One with the Gun – Options for Gunslinging Shootists

Fantasy Rifleman by BrotherOstavia
The Order always prepares for adventure!

The Order of the Shootist, it’s a name claimed in both fear and mystery. They arrive with their incredible weaponry, unleashing thunder claps and smoke. And in mere instants, their enemies drop dead from incredible blasts of metal and fire. Only warriors worthy of their cause are admitted into their ranks. People know plenty about the mythical “fire brands”, as they have for countless years. However, most people are barely proficient. Even more fail to use them properly to begin with! The Shootist rises above these average folk. They hold sacred knowledge about not only wielding a gun with finesse, but a myriad of skills to truly champion their weapons.

For a Knight of the Shootist Order, there are many key features. One must move with a certain panache. Not only must they be graceful with their guns, but their steps must be constantly fluid. One slip up and you are shot down. A shootist has little time to stop and study their enemy, but must make a quick observation on the go. In addition, you won’t see armor worn as often within their ranks. Only truly strong and brisk warriors sport the arms and speed of a gunslinger with the armory of your traditional knight. Such individuals command both respect and a charismatic presence all their own. Some take to the shadows to get in the most brutal surprising shot possible, unleashing a devastating barrage.

Author’s Note: Lots of folks have asked a long time to revisit my shootist post. And since my theme for this month is Gaslamp Fantasy and Weird West, it was the perfect opportunity. So, let’s not just revisit the Shootist, but have a list of new options for the Rogue! Both of these were made with my own take on firearms, which is similar enough to 5e core. Don’t worry, there’s no misfire included. Take aim and fire, here’s a shooting gallery’s worth of options! However, these can easily be repurposed into a general ranged specialist if firearms are not allowed in your games or not common enough to allow training in.

Campaign Option – Firearm Rarity:

Should firearms prove to be a rare commodity within your world, you could rule that you don’t gain proficiency in them until you gain the first feature of your sub-class. Effectively, the sub-class gives you access to using them. This idea proves popular with the Critical Role conversion of the Gunslinger to the Fighter sub-class.

However, should firearms prove to be more plentiful in your worlds, the above option can easily be ignored, as they would essentially be considered Martial Weapons for all intents and purposes, if only because of their expense and associations with military. As such, classes such as Fighters, Rangers and the like would easily be granted access to them as part of their weapon training.

In settings where guns are extremely common, one could rule them as simple weapons. However, this option would cause most firearms to overtake combat very quickly. Depending on the level of firearms in the setting, this could risk overturning balance. Discretion is advised if considering this option for your games.

The Path of the Gunslinger

Sure, it’s one thing to know how to twirl your revolver and strut big like some dandy with a floppy hat. But, you’re no gunslinger… Well, not yet, you ain’t! Naw, that sorta thing’s a real art form. It’s not just about swinging your arms around, it’s about moving in time with the weapon while your barrel stares down your foe. It’s about staying quick on your feet, lest you be a dead gun fighter. So, bucko, you have the guts to take arms and learn more than a few tricks? Well, I think I might have a few extra tricks of my own. Watch and listen, otherwise you’ll miss everything! Young bucks and the like have a tendency to of course, ehehe. – Jeanette P. Hoffman, Human Smokepowder Shootist, Acolyte of the First Church of Steel.

Tricks of the Trade:

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. This otherwise expands on the artisan tools category.

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

New Weapons: Firearms

A mixture of top notch engineering and arcane craft has resulted in a new type of weapon. Depending on where in the multiverse you have traveled to depends on what locals call them; hand gonne, fire brands, boom sticks and firearms are among the common ones.

Name ——————- Cost ——————- Damage ——————- Weight ——————- Properties

Pocket Gun ——– 50 GP ——– 1d8 Piercing ——– 3 lbs. ——– Ammunition (range 30ft./60ft.), Loading, Light

Miniature Rifle ——– 75 GP ——– 1d10 Piercing ——– 4 lbs. ——– Ammunition (range 40ft./80ft.), Loading, Two-Handed

Smokelock Pistol ——– 100 GP ——– 1d10 Piercing ——– 6 lbs. ——– Ammunition (range 60ft./120ft.), Loading, Heavy

Smokelock Musket ——– 150 GP ——– 1d12 Piercing ——– 10 lbs. ——– Ammunition (range 80ft./160 ft.), Firearm, Heavy, Two-Handed

Blunderbuss ——– 200 GP ——– 1d10/1d6/1d4 Piercing ——– 12 lbs ——– Ammunition (5ft./15ft./30ft.), Loading, Heavy, Two-Handed, Shotgun

Powered Pistol ——– 500 GP ——– 2d6 Piercing ——– 7 lbs. ——– Ammunition (range 80ft./200ft.), Reload (6 Shots), Heavy

Powered Rifle ——– 750 GP ——– 2d8 Piercing ——– 14 lbs. ——– Ammunition (range 120ft./300ft.), Reload (5 Shots), Heavy, Two-Handed

Powered Shotgun ——– 1000 GP ——– 1d12/1d8/1d6 Piercing ——– Ammunition (5ft./20ft./40ft.), Reloading (2 Shots), Heavy, Two-Handed, Special

Bayonet Weapon ——– 20 GP (One-Handed), 30 GP (Two-Handed) ——– 1d6 Piercing (One-Handed), 1d8 Piercing (Two-Handed); Special

New Properties.

  • Reload. Certain firearms can store an amount of ammunition. This ammunition can be expended before the need to load again. Like with the Loading property, an action or bonus action can be used to replenish the weapon’s supply.
  • Blunderbuss/Shotgun. This weapon shoots out a cone, instead of your normal weapon damage. Against a creature within 5ft., you roll a normal attack roll. Otherwise, every other creature must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC = 8 + Proficiency Bonus + Dexterity modifier) or take the damage. The first increment of the blast within 5ft. deals the first damage die, while the second increment deals the second damage die and the third does the third die. Anything outside of this range automatically misses.
  • Bayonet. This weapon attaches to a firearm and may allow the arm to be treated like a melee weapon, dealing the bayonet’s damage.


Where’s Misfire?
I won’t be using misfire in this document or any others, going forward.  I feel it’s a mechanic that needs to die and just doesn’t belong in a game like D&D.  It was only brought over because Critical Role jumped over from Pathfinder, where it was a patch for an otherwise poorly balanced class.  Should you want to homebrew guns, do yourself a favor and try to imagine alternatives to misfire.

Other Items.

Item Type ——————- Price ——————- Weight

Powder Horn ——– 75 SP ——– 1 lbs.

Gunpowder ——– 30 SP (Small Dose), 30 GP (Whole Keg) ——– .005 lbs (Small), 5lbs lbs (Keg)

Bullets ——– 1 GP ——– 5 lbs (30 bullets)


Some desire to make their firearms far larger than life itself, effectively magical items. Thanks to artifice and arcane craft, these desires become a reality.

  • Dragon Breath, Common (Standard), Uncommon (Flamethrower); (Requires Attunement)
    • Standard. Once per short rest, activate its ability. For 1 minute, you add 1d4 fire damage to your attacks, as short flame bursts coat and leap from your bullets.
    • Flamethrower. Your weapon deals fire damage, and deals an additional 1d6 fire damage. Your weapon truly has been augmented into a fire spewing nightmare.
  • Phantom Loader, Uncommon (Standard Gun), Rare (Powered Gun)
    • A phantom force reloads your gun as a free action, rather than you having to use your action or bonus action. This only happens once per round.
  • Bane Gun, Uncommon (+1), Rare (+2), Very Rare (+3) (Requires Attunement)
    • This enchantment adds an additional bonus to attack rolls and damage equal to rarity against a certain creature type. Refer to the Ranger’s Favored Enemy list for further reference. This does not count as a +# magic item otherwise. The magical weapon equivalent (+1 magical weapon) is treated as one rarity level higher.
  • Incredible Scope, Very Rare (Requires Attunement)
    • A magnificent scope allows you to see far and shoot further. You double the range of your firearm.
  • Enhanced Chambers, Rare
    • Add an additional chamber to your weapon, allowing you to fire an additional bullet before having to reload.

New Fighting Style – Gunslinger

(Available to Fighters, Ranger. This is extended to the Paladin with the DM’s Permission.)

While attacking with a firearm, you may add a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls.

New Feat – Firearm Mastery

Your expertise with firearms makes you a deadly shootist.

Requirements: Proficient with Firearms

  • You ignore penalties from attacking at long range
  • You ignore disadvantage from melee range with a firearm.
  • You may ignore the reloading or loading property.

Campaign Option: Variant Damage

One of the common proposals for firearms in 5E (sampling older editions) is that they did both Piercing and Bludgeoning damage. If you feel this makes more sense, please rule it as such. However, in cases where the types might contradict resistance and/or vulnerability (such as a skeleton), reconcile to the best of ability (or cancel the effects out).

Martial Archetype: Smokepowder Shootist

The Smokepowder Shootist is a tactical warrior that excels in the art of gunslinging. Whether use of imports from wildspace or an expert in experimental weaponry, the shootist has turned use of this weapon into an art form and martial technique all at once.

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.

Roguish Archetype: The Maverick

A crafty and flashy modern marvel whose shots are faster than light! The maverick is a rogue that has incorporated gunfighting into their style, adding a pinch of panache and some fancy gunplay as well. In many ways, you’re a good for nothing punk out for their own ends. However, with a fresh mouth and smug sensibility, you better ready your bullets quick and unload them even quicker!

Holdout Weapons. Upon taking this archetype at level 3, the maverick is an expert at sneaking guns past check in stations and no weapon zones. You gain double proficiency to Sleight of Hand and Stealth checks made to conceal, hide or carefully take out a firearm.

Trick Shot. Starting at level 3, you’re capable of making a sneak shot against an unsuspecting target. When you unveil your firearm with the holdout weapon ability, you may add your sneak attack bonus if you hit on the following attack. However, subsequent attacks with this weapon cannot be granted sneak attack unless other conditions are met (such as being granted advantage).

Hit the Decks!. Starting at 9th level, you’ve become accustomed to leaping away from deadly ranged attacks… probably because you’ve had your hand at making enemies. If you are being targeted by a ranged weapon attack and you are within 10ft. of some level of cover (this includes cover while prone), you may use your reaction to move up to 10ft. away without provoking an opportunity attack and then fall prone. This ability must be used before the DM declares if you’ve been hit or missed.

Quick Shot. Starting at 13th level, you’re the fastest gun in the land… or so you say. You may roll a d6 when you need to reload a round into your gun. If you roll a 4 – 6, you reload as a free action. Furthermore, you’re better at trick shooting enemies. As long as it’s the same round that you used your holdout weapon ability, you may attempt to use Trick Shot to sneak attack on other attacks with that gun, if your previous attack for that round missed.

Readied Hand. Starting at 17th level, you can keep your aim in tight spots and tense moments. As a bonus action, you can grant an attack with a firearm advantage and can be used in between attacks made with the attack action. This ability can be used in conjunction with sneak attack.


Under this game assumption, both of these sub-classes could be re-purposed into general ranged weapons experts. These features could be used with bows and crossbows without too much change. However, the roguish sub-class would thematically fit hand crossbows better. There’s nothing that says these features can’t be altered to work for certain other types of ranged weapons too.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE! I plan on creating more archetypes for other classes as well… should I figure out a few ideas first. It might be combined with a similar themed article. Stay tuned for more Gaslamp, Gothic and Weird Western themed content as well!

EDIT AUGUST 2018: Well, this is taking a lot longer than expected… I’m still making gun fighting archetypes. It will be out soon!

IMAGE CREDIT: Fantasy Rifleman by brotherostavia

Created by Doctor Necrotic, for Doctor Necrotic Media. All rights and copyrights belong to respective owners.

Author: Doctor Necrotic

Hobbyist, amateur writer/screenwriter, wannabe-philosopher, music fan, history lover, cinemaphile, gamer, reviewer, and more. I'm a 30 year old hodgepodge of jobs and interests. My current projects on WordPress creating a wide variety of content for various tabletop roleplaying games, even showcasing published content here as well. When I have the time, I also create editorials and reviews spanning various bits of popular culture. I hope you take a moment to check my content out and maybe tell me what you think.

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