Front Toward Enemy: A Guide to the PF2e Gunslinger


Advice


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Gunslinger guide with some of the more updated options included.

I've decided to put it up as-is and work on editing over the next few weeks. There are a few bumpy spots that I'm still working on ironing out - cleaner language, more connections to useful items, and I'm pretty sure there are legacy descriptions that I meant to go back and re-edit that I haven't caught yet. I am once again reminded that editing your own work is difficult. I think it's in a done-enough state to be correct and useful, and I'll be improving it in the near future.

Front Toward Enemy: A Guide to the PF2e Gunslinger


Your example on Capacity is wrong. It takes an action to switch to a new barrel. So you could not shoot three times in a round.


On magical ammo - while it requires Alchemical Crafting to make magical ammo, the book does not actually say that magical bullets are alchemical. There are a number of types of magical ammunition that are only available as bullets that do not have the Alchemical trait on their entry, so I'm inclined to think that's the intent.

Edit: One Shot, One Kill only allows drawing for a free action. You have to strike normally, but gain a small damage bonus. It's by far the worst of the initial deeds, imo.

Harmona Gun does in fact have Kickback. It's unfortunate. The Jezail is probably the best 2h gun for low str builds.

You seem to have overlooked the Gunner's Bandolier, which makes the historically-accurate fire once and draw a new gun playstyle work.

Fake Out does not actually fire your gun, it merely has to be loaded. It's probably the one reaction Slinger's Reflexes is actually good for honestly. (Give your fighter +4 to hit twice, and laugh at the crits)


Nice work


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Dubious Scholar wrote:
On magical ammo - while it requires Alchemical Crafting to make magical ammo, the book does not actually say that magical bullets are alchemical. There are a number of types of magical ammunition that are only available as bullets that do not have the Alchemical trait on their entry, so I'm inclined to think that's the intent.

Unless I'm mistaken, traits are inherited. Rounds can always be made with black powder, which has the alchemical trait, and which is inherited for magical ammunition rounds. I don't think this was an intended rules interaction, but it doesn't strike me as a "too good to be true" interaction. The only exception I can immediately see is for pellets, since they can be rounds.

Dubious Scholar wrote:
Edit: One Shot, One Kill only allows drawing for a free action. You have to strike normally, but gain a small damage bonus. It's by far the worst of the initial deeds, imo.

Fixed.

Dubious Scholar wrote:
Harmona Gun does in fact have Kickback. It's unfortunate. The Jezail is probably the best 2h gun for low str builds.

... This is what I get for looking at a thousand different things over and over for two months. Thank you for correcting me.

Dubious Scholar wrote:
You seem to have overlooked the Gunner's Bandolier, which makes the historically-accurate fire once and draw a new gun playstyle work.

I didn't overlook it. Drawing a weapon before each shot invalidates much of the gunslinger kit. It negates all of the action economy easements that any gunslinger gets with a reload. Someone else did point out that a gunner's bandolier adds trait and use case flexibility, which I have added.

Dubious Scholar wrote:
Fake Out does not actually fire your gun, it merely has to be loaded. It's probably the one reaction Slinger's Reflexes is actually good for honestly. (Give your fighter +4 to hit twice, and laugh at the crits)

Thanks for pointing this one out, too. That's one of the edits I meant to go back and iron over - it's fixed now.

I seriously appreciate your feedback - it's not always this polite.


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Gortle wrote:
Nice work

Thanks Gortle!


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Sagiam wrote:

Your example on Capacity is wrong. It takes an action to switch to a new barrel. So you could not shoot three times in a round.

Yeah, I brain farted and got it mixed up with the repeating trait. It's fixed now, thank you!


Ah - one other thing - the list for Munitions Machinist doesn't have the elemental ammunition in it (upgrades are level 5 and 11 items, so 8 and 14). (Also, thank you for doing that list - it's very useful)

I have no idea if I prefer elemental ammo to alchemical shot or not. Same action count, alchemical misfires on miss but fully converts the attack (which bypasses physical resist and means less reduction from multiple resists/resist all). And of course more damage types on Alchemical Shot (literally all of them, even if force requires Lodestone Bombs at 12)


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Dubious Scholar wrote:
Ah - one other thing - the list for Munitions Machinist doesn't have the elemental ammunition in it (upgrades are level 5 and 11 items, so 8 and 14). (Also, thank you for doing that list - it's very useful)
Added. For some reason I came to the conclusion that I shouldn't add those since they were sort of covered in Munitions Crafter. It makes much more sense to include them, thank you.


Kinda weird that repeating hand crossbow is rated so low when unconventional weaponry (RHC) is available through drow culture and together with paired shots produces one of the stronger bases for gunslinger builds on the market.

Way agnostic. Easy on the action economy. Ensures high fake out uptime. Makes archetyping easier by removing the risky reload tax. Other things like not needing to pay a str tax for kickback, bow crit spec, two MAPless attacks, better at punching through resist(all) or resist(phys), etc.

Maybe too specific for a general guide though.


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gesalt wrote:
Kinda weird that repeating hand crossbow is rated so low when unconventional weaponry (RHC) is available through drow culture and together with paired shots produces one of the stronger bases for gunslinger builds on the market.

I hadn't considered that. I suppose there is a mechanical basis for it with the drow shootist archetype. I'll add them in the appropriate sections.

gesalt wrote:
Way agnostic.

I disagree here. Vanguard and Triggerbrand lose out on a lot of their kits with RHCs.


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Dubious Scholar wrote:

On magical ammo - while it requires Alchemical Crafting to make magical ammo, the book does not actually say that magical bullets are alchemical. There are a number of types of magical ammunition that are only available as bullets that do not have the Alchemical trait on their entry, so I'm inclined to think that's the intent.

Edit: One Shot, One Kill only allows drawing for a free action. You have to strike normally, but gain a small damage bonus. It's by far the worst of the initial deeds, imo.

Harmona Gun does in fact have Kickback. It's unfortunate. The Jezail is probably the best 2h gun for low str builds.

You seem to have overlooked the Gunner's Bandolier, which makes the historically-accurate fire once and draw a new gun playstyle work.

Fake Out does not actually fire your gun, it merely has to be loaded. It's probably the one reaction Slinger's Reflexes is actually good for honestly. (Give your fighter +4 to hit twice, and laugh at the crits)

Damn, I've been wondering why people like Fake Out so much, and now it has clicked.


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Drifters don't need Dual-weapon Reload. With reloading strike they can reload even on a critical miss, and if an enemy isn't within range they can "make a strike against an invisible enemy I suspect is within an adjacent square," aka swing into empty air and reload.


blammit wrote:
gesalt wrote:
Kinda weird that repeating hand crossbow is rated so low when unconventional weaponry (RHC) is available through drow culture and together with paired shots produces one of the stronger bases for gunslinger builds on the market.

I hadn't considered that. I suppose there is a mechanical basis for it with the drow shootist archetype. I'll add them in the appropriate sections.

gesalt wrote:
Way agnostic.
I disagree here. Vanguard and Triggerbrand lose out on a lot of their kits with RHCs.

Repeating handcrossbow makes paired shot and the like great. It might be the only feasible two (ranged) weapon build. And while it eventually requires a reload - repeating 5 is still great.


blammit wrote:
gesalt wrote:
Way agnostic.
I disagree here. Vanguard and Triggerbrand lose out on a lot of their kits with RHCs.

That's fair. I was thinking more that you don't really interact with reload and your use of paired shots makes most special features granted by ways not particularly valuable. Sniper is probably best for the bonus damage turn 1 and to serve as a decent backup plan for if the fight goes past round 5/6. Pistolero's +2 bonus to initiative and free step would be my second choice.


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Sagiam wrote:
if an enemy isn't within range they can "make a strike against an invisible enemy I suspect is within an adjacent square," aka swing into empty air and reload.

I hadn't considered that, thank you.


Slinger's reflexes doesn't work with Fake Out*. Slinger's reflexes only gives you an extra reaction on enemy's turns not allies.

*You could use it on an allies attack during an enemy's turn, like say from Attack of Opportunity. Still pretty situational.

While I'm on it, Hit the dirt leaves you prone and thus unable to take move actions, which Hit the dirt is. And almost all the other gunslinger reactions require a loaded gun, which you can't reload in between turns. Meaning that the only reaction that Slinger's Reload works more than once a round with is Instant Return.

And because it specifies Gunslinger reactions you can't use it with reactions from an archetype like a Champions reaction.


Thrower's Bandolier works with any one-handed weapon with the thrown trait. Dagger Pistols are a one-handed weapon with the thrown trait. And at light bulk you can have up to 20 of them loaded into your bandolier. Quick Draw allows you to do the archetypical draw and fire style everyone thinks Gunner's Bandolier should do.


I think you are undervaluing Risky Reload. This feat alone had been shown to increase firearm DPR to levels that are comparable to bows.

And if you miss your strike, you really are no worse off. If you hit, you reload and strike for the cost of one action. If you miss, you reload and strike for the cost of 2 actions. So depending on target's AC, buffs/debuffs, etc...you have probably a 50-80% chance of saving an action by using Risky Reload. That's a bet that you should take every time.

It's at least green (and imho blue).

Dark Archive

Applied_People wrote:

I think you are undervaluing Risky Reload. This feat alone had been shown to increase firearm DPR to levels that are comparable to bows.

And if you miss your strike, you really are no worse off. If you hit, you reload and strike for the cost of one action. If you miss, you reload and strike for the cost of 2 actions. So depending on target's AC, buffs/debuffs, etc...you have probably a 50-80% chance of saving an action by using Risky Reload. That's a bet that you should take every time.

It's at least green (and imho blue).

It doesn't really get you to bow DPR. If you use it for 4 rounds you have about a ~75% chance to misfire (30% average failure rate from L1 to L20 on first strike against moderate enemy AC for CR equivalent creatures -> 30% failure rate on 4 turns is about ~75% misfire chance). That means you lose 1 action for risky reload, 1 action to clean, and 1 dead action if you intend to risky reload the next turn. If you do reload then you really shouldn't risky reload on the next turn but you can reload / strike, reload, strike / risky reload, reload strike to get back into the routine.

In a typical fight that is 5-6 rounds you're very likely to misfire and basically lose 3 actions that can generate DPR for you. It looks okay on paper for early levels where singular expertise + kickback + large bore modification push guns slightly ahead on two attack turns. But bows are consistently able to do 3-4 strikes a round with flurry/hunted shots and easily outpace firearms. That gets more true at L8+ (damage runes favour more strike attack routines) and at higher striking runes where the deadly trait starts adding more dice on crits. Combine that with a very high probability of totally losing one entire round of DPR with a gun and bows still are ahead at all levels (especially with the horngali hornbow which is 1D8 with no volley).

All that being said. I agree it should be green? It is one of the few class feats that can increase DPR of the class. It just comes with some crappy downsides that you'll most certainly hate when they happen. I do think having it for CR-1 or CR-2 monsters could be a better use case. But on a high AC or CR+1 or CR+2 you're really going to suffer.


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I assume this is me misunderstanding the feat somehow, but here's what I think it does:

1. I start my turn with an empty gun
2a. I spend 1 action on Risky Reload
2b. As part of that action I Interact to reload
2c. As part of that action I make a Strike

If my Strike was successful, I just got a "free" action.

If my Strike was unsuccessful, my gun misfires and I must spend an action to clear the jam. But I'm no worse off (in terms of actions spent) than if I'd used, for example, Covered Reload + Strike. Still 2 actions...still a reload and a Strike. Still holding an empty gun.

I feel like you're saying I have a chance to lose actions when I use Risky Reload, and I'm saying I have a chance each time I use Risky Reload to conserve actions. Am I missing something?

Also, I think this math does not include any feats to supplement bow DPR but it does show how Risky Reload makes the arquebus competitive with a long bow without feat support (no Horngali in the calculations):

Firearms DPR

Dark Archive

Applied_People wrote:

I assume this is me misunderstanding the feat somehow, but here's what I think it does:

1. I start my turn with an empty gun
2a. I spend 1 action on Risky Reload
2b. As part of that action I Interact to reload
2c. As part of that action I make a Strike

If my Strike was successful, I just got a "free" action.

If my Strike was unsuccessful, my gun misfires and I must spend an action to clear the jam. But I'm no worse off (in terms of actions spent) than if I'd used, for example, Covered Reload + Strike. Still 2 actions...still a reload and a Strike. Still holding an empty gun.

I feel like you're saying I have a chance to lose actions when I use Risky Reload, and I'm saying I have a chance each time I use Risky Reload to conserve actions. Am I missing something?

Also, I think this math does not include any feats to supplement bow DPR but it does show how Risky Reload makes the arquebus competitive with a long bow without feat support (no Horngali in the calculations):

Firearms DPR

Here is my typical scenario I use to test DPR across a fight and DPR is calculated from the community damage tool.

From my analysis the optimized Fighter MC Ranger archer vs. optimized gunslinger is:

Gunslinger is -3.24% to 20.20% (Average ~11.39%) behind on DPR as compared to the Fighter assuming no misfires. If the fighter can save a 3rd action reapplying hunt prey and the gunslinger misfires the DPR range increases to 18.22% to 37.93% (average 30.54%) behind the fighter.

Unfortunately I can't find the full write up I did on reddit or the Paizo forums, but the main takeaway is that during low levels, particularly L4-L8 everything 'appears' okay if nobody misfires and no body has to move/re-adjust (i.e. white room optimum turns). But every upset to the optimum archer turn of hunted shot/shot/shot is a missed 3rd strike DPR whereas every upset to a gunslinger's optimum action routine is a loss of a 2nd strike DPR. This gets worse as we are able to add more static bonus damage or extra weapon dice (e.g., weapon specialization or damage runes) making more strikes equate to more DPR despite bad MAP penalties.

What you're saying is true. That a gunslinger that uses risky reload will increase their DPR relative to one that doesn't. But that frame of reference doesn't include the archer who isn't misfiring ever. I 100% agree that risky reload increases DPR but disagree that you get to the level of an archer because the reload weapon trait is so punishing for action economy.

Note: We can squeeze more DPR out of the above reference fighter routine by using shot/exacting strike/hunted shot turn sequences as well, which would be a more likely situation for bosses but unrealistic on lower level enemies since you never know how many arrows it'll take to kill something so you'd likely hunted shot/shot/shot to get the benefits of damage stacking for resistance purposes.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Applied_People wrote:

I think you are undervaluing Risky Reload. This feat alone had been shown to increase firearm DPR to levels that are comparable to bows.

And if you miss your strike, you really are no worse off. If you hit, you reload and strike for the cost of one action. If you miss, you reload and strike for the cost of 2 actions. So depending on target's AC, buffs/debuffs, etc...you have probably a 50-80% chance of saving an action by using Risky Reload. That's a bet that you should take every time.

I'm gonna necro post this because I'm contemplating a rebuild on my gunslinger (we just had session 0, session 1 is nest week, we're starting at level 11 for the Stolen Fates AP).

I did not take Risky reload, but I am thinking of a switch. I went all in on trying to maximize use of paired shot - even to buying 2 sets of all my runes.

BUT...

For risky reload - it says a misfire is automatically a critical miss. DO I care? Is there any problem with this.

So:

1. Turn 1 I Shoot the gun and do stuff.
2. Turn 2, I risky reload and fail, getting a misfire.
3. Turn 2 action 2, clear the jam.
4. Any problems?

Can I just go on as normal?

If I fail to clean the gun in the morning it will keep risking a misfire until I take an hour to clean it. But what about if I get a misfire from risky reload? Do I need to keep making misfire checks from then on out until I spend an hour?

Does the critical miss mean anything?

Or is this strat just the best of all possible world?

Risky reload is a flourish - so once per turn.

SO:

Turn 1:
Paired shot
Dual-weapon reload

Turn 2:
Dual-weapon reload
Paired shot

Turn 3-4: repat above forever.

Or:

Turn 1:
Twirl pistol
single shot vs flat-footed
risky reload at -5 map

Turn 2:
risky reload at base
slinger reload
single shot at -5MAP plus whatever my slinger reload gives me

Turn 3+ Repeat turn 2.

I'm not sure I see the advantage given that the risky strat has one shot suffering MAP so the action sequence will often break with a gun jam clear:

Turn with miss:
risky reload at base
clear jam
normal reload as risky was flourish

Alternate Turn with miss:
risky reload at base
clear jam
Strike or demoralize or anything, then next turn do the turn 2 from above.

Vigilant Seal

Just FYI, you have the shielded tripod listed as a level 1 item at 10gp, but its a level 3 item at 50gp. I can't seem to find anything similar with your price points and level.

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