Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Swords, Wizardry and Firearms!

Today is S&W Appreciation Day and following these announcements is my submission...

(Other participants can be found here [link]! But please come back!)

Announcement One

As promised, I'm giving away 5 print copies of a zine that will be based on the stuff below, but a bit more expanded! All you have to do is reply with your comments, hate, rage or, what I'd prefer, your idea to add to the supplement. Maybe a specific item that fits the theme, maybe even magic complements? Whatever! Winners will be picked by random. Good ideas might earn you a copy if I use it (totally separate to the 5 prizes)! I also have TWO (2) PDF copies of Knockspell (1 or 2) to give away to one random commentator and one chosen submission, chosen by me (cause it's technically "my" copy.) Does that sound fair? You got until Monday (April 22nd)! The zine will take a bit to make, but remember we're talking about a hand-made physical zine. If you like this post, you'll like the zine. I promise, I'm pretty good at this.

Announcement Two

As part of Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day enjoy a 25% discount on Swords &   Wizardry Products (books, swag, etc.) from Frog God Games and downloadable PDFs from the Shop at d20pfsrd!

Today, April 17th, 2013, Only!
Use the coupon code SWApprDay at: Frog God Games
and SWAD252013 at the Shop at 

Without further ado...


...and Firearms!
Firearm rules for Swords & Wizardry by Reverend Dak
Pistols, rifles and other guns, while not for everyone, they have been essential to some fantasy stories from Solomon Kane to the comic book series Skullkickers. The Weird Western and some Post-apocalyptic stories, such as Dark Tower, also feature elements of Sixguns and Sorcery. Then you have two Korean action movies, The Good The Bad The Weird (thanks +Alex Mayo)  and The Warrior's Way that also mixed elements of pulpy westerns with fantasy elements. So there is obviously an appeal, but there is also a negative stigma when it comes to guns. Are they right for a fantasy campaign? It’s really up to the gaming group to decide. If the group decides to add some form of firearms to the game, they have to decide how realistic or powerful they should be. Guns can easily change the nature of the game into a gun show, instead of the traditional display of swords and spells. One way to keep that from happening is to make these weapons more trouble than they are worth. Bullets can be unstable but plentiful, or they can be dangerous but extremely rare. If guns are a regular feature of the game, maybe a little bit of both. Regardless, elements of Fantasy mixed with the Weird Wild West can make for an interesting world of adventure.

Powerful Or Mundane?

If they’re powerful, they should be extremely rare. They should be treated like artifacts, and there should be dangerous rivals or factions trying to take them away from the adventurers. Imagine if the bad guys had the guns instead. With the tables turned, guns can make or break the game by annihilating a party. But if they are a staple of the campaign, it’s probably best to make them pretty mundane and not much different than any other missile weapon. But if that is the case, why have them at all? Consider limiting the weapons to only black powder, or non-automatic revolvers and bolt-action or lever-action long guns. If the group decides to make firearms powerful, apply any number of optional rules found below.

Basic Firearm Rules

It’s important to remember that combat in Swords & Wizardry is abstract. Each attack roll represents a series of attacks, maneuvers, dodges and parries. So though a character may have been hit by an attack, it doesn’t always represent a bullet breaking skin. Normally, when hit by a high velocity slug, it would almost always cause devastating damage. But instead, they should be described as near-misses and flesh wounds until down to that last hit die of hit points.

Initiative and Order of Battle As Normal

Surprise and Initiative works like normal. Firearms follow the same attack rules as missile fire, they are fired during the Movement and Missiles Phase.

Hits Do 1 Die of Damage

Each firearm has its own damage die; typically d8 for handguns and d10 or more for longarms. For a standard attack, a hit does 1 die of damage. Damage is treated just like any other missile or melee attack, and can be healed as normal.

Aiming Gives a +2 Bonus To Hit and Does 2 Dice of Damage

The shooter may take a round to aim to increase the attack roll by 2 and hits will increase the damage by an additional die. But the shooter is vulnerable to normal attacks (including surprise attacks and critical hits, see below) while aiming.

Taking Cover, When Available, Is a Move and Gives a Bonus to AC

Taking cover is key to surviving a gun fight. Especially if guns are especially dangerous. The group should decide whether to make gun battles realistic and gritty, like a World War 2 movie, or to make them cinematic and showy, like The Matrix. In realistic gun battles, half the time the combatants are ducked and covered. While in more gun-fu style movies, gunplay is out in the open. If guns are mundane and common, the abstract nature of S&W combat is sufficient enough to assume cover. But if the more dangerous optional rules are used, cover is essential. For simplicity, if a target is actively hiding behind hard cover, no attacks can be made. If the target is firing back from behind some hard cover, the cover provides an additional 4 points (-4 [+4]) to AC. Firing from a firing port, murder hole or arrow slit can provide up to 8 (-8[+8]) points of AC, at the referee’s discretion.

Duels Are Deadly

High-noon on the dusty road, in the middle of town; it’s the typical setting of a one on one battle between two rival gunmen. It’s usually resolved with a single shot from the fastest gun. If two gunman agree to a duel, hit points are practically off the table and the winner is determined by who hits whom first.

Initiative is determined between the two duelists, using a d20, the roll is modified by the character’s level (and any other circumstantial modifiers, see below). The highest roll shoots first, and an attack roll is made as normal. If the attack hits, the damage is the number of damage dice equal to the PC’s level or a creature’s Challenge Level. For example, a typical handgun does d8 damage, so a 5th-level fighter that hits during a duel does 5d8 damage to his target. This represents an automatic critical hit and the inability to dodge (maneuver, parry, etc.). Let’s face it, duels are deadly against experienced adventurers. If the target survives, he can attempt to shoot back applying the same damage rules. If both duelists survive, combat rounds continue as normal combat. At that point damage is normal (typically one die), initiative is handled normally, and others may join the combat if they wish.

clicken to embiggen

For simplicity, rounds cost are dependant on how much damage they do. For black powder weapons, the costs include the necessary black powder.

Damage Cost* Weight

d6 or d8 5 sp 0.1 lb
d10 or d12 1 gp 0.1 lb

*Costs are for 10 rounds where firearms are mundane. In campaigns where firearms are rare, costs are for a single round.  

Magazines and quick-loaders cost 1gp for each if firearms are mundane or 1gp per round they carry in campaigns where firearms are rare.

Optional Rules

The following are rules to make guns more dangerous and gritty. The more powerful firearms are in the game, the rarer they should become. Firearms should remain unique and difficult to obtain. The following rules may supplement, replace or be replaced by existing house rules, such as Critical Hits and Fumbles.

Surprise Attacks May Be Critical

Firearm attacks during a surprise round, or the target is otherwise unaware of  the attack, will increase the chance of a critical hit by 2. That is, if the attack roll is a natural 18+ and the attack hits, the attack should be considered a critical hit (see below). All other surprise rules still apply. This rule does not apply to automatic fire.

Critical Hits and Fumbles Can Be Deadly

On a natural 20, an attack with a firearm should be considered a critical hit. A critical hit does damage equal to the attacker’s level or challenge level in damage dice. For example, a succubus with a pistol can do 9d8 damage on a critical hit!
A natural 1 may represent a misfire. The weapon may be permanently damaged (1% chance) and a 1 in 10 chance firer may be also be injured by a misfire or explosion, 2 dice damage (die type depending on ammunition used), save for half.

Firearms Are Complicated

Firearms will have a Rate of Fire (RoF) rating, reload time and weapon speed. These are not so important if guns are mundane, treat them as any other missile weapon. But as a way to make firearms inconvenient, especially if they’re extremely powerful, these factors may help keep them in check.
  • Rate of Fire: A firearm with multiple RoFs may only fire once during the surprise round, but the chance of a critical hit should increase as per the Surprise Attack rule above. Automatic weapons are indicated by an (A).
  • Reload: Reloading a firearm manually can take up to a minute. If quick loaders or magazines are available, reloading takes one round. Black powder weapons can take up to 3 rounds to reload.
  • Weapon Speed: Weapon Speed is only a factor for individual initiative rolls, such as duels (see above). This value is added to the initiative roll or, if using Alternate Combat Sequence Method No. 3 the value is negative.

Automatic Weapons do 3 Dice of Damage

Weapons with a RoF that indicates an (A), instead of separate attacks, automatic weapons can affect multiple targets in a 10-foot square area. An automatic fire attack uses 10 rounds of ammunition. The attacker makes a single attack roll that’s compared to the AC of each target in the area. A hit causes 3 dice worth of damage, save for half. A critical hit (natural 20) does 6 dice of damage, save for half.


...and Firearms! is compatible with the rules of Swords & Wizardry.

blah blah...It's all open content/OGL...

15. Copyright Notice
Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.
System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.
Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, Copyright 2008, Matthew J. Finch
Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules, Copyright 2010, Matthew J. Finch
...and Firearms!, Copyright 2013, Reverend Dak.


  1. This is pretty awesome, Dak! I'm not one to mix firearms in my games, but I might toy with the idea of a goblinoid race accidentally discovering an explosive mix (ala Saurman in LoTR mixing an explosive to blow apart the wall of Helm's Deep) that they pack in wooden gun barrels, as they haven't mastered the concept of actual firearm usage.

    1. You won a copy of the Firearms zine (ships when it's done.)

  2. Very cool! I'm working on a cyberpunk supplement for WhiteBox and will need firearms rules, obviously. Since I hate reinventing the wheel, I have scrounged around for other people's ideas. Everyone has ideas to plunder and these are no exception. I especially like your take on Auto-fire.

    1. You won a copy of the Firearms zine (ships when it's done.)

    2. Very cool - thank you! I'll drop you a PM on G+ as requested.

  3. Sweet! Any thoughts on the musket and the blunderbuss? Those would be awesome. I'm about to pull the trigger on a blog post that directs to here. (get it? pull the trigger? I should get out more...)

    1. For simplicity, the musket and blunderbuss would fall under Black Powder (I think.) I'll elaborate on it more for the supplement. This post is the basic rules, I'm sure people will hack the hell out of it, come up with specific guns. I plan to expand up to laser pistols and plasma rifles. But for now, covering early black powder up to modern day should suffice (me thinks.)

    2. btw, You won a copy of the Firearms zine.

  4. Everyone loves their fantasy roleplaying with added handgun, right? Here's my offering (if you liked this, consider checking out my own S&W Day offering at

    **_The_ Six Shooter**

    _The_ Six Shooter is an artifact-caliber revolver, famed and coveted for its remarkable powers, but feared for its unpredictable temper. In appearance, it resembles a classic frontier handgun, except that its butt is made of a peculiarly purple sort of oak, and its barrel shines a blue mithril.

    Each of _The_ Six Shooter's six chambers fires its resident slug with a different magical enhancement. Whenever the gun is reloaded, the chambers spin of their own accord, and the gun selects for itself which of the magical effects to apply next. From there, the gun proceeds thru the remaining effects in order. The gun will not let itself be reloaded until all six chambers are empty, and will not fire the first shot unless all six chambers are full.

    Roll 1d6 for initial effect:

    1. The bullet takes flight at quadruple its usual speed, dealing twice as much damage.
    2. The sound of the shot is hugely amplified, deafening the firer and anyone within 30' who fails their save. The deafening lasts for 1 turn.
    3. As soon as the bullet is fired, the butt glows red hot for 1d4 minutes. Anyone holding the gun immediately takes 1d4 damage, and anyone struck in melee by the butt takes 1d6+1d8 damage due to the intense heat.
    4. An earthquake ripples thru the earth at the firer's feet, knocking down everyone within 20' who fails their save.
    5. An intense wave of cold ripples from the gun barrel, and anyone struck by the bullet takes no damage, instead being frozen in place for 1 turn.
    6. A crackle of static electricity agitates your hair, and if the bullet strikes its victim there is a 1-in-2 chance it passes thru the victim's body and strikes another random enemy. If it does strike another enemy, there is another 1-in-2 chance it strikes a third enemy, and so on.

    1. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiice... this is what I'm talking about.

    2. You win _my_ copy of Knockspell (since I already have it.)

      You will also EARN a copy of the zine, because I want to put your magic gun in it.

    3. Nice! Emailed you with details. Just so the public's aware, I hereby license _The_ Six Shooter as CC-BY 3.0 (Creative Commons Attribution Unported 3.0). This means it can be used in any context, commercial or free, with or without modification, as long as there is some attribution to me. Preferred attribution: "The Six Shooter [or "This item" or "Parts of this supplement" or whatever] incorporates content originally authored by Austin Schaefer, who blogs at".

  5. I like it. I am not sure if I'll ever use it in my Old School games, but certainly something to consider if I ever decide to move the timeline up a bit.

    My Swords & Wizardry posts, S&W Witch and The Ördög

  6. I would love to play in a Solomon Kane game with these rules. Someone needs to do this now.

    1. You won a copy of the Firearms zine (ships when it's done.)

  7. I would make firearms super rare. Every gun would be a transplant from the future as the result of an accidental time rift (or other suitable sci-fi trope) with a very limited supply of ammo. Either that, or entire caches of guns could have been intentionally sent back as part of the chaotic machinations of the strange future wizard, The Nuge. The more I think about this, the more I believe that introducing firearms could generate ideas for some very interesting campaigns. Rumors persist of a mystical artifact named "The Colt" that has the ability to permanently banish demons. The PCs are charged with locating the artifact, and then finding the only person who knows how to make it work, a one-handed man from another time.

  8. These look like they'd work just fine. Would you make a distinction between the clunkier, older Arquebuses, Gonnes and the like? What about wheel-locks versus flintlocks versus matchlocks? You might want to include grenades and petards--The orcs used what amounts to a petard at Helm's Deep...

  9. Fast rules for grenades, dynamite, powderkegs etc. exploding:
    Choose an amount of damage dice (2 for really primitive bombards up to 20 for a really huge bomb). Damage is that amount and one die less per 5 feet of distance from the exploding thing. Save for half damage, and maybe another; or the same, to keep it simple; for not beeing blown of your feet.
    Really awful is when there are more explosives in reach...

    1. That sounds pretty decent. very clean and to the point. Perfect for sue at the table.

    2. You win a copy of Knockspell!

    3. Hey, cool!
      (And I just remembered that AD&D session where my players eradicated a pirate outpost by lying a fuse to the powder kegs stored in it... they had to fight the ogre door guards fast to get out of there after successfully sneaking in. Good times.)

  10. Inspired by this post, I made this:

    Not so much a supplement to these rules, but I do suss out some particularities of flintlocks.

  11. I really like this post. I don't ordinarily (or ever) use firearms in my games, but this is clearly written, made to fit S&W (rather than the other way around), and simple to use.

  12. While I've developed my own firearm rules, not so complete as these, I'm loving the Duels idea. Thank you for this, this prompts me to further work on my own.

    Thanks also go to Tenkar for linking to this.

  13. For anyone that follows this thread, the zine version of this is almost completely ready for print...

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