Guns Update

I shared my 5e guns post with the Reddit community, and got some great feedback. So taking that on board I’ve made some changes to my guns mechanics. If you read the previous post, you only need read the ‘changes’ section; if you didn’t read it, skip straight on to the main part of the post, which is a summary of the mechanics as they stand now.

Changes from Previously

  • It was suggested that guns don’t really do much more damage than other weapons. Getting stabbed ≈ getting shot. I really don’t want to research it any more than that, my internet history is dodgy enough! Hence the damage for most of the weapons has been scaled back, such that a handgun = shortsword or shortbow (d6), and I’ve worked upwards from there.
  • Burst fire is now totally different. I don’t know how I missed it, but it turns out that attacking 5 times (even with disadvantage) for one action is too strong! I’ve actually made two sets of mechanics for this, I’m not sure which I prefer. Opinions please! I’ve decided simpler is better. (Thanks thewanderer83!)
  • Due to the rescaling of damage, damage resistance has been changed. Several of the armours still have resistance (to certain calibres), but it’s just standard halve-the-damage resistance instead. I’ve also changed the AC of some of them, as this new resistance is an upgrade.

I think I like this better as it gives more meaningful choices around armour. For example, do you go with good old studded leather (I couldn’t think of a better name for it – think leather jacket with emo spikes) for AC12 or do you go for the fancy Microweave suit that’s only AC10 but has resistance to small calibre weapons?

  • I’m keeping weapon calibres, due to the way they interact with armour (see above).
  • Grenades now have a saving throw instead of an attack roll, so the grenade always ends up where you want it, but creatures have a saving throw to avoid (some of) the damage. I’ve also beefed up the damage for the grenades, as they were a bit lacklustre before. I’m aiming for damage between a level 2 and 3 spell.

Having more powerful grenades means that the DM may have to restrict access to them at early levels (price is probably an easy way of doing this). A 1st level character having one ‘big bang’ for special occasions is fine, but a bag full of them might make things too easy.

Ok, so that’s the changes, here’s my updated list of arms and armour.

Guns and Grenades

shadowrun guns 2

Special Rules

Taser: on a hit, target must make a DC12 Con save, or be stunned for 1d4 rounds.

Shotgun: due to the spread of the shot, a shotgun doesn’t suffer from disadvantage at long range (>30ft). Instead the shot is just downgraded to small calibre.

Machine Gun: this heavy, cumbersome weapon requires an action to setup before it can be used. Once setup it cannot be moved, and requires another action to breakdown.

Grenade Launcher: uses any of the explosive weapons as ammunition. Add your proficiency bonus to the save DC of each grenade.

Explosive Weapons: may be thrown or launched. Choose a location within range to be the target, all creatures within the grenade’s radius are affected.

Frag Grenade: creatures within the blast radius (15ft sphere) must make a DC12 dexterity saving throw. A target takes 6d8 bludgeoning damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success.

Flash Bang: as for taser, but to all creatures within 15ft sphere.

Phosphorous Grenade: creatures within the blast radius must make a DC12 constitution saving throw. A creature takes 5d6 fire damage on a failed save, and a further 1d6 at the start of each of its turns. A creature takes half damage on a successful save and is not affected by the ongoing damage. A creature may repeat the save on each of its turns to remove the ongoing damage.

Burst Fire v1

If a weapon has the ‘burst fire’ trait, you may fire this weapon normally, or multiple times for each attack action (indicated by the number in brackets).

When using burst fire, all shots fired have disadvantage, and are resolved separately. In addition, until the start of your next turn, all attacks made against you have advantage.

If you have multiple attacks, you may only use burst fire once per turn (other attacks are made normally).

Using burst fire counts as one attack, i.e. sneak attack damage (and similar effects that trigger on a hit) are only applied once, no matter how many shots ‘hit’.

Burst Fire v2

If a weapon has the ‘burst fire’ trait, you may fire this weapon normally, or multiple times for each attack action (indicated by the number in brackets).

To perform a burst fire attack, the weapon must have a full clip, which is emptied during the attack.

When using burst fire, all shots fired have disadvantage, and are resolved separately.

Using burst fire counts as one attack, i.e. sneak attack damage (and similar effects that trigger on a hit) are only applied once, no matter how many shots ‘hit’.

I don’t know which of these mechanics I prefer. The problem is how open to abuse they are by a high-level fighter with multiple attacks, and how well the system works when an attacker has advantage.

v1 gives the player a defensive disadvantage. Is it a large enough disadvantage? It might not be a factor if they can kill everyone in one round!

v2 slows the attacks down, essentially requiring a reload before and after each attack. I quite like the feel of that (players might spray bullets and then discard the weapon, matrix style), but does it just add increased complexity for the sake of it? i.e. “you can’t use burst fire as you’ve fired one bullet from the clip”

Edit: my final mechanics are below, ignore the numbers in brackets.

Burst Fire

When attacking with a weapon with the burst fire property, you may attack normally or do one I’d the following:

  • Expend 10 ammo to make an area attack against every creature in a 10 foot sphere. Rather than rolling to attack, each creature must make a dexterity saving throw (DC 8 + your attack bonus). A successful save negates the damage.
  • Expend 5 ammo to make a single attack with disadvantage that does double damage.


shadowrun armour 2

If an armour has DR, the calibre is noted, and the armour grants resistance (halve the damage) to bullet damage of this calibre.

I’m reasonably happy with the mechanics as they are now (apart from burst fire, as I mentioned).

Next up: classes and archetypes!

[Art credit: biometal79]

7 thoughts on “Guns Update

  1. About “Burst Fire”…why do you not use the official Burst Fire property described in the DMG?
    is a less realistic rule, it is true, but it’s simpler and it works smoothly. It’s a simple area attack instead of a normal target attack, at the price of 10 (or more, your choice) ammunitions. In this way you don’t have to think about Extra Attacks consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huh, I can’t believe I missed that. Although because it’s only an area attack it’s maybe more limiting. Maybe a solution though, thanks!


  2. I’m not really a gun guy, but I think you’re thinking about “burst fire” wrong.

    Most modern weapons have three settings — selective fire (one bullet with each squeeze of the trigger), burst fire (two or three bullets with each squeeze of the trigger), and then full auto (just fire continuously as long as the trigger is held down).

    With burst fire, you’re doing MORE DAMAGE to the one target rather than hitting multiple targets.

    Full auto is more the area attack as described by Wanderer — it’s the “fire hose” method where you’re just spraying bullets over a wide area and hoping for the best.


    1. Yeah, I wasn’t sure whether to name it ‘burst fire’ or ‘full auto’ or whether to have separate mechanics for each.
      I really just wanted a simple way of letting guns have a separate fire mode that distinguishes them from a crossbow.


  3. If there is one thing I’ve learned about designing Home Rules is “a simple rule is always better than a complicated one”. Then, when it comes to D&D 5e, you must always remember that it is not an RPG with the aim of perfectly simulate reality. D&D 5e rules are always an approximation of reality.
    That said…
    I think you have 2 ways to design the “Burst Fire” effect:

    1) You use only the simple and official Property “Burst Fire” described at page 267 of the Dungeon Master Guide. “Full Auto” concept is implied in the “Burst Fire” property, regardless this last one is not realistic enough.

    1) In addition to the DMG “Burst Fire” you add a new Property named “Full Auto”, which is an enhanced Burst Fire. Like Burst Fire, “Full Auto” is an area attack with a Saving Throw instead of a normal target Attack. Unlike Burst Fire, “Full Auto” expend all the Weapon’s Ammunitions and inflict to all the creatures/objects within area who fail the Saving Throw an amount of damage equal to the weapon damage x 1 for every 10 Ammunitions. For example, if a PC uses a Machine Gun in Full Auto mode (he shots all 30 ammunitions) he inflicts 1d10x3= 3d10 damages to all creature in the area who not pass the Saving Throw. You may have to decide to lower the Saving Throw DC.

    What do you think?


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