Firearms, 17th and 18th Century (3.5e Other)

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Background[edit]

Right around 1300, black powder sprung up around China, the Middle East, and Europe, and firearms didn't take long to follow afterwards. The late middle ages saw firearms used in combat, mixed with pikes. Now, in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, we have an entire race devoted to inventing, in this case, the gnomes. And once the gnomes work out gunpowder, the dwarves won't take long to weaponize it.


Bearing that in mind, I decided I wanted to see a rules set for firearms. Not being able to find one, I decided to take my own experience with them to write my own. My own background is as an amateur historian who shoots black powder competitively and in my leisure time. My experiences are with the Long Land Pattern Musket (Brown Bess), Flintlock Jäger Rifle, Springfield 1861, 1863 Zouave Rifle, Gewehr 1898, Springfield M14, Colt M4 Carbine, Mossberg 500 Shotgun, and the 9mm Beretta Pistol.


The firearms rules here are designed with the flintlock ignition system in mind. An earlier, less reliable system is the matchlock system, and rules for usage of the matchlock are included on this page. I decided to focus primarily on the flintlock because it was used for almost 250 years.


Firearms[edit]

Firearms of the 17th and 18th century often fell under one of four categories. They should use their DEX modifier for bonuses to hit. Their descriptions and load times (using a 6 second combat round) are as follows:


Pistols: Pistols are smaller firearms, easily fired with one hand. They tended toward calibers between .32" and .50". They were often used for self defense, or by military officers and gentlemen. A pistol typically weighs between 2.5 and 5 pounds. Often, the larger the caliber, the higher the weight. In these rules, loading a pistol takes two rounds. A character would begin loading in the beginning of one round, and then be able to fire as the last action in the next. The pistol is almost always loaded with a single ball shot.


Muskets: Muskets are typically longer, heavier firearms, which have no rifling in the barrel. They tend toward larger calibers (.69 to .80), and would weigh between 6 and 10 pounds. Often used by military infantry and private citizens, they are the most common firearm found in the world. Some have been cut shorter for use by mounted troops, or private citizens. In these rules, it takes three rounds to load a musket. A character would begin loading on the 1st round, skip the 2nd, and fire as the last action on the 3rd. Typically, a musket is loaded with a single ball of lead, or a buck and ball shot. (See Misc. Considerations for detailed information.)


Shotguns: Shotguns are usually shorter firearms which fire a spread of smaller shot. Often used by caravan guards and private citizens for home defense, they are almost always .75 caliber, so as to fit the most shot in as possible. They range from 6 to 10 pounds, and take two rounds to load, like the pistol.


Rifles: Rifles are longer firearms, with twisted grooves in the barrel that impart spin to the bullet, increasing range and penetration. They are typically of a "medium" caliber, from .45 to .54, but historic examples exist pushing .90, and due to their thicker barrels, weigh between 8 and 12 pounds. They are used primarily for hunting by private citizens and woodsmen, though some militaries do outfit some few picked men with the rifles. Rifles tend to be more expensive, and due to the tight fit of the ball, and a tight fitting patch, the rifle will take four rounds to load. In other words, the character will begin loading on the first round, skip the second, skip the third, and fire as the last action on the fourth round.

Barrel rifling was invented in Augsburg, Germany at the end of the fifteenth century. In 1520 August Kotter, an armourer of Nuremberg, Germany improved upon this work. Though true rifling dates from the mid-16th century, it did not become commonplace until the nineteenth century. To me it seems reasonable to include this in 'renaissance' setting or others - especially as hunters figured out that spin imparts accuracy at least as early as four thousand years ago.


Firearm Range Table[edit]

Ranges in Meters

Firearm Damage Point Blank Range Short Range Medium Range Long Range Very Long Range Threat Range Critical Multiplier
Pistols 75% of Caliber Table ≤2m ≥3≤7 ≥8≤15 ≥16≤25 ≥26 18-20 x3
Muskets 100% of Caliber Table ≤5m ≥6≤25 ≥26≤50 ≥51≤75 ≥76 18-20 x3
Shotguns 50% of Caliber Table ≤2m ≥3≤7 ≥8≤15 ≥16≤25 ≥26 20 x2
Rifles 100% of Caliber Table ≤5m ≥6≤50 ≥51≤200 ≥201≤300 ≥301 18-20 x3
  1. Point Blank Range: +1 to Hit, Damage Doubled
  2. Short Range: +1 to Hit
  3. Medium Range: No Modifier
  4. Long Range: -1 to Hit
  5. Very Long Range: -3 to Hit

Ranges in 5 Foot Grid Squares (Rounded)

Firearm Damage Point Blank Range Short Range Medium Range Long Range Very Long Range
Pistols 75% of Caliber Table ≤1 ≥2≤5 ≥6≤10 ≥11≤16 ≥17
Muskets 100% of Caliber Table ≤3 ≥4≤16 ≥17≤33 ≥34≤45 ≥46
Shotguns 50% of Caliber Table ≤1 ≥2≤5 ≥6≤10 ≥11≤16 ≥17
Rifles 100% of Caliber Table ≤3 ≥4≤33 ≥34≤131 ≥132≤197 ≥198
  1. Point Blank Range: +1 to Hit, Damage Doubled
  2. Short Range: +1 to Hit
  3. Medium Range: No Modifier
  4. Long Range: -1 to Hit
  5. Very Long Range: -3 to Hit

Caliber Damage Table[edit]

Caliber Damage Armor Penetration Without Modifiers
.01 - .32 2d8 8
.33 - .54 2d12 6
.55 - .75 3d12 4
  1. Historically, .75 was the largest caliber in mass production, and the DM should not include firearms beyond this caliber without consulting artillery tables.
  2. If a "large" caliber strikes a small creature, add 1d8 damage. If it stikes a tiny creature, add 2d8 damage.
  3. If a "medium" caliber weapon strikes a tiny creature, add 1d8 damage.
  4. Firearms do not ignore the base AC of 10, or magical, dexterity, feat-based, or size-based armor bonuses. It does, however, count against physical and natural armor, and shields.
  5. If the person being shot has armor with a magical enhancement, the armor itself can be penetrated, however, the enhancement bonus cannot be reduced. If a character somehow has an AC of 5, and part of that is a +2 suit of leather, the best the attacker can do is treat that AC as if it were a 2.

Optional Rules:

Exploding Dice: Firearms are very lethal. If you’re hit, it’s most likely that you’ll take a helluva lot of damage. Every time the max number is rolled on a damage die, add another die of damage. Example: If damage is 1d6, and you roll a 6, roll another d6. If you roll a 6 on that one, roll another, and so forth, until you stop rolling sixes. (This wouldn't apply to sneak attack dice - only base damage dice).

This is due to the fact that bullets - unlike arrows and bolts - are soft and expand once inside dealing trauma damage beyond what the bullet's size might imply. This allows a 'lucky shot' to potentially kill something very dangerous in a single; or do very little in the fashion of 'grazing shot'.

It could be argued that this is a form of critical damage - depending on house ruling it could be argued that enemies immune to critical damage are immune to exploding dice.

Ammunition Material Table[edit]

Material Range Modifier Damage Modifier
Stone -10% -25%*, Half Armor Penetration
Lead None None
Iron None -25%*, +50% Armor Penetration, No exploding dice
Silver -10% None
  1. *Rounded Up.

Armor Penetration Table[edit]

(Modifiers based off of the Caliber Damage Table, arranged smallest caliber to largest on table below. The first number in a block is for armor penetration on smaller calibers, the next number is for armor penetration on the medium sized calibers, and the third number is for armor penetration on the larger calibers. Pistols suffer 50% armor penetration penalty, shotguns are reduced to 25%. Modifiers are multiplied 1x for short range, .5x for medium, .25x for long, and .125x for very long. 50% stone shot modifier added afterwards, +5 rifle modifier added after that.)

Short Range Medium Range Long Range Very Long Range
Pistol 4/3/2 2/2/1 1/1/1 1/1/1
Pistol (Stone Shot) 2/2/1 1/1/1 1/0/0 0/0/0
Musket 8/6/4 4/3/2 2/2/1 1/1/1
Musket (Stone Shot) 4/3/2 2/2/1 1/1/1 1/0/0
Shotgun 2/2/1 1/1/1 1/0/0 0/0/0
Shotgun (Stone Shot) 1/1/1 1/0/0 0/0/0 0/0/0
Rifle 13/11/9 9/8/7 7/7/6 6/6/6
Rifle (Stone Shot) 7/6/5 7/7/6 6/6/6 6/5/5


An example would be that if a character were to have an AC of 18 from a suit of plate, and the base AC of 10, and were to be shot by a .45" rifle from short range, it would be as if the character had an AC of 10. If the armor were enchanted with a +2 enhancement, (for a total of 20), and shot from short range, it would be as if the character had an AC of 12. The enhancement itself cannot be negated, however the underlying armor can be.

Misfire Tables[edit]

Standard Misfires[edit]

On every shot fired, 1d100 should be rolled to determine if a misfire occured.

1d100 Roll Misfire
1 - 90 No Misfire Occurs
91 - 95 Primer fails to ignite. Recock and attempt again in two "initiative" steps.
96 - 98 Hangfire, DM rolls 1d10 (and does not tell player of result), and firearm will fire in that many initiative steps
99 Flint shatters, replace flint, takes 4 rounds
100 Roll again, if 100 is rolled twice in a row, a critical fault in the firing mechanism occurs.
  1. On Hangfire, DM rolls 1d10. Firearm will go off in that many "initiative steps". (Do not tell character what you rolled.)
  2. On critical failure the Firearm is now unusable until the character can perform maintenance on it. Cannot be done in combat.

For example if you toll a 91; if combat is occurring around you, and you misfire at the beginning of the round, attempt to fire again after the next two subjects on the initiative list have their turn.

Misfires Due to Weather[edit]

If a shot is fired in weather, roll an ADDITIONAL 1d100 to see if a misfire occurs due to weather. Further, while loading a firearm in weather, roll a 1d20 to see if the powder gets wet.

Weather Failure to Ignite Hangfire Failure to Keep Powder Dry (on 1d20)
Drizzle 87 - 95 96 - 100 1 - 2
Shower 83 - 94 95 - 100 1 - 4
Downpour 77 - 93 94 - 100 1 - 8
Deluge 52 - 92 93 - 100 1 - 16
Snow 90 - 92 93 - 100 1
  1. On Failure to Ignite, Character must recock the hammer. Character can fire again in two "Initiative Steps" (If Character rolled an initiative of 5, they could fire again on 7)
  2. On Hangfire, DM rolls 1d10. Firearm will go off in that many "initiative steps". (Do not tell character what you rolled.)
  3. On critical failure the Firearm is now unusable until the character can perform maintainence on it. Cannot be done in combat.

Crafting or buying wax paper cartridges (the bullet, patch and the powder needed to fire it are loaded into a small paper pouch, which is used to prime the flash pan and fire the gun) somewhat seals the priming powder and charge from the elements allowing for an easier time protecting it from the elements. With wax paper charges you can reduce the difficulty of keeping powder dry by one step.

Additionally measures such as better firing mechanisms such as using a Wheellock mechanism (which predated the flintlock and was superior in function) would provide benefits to this:

Among the advantages of the wheellock was a better resistance to rain or damp conditions than the matchlock, and the absence of a tell-tale glow, or smell from the burning slow match, itself a hazard in proximity to gunpowder. A slow match could be next to impossible to light in rain, whereas the wheellock allowed sparks to be generated in any weather, and the priming pan was fitted with a cover that was not opened until the instant the gun was fired. The downside is that it was more expensive and heavier - I would advise GM's to add the following properties to wheel locks:

50% gp cost and ~20% weight to wheel lock firearms. +1 to attack (wheel locks had a better trigger pull to firing time than flintlocks allowing for more accuracy) and ~1 steps in ease of keeping powder dry.

(I'd say the same for percussion cap firearms if permitted - sans the cost and weight - but they were a few hundred more years in the future; personally I'd omit them).

Personal experience with muzzleloading firearms is that the powder for the actual shot is easy to keep dry via powder horns and paper cartridges - it's the splash of powder that goes into the primer pan that makes or breaks the shot.

The following optional rule that would encompass this is that if you fail to keep powder dry:

Failure Type d20
Main Charge 20
Primer 1-19
  1. If Primer - you can try again in 4 initiative steps; if it's the main charge the round has to be pulled,
  2. charge drawn, and firearm dried. Cannot be done in combat.

Crafting Ammunition[edit]

A 1000 cubic centimeter (or 61 cubic inch) cube of lead (10cm by 10cm by 10cm) will weigh 11.35kg, or roughly 25 pounds Out of that, the following lead balls can be crafted (common calibers used)

Mixing Powder: Proportions of black powder by weight are 75% Potassium Nitrate, 15% Softwood Charcoal, 10% Sulfur A 1000 cubic centimeter (or 61 cubic inch) cube of black powder will weigh 1.7kg, or 3.75 pounds. Having 7000 grains weight per pound, this amounts to 26250 grains per 1000 cubic centimeters.

Caliber Volume of Individual Shot (in Cubic Inches) Shot Produced (From 1000 cubic cm or 61 cubic inches) Grains Recommended for Cartridge Cartridges Produced from 1 Pound Black Powder / 3.75 Pounds
.22 .00558 10931 30 233 / 875
.32 .01712 3563 45 155 / 583
.45 .04771 1278 60 116 / 437
.50 .06545 932 75 93 / 350
.54 .08245 739 95 73 / 276
.69 .17201 354 100 70 / 262
.75 .22089 276 110 63 / 238
  1. Historically, .75 was the largest caliber in mass production, and the DM should not include firearms beyond this caliber without consulting artillery tables.



Feats in Regards to Firearms[edit]

Point Blank Shot remains unchanged.

Far Shot remains unchanged.

Precise Shot remains unchanged.

Rapid Shot reduces the loading time by half of a combat round. (3 seconds)

Many Shot does not apply to firearms.

Shot on the Run remains unchanged.

Improved Precise Shot remains unchanged.

Misc. Considerations[edit]

Solid shot should be treated as your base line for damage

Buck and ball shot is a solid shot with two or three smaller caliber shots stacked on top. If this shot is used, use damage and range tables individually for the different caliber shots, with the "ball" being treated as a shot fired from a musket, and the "buck" being treated as a shot fired from a shotgun.

If a shot is fired without a patch, a -1 penalty to hit is incurred, however, loading is increased by half a combat round (3 seconds)

If a shot is fired with an undersized shot (.05 less or closer to appropriately sized shot), an additional -1 penalty to hit is incurred, however, loading is increased by half a combat round (3 seconds). If shot is more than 50% in diameter in size too small, treat as a shotgun pellet.

If a shot is fired without patch and with undersized shot, attributes stack for a total of a -2 "to hit" penalty, a full six second round of loading speed is gained, and every shot fired is considered to be in the next furthest range bracket as far as to hit modifiers are concerned. Damage remains the same. IE: "Point Blank" is treated as short range, "Short Range" is treated as "Medium Range", etc.

If a shot is fired with a charge 50% more than recommended (IE, a 90 grain charge for a .45 caliber), damage is doubled. However, on a roll of 1 - 4 on the 1d100 misfire table, the gun will burst, causing 2d12 blast/sharpnel damage in 5 meter radius.

If a shot is fired with a double charge (100% more than recommended), damage is trippled. However, on a roll of 1 - 8 on the 1d100 misfire table, the gun will burst, causing 2d12 blast/sharpnel damage in 5 meter radius.


These rules are done with flintlock ignition systems in mind. If a player is using a matchlock firearm, use a -1 penalty to fire due to the delay it takes from pulling the trigger to the shot actually leaving the barrel.

Treat drizzles as showers, and showers as downpours. In downpours and deluges, the matchlock will simply fail to fire.



The Classes[edit]

Highwayman[edit]

A strong armed, up close and personal thug. The Highwayman should be treated as a specialty rogue. Recommended weapons: Shotgun/Pistol, Knife, Club.

Hit Die: d8

At Level 1: Sneak attack - If character makes first attack from within point blank range with a firearm without being detected, in addition to regular sneak attack damage, add 1d4-2 bleed damage. This damage occurs at the end of each round until the 1d4-2 comes out to be less than or equal to 0.

At Level 4: Class can wear medium armor without attack penalty. Gains bonus feat: Medium Armor

At Level 6: Sneak attack - If character makes first attack from within point blank range with a firearm without being detected, add 1d4-1 bleed damage. If it is from short range, the damage will instead be 1d4-2. The damage occurs at the end of each round until the number that comes up is less than or equal to 0.

At Level 14: Class can wear medium armor without penalty to dex bonuses, magical penalties still apply.

Musketeer[edit]

A charismatic, dex based fighter. Consider the musketeer as a specialty fighter. Recommended weapons: Rapier, pistols, knife.

Hit Die: d8

At Level 1: Weapon Finesse - Use Dex modifier for a to hit bonus with rapiers, small, or tiny weapons instead of a strength modifier.

At Level 3: Two Weapon Fighting - Character is treated as having the ambidexterity and two weapon fighting feats

At Level 7: Uncanny Charm - Character can charm another character as if casting the charm spell 3x/day with merely a grin, smile, and witty turn of phrase.

At Level 15: Character can wear medium armor without penalty to dex bonuses, magical penalties still apply.

Alternatively a homebrew class built on this ruleset resides here:

http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Musketeer_(3.5e_Class)

Frontiersman[edit]

A woodsman and tracker. Consider the Frontiersman as either a specialty fighter OR specialty ranger. Recommended weapons: Rifle, Pistol, Short Sword.

Hit Die: d8

At Level 1: Weapon Finesse - Use Dex modifier for a to hit bonus with small or tiny melee weapons instead of strength modifer

At Level 4: Keen Senses - Character gains a +2 modifier onto spot and listen checks

At Level 8: Man of Nature - Character treats deluges as downpours, downpours as showers, showers as drizzles, and drizzles as clear weather.

At Level 15: Rifle and Body - On any misfire roll, character immediately rolls again and chooses whichever outcome he or she prefers.


Caravan Guard[edit]

A person used to fending off whatever comes between the caravan and the destination. Consider the Caravan Guard a specialty fighter. Recommended weapons: Shotgun, mace, two handed axe.

Hit Die: d10

At Level 1: Strength of Arms - Character gains +1 damage bonus on all melee attacks

At Level 3: Character can wear medium armor without penalty to dex bonuses, magical penalties still apply.

At Level 7: Character can wear heavy armor without penalty to dex bonuses, magical penalties still apply.

At Level 15: Strength of Guns - Character can load 1.5x powder without risk of firearm exploding. Character can load 2x powder and have it treated as if it had the same risk of exploding as a 1.5x load of powder.


Militia[edit]

Ready to fight at a moments notice, this is the sort of "jack of all trades" in the firearms world. This class can be a specialty of any class, as militia are drawn from all walks of life (Remember, even George Washington started as a militia officer!). Recommended weapons: Musket, pistol, quarterstaff/short spear.

Hit Die: d8

At Level 1: Character can take a bonus feat.

At Level 4: Character can take fighter's bonus feat.

At Level 8: Character can wear medium armor without penalty to dex bonuses, magical penalties still apply.

At Level 14: Character can choose any one skill from another class to use as militia.


Doc's Work Space[edit]

Firearm Feats[edit]

All firearm feats can be used as "Fighter Feats".

If a Ranger decides to use their combat specialty feats in regards to firearms, Combat Style grants a Ranger Snap Shot, Improved Combat Style grants a Ranger Man and Nature, and Combat Mastery grants a Ranger Imrpoved Precise Shot, regardless of if pre-requisites are met, as normal.


Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Far Shot, Shot on the Run, and Improved Precise Shot can count as firearms feats for the purpose of stacking.


Weapon Proficiency (Firearms): Allows for the usage of pistols, shotguns, muskets, and rifles by the character.


Snap Shot: When character is caught flat-footed, if the character has a firearm in his or her hands, roll a d20. If it's more than 10, the character can actually fire their shot before being struck.


Improved Snap Shot: (Pre-Req: Snap Shot) When a character is caught flat footed, if the character has a firearm in his or her hands, a shot can be fired before being struck.


Man and Nature: Character treats deluges as downpours, downpours as showers, showers as drizzles, and drizzles and snow count as clear weather.


Rifle and Body: On any misfire roll, character immediately rolls again and chooses whichever outcome he or she prefers.


Strength of Guns: (Pre-Req: INT 13) Character can load 1.5x powder without the risk of the firearm exploding. Character can load 2x powder and have it treated as if it had the same risk of exploding as a 1.5x load of powder.


Aimed Shot: (Pre-Req: INT: 13) If character is unengaged in melee combat, the character can pick out and aim for weak spots in a creature's armor. On a successful hit, add 2 to armor penetration.


Stock Attack: (Pre-Req: BAB: 6) Character can use the stock of his or her firearm to attack in melee. Pistols have the same statistics as clubs, shotguns have the same statistics as a flail, muskets and rifles have the same statistics as quarterstaves. Bonuses from firearms feats and stacking apply. (Armor penetration does not.)


Bleeding Injury: (Pre-Req: Aimed Shot) On a successful Aimed Shot, the target takes bleeding damage. Damage is 1d4-1, until the result is less than or equal to 0.


Firearms feats stack. For each feat a character takes, add one point of damage on each successful hit with a firearm. For every two, add one to attack rolls made with the firearm.

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