Firearms and AC, my personal system


Homebrew and House Rules


Hello all, I was wondering what y'all think about my personal system.
I allow firearms to hit touch ac but armor made out of adamantine or mitheral and some other materials get there ac bonus as well as magic armor.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I'm not sure firearms need the nerf. By the time that kind of armor is showing up, firearm users are already suffering due to action economy, and only get to hit touch AC within their first range increment, which is going to be quite short for one handed firearms.


What is it about firearms? They're probably the most often houseruled weapon that I know of. I mean, splash weapons hit Touch AC too.


Saethori wrote:
I'm not sure firearms need the nerf. By the time that kind of armor is showing up, firearm users are already suffering due to action economy, and only get to hit touch AC within their first range increment, which is going to be quite short for one handed firearms.

Fair enough, I don't know really it just seems that my player is out shining my others...hmm you know what I think you're right though...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I don't see how this really helps the situation. Many NPC's and monsters will still be hit automatically because their touch AC is terrible and they lack special/magical armor, while other NPC's will functionally have their full AC against guns due to using magical armor and make guns just really expensive and failure-prone crossbows. Seems like the worst of both worlds to me. If guns are too strong at your table, they will remain too strong in many situations, but in other situations they will just become inferior weapons.

My own opinion is that it was a mistake to ever give guns a touch AC attack. There are simply way too many instances where opponents have no defense against this, so guns need to be balanced as if they hit automatically. This would necessarily make them weak in situations where opponents do have good touch AC. This works fine for touch spells, since any wizard has other spells to use if touch spells are inappropriate, but it's not so fine for the Gunslinger who is a martial and thus only gets to do one thing well. It's a tough situation and I don't think there's an easy fix. My own homebrew buffs guns substantially, but also eliminates the Gunslinger class and their touch AC qualities completely.

Johnnycat93 wrote:
What is it about firearms? They're probably the most often houseruled weapon that I know of. I mean, splash weapons hit Touch AC too.

A lot of people are unsatisfied with firearms rules in Pathfinder. Some people dislike how much damage a gunslinger can put out with only a modicum of optimization, others dislike how ineffectual they are in the hands of someone who isn't a gunslinger, and still others just don't like the representation.

I also feel the splash weapon comparison isn't very appropriate here. Splash Weapons can be used by any class effectively, but never really improve and are at their best at the 1st level. Guns are only really useful to Gunslingers, and their class features let them scale effectively at higher levels. Using Alchemist Fire isn't going to help you against a White Dragon in spite of its poor touch AC and fire vulnerability, but a Gunslinger can shred an opponent like that.


I've yet to see someone make a case where a gunslinger can do anything close to the kind of damage that an optimized archer can crap out.

My point about the Splash Weapons is that guns have literally one positive thing going for them, and that's hitting off touch AC sometimes. Yet, people prop that up as a huge, huge advantage. You can full-attack and two-weapon fight with a vial of Alchemist Fire, and that does the same 1d6 damage as a pistol and has splash damage.

The comparison is supposed to be factious, because I want to frame how silly I think nerfing firearms specifically is when I consider them to be one of the worst weapons in the game (yes, even with gunslinger included).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Johnnycat93 wrote:
My point about the Splash Weapons is that guns have literally one positive thing going for them, and that's hitting off touch AC sometimes. Yet, people prop that up as a huge, huge advantage. You can full-attack and two-weapon fight with a vial of Alchemist Fire, and that does the same 1d6 damage as a pistol and has splash damage.

There are very few ways to improve splash weapon damage, whereas Gunslingers have built-in dex-to-damage and can easily apply deadly aim. Drawing splash weapons is a move action and there's no way (outside of mythic, at least) to circumvent that, while gunslingers can bring firearms down to a free action reload.

If we're talking about 1st level, then I'd totally agree with you that guns compare unfavorably to splash weapons, but they don't scale so they're completely irrelevant a few levels into your career whereas guns continue to scale for Gunslingers.

My understanding of the Gunslinger problem is as follows: GM's will often see a strong party and respond by upping the CR of the monsters that are being used using. Since touch AC doesn't actually increase with higher CR monsters the Gunslinger's damage output stays consistent even as every other damage-dealing character's suffers reduced DPR. If the GM keeps throwing stronger monsters because the party is bringing them down too quickly then at a certain point the Gunslinger is dealing way more damage than anyone else.


Yeah I felt like they should just have a bigger die of damage and drop the touch ac thing altogether. That and a x4 crit should help make up for all the downsides. Not like a gunslinger is gonna have a hard time hitting anyways full bab class.


I don't want to get into a huge thing about it (unfortunate that I made my stance already) because that's not really the point of this thread. Suffice to say I disagree pretty strongly. I'm open to continuing the debate via PM.

More to the point of the OP: these aren't the most unreasonable adjustements I've seen. However, it doesn't really help monstrous creatures. Perhaps put a qualifier for touch AC targeting similar to what whips have. If a creature has higher than X natural armor or armor than they use their normal AC, otherwise touch AC.


Johnnycat93 wrote:

I don't want to get into a huge thing about it (unfortunate that I made my stance already) because that's not really the point of this thread. Suffice to say I disagree pretty strongly. I'm open to continuing the debate via PM.

More to the point of the OP: these aren't the most unreasonable adjustements I've seen. However, it doesn't really help monstrous creatures. Perhaps put a qualifier for touch AC targeting similar to what whips have. If a creature has higher than X natural armor or armor than they use their normal AC, otherwise touch AC.

I actually really like that idea


I have been working on something similar with crossbows myself, with them hitting touch ac and not working against certain types of armor(hence needing a heavy crossbow or something stronger/arbalest etc). Maybe I should switch to natural armor instead, or include it somehow.


Just be really careful if you're planning on springing this on an already-built character in an already-established campaign.

You're opening up quite the can of worms, because presumably the player was drawn to the class because of its mechanics, based on default assumptions of how the class is intended to function, and has probably already become attached to his character from a non-mechanical perspective as well.

Changing something like this when a game is already along can come across as a real bait-and-switch/pull the rug out from under kind of move. It would be akin to suddenly declaring that Lay on Hands only heals nonlethal damage because you feel the party Oradin is performing too well.


Ways I have handled guns over the years have included everything from full rewrites to just letting it be including using Guns everywhere. If you want to swap things up a bit with them you can always trying combining the rules for Innate dodge bonuses with Armor as AC. Which levels the playing field for all weapons. However if you do that I recommend using a higher level of gun tech to give something back to the gunslinger.


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Gulthor wrote:

Just be really careful if you're planning on springing this on an already-built character in an already-established campaign.

You're opening up quite the can of worms, because presumably the player was drawn to the class because of its mechanics, based on default assumptions of how the class is intended to function, and has probably already become attached to his character from a non-mechanical perspective as well.

Changing something like this when a game is already along can come across as a real bait-and-switch/pull the rug out from under kind of move. It would be akin to suddenly declaring that Lay on Hands only heals nonlethal damage because you feel the party Oradin is performing too well.

Yeah, I have talked it over with my player and he understands, he really just wanted that whole desperado feel and is fine with any changes


Dasrak wrote:

I don't see how this really helps the situation. Many NPC's and monsters will still be hit automatically because their touch AC is terrible and they lack special/magical armor, while other NPC's will functionally have their full AC against guns due to using magical armor and make guns just really expensive and failure-prone crossbows. Seems like the worst of both worlds to me. If guns are too strong at your table, they will remain too strong in many situations, but in other situations they will just become inferior weapons.

My own opinion is that it was a mistake to ever give guns a touch AC attack. There are simply way too many instances where opponents have no defense against this, so guns need to be balanced as if they hit automatically. This would necessarily make them weak in situations where opponents do have good touch AC. This works fine for touch spells, since any wizard has other spells to use if touch spells are inappropriate, but it's not so fine for the Gunslinger who is a martial and thus only gets to do one thing well. It's a tough situation and I don't think there's an easy fix. My own homebrew buffs guns substantially, but also eliminates the Gunslinger class and their touch AC qualities completely.

Johnnycat93 wrote:
What is it about firearms? They're probably the most often houseruled weapon that I know of. I mean, splash weapons hit Touch AC too.

A lot of people are unsatisfied with firearms rules in Pathfinder. Some people dislike how much damage a gunslinger can put out with only a modicum of optimization, others dislike how ineffectual they are in the hands of someone who isn't a gunslinger, and still others just don't like the representation.

I also feel the splash weapon comparison isn't very appropriate here. Splash Weapons can be used by any class effectively, but never really improve and are at their best at the 1st level. Guns are only really useful to Gunslingers, and their class features let them scale effectively at higher levels. Using Alchemist Fire isn't...

The rules for firearms are very easy to understand so what that it hit touch ac gunslinger is only good to lvl 5 then multi class out of it go check the dpr Olympics thread I would be surprised if the gunslinger was in the top 10 any nerf to the class is purely a knee-jerk reaction to consistent middling damage a mildly optimized 2hander blows it out of the water dpr wise and in order to hit touch ac the gunslinger must be in charge range so he's screwed anyway


Dox of the ParaDox twins wrote:
Gulthor wrote:

Just be really careful if you're planning on springing this on an already-built character in an already-established campaign.

You're opening up quite the can of worms, because presumably the player was drawn to the class because of its mechanics, based on default assumptions of how the class is intended to function, and has probably already become attached to his character from a non-mechanical perspective as well.

Changing something like this when a game is already along can come across as a real bait-and-switch/pull the rug out from under kind of move. It would be akin to suddenly declaring that Lay on Hands only heals nonlethal damage because you feel the party Oradin is performing too well.

Yeah, I have talked it over with my player and he understands, he really just wanted that whole desperado feel and is fine with any changes

I have a lot to say about this topic but I think about it this way if you think anything for a martial is OP just let it fly because things called spells exist


Early firearms go through no rigid steel armor but all non-rigid armors and all mundane non-metal armors are pretty much useless. Advanced black powder guns go through thin full plate but not thicker breastplates worn alone or with leather, which is why plate went out but cuirasses stayed in. Smokeless powder rifles (but not pistols) go through pretty much any practical armor until synthetics.

It doesn't matter what your armor is made from if it's mail. Non-rigid armors aren't very good against non-slashing weapons.

Most natural armor bonuses should probably be DR or larger hit dice and only those that actually deflect blows in an armor-like fashion should remain AC. Those should probably also act as AC against bullets.

Really, everything works better in an armor as DR system. But not the one Paizo published because it's horrible. Soft armor DR would be bypassed by firearms.

Firearms, in turn, shouldn't misfire and should be simple weapons. Nothing usable has a 5% chance of misfiring and firearms became ubiquitous not because of superior performance but because civilians could easily be adequately trained in their use. They're essentially the next step up from crossbows. Crossbows need buffing and differentiating from longbows and firearms should receive the same.


Replacing all instances of "touch" with "flat-footed" in the gun rules actually solves everything pretty well. It even would provide a sneak attack caveat because baseline gun rules state that their attacks aren't treated as touch attacks.


christos gurd wrote:
Replacing all instances of "touch" with "flat-footed" in the gun rules actually solves everything pretty well. It even would provide a sneak attack caveat because baseline gun rules state that their attacks aren't treated as touch attacks.

I get that that would work but I don't really like that because the flat footed AC is meant for not being be able to dodge where as touch AC is for only dodging but Idk it would work I guess


This is relevant to my upcoming game, since I have a player who is making a VMC rogue/gunslinger (to stack sneak attack up to 10d6 for a grit, and to cover trapfinding) and I have been looking at how effective the builds really are.

In all reality, the firearm rules seem to be just fine, considering their restrictions. I've had a player's alchemist tearing up my campaign damage wise, so I'm not overall that concerned.

They do decent damage, and it's a martial weapon that can go vs. touch. That gives them a niche.

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Maybe consider my firearm rework? I removed the touch attacks entirely and instead made the Dex-to-damage an innate characteristic of them.


Cyrad wrote:
Maybe consider my firearm rework? I removed the touch attacks entirely and instead made the Dex-to-damage an innate characteristic of them.

I absolutely love these, thanks


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Atarlost wrote:
Early firearms go through no rigid steel armor but all non-rigid armors and all mundane non-metal armors are pretty much useless. Advanced black powder guns go through thin full plate but not thicker breastplates worn alone or with leather, which is why plate went out but cuirasses stayed in. Smokeless powder rifles (but not pistols) go through pretty much any practical armor until synthetics.

I attempted to do some research on this a while back, and the biggest problem I ran into is that "musket" and "rifle" are about as vague as "axe" and "sword". They represent a huge class of weapons spanning hundreds of years of development and improvement, so depending on which particular era and design is being discussed you can be looking at extremely different performance. In the case of some of the earlier guns, muskets actually had poor penetration power and it took hundreds of years for them to catch up to crossbows.

My eventual conclusion was that for any era in which muskets co-existed with crossbows as conventional military weapons, they had penetration power that was about equal to crossbows. Single-handed firearms, however, were much worse and had atrocious penetration power. While later muskets did have significantly better penetration power and would blow through armor at close range like it wasn't even there, the crossbow and bow had already been obsolete as relevant military weapons for centuries at that point and so these advanced muskets probably aren't the ones we should be looking at for our benchmarks. As a result, I'm inclined to say that touch AC is simply not justified for early firearms.

Quote:
Firearms, in turn, shouldn't misfire and should be simple weapons. Nothing usable has a 5% chance of misfiring and firearms became ubiquitous not because of superior performance but because civilians could easily be adequately trained in their use. They're essentially the next step up from crossbows. Crossbows need buffing and differentiating from longbows and firearms should receive the same.

This was one that surprised me, as well. I initially thought that misfires seemed abnormally high and that no one would use a weapon with a 5% chance of critical failure per shot, but it turned out that 5% is about right for misfire chance in a real battle situation. The chance of a musket misfire is exacerbated by a dirty or hot barrel. If cleaned between shots they have a very low chance of misfire, but if fired in rapid succession (which is basically the reality of a battle) the misfire chances increase rapidly for each successive shot. Based on what actual numbers I could find a flat 5% misfire chance per shot is actually a pretty decent approximation for a musket that's being used constantly.

As for why such an unreliable weapon was used, it came down to the fatigue on the user. Crossbows require significant physical exertion to reload (and bows require significant physical exertion to draw and fire) and will quickly fatigue a soldier that's using them constantly. So while a musket might misfire, a crossbow will certainly exhaust its user. When you're looking at an army rather than an individual soldier, guns actually represent an increase in overall reliability in spite of the misfire chance. This is actually problematic for our purposes in Pathfinder as there is no physical exertion mechanic, so we have no way of representing this advantage (nor would I want to do it; sounds like a really unfun mechanic).


Dox of the ParaDox twins wrote:
christos gurd wrote:
Replacing all instances of "touch" with "flat-footed" in the gun rules actually solves everything pretty well. It even would provide a sneak attack caveat because baseline gun rules state that their attacks aren't treated as touch attacks.
I get that that would work but I don't really like that because the flat footed AC is meant for not being be able to dodge where as touch AC is for only dodging but Idk it would work I guess

because not being able to dodge musket balls innately makes more sense than them ignoring armor considering, as a friend of mine likes bringing up, the term bulletproof came from blacksmiths taking a breastplate and fire a gun at it to demonstrate they didn't penetrate and saying "see, proof against bullets"


you could go with armor gives a damage reduction and drop the touch AC. When i gun a game with guns this is my go to rule at my table.

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