Smokepowder Shootist – A Gun-Focused Fighter Archetype

Fantasy Rifleman by BrotherOstavia

Time for a change.

Smokepowder, a powerful substance that has changed the landscape of battle, has become more and more popular as its name spread throughout wildspace and beyond.  This powder can ignite and produce a powerful explosion.  Many have sampled its alchemical properties for a new weapon, the firebrand.  In some realms, this projectile weapon is revered in religious circles as both a sacred artifact and testament to their craft.  For the less religious, many soldiers and warriors have trained in the art of the firebrand.  Honing their talents with these advanced weapons, a new breed of ranged combatant was born.

The smokepowder shootist is a fighter or ranger whose focus is melding firing of guns with sophisticated martial techniques.  While a rival to the battlemaster, this type of fighter is far more focused on perfecting their gunslinging.  Understandably, their knowledge of this school of fighting has caused ire among other classes of warrior and martial tactician.  Some harrumph in disdain, for they find no honor in these new weapons.  Some seek the very same weapons for power or fortunes, hoping to pry it from the fighter one way or another.  As such, the order of the shootist is a rare and secretive one in many lands.  In places more adept to firebrands, or “firearms” as they’re likely known there, some orders are willing to train other warriors deemed responsible enough to handle guns.

For those that have banded together, the firebrand is a symbol of many things; technological advancement, futurism, terrifying new grounds in warfare, liberation from the elite, power to the people and more.  Their order wields this weapon with intense precision and finesse, pulling off elaborate displays that are equal parts tactical gun fighting and martial arts.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m still not fully content with my shootist sub-class and I’ve received requests to have it branch out to other classes.  I’ll likely expand this over the next week to do just that, once I really figure out what makes classes like The Ranger tick.  To be fair, even WIZARDS OF THE COAST doesn’t know!  (Yeah, I know, low blow.)  In the meantime, I’m willing to test this as is for Rangers and see what breaks down in the process.  Lemme know if you try! 

ALSO, this sub-class assumes that firearms are considered martial weapons or that your character is trained in them already.  If not, there is a campaign option to become proficient in a kind of firearm upon taking the sub-class.

Also, to answer a quick question of what’s with the name…  Well, a “Shootist” is a term dating back to the American Old West.  It refers to an expert hunter or gunfighter, often outside of the law.  In fact, infamous gunman and cattleman Clay Allison originated the term in the mid 1800s.  So, there you go.


CAMPAIGN OPTION – RARE FIREARMS:  Upon taking this archetype at level 3, you gain proficiency in one type of firearm.  At DM’s discretion, you may take proficiency in Gunsmith’s Tools.  This is an expanded tool that the Shootist can choose to become proficient in.  It is required for tactics like Alchemical Bullets though.  For ease of reference, here are the rules for the Gunsmith’s Tools.

Gunsmith’s Tools

The Smith Guild Business feature for the Guild Artisan background is expanded to include Gunsmith.  The Artisan tools for this feature are the Gunsmith’s Tools, detailed below.

Artisan Tools – Gunsmith’s Tools: 50 GP, 10 lbs: An assortment of tools required for planning, assembling and maintaining a firearm.


Smokepowder Shootist Features:


Gun Fighter’s Dice.  The Smokepowder Shootist can turn a mere gun into an impressive tool.  Upon taking this archetype at level 3, the fighter gains access to a pool of dice, which may be spent on maneuver-like talents.

Shootists begin with 4 dice at their disposal, rolled as d8s.  Once any have been spent, they cannot be regained until they have taken a short or long rest.  You gain another die at level 7 and another at level 15.  Your saving throw for these dice is determined by 8 + Your Proficiency Bonus + Your Dexterity Modifier.


Smokepowder Shooting Talents.  The Smokepowder Shootist has turned gun fighting into more than just a modern war strategy, they’ve turned it into an art form.  Using knowledge of tactics and firearm combat, they’re able to pull off a variety of stunts and tactical maneuvers.  Upon reaching level 3, the fighter may select 2 tactics that are available at their current level.  Additional ones may be learned at levels 7, 10 and 15.


Quick To Fire.  Upon reaching level 7, your timing with a firearm becomes almost unmatched.  The fighter may ignore the reload property on a firearm as many times as their Dexterity modifier (minimum 1).  In order to use this ability afterwards, they must take a short or long rest.  In addition, you gain proficiency in the Acrobatics skill if you didn’t have proficiency already.


Improved Tactician.  At level 10, you have better honed your martial skills.  The die for your Gun Fighter Dice increases to a d10.  Upon reaching level 18, increase the die to a d12.


Unending Sharpshooter.  Upon reaching level 15, you rarely tire from continuous use of your elaborate techniques.   In fact, in a pinch, you can force yourself to unload more on your enemies.  You may take 1 minute to regain your gun fighter’s dice instead of the usual time.  However, upon doing this, you may take a long rest before using this feature again.


Smokepowder Shootist’s Talents.  Unlike the Battlemaster or the Monster Hunter, the Smokepowder Shootist has refined their techniques to empower and bolster firearms.  Below is a list of talents and the levels that they are available at:

  • Alchemical Bullets.  You’ve learned a little in the art of alchemy in its relation to gun craft.  When you take a long rest or during 1 day of downtime, you may expend 1 of your gun fighter’s dice to imbue alchemical properties into your bullets.  This allows 1d4 + 1 bullets to deal a damage type (i.e. acid, cold, fire, etc) instead of its normal damage.    You need proficiency in the Gunsmith’s Kit to do this.  You also start with one less available die after completing your long rest, if you did this during a long rest.  These bullets lose their enchantment 24 hours after completing long rest/after the enchantment was completed.
  • Artifice Infusion.  You have studied enough from artificers and tinkerers to make truly enchanted weaponry.  During a long rest or during 1 day of downtime, you may spend 1 die to turn a bullet into a +1 magical bullet.  Like Alchemical Bullets, you lose that die for the following day.  This effect also does not stack with Alchemical Bullets or related skills.  Upon reaching level 10, you may spend 2 dice to gain a +2 bullet.  At level 18, you may spend 3 dice to gain a +3 bullet.  These bullets lose their enchantment 24 hours after completing long rest/after the enchantment was completed.
  • Blinding Flash (Level 7).  You fire in a way that unleashes a blinding flash of light.  While an enemy is within melee range of you and you make a ranged attack with your firearm, you may spend a die and force them to make a Constitution saving throw.  If they fail, you may roll the die and deal fire damage equal to the amount rolled; also, the target is blinded until the start of your next turn.  Upon success, this effect does nothing to them.
  • Bloody Mess (Level 15).  You show no mercy and leave your enemy with a sickening shot wound.  Upon hitting with your firearm attack, you may expend up to 2 tactics dice to roll extra damage.  In addition, every creature within 30 ft. of the target must make a Constitution saving throw or become “sickened” (poisoned) for 1 round.
  • Body Shaking Shot (level 10).  You hit so hard, your opponent is jumbled for a brief amount of time.  Upon hitting a creature with an attack, you may spend one die to make them roll a Constitution saving throw.  If the target fails, they have disadvantage on all attack rolls, saving throws and checks until the end of their turn for the current round.
  • Deft Eye (Level 7).  You’ve studied your enemies down the barrel of your gun, perhaps right through cross hairs.  You’re used to anticipating your opponent’s moves.  While you’re certainly not fast enough to avoid an attack, you’ve learned a slight movement can lessen the blow.  When you are hit with an attack, you may use a reaction to use a gun fighter’s die to reduce the damage by the amount rolled plus their Constitution modifier.  This must be done before damage is rolled.  Upon reaching level 15, you may spend and roll 2 dice instead of 1.
  • Disarming Strike.  Focusing on your enemy’s weapon, you can focus a shot to attempt to knock it out of their hand.  Upon hitting with an attack, you may spend a die to force the target to make a Dexterity saving throw.  If they fail, the item or weapon in their hand is knocked away upwards to 10ft.
  • Improbable Brutality (level 15).  Upon hitting a creature with a critical hit, you may spend a die and add twice your dice roll to the damage as well.  Normally, gun fighter’s dice are not doubled.
  • Killer Shot.  By sacrificing accuracy, you are able to pack a more powerful shot by spending a die.  Similar to various existing feats, you can take a -5 penalty to your attack.  However, upon hit, you may roll additional damage equal 2 of your dice (without expending the additional dice beyond the initial one.)
  • Knock Back.  Your hits deal a pushing punch.  When you hit with a firearm attack, you can expend a die to attempt to push your target back.  The target must make a Strength saving throw.  Upon failure, the target is pushed back 10 feet.  If the target fails the DC by 5 or more, they’re pushed 15 ft. instead.
  • Lock Blast.  Using your gun, you try to blast a lock off.  You may spend a die and target a lock in an attempt to destroy it.  Make a standard attack roll against the lock.  Depending on the lock’s complexity it will either take damage as normal, have resistance to non-magical damage or immunity to non-magical damage.  Upon doing a total of 20 damage from your round of attacks, the lock will fail and give out.
  • Long Shot.  You focus your eyes so you can take a faraway shot.  When you spend a die, your next attack can reach up to your gun’s maximum range without disadvantage.
  • Point Blank (level 10).  At close range, you deal a lethal blow.  While targeting an enemy that is adjacent or within melee range of you, you may use your die to add to your attack roll and damage against them.
  • Quick and Nimble (level 10).  While you’re already quick on your feet, you’re even more evasive with enough focus.  You may use a die as a free action.  By doing so, you gain the Rogue’s Evasion and Uncanny Dodge features for 1 minute.  You must take a long rest before using this tactic again.
  • Riiiiing (level 7).  You fire a shot that everything can hear, especially creatures near you.  Before attacking while next to an adjacent enemy, you may declare a noise attack and expend a tactics die.  Whether or not the initial attack succeeds, the target must make a Constitution saving throw.  Upon failure, they take Thunder damage equal to your tactics die and are deafened until the start of your next turn.  Upon success, this effect does nothing to them.


IMAGE CREDIT: Fantasy Rifleman by brotherostavia

Made by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media.  All rights reserved.


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