Combat/ Warfare
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ID: 297


November 20, 2005, 10:08 am

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Firearms & Artillery


Firearms & Artillery rules to simplify the addition of such weapons into a campaign setting.

Gunpowder use is an extremely optional addition to any fantasy campaign. I debated it’s use for years before finally accepting it once 3e came about.

I strived to make it usable and balanced, and also relatively simple. I discarded the nitpicking ( Penetration values, calibers, powder quality, etc… )and collected various ideas and rules to make it’s use reasonable in any setting.

Here’s the base rules for what will follow here:

The standard firearm will use 1oz of blackpowder per shot. The powder propels a 1oz lead ball that inflicts terrible damage, but has limited accuracy.

Rate of fire is 1/10 ( one minute ) untrained
                     1/5 ( 30 seconds ) trained

Basic Firearms

Damage: 3d10 at short range/ 2d10 medium/1d10 long
Critical: x3
Ranges: 25ft/50ft/75ft
ROF: 1/5 ( 1/10 untrained )
Special: Knockdown at short range ( Reflex Save DC 20, creatures size S or M )/ 10ft spread at medium range/ broken glass, nails, gravel, and lead balls may be used as ammunition.

Damage: 1d10
Critical: x3
Ranges: 50ft/100ft/150ft
ROF: 1/5 ( 1/10 untrained )
Special: NA

Damage: 2d10
Critical: x3
Ranges: 150ft/300ft/450ft
ROF: 1/5 ( 1/10 untrained )
Special: NA

Explosives and Artillery

Keg of powder is a 5lb keg.
5d10 damage 0-5’  3d10 damage 6-15’ 1d10 damage 16-25’
BR: 25’

For multiple kegs. up the area of effect by 1’ for every additional keg. Each keg will inflict damage, so multiply damage. example: 12 kegs BR = 36’ft max ( 5d10 x 12 0-16’ 3d10 x12 17-26’ 1d10 x 12 27-36’ )  damage = x12


Damage depends on the shot used. the size of the cannon effects only the range. The rules can be expanded to reflect heavier shot, but this is optional. The following is a basic guidline for quick artillery. ranges are roundshot/grapeshot.

roundshot d10 damage ( optional rule making damage d10 per 1b of weight for the shot )

grapeshot d10 per 5’ square occupied. reflex save dc 20 for 1/2. the ranges reflect a cone shaped area of effect, extending to full width at maximum effective range.

rate of fire assumes a full crew. add 5 rounds to the reload time for every 1 short in a crew. min crew for any cannon is 2. the exception being the light cannon.

light cannon ( deck guns, and chasers. Giant sized humanoids with strengths 20 and above could carry such weapons and use as blunderbus )
range: 200-300/20-30
( Optional roundshot weight maximum 4lbs )
reload/rof ( trained only ) 1/10
crew 2

Medium Cannon ( standard field artillery 18th 7 19th century )
range 400-500/40-50
( Optional roundshot weight maximum 18lbs )
reload/rof ( trained only ) 1/20
crew 4

Heavy cannon ( bombards, super cannons )
range 600-700/60-70
( Optional roundshot weight maximum 50lbs )
reload/rof ( trained only ) 1/30
crew 6

Magical Properties:

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Comments ( 17 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

April 9, 2003, 17:47
Wait! This isn't D20! Never mind, shivamuffin! Bravo!

Well done rules!
April 10, 2003, 3:24
I don't know why black powder rules have caused so many issues. They are wimpy magik items (when compared to most of them), that any class can use, that requires an expensive material component. When you think of them in that way, they are not so scary.

However, they will have an impact upon the campaign world, unless the mages can monopolize the production of gun powder.

Other than that little tirade, very nice set up.

Sage, Gamer, Mystic, Wit
Now posting 1100+ RPG tips @
April 10, 2003, 20:23
Standing 6 feet from a keg of powder causes the same amount og damage as being 25 feet from a blunderbus? I thought that was like a shotgun, not a gatling gun! 450 range for a musket? Did barrel rifling get invented along with the gunpowder? One shot a minute? Maybe with a three man crew, one shooting, one cleaning and one loading.

I just can't see any way to make gunpowder viable. It was unbalancing in reality and therefore is always unbalancing in games.
Barbarian Horde
April 14, 2003, 17:08
Yes, one shot a minute. The best a highly trained soldier durning the civil war pulled off was 30 seconds, and that was with prepacked shot,improved caps, and 19th century technicological advancements in gunsmithing.
18th century firearms required the pouring of powder, from a powder horn into the barrel, add wadding, then the shot. Then it had to be packed with the ramrod, which had to be removed and returned to its place beneath the barrel..Then the shooter had to cock, aim and fire the weapon. Ranges varied, power of the shot varied, and accuracy sucked ( Hence shoulder to shoulder formations and concentrated fire ).
The ROF is acurate, as are the ranges. A DM with time on his hands could make the weapons more inaccurate and prone to misfire relatively easily. A -2 cumilative penalty per range increment beyond 50fy would work just fine.

The range is off, but again it's not. That's how far it can shoot, but that's not necessarily its effective range. that's only a football field and a half for maximum range. Accurate fire is possible at half the listed range with 18th century weapons. Some 19th century civil war era muskets, in the right hands, could pop off a shot and hit at that range fairly easily.
April 14, 2003, 19:41
15th century guns were highly inaccurate, good for only about 30-40 yards. These used slow matches to fire and were unreliable as to if they were going to fire at all. Firearms remained that way for near to 100 years before anyone even thought of rifling the barrels, but the first rifling was straight grooves, not spirals, and were used to catch the unburn powder and keep it from clogging the barrel. Spiraled rifling was only utilized once someone noticed it had more area to hold the unburn powder.

My sources for all this:
Barbarian Horde
April 15, 2003, 9:59
Correct. The weapons I detailed are 18th century weapons. To introduce them into a fantasy setting will require a boost of the tech level from standard medevil squalor, to an 18th century level. Ravenloft is a good example of that sort of setting ( In parts of the world anyway ) already in publication.

The sources you provied are cool.
April 15, 2003, 16:37
I try to avoid gunpowder and such in my campaigns as it's the players often trying to make it on their own. If they can somehow justify their CHARACTER knowing how to cut spiral grooves in a narrow hole (something I've never been able to figure out myself) Then that let's me know they'd probbally rather be playing a sci-fi game and we switch genres.

Any character trying to do this stuff on his own in a midevil setting would be stuck with the unreliable, short range, likely-as-not-to-blow-yourself-up guns that are accurate to period. They just have to face the fact that any character that can acquire the nessecary knowledge to make any or all of this is probally a mage, and would rather cast magic missile with no chance of missing, much less blowing his fragile person to smitherines, than construct one of these silly things.

Although, that line does give me an idea for a cool campaign...
April 16, 2003, 2:17
Ah you are suffering from the difference in character skill than player knowledge. If they want to do that, then require them to know exactly how to take care of that blade or what the reasoning behind their spell components are, or why certain poisons are applied in different ways. These are all things their characters know, that their players don't (usually(.

As for making the grooves, it is for rifleing. It is like throwing a ball. If you put a longitudal spin on it, it actually goes farther and with a flatter trajectory and does not tumble, resulting in more accuracy. That is why many fletchers, twist the feathers on crossbow bolts. It creates a spin that makes the bolt go farther. This trick does not work for arrows because of the bow draw length.
April 16, 2003, 11:38
I fully understand what the grooves do, that's pretty elementry. I have no idea HOW they cut the things, in a spiral, inside the long, very narrow hole that is the barrel. I mean, straight groves, that's easy enough, just a long file or something, but you can use a straight file to make a sprial groove, you would just end up enlarging the bore. Maybe some special spiral file ... then the players are gonna have to have some real made skills to make the tool steel, give it a perfect and even twist, cut the teeth, and then apply it to the bore. If the twist on the file isn't exactly perfect, they'll have irregular rifling widths and the file will get jammed up often as the two sides try to twist at different rates.

If they can think up some other way, or research the real way, it probally isn't much easier in a pre-industial revolution society.
Barbarian Horde
April 21, 2003, 15:14
if you took a metal rod and secured it where it wont jerk or bounce (possibly a glue spell) then get somthing like a screw (Look at a the hole when it comes out and it makes a grove or a cap on a soda it uses grove's to get the job done) where it makes a grove without causeing damege it would take a whole new proffesion like gunsmithing of course and magic would cancel help cancel the bonus's and disadvanteges
Barbarian Horde
November 27, 2003, 16:24
hmmm, a gun this is really magical would be cool. like a pistol the can shoot bullets and lighting bolts etc.
July 20, 2012, 19:51
So I once had a source-book for a setting in an alternate 1980s (i think because it was written in the 1980's). Basically the idea was that magic is real and this is the way the world turned out different because of it.

Anyway all the technology was based on magic. you could get two kinds of bullets "air burst" (breaking the crystal at the back would cause an explosion of pressurized air.) or "telekinetic" breaking the crystal at the back would cause them to be telekinetic launched from the gun out to the range increment.

the air burst bullets were cheaper but the telekinetic bullets packed more of a wallop being effectively powered all the way to the target.

Sadly I lost this book some time ago. and I cannot now remember what the system or setting was called.

If anyone recognizes this I'd love to know what the book was called.

a few other highlights:
The republic of Texas is populated by Minotaurs.

The Incas had real magic so the Spaniards were unable to conquer them and now are a world power and drive stone golem mechs.

I think there were magic space ships too and Mars an Venus were populated. But now I may just be mixing it up with some other sci-fi thing.
Ria Hawk
November 28, 2003, 22:53
I think the easiest way to make spiral rifling would be to make a mold and cast the barrel already rifled. But that is entirely beside the point.
October 14, 2005, 1:14
WHEN SOMEONE FINDS THIS AFTER THE VERSION 2 MIGRATION, Copy it over to a System's Post. (Combative/ Historical) Then make all these comments, comments on that Post. Not really an item's post.
March 5, 2006, 13:36
Thank you.
Voted valadaar
September 29, 2006, 12:55
The biggest thing which slows the historical growth of firearm use is metallurgy.
No good having high quality powder if the barrel will explode.
Voted Murometz
January 27, 2011, 11:23

Fun comments. Good read.


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