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The Yellow Wizard » The Bar » Bloggards » BANG! Quark's thoughts on the Gunslinger (And Swashbuckler)

BANG! Quark's thoughts on the Gunslinger (And Swashbuckler)

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Great Adventurer
Great Adventurer
Time for another thought compilation, this time focusing on the Gunslinger. It's interesting to have firearms in fantasy from time to time, so for your benefit and mine, here are some compilations on the rules for guns


For the most part, if guns are around and an option, you are using Emerging Firearms. That is, Firearms are exotic weapons, expensive and hard to find. There are also options for making them more common, making them common (and they're martial) or everywhere (and simple).

Early firearms are what you'll likely be using. They target touch AC when fired at their first range increment, and normal AC thereafter, and have a maximum range of 5 increments. Advanced firearms, which you'll be lucky to get unless they're everywhere, target touch AC at 5 range increments and have a max range of 10 increments. What this basically means is that using a gun, if it's close, you'll probably hit.

Reloading is where it gets awkward, and they're kind of like crossbows. Early firearms require a standard action to reload if one handed or a full-round action if it's two-handed. Advanced firearms need only a move action. Regardless, getting Rapid Reload is very important here if you want to be useful.

Guns can also misfire, where if you roll poorly, they break (and once broken, they're even more likely to misfire). Early Firearms explode and are destroyed if they misfire once broken, dealing damage as if you'd shot everyone nearby with it, although advanced firearms don't suffer from this.

There are things called alchemical cartridges, which are much faster to load, but increase chances of misfire. They're worthwhile if you can make multiple attacks and/or don't want to invest in rapid reload.

A final notable thing is the most of the ranged feats work for guns.


Unsurprisingly, you're a pure martial, and have good BAB and HD. You've got good reflex and fortitude, and a reasonable number of skills, although only perception is a notably good one. You wear light armour and can use all the basic weapons, plus guns.

Gunsmith: You get the gunsmithing skill for free, which is just as well, because it means that you can not only make guns really quickly and cheaply (10% of the standard listed price at 1,000gp/day!), but also all your ammunition. You really, really need this unless you want to spend lots of money or you have guns everywhere anyway. The difference between needing to pay 5,000 gp for a rifle and 500 is very significant.

Grit: You get a little pool of stuff to do things with based on your wisdom modifier. It's not very big, but it comes back easily. Do cool stuff, shoot stuff hard or to death and you get it back. Kind of important for things.

Deeds: Lots of these, and they'll get their own section later. You do get all of them though, so take a look.

Nimble: Gain a small dodge bonus to AC. Kind of blah, but also okay. Depends on what you gain here to make it a good trade off.

Bonus Feats: Combat or Grit only, every few levels. Not so bad, really, since ranged combat can be fairly feat heavy.

Gun Training: Pick a gun type and add your dex to damage with it. Get more gun types later, but now you've got a speciality weapon. This is a big source of damage, so jump right on this! Losing it's only worthwhile if it gives you something better in exchange.

True Grit: Your capstone. Pick 2 deeds and use less grit with them. If you get here, sweet.


The deeds are rated by excellent, decent and blah.

eye: lv 1. 1+ grit. Spend 1 grit/range increment to hit touch AC a range increment further away. Great with 1 handed firearms which have terrible range, but much less so for two handed ones. Depends on your archetype if this is a good trade off.

Gunslinger's Dodge: lv 1. 1 grit, immediate when targeted by ranged attack. Move 5 feet (provoking) or drop prone to gain bonuses vs that attack. Not very remarkable.

Quick Clear: Lv 1. 1 grit in pool OR 1 grit. Standard to remove broken from gun if from misfire. Spending grit lets you do this as a move action. Since this otherwise takes you an hour, in the heat of combat this is fabulous. You really need this.

Gunslinger Initiative: lv 3. 1 grit in pool. +2 initiative. Nothing special, but a nice, static bonus.

Pistol Whip: Lv 3. 1 grit, standard. Whack someone with your gun and knock 'em prone if it hits. Unremarkable.

Utility Shot: lv 3. 1 grit in pool. 'pick' a lock, move a small object along or stop bleeding. These are cool and thematic, but not actually especially good.

Dead Shot: Lv 7. 1 Grit, full round. Effectively vital strike, but easier to confirm crits and unlikely to misfire. It's not fabulous, but it is more economical, and if your gun's misfired and you don't have the time to fix it up, this is the way to go. Nice to combine it with some of the other deeds, too.

Startling Shot: Lv 7. 1 grit, standard. Make a creature flat-footed until its next turn. Staggeringly bad, but it might work well if you've got friends who benefit from it (or if they need to run away).

Targeting: Lv 7. 1 grit, standard. Aim at a specific point for various effects, ranging from confusion, trip, fall (for flying creatures), disarming or improved crit range. Notably, the crit range stacks with other effects, so this can be fabulous.

Bleeding Wound Lv 11. 1 or 2 grit. Deal bleed damage equal to dex mod with 1 or 2 grit to deal 1 str, dex or con bleed. Stat Bleed is nasty, so this is excellent.

Lightning Reload Lv 11. 1 grit in pool. Reload much faster. At last, you can reliably make full attacks! Don't swap this unless you get it earlier or better.

Expert loading: Lv 11. 1 grit. Stop a gun from exploding if it misfires a second time. Seriously, you should have fixed this up with quick clear in the first place. This is just there if you lose quick clear, I guess.

Evasive: lv 15. 1 grit in pool. Get improved evasion and improved uncanny dodge. Late, but wow, what nice defences.

Menacing Shot: Lv 15. 1 grit, standard. Decent DC fear on nearby creatures. Cool to have things run away like that, if you can get the DC working.

Slinger's Luck: lv 15. 1 or 2 grit. Reroll a save (2 grit) or skill check (1 grit). Nice, but hard on the grit. Still, better than death.

Cheat Death: lv 19. All your grit. When reduced to 0 hp or fewer, you are instead on 1 hp. This is exceptionally good, especially noting that with 1 grit, you can make this free with the signature deed feat.

Death's shot: lv 19. 1 grit. When you get a critical, spend 1 grit to deal normal damage and force a fort save or die. Nifty, and probably a very high DC.

Stunning shot: lv 19, 2 grit. Hit a creature, spend 2 grit to stun it very briefly if it makes a save. This has nothing on death's shot, so feel free to swap it.


These are also rated with my standard Great, okay, average system.

Bolt Ace: You know those guns that you picked this class for? Well, now you don't have them. You can spend grit to target touch AC as normal, but otherwise basically everything just swaps to being crossbow based. You honestly would only pick this archetype if it was no guns, or you wanted to be good with crossbows (admittedly, you can hit harder with crossbows than normal).

Gun Scavenger: Hit easily in rare instances in place of nimble, and can modify your gun to give it other, cool things. Quick clear becomes... rather slower, and targeting deed changes to give temporary magic enhancements. It's about the same level as the base gunslinger, so it's mostly flavour you'd like here.

Gun Tank: Wear heavy armour. Swap Gunslinger's dodge for chance to negate crits/sneak attacks, which is an improvement, and get.. kind of evasion, but for fortitude saves in place of evasive, which is not. You get kind of bonuses to AC vs non spell or melee touch attacks in place of nimble, which is terrible, and fighter's armour training. This is now pretty decent with the advanced armour training options, which you qualify for, so it's worth looking at this.

Gunner Squire: Feels kind of like someone you'd hire to look after your guns. Help people make distance ranged attacks more easily, reload lots of stuff at once and make guns less likely to misfire. Don't lose out on much (gunslinger's dodge/initiative and nimble +1). It's not great, but it's not terrible, either.

Maverick: Bonuses to gambling type checks, improved unarmed strike and dazzling display in place of gunslinger's dodge/initiative and pistol whip. It's a classic gunslinger image, and quite effective.

Musket Master: Despite the name, this is great for the two-handed guns. You lose out on utility shot and gunslinger's dodge, but get the valuable rapid reload feat for muskets for free and all up faster loading, not to mention gun training on all your two-handed firearms. If you're using a two-handed gun, this is practically an essential.

Mysterious Stranger: You use your charisma in place of wisdom for everything, which is of mixed blessings. Swap quick clear for a charisma to damage ability (which is again of mixed blessings), but you do get to ignore misfires completely based on your charisma, which is arguably better. Can deal damage even on a miss in place of bleeding wound, and bonuses to will saves in place of nimble. Gun training comes a little later. It's got its boons and banes, but I think it's quite reasonable.

Pistolero: Well, you're going to be pretty close up here, since you only have the terrible range of one-handed firearms. You can spend grit to deal precision damage on a shot regardless of whether it hits or not in place of startling shot (in effect), and can knock a target down if you hit it twice in place of bleed. Gun training applies to all one-handed firearms instead. This suffered in an errata, where the precision damage used to be able to be constant, so now it really lacks the oomph of its two-handed counterpart.

Siege Gunner: Intelligence based instead of wisdom. Bonus to Knowledge(engineering) in place of nimble, which is blah (and probably worse). Deal your level in precision damage on a single target (growing to more) with a scatter weapon in place of deadeye and getting bigger cones with scatter weapons in place of initiative. You get to be very, very fast with siege weapons, which is great if you're intending on using them, but not so good in normal combat. Has the potential to be super damaging, more so than others, although it does have its trade-offs.

Techslinger: This is essentially basic gunslinger, but for futuristic firearms instead, including, happily, the ability to use no energy when they fire a tech gun. Obviously you should only even consider this if you're sure of reliable access to high-tech stuff, but it's a clear best choice if you do.

Wyrm Sniper: Another siege weapon archetype, specifically for quickly beating up dragons/other winged creatures. Yay. It's less practical than the Siege gunner, despite its differences, so use that instead. Shame they don't stack.

Well, that was surprisingly quick. Not much to gunslingers, apparently. There are feats and stuff of course, but these are things that will probably eventually be covered in a feat thing.


This class merits a bit of a mention here, since it's effectively a melee archetype of the class. It's admittedly from the hugely sketchy Advanced Class Guide, so keep that in mind. Here are the big differences:

Panache: This is grit, but charisma based. Also, apparently when you get access to the same resource from two sources, they stack, and you can use them for the same things. Shame that doesn't work for things like ki or similar things or, you know, make logical sense.

Charmed Life: Add Charisma to saving throws as an immediate action. Shame there's no gunslinger equivalent. Guess it's maybe to make up for Charisma being a mechanically weaker stat to base things on?

Swashbuckler Finesse: Replacement for gunsmithing, I suppose. Free weapon finesse.

Swashbuckler Weapon Training: Like gun training, but improved critical with all your weapons. I... guess it's a fair trade for dex to damage with guns? And that guns have better crits anyway?

Bonus feats apparently also count as fighter feats for some reason, and you can swap them around.

Swashbuckler Weapon Master: Way better than silly old true grit, your crits (with their auto-expanded range) auto confirm, and their crit multiplier increases by 1.


Derring-do: Bonus on athletic type skills for panache to replace deadeye. Fair enough, I guess.

Opportune Parry and Riposte: Spend panache for a chance to not only completely negate an attack, but hit back. To replace quick clear, I guess. Insanely good.

Kip Up: This would be a much better choice for a replacement for quick clear, and would stop silly little dips. Stand up quickly without provoking.

Menacing Swordplay: Intimidate with a swift action on a hit. Blah, and I guess replaces pistol whip?

Precise Strike: Loads of extra damage on every hit. Not a clue what this replaces, but feels much too strong.

Swashbuckler's grace: No penalties for using acrobatics in combat. This presumably replaces Dead Shot, although would make more sense balancewise to replace Utility shot, and have precise strike come in here instead.

Evasive comes in 4 levels earlier for some reason. Presumably to replace lightning reload?

Subtle blade: Immunity to having stuff done with your weapon what? Doesn't often happen, but feels cheap that you can't even damage it for some reason. Presumably to replace expert loading?

Dizzying Defense: Cheap. Extra attack at BAB-2 as a swift action, so you can get an extra 4 AC. I don't even know what these are replacing anymore.

Perfect Thrust: Full round action to ignore DR and target touch AC.

Swashbuckler's Edge: Take 10 on the Derring-Do skills at any time. Yeesh, what a let down for a level 15 ability. Surely this could have been combined with the earlier version, or replaced one of the more broken things.

So, those are the changes. Sure, hitting touch AC and being ranged is nice, but I can't help but feel like these benefits are more than just a little strong for what you're getting.
Anyway, here are some archetypes as well.

Corsair: Lose Nimble, initiative and targeted strike to maybe steal stuff, intimidate bonuses and see through fog a little better. Rubbish, since you lose targeted strike.

Daring Infiltrator: Bonus bluff and disguise, and ability to easily silence things in place of charmed life, initiative, menacing swordplay and bleeding wound. Disguise is a great skill, and silencing stuff easily is always worth it.

Rondelero Swashbuckler: Falcata proficiency (excellent exotic weapon), and several sunder/disarm boons in exchange for Kip Up, Derring Do, Bleeding Wound, Perfect Thrust and delayed charmed life. Actually strongly worth considering as a default option.

Flying Blade: You only get to use daggers and starknives here, but you get all of your benefits when you throw them. Also, it's even easier to hit every single thing that attacks you. That last bit easily makes up for the relatively poor weapons.

Guiding Blade: Bonus feats are teamwork feats, and you're in general helpful. Fewer bonuses to yourself, but more to your friends. Ultimately depends on your group, but you do lose the very useful opportune parry and riposte, so it's maybe not so good.

Inspired Blade: Takes one of the standard swashbuckler weapons and makes you better with it. Also gives you much more panache. Penalty? Only being able to use a weapon you were probably going to use anyway. No brainer to take this one.

Mouser: Move into creatures squares to flank, steal from and stagger bigger things with very little penalty beyond losing bleeding wound (for something terrible) and opportune parry and riposte.

Musketeer: This is the hilarious archetype where it tries to go back to it came from, so it can use guns. So take regular gunslinger!

Mysterious Avenger: Get a 'secret identity' in place of nimble, more charmed life and ability to use it on AC in place of first bonus feat and flat out better swashbuckler weapon training that also gives social bonuses. Only loss of nimble makes this not fabulous.

Noble Fencer: Immune to intimidate and be much better at social skills in place of nothing much beyond subtle blade. Lose charmed life for static bonus vs mind affecting. Losing subtle blade is the only thing stopping this being fabulous.

Picaroon: Dual Wield piercing things and pistols. Only flaw with this is... you don't have enough hands. If it weren't for that, this'd be worth considering, even though you do lose parry and riposte and bleeding wound. Heck, it even gives you free TWF.

Veiled Blade: Be good at hiding your weapon on you in exchange for nothing much beyond opportune parry. So that makes this barely worth it.

Whirling Dervish: Easy dex to damage in exchange for not much. Clashes with a lot of things though, since everything swaps out bleeding wound.

Last edited by Quark on Thu Nov 10, 2016 12:08 am; edited 1 time in total

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I've added swashbuckler here because it's basically a gunslinger archetype. Although arguably better mechanically, if you take out the ranged and touch AC as major considerations.

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