The use of Gunpowder


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Hi all,

I know that generally speaking the use of firearms such as muskets is largely limited.

How does this impact with regards to obtaining just plain gunpowder.

Is it as difficult to obtain as firearms are or is the assumption that knowledge and therefore availability of gunpowder precedes the use of firearms


I assume that gunpowder is as easy or difficult to find as the firearms it powers... alchemists have a lot of stuff they can produce, I'll assume that the demand for gunpowder will depend on the need for firearms, as civilian applications (mining, tunneling, road building etc) are either unthought of yet, or unpractical with an explosive like blackpowder.


1 dose of black powder is 10gp. A keg of black powder is 1000gp. I don't know what that means in Golarion economic terms, really, other than it costs 11gp for every bullet you fire from your pistol, which seems pretty expensive, especially at low levels. Firing a cannon costs 100gp+whatever a cannonball costs.

Black Powder has no Craft DC, so it cannot be created using Craft(Alchemy), so who knows where it comes from.


djdust wrote:

1 dose of black powder is 10gp. A keg of black powder is 1000gp. I don't know what that means in Golarion economic terms, really, other than it costs 11gp for every bullet you fire from your pistol, which seems pretty expensive, especially at low levels. Firing a cannon costs 100gp+whatever a cannonball costs.

Black Powder has no Craft DC, so it cannot be created using Craft(Alchemy), so who knows where it comes from.

Unless you're a Gunslinger or have Gunsmithing feat

Gunsmithing wrote:
Crafting Ammunition: You can craft bullets, pellets, and black powder for a cost in raw materials equal to 10% of the price. If you have at least 1 rank in Craft (alchemy), you can craft alchemical cartridges for a cost in raw materials equal to half the price of the cartridge. At your GM's discretion, you can craft metal cartridges for a cost in raw materials equal to half the cost of the cartridge. Crafting bullets, black powder, or cartridges takes 1 day of work for every 1,000 gp of ammunition (minimum 1 day).

Funny thing about that though is it takes 1 day to do 1 does or 1 keg...so might as well make a keg of it. Which means somewhere there is a stockpile of blackpowder just sitting around from people who made a whole keg when all they really needed was 5 charges.


I knew I should have checked the Gunslinger class. So if you craft your own ammo, that's 1.1gp for every bullet you fire.

And seriously, sell those kegs to anyone with a cannon. That's 900gp profit for a day's work.


From a practical position, Alkenstar (in the Manawastes where magic doesn't work at all or is unpredictable) is the progenitor of firearm technology and also where gunslingers are supposed to come from. Outside of Alkenstar gun powder should probably be rare to the point that you can obtain large quantities of it regularly.

That being said, that is the basis in Golarion. If you're not playing in Golarion that could change. But it should be as rare as firearms are, generally speaking.


it's not just the gunslinger class, it's also the gunsmithing feat.


And I would argue that you shouldn't be able to take the gunsmithing feat unless you were from Alkenstar or learned from someone who already had knowledge of firearms (in the Golarion setting).


I have encountered gunpowder written into two adventure paths.

The first adventure path was Jade Regent. Goblins had gotten ahold of fireworks. They were using them to raid caravans by startling the horses. The origin of the fireworks was traced back to a village inhabited by refugees from Tian Xia. Thus, Golarian's equivalent of Asia has gunpowder but no guns.

The second adventure path was Iron Gods. One criminal gang in Numeria contained rogue/gunslinger characters with battered firearms. James Jacobs, the Creative Director for Pathfinder, explained in the Iron Gods subforum that though this particular gang had firearms, this does not mean that firearms are available in Numeria. They could be an exception, trained by someone from Alkenstar, if the GM wanted to keep gunpowder firearms away from the player characters. Also, many levels later the party found the corpse of a bounty hunter from Alkenstar with an intact firedrake pistol.

Numeria is the second most likely place to find gunpowder firearms, because it attracts people interested in gadgets. But I like the versimitude that all gunpowder use in Numeria can be traced back to immigrants from Alkenstar.

Two party members in my Iron Gods campaign had gunpowder firearms. Both characters had the Local Ties trait which tied their backgrounds to the town of Torch. I took one NPC, Gerrol Sonder, changed him from rogue to gunslinger, and declared that he had personally taught the two characters how to use firearms. One character was a gunslinger with Experimental Gunsmith archetype and lots of metalworking skill, so she had made her own blunderbuss before the campaign started. The other had firearm proficiency from a homebrew archetype that did not grant a free firearm. One of her quest rewards was to borrow a firearm from Gerrol Sonder. The gunslinger party member made the gunpowder for both of them.


Black powder or some variation of it has existed far longer than firearms have in real life, so I suppose the availability would probably go with how much use the area has for it.
Places where fireworks or firecrackers are popular would likely have it, as would areas with rocky terrain (due to mining or the need to clear away rocks for building/farming). Areas with heavy magic use, however, would be less likely to have surplus available for sale, as they'd probably only have small amounts for use in potions or material components.
That said, the substances needed to make very basic gunpowder are relatively common and available in any decent alchemical supply or magical reagent shop, so the GM assigning a low Craft(Alchemy) DC wouldn't be much of a stretch (this method should cost 1/3 of the price as per Craft rules instead of the 1/10 listed in the Gunsmithing feat, though).

The Exchange

Mathmuse wrote:


Numeria is the second most likely place to find gunpowder firearms, because it attracts people interested in gadgets. But I like the versimitude that all gunpowder use in Numeria can be traced back to immigrants from Alkenstar.

Just don't get caught in Southern Numeria with one, or you will be lynched.


maouse33 wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:


Numeria is the second most likely place to find gunpowder firearms, because it attracts people interested in gadgets. But I like the versimitude that all gunpowder use in Numeria can be traced back to immigrants from Alkenstar.

Just don't get caught in Southern Numeria with one, or you will be lynched.

I was wondering about this prejudice in southern Numerian when the southern towns of Torch and Hajoth Hakados had no anti-gunpowder attitude. Then I remembered Iadenveigh.

Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars wrote:
Iadenveigh: Unique in Numeria, Iadenveigh was founded 65 years ago by exiles from Molthune. Established by decent, hard-working hunters and lumberjacks, this community has a fierce devotion to Erastil and an absolute loathing of any technology more sophisticated than a crossbow. A traditional wizard has nothing to fear here, but androids and technologists best beware, for all that awaits them in Iadenveigh is a perfunctory trial and a very real punishment. The town has long fought to keep mutants out of the surrounding hunting grounds, and it once held festivals in which recovered technological items were dismantled and destroyed—although after one such festival a decade ago ended with an explosion, the town elders have sought other methods of secretly and safely disposing of any such items. The citizens of Iadenveigh have had numerous clashes with the Technic League, but their small size and distance from Starfall has kept them firmly in the category of “minor nuisance” to the League, and as of yet, no significant action has been taken against the town. For more information on Iadenveigh, see Pathfinder Adventure Path #87: The Choking Tower.

When my party visited Iadenveigh in The Choking Tower, I learned that the anti-technology prejudice was more nuanced in the module. The town has a definite anti-robot and anti-mutant prejudice, with androids viewed as robots. The hate of other technology varies from person to person. A few people would view a crossbow or plate armor as too mechanical, but the rest of the town would consider them idiots. A gunpowder pistol falls in a gray area inbetween mundane weaponry and robotic mechanisms and would probably be confiscated and destroyed, but the gunslinger would not be lynched.

My party hid their gunpowder weapons and alien technology. They openly wore their adamantine swords and picks, and were congratulated on their fine robot-killing weapons.

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