The very earliest firearms were hand match devices that resembled a hand-held bombard. Hand match weapons include the arquebus (the only firearm broadly available in the Realms). Unlike other guns, hand match weapons have no triggers or firing mechanisms. Instead, the user touches a burning slow match to a hole in the barrel, igniting the weapon’s charge. All hand match weapons suffer double the normal range penalties for medium and long-range shots.

The matchlock is a significant improvement being developed by the Artificers of the Realms. It freed one of the user’s hands by providing a clamp to hold the slow match, and provided a trigger mechanism that would bring the match into contact with the priming powder. The matchlock arquebus is a far more powerful and reliable weapon than the hand match version. Matchlocks are also made as calivers and muskets. The caliver is a smaller weapon that fires a lighter bullet. The matchlock musket is a long, heavy weapon that has to be fired from a forked rest or balanced on a wall.

Wheellocks are the next improvement to the firearm, only available to Artificers of 5th level or higher. Instead of a burning match, the powder was ignited by sparks provided by a spring-driven wheel of flint. It worked a lot like a modern cigarette lighter. Wheellocks were contemporaries of snaplocks, which held a single piece of flint in a hammer-like striker. The snaplock is easier to manufacture, but less reliable, so wheellocks were often the weapon of the nobility and anyone else who could afford to spend more money on a gun. The wheellock arquebus is a light but powerful weapon reserved for use by the wealthy or the privileged.

Pistols were first introduced as wheellocks but were also manufactured as snaplocks. At first, pistols were the weapon of the cavalry. The horse pistol replaced the lance as the weapon of choice for horsemen. Most cavalrymen carried two or three of these heavy pistols for dealing with pikemen and other such annoyances. In time, belt pistols were produced as lighter versions of the horse pistol for personal defense.

Flintlocks were the direct descendants of snaplocks, and are only available to Artificers of 9th level or greater. They are almost indistinguishable from each other, but the later flintlocks tended to be sturdier and more reliable than their predecessors. Flintlocks saw the introduction of the carbine, or horseman’s musket, which was a lighter weapon than the infantryman’s gun. By the time flintlocks had been invented, muskets no longer required a rest for their barrels and could be fired from the shoulder.

Special Rules

Firearms have several unusual characteristics. First of all, they are subject to misfires. Modern tests have shown that primitive firearms probably misfired as often as once every four shots. When a character’s attack roll falls in the misfire range, the DM should roll 2d6 and consult the following table:

2d6 Misfire Result
2–3 Explosion
4–7 Fouled barrel
8–12 Hangfire

An explosion inflicts 2d6 points of damage on the character holding the gun, or 1d6 if a saving throw vs. death is successful. The gun is destroyed by the misfire. A fouled barrel ruins the shot and renders the gun useless until it is carefully cleaned—a process that will take a good 10–30 (1d3x10) minutes. A hangfire goes off 1d3 combat rounds later than it should. If the user keeps the gun trained on its target, he can make a normal attack.

Hand-match firearms misfire on a natural attack roll of 5 or less. Matchlock firearms misfire on a roll of 4 or less. Snaplock firearms misfire on a roll of 3 or less. Wheellocks misfire on a natural roll of 2 or less. Flintlocks only misfire on a natural 1.

The second unusual characteristic of firearms is their ability to ignore armor. Any firearm except a hand match weapon may ignore the portion of a target’s AC that is derived from physical armor or shield. At short range, Dexterity, cover, and magical bonuses are the only factors that contribute to a target’s AC. At medium range, the target’s AC bonus from armor is reduced by 5 (which may be as bad as ignoring it altogether), and at long range, the armor bonus is reduced by 2.

For example, a renegade knight in plate mail +3 is fired upon by the king’s musketeers. Normally, his AC is a base 20. A short-range musket shot ignores the 7-point AC bonus provided by plate mail, and only the armor’s +3 enchantment is considered. The renegade knight’s AC is a 13. At medium range, the armor is not completely ignored, but the AC bonus of +7 is reduced to an AC of +2. Magic adjusts this to AC 15. At long range, the knight is AC 18 against musket fire.

Last but not least is the ability of a firearm to cause open-ended damage. Any time a firearm hits its target, the normal damage die is rolled. If the roll is the max result for that die (i.e. 10 on 1d10), then a second die of the same kind is rolled and added to the first.

Weapons Table

Weapon Cost1 Weight Size Type Speed Damage Damage vs. Large Hands Rate of Fire Range (S/M/L)
Arquebus, Hand-match 500 gp 10 lbs M P 15 1d10 1d10 2 1 / 3 rds 50 / 150 / 210
Arquebus, Matchlock 500gp 10 lbs M P 10 1d10 1d10 2 1 / 2 rds 50 / 100 / 300
Caliver, Matchlock 400gp 11 lbs M P 9 1d8 1d8 2 1 / 2 rds 40 / 80 / 240
Musket, Matchlock 450gp 20 lbs L P 12 1d12 1d12 2 1 / 2 rds 60 / 120 / 360
Arquebus, Wheellock 800gp 8 lbs M P 8 1d10 1d10 2 1 / 2 rds 50 / 100 / 300
Belt Pistol, Wheellock 250gp 3 lbs S P 7 1d8 1d8 1 1 / 2 rds 15 / 30 / 45
Horse Pistol, Wheellock 350gp 4 lbs S P 8 1d10 1d10 1 1 / 2 rds 20 / 40 / 60
Belt Pistol, Snaplock 150gp 3 lbs S P 7 1d8 1d8 1 1 / 2 rds 15 / 30 / 45
Horse Pistol, Snaplock 200gp 4 lbs S P 8 1d10 1d10 1 1 / 2 rds 20 / 40 / 60
Musket, Snaplock 600gp 14 lbs M P 9 1d12 1d12 2 1 / 2 rds 70 / 130 / 390
Belt Pistol, Flintlock 300gp 3 lbs S P 7 1d8 1d8 1 1 / 2 rds 15 / 30 / 45
Carbine, Flintlock 650gp 8 lbs M P 8 1d10 1d10 2 1 / 2 rds 50 / 100 / 275
Horse Pistol, Flintlock 400gp 4 lbs S P 8 1d10 1d10 1 1 / 2 rds 25 / 50 / 75
Musket, Flintlock 900gp 12 lbs M P 9 1d12 1d12 2 1 / 2 rds 75 / 150 / 400

1 Only the Hand-Match Arquebus is available on the open market. Costs listed for other firearms are intended for calculating manufacturing costs and time.

Weapon Group Proficiencies:

Tight Weapon Groups (2 slots)

  • Matchlocks: arquebus, caliver, musket
  • Wheellocks: arquebus, belt pistol, horse pistol
  • Snaplocks and Flintlocks: musket, belt pistol, horse pistol
  • Handgunnes: belt pistol, hand gunne, horse pistol
  • Rifles: arquebus, caliver, musket

Broad Weapon Group: (3 slots)

  • Firearms: arquebus (all types), belt pistol (all types), caliver, hand gunne, horse pistol (all types), musket (all types)


Item Cost
Bullets (10) 1sp
Smokepowder (1 charge) 25gp


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