Guns & Gears Playtest Analysis

Monday, February 22, 2021

Hey everyone! Michael Sayre here, ready to discuss the Pathfinder Guns & Gears playtest that just wrapped up! We’ve had some time to go over the survey results and contextualize all of the amazing posts, videos, and playtest reports you all shared during the course of the playtest. Now that we’ve had a chance to go over that data ourselves and make some decisions, we’re here to talk to you a bit about the direction we’d like to take. Keep in mind, while we’re going to talk about some broad points here, there are likely to be dozens of little changes throughout both classes—covering everything from adding more feats and class options to minor tweaks in the way existing abilities or options function. Just because we don’t mention something here doesn’t mean it won’t get some kind of love and attention during development. We’re just hitting the highlight reel! Also, feel free to stick around to the end of the blog to check out a preview of one of the cool new options that’ll be included in the final release of Guns & Gears!

Gunslinger

pathfinder guns and gears second edition playtest gunslinger iconic with a large rifle over her shoulder

Not surprisingly, a lot of the feedback on the gunslinger focused on the execution of firearms and the Reload mechanic. We also collected some really remarkable data related to the gunslinger ways, so I want to be sure to spend some time exploring what that data could mean for us going forward. Finally, I’m going to talk a bit about the types of gear that weren’t present in the playtest, but that should have a significant impact thanks to inclusion in the final release.

Firearms: Firearms remain a divisive subject when it comes to fantasy roleplaying games, and this particular iteration was no exception, though we did learn some interesting information. The first and most relevant data point suggests that the version of guns we have in the playtest are far and away the most popular choice for how people want to see firearms executed in this edition, so we’re going to stick pretty close to that model. That being said, there are opportunities for improvement here.

The first thing I’ll note is that the final version of Guns & Gears is going to have more than double the number of firearms than the playtest had. This is going to include things like one-handed scatter weapons and guns that fire big, relatively slow-moving rounds that have a higher base damage die but no fatal property. We also plan to incorporate quite a few other variations on the theme that you’ll have to wait to see more of in the final book!

We also embraced a conservative approach to firearm design going into this playtest, keeping the ranges very tight to represent the relative inaccuracy of these kinds of smooth bore weapons and using primarily preexisting weapon traits that people already know how to use. As we go through and develop all of the firearms, we’ll consider opportunities to explore these options: such as extending the range of a few different weapons, potentially introducing new traits that do a better job of telling the story of a firearm, and addressing small oversights in the playtest options. For example, the penalty and action cost for unsteady probably shouldn’t apply to a prone character, so adding that clarification should enhance the usability of unsteady weapons while also adding interesting new dynamics to feats like Hit the Dirt!

Reload: Reload times inspired a lot of constructive debate during the playtest. Many people found that they were an important part of the story of firearms and greatly preferred the tone and era of weapons we used in the playtest, feeling that they were a more natural fit for a fantasy world than things like revolvers and cartridge-loaded rifles. Others felt like the action cost of reloading was a real stumbling block that got in the way a player making the character they wanted. Running Reload was an incredibly popular feat choice for really helping people maximize the value of that action. Consequently, we’re looking at granting each of the gunslinger ways their own unique Reload action. For example, gunslingers who choose the way of the sniper could receive a built-in action to Reload and Hide or Take Cover. We’ll also likely use some of the additional feats that will appear in the final version of the class to expand your options for more robust Reload activities even more, giving gunslingers a highly efficient action economy with lots of ways to interact with the battlefield.

Gunslinger Ways: So, normally in any playtest for a class that has multiple “subpath” options, there’s a clear first-place choice that selected significantly more often by players. That was not the case with the gunslinger ways. While there were small variations between the number of people choosing a given way, they were each so close to a third of the total respondents that it was clear that each of these concepts has just as much draw and appeal as the others. As a result, it’s pretty likely that each of these ways will be present in the final release, though with some changes informed by the experiences from this playtest. A lot of the feedback we received also suggested some possibilities for new ways that weren’t featured in the playtest, so we’ll be looking into those as well. Expect these concepts to stick around but their execution to evolve in multiple ways (pun intended) going forward.

Gear: This is one area where I wish we’d just had a little more time before the playtest to show you what we’ve got lined up, as I think that would have had a really positive impact on some playtesters’ experiences. That said, I think this is as good a place to give you a sneak peek at what’s ahead as any. First, let me just say this. Yes, we plan to include bayonets in the final release.

More than that, we’re looking at an entire section of the book that explores black powder and the things you can do with it (like leaving a trail of powder you can light on fire to blow up a powder keg) and the things you can’t (like igniting it underwater). We are going to include cool options and accessories you can use to customize your gun, though, and that’ll feature options for using your preferred weapon in just about any environment, including underwater. We’re looking at all kinds of choices for accessories, from scopes to holsters, bandoliers to weaponized bipod/tripods, and just about anything else you can think of to customize your gunslinger. There’s always going to be more cool ideas for a product than you can fit into the page count, but we’ll continue to provide players as much variety and as many unique avenues for their character builds as we can.

And that’s about all I’ve got for you at the moment. I’ll pass this over to Mark so he can talk about the inventor!

Inventor

pathfinder guns and gears second edition playtest inventor iconic with with a small construct

Hi everyone! Mark Seifter here for a post-playtest report for the inventor class. I want to start off by thanking you all so much for your feedback, and especially for the way you've given it to us. At the start of the playtest, I mentioned that since we had two playtests so close to each other, we needed the community's help to avoid too many circular arguments and focus on new data and analyses on various topics. And boy did you deliver! So thank you for giving us great data, ideas, and feedback. This helps make it easy for us to follow along and incorporate your ideas. In terms of the ratio of insights to arguments, this playtest has one of the best I've ever seen, and that starts with you.

Overall people really liked the inventor, almost as much as the swashbuckler with a big gap before the summoner, gunslinger, and a few others that are clustered below. But that doesn't mean that there aren't things about the class that need to change. Brigh knows, I even announced in the “Welcome to the Inventor” thread that unstable had to change after we accidentally didn't use the version asked about in the survey! Thank you for bearing with me on this journey and also at looking past the roughness with unstable to really dig deep on every other aspect of the class, which needed a close eye too.

Unstable: The unstable trait will change. My goal is to make the trait present a gamble that weighs risk versus reward. Unlike the playtest version, you'll always get to perform the action when you take the risk. The gamble will be whether something goes wrong, causing something bad to happen in addition to the action succeeding. I have one very exciting idea for this that I can't share yet until I'm sure it works. In the meantime, if you want to keep playing your inventor in your home game, you can just roll the flat check after you use the unstable ability (including the first time) to see if you can use it again. I'm hoping the final version will be more exciting than that, but that should work okay for now.

Gadgets: We will be adding a fun gadgets feat path for the inventor to make special gadgets each day! It won't be mandatory, as most playtesters expressed that they didn’t want it to be. It will be nice to include it as an option so a player can opt in to the complexity that comes with having to read through a big gadget section.

Innovations: Playtesters asked for more options for modifications and feats for innovations, and the final version will add more of them. All of you inventor playtesters really captured the weird science vibe and had some great ideas, and I took careful and extensive notes. For example, giving the construct companion with a ranged attack a "turret mode" option sounds like a lot of fun, and playtesters had some great ideas for ways to increase the construct's abilities at the expense of the inventor's actions. This helps lend support the playstyle of inventors who want to hang back and let the construct do the work. In that vein, I'm strongly considering giving the construct innovation inventor the baked in ability to spend two actions to give the construct three. This will allow the construct to move and Explode, for example, and helps avoid friendly fire.

Overdrive: While the inventor's special powers are dispersed throughout several abilities, playtesters were interested in consolidating a little more of them into Overdrive, and that's something I'm definitely looking into. If that occurs, expect to see Overdrive scale a bit more than it does now, especially on a success. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do so just enough to make a big difference.

These are just a few of the ways in which I'm tinkering and tweaking my invention thanks to your notes and efforts. In the end, expect the class to look extremely similar to the way it does right now, except with several little improvements in almost every area that will really add up in the long run.

Thanks for reading! For sticking to the end, we’re throwing in an advance treat from the book, an intelligent weapon! The final version is very likely to be one of the new types of gun in the book, but this version for the blog uses the basic pistol so you can throw it into your game right away and have it start mouthing off at enemies.

Sunken Pistol — Item 8

Rare, CN, Arcane, Enchantment, Intelligent

Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk 1
Perception +12; precise vision 30 feet, imprecise hearing 30 feet
Communication speech (Common)
Skills Intimidation +19, Navigation Lore +14, Sailing Lore +14
Int +0, Wis +2, Cha +4
Will +16

A sunken pistol is imbued with the unfulfilled desires and insatiable greed of its previous wielder, a notorious pirate drowned at sea. Once a beautiful and artistically wrought weapon, a sunken pistol is coated in a fine layer of dried salt and is encrusted with barnacles. Each shot fired from this +1 striking flintlock pistol is coated in a layer of salty ectoplasm, and has the effects of a ghost touch rune. You can shoot the sunken pistol underwater, even when using black powder ammunition.

A sunken pistol urges you to amass a horde of treasure even a dragon would be proud of. The methods used to acquire these riches matter not to the greedy pirate pistol, so long as you amass and hoard excessive wealth. Above all else, a sunken pistol desires the return of its own treasure, which might rest in the wreck of its sunken ship’s hold or be hidden on a dangerous island.

In pursuit of treasure, a sunken pistol offers nautical and navigation advice to you, though it refuses such aid during less lucrative ventures. If you prove a profitable partner, the sunken pistol aids you in combat by Demoralizing your opponents (see the first Activation below). If you prove charitable or unwilling to retrieve its treasure, the sunken pistol turns its ire on you, Demoralizing you during combat until you relent. If you repeatedly refuse the sunken pistol, it would be wise to not accept water breathing from it, as it might attempt to drown you to allow a more suitable wielder to acquire it from your corpse. The sunken pistol can use the following activations.

Activate [one-action] command; Frequency once per minute; Effect The sunken pistol curses and insults a creature it can see, attempting an Intimidation check to Demoralize that creature.

Activate [three-actions] command; Frequency once per day; Effect The sunken pistol casts water breathing on you as a 3rd-level arcane spell. The sunken pistol can Dismiss this spell, so be sure to keep the gun happy if you’re relying on its good graces to breathe!

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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I guess? I still think the differential is being overstated, especially if the bow calculations are being done with propulsive.

Should the guns not be able to count fatal? Or factor in that they have versatile? Propulsive requires nothing except a little more gold initially and an investment in STR.

Gunslinger can dump STR to an extent, but that also doesn’t quite fit most of the archetypal gunslingers. And it definitely isn’t going to be true for Way of the Drifter gunslingers (not that they couldn’t, but they have incentive not to just like with propulsive).

Versatile isn’t accounted for in the chart or calculations, because it’s a difficult thing to factor in. But it’s also a pretty obvious one to guess at what would happen. If you’re fighting something with resistance to piercing or with a weakness to bludgeoning, the guns are going to look a lot better than they do in the chart. That doesn’t make them a good weapon overall. That makes them good in a particular situation. But in general, would I rather have +1 to +2 damage on every attack or +3 to +10 damage only against certain creatures? I’d rather have it every attack.

I see the strength investment as an issue yeah, since propulsive gives you only half strength, you need a lot of it for it to be worthwhile, which can really cut into your stat priorities.

I also agree with Cabbage about the lack of a Volley trait being a major benefit to guns in a lot of situations-- without getting into spoilers, you'd be hard pressed to make extensive use of a bow in the narrow halls of abomination vaults and such. There's encounters where that hurts a lot, or where the backline is going to be harassed by mobile skirmishers, or the party is surrounded.

I'm not saying guns don't deserve a small buff, but I think reload 1 is an appropriate standard that doesn't dumpster the weapons.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

It's interesting that everybody ignores volley (which no one really likes) in the "can guns keep pace with bows" calculations. Like the gunslinger ought to be *much* more comfortable fighting within one move action of their opponent than the longbow fighter is.

The Volley 20' really is inconvenient when you're like "fighting indoors".

That is why I usually don't use it when just comparing weapons. Also because then we would have to bring the arquebus into this and that is just pure sadness on both sides.

To be fair, though, people usually bring up that they are using Point-Blank Shot, which is fair enough, even if they are not really comparing weapons by that point, but rather classes.


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Karmagator wrote:
even if they are not really comparing weapons by that point, but rather classes.

From experience, for example, the Monastic Archer's lack of access to Point Blank Shot or something similar is *really* inconvenient.

Scarab Sages

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Starting with a 14 STR and taking it to 18 is not a major investment. If it’s good enough for the Swashbuckler, it’s good enough for the Archer.

Once again, shortbow does not have volley. Shortbow is better than musket or dueling pistol or any of the close range guns that aren’t changing what they functionally are (adding scatter or something like that). Longbow requires one feat to remove the close range issue. Guns require multiple feats to remove the reload issue.

Possible Cabbage wrote:
From experience, for example, the Monastic Archer's lack of access to Point Blank Shot or something similar is *really* inconvenient.

It’s two feats for a monk to get point blank shot instead of one for everyone else. I’m not a fan of the way 2E locks feats like that behind classes and archetypes, but if running reload being a 6th level feat in the archer dedication isn’t an issue for classes that don’t get running reload, then point blank shot being a 4th level feat in the Archer dedication for monk isn’t an issue either.

Edit: Ah, in this situation specifically, it’s the interaction of stances that’s the issue, so Monk can complain. But for every other class, my comment holds.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I see the strength investment as an issue yeah, since propulsive gives you only half strength, you need a lot of it for it to be worthwhile, which can really cut into your stat priorities.

I mean its not like its wasted imo. Both the ranger and the fighter in particular have no problem just going into melee with minimal feat investment. Its honestly a waste not to do it, unless you have an extremely melee-heavy party. The flexibility that this gives you is just sooooo good. Maybe that's just me, though. I rarely heavily boost more than 1 mental stat early on, so starting at STR 14/DEX 18/CON 12/WIS 14 (or CHA or INT 14) is not be a problem. By level 8 (or 10 without gradual ability boosts) I was running full 18 STR, at which point I can start boosting a second mental stat.

Do you invest heavily into mental stats or what is your preference?

Sadly I don't fancy the feat selection of the ranged fighter and while playing flurry ranger was funny for a bit (and pretty scary for the enemies), I find myself increasingly incapable of going for anything below a d10 or something with ridiculous "bonus damage" like the magus. Something about big metal objects doing lots of damage just speaks to my soul XD

The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I'm not saying guns don't deserve a small buff, but I think reload 1 is an appropriate standard that doesn't dumpster the weapons.

I absolutely agree. Removing reload as a mechanic is absolutely counterproductive. Increasing the die size of all martial firearms by 1 and doing something cool with reload was more what I had in mind, originally. But the talk about new traits sounds way more intriguing than my idea :)


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
even if they are not really comparing weapons by that point, but rather classes.
From experience, for example, the Monastic Archer's lack of access to Point Blank Shot or something similar is *really* inconvenient.

Yeah, that would be a problem. Double-dipping into Archer to get it doesn't seem like a great investment.

I never had an interest in that and it wouldn't be a problem as both the game I play in and the one I GM use tons of optional rules, Free Archetype in particular, but man does that sound annoying. Not so much the damage difference, but rather the 30ft range limitation on the stance. And I definitely feel that particular pain, considering that I'm playing a gunslinger with a duelling pistol atm XD


Karmagator wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
even if they are not really comparing weapons by that point, but rather classes.
From experience, for example, the Monastic Archer's lack of access to Point Blank Shot or something similar is *really* inconvenient.
Yeah, that would be a problem. Double-dipping into Archer to get it doesn't seem like a great investment.

It's also a second stance, and you can't be in two stances at once as a monk until level 20. Your ability to "actually use a bow" is based on being in Monastic Archery stance.

Scarab Sages

PossibleCabbage wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
even if they are not really comparing weapons by that point, but rather classes.
From experience, for example, the Monastic Archer's lack of access to Point Blank Shot or something similar is *really* inconvenient.
Yeah, that would be a problem. Double-dipping into Archer to get it doesn't seem like a great investment.
It's also a second stance, and you can't be in two stances at once as a monk until level 20. Your ability to "actually use a bow" is based on being in Monastic Archery stance.

That’s not entirely fair, either. The stances aren’t compatible which is an issue, but Monk doesn’t lose proficiency when they aren’t in Monastic Archer Stance (and Archer Dedication would give it to them anyway). They lose flurry and the ability to use a few other things. But it’s not unusual for a melee Monk to take multiple stances for different situations. If the -2 really bothers a monk, and they aren’t willing to just switch to a shortbow, and they do take archer->point blank shot, they are still going to be effective. It’s a whole lot easier to just invest in a shortbow and switch weapons for close range, or just use a shortbow if you know you are doing a lot of dungeon crawls. But they don’t lose the ability to use a bow just because they aren’t in their stance.

Not giving Monk some option to get an equivalent to point blank shot isn’t great (a follow up feat to Monastic Archer Stance that lets it apply while in that stance would be good), but it’s not quite that drastic of an issue because things like the shortbow exist.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
even if they are not really comparing weapons by that point, but rather classes.
From experience, for example, the Monastic Archer's lack of access to Point Blank Shot or something similar is *really* inconvenient.
Yeah, that would be a problem. Double-dipping into Archer to get it doesn't seem like a great investment.
It's also a second stance, and you can't be in two stances at once as a monk until level 20. Your ability to "actually use a bow" is based on being in Monastic Archery stance.

Derp.... that's right.... yeah well damn


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Karmagator wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I see the strength investment as an issue yeah, since propulsive gives you only half strength, you need a lot of it for it to be worthwhile, which can really cut into your stat priorities.

I mean its not like its wasted imo. Both the ranger and the fighter in particular have no problem just going into melee with minimal feat investment. Its honestly a waste not to do it, unless you have an extremely melee-heavy party. The flexibility that this gives you is just sooooo good. Maybe that's just me, though. I rarely heavily boost more than 1 mental stat early on, so starting at STR 14/DEX 18/CON 12/WIS 14 (or CHA or INT 14) is not be a problem. By level 8 (or 10 without gradual ability boosts) I was running full 18 STR, at which point I can start boosting a second mental stat.

Do you invest heavily into mental stats or what is your preference?

Sadly I don't fancy the feat selection of the ranged fighter and while playing flurry ranger was funny for a bit (and pretty scary for the enemies), I find myself increasingly incapable of going for anything below a d10 or something with ridiculous "bonus damage" like the magus. Something about big metal objects doing lots of damage just speaks to my soul XD

The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I'm not saying guns don't deserve a small buff, but I think reload 1 is an appropriate standard that doesn't dumpster the weapons.

I absolutely agree. Removing reload as a mechanic is absolutely counterproductive. Increasing the die size of all martial firearms by 1 and doing something cool with reload was more what I had in mind, originally. But the talk about new traits sounds way more intriguing than my idea :)

Well it depends, I'm ok with depending on strength or something on a build (like you would finesse weapons anyway) but the lower payoff of getting only half mod makes me second guess it, so while it would be a consideration I appreciate having options that can be similar without it. I'd be more inclined to want both Intelligence and Wisdom, in addition to Dexterity and Constitution-- Wisdom for initiative while intelligence is more for earning money in downtime, and making knowledge checks. Of course, this depends to an extent on what class I'm playing and what my plan is outside of shooty-shooty. I'd lean into strength on a flurry ranger build, but away from it on builds that don't hit as many times in a turn-- like Precision or a Fighter or something.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:


I see the strength investment as an issue yeah, since propulsive gives you only half strength, you need a lot of it for it to be worthwhile, which can really cut into your stat priorities.

I also agree with Cabbage about the lack of a Volley trait being a major benefit to guns in a lot of situations-- without getting into spoilers, you'd be hard pressed to make extensive use of a bow in the narrow halls of abomination vaults and such. There's encounters where that hurts a lot, or where the backline is going to be harassed by mobile skirmishers, or the party is surrounded.

I'm not saying guns don't deserve a small buff, but I think reload 1 is an appropriate standard that doesn't dumpster the weapons.

My comparison was strictly between a gunslinger and a fighter using a longbow, and the gunslinger had to sink 3 feats (Firearm Ace, Risky Reload, and Running Reload) into its routine, whereas the fighter invested Str and 1 feat (Point-Blank Shot). It seemed more than fair to the gunslinger to me; the point was that with similar investment, a fighter would be doing identical damage with a longbow on hits, but less damage on crits, with a higher rate of fire to compensate for the lower damage, and more versatility in its third action.

I'd honestly be reasonably confident in saying that the same fighter (who, as a reminder, has PBS as its only class feat, forever), with as little as 12 Str to start, pushed up to 14 at level 5, and left untouched for the rest of the game, would still give that gunslinger (which is the highest/most reliable gunslinger damage build I'm aware of) a run for its money for at least the first half of the game. It'd be more behind on damage than the full Str 18 longbow, but it would have a stable round routine (and would not need to rely on luck to get its second attack each round), it would be able to dedicate its third action to things other than moving if it wanted, and it would work from level 1 - all of which were true while Str 18 was assumed and could not as easily be said of the gunslinger.

I think Reload 1 is workable in theory on weapons, but it needs a lot of feature support to be worthwhile; I am speaking of the difference between starting with a functional foundation and building upon that, rather than having to build a functional foundation from the ground up. This means on most classes, without archetypes, they are simply not workable. This is seen in crossbows. I think gunslinger may come out of this in a good state, but I was hoping a non-multiclass archetype for firearms would be announced in this blog post, as it's the main barrier to entry for firearms; one may still be published, but stating intent to do so would have gone a long way towards assuaging my fears.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Honestly, if the sniper can just get a feat that lets them hide and reload at the same time (hinted at in this blog post), without having to move and deal with the unsteady trait, that makes for a better use of an action then trying to get a 3rd attack in with a bow. It is so useful with an arquebus, it would be better than wasting time with firearm ace, even at low levels. Hiding gives you a flat-footed enemy and gives most enemies a 50% miss chance against you, that they have to use their own actions to eliminate. Maybe you go strike, risky reload, hiding reload, because you always want to end your turn in hiding or you are wasting 50% of its value, but getting the equivalent of a +2 on your first attack every round with a weapon that is D12 fatal is gonzo brutal.And you are managing this even before level 8, when you could potentially use incredible shot to get an actual +2 circumstance bonus to your shot, and then hide and reload with your third action. The long arm, stay in place sniper is going to be a very effective.

Most bow-wielding fighters are probably better off hiding for their third action than taking a -10 shot.

Scarab Sages

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The arguments in favor of guns, as far as I can see it, are that longbows are bad, because they have volley and won’t be good at short range. But guns are good, because a sniper can use an arquebus and might get an action to hide and reload at the same time and never need to move?

Because that’s something you can do in a dungeon when you’re within 20 feet and everything has darkvision.

EDIT: That was more sarcastic than it needed to be, so apologies for that. I’ve just seen the “but snipers/arquebus” argument too many times. One build that is really good in a specific situation (you can hide and not move every round) does not make the entire category of weapons or all of the other versions of the class good. Also, d12 base die is roughly where a reload 1 weapon needs to be in order to be the equivalent of a d6 weapon (before taking action economy enhancers into account). I’ll try to track down where the math was done on that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:

The arguments in favor of guns, as far as I can see it, are that longbows are bad, because they have volley and won’t be good at short range. But guns are good, because a sniper can use an arquebus and might get an action to hide and reload at the same time and never need to move?

Because that’s something you can do in a dungeon when you’re within 20 feet and everything has darkvision.

EDIT: That was more sarcastic than it needed to be, so apologies for that. I’ve just seen the “but snipers/arquebus” argument too many times. One build that is really good in a specific situation (you can hide and not move every round) does not make the entire category of weapons or all of the other versions of the class good. Also, d12 base die is roughly where a reload 1 weapon needs to be in order to be the equivalent of a d6 weapon (before taking action economy enhancers into account). I’ll try to track down where the math was done on that.

The arquebus is the closest equivalent to a longbow, in terms of stand still and deal as much damage as possible.

In close quarters, you can easily outpace a shortbow with either a brace of dueling pistols, and a shield in your other hand, or a blunderbus...in specific situations. A rogue, who is going to be nearly useless standing still and firing at range 3 times, is going to want to do all the hiding and sneaking or pistol twirling that they can to make sure each shot benefits from their sneak attack. Especially at 1 shot a round, the dueling pistol is far superior to the short bow, and you can have something else in your other hand the whole time you are using it.

The point of firearms is that they are not trying to compete with bows for being the best weapon to stand around and shoot as often as possible. That style of ranged fighting looks really effective on paper, but is pretty difficult to use in play, and often very boring. I think it is ok space for bows to have.

Maybe, maybe you see a martial firearm that does d10 damage with a reload of 1 and maybe versatile B to feel like a firearm. But that weapon really already exists (minus the versatile) for rangers and gunslingers in the form of the crossbow with an Ace feat, and halflings in the form of the slingstaff. Maybe you just let more gunslinger feats work with those weapons and you are covered.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
The point of firearms is that they are not trying to compete with bows

Of course they are. They're both martial ranged weapons with an emphasis on doing damage rather than utility. If you're building a character who fights at range, you're going to look at guns and look at bows and make a determination between them, in the same way a character looking at melee weapons have to make a determination between picks and flails and swords and axes.

This repeated notion that guns sit in some nebulous "other" category that renders them immune to criticism doesn't make any sense.

Scarab Sages

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Now is where I ask for the math on claims like “ In close quarters, you can easily outpace a shortbow with either a brace of dueling pistols, and a shield in your other hand, or a blunderbuss...” because nothing has been posted to support that. Keep in mind with brace of pistols you’re using quick draw (yet another required feat) which doesn’t combine with many of the other abilities a gunslinger had in the playtest and would never get the benefit of Firearm Ace. It also requires the bandolier that we don’t have details or cost for yet.

Also, “ The point of firearms is that they are not trying to compete with bows for being the best weapon to stand around and shoot as often as possible.” I don’t think that’s the point of firearms at all. The point of firearms is that people have fun building gun using characters. Guns are the weapon that requires you to stand around to shoot. That’s my point. Class features to improve on that are a patch. If you are stuck in one place shooting, then you at least need to be as good doing that as other weapons, and you probably should be better (which, as you point out, sniper with arquebus is when the circumstances come together).

Finally, re crossbows... yes, a d10+2 with crossbow Ace is effectively the equivalent of a d6 weapon... and it’s still pretty universally considered bad, because of the way that it interacts with the three action economy. D10+2 plus deadly would be a place to start, but is still going to have action economy issues. It’s also ignoring propulsive, which knocks the d10+2 back down in the comparison. But d10+2 effectively sets the bar for where the discussion should start, as that’s meant to be the martial equivalent for a crossbow (simple weapon plus feat to bump it up to martial).


Unicore wrote:

Most bow-wielding fighters are probably better off hiding for their third action than taking a -10 shot.

Hiding's probably not a bad option, certainly better than a -10 shot, but I'd note that bow-wielding fighters can grab Triple Shot as an upgrade to Double Shot, although I didn't assume they were using either of those feats in my comparisons.

Unicore wrote:
The arquebus is the closest equivalent to a longbow, in terms of stand still and deal as much damage as possible.

If you're a flurry ranger, maybe. Hiding for your third action as a longbow fighter places you pretty close to arquebus in playstyle, but a longbow fighter can also use its third action for a different skill action or a move, or perhaps even to command an animal companion. My comparisons between the longbow fighter and Running Reload-based gunslinger builds in fact assume that the longbow fighter is firing twice and using its third action to move, for a similar mobile playstyle. That it can do so with minimal feat investment and still comfortably show up the gunslinger is not a good sign; you don't necessarily have to have identical mechanics, but DPR is a fair metric for balance when the goal of both builds is damage. It's fair to compare the average damage of a crossbow precision ranger to a longbow flurry ranger, for example.

Unicore wrote:
In close quarters, you can easily outpace a shortbow with either a brace of dueling pistols, and a shield in your other hand, or a blunderbus...in specific situations. A rogue, who is going to be nearly useless standing still and firing at range 3 times, is going to want to do all the hiding and sneaking or pistol twirling that they can to make sure each shot benefits from their sneak attack. Especially at 1 shot a round, the dueling pistol is far superior to the short bow, and you can have something else in your other hand the whole time you are using it.

I never regarded the brace of pistols build as a truly viable option, to be honest, and it seems that a hypothetical magic brace that applies runes to every firearm in it, in conjunction with Quick Draw, is the crux of your argument here. My overall thoughts on this mirror Ferious Thune's.

That said, even assuming you have the brace and grab Quick Draw, I struggle to see how the basic PBS fighter won't still win out on most rounds. The circumstance bonus and Propulsive bonus (even if it's just +1) give it a strong advantage in base damage and help offset the deficit from the dueling pistol's higher crits. After Striking runes (and with +1 from Propulsive) you can simplify an expression of the damage gained by using dueling pistol down to 2C-3H, where C is all attacks' odds of getting a crit added together, and H is all attacks' odds of getting a hit added together. So if you need a 5+ to hit without MAP and attack 3 times, H = (0.5+0.5+0.25) = 1.25 and C = (0.3+0.05+0.05) = 0.4, and the gun does 2.95 less damage on average. Note that C has to be more than 1.5x higher than H for the gun to add damage, which only starts happening when your attack bonus is higher than the target's AC. This is, again, without any feats like Double Shot, although in this case it's a fairer comparison since the gunslinger is locking itself out of most of its own class feats by doing this.

Scarab Sages

Just for the record, I ran the comparison between a shortbow firing 3 times with Propulsive and 14 to 18 STR and Dueling Pistols combined with Quick Draw firing 3 times (no base static bonus, because no Firearm Ace). I threw in shortbow with Point Blank Shot (giving the shortbow one feat since the pistol is getting Quick Draw seems fair, and the pistol would always be within 30 feet).

RESULTS (Credit to criticking for putting together the tool) - LINK to tool) (Edit Again: Fixed the chart. I'm not sure why there was a weird drop-off at high levels that doesn't exist. Dueling Pistol stays close to Shortbow w/Propulsive the whole way, with slight edges in the cases I mentioned).

Breakdown of settings:
(Edit: I should have included that this is vs an at level enemy)
Shortbow with Propulsive: Fighter Propulsive vs high-AC Attack stat:18-22 w/Apex Dmg Stat: 14 to 18 Base damage 1d6 Crit: 1d10 deadly all other setting base. Repeat with -5 and -10 attacks and combine.

Shortbow with Point Blank Shot: Fighter Propulsive vs high-AC Attack stat:18-22 w/Apex Dmg Stat: 14 to 18 Base damage 1d6 Base damage bonus: +2 Crit: 1d10 deadly all other setting base. Repeat with -5 and -10 attacks and combine.

Dueling Pistol: Fighter Propulsive vs high-AC Attack stat:18-22 w/Apex Dmg Stat: 10 no bonus Base damage 1d6 Crit: 1d10 fatal all other setting base. Repeat with -5 and -10 attacks and combine.

So, the dueling pistol becomes roughly equivalent to the propulsive bow. The pistol has a slight edge at the levels where fatal is better than deadly, and it falls off at levels where deadly is better than fatal.

Giving the shortbow Point Blank Shot puts it ahead at all levels.

I'm not really certain how to factor things for Blunderbuss in the tool, since Scatter is dependent on how many enemies you are facing. But Blunderbuss also works differently than every other gun in the playtest. So if it's good where the others aren't, that kind of supports the argument against low base die and fatal being the best direction for guns to go.

Certainly Blunderbuss has its uses, and hopefully with a bigger variety of guns, other guns will have their uses, too. Even the fatal gun has its uses.

The character I'm most looking forward to using a gun on is my Investigator. It's a character reworked from 1E, where he was a Gunslinger/Inquisitor (would have been Investigator if the class existed when I ran him). Right now, he uses a shortbow. I thought about using a crossbow, but it just doesn't make any sense to do. I would love to be able to switch him to a gun, just for thematic reasons, but I keep running into the same issue as the crossbow. Giving up an extra action just to be able to shoot doesn't make sense most rounds.

Where I think he could use something like a dueling pistol is to keep one holstered, use the bow most rounds, and when his Devise a Stratagem roll is high enough to expect a crit, take the extra action to draw the pistol and fire it. Then just drop the pistol and go back to using the shortbow.

That is a highly situational use of the gun, though, and it doesn't make it a good weapon to use every round. If anything, that a fatal gun can be combined with an ability like Devise or a spell like true strike is a mark against fatal. It's a weapon that is subpar in the majority of situations, but superior in niche cases that can be engineered by the player. It's not going to be dealing the encounter ending amounts of damage that Magus Striking Spell could, but it's got similar pitfalls on either end of the potential damage.

So I'm very excited to see the other varieties of guns, because I feel like the fatal version should be the niche weapon, not the standard. Higher damage die and deadly seems the easiest fit. It's similar to crossbow, but adding deadly makes it better and the higher damage die (hopefully d10 for pistols d12 for 2-handed guns) puts it more on par with the different bows.

I fear based on the blog that's not what we're going to get, though. That we're going to either get a small die increase to d8, or we'll get an actual crossbow equivalent that is just called a gun, or that we'll get an increased die that is appropriate, but with Reload 2 (based on the "slow-moving" bullet described in the blog).


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Quote:
So, the dueling pistol becomes roughly equivalent to the propulsive bow. The pistol has a slight edge at the levels where fatal is better than deadly, and it falls off at levels where deadly is better than fatal.

To me this reads as a good thing though.

Scarab Sages

Midnightoker wrote:
Quote:
So, the dueling pistol becomes roughly equivalent to the propulsive bow. The pistol has a slight edge at the levels where fatal is better than deadly, and it falls off at levels where deadly is better than fatal.
To me this reads as a good thing though.

The claim was that it easily outpaced a shortbow. It does not.

You can get to be equivalent by taking a feat the bow doesn’t have to take and buying an indefinite amount of dueling pistols and a yet to be determined cost for the bandolier to get your runes on all of the guns. If guns are balanced against this style, then all of the gunslinger’s other feats and abilities need to be compatible with this style of play, and the majority of them are not, as they can’t be used with Quick Draw.

Edit: To state it another way, what these numbers say to me is that if the dueling pistol was a reload 0 weapon, then it would be equivalent to a shortbow, because there’s just not that much difference between fatal d10 and deadly d10 plus Propulsive. Versatile B just isn’t worth the difference to me, and I’d much rather guns were either piercing or bludgeoning and did away with versatile entirely.


I think we have debated the old guns pretty well, don't we? So why don't we do something completely different and just go off about a tangent on our own theoretical guns, both improved versions of playtest weapons, as well as completely new ones?

I've got one for you, nothing too exotic for now. This was created without Firearm Ace in mind, because of all the problems I see with that feat. Seriously, if we could get rid of both Ace feats and Crossbow Terror affecting martial weapons, I would be so much happier. Even with that in mind, it is probably still not super balanced, so take it more like a concept.

For this and similar weapons, fatal doesn't make a whole lot of sense, both mechanically and logically. The thought behind fatal is that a weapon has to hit a critical point on a foes body to inflict serious damage, but in that case the damage is massive. That applies to firearms firing smaller caliber ammunition and/or ammunition primarily designed to penetrate (like modern 5.56 or 5.45). But that was not the point of most military longarms of the musket era or how they worked in practice. Their style, colloquially speaking, was more like "anything you even remotely hit is really going to feel that". And if you are hit by a 16 to 18-ish mm round lead ball, you are going to be lacking at the very least a big chunk of flesh or have some very pulverized bones.

That is why I have used a new trait, called "impact". It is meant to represent that a critical hit still adds a bit more force than on other weapons, but is not necessary for the weapon to inflict heavy damage in the first place.

Impact: On a critical hit, the weapon adds a weapon damage die of the listed size. Roll this after doubling the weapon's damage. An ability that changes the size of the weapon’s normal damage dice doesn’t change the size of its impact die.

Yes, there are no increases on this one. It is supposed to be weaker version of fatal only used on d12 weapons, simply to get rid of the "increase the die size to the listed one". I could have just kept fatal for the sake of simplicity, but I feel the thematic separation is more necessary.

---

Military Rifle (a spin-off version of the idea of the playtest arquebus)
"What this heavy-barreled rifle lacks in mobility, it makes up for in sheer firepower."

Stats: The same as we have on the arquebus, but with three key differences: damage-wise, the damage die increased to d12 and the fatal d12 trait is replaced with impact d12. The range is also 60ft instead of 80, as it is supposed to represent a main-line infantry weapon, rather than a sniper rifle.

This one is a doozy, only barely (1.5 average damage) behind a martial d12 melee weapon on a crit, which would be absolutely overpowered if not for the reload 1 characteristic and the unsteady trait. Also, the range reduction should not have a big impact on gameplay for the most part. The most important ranges are 30ft and 60ft and we got those covered.

I thought about getting rid of sniper or replacing it with something more thematically appropriate, but didn't have any good ideas, so its still there. Maybe rename it to "marksman" to leave the sniper trait for something more impactful?

---

Well, what are your ideas?


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I just realized that the gunslinger is in a weird place since it's the only class that wants to acquire "rarer types of gear" (whose rarity is independent of magical properties) as they level. This is kind of a weird place to be in, since the Barbarian with a polearm isn't going to be hunting a la "I hear in Casmaron they make even better glaives".

So I'm not sure a wide range of gun technology gated by rarity is really a good thing.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:
Quote:
So, the dueling pistol becomes roughly equivalent to the propulsive bow. The pistol has a slight edge at the levels where fatal is better than deadly, and it falls off at levels where deadly is better than fatal.
To me this reads as a good thing though.

The damage being comparable is good, but it being tied to a single specific feat (do Gunslingers even have it?) and a very specific playstyle is pretty bad.

It's also pretty telling that a set of options that essentially just removes the reload trait entirely is what gives us appealing numbers. It really suggests that the weapons are not being appropriately tuned for their rate of fire.

Finally it shows that, relative to the baseline dueling pistol, the hypothetical bracer of pistols + quick draw combo gets extremely overpowered as the game goes on. It's like 30% more damage than Firearm Ace at high levels and lets you do whatever you want with your offhand since you aren't reloading.


Yeah, I'm no fan of Firearm Ace and Reloading Strike being so mandatory.

This is more or less why Risky Reload to me as a base mechanic for all Gunslingers (and probably what you gain with the initial dedication) makes a lot of sense to me.

If you only take into account as a switch-hitting based weapon for those that don't want to be Gunslingers, I think they have their place in some regards.

All for a little tuning, I just didn't see as many issues in play (though I did go for these feats).


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I just realized that the gunslinger is in a weird place since it's the only class that wants to acquire "rarer types of gear" (whose rarity is independent of magical properties) as they level. This is kind of a weird place to be in, since the Barbarian with a polearm isn't going to be hunting a la "I hear in Casmaron they make even better glaives".

So I'm not sure a wide range of gun technology gated by rarity is really a good thing.

It's a bit weird, but IMO it still makes more sense than something like some gun technology being Advanced instead of Simple or Martial. Then you get into the dissonant headspace of finding a firearm which has a rifled barrel or what have you, but those improvements, which are supposed to make a gun shoot better, instead effectively give you a -2 to hit with it.

By the same token, most of what might make guns rare comes from their technological complexity. The inventor has already showd us that other weapons can also get more technologically complex "BECAUSE SCIENCE!" so it is in theory possible to go somewhere to find better glaives. We are going to be getting gear accessories in G&G as well, and it's possible some of them will be gadgets or doodads that make weapons more technologically complicated, like guns.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:
Quote:
So, the dueling pistol becomes roughly equivalent to the propulsive bow. The pistol has a slight edge at the levels where fatal is better than deadly, and it falls off at levels where deadly is better than fatal.
To me this reads as a good thing though.

The claim was that it easily outpaced a shortbow. It does not.

You can get to be equivalent by taking a feat the bow doesn’t have to take and buying an indefinite amount of dueling pistols and a yet to be determined cost for the bandolier to get your runes on all of the guns. If guns are balanced against this style, then all of the gunslinger’s other feats and abilities need to be compatible with this style of play, and the majority of them are not, as they can’t be used with Quick Draw.

Edit: To state it another way, what these numbers say to me is that if the dueling pistol was a reload 0 weapon, then it would be equivalent to a shortbow, because there’s just not that much difference between fatal d10 and deadly d10 plus Propulsive. Versatile B just isn’t worth the difference to me, and I’d much rather guns were either piercing or bludgeoning and did away with versatile entirely.

Actually, given that you need strength investment to achieve those numbers through propulsive, I'd definitely say being able to dump strength when your primary stat is Dexterity is absolutely worth a feat if it means some combination of your Wisdom (initiative, will saves, general perception) Intelligence (number of skills, lore for earn income, crafting)or Charisma (Talking to people, Demoralize) can be better. Being able to carry more stuff and succeed on athletics checks is a bit worse, especially when your acrobatics as a Dex fighter can let you escape from grapples and the like.

Basically, ranged characters without propulsive should be an acceptable standard.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
The-Magic-Sword wrote:


Actually, given that you need strength investment to achieve those numbers through propulsive

Worth noting that if you look at them both without feats, even at 10 strength a shortbow's two action routine is never worse than the dueling pistol's and the gap honestly gets pretty big at higher levels (property runes really exacerbate the rate of fire issues firearms have).

Scarab Sages

Squiggit wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:


Actually, given that you need strength investment to achieve those numbers through propulsive
Worth noting that if you look at them both without feats, even at 10 strength a shortbow's two action routine is never worse than the dueling pistol's and the gap honestly gets pretty big at higher levels.

Yeah. A fighter with no strength bonus and one second level feat (point blank shot) is going to be better with a shortbow than a gunslinger with no strength bonus and one second level feat (quick draw) without all the extra requirements in terms of spending money on additional weapons. Lack of accessibility to point blank shot compared to quick draw means that will swing in the gun’s favor for some classes. But even without propulsive or point blank shot, the shortbow isn’t far off the gun with quick draw.

The thing that always drives it home for me is that a gunslinger with a strength bonus and one second level feat (Archer dedication) is better with a shortbow than a Gunslinger with Quick Draw is with a gun. I hope at least that much changes in the reworked class.

I said earlier that it may just be that bows were too strong from the beginning, but that’s what has set the standard for a range weapon. I feel like deadly d6 for shortbow and deadly d8 for longbow (essentially one additional damage die on a crit) would have been more appropriate. But we are where we are, so new weapons need to at least be close to what a bow can do before stacking on Class Feats or they aren’t going to be good options.

Scarab Sages

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Last comparison. This is Shortbow with no STR, Shortbow with no STR plus Point Blank, and Dueling Pistol with Quick Draw.

RESULTS (Credit again to criticking for the calculation tool)

At its best level, the Dueling Pistol is about 2.8 points better than a shortbow without Propulsive. (5th level)

Shortbow without Propulsive but with Point Blank Shot is better than the Dueling Pistol at all levels, with its best levels being 2nd and 3rd, where it's 2.1 points better, then 19th and 20th where it's 1.8 points better.

So if you ignore that composite bows exist and you spot Dueling Pistol a feat, it looks pretty balanced. So I guess if you buy into the interpretation that Rogues can't use composite bows (that's a thing some people believe), then dueling pistol is an option (though Rogue currently has limited ways to get scaling proficiency with dueling pistol and in this incredibly dubious interpretation of the rules, the same ways they could get dueling pistol proficiency could give them composite shortbow proficiency).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Feruous Thune, you know that the development team has very good mathematicians on staff right? They are not unaware of what effects will boost the damage significantly for the gun.

The crit for a bow is 2d6+1d10 = 13.5 average vs

The crit for a dueling pistol is 3d10 = 16.5 average

with relatively minor accuracy boosts, the pistol is going to over perform the short bow on a single shot significantly over time.

Even at higher levels, with a +2 greater striking weapon

the average crit on a bow is 6d6+2d10 = 32

The average crit on a dueling pistol is 7d10 = 38.5

with a +3 major striking weapon

8d6+3d10 = 44.5

9d10 = 49.5

The firearm will always do more average damage on a crit than a bow. Firearms are better weapons for characters prioritizing accuracy over rate of fire.

Taking shots with a firearm when you only have a 5% chance of getting a critical is generally wasting a shot.


Squiggit wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:


Actually, given that you need strength investment to achieve those numbers through propulsive
Worth noting that if you look at them both without feats, even at 10 strength a shortbow's two action routine is never worse than the dueling pistol's and the gap honestly gets pretty big at higher levels (property runes really exacerbate the rate of fire issues firearms have).

I don't think "everyone stacks three damaging property runes on their weapon" should become the design standard.

I know it's become the forum debate standard for damage, but it's such a bad trend that I'm vehemently against it becoming the design standard. This is on the level of "everyone uses a falcata because that's the best weapon" of PF1.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
Feruous Thune, you know that the development team has very good mathematicians on staff right?

Then hopefully they can use all that mathematical knowledge to address the significant discrepancies in firearms' output!

Cyouni wrote:
I don't think "everyone stacks three damaging property runes on their weapon" should become the design standard.

Agreed, but the bow doesn't need the property runes to pull ahead. The property runes just exacerbate it even further because of the firearms' poor rate of fire... and fwiw the math I was doing only had one damage rune anyways.

Scarab Sages

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"These go to eleven." - Nigel Tufnel

Unicore wrote:
Feruous Thune, you know that the development team has very good mathematicians on staff right? They are not unaware of what effects will boost the damage significantly for the gun.

I am certain they do, and I am certain they know these numbers or similar ones. I'm not posting them for their benefit. I'm posting them because either the data was asked for or claims have been made that aren't true without numbers to support them. I'm positive that Paizo knows of these issues, and that they are part of why they are adjusting things like how the Gunslinger interacts with the action economy when reloading without requiring taking an additional feat. That doesn't make the gun itself as a standalone weapon balanced, though it might make a Gunslinger using the gun balanced (I hope it does).

Unicore wrote:

The crit for a bow is 2d6+1d10 = 13.5 average vs

The crit for a dueling pistol is 3d10 = 16.5 average

with relatively minor accuracy boosts, the pistol is going to over perform the short bow on a single shot significantly over time.

Even at higher levels, with a +2 greater striking weapon

the average crit on a bow is 6d6+2d10 = 32

The average crit on a dueling pistol is 7d10 = 38.5

with a +3 major striking weapon

8d6+3d10 = 44.5

9d10 = 49.5

The firearm will always do more average damage on a crit than a bow. Firearms are better weapons for characters prioritizing accuracy over rate of fire.

Taking shots with a firearm when you only have a 5% chance of getting a critical is generally wasting a shot.

Rate of fire and accuracy aren't mutually exclusive. Having a higher proficiency or debuffs on the enemy means you are more likely to hit with 2nd and 3rd attacks. You might want to argue that 2nd and 3rd attack will do less damage, and at a quick glance with simplified math like you have above, you might think that makes your point. That is why Expected Damage exists, which is what the charts I've been posting are using. Because guess what? Attacking more often actually does make a difference.

Average damage and Expected Damage are two different metrics. A crossbow deals more average damage on a single non-crit hit than a shortbow. That doesn't mean that a crossbow is automatically a better weapon when your crit chance is low. Why not? Reload 1.

If you are ever only going to shoot one time in a fight, then sure, use the weapon with the bigger burst damage. If you think you might shoot more than once, use the weapon that lets you shoot more than once for fewer actions.

If you're going to give the gun user a feat -- Quick Draw -- and not give the bow user anything, not even the benefit of a trait that exists on the weapon, then you should be doing more.

Unicore wrote:
Taking shots with a firearm when you only have a 5% chance of getting a critical is generally wasting a shot.

I see no reason to allow combats to continue for an extra round when they don't need to. Whatever chance you have to crit with your first attack, you have that chance to hit with your third attack (unless abilities that make someone flatfooted against a single attack or something similar are involved). It's a three action economy, not a 1 action economy. If there's no debuff you can inflict, no reason to raise a shield, or nothing better to do, you're just costing yourself damage and prolonging fights if you don't attack.


Unicore wrote:

Feruous Thune, you know that the development team has very good mathematicians on staff right? They are not unaware of what effects will boost the damage significantly for the gun.

The crit for a bow is 2d6+1d10 = 13.5 average vs

The crit for a dueling pistol is 3d10 = 16.5 average

with relatively minor accuracy boosts, the pistol is going to over perform the short bow on a single shot significantly over time.

Even at higher levels, with a +2 greater striking weapon

the average crit on a bow is 6d6+2d10 = 32

The average crit on a dueling pistol is 7d10 = 38.5

with a +3 major striking weapon

8d6+3d10 = 44.5

9d10 = 49.5

The firearm will always do more average damage on a crit than a bow. Firearms are better weapons for characters prioritizing accuracy over rate of fire.

Taking shots with a firearm when you only have a 5% chance of getting a critical is generally wasting a shot.

You left out the bonus from PBS. Again, I really don't think it's an unfair assumption for the shortbow, considering that the dueling pistol build we're speaking of requires Quick Draw and a yet-to-be-seen/-confirmed brace. It's not even fighter-exclusive, considering you can grab it off the Archer archetype, although direct comparisons with non-fighters are harder due to the gunslinger's higher proficiency.

Math:

PBS increases the bow's crit damage by 4, making it even with the dueling pistol without Striking runes, and significantly closing the gap for all levels of Striking rune. The difference in damage per shot is the odds of a crit multiplied by the difference in crit damage, plus the odds of a hit multiplied by the difference in hit damage -- this is where I get the xC-yH expressions. With Strength 10, the hit damage is always -2H (as PBS adds a +2 circumstance bonus), so it's mostly a matter of finding C's coefficient.

No rune: The bow's crit damage is 16.5, so the difference is 0
Striking: Crit 23.5, difference 4 (the DP's crit damage is 27.5)
Greater Striking: Crit 36, difference 2.5
Major Striking: Crit 48.5, difference 1

If you have a table of the odds of each degree of success given the minimum number needed on the d20 to succeed, it's relatively easy to set up a column that lets you figure out what numbers the dueling pistol needs to outdamage the shortbow by using the coefficients. With no rune, the bow always wins out; with Striking, the DP needs to hit on 5 or lower to win out; with Greater Striking, the DP needs to hit on 3 or lower; with Major Striking, the DP needs to hit on -2 or lower (as in, it hits on 2-7 and crits on 8-20). Hitting on 19 or 20 also works for all of these due to hit chances being so low while crits are still possible.

I'd consider dueling pistols pretty good here, as the damage is still very close, but it's not a good look when a very specific build that locks you out of most of the other class feats is only roughly on par with the damage a fighter can put out with 10 Str and a single feat. And the dueling pistol is certainly not going to "over perform the short bow on a single shot significantly over time."


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:
Rate of fire and accuracy aren't mutually exclusive. Having a higher proficiency or debuffs on the enemy means you are more likely to hit with 2nd and 3rd attacks.

This is something I was fiddling around with and it kind of surprised me. You'd think, just as a given, that guns crit harder so they're better against enemies with less AC

But since bows are making more attacks anyways, they effectively get to benefit more often from better accuracy too.

The end result is that lowering or raising an enemy's AC doesn't actually have that significant of an effect on the bow vs. gun comparison.

Though the gun does benefit a bit more from single use buffs.


Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:

Unicore wrote:
Firearms are better weapons for characters prioritizing accuracy over rate of fire.
Rate of fire and accuracy aren't mutually exclusive.

So I've simplified this a bit for clarity on what I'm referring to here.

An important thing to keep in mind with the "rate of fire vs. accuracy" issue is that it's not ONLY about rate of fire when you consider any weapon with a reload speed vs. no reload speed.

Yes your rate of fire is higher with no reload speed, but in the game where Action Economy Is King, a weapon with reload -always- puts you at a disadvantage. So usually the idea becomes, what are you trading for action economy? What are you gaining while giving up your flexibility? Let's take a quick comparison of Composite Longbow Vs. Crossbow.

They have roughly the same range (at 100 vs. 120 it's not a large gap), and the same damage. The Crossbow has no traits, and a marginally higher range increment while the Composite Longbow has the Deadly and Propulsive traits for bonus damage, and the Volley trait to make it less effective against closer targets. Finally, the Crossbow is a simple weapon as opposed to Martial for the Composite Longbow.

Where does that leave us? The Composite Longbow does more damage, is slightly worse against point blank targets, and is harder to use. The Crossbow meanwhile can be fired close range with no problems, or at slightly further targets, but does less damage, and requires a reload.

Generally in my opinion, Crossbows are not often intended to be the focus of a given damage build, but are meant to provide limited ranged options to characters who don't have the right proficiencies to use a better Bow.

I think the ultimate issue of the guns/v/bow debate here is that even if you assume a brace of pistols where you -ignore- the reload requirement entirely, they are still effectively mechanically worse than the bow. Which means if you aren't going brace-of-pistols quick draw, you're going to fall far behind the fighter short-bow, while also giving up the flexibility to use actions for things other than "I reload".

This is entirely my opinion and if I've said anything incorrect here, feel free to point it out.

Scarab Sages

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I haven't checked in that much depth, but my guess would be that it's because fatal and deadly at the same die level are relatively balanced, with fatal getting a slight edge the lower the base damage die is and at levels where deadly doesn't increase. So while there are comparisons to the Magus in terms of the play style necessary to get the most out of the gun, it's not as huge of a difference between a crit with the gun and a crit with a bow like Magus critting with their weapon and a spell is over just a weapon crit.

The numbers we're seeing on the last comparison, dueling pistol attacking three times vs shortbow attacking three times aren't that significantly different than each other, whether you give the bow point blank or propulsive or you don't. 2 or 3 points of damage either direction over a full turn isn't a huge deal. That's a point where I'd make the choice based on what was more fun for me or cool for the character.

The point in looking at that comparison is that a dueling pistol is balanced against a shortbow when the dueling pistol gets to attack three times per round. In order for the dueling pistol to be balanced against the shortbow when the pistol only gets to attack once or twice per round, it needs to be doing a lot more damage than it does. Or to put it another way, when a dueling pistol and a shortbow make the same number of attacks, they are pretty close, with some feats or traits swinging things either direction. But they don't get to attack the same number of times until you start piling feats and abilities onto the gun.

Or as I think FlySkyHigh's point is, with reload 1, you have to reload sometime, and that's an action that you aren't using for something else, whether or not that something else is an attack. You aren't demoralizing, or moving to avoid cover, or casting true strike, or whatever. Unless you have other abilities to allow you to do those things and reload. Which makes the Gunslinger better, not the gun better.


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Pathfinder PF Special Edition Subscriber
Ferious Thune wrote:


Or as I think FlySkyHigh's point is, with reload 1, you have to reload sometime, and that's an action that you aren't using for something else, whether or not that something else is an attack. You aren't demoralizing, or moving to avoid cover, or casting true strike, or whatever. Unless you have other abilities to allow you to do those things and reload. Which makes the Gunslinger better, not the gun better.

Yup, that's exactly my point. Thank you for helping me clarify.

Scarab Sages

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Anyway, I know that we have fallen into one of those circular conversations that the designers wanted to avoid, so I'll get back to what I would like to have, at least as an option. I would like to have a single target gun that a character with proficiency in martial weapons and nothing else can pick up and use and be somewhere close to the shortbow in effectiveness. I don't want to have to decide to make my character significantly suboptimal just to use a gun.


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Ferious Thune wrote:
Anyway, I know that we have fallen into one of those circular conversations that the designers wanted to avoid, so I'll get back to what I would like to have, at least as an option. I would like to have a single target gun that a character with proficiency in martial weapons and nothing else can pick up and use and be somewhere close to the shortbow in effectiveness. I don't want to have to decide to make my character significantly suboptimal just to use a gun.

I wouldn't mind that I would have to have certain class features or invest in class feats or archetype feats, either. While they are much easier to learn and apply than even crossbows, these old designs of firearms or their magical equivalent are simply not suited to battles longer than 1 salvo or shorter than several tens of minutes. I wouldn't mind for that disparity to be somewhat represented, at least initially.

But if I do that I still want to have basic usability starting at level 1 and significant improvements the more I invest. No more simple flextape feats like Running Reload or especially the Ace feats. A feat I invest into must lift me above the normal level, not to the normal level.


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Karmagator wrote:


But if I do that I still want to have basic usability starting at level 1 and significant improvements the more I invest. No more simple flextape feats like Running Reload or especially the Ace feats. A feat I invest into must lift me above the normal level, not to the normal level.

Yeah, seconding this. Additionally, for gunslinger in particular, the Reload 1 property makes it very similar to crossbows in what feat support there is for it, and crossbow mainly exists as a specific niche ranger can build into. When generalizing that out to an entire class, I think it's important that there be significant differences between the options gunslinger can build into, otherwise you end up with a functional chassis that only ever takes certain preset feats. Crossbow build design works fine on ranger, as it's one of several build options that are each catered to by feats, but on gunslinger it's effectively the only build option. I think Way-based reload options are going to help with this a lot, although I'd also like to see more feat support for dual-wielding pistols in the final version, as what existed for that loadout (ignoring the problems with reloading) was pretty paltry compared to what your options are when dual-wielding melee weapons as a fighter or ranger.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

To broach a different topic, what other class feats abilities do people think we might see for non-gunslinger classes? I'm trying to imagine a barbarian with a gun, and beyond throwing the musket at someone I'm not sure how they might best utilize one.

Dataphiles

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Barbarians aren’t really ranged weapon users in the first place. Their only key ability option is strength. Rage only works with melee. They’re clearly melee centric.

I think every other martial except maybe Champions can do a gun though.


Exocist wrote:

Barbarians aren’t really ranged weapon users in the first place. Their only key ability option is strength. Rage only works with melee. They’re clearly melee centric.

I think every other martial except maybe Champions can do a gun though.

I really hope you're wrong about Champion, I think there's a lot of cool themes you could play into with a Champion using a Merciful gun as their ally and I would hate to see them not get that same attention.

Sure, shields and they require Ranged Reprisal, but I don't see why they should be excluded.

If you had said Monks, then okay, but I guess there's always the Gunkata crowd there too.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't see why any class would be excluded in a book that is specifically about bringing tech/firearms into the game. I don't think they'd need to be specifically targeted, but Barbarians did have the original Sword and Pistol ability in PF1, so I can see them being able to access it in PF2. Perhaps via an archetype that is specifically about giving the gun and sword combat style to any class.


There are a lot of themes in existing classes that include firearms or crossbows.

While guns are too messy and loud for their job, the crossbow is a signature assassin weapon, so I would like to see that represented in the rogue. Fighter is pretty obvious and I don't quite understand why he doesn't already have crossbow feat support (even if I don't like the feats). Monks and the whole gunkata thing, as Midnightoker pointed out. Rangers have the whole "hunter" thing going on, so both more crossbow stuff and now the "hunting rifle" (or shotgun) is definitely something I expect to see.

What might be less obvious is the Investigator. Being by far the least combat capable class so far, I'm waiting for to see them be brought in line a bit more and this might be the perfect opportunity. They still wouldn't be a direct combatant, but there is a theme to be explored here - concealable weapons. All kinds of contraptions and weapons tucked in everywhere, to be drawn and used. Guns and crossbows are a good fit for that. After all, the duelling pistol already had the concealable trait and Investigators already only attack once per round anyway.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
To broach a different topic, what other class feats abilities do people think we might see for non-gunslinger classes? I'm trying to imagine a barbarian with a gun, and beyond throwing the musket at someone I'm not sure how they might best utilize one.

I imagine we'll get a gun themed racket for Rogue, not sure what it might be called though. Bandit? Would let you sneak attack with guns, but I don't know what else.

Maybe an Edge for Rangers for reload weapons? Marksman's Edge. Gadget stuff could fit the ranger too, then it'd really be good for Batman.

I imagine Gunmage would be an archetype to allow access to more characters. Something along the lines of Eldritch Archer. Perhaps you would prepare spells as bullets during your daily preparations, and then casting them is shooting them. Edit: This could just be a magus subclass!

Maybe a gunslinging swashbuckler? That might step on the Gunslinger's toes though.

Now I'm thinking of a sheriff as an Investigator... What's a sheriff's methodology?

Liberty's Edge

Steelbro300 wrote:
I imagine Gunmage would be an archetype to allow access to more characters. Something along the lines of Eldritch Archer. Perhaps you would prepare spells as bullets during your daily preparations, and then casting them is shooting them. Edit: This could just be a magus subclass!

I don't think there's anything that prevents a shooting star magus from using guns even now, beyond the reloading issues guns have overall.

Steelbro300 wrote:
Now I'm thinking of a sheriff as an Investigator... What's a sheriff's methodology?

Interrogation?

Scarab Sages

I went with Empiricism instead of Interrogation for my noir detective inspired Investigator, only because Interrogation is Diplomacy-based and doesn't have an Intimidation option (that I could see). I'm taking it slow with the character just playing bounties, in part because I was optimistic Gunslinger would get announced. My plan is to go into Marshal at 2nd level, Dread Marshal Stance at 4th and To Battle! at 8th for something else to do when the Devise roll is low. But that's all going to be dependent on how many hoops using a gun requires. If I have to go into Gunslinger dedication to make it viable, then I'll have to decide between doing that but giving up Marshal, or just sticking with a shortbow and taking the more interesting archetype.

EDIT: Basically, Interrogation seems to have gone the Columbo route with its flavor, vs. having a good cop option and a bad cop option. While Empiricism gives me That's Odd, which lets me say things like, "Something ain't right here," or the always fun, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

Dataphiles

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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Midnightoker wrote:
Exocist wrote:

Barbarians aren’t really ranged weapon users in the first place. Their only key ability option is strength. Rage only works with melee. They’re clearly melee centric.

I think every other martial except maybe Champions can do a gun though.

I really hope you're wrong about Champion, I think there's a lot of cool themes you could play into with a Champion using a Merciful gun as their ally and I would hate to see them not get that same attention.

Sure, shields and they require Ranged Reprisal, but I don't see why they should be excluded.

If you had said Monks, then okay, but I guess there's always the Gunkata crowd there too.

It’s not that they can’t use them, it’s that the mechanics of the class don’t function well with ranged weapons. Similar to archer champions being in a pretty eh spot.

Even worse if you’re a paladin and your reaction has an attack, a reload weapon would make it impossible to use divine reflexes (to its full benefit at least), as you can’t reload out of turn.

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