Firearm Basics

Return to Index

The breech-loading, ball-and-powder firearm is the civilized Aetheria’s favored weapon for personal defense, private security, and many nationalized armed forces. Common weapons in the current century are of the safer and more efficient caplock design, although flintlock firearms may still be found, alongside muskets, blunderbusses, and similarly outdated designs. Although several gunsmiths and famous technological geniuses have devised streamlined metal casings for faster loading and firing, the predominant ammunition in the Aetheria remains minie cartridges.

Firearm Rules

Combat Reloading — Attempting to clean and reload a firearm in stressful situations is tricky business. As every firearm is different, the Craft(Firearms) check DCs are listed with each weapon entry, as well as how many actions are required to reload under normal conditions. Reloading in combat, however, adds a flat +4 to the DC regardless of the class of firearm. Additionally, failing a reloading check by 5 or more results in the ammunition being ruined. Attempting to reload in combat provokes an attack of opportunity.

  • Double Loading: When reloading a weapon with multiple barrels, you may attempt to load two barrels with separate ammunition simultaneously. Doing so increases the reload DC by +10. Failure by 5 or more ruins both pieces of ammunition.
  • Increased Load Speed: If you exceed your reload DC by +20 or more, you reduce the number of actions required to reload a single barrel by 1 standard action (minimum 1 standard action).
  • Superior Handling: Exceptional gunmen may attempt to mitigate the penalties associated with shoddy workmanship. When handling shoddy or damaged firearms, make a Craft(Firearms) check DC 10+the weapon’s normal reload DC as a swift action. Success allows the user to ignore the firearms penalty of up to -2 on all attacks with that firearm for one round. Failure by 5 or more results in overcompensation, doubling the weapon’s penalty to attack rolls for that round.

Critical Failures
When firearms fail, they fail spectacularly. On any attack roll resulting in a Natural 1, a firearm may suffer any or all of the following effects:

  • The Firearm is dropped
  • The ammunition is inert/fires false
  • The ammunition fires false and fouls the barrel, requiring cleaning before reuse
  • The ammunition explodes, damaging the user and the gun
  • Other negative effects at GM’s discretion

Standard Small Arms

Weapon Damage Damage (S) Critical Range Weight Price Ammo Reload
Pistol, Civilian 2d4 1d6 19-20/x3 40 ft 4 lb 200 gp 6-8 gp DC 6, standard
Pistol, Derringer 2d4-2 1d6-1 19-20/x3 20 ft 2 lb 225 gp 5-6 gp DC 12, standard x2
Pistol, Military 2d6 1d10 19-20/x3 80 ft 5 lb 300 gp 8-10 gp DC 8, standard
Pistol, Quad-Iron 4d4 3d4 19-20/x3 20 ft 6 lb 375 gp 16-18 gp DC 16, standard
Carbine, Military 2d8 2d6 19-20/x3 150 ft 10 lb 600 gp 10-12 gp DC 10, standard x2
Rifle, Long 2d6 1d10 19-20/x3 160 ft 10 lb 500 gp 8-10 gp DC 10, standard
Rifle, Military 2d8 2d6 19-20/x3 200 ft 15 lb 600 gp 10-12gp DC 12, standard x2
Rifle, Water Steel 2d8 2d6 18-20/x2 200 ft 12 lb 1200 gp 10-12 gp DC 10, standard x2
Scattergun 1d10 1d8 N/A 30 ft cone 10 lb 450 gp 10-12 gp DC 17, standard

Pistols — Pistols range anywhere from 4-inch derringers to 14-inch military hand cannons. It is quite common for gunslingers to carry multiple pistols.

Quad-Iron Pistol — A quad-iron pistol’s four barrels are forged from a single piece of steel, with each barrel being connected to a communal powder chamber. Firing this specialty weapon includes all four barrels in each volley. Reloading a quad-iron requires specially prepared ammo packet, and the entire weapon must be properly loaded for it to function properly.

Rifles — Rifles offer increased reliability, accuracy, and penetrating power over their shorter counterparts. Long rifles, typically 4 feet or longer, are more commonly found in civilian hands and are used primarily for hunting. Military rifles are substantially heavier, being made to withstand battlefield rigors. As they are crafted to higher standards, military rifles are accurate to further distances, but require twice as much effort to clean and reload. Recently, both the Guild and CITADEL has been experimenting with ‘ red water steel’ in the construction of rifles. The resulting firearm combines some of the lightness and ease of civilian rifles with the power of their military counterparts.

Scattergun — Scatterguns of varying sizes and designs were popular hunting weapons long before they were adapted for military and police use, but it was during the labor revolts on Ruhn in the late 300s that the first recorded adaptation for riot control appeared. Its success (and relative low cost compared to other crowd control weapons) led to widespread adoption and imitation throughout the Aetheria. Today rifle-sized scatterguns are particularly favored by both marines during boarding actions and soldiers in trench warfare; concentrated fire from several scattergunners in close quarters can devastate lightly armored defenders. The most common versions of this weapon are the ‘Model 846 Trench Sweeper’ (Tremaine Forges) and the ‘Thunder Pelican’ (Elohim Arms, named for its wider muzzle and loud report). A scattergun is generally breach loaded, firing paper packets loaded with shot; low-quality lead is preferred for cost reasons, but tiny pebbles, rock salt, and other similarly sized material can be used. When fired it is capable of filling a 30ft cone with these pellets. This is not a range increment; beyond 30ft the pellets from the gun are too scattered and have lost too much speed to deal any damage. All targets within the cone must make Reflex saves against 1d20 + Scattergunner’s BAB; those who succeed take no damage. Those who fail take 1d10 piercing damage each. A scattergun cannot receive barrel baffle, accuracy, or scope customizations. It cannot be loaded with precision ammunition, but can be loaded with sulfur and magnesium shot, which imitates normal incendiary ammunition.

Clockwork Small Arms

Weapon Damage Damage (S) Critical Range Weight Price Ammo Reload
Pepperbox Pistol 2d4-2 1d6-1 19-20/x3 20 ft 8 lb 325 gp 5-6 gp DC 14, standard (# of barrels +1)
Revolving Rifle 2d6-2 1d10-2 19-20/x3 120 ft 20 lb 900 gp 7-9 gp DC 16, standard (# of barrels +1)
‘Stuttering Peregrine’ 2d6 1d10 19-20/x3 160 ft 16 lb 2400 gp 8-10 gp DC 15, standard (single barrel) or full round x2 (cylinder)
‘Weeping Saint’ 2d6 N/A? x3 70 ft 7 lb 6000 gp* 8-10gp (charge), 12-20 gp (cartridge) DC 12, full round

Pepperbox — One of the earliest and longest-lasting experiments in multi-shot firearms, the pepperbox design offers four separate shots when fully loaded. Like the quad-iron pistol, a pepperbox pistol’s four barrels are bored from a single piece of metal, but instead of a single ingnition, each barrel is loaded with slightly weakened pistol charge. After firing, a simple level rotates the barrel a quarter-turn, bringing a fresh charge in line with the striker. The pepperbox’s primary design flaws are its smaller barrels and lower caliber bullet, as well as its complicated and time consuming reload process. The clockwerk firing mechanism must be disengaged prior to reloading (a standard action) and each barrel must be loaded individually (a standard action for each). However, not all barrels must be reloaded before reengaging the firing mechanism, mitigating some of the user’s downtime.

Revolving Rifle — Essentially a re-tooling of the pepperbox mechanism, early attempts to craft clockwerk, multi-firing rifles has met with limited success and less enthusiasm. Like its pistol forerunner, all three of the revolving rifle’s barrels are bored into a single piece of steel, creating an extremely heavy and poorly balanced longarm. The rotating, multi-barrel design has since found more use in both powerred armour and armordyne design. Like the pepperbox pistol, the rifle’s clockwerk firing mechanism must be disengaged prior to reloading (a standard action) and each barrel must be loaded individually (a standard action for each). However, not all barrels must be reloaded before reengaging the firing mechanism, mitigating some of the user’s downtime.

Stuttering Peregrine — The firearms geniuses at Elohim Arms developed an alternative loading mechanism (and catapulted their corporation to fame and fortune) with the ‘revolving ammunition wheel’ and the first truly successful repeating rifle. Today the most popular repeating rifle, the ‘Stuttering Peregrine Repeating Long Rifle’, is still produced by Elohim Arms. “The repeating long rifle is a long barreled military model designed for reliability and rapid fire. The weapon’s main functional difference from other long rifles is the large rotating wheel (sometimes referred to as a cylinder) which contains six precisely bored holes holding the weapon’s ammunition. The action of the rifle has a sturdy mechanical clockwork mechanism that primes and readies as the cylinder is cranked around to load a fully charged shot in line with the barrel. A fully loaded repeating rifle may be fired 6 times before needing to be reloaded.”
A repeating long rifle may be reloaded in two ways: either you can reload each chamber without removing the wheel (requiring 1 standard action/chamber and a DC 15 Craft [Firearms] check to clean the chamber and load a new round) or by removing the wheel and replacing it with another already loaded wheel (1 full round action to remove, a 2nd full round action to replace = total of two full round actions and 2 DC 15 Craft [Firearms checks]).
Cleaning the chambers is actually the most time consuming part of reloading the weapon; its innovative and experimental design has left the tolerances very low. A bit of paper or grit getting into the clockwork mechanism can potentially gum the whole thing up. Properly cleaning a spent wheel takes between 1 and 3 minutes, depending on tools and conditions. Keeping a ‘Stuttering Peregrine’ in working order requires an hour of general maintenance and a successful DC 15 Firearms check each night, a gunner’s kit, and replacement parts (need varies, but 1 year’s supply costs ~250gp). Failure to properly maintain the weapon results in a cumulative -1 penalty to attack and Craft (Firearms) checks with the weapon until the maintenance is performed.

Weeping Saint — In 886 SGE, famed master gunsmith Etienne Denmare was approached by his childhood companion Dame Clemence Ouvrei, who commissioned a very special firearm. Their paths had diverged in their teenaged years, and while Etienne became apprenticed to one gunsmith after another, exceeding them all, Dame Clemence became renowned in history and legend alike for her many noble deeds and adventures bringing peace and order to western Nemoi. In all that time she had never been able to bring to justice her arch-rival, the deadly weretiger Skarl Goldenbow, who could loose a dozen arrows to her one bullet. At her request Etienne worked for more than a year, deploying his prodigious talents and those who went before to create a single beautiful revolving-chambered pistol: the ‘Saint’.
What became of Dame Clemence and Skarl after that is a story for another time, but for Etienne the creation of his masterpiece was the beginning of a long nightmare. Drunk with success and enthusiasm for his truly brilliant creation, he made it known in the right circles that he would be willing to produce more, if the financial incentive was right. His first customer had been a virtuous knight; his second was a sharp-featured young man named Aspiros. Etienne stopped making firearms altogether after that. He abandoned his shop in the night and left no forwarding address for fear that he would be hounded down and forced either to create more instruments of death, or to account for the atrocities committed with them. Only a dozen or so of the pistols were produced before he disappeared, and no one has been able to replicate his feat of craftsmanship. They are commonly called ‘Weeping Saint’ guns in remembrance of their tragic history, and they are almost impossible to purchase. Still, there are rumors that Etienne is still alive, and perhaps if he truly believed in the right person he might craft another, desperately hoping to find some redemption.
This Masterwork Military Pistol may be the finest firearm ever produced. Only a scant few experts even know of their existence, and many connoisseurs spend their entire lives searching for one with no success. A successful DC 20 History (or 25 Craft [Firearms]) check is necessary for a character to recognize the firearm as anything more than an oddly shaped military pistol. The ‘Weeping Saint’ has a latched cylinder that unhinges to load up to five specially-machined brass cartridges. When the cylinder closes and locks the pistol can cycle to fire again by pulling the pinlock at the back of the pistol. This turns the cylinder to line up the next cartridge and is a swift action. After firing all five shots a full round action and a Craft (Firearms) check DC 12 is required to release the cylinder, empty the expended shells, clean the barrel, and load fresh cartridges. This assumes that brass cartridges are accessible (generally either on a belt or bandoleer). The brass cartridges involved are used in some other weapons, including the Taurine Weapons Manufacturing Co. ‘Cavalry Sweeper’ Super-Light Chain Gun. Each shell costs 12-20 gp, and contains a normal silk military pistol round-and-powder charge (8-10 gp). A handful of gunwerks have the equipment to produce the shells in the necessary size and with the necessary uniformity and precision, but an expert with the proper tools can replicate them from a sample (DC 30 Craft [Firearms] check). If the gunsmith fails this check by 5 or more the shell involved is ‘flawed’. Flawed shells have a 50% chance to misfire. Misfiring jams the firing pin into the shell without firing the round. This ruins the cartridge and requires a full round action to dislodge the pin. Used brass shells can be repaired and used again with Craft (Firearms) check DC 25. This takes 1 minutes/shell. Using a gunner’s kit allows taking 20 on this check, allowing you to repair 3 shells per hour. Empty and repaired brass shells can be turned into cartridges by inserting standard silk military pistol ammunition, and using a small dot of hot wax to hold the ammunition in place. Readying a brass cartridge with materials on hand (empty brass shell, silk military pistol ammunition, and a lit candle) takes a move action, but the wax requires a full minute to harden.

Common Upgrades, Accessories, and Ammunition
Melee Modifications
Heavy Arms
Guns of Foul Sorceries

Return to the Index

Firearm Basics

To Fly on Metal Wings EJacobRiley