I’m gong to be honest. I’ve never liked guns in my swords and sorcery fantasy games. It’s my preference. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.
Like many kids of the 1980s, I grew up around guns. My dad was a hunter. I got a single barrel 20 gauge for Christmas when I was 13. I’m not afraid of guns. That said, I’d rather not get shot either.
My opinion of the topic of firearms in the US and the Second Amendment has changed since my sons were born. I am deeply concerned about the world of 2023 that we live in. AR-15’s have become super common in this country. Mass shootings and school shootings are regularly in the news. I don’t care what side of the political fence someone is on, those kids are innocent.
So why drag all that scary stuff into my game about wizards and dragons?
My wife, who plays a Dragonborn Sorceress in our on-again, off-again D&D game hates guns. She doesn’t even like being in the same room when the boys are playing Fortnite. (It’s me. I’m one of the boys.) We keep the firearms well out of reach and locked up away from where the children can get them. My wife has threatened to pawn the guns when I’m not looking.
If we ever run anything else, Power Rangers included, there probably won’t be any actual gun violence. Our oldest was pretty shaken after two teens were killed and two injured by a gang shooting in their high school parking lot last year. We still drive by that spot every day at least twice. Iowa’s gun laws are sh🦆t and getting worse. Our oldest plays a Tiefling Warlock and there are no guns in our game.
Besides, who needs guns when we have huge, summoned monsters and fireball spells? I think an Ancient Red Dragon is probably a bigger threat to a simple farming village than someone with a pistol. If a Dragonborn sorcerer can hoot fire everywhere, who needs a musket?
I’m not opposed to guns in general.
Truthfully, my love of TTRPGs led me to learn more about firearms that most civilians know. I was seriously contemplating becoming a gunsmith once upon a time. But it’s because I got heavily into Ninjas & Superspies, Cyberpunk, Twilight 2000, and later Spycraft that I went out of my way to learn about firearms. I’m all for running games with guns, just not my D&D.
I’m not even sure about dragging guns out in my Pathfinder 2E games. Although I have to admit a real fondness for the Guns and Gears supplement. I have several steampunk related sourcebooks for D&D and Pathfinder.
Someday a campaign might sprout up where we do have gunpowder readily available. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have a campaign setting with steampunk tech, guns, and magic that’s loosely based on 5E. In that campaign magic and a lot of fantasy creatures are on the decline. Guns, automatons, and other steampunk items are on the rise thanks to Gnomes.
We’re fortunate the new Player’s Handbook for 2024 only has two entries so far.
I’ve read the new Unearthed Arcana playtest packet. I feel like firearms are pretty much overly expensive crossbows that take longer to load. They’ll get chucked right out of my home game, but I guess they’ll still be in the PHB for anyone who wants to play with them.
They were in the Dungeon Master’s Guide in the 2014 edition of the game. I preferred that approach because then the DM could decide if it was going to be included or not. That could even be considered a good Session Zero topic for discussion. Now, it just feels like anything else on the equipment list.
The equipment in the new edition, especially my take on the weapons list, is a whole different topic for discussion elsewhere. Much like every other new edition of the game since 3rd, I’ll probably end up adding all of the stuff I feel was ignored. One of the things I usually end up including is the Pellet bow or pellet crossbow. In some instances, they may as well be firearms. I think Roman whistling sling bullets were probably more intimidating that early firearms ever were.
My main concerns are about guns in my game.
Personally, I feel like it diminishes the fantasy element of the game at my table. Why try and cast a fireball when the Rogue can shoot the offending Wizard from the back of the room before he gets to cast? What if the King of Gelderland decides cannons, bombards, and musketeers are cheaper than defending his castle with the Royal Wizard?
Conversely, what happens when the party’s fighter is covered in pistols and carrying his powder horn gets hit with the stray fireball because the Royal Wizard was having a bad day? (Apparently, he was recently laid off.) Early firearms were nothing to fool around with. Crit failures with a musket could have serious consequences. US civil war veterans and others reported exploding firearms and firing ram rods on both sides of the line. Even accidents with cannons or mortars aren’t unheard-of in modern times.
So why even worry about all that? Gunpowder and firearms can be invented later in the campaign setting in a land far, far away from the Player Characters. And maybe the group’s Alchemist or tinkerer comes up with something. I’ve seen cases where PCs inventing gunpowder sets the whole game on its ear. Or, alternatively, we can just leave the whole thing alone.
I’d rather focus on magic missiles and fireballs than reload times and gunpowder any day. It’s what the game is truly designed for. I think it’s much more fun when the party isn’t shooting it out with the bad guys every time. That’s okay in Deadlands, but just not my D&D game.
Thanks for being here. Have a great day. Have fun in your game. If you want guns, great. If not, great.
Dungeons and Dragons is functionally an elitist game. Your characters are struggling to become elites, with powers far beyond those of normal people. Hopefully they choose to use these powers for good! Or for something – the choices they make with those powers and how they interact with other elites and other normals, individually and in quantity; are some of the most interesting parts of the game.
But guns are counter-elite. The whole point of guns is that someone with a gun can bring down a king – it equalizes the elite and the common.
The issue isn’t that a rogue can bring down a wizard with a gunshot, it’s that a normie can bring down a wizard with a gunshot. Yes, the wizard has counters just like a king has guards but they will not always be present nor effective.
And that creates a very different game than normal Dungeons and Dragons.
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