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In our gamma world campaign a player wanted to knock a gun out of the hands of an opponent.

To our surprise, neither the new Gamma World rules, nor the D&D 4e rules have anything about disarming an opponent. We couldn't even find rules for grappling.

I found an obscure (and old) reference on the Wizard's BBS forums, which basically said that they intentionally left this out, but didn't say why.

We hand waved it, and resurrected the old 1e grappling roll.

So my question is this: How have other GMs worked out this situation? What mechanic seems to be smooth and not too unrealistic?

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Mildly related to this other question. –  Erik Burigo Oct 23 '12 at 13:26
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I found an obscure (and old) reference on the Wizard's BBS forums, which basically said that they intentionally left this out, but didn't say why.

In 4e, rules are always designed to benefit PCs first. A disarm mechanic would be disproportionately good for NPCs, as most PCs get great benefit from weapons and implements, while many monsters don't use them at all. Hence, no disarm mechanic.

For realism, a disarm mechanic would be great--but 4e is pretty explicit about its lack of concern re: realism.

In answer to the main question, I would probably ad-hoc something like an attack roll against the better of the target's AC or Reflex, with the target adding their weapon proficiency to their defense (and possibly a bonus to defense for two-handed weapons as well). Penalties for being disarmed would be straightforward: use unarmed attacks for weapon keyword powers, and lose all weapon/implement benefits until the item is picked up again.

The problem with any freely-available disarm ability is that it seems almost universally overpowered for NPCs/monsters, and only situationally useful for PCs, which as stated above goes against 4e design philosophy and might be unbalancing. Anything your players have universal access to, their enemies probably do too. I've found this is an effective way to get my players to back off on some of their unbalancing requests: "Do you really want Davith the Wicked to be able to do that to you?"

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Because 4e basically eliminated grapple,and because 4e's enemies are power based rather than attack based for the most part, there isn't really a ruleset for disarming an opponent in 4e (can't speak to gamma world, but my understanding is that it has the same or similar base mechanics).

As far as what to do if you'd like to introduce this mechanic? I would set a DC based on level and allow a character to make either a dex or str check in order to disarm the opponent (someone like escaping a grab). If successfully disarmed impose either a -2 or -3 proficiency penalty (or disable certain attacks) and reduce damage a die size or two in order to mimic the enemy fighting unarmed.

This should provide the fun of disarming an opponent, ease of DMing on the fly and rough mechanical balance.

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Powers have keywords, and powers with the weapon or implement keyword cannot be used without their respective item. Instead of introducing an arbitrary attack/damage penalty, I would simply use the weapon/implement keyword restrictions. The big problem is when monster stat blocks neglect to include those keywords when they really should--but that's a much easier call for the DM to make than on-the-fly penalties. The larger issue is that disarm shouldn't be a clearly superior choice to class at-wills, which either of our proposed mechanics might make so. –  BESW Oct 23 '12 at 9:19
@BESW this is untrue. Weapon and implement powers can be used just fine without a weapon or implement. It is only when they specify something like "must be used with a light blade" that they are required. –  wax eagle Oct 23 '12 at 12:34
Really? In their respective keyword descriptions the PHB [p56] states that "Many arcane spells are more effective when used in conjunction with an implement," but that "Many martial powers, as well as several divine powers, can be used only if you’re wielding a weapon." I always thought that semantic difference was intentional. Can you point me to a clarification? –  BESW Oct 23 '12 at 13:00
@BESW Compendium under Implment: "You can use implement powers without an implement, and wielding a non-magical implement confers no benefit." (PHB2 220, PHB3 219). That's pretty clear to me. Weapon does indicate it's required but notes that an unarmed attack functions as a weapon so it's not really necessary. –  wax eagle Oct 23 '12 at 15:23
My mistake, I overgeneralized. So, unarmed attacks are an option for DMs in these cases. That's more in line with 4e's philosophy of minimal rule exceptions, but less balanced than your on-the-fly penalties. I'm so glad my group hasn't asked me to rule on this. –  BESW Oct 24 '12 at 3:51
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