Friday, May 26, 2023

The Campaign: Using Explosions To Chuck Rocks At People

Since there are still some people that don't get it, I'm posting the original cover to A Princess of Mars yet again. Everyone pays attention to the sword, and just as obviously avoids the BRACE OF PISTOLS ON HIS BELT!

That's it, we're talking firearms in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition. (Blasters (etc.) might as well be wands that you don't need to be a Magic-User to use.)


Because they belong in fantasy adventure gaming, and they always have been. Arguments to the contrary come from pants-on-head, paste-eating levels of retarded faggotry.

Keeping This Simple

Remember the following:

  • Combat Rounds represent 1 minute of time.
  • Hit Points are a (mostly) abstract representation of a combatant's ability to function while damaged.
  • Weapons are balanced around (a) the ability to pierce armor (Weapon vs. AC) and (b) their effect on 0-level/baseline units, not special figures (i.e. leveled Heroes or monsters of similar Hit Dice).
  • Longbows and Shortbows are the most comparable weapon. They shoot only twice per round (barring Weapon Specialization, which is an optional rule) so don't expect anything that isn't semi-automatic or automatic to shoot must more than that.

You can write an entire supplement all about firearms and not have useless information in it. The trick is to find what is relevant to making a playable abstraction.

  • Is the firearm a repeater, or does it require reloading after each shot? This sets Rate Of Fire and what it takes to reload it. (Most Old West revolvers shoot fast but reloads slow; most Old West lever-action rifles loads and fires fast.)
  • What caliber or bore is the firearm chambered for? This determines Weapon vs. AC modifiers and the damage code (XdY).
  • Is the firearm rifled or not? This determines effective range (and thus Range Bands, which will at least equal a longbow) and affects accuracy.

Note my language. When I say "firearm", I am not restricting this to hand-held weapons; this includes artillery (which you would mount on siege engines or on ships).

"But that's not-"

Shut up. The largest cavalry charge IN HISTORY happened with both sides using personal and crew-served firearms.


Firearms have bigger logistics and technical requirements behind them than bows, are ridiculously loud by default (the movies underplay it by a lot) so stealth needs magic or much higher technical development to do what is innate to accomplish with a bow, and without ammunition are little more than oddly-shaped clubs or misshapen spear shafts (when used with bayonets).

They are not IWIN Buttons.

We've had decades of fantasy media that got the memo about firearms and fantasy, a lot of it (but not all of it) out of Japan (and Europe has its own contributions), but that should never have been necessary. It was there in Appendix N all along, and thus this fell afould to the same bullshit that afflicted fantasy adventure literature and gaming since 1980 and there's no reason to shun the boomstick in the game now.

For more insights about AD&D1e:

And for more about what fantastic literature could be (and should be):

Don't be surprised to see more campaigns featuring personal and crew-served firearms in the future. They've always belonged.

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