What do you feel about 2e guns?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Paizo Employee Senior Designer

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Squiggit wrote:


... That or maybe the real problem is that bows are kind of overtuned compared to other ranged options, because it feels like the only time they're not the right choice is when your class can't use them properly.

TLDR Composite shortbows (and the fighter) aren't actually better than most other equivalent options in the game, but they do take the shortest route to peak effectiveness.

Composite bows are weird. If you do a really deep dive into Total Action Efficiency (a complete metric of the output a given character can bring to the game with a given weapon when accounting for the full breadth of party action usage and possible scenarios), the composite shortbow hits peak effectiveness in more situations than any other weapon, flickmaces and fauchards included. (As an aside, bayonets and reinforced stocks are one of the ways that firearms make up TAE; no actions spent swapping to melee and you always have a melee option available as an alternative to taking an AoO where it would otherwise be unavoidable without sacrificing actions.) That gets kind of weird to evaluate though, because that level of analysis involves the assumption of maximum tactical efficiency on both sides of the table (where you're including party composition and actions spent by other characters to facilitate functionality of a teammate and the GM is using every monster to their maximum potential) and isn't something you expect players to see. If everything is kept super-glue-tight to being balanced only to that ceiling, you'd end up with a lot of options that feel boring or not fun. You have to structure to the average play experience and then cascade out from there.

The absolute top threshold for a weapon-user in the game is established by the fighter, and the absolute top threshold for a weapon from a TAE perspective is the composite shortbow. If you want a character that is equal to the fighter when it comes to fighting with a weapon without being a boring clone, you have to push a different metric (like the barbarian pushing static damage while dropping relative accuracy, or the ranger giving up initial accuracy for better sustained accuracy or spiked initial damage). Similarly with the weapons, if you want a weapon that is equal to the shortbow without being a generic clone of the shortbow, it has to reach its numbers in a different way than the shortbow does (more efficient crit-hitting, higher base damage with lower crit reliance and benefits, etc.)

That ends up meaning that the fighter and the composite shortbow (or the flickmace which actually doesn't have as high a TAE but is really good without much need for tactical consideration) end up being highly valued by the community because even if they're not actually stronger in every situation than other weapons, they take the shortest route to effectiveness. The fighter is just statically better with the broadest array of weapons than other classes, and everyone else has to pull a lever somewhere to reach the same threshold. The composite shortbow is the simplest and most effective way to pump out damage without sacrificing actions for movement or demanding actions from other characters for healing. You can deal more damage with a fauchard than a shortbow, but not without needing to reposition more often and demanding healing from your teammates, which will pull down your TAE over time.

That doesn't mean that the fighter and composite shortbow are better than other classes and weapons, but it means that they hit that peak efficiency with the least amount of work for the player. You have to play more tactically with a gunslinger using an arquebus than with a fighter using a shortbow, and you'll have more peaks and valleys compared to the shortbow fighter's steady average. The less time you spend playing the game, the more a peaks and valleys build will look "subpar" compared to a steady output build.

There's an argument to be made that if you reduced the deadly quality on the shortbow and longbow to d8 and made the composite versions advanced (as would be typical when upgrading a martial weapon by adding a trait that consistently adds static damage to every attack) that you'd be giving other ranged weapons more room to shine, but you'd also be giving the most common and iconic ranged weapons a nerf that many tables would see as unnecessary and which would remove that "no brainer" option from the people who appreciate being able to play at peak effectiveness without having to have a deep understanding of the game mechanics and a desire for tactical play, and there'd be other cascade effects that just wouldn't be desirable at this point in the system's life (there aren't a bunch of feats written to give people ways to raise the ceiling on bows tactically, the way there are for e.g. crossbows, because the game has been designed up to this point under the premise that bows, particularly the composite shortbow, don't need a lot of tactical application to hit peak effectiveness).


I'm not in front of comp right now but to Michael's points I'll run the gauntlet excel calc I had going for the magus vs fighter thread and try to work in mechanics on both sides and check out an edge.

I already had the full calc from one to 20 for a shortbow fighter. Adding a gunslinger comparison should be easy.

Also afterwards I'll specify it, but the shortbow shooter has the edge in reactions, because of the reload mechanics the gunslinger is terrible at using s*!! reactions, where the shortbow user is great at them.


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Everyone's talking damage. I findy care that they critical harder. I'd love to drop that and bump the static damage/dice size


Just saw your post Michael, great points overall and I agree.

Paizo Employee Senior Designer

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Martialmasters wrote:
Everyone's talking damage. I findy care that they critical harder. I'd love to drop that and bump the static damage/dice size

You could drop the fatal trait from any given firearm in G&G that has it and increase the die size by one step to have a more or less equally balanced weapon. You'd actually drag down the peak performance average damage of characters who currently prefer firearms, but you'd reduce the peaks and valleys in a way that you might prefer for a homebrew experience if you don't like fatal. (Note that this does not include fatal aim; that's a bit more complex but essentially is the same as the two-hand trait which is less valuable than the fatal trait since it's also "charging" you a hand for the adjustment.)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Thank you for that indepth analysis Michael.

I have started to notice that there is a recurring theme in analysis on these boards that the classes, weapons, spells, feats, etc, that require the least amount of decisions are the ones that consistently get ranked at the top of their categories.

I think that is pretty understandable and fine, but I really appreciate how many ways there are in PF2 to play against that grain and not be so "sub-optimal" as to be a drain on the entire party.


I like that we do have the harmona gun for non gunslingers to hit more consistent damage. I'd like to see something similar for a 1 handed gun that isn't the jezail. Treasure vault maybe? I also wonder how kickback is measured for balance. It's essentially the same thing as propulsive so is it a neutral trait? Would it fit on a one handed gun? Would help out drifters at least.


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here is the breakdown, with the fighter assuming they have point blank shot and start it round 1. When greater striking runes come into play and longbow overtakes shortbow as best candidate for point blank shot, fighter switches to a longbow.

The gunslinger is better at outputting damage in the mid level ranges with the fatal trait, but that tappers off as the fighter styles just explode in the higher levels.

Overall though I'd say it's pros and cons


Michael Sayre wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Everyone's talking damage. I findy care that they critical harder. I'd love to drop that and bump the static damage/dice size
You could drop the fatal trait from any given firearm in G&G that has it and increase the die size by one step to have a more or less equally balanced weapon. You'd actually drag down the peak performance average damage of characters who currently prefer firearms, but you'd reduce the peaks and valleys in a way that you might prefer for a homebrew experience if you don't like fatal. (Note that this does not include fatal aim; that's a bit more complex but essentially is the same as the two-hand trait which is less valuable than the fatal trait since it's also "charging" you a hand for the adjustment.)

Fair enough. Something I'd probably allow my players to choose between when they buy their firearm.


Michael Sayre wrote:


TLDR Composite shortbows (and the fighter) aren't actually better than most other equivalent options in the game, but they do take the shortest route to peak effectiveness.

Composite bows are weird. If you do a really deep dive into Total Action Efficiency (a complete metric of the output a given character can bring to the game with a given weapon when accounting for the full breadth of party action usage and possible scenarios), the composite shortbow hits peak effectiveness in more situations than any other weapon, flickmaces and fauchards included. (As an aside, bayonets and reinforced stocks are one of the ways that firearms make up TAE; no actions spent swapping to melee and you always have a melee option available as an alternative to taking an AoO where it would otherwise be unavoidable without sacrificing actions.) That gets kind of weird to evaluate though, because that level of analysis involves the assumption of maximum tactical efficiency on both sides of the table (where you're including party composition and actions spent by other characters to facilitate functionality of a teammate and the GM is using every monster to their maximum potential) and isn't something you expect players to see. If everything is kept super-glue-tight to being balanced only to that ceiling, you'd end up with a lot of options that feel boring or not fun. You have to structure to the average play experience and then cascade out from there.

Thanks for the insight. You have done a good job with the Gunslinger. Its interesting and different without overshadowing other classes. If it just played like an archer there would be little point it in.

I'd love to see the way you do Total Action Efficiency calculations, though I have no expectation of that, as people like me would just nit pick it.

Michael Sayre wrote:
That doesn't mean that the fighter and composite shortbow are better than other classes and weapons, but it means that they hit that peak efficiency with the least amount of work for the player.

Yep you can match fighter damage ouput with other classes if you build them right. The fighter has space left after taking what it needs to do other things.

Michael Sayre wrote:
There's an argument to be made that if you reduced the deadly quality on the shortbow and longbow to d8 and made the composite versions advanced (as would be typical when upgrading a martial weapon by adding a trait that consistently adds static damage to every attack) that you'd be giving other ranged weapons more room to shine, but you'd also be giving the most common and iconic ranged weapons a nerf that many tables would see as unnecessary

Agreed its that extra deadly d8 sitting on the traditional bows that gives them that little edge over other options. Its closely balanced, which is good.

Paizo Employee Senior Designer

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Squiggit wrote:

But looking at those same numbers, if you don't crit, the arquebusier shoots once and spends an action reloading for 20 damage, while the shortbow user shoots twice for 28.

So you're 8 points of damage behind for two actions most of the time, but if you get lucky you're 2 points ahead instead.

Just noting that it looks a bit like this was kind of cherry-picked. PF2 characters get 3 actions a round and if you'd added in that one last action as a Strike for both the archer and arquebussier, you would have realized that the numbers for three Strikes from the bow vs. two strikes plus a reload for the arquebus with no crits factored in at all are virtually identical.

(That opens the door for "well what about reactions if you end on a firearm Strike then", but that's a deep well. If you're a fighter, you can still be in a better position with the gun because you get AoO for free and you can easily still be holding an attached melee weapon. If you're a gunslinger, you had some bonus damage and probably used a two-action ability followed by a custom reload that took you to a similar-but-loaded end-turn state without the second shot, or got up to some Risky Reload shenanigans that would further play into the overall equation. If you're a caster or investigator, you probably don't have a weapon-based reaction so it's a moot point. If you took two shots with each then the firearm comes out ahead in damage and the bow gets a more versatile thing it adds to the equation. That level of detail is heavily build-dependent, though.)


I also really like the gunslinger. Thanks for the insights Michael. I now want to do that dual combination weapon drifter.


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Michael Sayre wrote:
Squiggit wrote:


... That or maybe the real problem is that bows are kind of overtuned compared to other ranged options, because it feels like the only time they're not the right choice is when your class can't use them properly.
(As an aside, bayonets and reinforced stocks are one of the ways that firearms make up TAE; no actions spent swapping to melee and you always have a melee option available as an alternative to taking an AoO where it would otherwise be unavoidable without sacrificing actions.)

Not to detract from the point but for characters with access, the bladed gauntlet is a good option for this with bows; a finesse free-hand weapon that is there when you need it. Not as easy to tune as a 1h firearm but pretty much every archer that has access and proficiency should have one (unless they have a better unarmed attacks).


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Thank you for explaining stuff Michael (debating any side of any argument is rarely fun for anyone). I appreciate the ranged niche you and the team carved in the system. Not everyone is gonna like it but I at least appreciate it being more interesting than popping off a couple shots with limited tactical input.


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I think one of things that makes combination weapons feel bad in a lot of games (like mine) is the popularity of the ABP optional rules. Since that essentially removes the rune cost for having multiple weapons, it eliminates the big thing combination weapons have going for them.

@Michael Sayre: For people using ABP, do you have any thoughts about what a good house rule might be to make combination weapons more attractive? (Perhaps making the switch between ranged and melee modes a free action that doesn't have the manipulate trait?)


Xethik wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
Squiggit wrote:


... That or maybe the real problem is that bows are kind of overtuned compared to other ranged options, because it feels like the only time they're not the right choice is when your class can't use them properly.
(As an aside, bayonets and reinforced stocks are one of the ways that firearms make up TAE; no actions spent swapping to melee and you always have a melee option available as an alternative to taking an AoO where it would otherwise be unavoidable without sacrificing actions.)
Not to detract from the point but for characters with access, the bladed gauntlet is a good option for this with bows; a finesse free-hand weapon that is there when you need it. Not as easy to tune as a 1h firearm but pretty much every archer that has access and proficiency should have one (unless they have a better unarmed attacks).

Not as easy to rune up compared to blazons on a pistol. It's the same amount of cost for 2 handed firearms however. Coincidentally, the bladed gauntlet is also a great option for drifters that want access to other special reloads and don't want a capacity gun.


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aobst128 wrote:
Xethik wrote:
Michael Sayre wrote:
Squiggit wrote:


... That or maybe the real problem is that bows are kind of overtuned compared to other ranged options, because it feels like the only time they're not the right choice is when your class can't use them properly.
(As an aside, bayonets and reinforced stocks are one of the ways that firearms make up TAE; no actions spent swapping to melee and you always have a melee option available as an alternative to taking an AoO where it would otherwise be unavoidable without sacrificing actions.)
Not to detract from the point but for characters with access, the bladed gauntlet is a good option for this with bows; a finesse free-hand weapon that is there when you need it. Not as easy to tune as a 1h firearm but pretty much every archer that has access and proficiency should have one (unless they have a better unarmed attacks).
Not as easy to rune up compared to blazons on a pistol. It's the same amount of cost for 2 handed firearms however. Coincidentally, the bladed gauntlet is also a great option for drifters that want access to other special reloads and don't want a capacity gun.

Ah yup that's what I mean by not as easy to "tune". Not sure if I typoed or if autocorrect helped me type rune.

Paizo Employee Senior Designer

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WWHsmackdown wrote:
Thank you for making your case Michael (debating any side of any argument is rarely fun for anyone). I appreciate the ranged niche you carved in the system. Not everyone is gonna like it but I at least appreciate it being more interesting than popping off a couple shots with limited tactical input.

It's legitimately one of those things where I generally just choose to stay out of it when people start debating X vs. Y on the forums, but sometimes you see a hot-take settling in to a community that's worth cracking open and digging a little deeper on. PF2 is a super complex system that very intentionally hides a lot of complexity from the player, which is usually a good thing but sometimes means that a casual skim can leave people scratching their heads as to the how and why of a decision.

This thread has been pretty amicable and friendly with everyone seeming pretty sincere and friendly with their discussions, so it felt like a good place to hop in and pull back the curtain, talk about how things got to the places they did and maybe spin the camera around for folks who haven't seen the system for a certain angle.


Porridge wrote:

I think one of things that makes combination weapons feel bad in a lot of games (like mine) is the popularity of the ABP optional rules. Since that essentially removes the rune cost for having multiple weapons, it eliminates the big thing combination weapons have going for them.

@Michael Sayre: For people using ABP, do you have any thoughts about what a good house rule might be to make combination weapons more attractive? (Perhaps making the switch between ranged and melee modes a free action that doesn't have the manipulate trait?)

Yeah, ABP makes combination weapons main draw nearly irrelevant until you can afford damaging property runes. In that case, since attached weapons function almost the same as combination weapons, I'd just remove the mode switching entirely. They still need a reason for the lower damage dice so duplicating property runes seems like a good tradeoff.

Or maybe count them as separate weapons and forget about rune duplication since the melee portions of combination weapons are typically better than attached weapons and could hypothetically justify the lower gun damage if you get rid of the mode switching.

Paizo Employee Senior Designer

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Porridge wrote:

I think one of things that makes combination weapons feel bad in a lot of games (like mine) is the popularity of the ABP optional rules. Since that essentially removes the rune cost for having multiple weapons, it eliminates the big thing combination weapons have going for them.

@Michael Sayre: For people using ABP, do you have any thoughts about what a good house rule might be to make combination weapons more attractive? (Perhaps making the switch between ranged and melee modes a free action that doesn't have the manipulate trait?)

Yeah, ABP pulls the rug right out from under combination weapons' main benefit. Something that would be a bit more complicated but would maybe be a bit more reliably balanced than free form swapping would be giving combination weapons a single free inventor initial weapon modification (G&G pages 18-19) chosen at creation/purchase. Let them have it in addition to any other weapon modifications they would get if they actually are an inventor. The weight of an initial weapon modification is actually very similar to the trait reduction that gets applied to a combination weapon.


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I just noticed... the main mechanical benefit of combination weapons is rune availability. In the lore, combination weapons exist to make up for limited availability of gunpowder. In an admittedly quite broad sense, these two are very similar. This one in particular could be accidental, but I always like to see mechanics and lore thread the same paths. It really helps with immersion and therefore RP.


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aobst128 wrote:
Has anyone done the math on risky reload?

The math is very simple - if you hit X% of the time, risky reload on average saves you X% of an action to use. It saves an action with a chance of having to pay it back.

Good feat, the main issue it has is that there's other useful shot feats you can take (Alchemical Shot for instance).

Although some feats feel very bad still - Shattering Shot has issues since bombs aren't all balanced on impact damage (it does 0 damage ever with acid flasks, for instance), and it should probably do more damage for the costs involved.

But as to guns? I feel they're mostly only slightly better than crossbows, which were already situational. Reload 1 remains a steeper cost than the weapon math accounts for basically. Fine on simple crossbows, but martial guns probably should hit slightly harder than they do (or have slightly more in traits given, etc).

I also dislike that Sniper, alone of all the Ways, requires you to use a specific exploration activity to benefit from, even just for the drawing your weapon part.

Combination weapons I feel are slightly underpowered for two reasons - first they're almost all MAD, requiring different stats to hit with each mode. Second, they almost all have one mode be like 1d4. This makes them unappealing compared to other options (like the reinforced stock). Gold savings on runes almost feels like the only thing they offer, and that's disappointing, since thematically I really want to use that Gun Sword.

But at least they're not the mess that is Inventor's Dual Form Weapon feat. That one's a personal pet peeve as the transforming weapon is such a great concept and the feat is so bad (it's straight nerfed from the playtest version that already felt too weak... and I think the nerf outright broke it to boot).


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Dubious Scholar wrote:


But as to guns? I feel they're mostly only slightly better than crossbows, which were already situational. Reload 1 remains a steeper cost than the weapon math accounts for basically. Fine on simple crossbows, but martial guns probably should hit slightly harder than they do (or have slightly more in traits given, etc).

That's my impression too.

A gunslinger would definitely be more suited for either firearms and crossbows, but in terms of mechanics, both end up being pretty clunky.

On 2 rounds, assuming an already loaded firearm/crossbow, it would be 3 attacks, against 4 ( or 6 ifthe player would like to rng with a -10 map) and 2 extra actions, which may just be movement, in order :

- to properly position to deal with enemy lesser cover ( provided by allies/enemies).
- to result within the listed ranged increment
- to be away from enemies

But there are also other options, like:

- drink a potion
- use battle medicine or another interact action-
- pick up an item that'll be used on the next turn
- etc...

And this is something a firearm or crossbow user won't be able to deal with even if they decide to get running reload, to enhance their combat ( and note this is something not granted to all classes, but a feat that would require the character to invest into a specific dedication, being locked in until 2 feats are purchased).

Leaving apart how clunkier would be the game until they hit the required level.

Having alternatives more versatile, which also do not require feats or dedication to properly work, regardless the class you play with, leads to an efficiency burst that.

And this is obviously related to any class, as I am not taking into account only gunslingers ( or rangers), because all weapons are available ( though it's clunky sometimes getting access to some of them because you have to pass to a specific ancestry rather than having the possibility to train in order to use a specific weapon. Unconventional weaponry and gnome weapon familiarity are probably the most used) to all classes, and because so the comparison has to be done keeping in mind:

- accessibility
- how they work without having to invest class feats ( locking a character behind a dedication ). For example, not relying on running reload or stuff like crossbow ace.
- action economy ( some classes have it harder than others, like the magus and the investigator)
- 1+ hands benefits compared to 2 hands malus

And so on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

When crossbows and slings came out with a reload trait, did anyone think that firearms were not going to use reload as well? Michael Sayre very clearly went through all the math in this thread already. If making more ranged attacks is the tactic that you want to be able to do in combat, you build toward the composite short bow. That is the weapon for that tactic and it is, by a developer’s direct statement, a little over tuned to what it probably should have been, for the sake of having an iconic fantasy archer be a pretty transparently easy character to build.

I am fairly confident that the most likely outcome of convincing the developers that something needs to change to better balance firearms would be to nerf the deadly trait on bows down a die step.


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Why do you think the deadly die is so important?

As far as I happened to see, the majority of attacks results in hit/miss, then comes the critical miss and at last, the critical hit.

Obviously, a fighter would score more critical hit than a rogue, but this is not about specific class.

More important, IMO, is the fact that creatures provide lesser cover, resulting in a -1 hit on the ranged weapon user ( or +1 AC for the target).


Isn't "the deadly die is important" the reason gunslingers are the only non-fighter class to get legendary with a weapon attack?


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Isn't "the deadly die is important" the reason gunslingers are the only non-fighter class to get legendary with a weapon attack?

If the gunslinger, as well as the fighter, would be too performant with some weapons, I expect them to tone down the classes, and not the weapons themselves.

Reducing the deadly die by one step won't affect any non legendary proficiency character that much ( I would have said "at all tbh"), and bows would still remain their best, and only, choice.


From my experience with the gunslinger, it's a little clunky but doesn't feel too bad. between my demoralize + reload and fake out, it's working out ok so far. Haven't gotten running reload just yet. I plan to dual wield with penetrating fire and running reload to keep a loaded gun at the end of my turn for fake out. It helps that there's a second player using fake out to support some ridiculously accurate shots so even just one attack per turn is fine usually.


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Unicore wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Reload devours to much of your action economy and makes combat more repetitive, reducing the chance of doing anything interesting in your turn in favour of just "attack then reload" over and over and over.
So don’t reload? I mean, for many classes, one decent, versatile ranged attack in a combat is going to enough. If you want to use a gun every round for all your attacks, you probably do need to be a gunslinger, but that feels pretty intentional

God that sounds Terrible. If I'm playing a character who uses a gun, I shouldn't need to just go "I guess I am only allowed to use it once per fight".

The issue of reloading devouring your action economy still exists with gunslinger, it has a handful of options that reduce the action economy abyss of reload weapons, but they are not enough. Even if gunslinger did actually fix it, that'd still be bad, because it still makes a weapon unviable for so many character concepts. I'd need to make it so whenever you pick up a gun, that you automatically get free gunslinger feats so my players don't die of boredom.


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Gunslingers and rangers are fine with them. Other classes have to put in more work through archetyping. Investigators have the easiest route. And switch hitters will probably want to pick up reloading strike at 10th level, especially dual wielding bullet dancers. Classes that need to juggle a strict action economy have the hardest time although I'd argue magus can work if you have enough gold and 2 double barrel muskets, one in spirit sheath.


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Milo v3 wrote:
Unicore wrote:
Milo v3 wrote:
Reload devours to much of your action economy and makes combat more repetitive, reducing the chance of doing anything interesting in your turn in favour of just "attack then reload" over and over and over.
So don’t reload? I mean, for many classes, one decent, versatile ranged attack in a combat is going to enough. If you want to use a gun every round for all your attacks, you probably do need to be a gunslinger, but that feels pretty intentional

God that sounds Terrible. If I'm playing a character who uses a gun, I shouldn't need to just go "I guess I am only allowed to use it once per fight".

The issue of reloading devouring your action economy still exists with gunslinger, it has a handful of options that reduce the action economy abyss of reload weapons, but they are not enough. Even if gunslinger did actually fix it, that'd still be bad, because it still makes a weapon unviable for so many character concepts. I'd need to make it so whenever you pick up a gun, that you automatically get free gunslinger feats so my players don't die of boredom.

No one said you had to be able to use guns only once a fight, just that many characters can find themselves in situations where one ranged attack is all they are likely to need to make. Firearms can work for these characters. We also have the gunner’s bandolier as an item to help encourage players to get out of the head space that they are expected to only carry one pistol into combat.

Again, if you purpose in selecting a ranged weapon for combat is to shoot as often as possible, the game was designed to tell you that the short bow is the weapon that matches your expectations for playing that way.


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HumbleGamer wrote:

Why do you think the deadly die is so important?

As far as I happened to see, the majority of attacks results in hit/miss, then comes the critical miss and at last, the critical hit.

Obviously, a fighter would score more critical hit than a rogue, but this is not about specific class.

More important, IMO, is the fact that creatures provide lesser cover, resulting in a -1 hit on the ranged weapon user ( or +1 AC for the target).

Because PF2 uses a radically different crit mechanic than PF1 and engaging with it intentionally was a active development choice. Deadly is a powerful trait for a weapon to have. Fatal too.

Sticking with singular die for damage dice just means that there are only about 5 different categories for weapons to fall into if you don’t add in weapon traits. It was necessary to make weapon runes function clearly and consistently.

I get that your personal opinion about the feel of weapons matters very much to you. But ignoring crit damage in evaluating weapon damage and their balance isn’t something developers can afford to do in a system that has made critical effects happen far more frequently. Refusing to acknowledge the amount of work that went into balancing firearms against existing weapons because of personal play preferences can come across as very dismissive.

If you really like bows, and how a character plays with one, then use a bow. The game is designed around bows being a default staple that is easy to add to very many characters.

Firearms are still very much more usable in PF2 than they were in PF1, for the vast majority of characters too, they just have particular design niches that integrate into a couple of different tactical play styles. Choosing a weapon for your character in PF2 purely for aesthetics, and not being willing to change around other aspects of the character’s build is a good way to end up disappointed with your character.


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As mentioned before, I am not ignoring it.

But given the fact a critical hit occurs less than a critical failure, it's clearly not what you are going to modify in order to create alternatives to bows.

Currently, firearms ( as well as xbows) are not viable for some characters ( magus and investigator), and are clunky for the rest of them.

Which means that bows will still remains the best choice, even with a deadly d8 rather than a deadly d10.

What I meant to say is that if you expect players to either:

- play bows or firearms depends their character concept ( ignoring the fact one is versatile, dynamic whole the other is not versatile and also clunky)

- drop bows because of a similar nerf 1d10>1d8, moving on weapons which need to be reloaded ( which also means sacrifice the whole character concept to get stuff like running reload).

You are "probably" going to be very, very disappointed ( As for the former, I have seen masters encouraging players to use "reskinned bows". Bow statistics and mechanics, with a different aesthetic, for example a firearm, or a xbow. As for the latter, getting 1/2/3 extra damage on a critical hit, depends the striking runes, which are also not affected by the x2, is not solid at all ).

Bows are currently the ranged flickmaces.

And being able to play with a crossbow, or a longsword, doesn't change the fact they are way worse than their counterparts.


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I really want to thank Michael for his analysis and explanations. I’ve felt for a while that bows were overturned; it’s nice to get an explanation as to why they feel that way. That bows occupy the “easy mode” niche isn’t something I had considered, but it’s obvious in hindsight. I actually do think composites should have been advanced, but the explanation on why they are not makes perfect sense as well.

Michael Sayre wrote:
Martialmasters wrote:
Everyone's talking damage. I findy care that they critical harder. I'd love to drop that and bump the static damage/dice size
You could drop the fatal trait from any given firearm in G&G that has it and increase the die size by one step to have a more or less equally balanced weapon. You'd actually drag down the peak performance average damage of characters who currently prefer firearms, but you'd reduce the peaks and valleys in a way that you might prefer for a homebrew experience if you don't like fatal. (Note that this does not include fatal aim; that's a bit more complex but essentially is the same as the two-hand trait which is less valuable than the fatal trait since it's also "charging" you a hand for the adjustment.)

Funny enough, when I misinterpreted the scatter trait in the playtest to be “works like a bomb’s splash; splash damage on a miss, hit, and crit, with no doubling on the crit”, that also seemed to work out fairly equivalent against moderate enemies, with the scatter trait being more useful against boss types (and of course swarms) and Fatal being the choice for times when you can maximize your crit chance. That analysis was the basis of my homebrew alchemy bullets and research field, so I’m still glad I did it even if it wasn’t how the design was supposed to go.

It’s fun seeing how all the knobs and dials can work together to create weapons that are more or less equivalent at base but that shine in certain niches.

Shadow Lodge

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I would say I'm disappointed with guns, but given the way pf2 works I never had much hope for them to begin with; and they ended up about how I expected.

What I want is firearms that treat everything like oozes - easier to hit but can't be crit. Instead we got the opposite.


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Before guns and gears came out I was kind of expecting the guns to have a high damage high risk reward, a bit like what the inventor gave us.

Something like an overturned damage option, I'm talking d10/d12 ranged weapons with the deadly trait and maybe backstabber for the big ones, and some d8 options with reload 0 and maybe agile. Something that's overtuned vs bows/crossbows.

But then you balance that out with misfires on a critical miss, making the weapon jam, taking 2 or 3 actions to unclog (less if gunslinger) and dealing minor damage to you.

I was a bit disappointed, but I can understand why it swung that way.


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AlastarOG wrote:

Before guns and gears came out I was kind of expecting the guns to have a high damage high risk reward, a bit like what the inventor gave us.

Something like an overturned damage option, I'm talking d10/d12 ranged weapons with the deadly trait and maybe backstabber for the big ones, and some d8 options with reload 0 and maybe agile. Something that's overtuned vs bows/crossbows.

But then you balance that out with misfires on a critical miss, making the weapon jam, taking 2 or 3 actions to unclog (less if gunslinger) and dealing minor damage to you.

I was a bit disappointed, but I can understand why it swung that way.

The problem is that you can't balance something with extremes like that. If a player gets lucky or is just playing a Gunslinger/Fighter (being able to attack at +6 over the baseline is one hell of a drug), they would outdamage even the most ridiculous melee PCs. On the flip side, you never want lows that low, especially if it is not something extra - like with the inventor - but your main contribution to combat.

I'm very happy that the end result is far from that, it sounds like it could easily be extremely frustrating.


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I am not particularly fond of the mechanics. They work - but they are a awful lot more work to get functional vs. most classes (fighter, Ranger). They are a good support class though.

I would have preferred a more accessible gun type/approach, but then also acknowledge that is not what they are in Golarion. I prefer my settings to be 17th century inspired….. so do adjust the rules to make them stronger as a back-up weapon (simple weapons) while not overpowering (or changing much) the martial weapons.


I'm fine with the martial firearms. Simple ones are weirder since there's 2 repeating options to pick from as well. Something that simple weapons did not have until GnGs. Since simple weapon classes aside from the rogue are less likely to crit, the repeating options seem a lot more useful. Plus, there's no easy way to progress to martial firearms through an archetype unlike bows. I'l give a pass to the bullet dancer since they don't have a choice but Using a standard flintlock for a lot of classes is painful.


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I think that it is readily apparent that the more pertinent question here is not so much "how do we feel about guns" and more "how well and smoothly can non-gunslingers integrate guns into their playstyle?".

And the answer is a resounding "not very". The precision ranger has a good time with the harmona gun, but only once he hits level 4. And that is about the best case scenario I can think of. After that gets a bit murky. If you really, really want to, other classes can do work with some heavy archetyping, but that takes until level 6, 8 or 10 at minimum. It is also quite class resource intensive for non-Free Archetype games.

The core issues - as partially addressed by Michael already - are three-fold.

The first - and most immediately important - is how long it takes to get access to reload-booster feats like Running Reload or the Gunslinger's Slinger's Reload. Nobody likes dead actions - which reload actions essentially are - so having these is elementary to both mechanical effectiveness and fun. Having to wait until level 4 at the earliest to even pay the "entry fee" for the weapon you actually want is guaranteed to leave a lot of people unhappy. And they are right, frankly. Until we have level 1 reload class options - where Running Reload rightfully belongs - that won't change much. I could live with level 2 via archetypes, but any later just feels bad.

The second is the lack of things that you are able to do with guns, unless you MC into gunslinger. Tons of options require reload 0 and there is no archer archetype equivalent for guns. Having more options than just "attack x times" is one of the main strengths of the gunslinger class and the part that makes it actually fun. Sharing that around will solve a lot.

The third is a limited number of non-fatal options, which people without legendary weapon progression will prefer.

When these issues are eventually solved - granted, only the latter two most likely - I can see the mechanics discussion shifting quite drastically. Firearms will never not be niche, but they don't have to be this niche.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Michael Sayre wrote:
Just noting that it looks a bit like this was kind of cherry-picked.

Apologies if that's how I came off, it wasn't my intent. I just wanted to see how that opening volley looked if we failed to get the critical.

Quote:
PF2 characters get 3 actions a round and if you'd added in that one last action as a Strike for both the archer and arquebussier, you would have realized that the numbers for three Strikes from the bow vs. two strikes plus a reload for the arquebus with no crits factored in at all are virtually identical.

Two strikes with the arquebus is a strong opening routine, but the problem is it isn't sustainable. The following round you only get one attack. Depending on level/buffs/specific factors the archer can keep pace with that with only 4-5 attacks in two rounds.

Which goes back to one of the issues my players have had with guns, that it can often feel like they have to spend a lot of time babysitting their weapon and the gains don't always feel equivalent to the work they put in. This can be especially frustrating for classes that already have action economy issues, like Magi.

Two attacks in that opening round feels really good though, and the crit fishing potential is great, it's incredibly satisfying to roll that crit and just blow someone up with a rifle.


Karmagator wrote:

I think that it is readily apparent that the more pertinent question here is not so much "how do we feel about guns" and more "how well and smoothly can non-gunslingers integrate guns into their playstyle?".

Well, It's a known issue since the release.

Xbows, after all, use the same mechanics as the fireweapons, and the gunslinger simply can choose between one or the other.

And it's no secret that nobody used them.

Apart from that, imo, it's not quite right to say that gunslinger are "ok" compared to the other non gunslinger classes.

They are "forced" to use firearms or xbows, but I have the feel that widening the pool to all ranged options ( ranged weapons, and bows ), many gunslinger would consider using a bow, because of the benefits.

But being forced to choose between 2 kind of weapons, and given the feats they have, they can manage being less clunky compared to non gunslinger classes.


aobst128 wrote:
I'm fine with the martial firearms. Simple ones are weirder since there's 2 repeating options to pick from as well.

Simple, Martial, and Advanced are supposed to be mostly "how hard is this weapon to use effectively". A spear is simpler an easier weapon to train someone to use effectively (keep the pointy bit pointed at your opponent) than a sword is. Guns are for the most part "point and shoot" and certainly easier to train someone to use than a bow (the "reloading" part is just "these three things go in a specific order".)

This gets somewhat muddled by how advanced weapons are generally mechanically better than martial weapons which are better than simple weapons, but I think that's an "after the fact game balance" thing more than a "what those terms mean". I mean, diagetically you wouldn't design a polearm with four hinges in it unless it was more effective in *some* context, or at least "it wouldn't catch on" if it wasn't.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
Simple, Martial, and Advanced are supposed to be mostly "how hard is this weapon to use effectively".

That was the PF1 paradigm, but doesn't really seem to be the core design principle in PF2.

In PF2 it's more about weapon quality. Martial weapons generally are one trait better than simple weapons and advanced weapons are generally one trait better than martial weapons, with a handful of exceptions.

Can't find it offhand but IIRC I remember a designer (Mark Seifter) talking about this once, about how PF1 exotic weapons were so haphazardly balanced because it was a grab bag of rare/hard-to-use/stronger than normal all at once and so PF2 tiers were designed to take the math into consideration a bit more.


HumbleGamer wrote:
Karmagator wrote:

I think that it is readily apparent that the more pertinent question here is not so much "how do we feel about guns" and more "how well and smoothly can non-gunslingers integrate guns into their playstyle?".

Well, It's a known issue since the release.

Xbows, after all, use the same mechanics as the fireweapons, and the gunslinger simply can choose between one or the other.

And it's no secret that nobody used them.

Apart from that, imo, it's not quite right to say that gunslinger are "ok" compared to the other non gunslinger classes.

They are "forced" to use firearms or xbows, but I have the feel that widening the pool to all ranged options ( ranged weapons, and bows ), many gunslinger would consider using a bow, because of the benefits.

But being forced to choose between 2 kind of weapons, and given the feats they have, they can manage being less clunky compared to non gunslinger classes.

In my overall experience, the gunslinger easily holds it's own in comparison to other ranged options. The main competition - ranger and fighter - are extremely limited in what they can do at range. Their feats, for the most part, boil down to "do damage". Fighter has more options beyond that than ranger, but neither is what I would call "varied", exactly. At least not compared to the gunslinger. As an icing on the cake, the competition can't do a good simultaneous melee/ranged combo, if that is your style.

There are indeed some kinks that need to be ironed out, that is correct. Dual-wielding guns is quite janky, spellshot shouldn't be a class archetype (and the dedication itself is quite useless) and there is no regular "soldier with musket" way. But that doesn't mean it's not a solid class.

In regards to the limited weapon selection, I wouldn't be so sure.

Sniper, for one, has literally no reason to use anything but a fatal gun (or a harmona gun if you have crit builds). When you can hold a consistent ~20% crit chance even against bosses starting at level 6, why would you? Your attacks usually take two actions anyway, so it's not like you would gain much in the way of freedom. Drifter literally cannot use bows due to what it does.

The rest are much more ambivalent, but you are forgetting one thing - reload 0 feats and "you need to have a reload/loaded weapon" feats are not created equal. The former you can essentially use at will, while the latter require forethought, which means they can be a bit more powerful or do things reload 0 feats can't. See Fake Out and Pistol Twirl.

Also, never forget aesthetics. A gunslinger with a bow is just wrong.


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Karmagator wrote:
Also, never forget aesthetics. A gunslinger with a bow is just wrong.

A gunslinger with a xbow seems wrong too, for what matters :d


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HumbleGamer wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
Also, never forget aesthetics. A gunslinger with a bow is just wrong.
A gunslinger with a xbow seems wrong too, for what matters :d

I can't disagree entirely. The Van Helsing-esk feeling of rapidly unloading a crossbow like a primitive flesh-and-blood AA gun is quite cool, though.


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To me, that one seems more an innovator weapon than a normal xbow ( even considering a repeating one ). But I get your point.


Damn, this thread makes me want to play a gunslinger again XD


Karmagator wrote:
Damn, this thread makes me want to play a gunslinger again XD

Yep. Give me ABP and a familiar and I'll make the damned gun magus work too.

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