Early Firearms and the Musketeer


Homebrew and House Rules


I apologize in advance for the enormous wall of text. There will be a brief TL;DR for firearms, as well as for the musketeer.

Foreword: One of the key ideas of this post involves a very different implementation of firearms, off of which everything is based. I ask that people take it at face value and consider what is being posted separately from how the gunslinger and firearms have been implemented in 1e. There are other threads discussing how firearms could be implemented elsewhere in the forums. Thanks :)

Early Firearms TL;DR: In order to make guns unique from other weapons, they could be designed to be used in a manner that is similar to focus spells rather than normal ranged weapons--essentially, longer reload and much higher damage could allow somebody to save their weapons for a pivotal moment in combat, or they could spend time to reload to prepare to deliver another devastating volley.

Musketeer TL;DR: Taking cues from the Gunslinger and Swashbuckler, the Musketeer would be a class that would allow a player to specialize in firearms and melee combat. Depending on the Musketeers' Creed, you could seek to perfect sharpshooting with powerful rifles, going into combat with pistol and sword, or balancing the two by using rifles as an opener before charging into combat and engaging the enemy in melee. They would be balanced around the incredible damage of firearms, turning the tide of combat with powerful attacks.

And now for the big post:

The reality of firearms-- the implementation of firearms into the game must not break the math or assumed balance of the game. Because of this, there will have to be elements on firearms that are added or taken away so that they feel unique but are not JUST an inherently better weapon (firearms are one of the areas where it is easiest to imagine feature/power creep). To bound the ability of firearms, let’s start with two ridiculous extremes: modern day firearms and the very first crudely developed gunpowder weapons. In a world with swords and magic, slinging an automatic weapon that is extremely precise and deadly would be silly, and would exist entirely out of line with the rest of the P2e experience. Similarly, it would not be enjoyable to have a firearm that is wildly inaccurate and takes over a minute to reload (or longer than 10 full rounds of combat, for in game terms). I am bounding the rest of this post within the scope of firearms that could exist in a world of swords and magic without breaking the game.

So, with these two bounds in mind, firearms would need to be balanced in this space. I do not know the math behind the expected damage targets for each class and combat style, but it is safe to assume that there is some sort of expected Damage per Round (DPR) range at a given level. This can be accomplished by having many smaller attacks or fewer large attacks hitting the target. Based on this principle, the faster you can *successfully* attack with a weapon, the less damage it can do for the purposes of game balance--this is an immutable fact, because deviating from this concept would make one weapon choice clearly superior and would negate many different weapon options. Different weapons will excel in different spaces (something that weapon traits with help a lot), but at the end of the day new weapons cannot be vastly superior in concept and execution.

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Assuming now that we implement firearms with high reload, we can map their damage to this expected DPR. For the purposes of balance, a quick firing firearm would need to do less damage, but a firearm with a long reload could be allowed to do greater damage. This balance can work in favor of firearms -- a unique implementation would trade-off a larger delay between successful hits for significantly higher damage on a hit. A non unique implementation would give firearms a short reload time, which would in turn bring them into the same DPR range as current martial and exotic ranged weapons with regards to DPR from *successful* hits-- this would wholly negate the unique space that a firearm could build into.

If we intend to map the performance of early firearms, they would likely require a few rounds to reload. Speaking purely from a design perspective, this means that they could be allowed to deliver high damage, which also plays into the notion that a firearm is a unique and different tool of destruction than other ranged weapons

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Now we see a weapon that shares some design analogues with Focus Spells, which are used infrequently in a given combat but have the ability to be used all day long. Without putting artificial limits on the use of firearms, they could be used as a powerful opener in a fight, or saved for a crucial moment to turn the tide of battle. A high reload leaves space for a specialist class to gain the ability to shorten the time between shots, carving out a unique space for a PC that wanted to feel like a lethal sniper or a daring duelist.

This design leaves several paths for improvement when designing a class, where the player can decide between preparing another deadly volley or pressing the gap and continuing the fight in melee while their foes are reeling. To speak in regards to focus spells, the developers have stated that the power of said spells would need to be reduced significantly if they were able to be used much more frequently. Having access to an excess of Focus Points would mean that they would have to be realigned with the expected DPR of a Players Character. It is for this reason that I see a clear analogue of successful implementation of Firearms. Excessive usage per round would force them to move in line with existing weapons.

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With everything discussed above, we can now move on to build an example weapon:


Flintlock Pistol: 1d6 piercing, range 20, Reload 4, Shortarm
Flintlock Rifle: 1d10 piercing, range 50, Reload 10, Longarm

Lead shot: Projectile 15
Steel shot: Puncturing Projectile 10
Lead Hollow shot: Shattering Projectile 20

[/b]Shortarm[/b]: This firearm deals additional damage equal to the loaded ammos Projectile value
Longarm: This firearm deals additional damage equal to twice the loaded ammos Projectile value

Projectile: Projectile always includes a value. If the firearms normal damage penetrates Resistances and Hardness, they take additional damage equal to ammos Projectile value. Projectile damage is always doubled on a Critical Hit.

Puncturing Projectile: As Projectile, but the ammunition deals its Projectile damage after accounting for Resistances and Hardness. (If the original projectile damage would be applied through Resistances or Hardness, these instances of Projectile damage stack and the projectile damage would be applied twice).

Shattering Projectile: As Projectile, but the ammos Projectile damage is also reduced by double the amount of any Resistances and Hardness.

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The values above are an example intended to show a possible pistol and ammo combination, and don’t fall in line with what the DPR might need to be in order to balance a weapon with such a reload time. Different types of ammo could be made available (through rarity), and these types of ammo could be used to modify the way the pistol interacts with the target. Hollow shot can be devastating to unprotected targets, while puncturing shot would be a way to guarantee damage to a heavily armored target.

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The Musketeer

Key Ability: Strength, Dexterity, or Charisma
Hit Points: 10 plus your Constitution modifier

Initial Proficiencies:
Perception: Expert in Perception
Trained in Fortitude
Expert in Reflex
Expert in Will
Trained in Athletics or Acrobatics, and 3 + INT other skills
Trained in Simple and Martial weapons
Trained in Advanced Firearms
Trained in Light & Medium Armor & Unarmored
Trained in Musketeer class DC
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Class Features:

Musketeers Creed: A Musketeer is guided by a code of conduct or set of principles. Your creed may guide you towards honorable acts in the name of a deity or ruler, or it may guide you towards justifying the requisition of others’ wealth and goods in the name of the greater good. The Musketeers creeds in this book are as follows:

Sharpshooter-- A single well placed shot can be deadly, and using a rifle in the heat of battle can lay low even the most powerful foes. A Sharpshooter is a musketeer that has dedicated themselves to perfecting powerful well-placed rifle shots to turn the tides of battle, falling back on the use of gunpowder pistols to defend themselves should they be attacked before reloading their rifle. When you pick this class path, you gain the Focused Reload ability, which allows you to reload a gunpowder weapon effectively while in the heat of battle. During your turn, you can choose to have any action without the manipulate trait to gain the manipulate trait and count towards an action of Reload as you ready a Firearm while performing other tasks.

Frantic Reload: by spending a focus point, you kneel down and put all of your focus into reloading your weapon. As long as you do not take any actions other than reload and do not receive damage, each action spent counts as Reload 2 until your weapon is reloaded or you interrupt your reload.

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Picaroon-- Powder and Steel reinforce a brazen attitude-- and when words fail a Picaroon confidently goes toe to toe with pistol and sword as they hurl insults and harry their enemies. When you pick this Musketeer creed, you gain the Finale Fatale ability, which allows you to use a pistol to attempt to finish off an enemy after throwing them off balance in combat. As an action after you critically succeed at a Disarm, Trip, Demoralize, or Grapple combat maneuver, you may draw and Strike with a pistol or one-handed agile weapon with no MAP.

Effortless Finale: by spending a focus point, you may instead perform the Finale Fatale ability when you succeed on a combat maneuver (as described above).

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Fusilier-- Some musketeers use their firearms as a powerful opener, before stowing their gunpowder weapons and pressing the attack on any foes sent reeling from their assault. When you choose the Fusilier creed, you gain the Opening Salvo ability, which allows you to charge into combat with devastating effect. (2 actions) You fire a readied gunpowder weapon, after which you Stride at least 10 feet up to your speed and make a melee Strike against the same creature. If your first Strike hits, your opponent is considered flat footed to you until the end of your turn. You may stow the firearm used to make the first attack while you move while drawing another weapon used to make the second attack, or you may use a Bayonet on a rifle to make the second attack.

Reeling Charge: [1 action] by spending a focus point, you may make a Trip or Disarm Combat Maneuver as part of the Strike. You do not increase your MAP for the Maneuver and Strike until after both have resolved. .

Advancement
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Panache & Bravado-- At level 1 you start off with 1 Focus point. While you have more than one focus point a Musketeer can enter various stances that give them a benefit called Panache. A Musketeer will remain in this stance until they use a Focus point to fully utilize their Panache, or until they end their turn while having no more focus points. Many instances of a Musketeers Panache have a Bravado, which provides additional benefits when the Musketeer performs an exceptional task.

Level 5: You become an Expert with Advanced Firearms, and reduce their Reload by 2
Level 13: You become a Master with Advanced Firearms and reduce their Reload by 4
Level 19: You become Legendary with Advanced Firearms, and reduce their Reload by 8

Musketeer Feats
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The following are just some examples of feats for the Musketeer:

En Garde:
[Musketeer] [Stance] [Panache] [1 Action]
Requirements: You are holding a 1H melee weapon
Panache: While you have one focus point, one melee weapon you are holding gains the parry trait, and any weapon with the parry trait receives an additional +1 circumstance bonus to parry. While you remain in this stance and retain a focus point you gain the following reaction at the cost of 1 focus point:

Dueling Riposte: After an attacking creature has rolled to Strike you but before you take damage, Make a disarm combat maneuver check against the attack results’ DC. The result of the disarm maneuver is instead replaced with the following: Critical success, you negate the attack and you may choose to Strike, Disarm, or Trip the foe, treating the result of the Strike, Disarm or Trip check as 1 degree of success higher. Success, you half the damage from the attack, and may perform a Strike action against the foe. Failure, you take half damage from the attack.
Bravado: If your counterattack kills the enemy, you regain one focus point.

Taunting Flourish:
[Musketeer] [Flourish] [Mental] [2 Actions]
You taunt an enemy before lunging. You may attempt to Demoralize one enemy in within your movement range. If you succeed at Demoralizing them, you may then move up to your speed and Strike them. If the enemy moves to a square you no longer threaten before the start of your next turn you may attempt to Demoralize them again as a free action and their frightened condition cannot be reduced until the start of your next turn.

Steadied Shot:
[Musketeer] [2 Actions]
Preparing to fire, you brace your weapon and control your breathing while aiming carefully. If the target is not concealed by cover they are considered flat footed for this Strike. If the target is benefiting from cover this Strike ignores the benefits of cover.

Duelists Dance:
[Musketeer] [Stance] [Panache]
While in this stance, you effortlessly maneuver through combat, allowing no escape.
Panache: While you have at least 1 focus point, you may designate a target in which to begin a deadly dance with. While in this stance, whenever the designated target performs the Step action you may Step with them as a free action. While you remain in this stance and retain a focus point you gain the following reaction at the cost of 1 focus point:
Press the Advantage: If the foe designated by Duelists Dance Strides within your reach, they are flat footed to you until the end of their turn and you make Strike as they attempt to leave the threatened area.

Level-headed Parlay:
[Musketeer] [Stance][Mental] [Panache] [1 Action]
Attempt a grapple on a foe as a part of this action. When you grapple a foe while wielding a pistol in one hand with the other hand free, you gain the following Panache: You gain a +2 morale bonus to your diplomacy and intimidate, and the grappled opponent receives this same penalty when trying to escape the grapple. You may spend 1 focus point to make either a diplomacy or intimidate check against all foes within 30 feet that are allied to the grappled foe. Any attempts to escape the grapple gain the following failure and critical failure conditions: Failure: The foe grappling you hits you with their pistol attack. Critical failure: the foe grappling you critically hits you with their pistol attack. During the start of your next turn and each turn after, if you continue to maintain the grapple you may make an attack against the creature AND treat it as one degree of success higher.

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I hope that this provides adequate structure to think about how the Firearms and Musketeer class could be shaped into a playable 2e class. Even if it was only used for 'Variant Firearms', it is the type of class/weapons combination that I think could be powerful, fun, and balanced. I look forward to hearing what others think.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

So the problem with this idea is spike damage.

Hitting for 1d10+40 and then having to spend three full rounds reloading might sound reasonable.

What you are instead going to see, though, is the Ranger (it will be a Ranger) opening each combat with 1d10+40+precision shot damage, then dropping their gun and pulling out a crossbow for the rest of the combat. The end result is that their combat DPR is the same as a crossbow ranger, plus one massive spike on their first shot that only cost them one extra action to switch weapons.

At 18th level, said Ranger is probably opening combat with Perfect Shot for something like 4d10+3d8+3d6+46 = 128 damage. Goddess help anyone they crit; they could easily take out 2/3rds of the health of an equal level monster in one attack.


MaxAstro wrote:

So the problem with this idea is spike damage.

Hitting for 1d10+40 and then having to spend three full rounds reloading might sound reasonable.

What you are instead going to see, though, is the Ranger (it will be a Ranger) opening each combat with 1d10+40+precision shot damage, then dropping their gun and pulling out a crossbow for the rest of the combat. The end result is that their combat DPR is the same as a crossbow ranger, plus one massive spike on their first shot that only cost them one extra action to switch weapons.

At 18th level, said Ranger is probably opening combat with Perfect Shot for something like 4d10+3d8+3d6+46 = 128 damage. Goddess help anyone they crit; they could easily take out 2/3rds of the health of an equal level monster in one attack.

So with the idea of balancing this spike damage, how much would the damage need to be lowered? Would it need to be closer to a blasting focus spell at that level? Additionally, a large spike of damage at the begining isn't necessarily bad, especially if the player does little to invest in reloading the weapon until after combat. It certainly feels more in line with a powerful opener.

However I concede that the reload and damage values could maybe trend downward slightly, but the key idea that the implementation I suggested is that they would need to have significantly more reload than a crossbow.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

This is a really hard thing to balance, because you are always going to be dealing with balancing for the edge case of the person who uses it as a free opener and then doesn't touch it again.

At the same time, three full rounds of reloading is so long that no one will be using it as intended - no one wants their entire contribution to combat to be one roll. So the temptation is going to be to offer focused characters, like the Musketeer, abilities to cut the reload down. But then you are removing the drawback to that spike damage in the first place.

For example, the Musketeer's frantic reload ability effectively turns the flintlock into a reload 2 weapon, same as a heavy crossbow... except instead of the 1d10 damage of the heavy crossbow, you've now created a one-handed heavy crossbow that potentially does 1d6+15, making that by far the best ranged weapon in the game.

And that's before you even get into a 19th level Musketeer being able to have a 1d10+40 Reload 1 weapon.

I'm not sure it's really possible to effectively balance firearms around long reload times because of these considerations... A core consideration of 2e is keeping the optimization ceiling low. In other words, firearms need to not just not be better than other weapons - they need to not be better than other weapons even in the hands of a firearm class. A musketeer should not be strictly better than a crossbow ranger at ranged single shot damage.

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As a separate and more general comment, I understand the temptation to give Musketeer legendary with firearms, but they really shouldn't. Monks don't get legendary with unarmed strikes. Legendary weapon proficiency is really a Fighter class feature and shouldn't be given out to anyone else.


What you say is fair. Ultimately I foresee that guns will go the way of 1e and have their damage and reload fall close to crossbows or other ranged weapons. There is still plenty of space to flesh out firearms with weapon traits (which is wonderful news), but what I have suggested certainly does break down when you imagine how it could be abused.

Anyways, I'd like to tweak it so I could use it in home games where I can keep a close eye on it, but otherwise I foresee max reload 1-2 guns in the future with low damage to prevent abuse in the system.

I still think the damage could be brought in line that it would be fine for somebody to use as an opener-- much as how somebody could save a wand or focus spell to start off combat. I think a long reload weapon could find it's niche perfectly when similar options are available for spells and abilities every combat. I'll do some homework to look at what blaster focus spells look like and use that to hone in on what damage the firearms could do to not sway combat so much.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

One thing that could potentially be used as a balance metric is cost - if ammunition is pricey, comparable to single-use magic items, then that does a lot to discourage spamming.

It then becomes a major stumbling block for a guns-focused class like Musketeer, though. You could maybe get around that by balancing around alchemist... actually that could work in general.

Bullets could be priced like alchemical items, and musketeer could get a number of free bullets each day like alchemists do.


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really, to balance it, you'd have to price the gun as a wand or balance the guns so you're expected to have more than one of them, like throwing knives.

at least if you want long reloads.

what i'd prefer is if we could get 18-19th century guns, you even have a flintlock RIFLE which uses rifling. I'd instead balance guns around reload 1 with a breech or bolt-action and then also make some other guns balanced around having magazines that you load a bullet at a time(such as lever actions and pump actions).

I feel guns would feel a lot funner that way.


Bandw2 wrote:

really, to balance it, you'd have to price the gun as a wand or balance the guns so you're expected to have more than one of them, like throwing knives.

at least if you want long reloads.

what i'd prefer is if we could get 18-19th century guns, you even have a flintlock RIFLE which uses rifling. I'd instead balance guns around reload 1 with a breech or bolt-action and then also make some other guns balanced around having magazines that you load a bullet at a time(such as lever actions and pump actions).

I feel guns would feel a lot funner that way.

At the very least having multiple pistols would fit in with how they were used for a time. Going I to battle with 3 flintlocks would give you some oomf even if you didn't have time to reload.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Actually, I'm contemplating a system by which flintlocks are potentially uncommon simple weapons. Firearm bullets would probably be zero level uncommon items. Gunpowder would presumably be an uncommon alchemical item.

Firearms damage die is less than crossbows, but they rely on blackpowder doses, which from a purely economic stanpoint would generally be kind of expensive. One handed weapons use less powder than two handed ones, the two handed ones have a higher damage die. Bullets would be relatively cheap.

Their low damage die is balanced upwards with a couple of factors. First their black-powder rating replicates the effects of a striking rune, adding a die (or more) damage when in the first range increment. Additionally, firing bullets, I'm contemplating a bloody trait that causes persistent bleed damage equal to the highest rolled weapon die on any critical hits. Both these are relatively powerful, for simple (uncommon) weapon, so there are a couple more factors to hold them back a bit. Powder, by default will be relatively expensive. Reload time, without any feat or class investment, will probably be close to a minute, and people without investment in the weapon always find the weapons riskier to use. With basic feat or ability investment, reload time will probably be slightly longer than a crossbow. A natural 1 will always be a misfire/jam, and people without any form of investment in them will have misfires on a natural one or two. Weapons that are damaged, exposed to water, or used more risky ammo will increase that natural value by one. I'm imagining with early firearms, weapons that are already damaged, by quick cleared jams, or other reasons, may be subject to a chance of an explosion as well, but only if they roll a natural 1.

This would make early firearms uncommon, dangerous in the hands of even a mostly unskilled individual. However, but such an unskilled individual runs a real risk of losing ammo investment. At close range even they can do more damage than a crossbow, but would likely be unable to reload it. With investment in the weapon, risk of losing ammo and time clearing the weapon drops significantly, and enables them to reload at a more reasonable rate, even if slowly. It would primarily be useful in the close quarters fighting, which is riskier, which I believe matches the flavor intended with the original gunslinger class. It allows for some extra damage in close range, but hopefully not enough to make it a 'surefire' must have first shot weapon.

One advantage of the idea of blackpowder creating a non-magical striking effect, is it is easy to say it and magical striking don't stack, making technology and magic be two different branches. If you add a +1 striking rune to a gun, it does striking damage, but that extra cost simply extends the advantage it had before at point blank ranges out to the rest of its range increments. Magic works, but it didn't improve the weapon's strong-point, its point-blank range damage.

It actually would make firearms sort of the opposite of the Longbow. Excellent in short range, useful in certain specific situations at longer ranges. (such as if you can get critical hits)


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Adding a weapon die at short ranges is already really powerful - I would relegate the bleed damage to being the critical specialization effect.

You might also consider +1 damage per die instead of an extra weapon die, since that is something that already pops up in the rules a fair bit. Alternatively, you could give guns the Fatal trait, which would be an interesting place for them - combined with the aforementioned crit specialization effect, it would mean that guns occupy kind of a "scythe" paradigm - on average they are weaker than crossbows, but you really don't want to get crit by them.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Adding 1 per die is equivalent to increasing the weapon die by one size, except that it is more reliable, rather than more random. The first aspect wouldn't offset starting with smaller die enough to make it worthwhile making a guess.

I'll admit, I was mentally comparing the elemental runes, vs the Wounding rune, noting that cause bleed damage was considered cheaper than adding a die of elemental damage. I mentally had stepped into comparing that to striking damage, but no striking is cheaper than wounding. That brings a reasonably valid concern. But I prefer the critical specialization being able to bypass piercing or bludgeoning resistances. Bloody also had an interesting nature that it might make even a higher level warrior a bit more nervous about a mob holding muskets, if randomly once one got a critical hit on them, they'd potentially be having to deal with persistent damage. I am concerned the amount may be too much, with what you pointed out. I wonder if 1 persistent bleed per die would be too much.

Fatal is kind of weird position, unless you double the size of the die, deadly is probably generally better in the long run, since it gets extra extra dice added on on a critical based on your striking rune. I started out with them being deadly, but I really didn't like how it created a situation on normal hit with a pistol did say 2d4, and on a critical hit it did 4d4 +2d6. That actually seems better than 3d8, for instance. Knowing better forms of gunpowder would simulate stronger striking, I wanted to avoid deadly since it could get really big really quick.

By leveraging striking, the purpose was to keep technology and magic from being leveraged and stacked directly to make something overpowering. A striking rune on a firearm, makes it more powerful, but in the cases where it was already strong. I really liked that aspect of it, as it kept you from having to say... oh, you can't use technology along side magic. (which we know you can in the future, theoretically via StarFinder)

Thanks for the feedback though, I had slipped up on equating elemental runes with striking. (although interesting enough they both add a die of some size to your damage) But I think with the way the wounding rune is presented, it means the developers sort of value 'potential' damage less than actually damage added on, at least in certain ways.

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