Here we go again…

(CW: Firearms.)

At the WotC Content Creator Summit, it was announced that firearms were going to become a regular feature in the game (again.) All of us old timers will likely remember 2nd Ed AD&D when they introduced early firearms such as the Blunderbuss, Arquebus, and Ye Olde Fashioned “Bomb” (with a fuse.) We’ve been having this debate in the TTPRG community since before that.

Are firearms “fantasy?”

This is not a new debate, nor one that will likely be settled in this edition or any other. Some people really despise the very notion of gunpowder in any game ever, much less D&D. Many people have legitimate trauma involving firearms in the real world, so those elements aren’t welcome in their fantasy games.

Perfect example: I was leveling my Dwarf Hunter on World of Warcraft. I started almost every character I ever made in the Night Elf zones. It’s where I was most familiar with all of the quests, etc. One day I was out grinding levels and I’m using my hunter’s gun. This was on a regular, PVE server, please remember.

The next thing I know I have people yelling at me in chat and whispering me to get out of “their” zone because my character’s gun was too loud. Not just one person was freaking out, either. There must have been four or five people wigging out over the fact that they could hear gunfire in World of Warcraft. So, I finally switched to my bow and everyone kinda quieted down after that. I still wasn’t exactly feeling welcome, but at least I wasn’t seeing all caps and red everywhere in chat.

Turns out that the guy whispering me had been involved in a shooting and was completely traumatized by the sound of gunshots. I would never have imagined such a problem on WoW before that happened. It did explain why he was in a more or less gun free zone, though. I apologized profusely and we were okay after that. I stuck to my bow for the rest of the time in Kalimdor.

So, back to D&D. I think what qualifies as acceptable in a fantasy game varies from one group to the next. I used to game with army vets who insisted we stick to bows and swords. Personally, I like games with giant robots and that almost aways involves a lot of “bang” and “boom.” But I have never had a group that was keen on fantasy mecha gaming, so it works.

Watch me make all the Old Grognards cringe for a minute. (Wink.)

The best way, in my opinion, to deal with firearms in a fantasy setting is to discuss it beforehand. That means conducting a Session Zero and having a brief discussion around guns. As a DM, I’ve managed to dodge the situation for years using the old, “It hasn’t been invented yet. The gods won’t allow it.” That usually works with most players. I’m happy saying, “No firearms.”

It’s a little different if the items in question are listed on the equipment in the Player’s Handbook Whatever-They’re-Calling-it-2024-Edition. If it’s in the PHB and players see some advantage in using the darn things, you better believe it’ll be a bone of contention among players and DMs alike. Rules As Written is going to collide with Rule of Cool and that’s before we start accounting for the new VTT and all of its shiny graphics. What happens when the DM says, “No guns” and the player just paid $9.99 for the new gun skin pack?

My list of House Rules is going to grow in the new edition. “No Guns” is probably going to top the charts. We’ll still be playing out of physical books, though. Seems to be an easy ruling in person.

I have kids in my group.

I want to try to tell stories where might doesn’t always make right. I want to give the impression that guns don’t work in every situation. I want them to understand that just because one can take a life easily, doesn’t mean it’s okay. They’re my kids.

Yes, they know guns are real. We play Fortnite on the weekends and during the summer months sometimes. My other problem is rapidly becoming that I don’t want D&D to look like Fortnite with dice and that’s exactly what WotC seems to be making. Unreal Engine, flashy graphics, microtransactions for skins, etc. And now guns, too. Has WotC completely lost their minds on this one?

From other angles:

Put it in the Dungeon Master’s Guide under optional rules. I can leave it out of my game just like Chronomancy and Demonology for PCs. Easy. Done.

Why blast something with a shotgun if a Fireball spell does way more damage? If my character can say a few words and throw some dust causing someone to turn to freakin stone, does he really need that revolver? Crossbows do as much or more damage, have faster load times and don’t run the risk of blowing the user’s hand off on a Nat 1.

I don’t want D&D to start looking like Deadlands. I ran Deadlands for a while in college. It’s one of my all time favorite games. I don’t want my D&D to look like the Wild, Wild, West movie. (I loved that movie, but not as my D&D game.)

Thanks, WotC. One more selling point for other games.

Another solution to the firearms issue on the new equipment tables to consider is other games. Yes, Pathfinder 2E released Guns & Gears. If I had players that wanted to (FINALLY!) play in my Steampunk game, I’d be all over it. However, I know at least my wife and one other player don’t do guns. Ever.

I don’t recall seeing firearms in old D&D BECMI. There aren’t any in Dungeon Crawl Classics to my knowledge. No firearms listed with the equipment in Pathfinder 2E Core Rules. Nothing in Cypher System fantasy because the GM gets to set all the dials beforehand. EZ D6 is another RR setup game, so no guns there. ICRPG kinda has guns, but they’re as balanced as anything else in the game, so no worries there. I could keep naming gun-less fantasy games all night.

Personally, I’m working to stay gun-free except for one campaign world.

Did I mention I kinda have this Anime/Mecha/Steampunk game I’ve been slowly working on for almost a decade now? This thing has migrated through more systems than I can name. 5E was only one of them. As soon as I find a system I’m happy with, it’s getting printed.

Guns do have their rare (*IMO) place in a few select fantasy settings as long as the players are cool with it. I’m not here to be a therapist for players, but I live by the “do no harm” principle and that applies to my TTRPG spaces as well. I think being considerate of others’ feelings is one way to apply Rule of Cool.

Thanks for stopping by. You are all simply the best. The firearms in fantasy debate may never end. I’m always here to discuss it along with alignment. 😁