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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Effects of Guns

Nope, not a post of rules for blackpowder weapons in D&D, but rather inspiration for or commentary on such rules. Jason Zavoda has posted an early letter written by Gary Gygax to a D&D fanzine, and I was particularly struck by this quote:
How does one use gunpowder weapons in the confined spaces of the dungeon? What happens to ears? Blackmoor has some gunpowder usage but the filthy stuff won't work in Greyhawk's world.
(Emphasis added.) I don't think I've seen anyone, myself included, cover the potential for temporary deafness from the use of a gun, especially in a dungeon. It's actually a pretty good balancing idea.


  1. That's what Silence 15' radius is for!

    Another important question this brings up is vision. I've fired black powder weapons, and there is a heck of a lot of smoke produced. By torchlight, vision is already restricted in a dungeon. Add a substantial quantity of black powder smoke and you can't see anything. (Plus inhaling that stuff isn't terribly good for you.)

  2. I don't have a single consistent rule for governing deafening, deflection or overpenetration, but they've definitely come up within my Emern game. One of the PCs last session fired a +2 M-16 on full auto at an invisible spider that was trying to eat some of the other PCs, and he managed to kill one of the other PCs (who, luckily, was wearing a ring of regeneration), and deafen the rest.

    My basic rule for the deafening effects is simply to ignore the mechanical side until they become important. Then, the affected PCs roll a saving throw, and if they pass, they have recovered enough from the tinnitus and deafness to hear it.

  3. Not only that, but I'd think every gunshot would incur a wandering monster check.

  4. Noise, smoke, stink, slow rate of fire, fireball spells, open flames used for illumination and fire-breathing lizards are pretty fair limitations to mitigate the utility of old-timey guns in a dungeon.

  5. Reloading should be "disrupted" like spells. Try pouring powder into a 1/2" tube while a goblin is trying to saw your legs off.

  6. Noise is the major trade off in my firearms rules. I don't have any deafness effects, but I do make wandering monster checks and spook any creatures that might be spooked. So, the trade off for players is firearms (concealable but loud, ammunition is more expensive but lighter) or bows/crossbows (bulky but quieter, ammunition is cheaper but more encumbering). I'm pretty anachronistic about the tech in my current game. I don't worry much about the mechanics of black powder. I just treat everything sort of like a breach loading rifle.