For those who end up on this page via a search engine, I’ve since added to the series:
Several posts on blogs or in forums detail different rules for black powder weapons in D&D, it seems like it’s a common addition to the core rules (Stargazer has a good take on them, as has Dicemonkey). Still, when I tried to find some good rules ahead of my New World D&D game with a pirate/carribean feel, I couldn’t find any that quite fitted my taste. In the end, I didn’t include any gunpowder weapons in the setting, but should I have done that, this is how I would have implemented them…
First of all, D&D isn’t about realism. It is however about at least basic suspension of disbelief, so while black powder weapons need not be realistic, they should at least be plausibel and consistent. Secondly, while D&D isn’t too concerned with realism, it is downright religious when it comes to game balance. Black powder weapons must be balanced vis-á-vis already existing weapons. Thirdly, black powder rules should mesh well with the system, they are after all just another weapon type.
Also, I want the black powder weapons to be used, meaning there has to be some reason to use them, some kind of character build who will benefit from them. At the same time, they shouldn’t always be better than, e.g. a bow. To this end, I have added two weapon categories, Black Powder Pistol and Black Powder Rifle and I have added the weapon property Black Powder.
When firing a Black Powder weapon, a thick cloud of smoke fills the square where the weapon was fired, providing light obscuration until the end of the firers next turn.
Also, I suggest that dwarves receive weapon proficiency with simple and military blackpowder weapons and rogues receive proficiency with simple and military blackpowder pistols. In addition all powers requiring crossbow is also usable with black powder weapons. I like dwarves with guns and I like dual-wielding pistoleer rogues.
With those additions, the rest is just a matter of weapon stats, mostly based on the stats of bows and crossbows, but still adding something unique to the mix.
Simple Black Powder Weapons
|Pistol||+2||1d6||5/10||20 gp||1 lb||Black Powder Pistol||Black Powder, Off-Hand, Reload Minor|
Military Black Powder Weapons
|Horse Pistol||+2||1d8||5/10||30 gp||2 lb||Black Powder Pistol||Black Powder, Off-Hand, Reload Minor|
|Musket||+2||1d10||10/20||30 gp||6 lb||Black Powder Rifle||Black Powder, Reload Minor|
Superior Black Powder Weapons
|Hellfire Pistol||+2||1d10||5/10||35 gp||2 lb||Black Powder Pistol||Black Powder, Reload Minor|
|Dwarven Blunderbuss||+2||2d6||10/20||50 gp||10 lbs||Black Powder Rifle||Black Powder, Brutal 1, Reload Move|
|Eladrin Longarm||+3||1d8||20/40||30 gp||6 lbs||Black Powder Rifle||Black Powder, Reload Minor|
These rules would probably suffice for a campaign where black powder weapons are rare and exotic. In campaign settings where they are commonplace, like the excellent Iron Kingdoms by Privateer Press for instance, some added spice might be needed. More different weapons could be added, like the Goblin Firestarter, the Dragonfire Musket wielded by dragonborn noblemen and the Black Powder Hydra made by the infamous gunsmith Byrek the Mad. Also special black powder enchantments would certainly add variety, Thundershell, Longfire or Blacksmoke are names that beg for a write-up. Finally, if no-one volunteer to do a Musketeer ranger build, I will
So, what do you think, overpowered, underpowered, clunky or just about right? Dish it out in the comments!