Minmaxing for the Fire Lance (At Low Levels)


Sovereign Court

Alright, time to roll up our sleeves and check this out. The Fire Lance. We're making a character without a starting bonus feat, so no humans, etc. I'm thinking goblins and kobolds, but other non-human creatures are fine. We're thinking 'someone dumb/primitive enough to consider the risk of exploding is worth it', but any other race. This includes sample races like the Lizardfolk. Just don't go into monstrous race territory (20+ RP).

The point-buy is 20. Assume level 5 with only the starting gunslinger weapon as a back-up.

To keep people from having to search all over, I'll be listing some of the rules below. You can also follow this link to a google doc where I list relevant rules as they come up (since I cannot edit this after 15 minutes and keep adding things).

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lH_WJCh-KPaetabixfNXwofcb8tDaJcP_HeGTT7 CAo4/edit?usp=sharing



Fire lance, 25 gp, 1d6, 20/×4, Range inc; 10 ft., misfire 1–4 (5 ft.), 4 lbs. Two-Handed Firearms.

This primitive firearm is nothing more than a long tube that, when ignited, propels a short gout of flame and a javelin.

Unlike other firearms, the fire lance is wildly imprecise, and targets AC rather than touch AC. A fire lance is always treated as having the broken condition for the purpose of determining the effects of a misfire. A fire lances uses a javelin (1gp) and 2 doses of black powder (10 gp each) as ammunition.

Q: Can you wield a fire lance one-handed?

A: Crossbows and other two-handed weapons that can fire one-handed have specific rules for it. Because there are no specific rules for fire lances, I think the correct interpretation is that, like bows, the fire lance presumes the use of both hands to be the only possibility.

Because javelins are what are fired from the Fire Lance, I'll also include those below.


Javelin, 1 gp, 1d6, 20/x2, Range Inc; 30 ft. Thrown Weapons, Spears.

Since a javelin is not designed for melee, you are treated as non-proficient with it and take a –4 penalty on attack rolls if you use a javelin as a melee weapon.

And because the misfire rate is not only high, but kind of a feature of this build, I'll include the relevant rules for that too, amended with the specific rules of the Fire Lance.


Misfires: If the natural result of your attack roll falls within a firearm’s misfire value, that shot misses, even if you would have otherwise hit the target. When a firearm misfires, it gains the broken condition. [...]

[...] If an early firearm with the broken condition misfires again, it explodes. When a nonmagical firearm explodes, the weapon is destroyed. Magical firearms are wrecked, which means they can’t fire until they are fully restored (which requires either the make whole spell or the Gunsmithing feat). When a gun explodes, pick one corner of your square—the explosion creates a burst from that point of origin. Each firearm has a burst size noted in parentheses after its misfire value. Any creature within this burst (including the firearm’s wielder) takes damage as if it had been hit by the weapon—a DC 12 Reflex save halves this damage.

That bit is important, since there's a 20% chance of this happening. So this might be part of the strategy, potentially.

Finally, the Javelin rules;

"Special: Since a javelin is not designed for melee, you are treated as non-proficient with it and take a –4 penalty on attack rolls if you use a javelin as a melee weapon."

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Well Goblin Alchemist [Grenadier]/Gunslinger [Musket Master] 5 seems the obvious choice.

Hard head, big teeth. For a melee option between shots. Bouncy race trait for extra survive-ability with roll with it (up is a legal direction).
Alchemist favoured class bonus is nice for small fire resistance bonuses. Gunslinger is also nice for a small crit boost.

Take grenadier to be able to apply alchemists fire as a move action for all that extra static damage.
Max DEX, then INT, everything else is a dump.

The Feats:
Goblin Gunslinger to use medium fire lance without penalty.
Roll With It to get out of danger when struck (or when a lance explodes in your face).
Burn!Burn!Burn! for instant extra damage from fire based weapons.
Flame heart for extra damage on bombs.
Rapid reload to get it down to a usable firing rate.

Explosive bombs, for more boom!
Rocket bomb to eventually replace the lance, or at least supplement it.
Explosive missile, make that one infused shot count.
Elemental mutagen for even more resistance, and a stacking bonus to roll with it acrobatics checks.
Scrap bomb for when things are fire immune.

Asbestos clothing, because a burning Goblin is fine, as long as it isn't also naked.
Fire lance [masterwork as soon as you can].
Spare Fire lance, just in case [lower priority].
Cold iron javelins.
Silver weapon blanch for the cold iron javelins.
Alchemical fireworks, which can be applied as a splash weapon [Yay].
All the alchemists fire, and maybe some acid for alternate damage type.
Lantern Staff for melee that deals fire damage.
Oil, lots of lamp oil.
Alchemists crafting Kit, save the cost of making your own black powder and splash weapons.

You should be able to do a tremendous amount of damage a round, and be nearly impossible to hit, and if they do close and hit, you bounce away for almost no damage anyways then shoot them as they close again.

A thrown weapon has a maximum range of five range increments. A projectile weapon can shoot to 10 range increments.

fire lance damage 1d6 20/4 crit
ranges penalty
(range inc 10 ft)
00-10 = 0
10-20 = -2
20-30 = -4
30-40 = -6
40-50 = -8
50-60 = -10
60-70 = -12
70-80 = -14
80-90 = -16
90-100 = -18

thrown javelin damage 1d6 20/2 crit
ranges penalty
(range inc 30 ft)
0-30 = 0
30-60 = -2
60-90 = -4
90-120 = -6
120-150 = -8

beside the crit of 20/4 for fire lance and 20/2 for javelin why would you bother using the fire lance?!?

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zza ni wrote:

... why would you bother using the fire lance?!?

To weaponize misfires:

"Any creature within this burst (including the firearm’s wielder) takes damage as if it had been hit by the weapon—" R12 half.

A javelin has the potential to damage one opponent.

A misfired fire lance has the potential to damage everyone in a 5' radius.

By maximizing the alpha strike, simultaneously raising misfire probability, minimizing impact upon yourself and surviving, repeatedly, you'll have made a memorable character. And isn't that why we play?

Sovereign Court

Exactly! I'm kind of surprised it's not an archetype of its own yet, tbh. With, say, a class feature that increases the reflex DC for halving the damage on a misfire for enemies.

Or a way to reduce enemies reflex saves for the purpose of avoiding explosions caused by your weapon.

Or always being able to reroll an attack roll for the purposes of determining whether you've had a misfire (so you regain some control over when you're exploding).

Sovereign Court

It looks like the link I posted in the OP didn't end up working.

I hope this one works better!

On the topics of weaponizing misfire I would like to bring the trait Volatile Fuse to your attention


Guardianlord wrote:

Goblin Gunslinger to use medium fire lance without penalty.

That doesn't work. Goblin Gunslinger only removes the -2 penalty for using an inappropriately sized weapon. It says nothing about the goblin being able to use medium sized weapons as if they were medium sized.

A small sized creature treats a medium light weapon as one-handed. He treats a medium sized one-handed weapon as a two-handed. And a small creature can't wield a medium sized two-handed weapon unless there is a special rule that explicitly says this character can. The feat Goblin Gunslinger fails to do that.

An interesting side note: If your Goblin manages to become large sized, you still take no size penalties for using medium weapons. This means you could use medium sized pistols as light weapons in this case.

How about playing an Oversized Goblin variant?

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