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Author Topic: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.  (Read 469 times)

Arkansan

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Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« on: January 10, 2022, 12:02:22 AM »
The idea for this thread was blatantly "borrowed" from a thread over on the OD&D proboards. How do you, or would you balance firearms of various sorts with standard fantasy weaponry, magic, etc. Have you done this before? What existing systems do you think do this kind of thing best?

Hzilong

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2022, 03:02:09 AM »
Entirely depends on the setting and type of firearm.

Ye olde flintlocks in a traditional fantasy setting? Lots of damage and range, but you’re gonna need to reload that sucker.

Japanese high magic isekai with automatic firearms? Treat them like mid to high level spells and you’re gonna need to track ammo.

Chris24601

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2022, 06:34:50 AM »
One easy solution that worked well with 4E was to make firearms into encounter-power based magic items on the rationale that a realistic load time of 20 seconds (which presumes no one is trying to take your head off with a sword while doing it) after firing is almost as long as most combats in that system last (5 rounds x 6 seconds = 30 seconds).

There’s a reason pirates and the like would often carry a brace of 2-4 pistols rather than one and a powder horn.

Basically, muskets and pistols in a typical PC vs. monsters battle should be things you fire once per combat. PCs who want multiple shots per combat should either be carrying multiple pistols (which starts to get cumbersome) or have hirelings on hand to had him a new loaded rifle after every shot (see the Last of the Mohicans film for an example where multiple people were loading rifles for Natty Bumpo to use).

As essentially magic item encounter powers in 4E, their damage could be scaled appropriately letting them hit sufficiently hard to feel like more than just a refluffed crossbow.

tenbones

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2022, 09:58:47 AM »
The idea for this thread was blatantly "borrowed" from a thread over on the OD&D proboards. How do you, or would you balance firearms of various sorts with standard fantasy weaponry, magic, etc. Have you done this before? What existing systems do you think do this kind of thing best?

What does "balance" mean?

Firearms displaced every other form of "melee" and "ranged" combat on the battlefield for a reason. If you're wanting "firearms" to be simply a schtick in your game that doesn't do what firearms actually did (supplant every other form of combat in terms of efficiency in killing people) then you simply have to create mechanics that give you want you really want from "firearms" as an abstract way to engage in combat.

So I'm going to ASSUME you don't want to be realistic.

Qualities to consider -
1) Reload times
2) Armor piercing
3) Damage - based on caliber?
4) Range
5) Rarity/Cost - who makes these things?
6) Cultural significance - why do they exist in your fantasy world?

The problem I see is that most people want to pretend that firearms are "too powerful" for fantasy games where ironically casters are abundant and generally cast spells *far* more powerful than most weapons in the game. I say lean into the abstraction of making them as powerful and unique as your setting demands.

If you want to make them less efficient, but cool - just make sure you size them up against other easily available schticks like bows and crossbows and make them distinct from them either in damage or rate of fire. You need to figure out how far you wanna push this.

Think of how granular you want to make it: are options for rifling, optics (however crude), actual cased ammo?, etc. on the table? Firearms really are their own class of weapon, and you simply need to decide how deep you wanna go with it to justify its existence - then explain WHY everyone isn't using them.

Rate of Fire + High Damage is probably the simplest way of doing it. Make powder easily spoiled, but you should make it a SERIOUS choice between normal archery and crossbows and magic.

Armor piercing is the other obvious choice.

If you wanna get into realism... well that's going to change *everything*.

Edit: I know I'm a broken record on this: Savage Worlds does a great job with it. I can take the Deadlands firearms values and literally drop them into ANY Savage Worlds game, and let'er rip. They're not "realistic" - they are GOOD and FUN.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2022, 10:00:27 AM by tenbones »

Ruprecht

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2022, 05:22:21 PM »
Soloman Kane is standard Sword and Sorcery fare, so from a source point of view there is no issue, although he his a bit of an outlyer in most peoples minds compared to the various barbarian types.
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Mishihari

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2022, 05:26:53 PM »
Powder Mage is also a good fictional resource for ideas on this topic.  It has, among other things, a type of mage that snorts gunpowder to power their abilities.

Spinachcat

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2022, 07:42:17 PM »
In OD&D, 1D6 is the basis for both a human's HP and a weapon. AKA, one good blow from a sword/axe/spear will take down most people.

So what is a boomstick by comparison?

In my OD&D games with flintlocks, they do 1D6 damage like any other death dealing tool, but they are LOUD AS FUCK, are crappy at long range and take 1 turn to reload (aka, that's why pirates wear multiple pistols). They are expensive and can be used by any class.

The LOUD AS FUCK part is where stuff gets interesting. Boomsticks cause low-INT and non-INT creatures to roll morale or flee in panic. Also, I steal from Chinese mythology in regards to how fireworks send evil spirits fleeing so the Undead are affected as if a 1st level Cleric attempted a Turn Undead.

Of course, the LOUD AS FUCK part also means everybody for a long way hears the sound...

BoxCrayonTales

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2022, 08:20:21 PM »
You could give the other martial characters weaboo fitan majix to compete with firearms.

Arkansan

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2022, 09:32:36 PM »
Powder Mage is also a good fictional resource for ideas on this topic.  It has, among other things, a type of mage that snorts gunpowder to power their abilities.

IIRC in the Powder Mage trilogy the over all technology level is akin to Napoleonic Europe, so firearms are the dominant battlefield weapon and their mages or privileged as they call them effectively act as artillery.

Zelen

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2022, 09:41:15 PM »
Dune-like shields

HappyDaze

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2022, 11:05:02 PM »

Persimmon

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2022, 11:30:15 PM »
Depends on the level of firearms you're talking about.  Remember that it took around 500 years for firearms to replace traditional weapons in the real world.  So if it's black powder muskets, pistols, or even cannon, that's hardly game-breaking.  A good early modern archer could get off a half dozen arrows or more in the time it took a musketeer to get off one shot and reload.  And the range and penetration power of the early muskets wasn't better than arrows.  The main advantage was that training time was far less for one to acquire proficiency in guns compared to bows.

Now in gaming terms, lots of games have firearms right alongside the traditional fantasy weapons, magic etc.  Warhammer has done it from the beginning.  We do it it my campaign and it's fine.  They can do more damage, especially if you crit, but there's also a chance they literally blow up in your face.  And getting gunpowder & ammo isn't easy.

Kyle Aaron

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2022, 11:59:31 PM »
Firearms displaced every other form of "melee" and "ranged" combat on the battlefield for a reason.
Are you saying all those action movies lied to me?

Aside from damage, I think firearms have a couple of advantages over muscle-powered weapons: ease of use, and range.

You don't need years of training or to be really strong to pull a trigger, and you can do it at some distance, too. This is a great advantage in combat, especially when you get into organised bodies of men, without even speaking of the relative wound effects.

One-to-one and close in it's a bit more even, judging from homicide and police shooting stats, thus knives etc still being in use in those scenarios.

Of course, "balancing" all this in a world of magic is another matter.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2022, 02:04:59 AM by Kyle Aaron »
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S'mon

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2022, 03:54:08 AM »
And the range and penetration power of the early muskets wasn't better than arrows. 

Accurate range was probably lower, but surely shot penetration was always far superior for a musket ball compared to any bow or crossbow.

Mishihari

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Re: Balancing firearms with standard Sword and Sorcery fare.
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2022, 05:09:49 AM »
Powder Mage is also a good fictional resource for ideas on this topic.  It has, among other things, a type of mage that snorts gunpowder to power their abilities.

IIRC in the Powder Mage trilogy the over all technology level is akin to Napoleonic Europe, so firearms are the dominant battlefield weapon and their mages or privileged as they call them effectively act as artillery.

There were mounted lance, and I believe I recall pike as well, though I could be wrong as it's been quite a while since I read any of them.