A multifaceted blog on RPGs

Black Powder Weapons III – Feats, Powers and Classes

In Black Powder Weapons, D&D 4E on February 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm

When reading through my list of black powder weapons, a friend of my commented that he thought they were well done and balanced, but who would use them? Rangers need their minor actions for hunter’s quarry if nothing else and Rogues won’t be proficient with them and won’t be able to use them for Sneak Attack. Well, a weapon is useless if you can’t use it, so here come some suggestions on how to integrate the new black powder weapons with the classes in PHB.


To make black powder weapons a little less unwieldy I suggest adding the followin heroic tier feat.

Black Powder Quickload

Prerequisites: Dex 13

Benefit: Once per turn you may treat the load property action type of black powder weapons as one step lower than stated in the weapon table. This means a load standard becomes a load move, a load move becomes a load minor and a load minor becomes a load free.



You can never have enough loaded pistols.

You can never have too many loaded pistols.

The Rogue class already supports two distinct attack forms, the ranged-attack-from-hiding or the flanking-melee-attack. Of these, the ranged attack seems like a perfect match for a pistol-wielding rogue, dex-based and all. To this end, I suggest the following alterations to the Rogue class-description to integrate black powder weapons:


  • Rogues gain proficiency with simple and military black powder pistols.
  • Black powder pistols are added to the list of weapons the rogue can use for sneak attacks.
  • Every power that lists crossbow as a required weapon may also be used with black powder pistols.

To further add to the options of a pistol-wielding rogue, at 11th level you can choose the new paragon path Pistoleer.


I am a thundercloud, my bullets striking like lightning from the black smokey veil. All you see is a muzzle flash, all you hear is thunder, all you feel is pain.

Prerequisite: Rogue class

You become a master pistol shot, firing from the cover of the black powder smoke. You use the obscuring smoke and the distracting crack of your pistols to confuse your enemies.

Pistoleer Path Features

Headshot Action (11th level): Whenever you spend an action point, your score critical hits on rolls 15-20 until the end of your turn.

Hide in the Smoke (11th level): You may hide in the smoke from black powder weapons as though it provided total concealment. For all other purposes, it still only provides concealment.

Master Pistoleer (16th level): When you fire a black powder weapon, it has the High Crit property.

Pistoleer Exploits

Kneeshot (Pistoleer Attack 11)

With a wicked smile you fire your pistol in the kneecap of your opponent, leaving him limping in agonizing pain.

Encounter ✦ Martial, Weapon

Standard Action | Ranged weapon

Requirement: You must be wielding a black powder pistol.

Target: One creature

Attack: Dexterity vs AC

Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage and target becomes slowed (save ends).

Black Smoke Bomb (Pistoleer Utility 11)

In a wild swing, you spread black powder around you, igniting it with a well-placed shot; black smoke fills the area.

Encounter ✦ Martial

Minor Action | Close Blast 2

Requirement: You must be wielding a black powder pistol

Effect: The area becomes filled with black powder smoke providing light obscuration. The Hide in the Smoke paragon path feature applies to this smoke. At the end of each turn, starting with your next turn, roll a save, if you succeed, the cloud remains, otherwise it disappears.

Gruesome Shot (Pistoleer Attack 20)

Gleefully, you aim and fire your pistol at the unmentionables of your enemy, leaving him reeling in pain.

Encounter ✦ Martial, Weapon

Standard Action | Ranged weapon

Requirement: You must be wielding a black powder pistol.

Target: One creature

Attack: Dexterity vs Reflex

Hit: 3[W] + Dexterity modifier damage and target becomes stunned until the end of your next turn.

Miss: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage and target becomes dazed until the end of your next turn.


As written, the black powder weapons work well for the ranger, particularly with the Black Powder Quickload feat. As per the load rules, PHB 217, loading a weapon is part of any power permitting multiple attacks, meaning twin strike is mechanically fully possible with a dwarven blunderbuss, remember though that you will still have to reload it after the shot.

Rangers also get their black powder specialist paragon path, the Musketeer. (Edit: After suggestions by Doug in the comments, I’ve changed the Marksman feature of the Musketeer)


Aim. Fire. Reload. Your bullets strike true, your musket acting as a part of you, as an extension of your will.

Prerequisite: Ranger class

You become a master marksman with your musket, your bullets fly farther and strike truer than any other’s and your enemies learn to fear your deadly aim.

Paragon Path Features

Marksman (11th level): You may add +5/+10 to the range of black powder pistols and +10/+20 to the range of black powder rifles. Also, you gain a +1 bonus to attacks with black powder weapons.

True Aim Action (11th level): When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you also gain a +3 bonus to attack rolls with black powder weapons until the beginning of your next turn.

Double Load (16th level): When you make an attack with a black powder weapon, you may add 1[W] to the extra damage done by your hunter’s quarry class feature.

Musketeer Exploits

Two In A Row (Musketeer Attack 11)

Your musket bullet blows through your first target and into a second enemy behind him.

Encounter ✦ Martial, Weapon

Standard Action | Ranged weapon

Requirement: You must be wielding a black powder weapon.

Primary Target: One creature

Primary Attack: Dexterity vs AC

Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity. Make a secondary attack.

Secondary Target: One creature within range, other than the primary target. When tracing line of sight to your second target, your first target does not provide cover. However, you must be able to trace at least one line to your second target that passes through one of the squares occupied by the first target (i.e. your second target has to stand behind your first target but gets no cover from doing so).

Secondary Attack: Dexterity vs AC

Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage. If the first target was your hunter’s quarry, the second target is dealt extra damage as if it were also your hunter’s quarry.

Smoke Them Out (Musketeer Utility 12)

Through uncannily accurate shots, you drive the enemy out of cover.

Daily ✦ Martial

Minor Action | Personal

Requirement: You must be wielding a black powder weapon.

Effect: Until end of the encounter you gain a bonus to damage equal to your Wisdom modifer to any target in cover or concealment (though not to targets in superior cover or total concealment).

Headshot (Musketeer Attack 20)

With deadly accuracy you place your shot straight between they eyes of your target, marking him for further target practice.

Daily ✦ Martial, Weapon

Minor Action | Ranged weapon

Requirement: You must be wielding a black powder weapon.

Target: One creature who is your hunter’s quarry.

Attack: Dexterity vs AC

Hit: 4[W] + Dexterity modifier damage and the target remains your hunter’s quarry until the end of the encounter even if you designate another target your hunter’s quarry.


I’ve tried to keep the paragon paths balanced and interesting when compared with the already existing paths in PHB and Martial Power. Balancing powers is hard however (just look at all the errata from wizards), so if you disagree with me on anything, please let me know.

  1. I like this package of black powder related materials–it certainly would make these things seem like part of the game world. On the subject of balancing powers, you might want to reconsider the Musketeer’s Marksman ability, maybe changing it from doubling the range to just adding 5 or 10 to the regular and long range values of the weapon (5 for guns like the halfling derringer and horse pistol, 10 for longarms like the double-barrel musket or the eladrin longarm). Being able to double the range of, for example, the eladrin farshot rifle (to 60/120!) seems extremely powerful, especially when you add feats like Far Shot and Distant Shot into the mix. Still, your work on this topic is very well-polished, very professional. Keep up the good work!

  2. You’re absolutely right. I wanted the ranger paragon path to be able to avoid the (intentional) short range of most black powder weapons. Though I don’t think a long range is that powerful, it’s absolutely right that it doesn’t integrate well with other feats and gets kind of silly with the eladrin farshot rifle. I’ll make an update about that!
    And thanks, I will try to keep up the good work, even though my posting schedule might not be as intense in the future.

  3. Could you try your hand at a full class, like IK’s gunmage? The basics of it have been discussed on the PP forum, but it seems to be stalled. Given the quality of the work you’ve done here, I’d be excited to see what you could do with it. I’m going to point my DM this way too, to see if we can’t get blackpowder weapons into our game!

    • I loved the Iron Kingdoms setting but lost my patience when the world book never arrived and now I’m 100% on the 4E bandwagon. I have a post coming up on black powder monsters and traps and after that, I’ll definitely take a look at the gunmage class (or equivalent).

      Another thing I was pondering on was doing the Pistoleer and Musketeer as builds of the Rogue and Ranger class respectively. What would be most interesting? A full-blown class á la gunmage (ranged striker, martial) or styled rogues and ranger builds with new powers and perhaps new class features?

  4. Really? Which world book? I’ve got a copy. It has so much information in it.

    I think the Rogue and Ranger classes stand pretty well on their own, but a gunmage class would be phenomenal. I think it would be (ranged striker, arcane) though, rather than martial. That said, additional powers for rogues to make use of their new found pistolity would be great!

  5. I know, this was back in 2005 or something, when everyone was waiting (and waiting and waiting). When it finally arrived, I had moved on.

    I’ll gladly take on a gunmage, but it won’t be an adaptation of the IK one, as I’m not familiar enough with that version. I’d rather do a “black powder arcanist”, some kind of gunslinging alchemist with smokebombs and flashbombs and special kinds of bullets (akin but not identical to the gunmage as I gather it from the PP forums).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: