I've always liked guns in my fantasy worlds. The guns in LotFP are gritty and dangerous and cool. My hunter in WoW used a gun. I love the mountain-man gunslinger I play in my friend's Pathfinder campaign. I even made an Artillerist playbook for Dungeon World.
What I don't like is needlessly complex rules that make firearms overly powerful while “balancing” them with clumsy complications. I'm quite happy with reskinning a crossbow and calling it a rifle. For me, fantasy firearms are more about style than trying to get an advantage. That's why I like the rules for firearms in the 5th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide. They do slightly more damage than crossbows but have worse range and are a bit more expensive. That's it. No weird misfire or reloading rules. Perfect. Just what I want.
Gnomes with Guns
The Gray Gnomes of Pangloss have a proud tradition of gunsmithing. Each weapon is an individually crafted work of art—a deadly mix of clockwork and alchemy. Gnomish firearms use glass cartridges that contains gunpowder and a catalyst liquid. Spring-driven triggering mechanisms break the glass cartridge, allowing the propellants to mix. The resulting explosion fires the heavy metal slug through the barrel towards the target. Gnomes jealously guard the secrets of crafting gunpowder and catalyst. No other race has mastered the mechanical intricacies required to craft firearms, although the Hobgoblins have tried with limited results.
Gray Gnomes are a race of hard-bitten survivors. They long ago lost their subterannean kingdoms and their god to the forces of the Underdark. Now, their adopted island home of Gnomeria is under siege by the armies of the Ashen Queen. Gnomes have fled Gnomeria en masse, forming small communities wherever they can. Their tenacity, marksmanship, and grim humor has kept them vibrant no matter where they settle.
The Gray Gnomes of Pangloss
Gray Gnomes conform to the Rock Gnome subrace found in the Player's Handbook with one change:
- Gnome Weapon Training (replaces Tinker): You have proficiency with the pistol and the musket.
- (Note that you still have to purchase your gun, which won't be cheap).
The Refugee background from the Glitterdoom adventure from Goodman Games is very appropriate for many Gray Gnomes.
Pistols and muskets are martial weapons. A non-gnome character who has proficiency with martial weapons can become proficient with firearms by training (PHB p.187) under a gnomish tutor (250 days at 1gp a day). A character may also use the Weapon Master feat to become proficient with the Musket and the Pistol (each count as a separate weapon).
Ammunition can be readily purchased in any gnomish community, although merchants are usually reluctant to sell to non-gnomes. Any Gray Gnome proficient with alchemist's tools can craft gunpowder. Other races will have to learn the formula through research, gnomish tutelage, or other sources.
New Feat: Gunslinger
(It's just Crossbow Expert re-skinned, I won't lie....)
Thanks to extensive practice with firearms, you gain the following benefits:
• You ignore the loading quality of firearms with which you are proficient.
• Being within 5 feet o f a hostile creature doesn't impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
• When you use the Attack action and attack with a one-handed weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a loaded pistol you are holding.