Guns Should be Allowed in D&D

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When the subject of firearms in D&D comes up there are usually only three responses. The purists shout, “It’s fantasy! There can be NO firearms.” The progressives say, “Sure, you can have firearms! Here are the stats that we use in my game.” Others say, “Well, why not? If you and your DM are OK with it, have fun. But in our game…“ I personally take the third view and lean toward allowing firearms. As always, the ultimate decision about allowing firearms rests with the DM; however, this is a position essay on why firearms should be allowed in games.

At first we need to take a look at why many people feel that firearms should not be allowed in game and then dissect those reasons. This method runs the risk of being a straw man argument; however, I will try my best to keep on task. Moreover, I rely on you, the reader, to keep me honest.

The first reason that is often given for why firearms should not be allowed is the “It’s fantasy!” argument. This is often not summed up, as it is more of a position that the DM takes for his world. I cannot offer a counter to this, as the vision for a world is very dependent on the DM. I only offer the observation that other fantasy world use firearms. *cough* WoW *cough*

Another common reason given against the use of firearms is that wizards wouldn’t bother making them due to having superior magic. This is a true statement and I have no argument against it; however, this argument seems to rest on the premise that only wizards would be able to create firearms. Why do I treat this as false? Simply, this assumes that all intelligent people are wizards. Can Bob, the farmer, not have an intelligence of 15 or maybe even 17? I grant that is unlikely, however, it would not be the first time that someone was unable to do something due to their station in life. Also, this assumes that other intelligent people – say the third son of a noble – would have no desire to develop firearms.

A closely related argument is that there is no reason for firearms because of magic in general. The position reasons, that if you have a torch that can never be extinguished (or at least takes a really long time to go out), you don’t need electricity to create streetlights. A magical long bow can be extremely powerful, as can magical armor. However, does this mean that all “lesser” technological advancement will cease because magic is available? I can’t see the average farmer having access to magical methods to bless his fields and increase his crops on a regular basis. Would not Bob, the farmer, be interested in crop rotation? Particularly, if he has an intelligence of 17 and pays attention to what goes on around him? If farmer Bob knew about gun powder, or blasting powder, or anything else firearm related, he might decide to burn a little of the midnight oil and try to figure out how it works. Realistically, this would most likely be the purview of the aristocrats, as they would have the leisure time to devote to such studies. However, the point is that people could and would experiment despite “better” magic.

Another argument occasionally made is that wizards (or sometimes royalty) would not allow the development of firearms as they pose a threat to their powerbase. I suppose that there could be those that would object, however, I can’t see royalty turning down a weapon that could be used against enemies. Also, the queen may well be persuaded of the advantage of a weapon that is easy to teach to troops. An individual wizard may or may not worry about firearms; however the increased use of firearms may prompt wizards to develop spells that specifically protect against bullets.

Certainly, the mass production of firearms is not feasible in a medieval setting. Neither however, is the mass production of anything feasible in a medieval setting. Even swords are not mass-produced in the setting; hence, the cost of a long sword is one that no commoner could realistically afford.

Given that D&D is fantasy, there is no reason that the two cannot coexist. The only question in my mind, is what should firearms statistics be? That is an answer that I cannot give as it is highly dependent on the DM. As a DM, I would keep the tech-level low as that is all that my position supports. Therefore, I would allow a blunderbuss, a cannon and perhaps a single shot pistol. What about balance? This is a meta-game issue that can only be resolved between players and the DM.
I have actually used them with some friends. We use single shot, muzzle loaders that do 3d10 DMG, but they take two minutes to reload. We blame this on the gunpowder needing to be very compact, so it takes a long time to smush it down. So we'd usually take one shot each, then draw our swords.
The only question in my mind, is what should firearms statistics be? That is an answer that I cannot give as it is highly dependent on the DM. As a DM, I would keep the tech-level low as that is all that my position supports. Therefore, I would allow a blunderbuss, a cannon and perhaps a single shot pistol. What about balance? This is a meta-game issue that can only be resolved between players and the DM.

Firearms are described page 145-147 of the DMG and in the D20 modern system. They are exotic weapons and if your DM allows them great, they aren't incredible. If your campaign has a place for guns there’s nothing in the rules that says you can't use them. The thing with renaissance guns is they really aren't that effective compared to alternatives, in game terms they are exotic crossbows at best. And cannons really aren't worth the effort, its cheaper to have a wand of fire balls that weighs nothing does more damage and is more accurate then the cannon. Sure they're great for NPCs and such, but for players unless the entire campaign is based off of them they really aren't worth it.

More modern weaponry can be included into campaigns also and in the DMG it describes how you should deal with them.
I whole heartedly agree. As a DM, in a custom world that I am building, I added guns [flintlock, rifle, a 3-shot flintlock, a blunderbuss, and a cannon the dwarves made]. A single feat makes you proficient in all of them. The states are close to that of the DMG, but not the same. I felt they didn't carry the flavor well (IMO). As my players play through the world, they see no game balance problems and love the idea. It does forward the time period a bit more then some players may care for, but I don't force anyone to play in my games. Now, the prices are higher than what a 1st level character should have, unless he doesn't buy any armor.

Now, the in-game reason for guns existing in my world is a emperor years ago (now dead) want some of his finest minds (mainly wizards) to construct something that his troops could easily use, has a powerful/magical like effect without being magical. They (the wizards) through alchemy discovered explosives. Not that far of a leap considering alchemist fire. In a fantasy world, I say that the guns are NOT real world guns and should NEVER be compared to such.

Now, the out-of-game reason for having guns is so I can have "Pirate of the Caribbean" style games if I wanted. Or even western style game. I can move the time period up some to a more Renn time period all while holding a Roman-esque empire. This is a fantasy world and there is no reason to say things didn't develop in a different order than it did in ours.
I totally agree with the points you're making here. Warcraft (the d20 RPG) uses firearms. I think it's perfectly reasonable to allow firearms in fantasy games. That being said, I've created a few different settings in my life as a DM, none of which have included firearms. I just felt they weren't necessary to my vision.

This ties in nicely with the low-magic D&D post I read here not long ago. The two in combination... Very nice.
Actually, you only have to worry about balance at the low-end and only at the low-end.

Since firearms don't allow the use of your Str modifier, they're sub-par for an 'archer' builds damage, being about as damage effective as crossbow (actually, less damage effective than an x-bow actually).

So:

Bows:
+1

Crossbows:
+0

Firearms:
+0

Bows and Crossbows will probably fire more often (and using the +1 Crossbow of Reloading out of the Mini Handbook, you can use a crossbow as fast as a bow) than most firearms.

Bows:
+2

Crossbows:
+1

Firearms:
+0

Also, the 'bows' let you use magical arrows, there are no magical 'bullets' out of the box.

So:

Bows:
+3

Crossbows:
+2

Firearms:
+0

However, all weapons can be magic-ed! This is a firearms only saving grace; except for one problem; so can bows and crossbows:

So:

Bows:
+4

Crossbows:
+3

Firearms:
+1


Final analysis: Bows are able to shoot faster than a crossbow (this can be gotten around for about 4,000 gp to make a +1 light crossbow into a +1 Reloading Light Crossbow), and you can use your strength bonus for extra damage.
Crossbows and Bows can both use Magical Ammunition. Finally, Firearms can be made magical (but so can Bows and Crossbows).

Bows are
> Crossbows (better than)
and
>>>Firearms (as much as three orders of magnitude better than firearms)

Crossbows are
< Bows (worse than bows)
and
>>Firearms (as much as two orders of magnitude than a firearm)


Really, primitive firearms won't be used that much, and those that do use them will be out performed by traditional bow-users in terms of attack speed, base damage output, or potential damage output. The only difference is that a crossbow user will have slightly less average damage than the firearm users. So, armies of conscripts in your campaign world will use firearms, but will probably use crossbows just as much since they're cheaper to create ammunition for.

On the other hand, professional mercenaries will have squads of Rapid Shotting (and perhaps, even Arrow Storming) musketeers, -7 to your attacks rolls for +3 attacks per round can really add up to quite a lot of fire if you're using the grouped fire rules from Heroes of Battle.

The funny thing is that, regardless of what I just said; those same men with crossbows will do more damage with 1-50 +2 bolts thanks to a Greater Magic Weapon cast on every 50 bolts. So, really, the 'purists' are actually right, but not for reasons that they would care to acknowledge: Guns aren't commonly used b/c they suck as weapons. Legolas beats Athos, Porthos and any other musketeer in a shoot-out.

The reasons people think that a firearm > Bow, is that they never consider the fact that magic is forgotten in such a thought. If the natives of the Americas had +1 Icy Longbows with Flaming Arrows (thanks to a Flame Arrow spell cast on 50 arrows ahead of time), they would have wiped the floor with the English and their +1 Flaming Muskets.

The inherent power of a firearm won't be seen by the players since they aren't groundpounders in His Majesties Royal Shortbowmen who face The Dauphin's Imperial Musketeers, using shortbows vs muskets.

Instead of being Grundgar, Dwarven Hunter with his tamed Polar Bear Snuggles; they'll be Soveliss, Rapid-Arrowstorm-Shotting the enemy hordes of the Duergar 34th Ice Muskets Brigade with a +4 Penetrating Shot Composite Longbow with +1 Flaming Icy Keen arrows; while his foes are stuck with +1 Icy Shock Muskets at best.

In any case, it doesn't matter whether a PC uses a Bow or not from a flavour point of view. The mechanics of your character can be represented with whatever the hell you want. For example, you could be Grundgar, the Dwarven Hunter. Who uses a mithral rifle with adamantine bullets and has a Polar Bear companion. Just write down that you have a darkwood weapon that uses adamantine ammunition that you buy in lots of 50 for the exact same cost as adamantine arrows. Since really, flavour can be have it's neck twisted to represent anything you want it to.

Mechanically, the above works exactly like a bow user using adamantine arrows, but no one knows any different. Sort of like the 'soulknife' that I made for a campaign; he was a ranger as well. He just had 'soulknife channeling knuckles' that he wore on his fingers (instead of a bow) and 'psychic bullets' that he carried in a belt pouch (instead of arrows).

Really, I could play a 'fighter' but have all of my class levels in wizard. It's easy; I have the 'Furious Growth' fighter feat (aka Enlarge person); I fire 'unerring daggers' (magic missile) and I drop 'One Thousand Flaming Caltrops!' on my enemies at a distance (aka... fireball).

Really, if players want guns, let them, just re-write your bows and arrows and presto! You've got rules for guns that only a really savvy player will figure out.
Seeing as firearm stats and advice are included in both the DMG and Stormwrack, this seems like a moot point.
Well said! Fire arms are pretty cool in a fantasy setting. I’m currently involved in a campaign in which we are allowed fire arms. They are in no foreseeable way over powered. In fact, I think the only way fire arms can be really powered is when a dm is stupid enough to say: "Sure you can have a laser rifle dealing 3d8 damage and counts as a range touch attack."

When it comes down to it, it is up to the dm to decide on his setting. That said, I think DMs should consider or at least listen to a player’s suggestion about the setting.
Interesting points. While I usually do not use firearms, that is a matter of personal preference and I could certainly envision them in the right setting. I think your point about guns and fantasy being coexistent is right on. In fact, while fantasy is usually taken to mean a pseudo-medieval (or at least low technology setting) this is certainly not the case. Star Wars is an example that is cited often, but there are many others. Even modern day works of fiction (like The X-Files) could be considered fantasy.

I would like to bring up one more point that you didn't mention, some people say that firearms would not be invented because of the power of a magical longbow. That said, I see no reason that (in the right setting) a wizard could not enchant firearms! Sure this might come off cheesy in thrown into your medieval fantasy world, but D&D can be used to create a wide variety of settings.
How is it moot? The original article is a discussion giving reasons why you should allow guns in your fantasy game. Just because rules exist doesn't mean the discussion over whether those rules should be used is over.
If guns are really primitive than most mounts won't be trained to deal with them. So riders should have to make a Ride check to control their frightened mounts. (In the first battle guns were used, that's what happened - they didn't hit anything but they caused panic in the enemy cavalry!)
The funny thing is that, regardless of what I just said; those same men with crossbows will do more damage with 1-50 +2 bolts thanks to a Greater Magic Weapon cast on every 50 bolts.

Alternatively, you can affect as many as fifty arrows, bolts, or bullets. The projectiles must be of the same kind, and they have to be together (in the same quiver or other container). Projectiles, but not thrown weapons, lose their transmutation when used. (Treat shuriken as projectiles, rather than as thrown weapons, for the purpose of this spell.)

Not only can "bullets" explicitly be affected (it doesn't say they have to be sling bullets), but the category of "projectiles" is also clearly stated to be larger than the three types listed. Similarly, there are consistent rules for making magic ammunition, so "there are no magic bullets 'out of the box'" is kind of a nonstarter as an argument. (Unless, of course, you are assuming that characters are relying entirely on randomly-found magic ammunition, in which case no ranged weapon was ever invented because they wouldn't have been able to find the ammunition already made.)

Rate of fire is an issue, but as you explicitly reference the Crossbow Of Reloading, there's again no reason people wouldn't make a Musket Of Reloading if muskets were equivalent or superior to crossbows at an equivalent rate of fire. I haven't run the math, but some of your arguments are on shaky logical grounds here.
Historically the rapier and swashbuckling types were all contemporaries of firearms. If guns are common, (i.e. it's a kind of fantasy Renaissance type campaign a la Warhammer) then guns should be martial weapons.

Kobolds with access to gunpowder are not to be messed with!

Also giving different lands in your world different technological levels is fun. I DMed a campaign with Conquistador types who found their way into a Celtic influenced D&D magic filled world.

Maybe your "fantasy world" could be post-nuclear war, with 21st Century (or higher) weapons the "magic weapons" Maybe the rational, scientific mind actually weakens magic - so magic up = technology down. Rationalists could have spell resistance.
I had guns slowly come about in my game world. Gnome alchemists created gunpowder, which became quite useful but initially expensive, Later some Dwarven crafters created firearms to use it with. I feel that firearms can fit in rather nicely in D&D. As stated, it depends on the flavor of your campaign on whether it fits or not.
Well I see your point, but I don't think it really addresses the main reason most DMs avoid firearms. Which is - I believe perhaps incorrectly - that it detracts from the fantasy mood and mystique, and also implies an imminent progression into an industrial society.

I would also assert that both Kings and Wizards might have a big problem with firearms. Guns are a great equalizer in many ways, they rendered mounted Knights and archers obsolete, an untrained peasant armed with a firearm is almost as effective as a trained soldier, an untrained peasant with a bow is not. Now this may not hold true mechanically in D&D, but it is not the mechanics I am worried about here.

Now of course I have no problems with games including firearms, but I feel this is an important flavor issue which should be spelled out from the beginning. Personally, I loved a PC game called Arcanum which did a masterful job of integrating Victorian era technology into a fantasy setting. Typical, though not what I want in D&D.
In the campaign I'm putting together, I'm remembering one of the reasons guns became common in warfare--while not being common for streetfights and the like for much longer. They were simple to train even a commoner to use. I'm going to allow anyone who is part of a regular military unit (and therefore trains regularly) to fire a gun with the standard -4 penalty--BUT with the addition that the penalty can't be more than the character's BAB. Therefore a first level commoner (BAB 0) will still have no penalty--if he's part of the army. Once he's been out of the army for a while, he suffers the full penalty.

Therefore, any seasoned adventurer is far better off with the bow or sword--which is in accordance with the performance of early firearms.

Note that the longbow in reality can fire faster than a revolutionary war musket, to a greater effective range. But it can't be put in the hands of an untrained soldier--and training a bowman takes YEARS.
If guns are really primitive than most mounts won't be trained to deal with them. So riders should have to make a Ride check to control their frightened mounts. (In the first battle guns were used, that's what happened - they didn't hit anything but they caused panic in the enemy cavalry!)

If that, then riders should also have to make Ride checks to control their frightened mounts when a fireball explodes nearby, if they aren't already dead of course... since fireballs do hit and kill things in D&D.

Otherwise, I agree with Judging Eagle's analysis.

To add to that, I think the only way firearms will get developed to the point of usefulness, is if you removed the reliability and availability of magic. In other words, you need to change your setting from default D&D.

For example, a warlord might be eager to spend lots of resources to develop firearms in spite of the fact that early firearms will be somewhat less powerful than magic if say wizards were really rare, or there are a lot of dead magic zones in the world in which magic doesn't work.

You would also need to introduce a new skill, Craft (firearms) say, or give Alchemy to non-casters.
An often skipped point in these discussions: What if someone wants to instead make an explosive instead of a firearm. Isn't this a small logical leap as well? Yet I'm not sure how well D&D is equipped for such a weapon. Let's think about it:

It would be similar to Fireball with the Explosive Spell feat (Complete Arcane). One difference might be that full cover actually does help (making the effect a burst, not a spread). Something that more than makes up for this, it is non-magical.

This would be something that any character can use as long as they have a tendertwig and a long enough fuse. This is almost the equivalent of a 5 level spell, normally only available to 9th level Wizards. Varying sizes can be made of course, some similar to a hand grenade. Others would be larger.

Please keep these points in mind if you plan to allow 'black powder' into the game.
Reason 4 for not including guns: They don't fit with the flavor of a specific campaign. That is the same reason I would not use Asian weapons in most of the campaigns I have been in, or in other cases perhaps ban late medieval weapons or specific types of armor. Beyond that, yeah, firearms can be a lot of fun and play a major role in adding an unusual and interesting flavor to a world.

What I would address is the place of guns in a magical world. Despite the presence of magical means, firearms would still have a sizeable niche in many campaign worlds due to the distribution of magic power. Magic demographics in the world at large tend to recommend an extreme paucity of wizards and other magic users in many worlds. I am thinking 1%-10% of the population in most cases I have dealt with personally. PCs are more often magic users and deal with magic users more often because they belong to and interact with largely the elite of the world. For the average commoner/warriors, having people capable of magical artillery would be very rare, and even magical items would be uncommon due to the limited number of craftsmen.

Therefore, assuming you are not playing in a very common-magic game, firearms could play a vital role as force equalizers for the masses of mundane armies that would carry out the brunt of the action. This is somewhat similar to the actual role of firearms in the very beginning. Archery was more effective, but handguns provided a cheaper and less trained (though less effective) ranged fighting force.
As long as we're talking about flavor, guns can easily have a home here. One of my favorite characters was a warlock who had a warlock scepter shaped like a pistol. He was dressed like a gunslinger and carried a whip. So he would either shoot from the hip, of channel through his whip.

With the new warlock invocation rods (of eldritch spear) in the complete mage, you could build a rifle (which I did). Use a Scepter and an invocation rod, that both attach to a stock--my DM even let me enchant a spyglass that would lock onto the top of the rifle--and now you have an eldritch sniper rifle.

I realize that this isn't a true gun, but my point is, if you want the image, then you've got options. You don't even have to be a warlock, I think an artificer would be even better.
An often skipped point in these discussions: What if someone wants to instead make an explosive instead of a firearm. Isn't this a small logical leap as well? Yet I'm not sure how well D&D is equipped for such a weapon. Let's think about it:

It would be similar to Fireball with the Explosive Spell feat (Complete Arcane). One difference might be that full cover actually does help (making the effect a burst, not a spread). Something that more than makes up for this, it is non-magical.

This would be something that any character can use as long as they have a tendertwig and a long enough fuse. This is almost the equivalent of a 5 level spell, normally only available to 9th level Wizards. Varying sizes can be made of course, some similar to a hand grenade. Others would be larger.

Please keep these points in mind if you plan to allow 'black powder' into the game.

Yeah and you'd have some real fun in a dungeon carrying a sack load of gunpowder when the kobolds start throwing torches at you! I just reread the DMG. The rules for Renaissance explosives are way off since it states that you don't need proficiency. Grenadiers were considered elite troops (and the name stuck in modern armies). Renaissance explosives were extremely dangerous to the user.

I think that bombs should be exotic weapons and guns either martial or even simple weapons. How about a TWF ranger, rogue or swashbuckler with the quick draw feat and a brace of 8 preloaded pistols? I also think that:

If you add a bayonet you should be able to use a musket as a spear. (Maybe that's already in the DMG?)
You shouldn't provoke AoO with a preloaded firearm.
You should be able to use pistols in melee.

I ran a campaign where the PC's traveled to the modern day US. The Paladin tried to melee combat a station wagon (he was on a quest of atonement) and later befriended the driver after being run over. An evil cleric set him self up as a TV evangelist (2E, evil clerics could heal), the PCs bought loads of guns and even brought some back through the portal that lead home and a case full of Uzis (like every Englishman, I always imagine that all Americans have Uzis) fell into the hands of a goblin warband. It all worked out fine. The PCs destroyed the guns and just kept a couple of grenades (you can buy them in any shop in the US right?). Just as the DMG says, treat anything powerful the way you treat powerful magic items and you can keep your campaign world stable.
An often skipped point in these discussions: What if someone wants to instead make an explosive instead of a firearm. Isn't this a small logical leap as well? Yet I'm not sure how well D&D is equipped for such a weapon. Let's think about it:

It would be similar to Fireball with the Explosive Spell feat (Complete Arcane). One difference might be that full cover actually does help (making the effect a burst, not a spread). Something that more than makes up for this, it is non-magical.

This would be something that any character can use as long as they have a tendertwig and a long enough fuse. This is almost the equivalent of a 5 level spell, normally only available to 9th level Wizards. Varying sizes can be made of course, some similar to a hand grenade. Others would be larger.

Please keep these points in mind if you plan to allow 'black powder' into the game.

Good point. This is part of what I like to call the "Law of Unintended Consequences." While I personally wouldn't have a problem with grenades, I tend to favor higher levels of technology anyway. I am currently working on a guide for where firearms fall out for a given setting in D&D. I hope to post it to Regdar's soon. Perhaps I should add a bit about incendiaries as well ....

Thanks for the comments!
There are a number of factors you’re ignoring. The first is the world’s physics, D&D is a world wherein it is possible for a completely non-magical human to swim 20 seconds in lava and survive. Sure it might sting, but he’s perfectly fine. What applies to our universe will not always apply in D&D. The most possible reason for a lack of firearms is merely physics.

The second is you’re ignoring the lack of need for firearms. Necessity is the mother of all invention after all. Let us say, that earth technology would work, the question is will a need for technology ever show up? Many people think how modern technology would improve the lives of the peasants. But ignore all the factors that lead up to modern technology.

You’re going to go though centuries where it technology is vastly less effective than magic, and even when it reaches modern levels it will still be MORE EXPENSIVE AND LESS EFFECTIVE than magic as presented in D&D.

Then you’re ignoring who gets technology, technology isn't freely replenished unlike magic, in our world only the rich have access to it and we've developed it quite a bit but it still costs resources to use unlike magic in D&D where resources are refreshed daily. So despite those centuries of development only the rich can use it. The rich mind you, also would have access to magic, which as I've noted is cheaper and more effective.

Here’s an interesting point, magic is far more likely to fall into the hands of the poor in D&D than technology on earth. Druids, Clerics and Sorcerers don't require educations to obtain there magic, that’s solely the domain of wizards. Therefore a poor farm boy is as likely—if not more so--to become a druid than the prince.

Actually, the people most likely to develop firearms would be the wizards themselves, as backup non-magical weapons and because of sheer scientific curiosity. But because of the fact it’s less effective than magic would remain a curiosity among the most magical of all people and not a major social force like on earth. The non-wizards would stick with the more reliable, cheaper and more effective magic.

Magical realism ftw.
Wouldn't explosives predate actual guns? What held back the development of the Gonne were the limits that existed in metallurgy. The steel wasn't hard enough to build a reliable weapon that could be carried, or dragged in case of siege engines or cannons. Hollowing out rocks and filling them with black powder would probably be an easy step to make to get to a simple grenade. Ignition would be a little hazardous.

Guns, the early matchlocks and the later flintlocks where vastly inferior to bowmen but they where dirt cheap. Whereas a bowmen needs months of training you can instruct a man on the use of a gun in a few days. This means you can train and field armies a lot quicker. Sure bowmen are better but who cares if you outnumber your foe ten to one? Individual rifles are still bloody useless compared to bows. And since the game tends to focus on 4 characters, giving them firearms instead of bows seems rather suboptimal.
In the campaign I'm putting together, I'm remembering one of the reasons guns became common in warfare--while not being common for streetfights and the like for much longer. They were simple to train even a commoner to use.

(...)

Note that the longbow in reality can fire faster than a revolutionary war musket, to a greater effective range. But it can't be put in the hands of an untrained soldier--and training a bowman takes YEARS.

True, but you also have to think of why they moved to crossbows before that, which was the same reason, and it doesn't need a BAB penalty to anyone proficient with a simple weapon!

Smooth-bore guns are like crossbows that ignore armor, and take longer to reload. That's the trade off, and it was one many were willing to make, once the methods of mass producing firearms were advanced to a suitable level. I myself see firearms as being used more as a show of wealth and a sovereign's favor (such as the Musketeers) in Fantasy settings. At least, until it is cheaper to produce them, at which point they will replace the crossbow.

But, in all honesty, the point of my above argument is already moot. What it truly boils down to is the character and flavor of the setting. Sometimes it works for the setting, and other times it doesn't. In a magic flooded world like Eberron, gunpowder isn't likely to come about, simply due to the wide availability of magic and magical items. What is more likely to occur there is a wand-type weapon that anyone can trigger with, well, a trigger, like in Harry Turtledove's Darkness books. For the same reasons, other technologies in Eberron are likely to simply not develop, because there are magical alternatives that are both easier and simpler to obtain.

However, in a world where magic is less pervasive, gunpowder is far more likely to take off, as people seek to harness the sheer power of magic in a relatively simple and efficient form. Likewise, technology will step up to make life easier, because magic won't be there to do it instead.

In a fantasy RPG, you have to decide where on that spectrum the world you are in lies, be it option 1, option 2, or some number in the middle. It's all about the world, and what works.
Historically, guns came AFTER rockets--the Chinese had war rockets of impressive appearance and horrible accuracy. Since that's not my period of history, I can't speak to it more than that--but guns came later.

Early grenades were FAR less effective than modern ones--and more dangerous. I'd call it a move action to light the fuse--if you have some slow match going--then an attack action to throw. Fuses would go out, fall out, or burn too fast or slow. They were also heavy. Definitely far less effective than even a low level fireball. (A giant, with a "grenade" that consists of a 50 pound barrel of gunpowder with stones mixed in, is a different story--but fusing is once again critical.

The rapier and the reliable gun are contemporaries for a reason: Once guns could punch through armor, armor became less common, and big, heavy swords for bashing plate became less needed--hence the rapier.

Making rockets accurate is not easy--even by the War of 1812, when cannons and muskets were the main weapon of war, rockets were dangerous to the firer--and seldom hit.
What I include in my campaign setting (a work in progress) is a new statistic to the firearm, the "rate of failure." That is, if you roll at or below a number in the stats (usually 3-5), than the gun doesn't fire and if you roll a 1 than the gun jams and you must spend 1 minute cleaning the bore.

The failure rating goes up considerably with the weather, since they're flint-lock weapons. Heavy mist/fog, +1; Light Rain +2; Heavy Rain +3; Underwater, doesn't work at all. I should probably put something for wind, too.

In my campaign setting, the gnomes and dwarves use firearms and explosives, but humans rarely do partially due to paranoia and technophobia and also due to the fact that a dwarven city was blown up once when goblin saboteurs blew up a gunpowder/explosive factory.
If anyone has read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson, it is a really good example of incorporating gunpowder into a high magic setting.

While there are still no firearms per se, munitions have been developed by an insect/humanoid race known as the Moranth and are used as explosives. These explosives are used by the Malazan sappers to take down walls and destroy large masses of enemy troops.

They are especially effective in ambushes as well as in building and digging fortifications. They are divided up into various categories depending on explosive yield. The weakest of them beeing a cracker, then a sharper and finally a cusser which can take down city walls.

However the munitions are somewhat unreliable which is why everyone else considers the Malazan saboteurs to be crazy since they often blow themselves up or mess up the fuses causing disasters.

One of the characters has also devised a crossbow which can fire sharpers and burners and later on even cussers, so that there is less chance of being blown up himself.

One of the best ideas in this book was that the interaction of Moranth munitions and magic (known in the book as Warrens) causes catastrophic damage, in one case even destroying an extremely powerful magic creature which had just defeated several ancient dragons.

The way in which it was incorporated into such a high magic setting really seems to jive with the DnD setting as a whole. If anyone wants an idea on how to incorporate explosives, or explosive firing crossbows should seriously investigate the series. Oh and it’s also an amazing book to read.
In my opinion, The Dark Tower completely shatters any argument that guns, when properly introduced, do not ruin a fantasy setting.

Sites:
http://www.stephenking.com/DarkTower/
http://www.darktowercompendium.com/

Images:
http://www.stephenking.com/DarkTower/gallery/dt31.jpg
http://www.darktowercompendium.com/dt1-04.jpg
http://www.darktowercompendium.com/dt1-06.jpg
http://www.darktowercompendium.com/dt1-08.jpg
http://www.darktowercompendium.com/dt5-11.jpg

The (incomplete) website for my campaign which borrows some elements from the Dark Tower (or at least uses the same reasons for guns existing as the D.T.)

http://www.harvestmooncampaign.com
If you want guns in your campaign that's fine by me. I think the real problem people have with guns are those guns that can be fired rapidly. Not to mention how long it took for the idea of a cased round to be invented and then being able to mass produce said rounds. While you may be pretty quick with a bow, I can empty out my semi-automatic 12 gauge (6 rounds) faster than you can shoot two arrows, not to mention the spread of pellets, and still reasonably hit a human sized target multiple times (On occasion I’ve walked from left to right on a full-sized target and, counting up the buckshot holes, I hit him squarely at least 5 times).

If they fit your game and style of play, go for it.
What I often read in "Firearms in D&D” threads is that flintlock guns and rifles were inferior to bows and crossbows. That might have been true in our history but that does not mean that it has to be true in D&D. From a pure game balance view, guns would have to be quite good, because they are (depending on your campaign setting) exotic weapons that are slow to reload and may fail under quite a few circumstances (rain, wet powder etc). So balance-wise they may ignore armor (I personally do not like that) or do quite much damage (3w6,4w6,2w10?) or something else.

Realistic? Maybe not, but is a spiked chain realistic? No, but its good because its a exotic weapon and you have to spend a feat to use it. And you have to think about your players, if they want guns in their/your setting, those guns should be a fun and effective tool for your players. No need to gimp them!
I always like the idea of giving my character one or two blackpowder pistols simply for the 'one-off' power they have. Especially for a swashbuckler or rogue, they can be a wonderful surprise.

Sort of the reverse of Wizards using all their spells and switching to crossbows, you fire off a shot and close in with your blade or whatnot. Or if you're ever disarmed, Quick Draw and pistol are your friend.
The basic problem with guns in D&D is that there are three ways they can be implemented.

1) Better than bows. In which case they'll be unbalanced, kinda by definition, unless you make them prohibitively expensive, or require the Exotic Weapon feat (which makes very little sense, since guns are designed to be easy to use).

2) On a par with bows. In which case there's no IC reason to develop them.

3) Less good than bows. See 2, but more so.
Here's what I do:

My campaign uses different progress levels for each land. Currently no land is above PL 3 (and it's a steampunkish region). However, 25,000 years ago, a progress level 8 extraterrestrial colony evacuated the world in a big rush to escape the gamma ray burst that caused a mass extinction and introduced magic to the world. So there are 25,000 year-old Expedition-to-the-Barrier-Peaks style ruins scattered around the world. There have been three cataclysms since then, so the ruins are very rare now.

All of the high tech stuff (PL>3) (unless I want it to already be fixed) requires a DC 60 repair check, an already-repaired toolkit of the same progress level, and 1d6 identical broken items for parts. That keeps the PL8 weapons out of commission until around 12th level (they have to find the parts and cannot make new ones without the factory machines, which also must be found). PL3 items are exported from the City of Cleuen, but PL3 weapons must be smuggled out of the city. 5 ranks of Knowledge (Technology) gives a +2 synergy bonus.

Also, functional PL4+ items are sufficiently scarce that it will attract various governments, some of whom will send out agents to collect them. Guns and laser weapons are a lot like wands, in that they are limited to as many charges as you give them ammo. Since they can't buy bullets they have to find them, and 25000 years have not been kind. One other thing is that PL4 through 7 items are even more rare than PL8 ones, since the civilization was already PL8 when they began colonization. I multiply the price in the d20 future price guide (a third party supplement that ROCKS) by the item's progress level - 2.

Mechanically, the items work out fine, and are balanced roughly like magic wands or wondrous items. If the party can have a wand of fireballs, a 5d6 plasma rifle with enough armor for 50 shots is pretty much the same. A polyvox is super expensive and has the same function as a helm of comprehend languages.

It's all just a matter of flavor for the campaign. If you want low-tech high fantasy, don't use guns. If you like guns, use them. I have lots of backwater regions that don't have guns or magic, I have a high-magic kingdom that shuns technology, I have a seafaring nation that has cannons but not muskets, I have a city state with muskets, and I have a time-warped region that's like Thunderclap in Stephen King's Dark Tower books.

On a side note, I also assign different planar traits to some regions, basically taking Eberron’s "closeness" a step farther, effectively making each region a demiplane coterminous with the prime material plane. It really opens up the possibilities for supernatural landscapes.
I agree. The cost of making even one firearm would be astronomical for a peasant. And how does any peasant have an advanced knowledge of alchemy? Any peasant with that kind of knowledge would probably not be just a peasant. I'm also not sure how a regular blacksmith would be able to even create a firearm. It's not like they had anything close to precision metal production. Pounding chain links is one thing, but boring a length of metal and construction small metal parts is quite another. I'm also just curious as to what are the chances that the gun blows up in your campaigns? I mean the early guns were as dangerous to the user as the person that may be hit. I'm not sure why we are discussing this though, as others have said it's up to the DM in the end. If he likes the idea than great, if not, than so be it.

There are a number of factors you’re ignoring. The first is the world’s physics, D&D is a world wherein it is possible for a completely non-magical human to swim 20 seconds in lava and survive. Sure it might sting, but he’s perfectly fine. What applies to our universe will not always apply in D&D. The most possible reason for a lack of firearms is merely physics.

The second is you’re ignoring the lack of need for firearms. Necessity is the mother of all invention after all. Let us say, that earth technology would work, the question is will a need for technology ever show up? Many people think how modern technology would improve the lives of the peasants. But ignore all the factors that lead up to modern technology.

You’re going to go though centuries where it technology is vastly less effective than magic, and even when it reaches modern levels it will still be MORE EXPENSIVE AND LESS EFFECTIVE than magic as presented in D&D.

Then you’re ignoring who gets technology, technology isn't freely replenished unlike magic, in our world only the rich have access to it and we've developed it quite a bit but it still costs resources to use unlike magic in D&D where resources are refreshed daily. So despite those centuries of development only the rich can use it. The rich mind you, also would have access to magic, which as I've noted is cheaper and more effective.

Here’s an interesting point, magic is far more likely to fall into the hands of the poor in D&D than technology on earth. Druids, Clerics and Sorcerers don't require educations to obtain there magic, that’s solely the domain of wizards. Therefore a poor farm boy is as likely—if not more so--to become a druid than the prince.

Actually, the people most likely to develop firearms would be the wizards themselves, as backup non-magical weapons and because of sheer scientific curiosity. But because of the fact it’s less effective than magic would remain a curiosity among the most magical of all people and not a major social force like on earth. The non-wizards would stick with the more reliable, cheaper and more effective magic.

Magical realism ftw.

I have never understood what the issue is with guns and D&D. If the DM creates a cool campaign world with guns, great! There are a number of fine fantasy novels that have guns of various sorts in them. Just this month Dragon magazine featured a gazetteer for Bas-lag, the world of the awesome China Melville novels Perdido Street Station, The Scar, and the Iron Council.

The Monte Cook campaign setting of Ptolus (perhaps the coolest RPG accessory of 2006) makes excellent use of fire arms and has an entire chapter devoted to interesting fantasy firearms and other technology.

I have been running fantasy worlds with firearms for about 25 years or so now, and have never had too many problems. In fact, magic is *much* more tricky to deal with. We tend to under estimate the huge social impact that a technology as potent as magic would have on a society.

However, I will say that a DM who is planning on incorporating firearms into a campaign should consider the following:

1. Magic firearms.
2. Barrels of gunpowder being detonated
3. Tinkerer type players wanting to advance the state of the art
4. Which cultures in the world have firearms and which cultures don't and how this effects they way they deal with one another. Here you will find that magic (rather than the gun) is the great equalizer.
5. How various existing spells might affect various forms of technology.
6. New spells that might affect various forms of technology.
In my world it didn't get to that technology level. Magic became the "technology." Thus, no firearms, no helicopters, etc.
Again, as said, it is very much a circumstance of setting. A lot of DMs feel that if ANYTHING is out of place of 8th century Europe, it should be cast out for ruining the flavor.

I've really been looking at the setting Dragonmech, and yeah, technology takes a hold because there's no other choice. The mages have failed or are unfeasible, and it’s simply easier to just get a thousand men cracking on building your salvation than one or two old men reading a book to fix it.

There are gun rules out the wazoo. There are probably gun rules for EVERY setting. D20 Modern, Future, Past, the DMG, 3rd party material.

It’s probably just going to boil down to the flavor of the setting. D&D has been going on for a long enough time that a lot of people simply don't like cross pollination like that. :P
Been a long time since I posted on these boards, but here I go:

1. I never allow firearms in my campaigns.

2. I break that rule with Ravenloft or trips into it on occasion (our Halloween games or someone requests a trip so they can go ghoul hunting or something).

In my basic home brew, no, we never use firearms. In fact when some dwarves and gnomes developed gunpowder and firearms/cannons, some vicious gnolls raided them. This of course prompted PC intervention and everyone thought it best to rid the world of such weapons as they were cast into a lava flow after the manufacturers were killed by NPC and monster attackers. Basically, that put an abrupt end to the fire arms (which my players were very thankful for).

However, on occasion, I use the Ravenloft systems and the players have used firearms in Ravenloft especially when touring the realms on the west coast. These "disappeared" in the mists when they made their return trip home to the home brew world.

Should there be fire arms? I am an old D&D purest so I say "no" for me. My players are even more against fire arms than me, save when they are in Ravenloft and everyone else has them lol. But, I have to give a hearty yes to everyone else who wants them. I just don't want to see the majority of D&D products tainted with them. The option is always nice, but I don't want to see the fantasy aspect of the game's core supplements and accessories ruined by fire arms.

Or various other elements... *cough*latestgameworlds*cough*
As mentioned already I know the DMG has firearms in it. I also was directed here to find where there are guns in Forgotten Reams. Only place I remember is pistols arei n the starting equipment list for the Lantan region. Ravenloft also has guns although they are far from worth using. Although I'm currently running a Ravenloft campaign with an NPC who uses pistols and a partheon rapier. It's done more for character flavor than battle power.
I think that in this case, the question of the firearm's development is being undermined by the focus. In a fantastic setting like those that most Dungeons and Dragons games occur in, one isn't bound to examine only the socio-economic classes that analog those that were present in our world's medieval history, but rather is free to wander into a different and perhaps more unusual territory: races.

The race that comes immediately to my mind when I think about firearms in Dungeons and Dragons are the Dwarves. They are, after all, (often according to flavor texts) expert metalworkers and master smiths with an affinity for mechanical contraptions and a general lack of arcane spellcasters and most divine casters. Without access to most of these spellcasting classes (particularly wizards and sorcerers), the Dwarves are forced to rely on their clerics of Moradin for most of their magical resources. As we all know, clerics cannot compete with wizards when it comes to the explosive, devastating types of spells that might otherwise mitigate the desire for one to develop firearms. In the stead of these spells, then, I do not think it unreasonable that the technologically apt Dwarves might develop firearms. Given, also, their skills with this type of construction, it may indeed be a very formidable weapon.

Of course I realize that restricting Dwarven access to arcane magic and some classes with divine spellcasting is in itself a case of group preference, but I am working with what I can recall is present in source material for Dwarves.