Bang bang. Shoot shoot.: Firearms for 5e

CC 2015 by scodoMother Superior’s got a gun. She’s got a lot of guns.

For this post, I owe a huge debt to the Muser at DungeonMusings for his initial work on firearms in the Iron Gods campaign. I stole a lot from him, and have made a whole lot of changes, here. What’s below represents how I think firearms should work in 5e’s medieval fantasy setting. I had planned to do both firearms and the Gunslinger prestige class in one post, but it got way, way too long. I’ll save the Gunslinger for next time. I had a lot of fun playing with the idea of “early” and “modern” firearms, and trying to represent the ways in which guns were possible for everyone to use, but very dangerous for the untrained.

Doc Necrotic over at Daemons and Deathrays also did some nice work with guns, and while I went a different direction, I want to shout out to his work.

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5e Items 2: It’s Magical!

Five Magic Items and some Skymetal Armor

Meteor-strike Dagger
Weapon (dagger), very rare (requires attunement)
When used in melee combat, this dagger grants a +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls. When thrown, however, the meteor-strike dagger is truly deadly. The dagger has 3 charges. When you make a ranged attack with the dagger and it hits  an opponent within 30 feet of you, you can use 1 charge to cause the dagger to explode, doing 4d6 fire damage to the target and all creatures within 10 feet of it. The dagger reforms at the beginning of your next turn, and you can use a bonus action to call it to your hand. If you expend 3 charges and plunge the dagger into the ground at your feet, it instead deals 10d6 fire damage to all creatures within 20 feet of you. Any creatures that survive the damage are pushed 10 feet away from you. The dagger regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.

Swordbow
Weapon (longsword or longbow), uncommon (requires attunement)
A swordbow is always a beautiful weapon of elven design, with the words “Always ready” carved in elven on its side. As an action, you can command the swordbow to change from a longsword into a longbow or back again. The weapon grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls in either form.

Corsair’s Eyepatch
Wondrous item, rare
When you wear this simple black eyepatch over your right eye, you can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as it if were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern most colors in darkness, only shades of blue and gray. When you wear the eyepatch over your left eye, you gain advantage on saving throws against the blinded condition. Whenever you wear the eyepatch over either eye, the lack of depth perception grants you disadvantage on ranged attacks.

Shield of the Dragon’s Maw
Shield, legendary
This heavy wooden shield always bears an image of a dragon, a linnorm, or other draconic creature, usually from the side. When you slay a dragon, the image changes to reflect the last dragon you slew. While you wear the shield, you  As a bonus action, you can make an attack with the shield. If you use it in this way, the dragon on its face turns outward and emits a might roar as its jaws seem to come to life. Until the beginning of your next turn, the shield provides no bonus to your AC or resistance to damage, but it can be used to attack as a primary weapon or for two-weapon fighting. The shield is a magical weapon with a +3 bonus to attack and damage that deals 1d8 bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Haunted O-Yoroi
Armor (o-yoroi), very rare (requires attunement)
While wearing this armor, you gain a +2 bonus to AC. In addition, when an incorporeal creature tries to strike you, an image of a ghostly samurai appears to step out of you and tries to block the blow with its weapon, granting the attacker disadvantage on the roll. When the armor is not being worn and a character who is not attuned to the armor comes within 5 feet of it, it emits  a ghostly howling and a burst of wind, causing all creatures within 5 feet to succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be pushed back 10 feet.

Skymetal Armor 

Most skymetals are useless for armor, but three are notable in their use as rare armor materials that can be worked by highly skilled smiths using magical or other powerful fires.

Adamantine Armor is detailed in the DMG.

Noqual Armor
Armor (any metal), very rare
You have advantage on saving throws against all spells while you wear this armor. If you are the target of a spell that does not normally require a saving throw, you must make a saving throw against the spell as though it required a Wisdom saving throw. In order for the spell to affect you, you must fail the saving throw.

Siccatite Armor
Armor (any metal), rare
There are two kind of siccatite armor: fire and frost. Fire siccatite is always hot to the touch, and deals one point of fire damage to you for every minute that you wear it. While you wear fire siccatite armor, you are protected by the armor’s heat and gain resistance to cold damage and immunity to environmental effects related to cold.  Frost siccatite is always covered by a layer of ice and deals one point of cold damage to you for every minute that you wear it. While you wear frost siccatite armor, you gain resistance to fire damage and immunity to environmental effects related to fire.

Hacking Magic Items

I have a much longer post about magic items coming, but I need to spend some time immersing myself in the DMG, first. I’m curious about the trends and patterns of magic items. On one hand, they seem to be much easier to create in 5e: determine what you want the item to do, determine the rarity, and go. On the other hand, there are clearly some design decisions that a GM has to be careful about not screwing up. (For example, no uncommon armors provide a magic bonus, and +3 armors are always legendary.) I’d love to figure out what all of those are and write about it, maybe in a couple of weeks.

I wanted to play with three different things, here: the various levels of the magic items, the “charges that reset at dawn” mechanic, and the idea of items that provide a benefit with a drawback. Items that have drawbacks should be more rare, by virtue of their power, but if the drawback is bad enough (disadvantage on ranged attack rolls, say), they can move down a step in rarity. Protection against conditions is one of those things that is very rare in magic items, and so should probably be very rare, but that disadvantage forces the wearer to be in melee combat, and that’s potentially a high price to pay (particularly since it doesn’t say “ranged weapon attacks,” so it applies to spell attack rolls, as well).

Siccatite armor is just about useless, unless you have regeneration or are resistant to fire or cold damage, which is exactly the point. Most PCs would never buy it, but every once in a while, it’s going to be exactly the right choice.

Next time: The beginning of a longer-term project: the 5e Kineticist, a full base class!

5e Items Part 1: Weapons of Hurting

New Weapon Rules for 5e

Weapon Properties

Blocking. You may forego one attack with this weapon to increase your AC by 1 until the beginning of your next turn.

Double weapon. You can use this weapon in both hands as though one side were a light weapon. All double weapons are two-handed.

Exotic. This weapon requires special training. No class is automatically proficient in its use. If your game uses the optional feat rules, you may use the Weapon Master feat to gain proficiency. If not, your GM may allow you to purchase training, as though purchasing a tool or language proficiency.

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Simple Melee Weapon
Emei piercers             1gp 1 piercing Special
Exotic Melee Weapons
Double-bladed sword                 100 gp 1d8 10 lbs. double-weapon, heavy
Meteor Hammer        

 

40 gp 1d6 bludgeoning 10 lbs. blocking, double-weapon, reach, special
Quadrens 10 gp 1d4 piercing 2 lbs. special
Sang kauw                          15 gp 1d6 slashing 1 lb. blocking, double-weapon
Shotel 50 gp 1d8 piercing 5 lbs. special, versatile (1d10)
Tetsubo                      10 gp 1d12 bludgeoning 10 lbs. blocking, heavy, two-handed
Urgrosh 80 gp 1d10 slashing and piercing 12 lbs. double-weapon, heavy

Special Weapons

Weapons with special rules.

Emei piercers. While wearing emei piercers, you are considered unarmed, but your unarmed attack damage is considered piercing, and increases by the amount listed.

Meteor hammer. You must choose each round whether to use the meteor hammer’s blocking or reach properties. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed until your next attack action.

Quadrens. The four-blades of the quadrens dagger are specially designed to leave gaping holes in an opponent. On a critical hit, the quadrens deals an additional die of damage.

Shotel. The shotel is designed to reach around an opponent’s shield, but this use trades power for accuracy. The shotel can either be used two-handed or ignore an opponent’s shield bonus to AC.

Skymetal Weapons

Adamantine Weapons
Weapon (any metal), uncommon (or 250 gp for light weapons and 500 gp for other weapons, if purchased)
Adamantine weapons function like regular weapons, unless they are used against inanimate objects. When used to attack inanimate objects, adamantine weapons give their wielder advantage on the attack rolls. In addition, the wielder can roll the damage twice and choose the best roll, as well.

Inubrix Weapons 
Weapon (any metal), rare (or 1,000 gp, if purchased)
“Ghost iron” seems to ignore iron and steel, but the effect is unpredictable. Attacks made with weapons made of inubrix always have disadvantage. Any time the wielder rolls an even number on the die that decides the attack, however, the inubrix weapon ignores any metal armor worn by that opponent.

Siccatite Weapons
Weapon (any metal), rare (or 750 gp, if purchased)
Siccatite weapons are extremely cold or not to the touch. While this makes the weapons mildly uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time, when the weapon is used to strike, that cold or heat is released. A siccatite weapon deals an additional 1d4 damage, either cold or fire (chosen when the weapon is crafted). When this ability is used, whether or not the opponent is immune to the damage, the wielder takes 1 point of damage of the same type.


Hacking Weapons

I was planning to write about magic weapons, but I realized that there were regular weapons that I wanted to mess with. En5ider magazine did a little bit of this, but I don’t like the way they handled the double-weapon property. I scaled down the damage of a double weapon, and they all require a feat to use (because it’s harder not to stab yourself with an awesome-looking two-bladed sword, because it’s harder to tell which end goes in the other guy). I also wanted to play with weapons that have unique properties, which 5e tried to limit. I love the idea that weapons like the meteor hammer and the shotel require the user to make round-by-round choices. You don’t have to use them, but they reward a play style that like to fiddle with choices.

Skymetals

In Pathfinder, there are certain metals that come from the stars. Most of these are useless for making weapons, but a couple are really cool. The thing about skymetals is that they’re not magical. They can be worked and purchased, so their effects aren’t as powerful as magic items. They can be handed out like magic items, just like the adamantine armor in the DMG, but they can also make a nice money-sink for PCs.

Adamantine already exists in the PHB, but it might be nice to have a few more adamantine weapons. In the DMG, adamantine weapons are nonexistent, but adamantine armor turns a critical hit into a normal hit. I think the lack of adamantine weapons (which have long been a staple of the game) comes from the different way that 5e treats inanimate objects. Instead of a “hardness,” they have an increasingly higher AC, depending on how strong the material is, but all materials have the same hp, depending on their size. It was probably tough to figure out how adamantine weapons fit into the system, and not really a priority. I like my fix: it keeps the focus on adamantine versus other items, but doesn’t make the metal any more powerful against living things.

Inubrix or “ghost iron” seems to ignore iron and steel, but the effect is unpredictable. I like the idea that a roll of an 8 could be the “low roll” because of disadvantage, but hit because of the special properties of the weapon. It’s not super-powerful, but could be a fun, flavorful addition to a military campaign (where most of the enemies are wearing armor).

Siccatite emits extreme cold or extreme heat and usually won’t be worth the trouble, but creatures that are resistant to cold or heat could get a lot of use out of siccatite weapons.

Next time: Actual Magic Items!

Legacy Weapons in 5E: Brigid’s Hammer

Weapons of Myth and Might

When Arthur pulls Excalibur (or possibly Calibur) from the stone, he begins a journey that will last the rest of his life. He doesn’t have to wait until he is already a 17th level Paladin (or whatever). Tolkien is full of swords that become magical because they were used by heroes (rather than the other way around). Whether or not it appears much in myth, the idea of an item carried by a character which doesn’t quickly obsolete as they advance is a persistent one in RPGs.

In 3rd Edition, there was a Weapons of Legacy book, which was a great idea with awful execution. The problem was that buying weapons was meant to be a money-sink for characters. (DM David has a great series on the use of gold and economic controls in early editions of D&D, and the legacy effects of those rules.) This meant that the Weapons of Legacy rules had to build in strange rules like mysteriously spending gold to improve a weapon that was supposed to level with you, and taking ability penalties for wielding your chosen weapon. Strange stuff.

The idea, though, is a good one. Maybe it’s not a weapon, but many heroes have an item that is identified with them from the beginning: the hide of the Nemean Lion, Captain America’s shield, Orpheus’s lyre, The Tarnhelm, or anything made by Weyland Smith or Masamune. If your weapon was made by Hitori Honso, why would you want to give that up as your own power grew? If your weapon wasn’t made by someone awesome, why are you telling stories about it?

In other words, we’re in the business of telling stories, and the items in our stories are part of that.

5th Edition Magic

As a DM, the hardest thing to wrap my head around about 5th Edition is the de-emphasizing of magic items. They’re still part of the game, but it’s not assumed that every character will have a dozen of them by 12th level. In fact, DM David (again) has a great level-by-level breakdown of magic item and treasure distribution. Short version: at 11th level, a PC should have accumulated about 21,000 gp and at most four permanent magic items (including, maybe, a very rare), which can’t usually be purchased. In Pathfinder, the assumption is 82,000 gp, which should include a weapon, armor, a cloak, a ring, boots, two slot-less items, and one miscellaneous item (maybe a hat, or gloves, or bracers, or a staff, or a couple of wands, or something). Much of that Pathfinder gold will have been spent on buying or improving magic items. Much of that 5th Edition gold will have been spent on… other stuff. Training languages or tool proficiencies, maybe. Buying a house. Dumping into a vault and swimming in. (I imagine I’ll write another post about that, later.)

In other words, in 5th Edition, if a character’s item levels with them, it’s much easier to simply give out a little less treasure to make up for it. It’s not supposed to by a money-sink.

If the progression is usually uncommon/uncommon/rare/rare/very rare/ legendary, then it’s easy enough to adjust for legacy items by making it legacy/uncommon/uncommon/rare/rare/very rare, for that character. Their legacy item grows with them, becoming (eventually) legendary. They don’t need another legendary item, and the one they have is all the more cool because it’s been with them all along.

Legacy weapons are different from “legendary” weapons in that legendary weapons (and artifacts) start out powerful, with their full slate of abilities accessible by their wielders. Legacy weapons, on the other hand, improve at certain levels (or after certain milestones, depending on the campaign).

Hacking Legacy Weapons into My Game

One of my players chose the singular curiosity “You carry your grandmother’s enchanted sword; it does +1 damage and will fly to your hand if you will it,” except that she wanted a hammer. Her family are smiths, and a hammer made sense. In play, she realized that having it fly to her hand was Thor-like, so we incorporated that. This gave us our first legacy item: Brigid’s Hammer.

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