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In the last installment, we examined the repercussions of introducing firearms and gunpowder into your campaign. We weighed the pros and cons of firearms in a fantasy setting, compared traditional gunpowder with magical smokepowder, showed some examples of existing popular campaign settings that use gunpowder and introduced some ideas on how to introduce gunpowder into your campaign.

Now all this is fine and good, but Renaissance-level firearms, as introduced on page 144 of the Dungeon Master's Guide are fairly generic. They can be introduced into any fantasy setting, but they are very grounded in history. This article gives some examples of how different races may use gunpowder and firearms, provides some new firearms for your characters as well as some other new options to help your character unlock their inner pistoleer.

For more information about firearms in D&D see:
Dungeon Master's Guide, page 144.
Way of the Gun by Michael Shortt; Dragon Magazine #321 (July 2004), page 30.

Humans and Firearms

Humans take to firearms quite readily. Muskets may be found in both the courts of kings and hanging over the mantles of wealthy farmers. It's human innovation that heralds new improvements in gunpowder weaponry, from the simple fire-lance to the insidious poison smoke bomb.

Humans tend to use firearms as a first-resort, such as firing a pistol during a battle's opening charge. After the shot is expended, then the firearm is discarded in favor of a melee weapon, allowing them to capitalize on their gun's devastating power, without having to rely on the slow-loading weapons during pitched combat.

Firearms aren't the only inventions humans have created. Adept at manipulating gunpowder in its raw form, human alchemists have designed everything from entertaining fireworks to insidious poisoned smoke bombs as well as distracting tools like the fire-lance.

Dwarves and Firearms

For many dwarves, their first exposure to gunpowder is in the form of small bombs used to blast away rock faces, and allow them to more quickly mine an area. The smoke, thundering sound and bright sparks created by a pistol or musket when it's fired make it a poor weapon in confined underground locations, and dwarves generally don't use them there.

When waging war above ground, dwarves may carry a musket, but still tend to rely on melee weapons instead. Dwarves have however developed a firearm designed to assist them in both defending their homes from a siege as well as fight on the offensive. Their hand-cannon, which appears to be a strange cross between a bombard and a pistol, could almost be treated as artillery, and has far too much kick-back for most other races to wield it without hurting themselves. In the hands of a skilled dwarven shooter, it can be extraordinarily deadly.

Elves and Firearms

Elves resist the spread of gunpowder, sometimes violently. It's loud, dangerous, and creates acrid smoke, all qualities that offend elven sensibilities. Elven wizards see gunpowder as an affront: a mundane substance that can allow untrained, unskilled and reckless users to crudely replicate the arts that they themselves have spent years to perfect. More moderate communities may discourage the use of firearms. In isolated, extremist areas, firearms may be illegal and the penalty for carrying them may be quite extreme.

More liberal elven wizards experiment with gunpowder in limited quantities, incorporating it into their spell components to create more explosive results. So-called gun mages often find work as part of a mercenary company, bringing their magical might to bear upon enemy fortifications. Beyond that, some extremely progressive elves have developed arrows packed with gunpowder and designed to explode upon contact.

Gnomes and Firearms

Gnomes, with their natural inclination for invention take well to gunpowder and firearms, but often more as a curiosity than as an actual tool. Gnomish sharp-shooters take great pride in building and maintaining their own rifles for both competitions and defense. Like fishermen talking about the one that got away, gnomish riflemen who socialize inevitably get to bragging about the farthest they've been able to kill a kobold from.

The gnomish firearm of choice is the gnomish army rifle. An expertly crafted rifle that contains an assortment of survival tools within a hidden compartment in the stock, it has proven itself to be so useful that rangers and well-to-do soldiers of other races have commissioned their own larger versions.

Halflings and Firearms

Although halflings are more than happy to use firearms if they're made available, they don't often make their own, preferring instead to use guns of gnomish design and make their own modifications to them. Most firearms are used by halfling wardens, who carry them on their long travels.

For weight and convenience, many halfling still prefer to use the traditional sling rather than a firearm. Those who do carry prefer to use a musket, stripped down to reduce weight. Although the modified guns are not as powerful as they otherwise would be, they are much more portable, allowing the wielder to easily climb trees, ride for hours or move quickly in combat without being encumbered.

Orcs and Firearms

Most orcs are introduced to gunpowder when it's used against them by other races. Although most tribes aren't developed enough to make their own, some are able to get their hands on the substance through either trade, or more likely, raiding. Not only does it serve them as a weapon, but orcish clerics and adepts use it as a component in painful rituals to Gruumsh, or to staunch bleeding wounds (see the last installment). Overall, orcs love gunpowder. It's loud, dangerous, and creates acrid smoke, all qualities that orcs can appreciate.

Orcs find many firearms to be too finicky and delicate for their own tastes, and far too slow to load. The answer to this is the orcish blunderbuss. The heavy weapon needs little in the way of aiming, can be loaded with any debris that will fit down the barrel and is affixed with a long curved spike on the back of the stock that allows the user to wield it as a melee weapon once it's been fired.

Dragon-Blooded Races and Firearms

Gunpowder often proves to be problematic for dragonblood creatures. Draconic breath weapons can easily ignite a powder keg with fire and lightning, making it as much of a liability as a tactical advantage. Those without breath weapons, such as kobolds and spellscales tend to use gunpowder more regularly, with kobolds often incorporating it into their traps. Pure dragons have neither the inclination nor the deathwish to stock gunpowder in their layers and rarely use it at all.

For those dragon-descended races that do use gunpowder, the firearm of choice is the firebrand, a device that mimics draconic breath weapons by launching streams of alchemist's fire at a target.

Planetouched Races and Firearms

Aasimar, tieflings and genasi, along with the other planetouched races use gunpowder at more or less the same rate as humans in whatever area they hale from. The exception to this is the fire genasi, who must be cautious around the substance, lest they accidentally ignite it.

For their part, the many planar races, such as celestials, fiends and elementals are extremely slow to adapt to the invention of gunpowder. Elementals especially avoid using it as they often either accidentally ignite it (fire), accidentally destroy it (air or water), or the use of it can be extremely dangerous in their home plane (earth).

Celestials and fiends occasionally make use of small explosives when battling one another. Containing substances that are somewhat safe to the creator and extremely deadly to their enemies, these can make a huge difference in the many skirmishes between the forces of good and evil.

New Feats

Chemist [General]
You have knowledge of how to combine different materials in order to create powerful alchemic substances.
    Prerequisites: Knowledge (nature) or Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Int 15+.
    Benefit: You may take ranks in and use the Craft (alchemy) skill as if you were a spellcaster. You gain a +3 bonus to Craft (alchemy) checks.
    Special: This feat does not stack with Skill Focus (Craft [alchemy]). It is treated as the equivalent of Skill Focus (Craft [alchemy]) for the purpose of meeting prerequisites.
    Normal: Only spellcasters may take ranks in the Craft (alchemy) skill.

Shot and Sword [Style]
A true adapter of new technology, you are adept at combining traditional swordplay with modern firearms.
    Prerequisites: Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (any sword), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (pistol).
    Benefit: When fighting with a sword in one hand and a pistol in the other, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity for making a ranged attack while threatened.
    In addition, you may discharge your pistol while making an opposed check to trip, disarm or sunder to gain a +2 circumstance bonus to the check. This discharged shot does not deal any damage.
    Special: Characters wielding gun-mounted weapons (see Dragon Magazine #321) may take advantage of this feat without fighting with two weapons, but must still meet all prerequisites.

New Equipment
Each race has it's own particular spin on how to best utilize gunpowder or design firearms. Presented here are firearms and explosives that can be added to your campaign to give a more "personal touch" beyond the generic pistol and musket. Unless otherwise noted, each firearm requires two hands to be loaded, and 1 ounce of gunpowder per shot.

Note: The blunderbuss and rifle are adapted from Michael Shortt's excellent article from Dragon Magazine #321 (July 2004) for completeness sake. If you're serious about including firearms in your next campaign, pick up this magazine. It's the best source I've seen for using early firearms in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

New Gunpowder Weapons

Arrows, Gunpowder
Invented by some forward-thinking elves as a way to combine gunpowder technology with traditional archery, gunpowder arrows have proven themselves to be extremely effective, if somewhat dangerous in untrained hands.
    Each gunpowder arrow has a thin tube filled with gunpowder wrapped around the shaft as well as a long wick trailing out the front. Gunpowder arrows can be lit as a free action provided there is a source of flame readily at hand. Otherwise, lighting a gunpowder arrow requires a standard action. A lit gunpowder arrow deals an additional 1d4 points of fire damage. If unlit, the gunpowder arrow deals damage as a standard arrow. Lit gunpowder arrows are always destroyed after use.
    If for some reason the gunpowder arrow is not fired in the same round it is lit, it deals 1d4 points of fire damage to any creature it shares a space with (such as a hapless archer who has become distracted at the wrong time).
    Gunpowder arrows are sold in small quivers that contain 20 arrows.

Balls, Hand-Cannon
Heavy spheres of pig iron, hand-cannon balls are the ammunition used in the dreaded dwarven hand-cannon. Although they are much lighter than the ammunition used in full-sized cannons, they are still exceptionally heavy and deal significant damage to their targets. They are generally sold per cannon ball rather than in packages.

The blunderbuss is a firearm designed to be deadly, even in the hands of an untrained wielder. Instead of a single bullet, it instead shoots a scattered shot that hits everything in a wide arc around it.
    Firing a blunderbuss does not require the wielder to make an attack roll (although it is still considered to be making an attack). Instead, all creatures within a 20-foot cone must make a DC 15 Reflex save or be struck and take damage as normal. Those who make their saves suffer only half-damage.
    Blunderbusses can be loaded with just about anything and require a pound of scrap metal, stones or other improvised material. In addition, because of the additional weight of the ammunition, a blunderbuss requires 4 ounces of gunpowder per shot instead of the standard 1 ounce.
    Because the wielder does not make an attack roll while firing a blunderbuss, the weapon cannot cause a critical hit. In addition, it is not eligible for feats like Weapon Focus or Weapon Specialization.

Blunderbuss, Orcish
Originally of human design, blunderbusses were later acquired by orcs who appreciated the robustness of the weapons. The orcish blunderbuss is the result of orcish ingenuity. Through the addition of a large curved spike to the back of the stock, the orcish blunderbuss can be used as both an effective ranged and melee weapon.
    In addition to being used as a blunderbuss, the orcish blunderbuss can also be held by the barrel and used as a heavy pick. Feats that improve the effectiveness of heavy picks such as Weapon Focus (Heavy Pick) or Weapon Specialization (Heavy Pick) also apply to the orcish blunderbuss, but only when it is being used as a melee weapon. The orcish blunderbuss is treated as a double-weapon for the purposes of determining how it can be magically enchanted; the pick and the blunderbuss must be enchanted separately.

Bolts, Gunpowder
Gunpowder bolts are an adaptation of gunpowder arrows designed for use in a crossbow rather than a traditional bow. In all other respects, gunpowder bolts are identical to gunpowder arrows. They are sold in cases of 10.

Hand-Cannon, Dwarven
Cannons and other gunpowder-based siege weaponry all suffer from the same shortfall: they lack maneuverability. The dwarven hand-cannon is a smaller, hand-held version of a full-sized cannon. Although it has been scaled back in power, the ability for it to be moved at a moment's notice more than makes up for it.
    Dwarven hand-cannons must be loaded with specially made cannon-balls instead of normal ammunition and each shot requires 6 ounces of gunpowder rather than the standard 1 ounce. The power behind each shot is intense and firing a dwarven hand-cannon forces the wielder to make a DC 15 Strength check or be pushed back 5 feet and knocked prone as if they had been subjected to a bull rush.

Designed by kobolds to imitate the breath weapons of true dragons, the firebrand is a pistol-like firearm designed to launch vials of alchemical substances rather than bullets. Vents along the barrel help to lessen the impact on the glass bottle loaded within and instead of shattering it, launch it towards a target. The name comes from the kobold's preference of firing alchemist's fire from the weapon.
    While most wielders choose to load their firebrands with flasks of alchemist's fire, similar substances such as oil, acid, holy water or even contact poisons can be launched from the weapon as well. On impact the flask shatters, dealing the content's normal damage as well as splash damage to adjacent creatures as if it had been thrown.

The fire-lance is a simple spear with a hollow metal tube affixed near the tip which is filled with gunpowder and a small flint and steel that can be sparked by twisting a section of the haft.
    When making a melee attack with a fire-lance, the wielder may, as a free action, ignite the gunpowder in the tube, creating a shower of sparks that fly towards the intended target. Doing this allows the fire-lance to deal an additional 1d4 points of fire damage per attack for the round. After a single use, the tube is emptied and must be reloaded as normal. Reloading a fire-lance is identical to reloading a firearm except that it does not require a bullet.
    Feats that improve the effectiveness of spears, such as Weapon Focus (Spear) also apply to the fire-lance.

Musket, Halfling
Halflings prefer to use gnomish-designed muskets that have been stripped down to reduce the weight. These muskets are not as powerful as they otherwise might have been, but their light weight allows them to be easily carried whether climbing, riding or sneaking through underbrush.
    Feats that improve the effectiveness of muskets, such as Weapon Focus (Musket) also apply to the halfling musket.

Rifles are essentially muskets that have ridges and grooves running down the inside of the barrel. These spin the bullet as it is fired, giving it greater accuracy and allowing it to hit opponents who are further away.

Rifle, Gnomish Army
Gnomish marksmen appreciate the extra range and accuracy afforded to them by the rifle, and the gnomish army rifle is proof of their reliance on the weapon. The stocks of these weapons are hollow and can be opened from a latch in the back. The inside can be used to hold a small number of small objects, approximately the equivalent of what would fit into a belt pouch. The design has become so popular that human-sized versions have made their way into the hands of non-gnomish marksmen.
    Gnomish army rifles are made with extreme care and exceptional craftsmanship and are always treated as masterwork items (which is reflected in the price). They are also sold packaged with an ordinary dagger and flint and steel already held inside the stock. Many savvy adventurers place other items within the stock as well such as healing potions, alchemical items or even magical scrolls.
Feats that improve the effectiveness of rifles, such as Weapon Focus (Rifle) also apply to the gnomish army rifle.

Gunpowder Weapons
Exotic Weapons Cost Damage (S) Damage (M) Critical Range Increment Weight Type
Arrows, gunpowder (20) 36 gp +1d4 +1d4 - - 3 lb. Fire
Bolts, gunpowder (10) 36 gp +1d4 +1d4 - - 1 lb. Fire
Balls, hand-cannon (1) 1 gp - - - - 5 lb. -
Two-Handed Melee Weapons
Fire-lance 40 gp 1d6 1d8 x3 20 ft. 7 lb. Piercing
One-Handed Ranged Weapons
Firebrand 300 gp Special Special - 50 ft. 3 lb. Special
Two-Handed Ranged Weapons
Blunderbuss 200 gp 1d4 1d6 - special 10 lb. Piercing
Hand-cannon, dwarven 750 gp 2d6 2d8 x3 100 ft. 20 lb. Piercing
Blunderbuss, orcish 210 gp 1d4/1d4 1d6/1d6 -/x4 special 13 lb. Piercing
Musket, halfling 400 gp 1d8 1d10 x3 100 ft. 7 lb. Piercing
Rifle 600 gp 1d10 1d12 x3 200 ft. 12 lb. Piercing
Rifle, gnomish army 900 gp 1d10 1d12 x3 200 ft. 10 lb. Piercing

New Explosive Weapons

Blinding Bomb
This cylindrical bomb appears to be a standard smoke bomb, but the smoke released from it is laced with irritants that are designed to temporarily blind any who try to pass through it. Blinding bombs act as ordinary smoke bombs except that any who are caught in the cloud of smoke must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or be blinded. This blindness remains as long as the victim remains within the smoke cloud and for 1d6 rounds after they leave. A character who succeeds their Fortitude save must make an additional Fortitude save for every round they remain in the cloud.
    Undead creatures and creatures without eyes such as constructs, plants and oozes are immune to the blinding effect of a blinding bomb. Creatures who wear goggles or cover their eyes with a wet piece of fabric receive a +2 circumstance bonus to avoid being blinded.

Celestial Bomb
Originally conceived in Bytopia, the celestial bomb has made its way throughout the outer planes and even to the material plane as well. The casings of these explosives have been treated with powdered silver, cold iron, holy water and other alchemical substances so that it can easily harm even the toughest of fiendish defenses.
    Celestial bombs are treated as standard bombs, except that they automatically overcome the damage reduction of evil outsiders.

Fireworks are small tubes that when lit, rocket high into the air before exploding in a burst of bright colored sparks. Usually used for celebrations, fireworks can also be used as a signal or distraction, but usually work better at night, when they are better seen.
    In a pinch, fireworks can also be used as explosive weapons, which although aren't particularly accurate, do achieve impressive range. Any creature struck by an exploding firework must make a DC 15 Will save for be dazzled for 1 round.

Hellfire Bomb
Forged in the foul pits of Cania, the hellfire bomb has been designed to explode with a devastating blast of hellfire instead of its normal effect. Originally the invention of a follower of dread Mephistopheles, hellfire bombs have found their way across the multiverse: in the hands of mortals, in skirmishes with the denizens of the Upper Planes and even within the Blood War itself.
    Hellfire bombs are treated as standard bombs, except that they deal hellfire damage instead of fire damage. Hellfire does not deal fire damage. Creatures with resistance or immunity to fire take full damage from hellfire. In addition, hellfire deals full damage to objects.

Poison Smoke Bomb
Appearing exactly like a standard smoke bomb, a poison smoke bomb as been adulterated with a dose of poison. All creatures caught within the cloud of smoke must make a Fortitude save against the poison as normal.
    Any inhaled or ingested poison can be added to a smoke bomb during creation to create a poison smoke bomb. Poison cannot be later added to an existing smoke bomb. Because the poison is diluted by the cloud of smoke the save DC for the poison used is reduced by 2.
    The cost of a poison smoke bomb is 70 gp plus the cost of the poison being added.

Explosive Weapons
Explosive Weapons Cost Damage Blast Radius Range Increment Weight Type
Celestial bomb 185 gp 2d6 5 ft. 10 ft. 1 lb. Fire
Fireworks 125 gp 1d8 5 ft. 30 ft. 1 lb. Fire
Hellfire bomb 200 gp 2d6 5 ft. 10 ft. 1 lb. Hellfire
Smoke bomb, blinding 90 gp Smoke Special 10 ft. 1 lb. -
Smoke bomb, poison Special Smoke Special 10 ft. 1 lb. -

New Magic Items

Protectorate Pistol: First created by a forward-thinking court wizard and presented to his king, these weapons have become highly favored by guard captains in the richest kingdoms. Highly prized as the ultimate weapon for bodyguards, these +1 axiomatic pistols allow the wielder to cast detect thoughts once per day (save DC 15).
    Moderate evocation [lawful]; CL 7th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, order's wrath, detect thoughts, creator must be lawful; Price 13,500 gp; Cost 6,520 gp + 540 XP.

Silver Bullet: Used since nearly the advent of the musket, silver bullets are powerfully enchanted firearm ammunition that have been cast from purest silver, anointed with holy water and blessed by priests. These bullets have become infinitely useful to witch hunters, despite their high cost.
    Silver bullets are +1 silvered bullets that act as bane weapons against any creature with a spell-like ability.
    Evil priests forge these potent weapons as well, but use them for destroying good outsiders or faeries.
    Strong conjuration; CL 8th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, summon monster I, bless or bane; Cost 810 gp; Cost 400 gp + 32 XP.

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