This page alters and expands upon the Renaissance firearms rules from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, pages 267-268.


New characters can begin with firearms as part of their starting equipment. A pistol can replace a shortbow acquired as class equipment. Similarly, a musket can replace a longbow acquired as class equipment. These firearms have the ramshackle modification. Instead of arrows, each firearm derived from starting equipment comes with an ammunition pouch containing 20 cartridges of ball or shot.


It is quite easy for even a lay person to make use of a firearm up close. This is one of the reasons that firearms dominate the modern battlefield; training for basic use is quick and easy. But consistency at longer ranges requires extensive practice, knowledge of bullet physics, and attention to environmental conditions.

A character proficient in “simple weapons” adds her proficiency bonus to firearms used within normal range. A character only adds her proficiency bonus when using firearms at long range if (1) she is proficient in “martial weapons” or (2) she is proficient with hand crossbows and is using a pistol.

Any character proficient with martial weapons is also automatically proficient with gun repair kits. A character that gains proficiency with a specific firearm (perhaps with the Weapon Master feat) automatically gains proficiency with gun repair kits.


These rules provide additional weapon properties for firearms, described here:

Charging: (This replaces the ammunition weapon property.) You can use a firearm to make a ranged attack only if it is loaded and charged. Each attack with a firearm expends a single load of ammunition and a charge of powder, which are destroyed upon use. Recharging a firearm requires the use of both hands. Recharging with separate loads and powder from a horn requires an action. Recharging with a pre-made cartridge is easier, requiring only a bonus action. Firearms with multiple barrels require each barrel to be recharged separately.

Fouling: An attack that rolls a natural 1 fouls the barrel; in addition to the attack missing, the fouled barrel is rendered inoperable and the powder is destroyed. A fouled barrel must be cleaned and recharged with unspoiled powder before it can be used again. This cleaning takes ten minutes, or one minute with a gun repair kit. A loaded firearm is also fouled if submerged in liquid, even if it does not have this property.

Renaissance Firearms Chart

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Pistol 125 gp 1d10 piercing 3 lb. Charging (range 30/90), fouling, light, loading, special
Musket 250 gp 1d12 piercing 10 lb. Charging (range 40/120), fouling, heavy, loading, two-handed

Pistol: A pistol attack does not suffer disadvantage when made within 5 feet of a hostile creature.


Ammunition: Firearm bullets come in two types, ball and shot.

Ball loads are simple lead spheres covered in small dimples and sized to the approximate caliber of the weapon they are meant for. Ball ammunition allows attacks to breach; they ignore up to 2 points of a target’s protection from armor. A breaching attack reduces accordingly the target’s armor benefit (AC points derived from armor, natural armor, and shields). This does not affect AC bonuses derived from other sources like Dexterity modifiers or magical enhancements. Using ball ammunition also doubles a firearm’s normal and long range increments.

Shot loads each represent a collection of tiny, round pellets that spread out as they leave the muzzle. A weapon loaded with shot can be used to make blast attacks within its long range increment; it can hit multiple targets if the pellets have traveled far enough to spread. To make a blast attack, select a primary target, then select 1 secondary target within 5 feet of the primary target. Each target is attacked only once per shot, with separate attack rolls. Attacks with this ammunition (including blast attacks) do not suffer disadvantage against targets within the weapon’s long range increment. Do not add your ability modifier to damage when using shot ammunition, unless the modifier is negative.

Firearm ammunition can be purchased in simple load form or in cartridge form. Cartridges are paper packets containing both powder and bullets, which are easier to carry and faster to load. A set of 20 simple loads costs 4 gp and weighs 2 pounds (with wadding strips). Pre-made cartridges cost an additional 2 gp per set of 20. Crafting bullets requires a gun repair kit and proficiency. Crafting combined cartridges requires a gun repair kit, alchemist’s supplies, and proficiency with both.

Ammunition Pouch: A pouch holds enough loads for 20 shots (with wadding strips), or 20 cartridges. It costs 5 sp and weighs 1 pound.

Bayonet: As an action, this narrow metal spike can be attached to the end of a carbine or musket. The attached bayonet is an improvised weapon that inflicts 1d6 piercing damage in melee. The wielder may add her proficiency bonus to attacks if she is proficient with spears. Used on its own, the unattached bayonet makes a convincing but awkward dagger. In this form, the improvised weapon inflicts 1d4 piercing damage and can benefit from proficiency as though it were a dagger. A bayonet costs 3 gp and weighs 1 pound.

Bomb: As an action, a character can light a bomb and throw it to a point up to 60 feet away. Each creature within 5 feet of that point takes 3d6 fire damage (or half with a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw). A bomb costs 50 gp and weighs 1 pound.

Gun Powder: Gun powder is chiefly used to propel bullets out of firearms, or is formed into bombs. It is sold in water-resistant containers, typically powder horns or small wooden kegs. Setting fire to a pinch of gun powder (a single charge) causes it to flare for 1 round, shedding bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. Wetting gunpowder destroys it; submerging a loaded firearm fouls the weapon, even if it does not have the fouling weapon property. One charge of gun powder cost 1 sp and weighs very little; a hundred charges weighs a single pound. Crafting gun powder requires alchemist’s supplies and proficiency.

Gun Repair Kit: Add this kit to the list of available artisan’s tools in the Player’s Handbook. It has tampions, ball pullers, and special cloths and solutions used to clean firearms. It also includes molds and trim cutters for making lead balls, as well as the templates, shears, and crimps needed to form paper cartridges. If a proficient character spends fifteen minutes using a gun repair kit to “maintain” a firearm during a short or long rest, the firearm ignores the next fouling result it suffers when a natural 1 is rolled for an attack. A gun repair kit costs 10 gp and weighs 2 pounds.

Powder Horn: A horn (with gunpowder) is required to charge a firearm, unless using pre-packaged cartridges. A powder horn can hold powder sufficient for 25 shots. Powder stored in a horn is better-protected than powder in cartridge form; it will stay dry even if completely submerged. An empty powder horn costs 3 gp and weighs 2 pounds.

Silver Bullets: Because silver loads are essentially molded lumps of metal, it is easier (and cheaper) to manufacture them than it is to “silver” a normal set of ammunition. A set of 20 silver loads of ball or shot costs 20 gp. Pre-made cartridges cost an additional 2 gp per set of 20.


Firearm modifications must normally be applied as the weapon is created and are not interchangeable between firearms. Only aiming lenses and arcane etching can be added to a pre-existing weapon, using the crafting rules in the Player’s Handbook.

Aiming Lenses: A set of lenses mounted on the top of the weapon, usually enclosed in a tube, aids with accuracy. By spending a bonus action to sight through the lenses, the user’s next attack with the weapon does not suffer the normal disadvantage from attacking a target in its long range increment. This benefit requires as the user to make no movement or perform no other actions or reactions between aiming and firing. Aiming lenses cost 30 gp and weigh 1 pound for a pistol. They cost 40 gp and weigh 2 pounds for a musket.

Arcane Etching: Firearms are sometimes embellished with intricate etchings, turning them into beautiful (and valuable) works of art. Arcane etching is equally ornamental but its designs secretly incorporate magical runes that enhance the wielder’s arcane power. A weapon with this modification counts as an arcane focus. Arcane etching costs (at minimum) 20 gp and does not modify weight.

Long Barrel: The weapon is made with a dramatically long barrel for greater range. Increase the weapon’s base range increments by 10/30 for a pistol or 20/60 for a musket. A pistol with this modification loses its light weapon property. A long barrel pistol costs an additional 50 gp and weighs 1 pound more. A long barrel musket costs an additional 150 gp and weighs 2 pounds more. This is not compatible with the undersized modification.

Open Bore: This wide barrel is easy to load and use, and forgiving of poorly-measured weights of shot or powder. The firearm so modified loses its fouling weapon property. It also halves its normal and long range increments (after calculating other modifications), reducing overall reach but allowing effective blast attacks against closer targets. This modification does not change cost or weight. It is not compatible with the rifled bore modification.

Ramshackle: This modification marks a low-quality weapon, one made with very poor craftsmanship or irreparably misaligned from hard use. A ramshackle firearm reduces its range increments by 10/30 and lowers its damage by one die size. (Sizes are, in descending order: d12, d10, d8, d6). Ramshackle firearms are available at one-fifth of their total prices, after calculating other modifications.

Rifled Bore: Helical grooves on the interior of this barrel impart spin to ball ammunition, improving its flight characteristics. A rifled bore weapon loaded with ball ammunition adds 10/30 to its range increments and ignores 3 points of protection granted by armor. Rifling a pistol barrel costs 100 gp. Rifling a musket barrel costs 200 gp. This modification has no effect on weight. It is not compatible with the open bore modification.

Second Barrel: Adding a second barrel is an efficient way to increase the number of shots a user can make in quick succession; when fully-loaded, such a firearm can be used for two shots before reloading. Each barrel of the modified firearm is charged individually and is fired individually with separate triggers. A second musket barrel costs 100 gp and adds 2 pounds. A second pistol barrel costs 50 gp and adds 1 pound. Additional modifications made to barrels (long barrel, open bore, and rifled bore) must be applied separately to each barrel.

Undersized: The weapon is made in a smaller scale. An undersized firearm reduces its range increments by 10/30 and lowers its damage by one die size. (Sizes are, in descending order: d12, d10, d8, d6). A pistol becomes easy to conceal; apply disadvantage to Wisdom (Perception) checks to find or notice it if carried in a hidden fashion. A musket loses the heavy weapon property. An undersized pistol costs 50 gp less and weighs 1 pound less. An undersized musket costs 100 gp less and weighs 3 pounds less. The undersized modification is not compatible with long barrel.

Wondrous: In ages past, firearms were built as complex feats of tinkering brilliance. Some such weapons survive to the modern age but most contemporary tinkerers have lost the ability to make all but the simplest of modifications, those described above. A weapon with the wondrous modification has a rare special capability that is not otherwise described in these rules. A wondrous modification cannot be created or duplicated with crafting skills.


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