Gunslinger Handbook (3.5e Sourcebook)/How to Use Guns

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How to Use Guns[edit]

This chapter will present the rules for firing and reloading firearm weapons, as well as variant rules for some different weapon types.

Firing and Reloading[edit]

Firing a firearm is not unlike attacking with any other ranged weapon. Many firearms tend to be extremely accurate, however, and often ridicule most armors. When firing a firearm, if the targeted creature is within half of your first increment you gain a +2 bonus on your attack roll and damage roll. As long as you are in the first increment, you add your dexterity modifier to damage. This effect does not stack with any other effect that adds your Dexterity modifier to damage rolls, but does stack with the bonus damage from being within half of your first range increment.

Reloading a firearm is based on your base attack bonus. The higher it is, the easier it is to reload. A firearm usually need to be reloaded after every shot. A character without proficiency with the firearm he is trying to reload counts as having a base attack bonus 4 points lower.

  • A character with a base attack bonus of +0 reloads a firearm as a full-round action that provokes attack of opportunity..
  • A character with a base attack bonus of +1 reloads a fire arm as a move action that provokes attack of opportunity.
  • A character with a base attack bonus of +3 no longer provokes an attack of opportunity for reloading.
  • A character with a base attack bonus of +6 may reload a fire arm as a swift action or as an attack action (reloader's choice).
  • A character with a base attack bonus of +11 may reload a firearm as a part of an attack action.

Some gun are slow and tedious to reload, these weapons are denoted as 'slow' and are one action slower to reload (up to a maximum of full-round).

Revolvers, Lever and Bolt Action[edit]

Many more advanced firearms have much more sophisticated reloading mechanisms and/or fire multiple times before requiring to be reloaded.

A weapon like a revolver may fire a great number of shot before being reloaded, the number of times it can be fired before being reloaded is noted on the particular firearm entry.

A weapon with a lever-action or bolt action mechanism is much easier to reload and may chamber many shots, these weapon are denoted as 'rapid'. To represent the sheer superiority and simplicity of these mechanisms, the following rules apply for any of such weapons:

  • Remove any penalties associated with the lack of proficiency when reloading.
  • Reloading with proficiency is one action faster (full-round to move, move to swift/attack a swift/attack to part of an attack action to free action).

Some weapons are incredibly accurate, allowing the firer to place critical shots easier. Such weapon will be denoted as 'accurate' and deal 1.5x dexterity modifier damage instead of normal dexterity modifier to damage within the first range increment.

Shotgun Fun[edit]

Some weapons are not known for their accuracy, but are incredibly devastating in close combat. Such weapons, like shotguns, do not gain the normal +2 attack and damage bonus within half of the first increment. Instead, they deal twice weapon damage. No other damage modifier is multiplied, including extra damage from critical hits. So a weapon with the 'shotgun' property that deals 1d8 damage would deal 2d8 damage within the first increment.

Magic Firearms[edit]

For all intents and purposes, a firearm is enchanted like any other ranged weapon. However, I took the liberties of adding a few unique enhancements for all of our aspiring gunslingers:


The enchanted gun gains the accurate quality.

Faint divination; CL 1; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, true strike Price: Cost: +1.


Enchanted gun adds the half first increment bonus to all shots within the first increment.

Faint divination; CL 4; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Price: Cost:+1.


After each shot, your firearm reloads itself. Slow weapon lose the slow quality instead and gain the rapid quality.

Faint transmutation; CL 1; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Price: Cost: 2000 gp.

Cleanup your Tube![edit]

Some weapons in many setting have an incredibly unrealistic failure rate, failing or breaking with a 5% chance each shot is unforgivable. The following variant rule will emulate a much less hassling misfire rule.

  • When you roll a natural 1, there is 10% chance that the gun jams. To unjam a gun it requires the same action as it would require you to reload your weapon.
  • When you roll a natural 1, there is a 5% chance that it deals a single point of damage to your weapon.
  • A weapon that is not at full hit point is more dangerous, thus it misfires on a 1 and 2 instead of simply natural 1.
  • If you clean and maintain your gun frequently with a good quality gun cleaning kit, reroll any gun jam and gun damage misfire. Keep the best roll.

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