My DM would like to run a DnD adventure set in 1930s-tech era, replacing technology with magic-punk stuff. He's pulling a lot from Eberron.

Guns will exist, however, and he's just "renaming" bows and crossbows.

  • Hand Xbows = single-action pistol
  • Crossbow = single-action rifle
  • Bows = repeating rifles of differing sizes

Are there any fully-fledged stats for firearms of differing tech levels in DnD 4e? I know Unearthed Arcana had some for 3.5.

I really want to play a Tiefling "GunMage" (Artificer) for his campaign.

A rider on this question is also: has anyone done this before and what are some problems?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ah, fond memories of Boredflak's "Wand of Automatic Missile Fire" submachine gun. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 0:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wait, where in Unearthed Arcana does it mention firearms? \$\endgroup\$
    – Cobalt
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 3:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ By "single action" I presume you mean "manual action" such as a bolt-action, pump-action or lever action? And by "repeating" you mean semi-automatic which is one shot with each squeeze of the trigger. A single-action pistol is cocked each time but those were quite unusual by 1930's. \$\endgroup\$
    – TREB
    Commented Aug 20, 2017 at 14:32

4 Answers 4


I'd recommend taking a look at the recent D&D Gamma World game, and how they abstract weapons, including guns.

For ranged weapons, you have three choices to make: one or two handed; light or heavy; "gun" or "weapon"

  • one handed weapons do less damage and have less range when compared to two handed weapons.
  • light weapons are more accurate and use Dex or Int as the attack stat, but do less damage when compared to heavy weapons which use Str or Con.
  • "guns" require that you pay attention to ammo, have longer range, and for light weapons increase accuracy, while for heavy weapons increase damage when compared to "weapons"

Ammo for "guns" is handled with a very simple mechanic: Shoot once per encounter, and you never run out. Shoot many times in an encounter, and at the end of the encounter, you're out of ammo and need to find some more.

Non guns are assumed to have recoverable/easily findable/easily makable ammunition, and so you can shoot as often as you like, and never run out.


A sling or a hand crossbow could both be light, one handed "weapons": Dex or Int +3 to attack, 1d8 damage, range 5

A tommy gun or a hunting rifle could both be heavy, two handed "guns": Str or Con +2 to attack 2d10 damage, range 20.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ +1, but notice that Gamma World aims to be extremely simple, so an ammunition rule such as this might not be appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Absolutely. That ammo rule is a decent way of balancing things, but no more - it would be need to be tweaked in some way for ranged weapon specialists... Imagine how hard it would be to play an archer ranger using a "gun" if you're constantly running out of ammo. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 0:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ but you can still run out of arrows, yes? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Stephen, yes, but most archer rangers don't run out of arrows every encounter, which you would be prone to doing without tweaking the Gamma World ammo rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 21:36

Here is what I'd do. :

  1. Scour through the At-Will powers of all classes until you find some powers that do about what you'd want a gun to do. Some guns might be close blast type weapons. Some might be single target at range 20. Reflavor the damage to "force".. You might even reflavor it to fire or thunder.. You could create different guns. A Dwarven Hammerlock 9 Pistol does a close blast 3 of thunder damage. A Halfling Gambler's Derringer might do short range force damage, while a Tiefling Hellfurnace Carbine might do burst 1 fire damage within 10.

  2. Make the gun into an implement able to cast that one type of At-Will spell, reflavored as Dex vs reflex, and usable by all classes.

  3. Price accordingly. According to whatever spell you used and what an implement (like say, an equivalent wand) might use for that same spell.

You might even come up with an ammunition scheme too. But rather than treat the weapon as just a weapon, treat it as a power.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I like the idea of treating them like Powers instead of weapons. Bravo for the ingenuity. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, the Hero System way. Always a trick to have up your sleeve. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nigralbus
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 15:15

There are two common approaches here:

1) Rename bows to guns. Has the advantage of autobalancing itself.

2) Add guns. They typically have more damage, ammunition issues, reload issues, and drive the game a little bit away from melee. Balance issues abound as a result.

  • \$\begingroup\$ my DM is taking approach #1 there, which means the crossbow "gun" automatically works with all Artificer powers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 13:56

For my quite pirate feeling Luqin Sea campaign I took all crossbows and renamed them. Then that didn't feel quite right so I upped the damage, made ammo more expensive/rarer and increased some reload times.

I wanted them to be cool and effective when used, but not for everyone to have replaced crossbows with them yet. Which the character that so wanted to use them agreed to so that his character remained that little bit special.


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