Introducing Guns to Eberron

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One of the things that really makes Eberron interesting to me is how different it is from all of the other Standard Medieval European Fantasy settings, and a big part of that is the post-WW1/pulp-era atmosphere. It's a little hard to imagine how a 100-year continent-spanning war could take place without the invention of artillery, and a big part of pulp is the idea of handguns, which is why I think they have a place in Eberron. Of course, the most immediate problem with their introduction is that it makes it difficult to imagine rifles and longswords next to each other. But it's not as strange as you might think: during WW1 heavy weaponry was of course used on the open battlefield, but trench warfare saw a significant amount of hand-to-hand combat using more traditional weapons - hell, maces even made a brief comeback. 

The other big problem is how to implement them in a way that doesn't immediately unbalance the game. Yes, they might make bows and crossbows obsolete, but I'm okay with that. The bigger concern, for me, is the effect they'll have on melee combat. After all, the main characteristic of guns is the ludicrous amount of damage they deal at a distance. Even a level 30 optimized barbarian will have a lot of trouble against an enemy that can hit for 8d8 each round at 20 squares. I've tried to strike a compromise between flavor and balance - let me see what you think. Also, my knowledge of real-life guns is essentially nill, so I'd appreciate any feedback people with experience can give me.

As a note: a gun can carry the number of bullets listed in its "magazine" entry. As long as it still has bullets, it takes a free action to reload between attacks. When it runs out of bullets, you have to use a standard action to reload the entire gun: thus the "load standard" entry.


+2, 1d12, Gun, Load Standard, Magazine 20, Range 15, Versatile

+3, 1d12, Gun, Load Standard, Magazine 6, Off-Hand, Range 15

+3, 2d6, Gun, Load Standard, Magazine 20, Range 25

+2, 2d8, Gun, High Critical, Load Standard, Magazine 2, Range 15 
As far as I know, I don't know of any guns in D&D so IDK if that's a 4E idea that you're improvising on or just making stuff up.

Either way, Eberron would be a nice fit for guns.  Small pistols IMO, maybe bayonets.  In a world of magic that created things like warforged, you would think you'd hear more about items like guns, cannons, clocks, watches, ovens? lol

I don't think the rifle and the shot gun would be a good idea though.  Theoretically smaller guns I think would fit, that carry possibly 3-6 bullets.  And a shorter range than cross-bow and regular bows, that way you keep a balance.  Have them do maybe more piercing or critical damage but limit their range.  Some other ideas I think could be in their rarity, ANY class, would need to take a feat or skill or something to that effect in order to advance their skill in shooting.  Now how do you increase their potential to make them better than many weapons?  Well it's a world of magic, so mix the idea of gunpowder and magic dust IDK lol.  
I myself have been messing with introducing the thought of firearms and explosives in ebberon, though they've been slightly altered to fit the etherpunk theme of the world.

So far, the only thing ive been able to mix in are incendiary grenades, which are a dual chambered flask containing 1/2 gunpowder, 1/2 alchemical fire.  The theory of this item is to increase the damage of the alchemical fire potion, from d6 to d8, and increasing the range from area burst 1 to area blast 4, but by using the gunpowder to increase explosion damage, you lose out on half of the alchemic fire, which removes the "On miss" of the potion.
Lol after I finished assassin's creed 3 I thought of ways to make small exploding bombs and smoke bombs for Eberron
In my campaign, I have a character who comes from a future (don't ask) where magic has become scarce and non-magical technology has evolved to take its place. He has a handgun that I simply let him choose from the d20 Modern books. That's one source if you want modern-style firearms. If you're looking for classical firearms, the 3.5 DMG had stats for a single-shot pistol and musket. Dragon Magazine #321 has a wide range of firearm styles, too. You'll notice that these stats for classic firearms almost always limit the firing rate of the gun and have an upper-cap on damage of about 1d12. Even d20 Modern's most powerful handgun (the Desert Eagle) deals only 2d8, on par with a large greatsword or so.

Keith Baker once detailed why he doesn't like the idea of gunpowder in Eberron. Now, the reason I, personally, wouldn't put widespread guns in Eberron is because I can't come up with a reason for their initial creation. Wizards and Artificers have dominated the world of science in Eberron, because magic is a science in this world. If they want a long-range, precise attack that deals good damage, they might as well use Magic Missile. Now, you could argue that during the Last War, people would have been searching for any easily created item that could rival a magic-user's power, but be used by your average soldier and thus the firearm was born. I'd probably say that I feel as though this would neither be easily created nor easily distributed. The creation would involve scientists digging into things they have never explored because they've never neaded to. But more importantly, any preliminary invention could be considered a threat to the well-oiled machine that was House Cannith during the war. They may have gone out of their way to squash these designs and hide the research (though this leads to really interesting possibilities for intrigue).

What I'd think would be more likely is that House Cannith designed a number of magic weapons that were functionally similar to guns, but without the need for gunpowder. The 3.5 Spelljammer conversion had some cool concepts, such as a weapon that fired a stream of alchemist's fire (gun/flamethrower). If you're going to use magic, projectile-based weapons seem like a disadvantage--you might as well utilize something like a triggered lightning bolt, or even just some magic missile item that non-spellcasters were trained to use.

As for seige weapons and other heavy-hitters, Keith mentioned that he wished The Forge of War had expanded on some more war-time magic inventions. One particular item I recall him discussing was a Seige Staff, which was essentially a cannon/mortar use to propel spells greater distances and increase the area of effect. You could have the Arcane Congress researching how to make these kinds of weapons useable by people who aren't Magewrights, or have Cannith designing these weapons. Maybe Zilargo has perfected an elemental bomb of sorts that unleashes a bound elemental upon impact. The average soldier would be quickly disposed of, letting it wreak some havoc in a short amount of time. Blast Disks (land mines) were routinely used during the Last War, too.

I guess I went a little bit much on the flavor there. If I were trying to balance the gameplay of the guns, I'd make them more like classic firearms, requiring reloading after each shot, or switch over to magic/alchemical weapons entirely. Now I have ideas for a lightning gun in my head.
Call me Ender.
I think your primary premise is flawed. You say, "It's a little hard to imagine how a 100-year continent-spanning war could take place without the invention of artillery...", and...well, yeah. If you want a historical parallel, look at the Hundred Years War. Sure, there were periods of inactivity, but that was a war (over a crown, if I recall correctly) that was known for having a good amount of devistation in it. Multiply that by 5 major combatants, and...well, you can probably get a Last War-style war.

The problem with artillery is that it dramatically affects the combat calculus, and....damn it, I have to get to work. Grr. I was going to go all hardcore war grognard on you. I'll check back later. 

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling


Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!


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I am a hero, not a chump.
As for seige weapons and other heavy-hitters, Keith mentioned that he wished The Forge of War had expanded on some more war-time magic inventions. One particular item I recall him discussing was a Seige Staff, which was essentially a cannon/mortar use to propel spells greater distances and increase the area of effect. 

As a side note, seige staffs are mentioned in the Dreaming Dark novels. As said, the premise is that a seige staff takes the principle of a staff and amplifies it, allowing for greater range and area of effect.

In 4E, I'm also a proponent of the idea of war rituals. These work like standard rituals, which means the limitations on casting are time and components as opposed to any sort of Vancian slots; further, you can have a magewright caster who isn't a high-level wizard. A typical war ritual would be designed to fight the standard soldier, as opposed to PCs or monsters. For example, a fireball that does 6d6 damage in a 30' radius isn't a very effective weapon against an army of 1000 1st level minion commoners; it only hits up to 36 and it's overkill against them. By contrast, a 1d6 fireball with a 180' radius can kill a thousand minions. It will barely scratch a player character, but isn't that what you want in the typical war movie? PCs will be threatened by the climactic battles with individuals, not random artillery spells. Mind you, I'd describe their surviving the blast as a combination of luck, reflexes, and fortitude - not simply saying "Oh, it's barely a hot breeze to you, but it slaughters the hundred militiamen nearby."

In any case, I like the war ritual because it fits the idea of magic evolving and adapting to war as opposed to a shift to technology. Rather than make a new weapon, I'd prefer to make a new spell. Meanwhile, by setting the casting time and component cost, you add the other limitations of artillery - expense, supplies, and time to reload. Which provides a different flavor from a 6th level wizard using standard attack powers - which are great for close combat against elite troops, but wasted on the masses.

With all that said, you should feel free to use firearms in your campaign!
I introduced a pistol into my game.  A Shardgun actually,  it borrows from the guns in Final Fantasy Tactics.
Range is that of a shortbow, +2 weapon, damage die is a d8, one handed, but not off-hand.  It stores 6 shots per dragonshard, and the ammunition can be one of the elements (Fire, Cold, Thunder, Lightning, Force).  Reload after 6 shots gone (generally during a short rest, otherwise Standard to reload)
I added in another property- when you roll 18 - 20, it does additional damage to all creatures adjacent to the target.  3 dmg for heroic tier, 6 in Paragon and 9 in Epic, if we ever get there.  If those numbers seem too high or low, I'll adjust accordingly.  It's supposed to be something exotic and rare.

I think that's fairly balanced.  I consider it a part of the Crossbow group, for feat support (and for Artificer's Crossbow Casting)
You could also tweak something to have it fire certain Alchemical items.  If that's the route, you'll have to adjust ammo costs significantly.

Not an actual gun, but one that fires magical bullets, essentially slinging small elemental spells.
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