Powder Burn: Firearms in Dungeons & Dragons

Wolfgang Baur was kind enough to treat me to an advance copy of Kobold Quarterly Issue 7 in October, and one article in particular caught my eye. John Flemming’s “Powder Burn: Spells of the Gun” covers magic for using firearms in your third edition D&D game. It’s a topic I’ve given some thought to in the past, so I’m happy to see that I’m not alone in this.

First, a quick primer on firearms. The Dungeon Master’s Guide gives us statistics on renaissance guns, which require the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms) feat to use without penalty:

Pistol, one-handed exotic ranged weapon. Cost 250 gp, damage 1d10 (1d8 Small), critical x3, range increment 50ft., weight 3lbs, damage type piercing. Standard action to reload.
Musket, one-handed exotic ranged weapon. Cost 500 gp, damage 1d12 (1d10 Small), critical x3, range increment 150ft., weight 10lbs, damage type piercing. Standard action to reload.

Any setting with firearms is likely to develop firearm enhancements and protections against firearms, and that’s where this article is of interest. The first spell listed is barrier cloth, which converts piercing damage to nonlethal. Next, blunderbuss burst targets an opponent’s firearm and sabotages it to explode when fired. Similarly defensive is misfire, which fouls your opponents’ weapons and makes them useless until reloaded.

In the offensive spells we have deadeye, halfing range penalties for all ranged weapons and Spot checks the caster makes, a level 1 bard/cleric/ranger spell with a duration of one minute per level. Higher level is heart seeker, in which a bullet drills its way to your opponent’s heart for an instant kill, musket brigade, which conjures a deadly firing squad, and wall of powder, a thick barrier of black powder.

You can find Powder Burn and twelve more D&D articles for third and fourth edition in Kobold Quarterly #7, available at the Kobold Quarterly Store.

Edit: A few more have chimed in with their reviews on KQ7:

Comments (10)

Zaratustra (November 7th, 2008)

That blunderbuss thing is a bit niche. Why not have a spell that explodes any body of gunpowder in sight? OH WAIT CAUSE IT’S 4TH EDITION.

Scott (November 7th, 2008)

…Except it’s third edition.

Zaratustra (November 8th, 2008)


rekres (November 8th, 2008)

You might wanna check out Iron Kingdoms from Privateer Press. It is their d20 rules for their Warmachine setting, which includes large steampunk constructs called Warjacks, a sorcerer variant that casts spells through his pistols, and a variety of magic-tech devices.

IIRC, they have about a half dozen different black powder guns as well as gun enchantments and spells that effect guns and gun-combat.

Kellandros (November 10th, 2008)

Standard action to reload? If I recall, well trained troops could fire roughly 3-4 volleys from flintlock muskets per minute, and that was standing in place(not lying down, not moving). As written, this is one shot per 2 rounds, or 5 per minute; AND you can freely move around while reloading.

In terms of game balance though, I can see them in the normal curve of damage, especially with requiring a feat for the proficiency. More ‘realism’ would require extreme changes to the rest of the rules.

"John Lee" (November 15th, 2008)

I tend to use cannons in my game, partially because they have stats for them in Stormwrack, but I don’t like guns. Though the root reason is the “feel” they have, I feel that I can make up a quasi-valid excuse that they reload too slowly (1 shot/4 rounds or something, maybe with a feat to reduce reload), were deemed too dangerous by the powers that be, or perhaps that their hard-to-use nature made them never catch on popularly.

Hereward (November 17th, 2008)

I dont use them at all in my campaign.There is gunpowder, but it is only used by dwarves and gnomes in mining applications, oh and of course for fireworks.It is crude and rather dangerous.I prefer to run things at a quasi-medieval level just before the advent of firearms.I have been a player in campaigns that allowed primitive firearms and it was handled well (they were heavy,slow to load and unreliable).It didnt imbalance the game so I have no basic objection, but just prefer not to use them myself.

Димон (December 3rd, 2008)

Ð?е пора бы вам начать монетизировать ваш блог?

know (August 14th, 2009)

I prefer to run things at a quasi-medieval level just before the advent of firearms.

jimmy (May 29th, 2011)

in the campains i have played/run guns have existed but only in certain regions,like across the sea

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