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Looking for a reasonable estimate of level for a magic item

I am looking to make a gun for one of my players in pathfinder 2e that is essentially the Colt 1911.

The "semi-automatic" special ability will allow the user to fire up to 8 shots without reloading. What is the appropriate special ability level for a weapon with this kind of feature?

I would like to know what +x a coat pistol would need to have to be about as powerful as a +1 coat pistol with this special ability.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm assuming that you've looked at the Capacity trait and decided that wasn't semi-automatic enough for you? \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 2:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE Capacity is more of a revolver-style weapon; repeating is the trait for a magazine- or clip-fed weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – Shivers
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 2:52

1 Answer 1

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A semi-automatic six-round pistol already exists.

It's an air repeater, and it's balanced just about the same as a flintlock pistol.

note: the long air repeater is listed as being one-handed, but it's called out as two-handed in both its own text ("the long air repeater has better range and ammo capacity than the one-handed variant") and the air repeater's text ("the air repeater and its longer-ranged, two-handed variant"), so I'm treating the long air repeater as two-handed.

This would use the "repeating" trait.

There are a handful of weapons with the repeating trait:

A repeating weapon is a type of ranged weapon with a shorter reload time. These weapons can't be loaded with individual bolts or bullets like other crossbows and firearms; instead, they require a magazine of specialized ammunition to be loaded into a special slot. Once that magazine is in place, the ammunition is automatically loaded each time the weapon is cocked to fire, reducing its reload to the value in its reload entry (typically 0). When the ammunition runs out, a new magazine must be loaded, which requires a free hand and 3 Interact actions (to remove the old magazine, retrieve the new magazine, and slot the new magazine in place). These actions don't need to be consecutive and are the same as Interacting to reload.

Let's compare a crossbow and a repeating crossbow, as well as a a flintlock pistol and air repeater.

Attribute Crossbow Repeating crossbow Flintlock pistol Air repeater
Price 3gp 15gp 6gp 5gp
Damage 1d8 P 1d8 P 1d4 P 1d4 P
Bulk 1 1 1 L
Hands 2 2 1 1
Range 120' 120' 40' 30'
Reload 1 0 1 0
Traits (none) Repeating Concussive, fatal d8 Agile, repeating
Category Simple Advanced Simple Simple
Group Bow Bow Firearm Firearm
Rarity Common Uncommon Uncommon Uncommon

A +1 repeating pistol would be largely equivalent to a +1 pistol.

Overall, you're basically describing the difference between a flintlock pistol and an air repeater. The flintlock pistol has to be reloaded each shot, while the air repeater has a six round magazine. The significantly higher cost to load a magazine compared to a bullet appears to be intended to balance out the benefits of not needing to reload between each shot, along with losing some beneficial traits.

Balancing an eight-round repeating pistol would depend on traits and any other modified attributes.

As we can see above, the tradeoff for adding repeating to a weapon seems to mostly be losing traits. The long air repeater compared to the flintlock musket is in a similar boat: it loses concussive and fatal d8 in exchange for gaining repeating.

If we consider the air repeater balanced with the flintlock pistol, adding +2 rounds to the air repeater and changing nothing else does not seem like a big enough difference to say a +1 eight-round repeater would be equivalent to a +2 flintlock pistol. If you wanted to have, say, a 120' range Colt 1911 with agile, repeating, and fatal d8, that should definitely come at a cost to your +X, but just increasing an air repeater to an eight-round magazine (effectively the printed long air repeater on AoNPRD) fits within the existing balance buffers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess this is mostly a criticim of the original designers, but the lower damage of those firearms (vs. Crossbows) was only made sufferable by adding the "deadly" trait (assuming you're a warrior or gunslinger who will be getting a decent amount of crits). To remove it from the repeating version makes the firearm equivalent of the repeating crossbow strictly worse. The only thing they did to balance "repeating" with crossbows was the 3-action reload at the end, and IMHO that should be sufficient for a repeating firearm as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Mar 14, 2023 at 16:00

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