In Chapter 5: Campaigns in the section Building a Different World on pages 145-6 of the Dungeon Master's Guide there's the subsection Modern and Future Technology. I'm designing a prestige class that'll use these rules, specifically the weapons and explosives from Table 5-5: Modern Era Weapons and the weapons from Table 5-6: Futuristic Weapons. However, unlike their counterparts on the previous page's Table 5-4: Renaissance Weapons, the modern era and futuristic weapons list no prices, and neither the Renaissance weapons nor the modern era and futuristic weapons list Craft skill DCs.

Based solely on the the weapons' statistics and abilities (not what they represent)1--perhaps using mundane weapons, magic items, or something else as a metric--, for a generic by-the-books D&D 3.5 campaign what are reasonable Craft DCs for Renaissance, modern era, and futuristic weapons, and what are reasonable gp costs of modern era and futuristic weapons?

The List

Renaissance Weapons (DMG 145)

I'd like Craft DCs for the...

  • Pistol (250 gp)
  • Musket (500 gp)
  • Bomb (150 gp)
  • Smoke bomb (70 gp)
  • gunpowder (250 gp for a 20-lb. keg containing 15 lbs. gunpowder and 35 gp for powder horn containing 2 lbs. gunpowder)
  • pistol and musket bullet (3 gp for a bag of 10)

Modern Era Weapons (DMG 146)

I'd like costs and Craft DCs for the...

  • Pistol, automatic
  • Revolver
  • Rifle, hunting
  • Rifle, automatic
  • Shotgun
  • Grenade launcher
  • Dynamite
  • Grenade, fragmentation
  • Grenade, smoke
  • automatic pistol, revolver, hunting rifle, and automatic rifle bullet (10 weigh 1 lb.)
  • automatic pistol and automatic rifle magazine (0.5 lbs.)
  • shotgun shells (explicitly different from bullets)

Futuristic Weapons (DMG 146)

I'd like costs and Craft DCs for the...

  • Laser pistol
  • Antimatter rifle
  • Flamer
  • Laser rifle
  • laser pistol, antimatter rifle, and laser rifle energy cell (1 lb.)
  • flamer fuel pack (no weight given)

Although the Dungeon Master's Guide points the reader to d20 Modern ("The d20 Modern Roleplaying Game, a D&D-compatible2 roleplaying game for present-day adventures, contains a much more extensive treatment of firearms and other high-tech gear" (146)), that game's reliance on purchase DCs instead of currency and dead-simple crafting rules are discouraging and uninspiring.

  1. I don't care, for example, that such weapons represent a huge leap in weapons technology that will eventually change the world. Don't factor unbalancing the campaign into the weapons' Craft DCs or prices.
  2. Um. Depends on one's definition of compatible.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Huh, I actually think that doing wealth as a check is a fascinating way of handling it. I can't speak to their specific execution, but I quite like the idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ That said... this borders on the too-broad. I mean, what happens if one person has a "better" answer for the Renaissance weapons, but a "worse" answer for the Future weapons? How should one vote on those answers, how would you pick one to accept? At the same time, having three different questions seems extreme and also like you could still have the same problem, and having twenty-four different questions would be insane, so I'm not sure how best to handle it. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 15:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I didn't know how else to ask either. I figured maybe somebody might already have such house rules and could just cut and paste. I also figured any decent answer would make evaluation easier by justifying the DCs somehow. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 24, 2014 at 15:13

3 Answers 3


As usual, Pathfinder to the rescue. Totally 3.5e compatible and with costs and stuff, not d20 Modern style.

Here are Pathfinder's firearm rules covering up through the revolver/rifle era, and here's the modern weapons info from their visit to WWI in Rasputin Must Die!, and here's the new technological weapons info from the new Technology Guide that has lasers and stuff. Enjoy.

The rules contain dials for adjusting price based on rarity (for example, the modern firearms list prices are 10% what they could be if you wanted to call them very rare). Tech items are priced just like equivalent magic items. The Craft (mechanical) skill is for high tech items and other gizmos, Craft (firearm) and the Gunsmithing feat for normal firearms. Craft DCs aren't in the SRD but are on page 101 of Ultimate Combat, and it's 20 for normal firearms (higher for siege firearms).

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know whether to upvote or downvote this. Pathfinder's rules are a good go-to solution to the problem - but this answer ignores the "Based solely on the the weapons' statistics and abilities (not what they represent)" requirement specified in the OP. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 5:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ In what way? The Pathfinder design goal was to make the high-tech items very much like magic items in pricing, they're not more expensive because they're tech... I'd sure pay 75 gp for a frag grenade and think it's fair... As far as I can tell this exactly fits the OP's parameters. Prices, craft DCs, used by loads of people, works for 3.5, covers all the time/tech periods... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 11:50

There is no established craft DC, obviously, but the Player's Handbook page 71 table lists 'exotic melee or thrown weapon' with a DC of 18, and 'complex or superior item (lock)' as a DC of 20, so pistol and musket should both be in that range. And, given that 'crossbow' lists Weaponsmithing as the proper Craft skill, I would be happy asserting the same for pistols and muskets. Bullets for the earliest firearms are simply lead balls, and I would guess a DC of 10 or so; I'd say it is more complex than a wooden spoon, but about as complex as an iron pot.

Gunpowder, bombs, and smoke bombs probably fall under Alchemy. Looking at the alchemy items on that chart, I would say gunpowder is more difficult that acid (done by dumping the right compounds into water), but less difficult that alchemist's fire (a historical compound we still don't know the composition of), which gives you a DC of 20.

Given that you do not want us to consider the game balance issues, more advanced weaponry should have the same general DC values (maybe for lowering them if you create a Craft - Gunsmith skill.) If we did consider game balance, I would use the same modification as suggested in the d20 Future supplement under the Technophile and add 10 to the Craft DC for every progress level difference. (D&D is typically PL 2, pistols and muskets would be PL 3, modern firearms are PL 5, lasers PL 6, and plasma weapons PL 7.)

As to the cost, and again consulting d20 Future and the Purchase DCs on the d20 Modern book page 204, items that are more advanced cost +5 Purchase DC per progress level, which it turns out is about 4 times the cost (Purchase DCs are a logarithmic scale). As such, a modern automatic pistol probably should cost in the neighborhood of 4000 gp, a fragmentation grenade around 2400 gp, and a laser rifle in the area of 32,000 gp.

Of course, these are just loose suggestions. Adjust any of the above as needed to match the game you want to play.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In D&D 3.5 a creature must have at least 1 caster level to create things via the skill Craft (alchemy). I'm not sure that's appropriate for gunpowder, but it does make me hesitant to get into an altercation with a chemist IRL. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Yeah, that one is very nearly as dumb as multiclass penalties and monk non-proficiency in unarmed strikes, as far as the rules go. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 13:10

I am going to start by covering 'D&D-compatible' - In a world where portals can be opened to any dimension or plane how can we call anything incompatible with D&D?

Crafting of Renaissance Weapons, the modern era and futuristic weapons, are touched on with the information you have already provided in your query. Everything has a comparable item or a comparable craft-able item already in the game. Anything that is a step up from a mundane equivalent can be compared to an item that has magical crafting with 'Non-detect magic' added, which I would include in the cost since it adds to the value of the item.

Pistols and rifles and be comparable to crossbows and bows that do comparable damage at comparable ranges. When they start exceeding the limits of the mundane master-crafted specialty categories apply whatever magic crafting would need to be added to make the existing item comparable. The revolver, and automatic weapons would compare to repeating crossbow and range weapons. Everything that modern weaponry can do can already be accomplished with magical enhancement, so getting a price can be pulled directly from a crafted item comparison. A box of 20 grenades that do the equivalent of a fireball would be comparable to a 20 charge wand of fireballs, for an individual price divide by 20.

Futuristic weapons the same is true. Ray gun is equivalent to a wand of rays, disintegrate to anti-matter, flame spells to flame technology. A gallon of water weighs about 8.33 lbs, most liquid fuels are slightly lighter than water so 8lbs per gallon would be a good weight to work with. Cost is based upon charges or bursts though, not weight so price would be calculated backwards from charges to weight, but solid fuel could be calculated on the same weight. Futuristic power source could advance beyond this to basically unlimited power source, like a crystal that taps into a zero point power source.

Remember the most important thing is that the players have fun and want to come back.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi there! We're not Wikipedia, please don't keep trying to sign your posts using ~~~~. Posts are automatically signed, so there's no need to worry about it anyway. You also don't need to use <br/> ever; check out our helpful guide to formatting using Markdown. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 19:45

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