Guns are not strangers to fantasy. The earliest authors of fantasy and weird fiction often included guns in their stories. Heroes like Burroughs’s John Carter or Howard’s Solomon Kane carried pistols alongside their swords, and it’s hard to imagine a pirate ship without cannons blazing. These authors likely included guns because they are exciting, but also because the guns they chose were primitive ones—relatively unpredictable weapons, prone to misfire and malfunction. This made firearms excellent storytelling devices. Such weapons could cause hero or villain to falter or triumph, changing the action within the tale in a flash or a fizzle. Still, a firearm remains an ominous and terrible weapon in the hands of a skilled gunman.
This section presents an anachronistic collection of hand-held black powder weapons. Most of them are single-shot muzzle-loaders with highly inefficient triggering mechanisms—traditional sword and sorcery firearms. More advanced firearms are also presented for those brave enough to mix their fantasy with a technology much closer to that of the Old West than the slow and unstable weapons that gave musketeers their name. If you are interested in letting such weapons in your game, do so with the following warning: Advanced guns can substantially change the assumptions of your game world, in the same way that they changed the face of warfare in the real world. If you like your fantasy to be of the more traditional variety, stand clear. Or, better yet, run for cover.
Firearms and gunslingers are not for every campaign, and even if you are excited about introducing firearms into your campaign, you should still make a decision about how commonplace they are. The following are broad categories of firearm rarity and the rules that govern them. Pathfinder’s campaign setting uses the rules for emerging guns, which is also the default category of gun rarity.
No Guns: If you do not want guns in your campaign, simply don’t allow the rules that follow. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game plays perfectly well without them.
Very Rare Guns: Early firearms are rare; advanced firearms, the Gunslinger class, the Amateur Gunslinger feat, and archetypes that use the firearm rules do not exist in this type of campaign. Firearms are treated more like magic items—things of wonder and mystery—rather than like things that are mass-produced. Few know the strange secrets of firearm creation. Only NPCs can take the Gunsmithing feat.
Emerging Guns: Firearms become more common. They are mass-produced by small guilds, lone gunsmiths, dwarven clans, or maybe even a nation or two—the secret is slipping out, and the occasional rare adventurer uses guns. The baseline gunslinger rules and the prices for ammunition given in this chapter are for this type of campaign. Early firearms are available, but are relatively rare. Adventurers who want to use guns must take the Gunsmithing feat just to make them feasible weapons. Advanced firearms may exist, but only as rare and wondrous items—the stuff of high-level treasure troves.
Commonplace Guns: While still expensive and tricky to wield, early firearms are readily available. Instead of requiring the Exotic Weapon Proficiency feat, all firearms are martial weapons. Early firearms and their ammunition cost 25% of the amounts listed in this book, but advanced firearms and their ammunition are still rare and cost the full price to purchase or craft.
Guns Everywhere: Guns are commonplace. Early firearms are seen as antiques, and advanced firearms are widespread. Firearms are simple weapons, and early firearms, advanced guns, and their ammunition are bought or crafted for 10% of the cost listed in this chapter. The Gunslinger loses the gunsmith class feature and instead gains the gun training class feature at 1st level.
Firearms work differently from other ranged projectile weapons—they instead use the following rules.
Firearm Proficiency: The Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms) feat allows you to use all firearms without penalty. A nonproficient character takes the standard –4 penalty on attack rolls with firearms, and a nonproficient character who loads a firearm increases all misfire values by 4 for the shots he loads.
Even though the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (firearms) feat grants you proficiency with all firearms, anytime you take a feat that modifies a single type of weapon (such as Weapon Focus or Rapid Reload), you must still pick one specific type of firearm (such as musket, axe musket, blunderbuss, pistol, or double pistol) for that feat to affect.
All firearms are part of the same weapon group for the purposes of the fighter’s weapon training class feature.
Capacity: A firearm’s capacity is the number of shots it can hold at one time. When making a full-attack action, you may fire a firearm as many times in a round as you have attacks, up to this limit, unless you can reload the weapon as a swift or free action while making a full-attack action. In the case of early firearms, capacity often indicates the number of barrels a firearm has. In the case of advanced firearms, it typically indicates the number of chambers the weapon has.
Range and Penetration: Armor, whether manufactured or natural, provides little protection against the force of a bullet at short range.
Early Firearms: When firing an early firearm, the attack resolves against the target’s touch AC when the target is within the first range increment of the weapon, but this type of attack is not considered a touch attack for the purposes of feats and abilities such as Deadly Aim. At higher range increments, the attack resolves normally, including taking the normal cumulative –2 penalty for each full range increment. Unlike other projectile weapons, early firearms have a maximum range of five range increments.
Advanced Firearms: Advanced firearms resolve their attacks against touch AC when the target is within the first five range increments, but this type of attack is not considered a touch attack for the purposes of feats such as Deadly Aim. At higher range increments, the attack resolves normally, including taking the normal cumulative –2 penalty for each full-range increment. Advanced firearms have a maximum range of 10 range increments.Loading a Firearm: You need at least one hand free to load one-handed and two-handed firearms. In the case of two-handed firearms, you hold the weapon in one hand and load it with the other—you only need to hold it in two hands to aim and shoot the firearm. Loading siege firearms requires both hands, and one hand usually manipulates a large ramrod (which can be wielded as a club in combat). The Rapid Reload feat reduces the time required to load one-handed and two-handed firearms, but this feat does not reduce the time it takes to load siege firearms.
Loading any firearm provokes attacks of opportunity. Other rules for loading a firearm depend on whether the firearm is an early firearm or an advanced firearm.
Early Firearms: Early firearms are muzzle-loaded, requiring bullets or pellets and black powder to be rammed down the muzzle. If an early firearm has multiple barrels, each barrel must be loaded separately. It is a standard action to load each barrel of a one-handed early firearm and a full-round action to load each barrel of a two-handed early firearm. It takes three full-round actions by one person to load a siege firearm. This can be reduced to two full-round actions if more than one person is loading the cannon.
Advanced Firearms: Advanced firearms are chamber-loaded. It is a move action to load a one-handed or two-handed advanced firearm to its full capacity. The Rapid Reload feat reduces this to a free action.
If I roll a misfire when attempting to confirm a critical hit with a firearm, what happens?
You cannot misfire on a critical hit confirmation roll. If you roll a misfire when attempting to confirm a critical hit, just treat it as a normal result of the die (which might confirm the crit or fail to do so).
*Misfires: (See FAQ at right) If the natural result of your attack roll falls within a firearm’s misfire value, that shot misses, even if you would have otherwise hit the target. When a firearm misfires, it gains the broken condition. While it has the broken condition, it suffers the normal disadvantages that broken weapons do, and its misfire value increases by 4 unless the wielder has gun training in the particular type of firearm (see Gunslinger). In that case, the misfire value increases by 2 instead of 4.
Early Firearms: If an early firearm with the broken condition misfires again, it explodes. When a nonmagical firearm explodes, the weapon is destroyed. Magical firearms are wrecked, which means they can’t fire until they are fully restored (which requires either the make whole spell or the Gunsmithing feat). When a gun explodes, pick one corner of your square—the explosion creates a burst from that point of origin. Each firearm has a burst size noted in parentheses after its misfire value. Any creature within this burst (including the firearm’s wielder) takes damage as if it had been hit by the weapon—a DC 12 Reflex save halves this damage.
Advanced Firearms: Advanced firearms can misfire, but when they do, they only gain the broken condition. A further misfire does not cause advanced firearms to explode.
Ammunition: Firearm ammunition takes two forms: either black powder and shot (either bullets or pellets) or cartridges. Unlike other types of ammunition, firearm ammunition is destroyed when it is used, and has no chance of being retrieved on a miss. No part of a cartridge can be reused to create new cartridges. Firearm ammunition cannot be treated with poison, unless you are using a pitted bullet.
Concealing Firearms: Like light weapons and hand crossbows, one-handed firearms are easy to conceal on your person. Some smaller firearms (like the coat pistol) can grant bonuses to conceal a weapon on your person.
Do the inappropriately sized firearms rules allow a Medium or smaller creature to use larger firearms of any size?
The text of the rule is, “The size of a firearm never affects how many hands you need to use to shoot it.” The intent of that rule was to prevent a Medium character from using a Small rifle as a one-handed pistol; it wasn’t intended to let a Medium character use a Large, Huge, Gargantuan, or Colossal two-handed firearm as a two-handed weapon. Just like with non-firearms, a creature cannot wield a weapon that’s far too big or small for it. Specifically in the case of firearms, a Medium character can’t use a two-handed firearm sized for a Large or larger creature, and a Small character can’t use a two-handed firearm sized for a Medium or larger creature.
*Inappropriately Sized Firearms: (See FAQ at right) You cannot make optimum use of a firearm that is not properly sized for you. A cumulative –2 penalty applies on attack rolls for each size category of difference between your size and the size of the firearm. If you are not proficient with the firearm, a –4 nonproficiency penalty also applies. The size of a firearm never affects how many hands you need to use to shoot it, the exception being siege firearms and Large or larger creatures. In most cases, a Large or larger creature can use a siege firearm as a two-handed firearm, but the creature takes a –4 penalty for using it this way because of its awkwardness.
Bucklers: You can use a one-handed or two-handed firearm without penalty while carrying a buckler.
Fire while Prone: Firearms, like crossbows, can be fired while their wielders are prone.
Firearms, Black Powder, and Water: Black powder becomes useless when exposed to water, but powder horns and cartridges protect black powder from exposure. You cannot normally load an early firearm underwater or fire any firearm underwater without magical aid.
Deflecting and Snatching Bullets: The Deflect Arrows feat and the Snatch Arrows feat can be used to deflect bullets, but not pellets shot from a scatter weapon. Neither of these feats can be used to deflect siege firearm attacks.
There are two general categories of firearms: early and advanced. Firearms are further divided into one-handed, two-handed, and siege firearms. As the category’s name implies, one-handed firearms need only one hand to wield and shoot. Two-handed firearms work best when you use two-hands while shooting them. Two-handed firearms can be shot with one hand at a –4 penalty on the attack roll.
Scatter Weapon Quality: A weapon with the scatter weapon quality can shoot two different types of ammunition. It can fire normal bullets that target one creature, or it can make a scattering shot, attacking all creatures within a cone. Cannons with the scatter weapon quality only fire grapeshot, unless their descriptions state otherwise. When a scatter weapon attacks all creatures within a cone, it makes a separate attack roll against each creature within the cone. Each attack roll takes a –2 penalty, and its attack damage cannot be modified by precision damage or damage-increasing feats such as Vital Strike. Effects that grant concealment, such as fog or smoke, or the blur, invisibility, or mirror image spells, do not foil a scatter attack. If any of the attack rolls threaten a critical, confirm the critical for that attack roll alone. A firearm that makes a scatter shot misfires only if all of the attack rolls made misfire. If a scatter weapon explodes on a misfire, it deals triple its damage to all creatures within the misfire radius.
Early firearms are typically matchlock, wheellock, or flintlock weapons, and require more finesse and care to use than advanced firearms. Early firearms are muzzle-loaded, requiring a bullet and powder (or other special alchemical substances) to be shoved down the barrel before the weapon is fired. Early firearm ammunition can be loaded from a cartridge, but that cartridge is made of soft material (like paper or cloth) that is torn open so that the contents may be shoved down the barrel.
1 Weight figures are for Medium weapons. A Small weapon weighs half as much, and a Large weapon weighs twice as much.
Advanced firearms are more reliable and accurate than early firearms. The ammunition of an advanced firearm takes the form of metal (usually brass) cartridges that are loaded into a chamber rather than shoved down the muzzle.
Those who wield guns have a number of options when it comes to loading their weapons, and often need gunsmith’s kits to provide proper care and upkeep for their firearms.
An alchemical cartridge is a prepared bundle of black powder with a bullet or pellets, sometimes with more exotic material added, which is then wrapped in paper or cloth and sealed with beeswax, lard, or tallow. There are many types of alchemical cartridges, the simplest being the paper cartridge—a simple mix of black powder and either pellets or a bullet. Alchemical cartridges make loading a firearm easier, reducing the time to load a firearm by one step (a full-round action becomes a standard action, a standard action becomes a move action, and a move action becomes a free action), but they tend to be unstable. The misfire value of a weapon firing an alchemical cartridge increases as listed in each entry.
Does not include the cost of poison compound.
Modern firearms have their own page here.
This small kit has all the tools a person needs to create, repair, and restore firearms, except for the necessary raw materials. Without such a kit, you cannot properly construct or provide upkeep for firearms.
Typically crafted from animal horn, but increasingly crafted from metal in a wide variety of shapes, a powder horn can hold up to 10 doses of black powder. A powder horn protects black powder stored within in it from exposure to fire, electricity, firearm misfires, and water.
The following magic items and magic qualities all pertain to firearms. Most grant extra abilities or protections to the firearm user, but others protect creatures from some of the effects of firearms.
The following special ability allows a firearm to be fired with the affected ammunition in environments without air, including underwater.
Aura faint abjuration; CL 3rd; Price 30 gp per cartridge or 1,500 gp for 50 cartridges
This special ability can only be applied to alchemical or metal firearm cartridges. Dry load cartridges can be used to load guns underwater or in other airless environments, such as a vacuum. This ability protects the cartridge’s contents as it is being loaded and creates a residual bubble of air that surrounds the firearm, further protecting the ammunition and allowing the firearm with this ammunition to be fired in an airless environment. After the cartridge is loaded, the bubble of air lasts for 3 minutes, or until the firearm is fired, whichever occurs first. A firearm loaded with this ammunition still takes the –2 penalty on attack rolls when fired underwater for every 5 feet of water the bullet passes through, in addition to the normal penalties to range. When firing a dry load cartridge underwater or in an airless environment, a misfire that results in a firearm explosion occurs normally.
Several types of magical bullets have been developed to be used with firearms. The following represent just a few of these types.
Aura moderate necromancy; CL 9th (burrowing bullet) or 13th (greater burrowing bullet)
Slot none; Price 1,722 gp (burrowing bullet) or 3,447 gp (greater burrowing bullet); Weight —
This +1 firearm bullet deals normal damage, but when it hits a living creature, it burrows into the creature’s flesh, causing wracking pain until removed or until the bullet burrows its way out of the creature. While these bullets burrow, the creature is staggered. This effect lasts for 1d3 rounds or until the bullet is removed with a DC 15 Heal check made as a standard action. Greater burrowing bullets take longer to pass though the bodies of living creatures (the staggered effect lasts 1d3+2 rounds) and are harder to remove (DC 20 Heal check as a standard action).
Aura faint evocation; CL 2nd
Slot none; Price 100 gp; Weight —
These +1 firearm bullets deal no damage, but instead cause a pale glow to outline the target, granting the effect of a faerie fire spell and causing the target to take a –2 penalty to AC against ranged attacks. These effects last for 1d4 rounds.
The following special abilities are exclusively for firearms.
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Price +1 bonus
This special ability can only be placed on one-handed or two-handed firearms. A lucky firearm has its own magical reservoir of grit. Usually this grit is stored within the marks of an engraving or in a trinket that hangs from the firearm. Often these marks take the form of holy symbols or fetishes, but such a reservoir can take just about any form. This reservoir holds 1 grit point, which is refreshed at the start of each day. Whether or not the wielder of a lucky firearm has any deeds (see page 10), she can always spend 1 grit point from the lucky firearm to reroll an attack from it that would result in a misfire. When the wielder does so, she must take the second result, even if that attack roll also results in a misfire.
Aura moderate enchantment; CL 12th; Price +3 bonus
This special ability can only be placed on one-handed or two-handed firearms. A greater lucky firearm is nearly identical to a lucky gun, but its reservoir holds 3 grit points instead of 1. A firearm cannot have both this special ability and the lucky special ability.
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 8th; Price +1 bonus
This special ability can only be placed on firearms. A reliable firearm is enchanted so that it is less likely to jam than other firearms. This enchantment reduces the misfire value of the affected firearm by 1 (minimum 0). This reduction occurs after any increases are calculated for firing with the broken condition, or for any other effect that might increase the misfire value of a firearm.
Aura moderate enchantment; CL 12th; Price +3 bonus
This special ability can only be placed on one-handed or two-handed firearms. A greater reliable firearm is enchanted so as to be less likely to jam than other firearms. It reduces the misfire value of the affected firearm by 4 (minimum 0). This reduction occurs after any increases are calculated for firing with the broken condition, or for any other effect that might increase the misfire value of a firearm. A firearm with greater reliable cannot have the reliable special ability.
The following wondrous items either enhance firearms or protect against them.
Aura faint abjuration; CL 5th
Slot neck; Price 1,500 gp (+1), 6,000 gp (+2), 13,500 gp (+3), 24,000 gp (+4), or 37,500 gp (+5); Weight —
This amulet, usually crafted from the splintered remains of spent firearm bullets shaped into a rough holy symbol or clover, grants the wearer a luck bonus to AC against firearm attacks that target touch AC.
Aura faint conjuration; CL 3rd
Slot none (see below); Price 2,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This magical powder horn holds 20 doses of black powder. Furthermore, when a firearm is loaded with black powder directly from this horn, the horn creates a small pocket of air that envelops the gun and allows that shot to be fired underwater or in an area lacking air, such as a vacuum. Once the gun is loaded with powder from the dry load powder horn, it retains the pocket of air for 10 minutes or until the firearm is fired, whichever comes first. Firing a firearm that has been loaded from this horn underwater still incurs the –2 penalty on attack rolls for every 5 feet of water the bullet passes through, in addition to the normal penalties to range. When a shot loaded from a dry load powder horn results in a firearm explosion while underwater or in an airless environment, that explosion occurs normally.
Aura faint divination; CL 3rd
Slot none (see below); Price 4,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This sight can be attached to a single two-handed firearm. When this is done, the sight becomes part of the weapon, but can be removed from that weapon with a full-round action. A firearm wielder can choose to spend a full-round action to make a single shot with a firearm that has this sight. When she does, she can resolve the attack against the touch AC of her target regardless of the range increment.
Aura moderate transmutation; CL 11th
Slot none; Price 10,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This figure of wondrous power uses the same general rules for all magic items of this type. This statuette of a spider with stubby legs can be used once per day for 1 minute. When activated, the figurine spouts longer, segmented legs, and scampers about the activator, picking lint off robes, chiseling grime from armor, or otherwise grooming its activator. If commanded to do so as a free action, it perches on the muzzle of a one-handed or two-handed firearm barrel and, after the firearm is fired, travels down the barrel and cleans out the firearm. Each time the slate spider cleans a firearm, the next shot the firearm fires has no chance of misfiring.
When animated, a slate spider has 1 hit point and is considered an attended object. An animated slate spider will never willingly leave space of its animator.
Aura faint illusion; CL 5th
Slot none; Price 250 gp; Weight —
When applied to a one-handed or two-handed firearm, this strange grayish oil renders that firearm silent for 1 hour. Five vials of oil of silence can be used in conjunction to silence a Large firearm siege engine, and 10 can be used to silence a Huge firearm siege engine. The oil does not work on firearm siege engines that are larger than Huge.
Aura moderate divination; CL 8th
Slot none (see below); Price 12,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This sight can be attached to a single two-handed firearm. When this is done, the sight becomes part of the weapon, but can be removed from that weapon with a full-round action. A firearm wielder using a firearm that has this sight can choose to spend a full-round action to either locate an invisible creature within line of sight or make a single shot that ignores the invisibility of a creature that she knows is in the area.