Last week I published the Arcane Gunslinger Fighter Archetype which basically takes the Arcane Archer from XGtE and replaces bows and arrows with flintlock guns. The subclass turned out pretty decent, but I’m much happier with my version of a full Gunslinger Class. One of my players is playing a gunslinger in my seafaring campaign world, so I ended up creating my own version of the gunslinger class. The main goal of redesigning and reimagining the class was to get rid of the fail mechanic that has gunslingers suffering from routine misfires. I’m currently playtesting this class with my player, so it will need work, but here it is. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
In Vodari, nobles, swashbucklers and soldiers spend years perfecting the classic arts of swordplay, but few take the time to gain the same expertise with firearms. The few who invest the years of training it takes to master firearms are gunslingers.
A Cut Above
As a gunslinger, you make your mark upon the world as a expert with flintlock firearms. While anyone can aim a pistol or rifle and fire it, a gunslinger is a cut far above the rabble. Gunslingers combine lightning fast reflexes and careful aim to act as masters of ranged combat. Gunslingers also draw on bravado, a mix of courage and confidence, to perform amazing deeds with firearms.
Creating a Gunslinger
As you build your gunslinger, think about two related elements of your character’s background: Where did you get your training with firearms, and what set you apart from other people who pick up a gun?
You can make a gunslinger quickly by following these suggestions. First, make Dexterity your highest ability score. Your next-highest ability should be Charisma. Second, choose the Sage or Soldier background, depending on how you came to be a gunslinger.
|Level||Proficiency Bonus||Bravado Points||Features|
|1st||+2||2||Fighting Style, Bravado, Gunsmith|
|4th||+2||2||Ability Score Improvement|
|8th||+3||3||Ability Score Improvement|
|9th||+4||4||Gunslinger Archetype feature|
|11th||+4||4||Extra Fighting Style|
|12th||+4||4||Ability Score Improvement|
|13th||+5||5||Gunslinger Archetype feature|
|16th||+5||6||Ability Score Improvement|
|17th||+6||6||Gunslinger Archetype feature|
|19th||+6||6||Ability Score Improvement|
As a gunslinger, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per gunslinger level.
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per gunslinger level after 1st.
Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, firearms
Tools: Tinker’s tools
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Charisma
Skills: Choose three skills from Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Perception, Performance, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- A flintlock pistol or flintlock rifle, 20 lead balls, powder flask
- Any simple weapon
- Leather armor
- An explorer’s pack
- Tinker’s tools
You gain proficiency with Tinker’s Tools. You may use them to craft ammunition at half the cost and to maintain your firearms.
You adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty: Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.
When you are wielding a pistol in one hand and no other Weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make using rifles. This effect does not stack with the Archery fighting style.
When you engage in two-weapon fighting with at least one pistol, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.
Beginning at 1st level, you can draw on your courage and confidence to accomplish deeds with firearms that would seem impossible to others, represented by bravado points. Your gunslinger level determines the number of points you have, as shown on the Bravado Points column of the Gunslinger table.
Once per turn, you can spend these points to fuel various bravado features, called deeds. You start knowing three such deeds: Danger Sense, Deadeye, and Utility Shot. You learn more bravado deeds as you gain levels in this class.
When you spend a bravado point, it is unavailable until you finish a short rest or long rest, at the end of which your expended bravado is recharged. You must spend at least 15 minutes of the rest maintaining your firearms to regain your bravado points.
Some of your bravado deeds require your target to make a saving throw to resist the feature’s effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:
Bravado save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier
Danger Sense. When an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to spend a bravado point, forcing the attacker to reroll its attack roll and take the lower of the two results.
Deadeye. When you take the Attack action using a firearm, you can spend a bravado point to gain advantage on the attack roll.
Utility Shot. You can spend a bravado point to make an attack with a firearm that creates a dramatic effect, rather than causing damage. This can blast open a lock that is not sealed by magic, scoot an unattended object of 10 pounds or less, sever a rope, or any other suitably dramatic effect that the DM approves.
Beginning at 2nd level, your courage and confidence allows you to quickly act when a fight breaks out. You add your Charisma modifier to your initiative rolls.
At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that specializes and focuses your skill with guns. Choose Pistolero, Musketeer, Cannoneer or Arcane Gunmaster, all detailed at the end of this class description. The archetype you choose grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 10th, 15th and 18th level.
ABILITY SCORE IMPROVEMENT
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Starting at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
Starting at 6th level, your extraordinary reflexes allow you to sidestep or tumble out of the way of trouble. When an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to step out of the way of further assault, moving a distance up to half your movement speed, and if you move at least 5 feet, you can reduce the damage by an amount equal to your Dexterity modifier. While moving in this manner, enemies have disadvantage on attacks of opportunity made against you.
At 7th level, your honed reflexes let you dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a black dragon’s acid breath or a fireball spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.
Starting at 10th level, your have improved your ability to aim for the weak spots of your targets. Your firearm attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.
ADDITIONAL FIGHTING STYLE
At 11th level, you can choose a second option from the Fighting Style class feature.
At 14th level, your experience has made you an expert at finding cover when trouble starts. Creatures that target you when you have half cover must treat it as three-quarters cover and three-quarters cover as total cover. Also, when an unfriendly creature makes a ranged attack against you, you can spend a bravado point to move half your movement as reaction.
Starting at 15th level, your ability to aim for weak spots of your targets is superior. Your firearm attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18–20.
At 18th level, your courage and confidence allows you to dig deep and find a way to keep yourself in the fight. At the start of each of your turns, you regain Hit Points equal to 5 + your Charisma modifier if you have no more than half of your hit points left. You don’t gain this benefit if you have 0 Hit Points.
At 20th level, you have achieved true mastery with firearms. When you make an attack roll with a firearm and miss, you can spend 1 bravado point to reroll the attack roll. You take the higher of the two rolls and add your Charisma modifier to the result.
Different gunslingers choose different approaches to perfecting their use of firearms. The gunslinger archetype you choose to explore reflects how you approach your quest of firearms mastery.
Some gunslingers focus on combining technology and magic to craft new ammunition and weapons.
At 3rd level, your seek to enhance your gunsmithing abilities using the secrets of magic. You choose to gain proficiency in the Arcana skill and with smith’s tools. You also learn the mending cantrip.
At 3rd level, when you gain this feature, you learn to infuse your ammunition with special magical effects. When you gain this feature, you learn two Arcane Ammunition options of your choice (See “Arcane Ammunition Options” below).
Once per turn, when you shoot a firearm as part of the Attack action, you can spend a bravado point to infuse the ammunition with one of your Arcane Ammunition options.
You gain an additional Arcane Ammunition option of your choice when you reach certain levels in this class: 7th, 13th, and 17th level.
At 9th level, your ability to combine magic and smithing allows you to create a magic pistol or rifle. You are assumed to have been collecting materials and working on the gun for quite some time, finally finishing it during a short or long rest after you reach 9th level.
As an arcane gunmaster, when you attune to this firearm it has the following properties:
- Whenever you shoot nonmagical ammunition from a firearm, you can make it magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage. The magic fades from the ammunition immediately after it hits or misses its target.
- You have a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with the firearm.
- If you lose this firearm, you can create a new one over the course of three days of work (eight hours each day) by expending 100 gp worth of metal and other raw materials.
SHIELD OF GUNMASTER
Starting at 13th level, you can spend a bravado point to cast the shield spell. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
IMPROVED ARCANE AMMUNITION
Starting at 17th level, your arcane ammunition options are more powerful.
ARCANE AMMUNITION OPTIONS
The Arcane Ammunition feature lets you choose options for it at certain levels. The options are presented here in alphabetical order. They are all magical effects, and each one is associated with one of the schools of magic.
If an option requires a saving throw, your Arcane Ammunition save DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Blinding Shot. You infuse evocation magic into your shot and it flares with a bright light. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage. The creature must also succeed on a Constitution saving throw, or be blinded until the start of your next turn. A creature blinded by this shot makes another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. The radiant damage increases to 2d8 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Dispelling Shot (Prerequisite: 9th level). You infuse abjuration magic into your shot to dispel magic spells on a target. On a hit, the creature takes normal damage and any spell of 3rd level or lower ends. When you reach 17th level in this class the creature has disadvantage on Constitution saving throws to maintain Concentration from the shot’s damage.
Enfeebling Shot. You infuse necromantic magic into your shot. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d6 necrotic damage. The target must also succeed on a Constitution saving throw, or the damage dealt by its weapon attacks is halved until the start of your next turn. The necrotic damage increases to 4d6 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Elemental Shot. You infuse evocation magic into your shot and select a damage type from acid, cold, fire, lightning, and thunder. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d8 damage of the selected damage type. The damage increases to 4d8 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Entangling Shot. You infuse conjuration magic into your shot. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d6 piercing damage and grasping weeds and vines sprout from where your shot hit the creature. The creature must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be restrained by the entangling plants until the start of your next turn when the conjured plants wilt away. A creature restrained by the plants can use its action to make a Strength check. On a success, it frees itself. The piercing damage increases to 4d8 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Frightful Shot. You infuse a frightful image into your shot using illusion magic. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d6 psychic damage. The creature must also make a Wisdom saving throw or it is frightened of you until the end of your next turn. The psychic damage increases to 4d6 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Gunslinger’s Mark. You infuse your shot using divination magic. On a hit, the creature is mystically marked as your quarry for one minute. Until the effect ends, you deal an extra 1d6 damage to the creature whenever you hit it with a weapon attack, and you have advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) or Wisdom (Survival) check you make to find it. The extra damage increases to 2d6 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Hexing Shot. You infuse enchantment magic into your shot. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d6 necrotic damage and has disadvantage on ability checks made for one ability you choose until the start of your next turn. The necrotic damage increases to 4d6 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Slowing Shot. You infuse transmutation magic into your shot. On a hit, the creature takes normal damage and must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw, or its speed is halved, it takes a −2 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws, and it can’t use reactions until the start of your next turn. When you reach 17th level in this class, the creature makes the saving throw with disadvantage.
Toxic Shot. You infuse conjuration magic into your shot. The creature hit by the shot takes an extra 2d6 poison damage. The target must also succeed on a Constitution saving throw, or is poisoned. A creature poisoned by this shot makes another Constitution saving throw at the end of each of its turns. On a successful save, it is no longer poisoned. The poison damage increases to 4d6 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Some gunslingers focus their training to become quicker than their opponents.
At 3rd level, your continuous practice has turned the handling of your firearm into an artform. You choose to become proficient in Performance. In addition, your proficiency bonus for Performance is doubled for any ability check you make that uses firearms. If you are already proficient in Performance, you may choose another skill.
At 3rd level, when you gain this feature, you can choose from an increased number of bravado deeds learned through your training as a pistolero.
When you gain this feature, you learn two Pistolero Deed options of your choice (See “Pistolero Deed Options” below).
You gain an additional pistolero deed option of your choice when you reach certain levels in this class: 7th, 13th, and 17th level.
At 9th level, your experience with firearms and ability to tinker allows you to develop a deadlier firearm. You are assumed to have been collecting materials and working on the gun for quite some time, finally finishing it during a short or long rest after you reach 9th level.
As a pistolero, when you wield this firearm it has the following properties:
- Due to the experimental nature of this gun, when you roll a natural 1, the firearm is jammed and requires an action to clear the weapon.
- Due to the complex nature of this firearm, only you are able to fire it.
- You can maintain up to two experimental weapons at a time.
- If you lose this firearm, you can create a new one over the course of three days of work (eight hours each day) by expending 100 gp worth of metal and other raw materials.
- The form of your experimental firearm can be a revolving or a double-barrel firearm using the stats below.
|Revolving pistol||Crafted||1d10 piercing||5 lb.||Ammunition (range 30/90), reload (6), special|
|Double-barrel musket||Crafted||1d12 piercing||10 lb.||Ammunition (range 40/120), reload (2), special|
Revolving pistol. Due to the superior design of this weapon, you have a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with the firearm.
Double-barrel musket. You can discharge both barrels at once, making one attack roll and expending 2 rounds of ammunition. If you successfully hit, you can roll the damage dice twice.
IMPROVED QUICK DRAW
At 13th level, your lightning fast reflexes continue to improve. You now add both your Charisma modifier and proficiency bonus to your initiative rolls and you act even when surprised. You also have advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn’t taken a turn in the combat yet.
IMPROVED PISTOLERO DEED OPTIONS
Starting at 17th level, your pistolero deed options are more powerful.
PISTOLERO DEED OPTIONS
The Pistolero Deed feature lets you choose options for it at certain levels. The options are presented here in alphabetical order. If an option requires a saving throw, your Pistolero Deed save DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Disarming Shot. Your superior aim allows you to attempt to shoot an object you can see out of the grasp of a target. On a hit, the creature suffers normal damage and must succeed on a Strength saving throw or drop 1 held object of your choice. The object lands at its feet.
Distracting Shot. You purposely miss a creature with a shot to create a distraction. The creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw, or grants advantage on all attack rolls against it until the start of your next turn (including any other attack rolls you may make this round). When you reach 17th level in this class, the creature makes the saving throw with disadvantage.
Forceful Shot. With careful aim, the powerful blast of your firearm can knockback your targets. On a hit, the creature suffers an extra 2d6 piercing damage and must make a Strength saving throw or be knocked prone and pushed 10 feet away from you. When you reach 17th level in this class the piercing damage increases to 4d6 and the creature makes the saving throw with disadvantage.
Menacing Shot. You purposely miss your shot, firing it straight into the air. All creatures within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw or be frightened of you until the start of your next turn. When you reach 17th level in this class, the creatures make the saving throw with disadvantage.
Piercing Shot. You carefully line-up your enemies behind your target. On a hit, the creature suffers normal damage and you make an attack roll with disadvantage against every creature in a line directly behind the target within the normal range of your firearm. When you reach 17th level in this class, you can extend the attack to creatures within your long range.
Quiet Shot. The thundering sound of your firearm has been known to alert nearby enemies of your presence.
You can muffle the sound of your shot so that it is only heard by creatures within 10 feet of you and convert the sound into extra damage. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d6 force damage. When you reach 17th level in this class the shot is completely silent and the force damage increases to 4d6.
Silencing Shot. You take careful aim to silence your target. On a hit, the creature suffers normal damage and must succeed on a Constitution saving throw, or is unable to speak until the start of your next turn. When you reach 17th level in this class, the creature makes the saving throw with disadvantage.
Stunning Shot. Your experience has taught you which pressure points to hit on your targets to stun them. On a hit, the creature suffers normal damage and must make a Constitution saving throw or stunned until the start of your next turn. When you reach 17th level in this class the creature makes the saving throw with disadvantage. Any creature which that is stunned by this shot is immune against this feature for 24 hours.
Terrifying Shot. The powerful blast and thundering sound of your firearm has been known to shake the resolve of even the toughest foes. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 2d6 thunder damage. The creature must also make a Wisdom saving throw or it is frightened of you until the end of your next turn. The thunder damage increases to 4d6 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Vengeful Shot. When you take damage from a creature you can see, as a reaction you can take a vengeful shot. On a hit, the creature takes an extra 1d8 piercing damage. In addition, any weapon attacks you make against the creature deal an extra 1d8 damage until the end of your next turn. The extra damage increases to 2d8 when you reach 17th level in this class.
Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the Gunslinger class, you must meet these prerequisites: Dexterity 13 and Charisma 13.
Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Gunslinger class, you gain the following proficiencies: Light armor, simple weapons, firearms, tinker’s tools, and one of the class’s skills.
Handling Firearms in Your Campaign
This gunslinger is not a mad inventor who created the first gun, such as Matt Mercer’s Gunslinger fighter archetype. This class assumes a campaign world where guns are available. You can treat guns like crossbows that are much louder with worse range. This will have limited impact on the balance of 5e versus using the more powerful firearms found in the DMG. Here are some guns that match up pretty close with crossbows. If you want the guns to have a bit more pop, bump them all up by 1 damage die to 1d8, 1d10, and 1d12 (or 2d6).
|Simple Melee Weapons|
|Bayonet||5 gp||1d6 piercing||1 lb.||Special|
|Martial Ranged Weapons|
|Flintlock Pistol||125 gp||1d8 piercing||4 lb.||Ammunition (range 30/90), loading|
|Dragon Pistol||250 gp||1d6 piercing||3 lb.||Ammunition (range 20/60), loading, special|
|Blunderbuss||500 gp||1d8 piercing||8 lb.||Ammunition (range 20/60), loading, two-handed, special|
|Flintlock Musket||250 gp||1d10 piercing||8 lb.||Ammunition (range 40/120), loading, two-handed|
|Lead Balls (40)||5 gp||–||1 lb.||Special|
|Pellets (40 handfuls)||10 gp||–||1 lb.||Special|
|Powder flask (40)||10 gp||–||2 lb.||–|
- Bayonet. To attach or remove a bayonet from from a musket is a Use an Object action. Because bayonets are designed for use while attached to a musket. It counts as an improvised weapon that does 1d4 piercing damage (when used by itself).
- Blunderbuss. This weapon can be fired normally or loaded to make a scattering shot, attacking all creatures within a 15 foot cone. Each creature in the cone must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 1d6 piercing damage. Using a scatter shot requires pellet ammunition.
- Dragon Pistol. This weapon can be fired normally or loaded to make a scattering shot, attacking all creatures within a 15 foot cone. Each creature in the cone must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or take 1d4 piercing damage. Using a scatter shot requires pellet ammunition.
- Lead Balls. This ammunition is destroyed when used. You do not get to find half of your expended ammunition.
- Pellets. This ammunition is destroyed when used. You do not get to find half of your expended ammunition.
- Powder flask. Container for black powder (gunpowder), usually created from an animal horn. A flask holds enough powder for 40 shots from a firearm.