I've created this Gun Mage homebrew Fighter subclass. The intent is to make a fighter that can cast spells by engraving them into bullets that they fire. This is inspired by Gun Mages from Iron Kingdoms as released in the D20 creative commons 3.5 rules. And intended for the Spell Jammer setting for D&D 5e

I have adjusted spell progression to be closer to other Subclasses. Included some lore to help with theming interpretation. Spell prep has been adjusted, and spell casting has been adjusted to allow for spell use without multi casing being a problem but without impeding the fighters natural damage output. I have also changed some wording to ensure that most UA/House ruled firearms will be accessible/compatible.

For the full subclass you can check my Gun Mage (revisit): Google Doc

For the previous Build see Gun Mage v1


Gun mages are an obscure sect of militant casters, generally they come from Sorcerer or Rune Carver stock though the rare initiate is born with potential to even the most mundane of families. Once an apprentice is taken by a master they have the knowledge of the arcane art of carving and preparing the single use Arcane Bullets passed on to them, as well as how to create and bond a Magelock firearm. The Gun Mage can only maintain a small number of active bullets at a time as they pull on the Mage's own life force for power. As they grow in skill they can manage more precision in their runes allowing for more bullets and more complicated forms. Each Gun Mage has their own unique style and the life force tied to the bullets ensures no one, not even another Gun Mage can steal or use their Arcane Bullets. While any firearm can be used to fire an Arcane bullet, the arcane energies will foul and damage normal weapons.

Gun Mage

Gun Mage Table

Level Prof. Bonus Features 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
3rd +2 Arcane Bullet 3
4th +2 3
5th +3 3
6th +3 3 1
7th +3 Curve Bullet, Magic Shot 3 2
8th +3 3 2
9th +4 3 2 1
10th +4 Elemental Shot 3 3 2
11th +4 3 3 2
12th +4 3 3 2
13th +5 3 3 2
14th +5 3 3 2 1
15th +5 Seeking Shot 3 3 2 1
16th +5 3 3 2 2
17th +6 3 3 2 2 1
18th +6 Caster Shell 3 3 2 2 1
19th +6 3 3 2 2 1
20th +6 3 3 2 2 1

Arcane Bullet

At At 3rd Level you have awakened an arcane heritage and with training to engrave spells into bullets become a Gun Mage.

You gain proficiency with Firearms and Tinkers Tools.

You can craft up to your limit of Arcane Bullets during a long rest, you can maintain a number of bullets containing spell levels as indicated on the Arcane bullet chart. Each Arcane Bullet contains the spell at the spell level it was cast when it is created. All somatic and verbal components are replaced by the Arcane Bullet crafting process. Material components must be present for the crafting of the Arcane Bullet. Crafting Arcane Bullets replaces spell preparation for this class. An unused Arcane Bullet can be scrapped to return its spell slot to the Gun Mage, this does not return consumed material components.

Magelock Bonding

At 3rd Level you learn how to convert a Firearm to a Magelock and bond with it. While any firearm can be used to fire an Arcane Bullet, non-Magelock weapons are damaged and fouled by the arcane energies. (A non Magelock firearm that is used to fire an Arcane bullet becomes fouled and takes damage equal to the spel level of the Arcane Bullet fired. A fouled firearm cannot be fired until an action is used to clear it. Damage can be repaired as normal).

To convert a non-Magelock firearm to a Magelock requires engraving with Tinker's Tools and arcane materials valued at least 250gp. (An enchanted firearm can be converted to a Magelock without disrupting its enchantment) A student is given the materials for their first Magelock by their master when they take up the mantle of Gun Mage.

For all spells the target is the impact point of the bullet when fired and range is the range of the firearm. Spells that have a Spell Attack Roll replace this feature with the Weapon Attack Roll of the firearm being used. Spellcasting DC is equal to 8+Ranged Attack Bonus. The spell replaces the standard weapon damage.

A Gun Mage can bond a number of Magelock Firearms equal to their proficiency bonus.

Spell Casting

Spellcasting Stat is Con. For all spells the target is the impact point of the bullet when fired and range is the range of the firearm. Beyond short range, spells with an Attack Roll are at Disadvantage, Spells with a save have Saves against them made at Advantage. Spells that have a Spell Attack Roll replace this feature with the Weapon Attack Roll of the Magelock firearm being used. The spell replaces the standard weapon damage.

Spellcasting DC is equal to 8+Proficiency+Con bonus.

Due to the nature of Gun Mages and Arcane Bullets, the range of an Arcane Bullet is not affected by the Spell Sniper or Sharpshooter feats.

Arcane Bullets are mystically transferred into the firearm by the Gun Mage and are fired as part of an attack action, this ignores the loading and reloading quality of a firearm. Only one Arcane Bullet may be fired in an action regardless of how many attacks that action grants.

Curve Bullet

At 7th level, you learn how to ensure a missed shot is not wasted, you can mystically curve an Arcane Bullet that has missed its target to another target. When you make an attack roll with an Arcane Bullet and miss, you can use a bonus action to reroll the attack roll against a different target within 60 feet of the original target. You can do this a number of times equal to your Proficiency between long rests.

Magic Shot

At 7th level, you gain the ability to infuse your normal bullets with magic as they are fired. Any normal bullet you fire from a Magelock firearm counts as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance.

Elemental Shot

At 10th level you have learned how to infuse the power of the elements into your normal bullets. You can as a bonus action change the damage type of your Magic Shot to: Fire, Acid, Lightning, Thunder, Cold or Piercing. This change remains until you take a bonus action to change it or take a long rest.

Seeking Shot

At 15th level you have gained mastery of your Arcane Bullets, you can ignore cover for a target when firing an Arcane Bullet. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus.

Caster Shell

At 18th level you are able to craft your Magnum Opus. During a long rest you can craft one Caster Shell. This is an advanced form of the Arcane Bullet. This bullet can be crafted to contain: Circle of Death, Disintegrate, Harm, or Gravity Fissure. This bullet is so volatile that it will disintegrate at the start of your next long rest from the arcane powers contained within. (Gravity Fissure originates at the barrel of the firearm when fired)

Spell List

1st 2nd 3rd
  • Chaos Bolt
  • Chromatic Orb
  • Dissonant Whispers
  • Grease
  • Guiding Bolt
  • Ice Knife
  • Inflict Wounds
  • Magic Missile
  • Magnify Gravity
  • Ray of Sickness
  • Blindness/Deafness
  • Knock
  • Melf's Acid Arrow
  • Pyrotechnics
  • Scorching Ray
  • Shatter
  • Snilloc's Snowball Storm
  • Tasha's Mind Whip
  • Wither and Bloom
  • Daylight
  • Erupting Earth
  • Fireball
  • Life Transference
  • Tidal Wave
4th 5th
  • Blight
  • Gravity Sinkhole
  • Ice Storm
  • Raulothim's Psychic Lance
  • Vitriolic Sphere
  • Conjure Volley
  • Flame Strike
  • Negative Energy Flood
  • Synaptic Static
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Beyond short range, spells with an Attack Roll are at Disadvantage, Spells with a save have Saves against them made at Advantage. " Is the term "short range" defined anywhere? I can't seem to find the exact distance this refers to. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Aug 17, 2022 at 6:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu the same homebrew that inspired this Q had also firearms with defined ranges. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    Aug 17, 2022 at 6:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot oh nevermind, I guess the term "short range" must be referencing to a ranged weapon's normal range (opposite to the long range that most ranged weapons have). That might be a point to clarify since the official term used in the rulebooks is "normal range" (might cause confusion). \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Aug 17, 2022 at 7:13
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Do you plan for this to work with haste and action surge? Potentially allowing 3 spells in a single turn? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Aug 17, 2022 at 9:17
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Matthieu yes sorry intended to be normal and long based on the weapon used \$\endgroup\$ Aug 17, 2022 at 10:59

2 Answers 2


Well, it seems pretty balanced, but:

  1. Even though you use more or less a slightly better Eldritch Knight spell progression (as it should), it might get out of hand that you can shoot multiple spells (shots) per round; this might break the game, especially in a fighter class shell that gets all that extra attacks and action surges. Consider using the universal one spell per round rule.

  2. It is unclear to me if not used shots “expire.” If not, I strongly suggest they should. Having a guy that can fire spells all day, given substantial downtime, does sound game-breaking.

  3. I might consider a “grenade” type of bullet to fit some utility spells, something like Batman bombs or a concoction type as per witcher.

Other than these things, I like it, and I might consider it in my games.


Needs changes

This class falls foul of needing some things expanded, some things specified, and some things changed.

Arcane Bullet

This is basically just unlocking spell casting. Which should be limited to casting or attacking, the damage profile from casting and getting your regular number of attacks at level 5+ will be higher than other fighters, which is stated to go against the intent.

On top of this, the spellcasting modifier should be something other than Dexterity/Consitution. Currently it's very easy to max out your Con and Dex, there are no classes that use Con as a spellcasting mod for a reason. It grants you high amounts of tank (con+dex), high accuracy (dex because firearms), high damage (con+dex). Eldritch Knight and Arcane trickster, two martial classes with a mage property, use Intelligence for this.

On top of this, I'm not sure why there is a limit to the amount of guns you can have attuned based on proficiency, this isn't really strong or weak. But it will be incredibly rare that this matters in the slightest. Also you haven't specified gun types, you've exampled renaissance guns, but the Antimatter rifle that does 6d8 necrotic is technically available and obviously broken.

Curve Bullet

This seems pretty strong, but not broken. Eldritch knight gets the ability to make one weapon attack as a bonus action when using a cantrip, which is better (especially since you likely wont be using that many spells that use spell attack rolls).

Magic Shot

I don't believe any other fighter subclass gets two things at level 7, though this is another niche utility especially since you're already technically using a Magic weapon so it wouldn't be needed. Needs clarification on if the weapon counts as base and probably removing this trait.

Elemental Shot

Pretty situational, but if you're fighting something with a weakness or immunity, you'll be fighting multiple normally which leaves it on the strong side. If not metagaming however, I'd say this is weaker than eldritch knights version.

Seeking Shot

Unless I misread something, you'll use this very rarely as most spells won't be effected by this as they require spell saves not attacks. In addition, players are likely to take sharpshooter making this useless regardless.

Caster Shell

This is just a 6th level spell slot, neither Eldritch Knight nor Arcane Trickster get a 5th Level slot, let alone a 6. Psi Warrior gets the ability to cast Telekinesis which is good against single large opponents, but much more niche utilities than anything this class has.

Eldritch knight's 18th level ability is a weaker version of the spellcasting feature from this class.

Starting at 18th level, when you use your action to cast a spell, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

I'm not sure what I'd replace this with, but it needs to be something far weaker than this.


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