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I’m building a character for an Alkenstar based campaign that is going to want to use a firearm. But, I’m not building a Gunslinger. Gunslingers have access to a Slinger’s Reload, which provides action economy for weapons with the Reload trait, but for anyone playing another class that might want to use a firearm, are there any other ways to improve the action economy of reloading weapons?

I’m interested not just in options that can reduce actions spent on reloading, but also in options, like Slinger’s Reload, that provide options for Reload, and then in a single action. In general, answers that can come online earlier, and are agnostic to the specific weapon in question are better. For example, Repeating weapons are obviously quite constrained, and using the Gunslinger Dedication to gain access to a Slinger’s Reload can’t come online until level 10 at the earliest.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you already decided on a specific class, or is your only limitation "no Gunslinger"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 7:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have a specific class in mind for my build (I’m putting together a thaumaturge, but have a lot of feat flexibility for archetypes), but I’m interested in answers that are applicable across the board. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 7:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you fine with Archetypes? \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE Archetypes are fair game, and, I expect, the bulk of usable answers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 16:08

4 Answers 4

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Equipment

First as you've mentioned, repeating weapons are definitely a way to mitigate the reload factor of firearms. But that only applies to specific weapons, and only for a specific number of shots before an even longer reload is needed.

One miscellaneous item to aid with reloading is installing consumable breech ejectors to a double-barreled firearm, allowing your character to reload both barrels as a single action rather than as two. It takes 10 minutes to install these 3rd-level consumables, but it would help mitigate reloading for these specific weapons for the first 4 shots of a fight.

More Guns

Another option is to simply carry more guns. Each gun can fire at least a single shot, so you're good as long as you have as many guns as bullets you want to fire. Obviously this comes with drawbacks, like how drawing each weapon before firing it will typically take an action of its own or how expensive it would be to have multiple competitive rune-etched weapons.

Mitigating this could be done with something like the Quick Draw feat to make a Strike with the weapon as part of drawing it, or with help from a familiar with the valet ability, spending one action to have two light bulk guns put into your hands later that turn.

A 3rd-level gunner's bandolier could be useful for sharing runes between guns, as well as offering a way to get back the guns dropped while cycling between them. This doesn't really work well with other options to quickly draw weapons, as it needs to be activated by its wearer with a specific action other than just drawing the weapon.

Another option is in the blazons of shared power, though this only allows for one copy of each magical weapon. Much more expensive to maintain than the bandolier if you're looking to fire more than two weapons a battle, but it does work with things like Quick Draw.

Feats

Gunslinger Archetype

You've mentioned one option here already, but it might be worth going into more detail about the gunslinger archetype.

By level 4 you could take Basic Shooting to pick up Risky Reload, which allows for once/turn reload and fire at the cost of misfiring on a failed attack. Or at level 8 you could take Advanced Shooting to pick up Running Reload, allowing for reloads while also taking a Stride. Then as you've mentioned, you can also pick up the special reload action of your way at 10th level.

Ranger

Rangers naturally have access to the previously mentioned Running Reload at level 4, or through the Ranger Archetype at level 8 via Advanced Hunter's Trick.

Bullet Dancer

This archetype has a level 12 feat of Bullet Dancer's Reload, allowing for a Strike with a simple firearm then reloading it as a single action once per round, also allowing for reloads without having a free hand. Definitely a high level requirement and only works for a subset of guns.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for more guns. That's how it was done historically. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Didn't want to sound sarcastic if I said "more guns" as well. Unfortunate how magic items work. Almost makes the case for magic ammunition instead of weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 11:31
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Archetypes

Gunslinger Archetype grants you several possible reload feats via Basic Shooting or Advanced Shooting. The cheapest investment here is Risky Reload via Basic Shooting.

If you don't want to grab the Gunslinger Archetype (which seems very appropriate here), Running Reload via the Ranger Archetype is available at level 8 for a 3 feat investment (Ranger Dedication, Basic Hunter's Trick (I might suggest Monster Hunter for this one), and then Advanced Hunter's Trick). You could also grab it with two feats by level 6 from the Archer Archetype, but that dedication feat is probably going to be less useful.

Ask your GM

If you're running the Outlaws of Alkenstar AP, then I can say nothing more about this other than ask your GM if it's something you should worry about. If it is a homebrew campaign in that area, then simply ask your GM to check out some of the things from Outlaws of Alkenstar. I can't say anything more specific without reaching into spoiler territory!

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that free arctypes is a common optional rule. So er ... (pitchman voice) ... ask your GM if Free Archtypes is right for you! You'll get the ability you want much later than if you'd taken Gunslinger to start (which is why its not really too unbalancing to allow). \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 21:21
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An option I don't see mentioned is the Dual-Weapon Warrior archetype. Minimally, you can grab the dedication feat and Dual-Weapon Reload at 4. While this doesn't 100% fit the case of "reload and then...", it does open you up flexibly for weilding two one handed weapons, and still be able to reload without needing a free hand.

I can see a sword and gun combo for shoot-move-stab combo, or two guns, so you can get two shots off before reloading.

The Dual Thrower feat also applies to "one-handed ranged weapons" as well, so that will build up nicely into being able to double slice, parry, riposte, or flense, all with guns!

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Equipment

Repeating weapons

These crossbows and firearms can be shot 5-8 times (see each weapon's description), but then you need to spend 3 actions to fully reload them. The shootist bandolier can be used to reduce the repeating hand crossbow's reloading time to 2 actions.

Double barrel firearms

These firearms have two barrels that are reloaded and shot independently, which basically allows you to shoot twice before reloading. The breech ejectors are consumables that make you reload both barrels at once, allowing you to shoot twice again, for 10gp.

Multiple weapons

You can have several loaded crossbows/firearms on your person, but paying for more than one or two fully-runed weapons is prohibitively expensive outside of the automatic bonus progression variant rule. Blazons of shared power make this more affordable, but only if you dual wield two predetermined weapons.

Even then, you're generally just trading a reload action for a draw action, so to benefit at all you would need to avoid the draw action (start the encounter with both weapons drawn, quick draw or similar feat, gloves of storing, retrieval prism, or thousand-blade thesis) and/or you need to draw a weapon that can shoot more than once before reloading (repeating or double barrel).

What's more, if you don't have a hand free because you are dual wielding, then you can't reload. Capacity weapons allow you to bypass this constraint, while a pair of repeating weapons shouldn't need to reload mid-encounter. However, the other weapons need a feat like dual-weapon reload, which would be incompatible with other, better, reloading feats that actually improve your action economy.

Feats

Slinger's reload

Most of these actions let you make a melee strike or use a skill action (depending on your way) and reload as an action. Gunslingers gain one at 1st level, but they are also available at 10th level via the Gunslinger archetype's practiced reloads feat.

Risky reload

This feat lets you reload and shoot a firearm as an action, but it has the flourish trait and causes misfires on a failure. It's available at 2nd level to Gunslingers, or at 4th level via the Gunslinger and Unexpected Sharpshooter archetypes.
This works especially well for Investigators and Tome Thaumaturges because they can predict the failures.

Running reload

This feat lets you stride, step, or sneak and reload as an action. It's available at 4th level to Gunslingers and Rangers, at 6th level via the Alkenstar Agent and Archer archetypes, or at 8th level via the Gunslinger, Ranger, Game Hunter, and Drow Shootist archetypes.

Reloading trick

This feat lets you reload and shoot a hand crossbows an an action, with none of the risky reload drawbacks. It also kinda works with repeating hand crossbows. It's available at 6th level via the Drow Shootist archetype.

Clockwork celerity

This feat allows you to reload or strike with your innovation as a free action, though this has the unstable trait. It's available at 6th level for Inventors, or at 12th level via the Inventor archetype.

Equitable defense

Allows you to reload or stand as a reaction when you're critically hit. It also gives you some resistance to the triggering damage and a bonus for when you shoot back at your aggressor. It's available at 8th level via the Shieldmarshal archetype.

Bullet dancer reload

This feat lets you shoot and reload a simple firearm as an action, but it has the flourish trait. It's available at 12th level via the Bullet Dancer archetype.

Other unavailable feats

The gunslinger also has other feats like dance of thunder, and perfect readiness, but they are over 10th level and unavailable via archetypes.

Familiar Shenanigans

As explained in this answer by Ifusaso, there is no rule preventing a familiar from reloading your weapon even while you wield it, and if so, then a familiar (especially one with the independent ability) can easily save you some actions. However, Mark Seifter (a Paizo designer) has claimed that your familiar needs to hold the weapon to reload, and in that case the action economy really doesn't work in your favor. In short, ask your DM.

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