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Johnny’s Five–Five Reasons To Consider Adding Firearms Into Your Fantasy Setting

Posted By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:30 am In Gaming Trends | 37 Comments

antique-pistolThis is likely to be a very grognard unfriendly idea, but I love seeing firearms in fantasy settings. Sure, they don’t work in all settings, but when they are balanced with the rest of the combat system and don’t break the verisimilitude of the setting, they are incredibly awesome and create many fun scenarios. Here are five thoughts to spark some discussion and make you consider adding firearms to your game.

1. Firearms Can Expand Character Types & Options

Having firearms in a fantasy setting can make more character types and options available for players. Including them opens up the idea that some mechanical advancement is possible, so in essence they expand the world. But even merely saying that some very advanced blacksmiths create rare weapons that use powder to propel small slugs of metal creates many more options for Ralph Bakshi's Wizardsthe players.

  • An acrobatic, dodgy character who uses guns instead of throwing knives.
  • A bulky paladin who uses large barreled handguns as his holy weapon.
  • The swashbuckler higwayman whose pistols enhance his swordplay.
  • The mage who enhances his gun and uses it as a means to deliver his magic.
  • An Indiana Jones style character whose gun is a secondary weapon for those few times he needs range.
  • The dwarf fighter with a large barreled boom-stick.
  • The gunslinger whose rifle and horse define his fighting style as much as the leather armor he wears.
  • The ninja with a few single shot, silenced pistols for a quick surprise.
  • The cleric whose Dwarven made shotgun clears away any undead he can’t turn.
  • The pirate who shoots a few barrels from afar while charging in with his cutlass.
  • The goblin banditos who wear chains of bullets across their chests.

These combinations or additions may appear odd within the context of a traditional fantasy game, but a few tweaks to the world setting opens up many options and can include fun elements of storytelling usually only found in other genres.

 

2. Firearms in Any Fantasy Setting Are, like, 20% Cooler

I’m going to refute this with my next point, but anytime I’ve seen guns included in a fantasy setting, be it in a video game, story, comic, or RPG, they are infinitely more awesome than guns are in real life. Guns in a setting that is 30% different from reality evolve in a different way and gain all of the embellishments and extraneous, but nifty looking, bits that other elements in that setting do. Whether it is the arcane look to them, the steampunk attention to detail, or the large bulky size to incorporate the bigger mechanics, guns always look a bit more awesome when they are in fantasy settings. The essence of embellishment just clings to fantasy settings and becomes more elaborate when it comes to mechanics.Check it out:

 

images       guns

World Of Warcraft                                                                  FF12

wild_arms_5_3                        PZO1118-Lirianne

Wild Arms 5                                 Paizo’s Gunslinger Pic By Wayne Reynolds

And a quick google image search for steampunk gun turns up a bunch of very fun looking real-life creations in the same vein. The big, bulky, or very intricate gun is just something we associate with fantasy settings that have guns.

 

3. Historically, Firearms Were More Present Than We Realize, So Why Not In Fantasy Ones?

When we think of firearms in history, the wild west springs to mind at the top of the results, and while advanced and dependable firearms are not that ancient of a concept, humans (at least in china) have been using powder propelled bullets since somewhere in the 1100s. That gives us a good 900 years or so of history with a gun-like weapon. In a fantasy world, how could races who are stereotypically good with metal and mechanics have missed some kind of powder weapons? According to wikipedia, the earliest cannon  was around 1288 and the earliest handled projectile shooting device was about a hundred years before that. By 1364 the first modern firearm was used, and by 1380 they were known across Europe.

 

So, if primitive guns were in use in at least some fashion as far as ~650 years back, why wouldn’t that occur in a fantasy setting? Would the prevalence of magic prevent it, or would a gun provide a quick retort to a fireball? Everyone’s setting is different, and firearms, even rare ones, might not fit into somebody’s world, but we have historical proof of them a fair ways back into what we would consider the real life settings for many fantasy campaigns. Besides which, even without the steampunky incredible elements, real life antique guns just look awesome and classy (For, y’know, things capable of ending a human life).

Google Search – Antique Guns

Google Search – Antique Pistols

Google Search – Antique Rifles

 

4. It Is Very Fun To Arm Enemies With Them

One of the most common arguments I hear against including firearms into a fantasy setting is that they give the PCs too much power. To this, I always respond: “Well why don’t the NPCs have them as well, then?” Firearms can be very deadly if left unbalanced in a game system, but a major balancing factor would be to give them to the enemies the PCs face as well. Let the PCs face off against a group of kobolds wielding stolen six-guns, or a group of Orcs outfitted with crude flintlocks. Who would mess with the palace guard carrying fantasy style rifles or armed with large, bulky, Dwarven pistols.

Having firearms on the other side of the screen can be a really fun element. It could change the way that warfare is handled. It could be the thing that empowers the Orcish army and be a main plot point for the PC’s quest. Handguns and rifles could be in the hands of a very skilled lieutenant of the BBEG, ala Basher Moran, making her a match for the PCs who currently lack such weapons.

5. Balance Can Be Achieved More Easily Than You Think

The one thing I’ve saved until last is talking about how guns would be balanced in a fantasy world. The common conception (or misconception) is that guns would overbalance things greatly. In reality, guns were a definite advantage against those without them, but the inclusion of guns into a fictional game setting can be tweaked in various ways to make them balanced.

  • Firearms are about the same as arrows or other ranged weapons – This is my favorite approach to balancing firearms in games. Make them available in the same way that other ranged weapons are and make the damages, ranges, refire rates be in line with other ranged weapons. Depending on the reasoning behind why they are in your setting, they don’t need to be as overpowered as a modern day gun would be in a medieval time. This allows them to be usable, fun, and balanced.
  • Firearms are powerful, but very expensive and rare – If you feel that firearms would definitely be overbalanced, make them expensive on the level of magical items of similar brokenness. Find an equivalent magical item or piece of equipment harder to obtain and make firearms about that expensive. It prevents everyone from becoming a gun-fu wielding badass, but lets them be an option for PCs and non-mook NPCs.
  • Firearms are powerful, but very complicated to use – Like paizo’s path with the gunslinger class, firearms require dedicated learning to be effective with them. Someone may get the first lucky shot off without training, but to be able to effectively use them in combat, special powers, skills, and training are required. If you go this route, make sure it is comparable to another class or character option. “Overpaying” for something you think is a cool option really sucks.
  • Remove balance breaking elements – As the Game Master, you’ve got the right to say what kinds of firearms exist and what options they have. Remove the elements you think are balance breaking. The quick reload effectively gives multiple attacks, make it comparable to the number of attacks you can make with another weapon. The high damage would make enemies too easy? Just say that the technology doesn’t exist as readily. If you’re a stickler for realism, go to point 3 of this article. We’ve had guns for a long time in the real world, but they aren’t the same guns we would have realistically had in the periods we mimic traditional fantasy games off of. They aren’t anywhere near as powerful, accurate, or plentiful. And who is to say that a bullet more easily penetrates dragon hide than an arrow or sword? The equivalent of an elephant gun for big game might not exist, and thus might not be any more effective against some targets.

 

I’ll fully admit that firearms in a fantasy setting might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if your setting is more fantasy and less realism, or you can see areas where they would make a fun fit, consider trying them out. Model them off of ranged weapons like bows and arrows for balance, just give them the firearms coating of fluff and see how they do. You might find that they open up some fun options within the game.

How do you feel about mixing firearms and fantasy? Is it straight sacrilege and you want to meet at high noon in the middle of the street, pardner? Or does it fit with the world settings you use? Do you find balance issues in them with the game systems you use?

About  John Arcadian

John Arcadian is the head of Silvervine Games, a freelance writer and art director, a website developer, a builder of sonic screwdrivers, and a purveyor of kilted mayhem. When he isn't out causing trouble in his kilt... Well, no, that is pretty much what he does when he isn't running RPGs or or trying to take over the world.




37 Comments (Open | Close)

37 Comments To "Johnny’s Five–Five Reasons To Consider Adding Firearms Into Your Fantasy Setting"

#1 Comment By Orikes On October 24, 2012 @ 2:49 am

This is a very timely article for me. One of my players is using Pathfinder’s Gunslinger class in my Eberron game. We had been discussing goals and aspirations of the various characters which had me researching antique guns to get a better understanding of how he’s looking at things.

I think in this particular case, the class is balanced fairly well for the system, and this player is very good about not letting things getting too out of hand. Ultimately, he hits fairly frequently, but doesn’t do huge amounts of damage unless he crits.

Of course, critting lead to one of the more dramatic moments in the game: Facing off a minotaur who’d enslaved a tribe of bugbears, he got a crit early in the fight and essentially blew the Minotaur’s gray matter all over the faces of the anxiously watching bugbears who suddenly had a much deeper respect for the hairless humans.

I don’t know that I’d want firearms in a more ‘traditional’ Tolkeinesque game, but anything with a hint of steampunk flavor should give them consideration.

#2 Comment By Tsenn On October 24, 2012 @ 3:24 am

Just started Iron Kingdoms, a steampunk game, so I was very interested to see this particular article. Firearms are quite hazardous and common, but multiple shot weapons are of course more pricey. Gun mages are holy terrors if given the opportunity, able to boost their accuracy and damage.

So far it’s not so different to giving everyone a crossbow. Getting up close makes you harder to hit (firing into melee) and the melee options seem versatile enough to compensate for the straight damage output of a firearm.

On an unrelated note, my character has no guns and I’m fine with that. I’d like one, but I don’t feel I’m totally outclasssed without.

What about gun-like options? Repeating crossbows or wands of magic missiles? Does anyone have a thought on those? (p.s. John – greetings from the ELP merc corp)

#3 Comment By straygeologist On October 24, 2012 @ 7:26 am

Games like SavageWorlds have just about equally powered weapons across all eras. A Longbow is 2d6, a Cold 1911 is also 2d6.
Early firearms took some time to re-load, maybe just enforcing Reload Actions after someone empties a Peacemaker is enough to achieve balance?
(meanwhile their elven counterpart is still shooting 2d6-dmg arrows each round)

#4 Comment By SeeleyOne On October 24, 2012 @ 7:43 am

In my campaign I have three types of firing mechanisms: Alchemical Bullet, “Thumper”, and “Bolter”.

The first is the alchemical bullet. This is more of what people are used to, where each bullet is effectively a minor alchemical/magical item. This is loaded by breach either into the barrel (or barrels in a double-barreled weapon) or a revolver.

A Thumper is either front-loading or hopper-fed. It is called a thumper as the projectile is launched forth by a telekinetic blast inside the gun. It is basically a mix between firearm and wand of telekinesis. As a front-loader, it is a smoothbore barrel that is loaded single-shot from the front of the barrel. This is the simplest, and called a musket due to the “no muss no fuss” attitude towards that design. As hopper-fed, it is a lot like a paintball gun. The weapon itself has charges for its use, and rocks or balls of metal are used.

A Bolter is a fantasy railgun. The barrel is made out of adamantite and it has two rods of mithril that travel down the sides of it. The weapon is bolt-action, being that you slide the bolt back and load it, then slide it forward and lock it into place. The bolt itself is basically a wand of lightning and has charges (literally). The charge launches toe projectile down the rails and it accelerates as it travels down the length of the barrel. This is an expensive weapon, but it is a major support weapon and used by snipers. There are also larger versions of it used by a nation’s military.

There is also a larger version of a thumper that has multiple barrels that are turned by use of a crank. These weapons are Twisters (or Crankers), and are basically gatling guns that are hopper-fed. Some characters have Twisters on a harness and have a backpack hopper.

#5 Comment By EdNBurgh On October 24, 2012 @ 8:13 am

I run a Lamentations of the Flame Princess campaign. This game is set in a pseudo-early-modern setting, but the rules don’t cover firearms. I’ve got around this so far by making it clear that only government forces are allowed firearms, but there may be some black market ones coming up soon, once I’ve written up some rules.
Generally handeld firearms were not as effective as a longbow in terms of accuracy or range, but had the advantage that people could be more easily trained in their use.

#6 Comment By nblade On October 24, 2012 @ 8:21 am

@strygeologist – SW firearms have the advantage of having AP values. Which is why the basic damage seems to be the same.

#7 Comment By Razjah On October 24, 2012 @ 8:23 am

I’ve used guns as a magic item (well the goblins thought it was magic), and as normal weapons in a skypirates game. I think that more genres can support firearms, but many people don’t want to blur the line between fantasy/historical fantasy/modern/alt universe fantasy/etc. Guns tend to do that.

In a steampunk setting- I would almost definitely have guns. Heck, any game trying to match a tech level of higher than the 1400s should have guns.

Plus guns can be interesting plot elements. Two nations are gearing up for war- but a famed inventor has gone missing. One nation is forcing him to teach their smiths and workers how to produce guns. Or in a game like Samurai Warriors (not the best hack and slash, but fun enough). One character’s army used guns and was able to defeat a cavalry charge by alternating people who fire and load in teams of three.

#8 Comment By nblade On October 24, 2012 @ 8:25 am

As long as firearms make sense in setting, then I say go for it. Of course that goes for almost any weapon in a fantasy game from Long Swords to the Double Headed-Axe. If they don’t make sense for the setting they should be removed. Sadly too many Players and GMs tend to think just because it’s in the Book it needs to be allowed.

#9 Comment By Svafa On October 24, 2012 @ 9:00 am

The Bolter sounds awesome. I’m going to have to find a way to fit it into our campaign setting now.

#10 Comment By Svafa On October 24, 2012 @ 9:12 am

As EdNBurgh points out early handheld firearms were not known for their accuracy or range. I’ve seen several systems and settings take this route to balancing them, effectively making them more powerful than longbows/crossbows, but with a shorter range increment. Similarly, I’ve seen reload times used for balancing, but while realistic, I think it’s one of the areas where realism needs to take a backseat because it’s no fun to spend a turn during nothing but reloading your rifle. Typically, I’d build a fire-and-forget character in such settings (bayonets were invented for just such a reason), but that’s far from the typically envisioned gunslinger.

The easiest way I’ve found to include or introduce gunpowder into a setting without compromising the fantasy feel is through siege weapons like cannons, mortars, bombs, and grenades. In the latter case, you can often just reskin alchemist’s fire (or equivalent).

#11 Comment By Adam Östergren On October 24, 2012 @ 9:32 am

Early firearms were unreliable and dangerous to the one handling them. Over-using them or packing more powder in for extra damage tended to ruin them and take a hand with them.

Precision for the early smoothbores was abyssmal and remained so until they found ways to machine barrels instead of smithing them.

Back-blast was common if the chamber couldn’t hold the amount of power generated, turning mr Gun into his brother Mr Bomb. Both in fact were quite deadly. The trade thouugh was a weapon that was easy to learn and that could punch through armour at close range.

Revolvers and repeating weapons presents their own problems… most of them about alignment (lets just say that if the bullet can’t find a smooth and easy way out, it might get stuck and once again we get a visit from mr Bomb.)

– Obe

#12 Comment By Lugh On October 24, 2012 @ 9:37 am

One of the side effects of guns in games is surprisingly similar to its effect on history. It begins to rapidly overshadow melee combat. Even if guns are equivalent to bows, players have a tendency to be drawn more to guns.

One of the tricky things with guns is to make them feel different from bows and crossbows. I like using exploding dice for the damage. A pistol does d4, but if you roll a 4, roll again and add. It makes them nicely unpredictable.

I also like to enforce long reload times for guns. It makes historical precedents like the rifle line make sense (where you have half your soldiers firing and the other half reloading). Also, it was pretty common for people to wear a brace of pistols, and simply toss them aside after firing them instead of trying to reload.

#13 Comment By SeeleyOne On October 24, 2012 @ 10:20 am

In a campaign where the muskets had long reload times (it was GURPS), I carried several rifles in my wagon. If I was able to set up before a battle, I could then fire a gun, pick up another one, and fire again every other turn. Of course doing this requires foresight and preparation, not to mention acquiring multiple firearms.

I don’t bother to “balance” firearms. They have stats designed for their playability but they do not need to be penalized just to make the bow-lovers happy.

Already mentioned is the leaning towards firearms instead of melee combat. Having less of a payload and a slower rate of fire makes it more likely to still have melee combat remaining the norm. Additional factors are cost and availabiility. A poster above mentioned that they be strictly for military use. Doing so does make them at least illegal to own unless a character has special permission or is military. In the case of military, the actual ownership of the firearm is likely to still remain with the nation.

#14 Comment By Roxysteve On October 24, 2012 @ 11:00 am

Dissenting opinion warning.

In an RPG one cannot see the firearms themselves so any visual cool factor is effectively nil outside of the player’s mind.

If the firearms are no better than bows why have them at all? There must be *some* advantage or why would the player characters incur the cost of ownership and the costs of maintaining them.

It is, in fact, a lot harder to make a firearm worth the bother than it would seem from the articles linked. Yes you can make a gun from a bamboo tube and fire it, but you’d be wise not to fire it again. Also, you are unlikely to hit anything intentionally.

*Reliable* firearms require the development of machine tools before they become widely available. Re-read the entries about WW1 weaponry as used by the US army in France. They also require the development of quality controlled steel-making and welding techniques.

I can’t argue the cool though. If you want to do this, just do it and don’t try and justify it. You’ll only end up looking silly.

It’s like those daft steampunkers who talk about Carnot engines as though they actually could ever do useful work like pushing their own weight across the floor.

Don’t try and paper over the cracks with logic because it will be wasted effort. Just declare it a fact and get on with the game.

#15 Comment By Roxysteve On October 24, 2012 @ 11:04 am

[Obe] My favorite is those revolving Colt rifles that had so much backflash they often set the shooter’s uniform on fire.

Then there’s the smoke from black powder. One shot, the enemy knows exactly where you are. A hundred shots and they don’t know *exactly* where you are, but then again, you don’t know where *they* are either (unless the flames from your uniform can be seen through the miasma).

#16 Comment By Svafa On October 24, 2012 @ 11:37 am

And if the firearm is the property of the nation, then its misuse, which may include when or where it is used or even carried, is likely illegal.

#17 Comment By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

^_^/)(\^_^

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Iron Kingdoms. I’m glad to see that it has firearms in it. Does it feel like you are underpowered compared to someone using firearms?

#18 Comment By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

I prefer the damage mediating, that you mention about SavageWorlds, as a balance method. Sure, it *MIGHT* not be as accurate, but I like the mechanics of my game to be fun to play, not realistic. Someone did an article in an old issue of Pyramid about accurate bows in gurps. They examined the materials, tensile strengths, force achieved, accuracy, etc. and made “realistic” bows with realistic damages. They all came out within a small variation of each other. So… I say balance to the system, not reality.

#19 Comment By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

Nifty. Those sound like fun, world-specific versions of guns with their own unique uses. Are those readily available to the world at large, or are they out of reach of most people?

#20 Comment By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:28 pm

I found that the moment I touched on anything mechanical being available in the world, some players required their be firearms. I’d agree that anything post 1400s type tech should have them.

You should check out a steampunk novel called Thomas Riley by Nick Valentino. It is *kind of* like your idea about the nations gearing for war, at least in that it talks about an inventor who makes war machines. Good read.

#21 Comment By SeeleyOne On October 24, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

I had the alchemical bullet, thumper, and bolter be more mainstream in a society that used magic to be more like modern day lifestyle.

I am a late-comer to Eberron, having just got the campaign book yesterday. I am thinking about using my ideas for Eberron and I am naughty because I am using Savage Worlds instead. I am leaning towards them being military weapons, or at least for noble houseses (I have to read more Eberron stuff before I decide).

#22 Comment By SeeleyOne On October 24, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

That is a very good point, thanks for reminding me

#23 Comment By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

I agree with pretty much everything you say here. Firearms that aren’t modern can’t really match longbows for range, but range is rarely dealt with in a lot of the combat situations we face. In reality, being able to engage the enemy before they engage you is a definite plus towards victory. But yeah, reload times always seemed like unnecessary nerfing. When you run out of bullets, heck yes, but if you make it harder than pulling an arrow from a quiver, you’d better have some serious damage for the gun to accommodate the penalty.

#24 Comment By John Arcadian On October 24, 2012 @ 12:35 pm

I think one of the things that draws a player towards guns more readily is the fact that they have a different feel when they interact with the character. Wielding a bow pretty much makes you feel like you are an archer in a game, even if that is only a small part of the character concept. Suddenly a lot of things about your character are tied into being an archer in some way. A gun strapped to the side of a cleric character doesn’t change the concept of the cleric as much. This might be because we have more modern examples of gun usage by many different story archetypes than we do for archers.

#25 Comment By SeeleyOne On October 24, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

GURPS is the only game that I have played where shooting a gun is easier than shooting a bow. Guns are an easy skill and Bows are a hard skill. All of the other games that I can think of (that I play) have them either use the same skill or developing the ability costs the same.

Three advantages to bows: cost of ammo (it is simple to make arrows), bows are quieter than guns (especially those using black powder), and you can potentially have different magical arrows so you can pick your arrow for the target.

Granted, my alchemical bullet idea also uses enchantments on those bullets, but those aer a lot hearder to come by than an arrow. Frost bullets are cool, and Fire bullets are a hot item. :)

#26 Comment By Razjah On October 24, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

The fire and forget was a real thing. People carried multiple single shot pistols because it was too slow to reload during a fight. So you had pirates with a brace of pistols and a sword. Pull-fire-slash-holster. I encouraged my players to do this because the guns we used in the skypirates game (mentioned above) were single shot.

#27 Comment By Nojo On October 24, 2012 @ 4:22 pm

I’m using the Freeport firearms rules in my Pathfinder game rather than the Gunslinger rules. This give the game a more the fire your guns once then grab your cutlass type of action. I’m running a piratey Freeport game so this is the kind of feel I want.
There’s a nice misfire table for when you roll a natural ‘1’.
These are in the Freeport Companion, Pathfinder edition.

#28 Comment By Lee Hanna On October 24, 2012 @ 9:15 pm

I’ve run very few fantasy games with guns, the one that comes to mind was a historical (mostly) 1590s game in Poland. Using guns (AD&D, A Mighty Fortress rules) that were slow to load and occasionally really damaging– my brother one-shotted a boss werewolf once with a silver bullet and an exploding d8.

Outside of that, not much, as some of my D&D players refuse to play with them. Possibly, that has something to do with the modern-tactical games I have also run, in which guns were critically important.

The next game I will run will be Pathfinder’s Kingmaker AP, and the Gunslinger class has been “voted off the island” before we even start making characters.

A fiction series that brought in guns, that I liked, was Joel Rosenberg’s “Guardians of the flame”– college kid from the ’80s get zapped into a game world. One of them is able to create guns, and wizards eventually reverse-engineer flintlocks by magic.

#29 Comment By Roxysteve On October 25, 2012 @ 9:10 am

Perhaps one model that might bear examination is something like “Yojimbo” or the Ichi the Blind Swordsman episodes that feature guns.

Though of course they come with the baggage that they are regarded as dishonorable weapons by “the good guys”.

#30 Comment By randite On October 25, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

Oddly I’ve only used guns in my fantasy settings very rarely even though I’m fully in favor of their presence if it makes sense.
Other than an important value as siege weapons, firearms had very little impact the art of warfare until the transition period from the medieval to the renaissance. They were prohibitively expensive and not particularly reliable until then. I would expect the importation of blast furnace technology from the Orient at that time really aided in the explosive growth in use of firearms (as well as the corning of gunpowder) but that’s mostly conjecture.
I think that the slow reload time (similar to crossbows), high cost (again similar to crossbows), shorter accurate range, and unreliability (critical fumble causing a possible explosion, delayed firing, etc) work well to naturally “balance” them out with bows and crossbows. But something that everyone seems to be missing and/or forgetting is that using a longbow with it’s 80-150 lbs draw takes a lifetime of training. English/Welsh longbowmen had to literally push into the horns of the bow to draw it. Mongolian bows required similar dedication…
But then again I prefer historically-informed, gritty, low-fantasy setting.

Although a surly dwarf wielding an oversized blunderbuss shoved full of rusty nails, rocks, goblin bones, and general badassery is a hell of a mental image.

In case anyone’s wondering, my primary source for this info is Charles Oman’s _The Art of War in the Middle Ages_ along with a lifetime of reading about medieval history and some open to close shifts at work with nothing to do but perouse wikipedia (and GnomeStew of course!).

#31 Comment By Kyle Van Pelt On October 26, 2012 @ 10:14 am

Balancing issues are usually not that rampant for “fantasy” firearms in my games. Often times, the firearms are expensive, unwieldy, fragile, and complicated enough that the only person wielding one must be dedicated to it. Even then, they always carry a backup pistol AND a backup melee weapon, since the infernal things jam up or misalign themselves, often requiring some time after the fight for maintenance.

That being said, it’s also very cool when someone has dedicated enough time into their firearm that when the choice comes between costly repairs for a sometimes unreliable weapon and simply just moving on, they will not only repair the weapon but also customize it, name it, and enchant it. It’s part of their character, and the player (not just the character) has become attached to it. There’s plenty of storytelling potential for a fantasy gunslinger.

#32 Comment By Tsenn On October 30, 2012 @ 4:59 am

Sorry for the late reply, but here it is:

I feel a little underpowered, but that’s really just compared to the rest of the party – a ranger, two gun mages and a knight. I’m the spy, so I just have to fight smarter rather than harder. Unconventional warfare is my motto.

#33 Comment By Crimson Newb On October 31, 2012 @ 12:37 am

I love the IKRPG book and look forward to running it after our 4e campaign ends. It’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the title of this article. I’ve never played with guns in an RPG setting before, but have played some modern stuff. I’m curious to see how it works out.

#34 Comment By EdNBurgh On November 1, 2012 @ 7:32 am

The effects of smoke (and noise) in the enclosed space of dungeon or deserted tomb could make for a very interesting subsequent melee.

#35 Comment By EricG On November 2, 2012 @ 7:35 am

I introduced firearms in my game after my players got used to standard melee/bow tactics and general warfare with the intent of throwing them a curve ball. It started with rumors of sudden raging fires here, a defeated royal army there and a mysterious new shop in town as foreshadowing and their first encounter with the gun-toting mercenary army from abroad was terrifying for them and really cool.

So the introduction of gunpowder presents, in my humble opinion, another consideration : it’s an additionnal tool to keep players on their toes about combat.

#36 Comment By JohnOSpencer On November 6, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

I’ve used firearms in one 4E campaign. One player had bought one of the Eberron books and wanted to play an artificer and had an idea for using guns. I let him run with it (stated his rifle as a heavy crossbow, with a club end). It ended up being a rather interesting and cool feature of that game.

#37 Comment By EdNBurgh On June 3, 2013 @ 5:14 am

There’s a new version of the Lamentations… Rules and Magic rulebook out – and it includes firearm rules.
In summary, solid rounds effectively ignore armour, but take a long time to reload. This ties in with soldiers moving away from heavy armour in favour of increased mobility.


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