Firearms quick reference

Recently, I’ve been playing in an online LotFP game (Dungeon Moon, run by LS of Papers & Pencils) that uses the 2013 Rules & Magic book “as written.” Thus, the firearms appendix is available. After my previous warlock (reskinned elf class) character died to a poison gas trap, I decided to make a gunslinger fighter to take these firearms rules for a spin. Playing a character with lots of guns and explosives where those things are still somewhat out of the ordinary is exactly as fun as I thought it would be (which is to say, a lot of fun).

I have now used the rules for several sessions, and I can say with confidence that I like them. There’s enough variation from other types of weaponry that guns actually feel different, without necessarily being superior in all cases. Damage is good (being 1d8 for all types of firearm), and bullets cancel up to five points of target armor, but a gunner is at increased risk from fire-based attacks (due to the explosive compounds that must be carried), and there is a chance of misfires (potentially wasting a combat action and fouling the weapon). These factors, combined with higher prices, mean that every PC is not likely to upgrade their weapons to firearms at the first opportunity.

So, I am happy with the rules, but their presentation is somewhat confusing. The relevant details are nested between paragraphs of historical background, and prices between the various options are hard to compare, as they use a multiplier per feature design. For example, having a wheellock firing mechanism causes a gun’s cost to increase sevenfold. Adding rifling further doubles that. To make the firearms rules more user-friendly, I created a one-page firearms quick reference PDF that does most of the multiple calculations (the only dimension that is not included in the price matrix is rifling) and also includes all the important rules. It is available under the OGL, so everything beyond the first page is legalese (that is to say, for table use you probably only want to print out the first page). In the process of putting this PDF together, I also noticed that there are actually rules for blunderbusses hidden under the ammunition entry “scattershot.” Thus, the only real omission remaining is how to handle grenades.

Following these rules, the most effective gun combatant is an unencumbered fighter with a high dexterity. A fighter with a flintlock (base reload time: 4 rounds) with an 18 dexterity (bonus of three, bringing the reload time to 1 round) using “apostles” (prepared shot that decreases reload time by 1) has an effective reload time of zero, meaning that they can fire every round (at least, that is how I would rule it). There is still a 10% chance of misfire for every shot though. Even my gunfighter (who has a dex bonus of 2) is considering investing in a light crossbow as backup, though that’s another two encumbrance slots.

Another tactic that I plan on trying is loading a brace of pistols with scattershot, which would serve as a good combat opener (area effect damage over a 45 degree fan with no attack roll needed and a target save for half damage). How to handle firing off two such “breath weapon” attacks in a single round will need a referee ruling though, as it does not seem to be covered in the rules explicitly.

Zoad (fighter 2), image by Gus

Zoad (fighter 2), image by Gus

7 thoughts on “Firearms quick reference

  1. Aaron

    Is the misfire a separate roll?

    That’s a weird set of rules. There’s no reason to have the inferior wheellocks if flintlocks are already available. Plus, I really don’t see any reason why flintlocks can reload faster than matchlocks. Wheellocks might take a wee bit longer since you have to wind up the spring. Also, I can’t imagine why encumbrance would have any effect on reload times at all. But, you and I have disagreed about encumbrance on pretty much every other occasion.

    1. Brendan Post author


      Yes, the misfire is a separate roll. You would think that would be cumbersome, but in play it has not seemed so (maybe because I’m the only character using firearms).

      Have we disagreed about encumbrance? I don’t recall. What was the substance of our disagreement?

  2. Derik

    Thanks for that Brendan. I was looking at those rules over the weekend and wishing they were included in the end paper tables for quick reference.

    Aaron: The various sorts of firing mechanisms are offered as the options across a longer period of time depending on what era you want to play in and how you want to arm people (maybe some civilizations are less advanced so using worse gear or maybe the bandits have really out of date arms).

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  5. Jake Steel

    Hello, I’m replying to a blog post from ten years ago to offer my irrelevant two cents on your reload times ruling!

    I, too, arrived at the conclusion that fighters could wind up with a 0-round reload time until I thought about the bit where fighters round down after the halving calculation for flintlocks. Since the original reload times are 10 rounds for most characters and 8 rounds for fighters, the only instance in which rounding down or up would be relevant is if you did some modifier calculations before the halving.
    Now, if you take a fighter’s 8 round reload and subtract the max dex mod of 3 before halving and rounding down, you end up with a 2 round reload that can be brought to 1 with an apostle. This to me seems like the most likely intention of the author, though of course you can play any way you like!

    If you’re a madman you might go further and perform the apostle modification before the halving, but then you’d end up in situations where having an apostle doesn’t actually make reloading any faster, which seems against the spirit of the rule.


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