If you are an inveterate tinkerer and are trying to redesign your system as you create the setting, or if you create a setting that will force you to redesign some elements of the system, you are committing to a lot of extra work and you may have trouble finishing within the expected time frame of five weeks.Given that I want lasers, plasma swords, and Halfling Cleric/Thieves in my campaign, I find myself in a predicament. To which Otus states:
If you find yourself in this predicament, I have a suggestion. Ignore the problem for now. Go ahead and build out your campaign setting and assume the things you need are in the system.Well, I could do that…but, fortunately I have been trying to figure out ways of emulating firearms and the like in D&D for years. Rather than seeing these additions and house rules as extra work that may endanger my ability to finish this experiment in a timely fashion, I see this as an opportunity.
One of the things I actually like about 5e is a tactical choice it gives spell casters when it comes to damage spells:
- Automatically do damage but risk missing a “to hit” roll.
- Automatically hitting but risk the target making a Saving Throw to take no damage.
I see laser guns as a way to give every class an opportunity to make the second tactical choice. Unlike cantrips, however, guns can only be fired so many times before they run out of whatever you consider to be ammunition.
Again, 5e is a nice source of inspiration here. Take a look at the description for a Wand of Magic Missiles:
This wand has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast the magic missile spell from it. For 1 charge, you cast the 1st-level version of the spell. You can increase the spell slot level by one for each additional charge you expend. The wand regains 1d6 + 1 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the wand’s last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the wand crumbles into ashes and is destroyed.The item has a certain number of charges that are required to be spent in order to use it. At the end of every day, a certain number of those charges are regained; however, if the number of charges are reduced to zero, there is a chance it is destroyed.
I think this is a good model for thinking about how a laser gun might work. Since a quiver can carry 20 arrows, I think that might be a good number for a rifle and we can half that for a pistol. At the end of the day, the laser gun recharges; however, the batteries are notoriously unstable when completely discharged and destroy the gun on a ‘1’ on a d6.
The damage a laser gun does, like every other weapon, is based on class:
- Fighters 1d8
- Clerics and Thieves 1d6
- Magic-users 1d4
Things like cover would give a target a bonus on their Saving Throw:
- Shield (when facing into the shot): +1
- Partial Cover: +2
- Half Cover: +4
When it comes to Plasma Swords, it is all about the cool factor. They function exactly like a normal sword except that only spell casters can get them to “unsheathe” themselves. I did say, however, that I wanted players to be able to deflect laser shots with a plasma sword. Simple: those wielding a plasma sword get a +2 on their Saving Throws when shot at with laser guns. This is in addition to any other cover they may have.
One other thought that might be interesting to play test: Armor can be allotted toward normal combat or as a bonus to a Saving Throw against a laser gun. Thus, the Imperial Riflemen could all wear Plate that give them a +6 on their Saving Throws against being shot with lasers, but gives them an AC 9 when in melee. That +6 (or +4 or +2) could be divvied up however the purchaser wants (+5/+1,+2/+4,+3/+3, etc). It adds another wrinkle to tactical choices at the table.