms. Firearms in fantasy are always divisive. Just like marmite, people either seem to love it or hate it. I for one am a fan. Lantan, the source of firearms and other more advanced technologies in the Forgotten Realms, is one of my favourite places in that world.

There have been a lot of takes on 5th Edition firearms rules already, from the examples in the Dungeon Master's Guide to various incarnations over on dmsguild.com.

The firearms in the DMG are serviceable but don't quite do it for me. The reason: renaissance firearms (those that I'm concerned with) don't feel special enough: a slight damage bump over bows and crossbows is fairly dull, and arguably not enough of a boost to make the cost in reduced range worthwhile.

Meanwhile, the takes on firearms I've seen on DMs Guild all seem to be conversions from Pathfinder, or built along similar lines. I don't like these rules for one simple reason: misfires. Sure, misfires might be historically accurate, but are they fun? Do they tempt people to use the weapon? I love firearms in fantasy, but I'd never bother making a gunslinger in a Pathfinder campaign. I'll stick to the weapons that'll let my character shine consistently, thanks!

So I'm left with a couple of thoughts to inform my design: one, I want firearms to stand out from other weapons in some way. And two, what makes the weapons special should be a positive, not a negative.

The solution I went for in the end can actually be found in the DMG, under the modern firearms. These weapons deal two dice of damage, rather than one. This ticks both boxes, since very few weapons in the game deal two dice worth of damage instead of one, and those that do are melee weapons. Thus, a pistol can deal 2d4 damage which is not just a slightly higher maximum and average damage than a 1d6 hand crossbow, but also a slightly higher minimum damage. Similarly, the musket's 2d6 does a slightly better job of making up for the difference between it and a longbow or crossbow.

Although I did say above that I'm not a fan of misfires, I did make an exception for the repeating musket listed below. This weapon is intended to represent a prototype making occasional faults a suitable side effect of use, and its advantages remain clear even with a potential downside.

Not content with relatively minor tweaks to two firearms, I also wrote adjustments to explosives, came up with an expanded list of fantastic firearms with various special properties, and designed a few modifications that might be applied to a characters' ranged weapon. Since I was on a roll, I created some fantastic siege weapons for good measure.

One quick note before you dig in: these were written with the Forgotten Realms in mind. Substitute references "smoke powder" for "black powder" in other settings.

Firearms Proficiency


If firearms are common in your world, treat them as though they require martial weapon proficiency.

If firearms are very rare, then firearms are only martial weapons to characters who have had the opportunity to learn how to use them; a character can either select individual firearms using the Weapon Master feat, or select the Renaissance (Wo)man feat presented in the sidebar of this article to become proficient with all firearms. This does normally prevent a non-variant human from becoming proficient with firearms until fourth level. You might choose to allow members of other races to gain proficiency with a single type of firearm at 1st level in one of the following ways, at your discretion:
  • The character can trade proficiency with all racial weapons for proficiency with a single firearm.
  • The character can trade one of their skill proficiencies for proficiency with a single firearm.

Firearms

Weapon / Item
Cost
Damage
Weight
Properties
Pistol
50 gp
2d4 piercing
3 lb.
ammunition (range 30/90), loading, two-handed
Musket
500 gp
2d6 piercing
10 lb.
ammunition (range 40/120), loading, two-handed
Repeating Musket
2000 gp
2d6 piercing
15 lb.
ammunition (range 40/120), two-handed, special
Lantanna Longrifle
1000 gp
2d6 piercing
12 lb.
ammunition (range 60/180), loading, two-handed
Light Cannon
1000 gp
2d10 piercing
20 lb.
ammunition (range 40/120), two-handed, special
Dwarven Dragonsfire Rod
1500 gp
Special
18 lb.
ammunition (range 30), special
Mana Rifle
1d10 force
7 lb.
range 180, special
Ammunition
Bullets (10)
3 gp
2 lb.
Light Cannon Balls (4)
5 gp
2 lb.
Dragonfire Cask
400 gp
Special
12 lb.
Special
Smoke Powder Horn
35 gp
Special
35 lb.
Special
Smoke Powder Keg
250 gp
Special
20 lb.
Special
Explosives
Bomb
50 gp
Special
1 lb.
Special
Smoke Bomb
30 gp
Special
2 lb.
Special
Modifications
Axe Blade
8 gp
1d8 slashing
modified weapon ×1.5*
Special
Bayonet
5 gp
1d6 piercing
+1 lb.
Special
Bipod
50 gp
+1 lb.
Special
Double Barrel
×1.5**
base weapon ×1.5**
Special
Spyglass Attachment
1200 gp
+1 lb.
Special
*Multiply the weapon's weight by 1.5 after applying any weight adjustments from other modifications.
**Multiply the base weapon's cost and weight by 1.5 before applying any adjustments from other modifications.

Special Weapon Properties




Repeating Musket: The repeating musket is a lantanna prototype weapon which can be loaded with multiple bullets at once, making reloading between each shot unnecessary. Six bullets are fed into a revolving cylinder, which rotates them into position in the musket’s barrel automatically as the weapon is fired. While there is still ammunition in the cylinder, the repeating musket doesn’t have the loading property.

Once the weapon is empty of pre-loaded bullets, the wielder can continue to use it as a regular musket with the loading property until they can spare the time to reload all six chambers.

The weapon’s mechanisms are temperamental, and prone to jamming. On a natural 1 on an attack roll, the weapon becomes jammed.

A repeating musket’s wielder can either reload the weapon’s six chambers or clear a jam at the expense of their entire turn and their reaction for the round.

Light Cannon: The so-called "light cannon" is a bulky weapon that does indeed resemble nothing so much as a smaller version of a cannon set upon a long wooden stock, like a musket. It fires cast iron balls that are significantly larger than the ammunition of a musket. The light cannon is a handheld weapon of unprecedented destructive power, but requires extraordinary physical strength to use without harm to the wielder. Due to the weapon's weight and the need to brace, a light cannon must be fired from the waist or braced.

To wield a light cannon safely, the bearer must have a Strength score of at least 18 or be a Large or larger creature. Anyone else attempting to fire a light cannon suffers bludgeoning damage equal to that of the weapon, is pushed back 10 feet, and is knocked prone.

A light cannon deals double damage to objects, but not structures.

It takes one action to load a light cannon, one bonus action to aim it, and one action to fire it.

Dwarven Dragonsfire Rod: The dragonsfire rod is a metal tube attached by a hose to a pressurised cask of specially formulated alchemist’s fire the dwarves call dragonsfire. The cask is worn on the wielder’s back. A curved crank handle is fitted to the bottom of the cask and extends to one side of the wielder.

To prime the dragonsfire rod, the crank handle needs to be pulled thirty degrees away from the wielder’s body, which can be accomplished as an object interaction.

Once the weapon is primed the liquid contents flow through the hose into the rod, after which the wielder may spend an action to pull the trigger. The rod sprays dragonsfire in a 30 foot cone. Each creature in the area must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much if successful. A creature that fails its save also takes a further 1d4 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. The creature can end this ongoing damage by using its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames.

It takes one action to decouple a depleted cask and one action to connect a new one, which must be adjacent. However, removing the depleted cask from one's back and replacing it with another is a more involved process of buckling and unbuckling and is equivalent to donning and doffing light armor.

It is common practice for dwarven dragonsfire teams to operate in teams of two, one to wield the weapon and the other to help defend them and assist in reloading. These teams typically establish stationary positions where they have access to stores of dragonsfire casks. While the dwarves take every possible precaution to reduce the chances of these stored casks catching fire from enemy attacks, dragonsfire bunkers are still notoriously dangerous assignments.

Mana RifleThese weapons are the creations of advanced empires now long since fallen, and might occasionally be discovered within ancient ruins. They are typically mistaken for magical rods, and in truth there is very little distinction between them. A mana rifle has 30 charges, which recharge at dawn. At the expense of a charge the mana rifle fires a beam of force energy, not unlike an eldritch blast.

Variants exist that deal other types of damage, or possess properties such as the ability to repel the target if an additional charge is depleted.

Special Ammunition Properties


Dragonsfire Cask: A cask of the incendiary alchemical substance known as dragonsfire contains enough fluid for four attacks with a dwarven dragonsfire rod.

Setting fire to a cask of dragonsfire results in an explosion. All creatures within 10 feet of the cask must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2d6 fire damage on a failed save or half as much if successful. A creature that fails its save also takes a further 1d4 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. The creature can end this ongoing damage by using its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames.

Smoke Powder Horn: Smoke powder is an explosive substance, that can be used to propel a bullet. A powder horn is a portable container, traditionally made from an animal's horn, that contains enough smoke powder to fire ten bullets.

Setting fire to a powder horn results in an explosion. All creatures within 10 feet of the powder horn must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much if successful.

Setting fire to an ounce of gunpowder results in a flare of light for one round, shedding bright light in a 3-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet.

Smoke Powder Keg: When not portioned into portable powder horns, smoke powder is stored in large, heavy kegs. A powder keg carries enough smoke powder for firing eighty bullets.
Setting fire to a powder horn results in an explosion. All creatures within 10 feet of the powder horn must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much if successful.

Setting fire to an ounce of gunpowder results in a flare of light for one round, shedding bright light in a 3-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet.

Special Explosive Properties


Bomb:  A bomb can be lit as an action and thrown into a space within 60 feet. All creatures within 10 feet of the target space must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 3d6 damage on a failed save, and half as much if successful.

Smoke Bomb: A smoke bomb is filled with an alchemical substance that generates large quantities of smoke when the casing breaks. It can be lit as an action and thrown into a space within 60 feet. A 20 foot radius area with the target space as its center becomes lightly obscured. One round after, the area becomes heavily obscured. A moderate wind (at least 10 miles per hour) disperses the smoke in 4 rounds or a strong wind (20 or more miles per hour) disperses it in 1 round. Otherwise, the smoke disperses after 10 rounds.

Setting fire to a powder horn results in an explosion. All creatures within 10 feet of the powder horn must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 3d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much if successful.

Special Modification Properties


Axe Blade:  An axe blade is a modification that can be added to any two-handed firearm that allows it to be wielded as a Strength-baded slashing melee weapon equivalent to a battleaxe. Unlike a bayonet, which is designed to spear the enemy's flesh and be pulled out, the heavy swings of an axe blade can do a great deal more damage to a gun which isn't designed for such impacts. Therefore, this modification includes additional structural support to the rest of the weapon and its other modifications. After applying all other modifications, multiply the combined weight of the base weapon and its other modifications by one and a half.

Axe blades, bayonets, and bipods cannot be applied to the same weapon.

BayonetA bayonet is a modification that can be added to any two-handed firearm that allows it to be wielded as a piercing melee weapon equivalent to a spear.

Bayonets, axe blades, and bipods cannot be applied to the same weapon.

Bipod: A bipod is a modification that can be added to any two-handed firearm or crossbow that allows it to be braced against a flat, firm surface for additional accuracy.

Bracing a weapon requires a bonus action. Additionally, the wielder must be adjacent to a suitable piece of half or three-quarters cover on which the weapon can be propped, or the wielder must be lying prone on solid ground.

While braced, the short range of the weapon is doubled.

Double Barrel: A double barrel is a modification that can be added to any two-handed firearm that does not already ignore the loading property (such as a repeating musket) and uses bullets or cannon balls. This modification can be applied at the time of the weapon's creation only.

A double barreled weapon can be fired twice before its wielder needs to reload, ignoring the loading property or special loading rules of the weapon. After the second shot, it becomes a normal weapon of its type. Ammunition can be loaded one at a time. Alternatively, the wielder can reload both barrels which requires an action or double the reloading time of the base weapon, whichever is longer.

A double barrel adds considerable weight to a weapon. Before other modifications are applied, increase the weight of the base weapon by one half.

The cost of a double barrel weapon is calculated in the same fashion: increase the cost of the base weapon by one half before applying the costs of any additional modifications.

Spyglass Attachment: A spyglass attachment is a modification that can be added to any two-handed firearm or crossbow that makes attacks against a single target, with the exception of a light cannon. A spyglass allows the weapon to be fired with greater accuracy. The weapon has its short range doubled, and it deals an additional die of damage whenever the wielder scores a critical hit.

Siege Weapons

Mana Cannon

Armor Class: 20
Hit Points: 100
Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic

A mana cannon is an ancient magical weapon occasionally discovered in the ruins of fallen magical empires. Typically a mana cannon fires a destructive beam of force, though variants that fire other types of magical energy have been known.

A mana cannon is generally made of a magically enhanced metal alloy and set in a sturdy frame of like material, but examples of other materials including stone have been discovered; the advanced peoples that created these weapons were skilled at magical maipulation to grant base materials unusual properties, and often took pride in their ability to defy natural laws.

It takes one action to aim the mana cannon and one action to fire it.

Mana Cannon Beam. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 900/3,600 ft., one target. Hit: 44 (8d10) force damage.

Heavy Mana Cannon

Armor Class: 20
Hit Points: 150
Damage Resistances: bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic

Heavy mana cannons, like the smaller variety, are the highly destructive remnants of shattered empires.

A heavy mana cannon fires a beam with unfathomable force, but takes a short time to recharge between shots.

It takes one action to aim the mana cannon and one action to fire it. Once fired, the heavy mana cannon must recharge for two full rounds before it can be fired again.

Heavy Mana Cannon Beam. All creatures in a 10 ft. by 10 ft. area within 4,800 feet must make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw, taking 88 (16d10) force damage on a failed saving throw. If the targets are more than 1,200 feet from the heavy mana cannon (its short range), they have advantage on their saving throws.

Thunder Cannon

Armor Class: 18
Hit Points: 75
Damage Immunities: poison, psychic

A thunder cannon is a Lantanna invention that has six rotary chambers. In quick succession each fires a cannon ball that is smaller than that of a regular cannon, but the cumulative impact of six balls gives the weapon far greater destructive force. The weapon's name is derived from the thunderous boom of its successive shots.

It takes one action to aim the thunder cannon and one action to fire it. Reloading the thunder cannon takes a full round in which the character can take no actions, movements, or reactions.

Thunder Cannon. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 600/2,400 ft., one target. Hit: 54 (12d8) bludgeoning damage, 46 (10d8) of which either ignores resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning damage possessed by the target, or treats a target structure or object as vulnerable.

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