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Way Of The Gun- Part 10-2: DIY Gunslingers Take Heed! RETURNS

Here we are again, with continuation of a horrible abomination that started with the ghetto blaster. Here for your delight are some more prime selections of hastily-assembled firearms. Enjoy!

The 1740

Similar to the ghetto blaster, this is more of a modification to a common weapon than a truly improvised-from-scratch one. It involves strapping a pair of Remington M-870s together, side-by-side. Though bulky and heavy, you’re left with a pump-action double barrel shotgun. Now you’re ready to turn the idea of human skeet shooting into a gory reality.

A number of… we’ll call them “options”, exist which can be integrated into a 1740, each of which is detailed below.

Ingredients: Remington M-870 (or other similar pump-action 12 gauge shotgun) x2

Nuts, bolts, and other hardware x(many)

Metallic lunchbox (optional) x2

Directions: Due to the presence of significantly more working parts than one finds in a double-barrel, only a DC 20 Repair or Craft (Mechanical) check can complete the 1d4 hours of work in a machine shop necessary to construct a 1740. During this time, the builder may choose to reduce weight in up to 2 different ways.

Dove-tail butt-stock: DC 15 Repair or Craft (Mechanical) check. This replaces the 2 butt-stocks with a single, centrally-mounted one. Such a modification reduces overall weight by 2 lbs. Removing both butt-stocks requires only a DC 10 Repair of Craft (Mechanical) check, but confers a -1 instability penalty on attack rolls, due to its unwieldy nature.

Short Barrel: DC 12 Repair or Craft (Mechanical) switches the long-barrels for short ones (provided the builder has short barrels). Alternatively, the builder may choose to simply saw-off the existing barrels (which requires a strong enough saw, but no skill check). Either way, 1740s with short barrels have a range increment of only 10 ft., but weight is reduced overall by 4 lbs. Longer barrels retain both their longer range increment and their heavier weight.

Ammo cans: The recipe calls for old-fashioned metal lunchboxes, but really, any similarly sized and shaped metal box that can be machined will do. It takes a DC 20 Craft (Mechanical) check to complete the necessary modifications, which takes 1d4 hours in a well-appointed machine shop. A 1740 can have either one or two such ammo cans; each adds 4 lbs to overall weight, and fifty 12 gauge shotgun shells between each reload. Zoinks!

Sample 1740

Damage: 3d10, Critical: 20×2, Range Increment: (10ft. short barrel; 30ft. long barrel), Rate of Fire: Single, Magazine: (6-12 internal, or; 50 box, or; 100 dual boxes), Size: Large, Weight: (base 15 lbs.; -4lbs. short barrel, +4lbs. 1 box, +8lbs. 2 box, -2lbs. dove-tail, -4lbs. no stock), Purchase DC: you can’t really buy these…

Special: A 1740 discharges two rounds at once. If it should happen that only a single barrel is loaded, then that attack is resolved as a normal shotgun attack, albeit with an additional -1 (since the barrel would be off-center). If ammo boxes are used, replacing a full one is a move-equivalent action which provokes attack of opportunity. If boxes are not used, then the 1740 relies on the internal magazines of its constituent shotguns; reloading each is a separate full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

NOTE: In the event of a critical failure, generally only 1 of 2 barrels fails at a time (DM’s discretion); if, in this event, further attacks are made before repairs to the jammed portion, then the critical failure range increases from 1-2. Note the cumulative -1 attack penalty for an off-set barrel.

Zip gun

Like the flare gun gone wild, the zip gun is the answer to a small, discreet way to get someone else’s gun off of them. A decidedly more subtle option, the zip gun favors a smaller (and therefore less noticeable) caliber round. Usually a small pistol caliber bullet is used, such as a .32, .22LR, or 9mm. Just as disposable as the flare gun gone wild, the zip gun generally destroys itself when fired. Designed to be used at point-blank range, zip guns are less firearm and more tool that runs on bullets. Despite their small size, they still require 2 hands to operate.

Ingredients: Metal ink pen x1

Pistol caliber bullet x1

Surgical straps x2

Duct tape x1ft.

Nuts, bolts and other such hardware x(many)

Directions: It takes 15 minutes and a Repair or Craft (Mechanical) check DC 15 to assemble the ingredients into a zip gun. Thereafter, the user “cocks” it with a move-equivalent action, then fires it with an attack action. There is a cumulative 50% chance per shot fired that a zip gun destroys itself (but still discharges the shot). “Reloading” one is a crude process that takes a full round action and provokes attacks of opportunity. If you insist on reloading one. Which is dumb.

Sample zip gun…

Damage: (2d4-.22LR, .32, and the like, or 2d6- 9mm, .45ACP, and the like), Critical: 20×2, Type: Ballistic, Range Increment: 5ft.,Rate of Fire: Single, Magazine: 1 internal, Size: Tiny, Weight: .5lbs, Purchase DC: you DEFINITELY cannot buy these HIGHLY ILLEGAL devices…

Special: A zip gun can be used to make touch attacks. If it is use in this way, the shooter also takes full damage dealt by any attacks, but in the form of subdual damage.

NOTE: Zip guns critically fail on a roll of 1 or 2. In the event of such a failure, the shot is still discharged, but the shooter takes half of the damage dealt by the shot.

Bike shop SMG

This variety of weapon more often turns up in the hands of partisans than any others, who generally have the time, resources, and advance notice enough to cobble together such a weapon. Historical cases aside (such as the Tec-9, PPSh-41, M-3 and Sten), “inventing” your own is a matter of sufficient wits, cheap parts, facilities and time. Generally chambered for some common pistol cartridge, these ramshackle weapons sometimes prove to be incredibly reliable. That said, quality can vary wildly between individual weapons. The design presented here was constructed in a well-appointed but altogether common bike shop, using parts and materials that were already there, and a few parts salvaged from broken guns.

Damage: 2d6, Critical: 20×2, Type: Ballistic, Range Increment: 30ft., Rate of Fire: Single, Auto, Magazine: 24 box, Size: Medium, Weight: 5lbs., Purchase DC: As with zip guns, bike shop SMGs are SUPER ILLEGAL, so you pretty much can’t buy them…

Special: Because they are not factory-machined, bike shop SMGs take a full round action to reload rather than a standard, despite their box magazines.

The Rule of Thumb: It can be summed up in one simple mantra; pick an existing SMG, nerf down all but one of its characteristics, apply the special trait described above, and boom. Done. Simple, right?

It takes a DC 25 Craft (Mechanical) check and 1d4 hours of work to slap together a bike shop SMG. But WAIT! There’s MORE!

The bike shop SMG is flat-out notorious for all manner of modifications intended to make it more dangerous, if not more deadly. Thanks to real-world terrorist groups- and action movies too numerous to mention- there is no way to compose a truly comprehensive list of everything anybody ever did to their improvised partisan gun to make it kill harder. Instead, this is a list of common ones; the most common ones, at least as determined by this author.

Huge-ass magazine: Doubling magazine capacity increases the weight by 1.5 lbs. and the Craft DC by 2.

Silencer: A silenced weapon is only audible to those who succeed on a DC 15 Listen check, but clumsy home-made silencers impose a -1 penalty to attack rolls (this penalty stacks with any others). Adding a silencer increases the weight by 1 lb. and the Craft DC by 2.

Burst fire: By sacrificing the ability to fire any other way, a bike shop SMG can be rigged to take advantage of the Burst Fire feat. Doing so increases the Craft DC by 4 and reduces the weight by 1 lb. It is generally not possible to have single, burst, and auto-fire options on a weapon that was not factory machined.

Really small: By eliminating the ability to fire any other way than auto, a really small bike shop SMG sheds much weight. It’s magazine size is reduced as a result by 50%, but it weighs half as much, and is considered Small size. Additionally, really small bike shop SMGs receive a +2 inherent design bonus to Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal it. All told, the really small modification adds 4 to the Craft DC to build a bike shop SMG.

In our next installment of DIY Gunslingers Take Heed!, we’ll be discussing the more defensive side of improvised weapons. After all, an insurgent can ever be too careful!

Until then, game on, nerds!

Hicks (I once shot a guy’s ear off)

Snout (Yes, I take him with me into public. It’s actually not that bad)

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Way Of The Gun- Part 10: DIY Gunslingers Take Heed!

Here we discuss the time-honored tradition of slapping together whatever you can for a weapon and rushing off to war with it. Often, PCs may find themselves in a desperate situation, lacking serious hardware, but with a real need for weapons. Plenty of historical and pseudo-historical figures fit right in with this idea.

The partisan fighter- When the national troops fail, it is sometimes up to the motivated civilian guerilla fighter to even the odds. Lacking the same kind of support and infrastructure of a larger, regular fighting force, partisan fighters are forced to resort to whatever means.

The insurgent- Conventional armies are cumbersome, unsubtle things, and espionage calls for the exact opposite. Thus, the insurgent, operating deep within enemy lines, be he sniper, assassin, or saboteur, is often forced to find unconventional means to fight.

The desperate- We’re dipping a bit into ’90s action flick convention here, but we are also talking about d20 Modern, so I figured it was appropriate. Maybe you’ve barricaded yourself inside a machine shop. Maybe the terrorists locked you up inside a tool shed. Whatever the conditions, sometimes the truly desperate are forced to improvise.

The idiot kids- Maybe the neighborhood would have been better off if their parents had just broke down and bought them the BB gun they asked for. It certainly would be less dangerous than that home-made flamethrower, or the pipe bomb they made in shop class. Truth is, kids- even the smart ones- do dumb shit. For that matter, so do adults; the more boredom is present in a system, the more likely it is to result in a dangerous improvised weapon. Sweet.

NOTE: All of the weapons presented here (except maybe the ghetto baster and 1740) are considered improvised weapons, and therefore bear an inherent -4 non-proficiency penalty. Infiltrators (as well as those with forgiving DMs) may overcome this penalty through class features. By selecting an exotic weapon proficiency feat specific to such an improvised weapon, you eliminate this penalty; but only for that weapon.

Ghetto blaster

If you’ve ever thought that your double barreled shotgun left something to be desired, you are certainly not alone. That’s probably what the inventor of this completely ludicrous firearm thought (if in fact, he thought at all) when he made it. The key to success? Take 2 of those double barreled shotguns and securely strap them together. Duct tape, steel hose clamps, zip ties, or whatever your DM deems appropriate are all you need to turn those 2 mundane double barrels into 1 ridiculous personal cannon.

Ingredients: Double barreled shotgun (over/under or side-by-side, according to taste) x 2

Some way to attach those 2 shotguns together (see below) x 1

Optional: Either a shortened set of barrels for each shotgun, or a saw of sufficient strength to cut gun barrels (in order to reduce the ghetto blaster’s overall weight, which can be significant)

Things that will actually work to stick two shotguns together: welding (Craft (Mechanical) DC: 15), sovereign glue, no less than 1 steel hose clamp per 5″, nuts and bolts an other such hardware (Craft [Mechanical] DC 15), wrapping in heavy-gauge steel wire (Craft [Art] DC 15), whatever else the DM says will work.

Things that will not work to stick two shotguns together: duct tape (or non-magical tape of any kind), super glue (or non-magical glue of any kind), plastic zip ties, bread bag twist ties, rope, para-cord (or non-magical, non-metal wrappings of any kind), whatever the DM says will not work.

Directions: Simply combine the ingredients listed above, shorten barrels to taste and enjoy! Serves up to 4 (heh-heh, get it? ‘cuz it’s got 4 barrels).

Reloading any 1 barrel of a ghetto blaster is a move-equivalent action; fully reloading the whole thing takes 2 FULL ROUNDS. Hah!

The wielder of a ghetto blaster may choose to discharge all 4 barrels at once. He or she designates an area 10′ x 10’, and all in that area must make a Reflex save, opposed by the shooter’s Ranged Attack roll, or suffer full weapon damage (see below). Success indicates half damage. Using the ghetto blaster in his way deals 1d4 points of subdual damage to the shooter, due to tremendous recoil.

All of the normal procedures apply for whichever kind of skill check you use to create your ghetto blaster, including caveats such as how long it actually takes to perform the work, tools you may or may not need in order to do the work, and whether or not you provoke attacks of opportunity while doing the work. The final statistics of the weapon created depend upon the method used to create it, as follows…

over/under or side-by-side shotgun makes no difference, except in style and appearance.

Shortening your barrels reduces the weight by 3 lbs. per barrel, but reduces the range of the ghetto blaster by half.

using nuts and bolts and other hardware, steel hose clamps, or welding adds 1 lb. to overall weight; sovereign glue adds none; wire-wrapping adds 5 lbs.

Ghetto blaster damage: If only a single barrel is discharged, then the attack and any damage it deals are resolved as normal for a shotgun (but note the heavier weight and possible shorter range). Per additional barrel discharged, a ghetto blaster deals an additional 1 die of damage, and increases the save DC of any effects imparted by special ammunition by 2. Elemental or secondary damage die (such as 1d6 fire for a flaming weapon) also increase by 1 per additional barrel. Up to 3 barrels may be fired at an individual target, but a shooter can only make an area attack by discharging all 4 barrels at once.

A sample follows…

Ghetto blaster (based upon the Sawed-off 12 gauge shotgun as present in d20Modern, except I changed the damage to what it “should” be, and extrapolated figures for weight and barrel length. Based on what works in my own game. Make of that what you will.)

Damage: 2d10, Critical: 20×2, Type: Ballistic (or by ammunition type), Range Increment: (10ft. short barrel; 20ft. long barrel), Rate of Fire: Single, Magazine: 4 internal, Weight: (base 8lbs. short barrel, 14 lbs. long barrel; see above), Purchase DC: you can’t really buy these…

Flare guns gone wild

It turns out that commercially available nautical emergency flare launchers need very little in the way of modification to become much more deadly. Though doing so ruins the flare gun, it can be bored out in order to fire 12 gauge shotgun shells. Which, it goes without saying, is a VERY powerful weapon in a very small (non-metallic) package. The ideal choice in some cases for divorcing a sentry of his weapon.

How does it work? Take your nautical emergency flare launcher and a hand-held rotary tool. Using a steady hand and just a few minutes (Repair DC 15) you can easily modify the device to accept 12 gauge shotgun shells. Such a contraption has statistics as follows…

Damage: 2d10, Critical: 20×2, Type: Ballistic (or by ammunition type), Range Increment: 10 ft., Rate of Fire: Single, Magazine: 1 internal, Size: Tiny, Weight: 0.5lbs (loaded), Purchase DC: you can’t really buy these…

Special: Characters receive a +5 bonus on Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal a flare gun gone wild, due to its small size, light weight, and non-ferrous nature. If it is not loaded, a flare gun gone wild will not set off a metal detector.

Special: Every time a flare gun gone wild is fired, it suffers a cumulative 10% catastrophic failure chance. In the event of a catastrophic failure, the device explodes in the shooter’s hand, dealing its full damage to him or her and destroying itself in the process. No amount of non-magical repair can fix the innumerable tiny fractures throughout the plastic body of the flare gun that causes this kind of failure.

Handy home-made flamethrower

Frankly, as easy as it is to make one of these, I’m surprised we don’t hear about these more in the news. If Compton ever figured it out, I’m convinced that all of southern California would burn. If you’ve got a canister of flammable propellant, a pilot light of some type, and a blower, you’re a few hours and a trip to the hardware store away from sweet flaming awesomeness. Simply put, there are infinite-billion ways to do this. Since your way is the smartest, coolest and best, I’ll focus on my significantly less-cool version. Plus I ain’t trying to type out infinite billion of these stat blocks. Screw that.

Ingredients: Camping stove-sized propane tanks x 1 (up to 3 possible)

Gas line x 10ft.

Zippo lighter x 1

Gunstock (fore grip recommended but optional) x 1

Valves, gauges, and the like x (many)

Nuts, bolts, and other such hardware x (many)

Directions: In an open, well-ventilated area, combine ingredients on a well-appointed workbench (vises, gripping arms, lights and other tools will be necessary). A Repair or Craft (Mechanical) check at DC 25 completes the handy home-made flamethrower in about 15 minutes; 3 consecutive successful Repair or Craft (Mechanical) checks completes it in about an hour.

NOTE: Failing any skill check to construct a handy home-made flamethrower causes a conflagration that destroys the device instantly, and deals 4d6 fire damage to the builder. A successful Reflex save at DC 15 halves this damage. If the builder does not extinguish the flames in 1d6 rounds (a large bucket of water of an average home fire extinguisher will do), the workbench and any tools upon it are also destroyed, burning down to embers in 1d6 hours. Obviously, if the workbench is inside a structure, then that structure is in real jeopardy of burning as well.

A sample handy home-made flamethrower

Damage: 2d6, Critical: N/A (the handy home-made flamethrower is an area weapon), Type: Fire, Range Increment: 20ft. long, 5 ft. wide line only, Rate of Fire: 1, Magazine: 6/tank (up to 18 with 3 tanks), Size: Large, Weight: base 8lbs., +2lbs. per additional tank, Purchase DC: you really can’t buy these…

Special: The Reflex save for half damage is directly opposed by the shooters’ ranged attack roll; failure on this save indicates that the target has caught fire (uh-oh!)

Directions: Unscrewing an empty propane tank and screwing in a new one is a full-round action; one that provokes attacks of opportunity (duh). Switching between an empty tank and a full additional tank is a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity (which can only be taken by those with an appropriately-equipped handy home-made flamethrower).

Next time, we lay out some more slick, spiffy weapons, cobbled together with haste.

Guns, HO!

Hicks and Snout (Just in case you were dumb enough to try, we feel the need to point out: don’t try this at home)

Miniature Madness- The Second Coming: Phantom Minis!

You can all finally breathe again, ladies and gentlemen- G.P. Humongous is back! And in fact, after a brief cabaret tour through the French-Canadian wilderness, I must say I’m feeling quite vigorous. Nothing sets the humours to rights like a bit of gin and dressing in ladies’ clothing, I always say.

But enough about the intrigues of a handsome, burly, and available New-Englishman (who seeks the same, wink, wink), let’s move on to the reason we all have carpal tunnel syndrome.

The minis.

When last we left, I had been regaling you with the anecdotes of my Orkish forces and their a-typical leader, Draaz. Their tales promise to continue, with new and greater adventures and exploits than ever before! Let me assure you, under the protective shadow of Draaz’ good graces, the Mekboy Bitzbarfer has flourished, producing war machines and hulking metal monstrosities the likes of which may never have been seen before amongst the Orks.

In addition to Draaz and his countless hordes, I now field a second army; the Catachan 9th Witch Doctors. These highly irregular Imperials field a number of unique units, including their notorious “Battle Toads;” horse-sized poisonous tree frogs with heavy bolters or Sentinel cabs strapped to their backs. The Witch Doctors also boast an impressive sylvan fortress, which will be featured in its own article, along with a literal forest of foliage, plant-life, and jungle terrain tips.

The infamous international mercenaries, Hicks and Snout, will be joining us as well. Hicks will be featured in our (lengthy, informative, and enriching) strategy and tactics discussions, wherein grown men busy themselves with the finer points of moving tiny plastic men across a table top (a worthy past-time). Snout will be showcasing her brand-new -and yet quite fearsome- force of Space Wolves. As she is new to Warhammer 40k (and table-top strategy gaming in general), she and I will explore the many ardors which confront a gamer new to the genre. Despite her gender disadvantage (I do prefer the males), her stellar record in killing regular-size real men promises to translate into a stellar record in killing tiny plastic men.

In addition to Warhammer 40000, we’ll be digging up a gem presented early in this blog’s history by Pain. I’m talking about Dungeons Lite, of course, and we’ll be conducting thorough beta testing and research of that still-almost-totally-virgin game system. I must say, the prospect of a swifter, simpler (perhaps, more elegant?) game has a great deal of allure for this burlesque dancer.

In conclusion, I leave you with the explanation behind this post’s title; the minis in this article must remain as ethereal as the titular phantom; oft discussed, yet unseen. Forgive me, oh reader, yet I ask of you to tarry. Soon, very soon, something wicked this way comes.

G.P. Humongous (Those burly hockey boys loved our show in Quebec)

Way Of The Gun- Part 9: Wanted Edition

We were thinking back the other day to when we watched the movie Wanted, with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. And, well… how should we put it…

Simply put, you cannot bend bullets. It’s impossible to change the trajectory of a bullet without enacting a force upon it during flight. Remember that, because it will coincidentally keep coming up.

We also noticed that the characters tended to fire in weird ways that would normally result in a miss. So, if you choose to shoot in the way portrayed in the movie, you suffer a -10 penalty to hit. By making the weapon and yourself as unstable as possible, you all but guarantee a miss. Likewise, you acquire neither sight picture nor steady, solid firing stance, meaning the recoil of the weapon is going to throw the shot even further off target in a random direction. When using this technique, an attack roll of 2 or 3 on a d20 means that the attack is resolved against a random target instead of the intended one. Since the bullet might literally fly anywhere, even characters behind the shooter are not safe. Fortunately for those adjacent to such a shooter, -10 to hit means he or she is most likely just fantastically wasting ammo.

Now, some of you may be wondering “wait a minute. A -10 to attack? A roll of 2 or 3 is resolved against someone else? What bonus do you get to offset that penalty, to make it worth using?” Uh, there isn’t one. It’s a bad way of attacking that is far less effective than the normal method. There’s a reason Wanted isn’t shown as part of a SEAL’s training regime.

Now, do you remember that thing you were told to remember from earlier? Here’s where it comes into play. It is physically impossible to alter the trajectory of bullets before you fire them. It IS possible, however, to alter their path AFTER you fire them, by using something that changes or alters its path midflight.

Telekinesis is one option, as I’m certain at least  few players have considered, along with a variety of other move-things-remotely spells (Mage Hand and the like). Such a spell would have to be prepared and readied in advance of the shot, and the timing of the spell-caster actually casting the spell would have to be perfect. “Practice” is the key word here. But it totally IS possible, and could be quite useful in the right situation.

Since I’m not in the mood to look up the physics behind exactly how much force is needed to change the trajectory of a given bullet fired from a given gun, what follows are some rulings on how to make bullet bending jive in your game.

“What’s the point?” You’re probably asking. (Man, what’s with the questions? Can’t you jsut take me at my word?) ” Why bend your bullets to begin with?” Well, a bent bullet ignores cover (but not concealment) by flying right over it. Or around it. Or whatever.

As an arbitrary ruling, that I’m declaring with all the forethought of a shot from the hip, why not say something like; L (level of spell used to bend bullet) x 10 = P (percentage of cover a shooter can ignore by bending his or her bullet over it). Again, any such bullet-bending spell must be readied in advance (but not necessarily by the shooter) and should be restricted to a fairly exclusive list. DMs and players are encourage to work together to develop their own thing, but a few suggestions include…

Mage hand, telekinesis, gust of wind, wind wall, and any of the various Bigby’s hand spells.

Likely, you will find that some tailoring is required to make everything fit and jive and turn together just right. I intend not to pave the road for you, but rather to show you the path and supply you the stones.

But there is a pretty sweet use of a Friday night firefight classic in the movie. Namely, the meat shield. We’ve seen it before, this unquestionably brutal tactic, executed with grace by the likes of Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone. You grab up a bad guy and get behind him, while all his erstwhile allies pepper him instead of you. Eventually, you’re left holding what looks like a fistful of ground chuck (or Chuck! Ha!), spaghetti and tomato sauce. Then you drop that and grab another. Wash, rinse, repeat.

But of course, it ain’t that simple.

First, you establish a pin. In order to “pin” an opponent while still standing, all of the normal grapple check procedures apply, with an additional -10 penalty to the character initiating the grapple. This represents the inherent difficulty in seizing control of a person in this way.

Once “pinned”, the character doing the pinning is considered grappled and encumbered, with the exception that he or she has a singe hand free (presumably to make pistol attacks) and can take a single 5 foot step as a move-equivalent action, or a 10 foot move as a full-round action. If the grappled character chooses not to resist, then the grappling character automatically succeeds, and has his movement only halved (rather than reduced to 5), but is still considered encumbered. Casting spells while using a meat shield requires a concentration check at DC 15+ spell level.

While using a meat shield, you gain 90% cover from the front (and only from the front). Attacks that hit you (or those that miss within a margin of 5) are resolved against the meat shield instead of you. A meat shield can absorb damage in this way equal to the negative of its’ normal full total HP. For example, a goblin with 13 HP would provide 26 HP worth of meat shield.

Any attack which deals an amount of damage greater than the meat shield’s Constitution score (or Charisma, in the event that such a creature has no constitution) deals some of that damage to the character wielding the meat shield (and not to the meat shield itself). For example, Joe is using a goblin as a meat shield. The goblin has 13 HP and a CON score of 10. When Joe is hit by an attack that deals 8 damage (less than the goblin’s HP), the meat shield takes the attack instead. In the following round, Joe is hit again, this time for 11 damage. The goblin meat shield absorbs the first 10 damage (an amount equal to its constitution score), and the remaining 1 point of damage is dealt to Joe. This represents the capacity of bullets to punch through fleshy bodies.

So the next time you get mobbed by a gang of baddies, grab one of ’em up and put ’em to work for you. I know I will!

Hicks and Snout (masters of the meat shield technique, as many a law-enforcement entity will attest)

Way Of The Gun- Part 8: Equilibrium Edition

The Grammaton Cleric – When I saw the film Equilibrium for the first time, I about died. What an awesome movie. I mean, come on: Christian Bale, pistol ninja. How can you go wrong? What follows is my attempt at converting the Grammaton Cleric into gaming use.

Equilibrium is set in 2072 in Libria, a city state established by the survivors of World War III that devastated the world, where a totalitarian government requires all citizens to take daily injections of “Prozium” to suppress emotion and encourage obedience. All emotionally stimulating material has been banned, and “Sense Offenders” – those who fail to take their Prozium – are put to death, as the government claims that the cause of all wars and violence is emotion. Libria is governed by the Tetrgrammaton Council, led by “Father”, who is seen only on giant video screens throughout the city. At the pinnacle of Librian law enforcement are the Grammaton Clerics, who are trained in the martial art of gun kata. The Clerics frequently raid the “Nether” region outside the city to search for and destroy illegal materials – art, literature, and music – and execute the people hiding them. A resistance movement, known as the “Underground”, emerges with the goal of toppling Father and the Tetragrammaton Council.

In gaming terms, the Grammaton Cleric (despite its namesake) is a fusion of martial artist and gunslinger. They are emotionless murderers whose dual pistols are an extension, not only of their bodies, but their very consciousness. Cold, calculating and precise, Grammaton Clerics are perhaps best suited as enemy NPCs, rather than PCs (but hey, let your DM make the call).

The fastest path to becoming a Grammaton Cleric is through the Strong Hero class, though other paths are possible.

Prerequisites:

BAB +3

Feats: Two Weapon Fighting, Combat Martial Arts, Weapon Focus (any pistol)

Alignment: must be Lawful (LE, LG, or LN)

Special: must be able to suppress emotions, either through magic, chemicals, meditation, or whatever condition satisfies your DM. If a Grammaton Cleric should ever lose this ability, they lose all Grammaton Cleric class features until it is recovered.

Hit Die: d10

Action Points per level: 6+ 1/2 total HD, rounded down.

Skill points per level: 4+ Intelligence modifier

Class Skills: Balance, Climb, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Search, Investigate, Sense Motive, Jump, Tumble, Concentration, Knowledge (Tactics, Streetwise, Current Events, History, Theology and Philosophy)

Level—BAB—F/R/W—Defense—Reputation—Special

1———1——-0/1/1——–0————–0————Close Combat Shot

2———2——-0/2/1——–1————–0————Uncanny Dodge X

3———3——-1/2/2——–1————-1————-Bonus feat

4———4——1/3/2——–2————–1————Uncanny Dodge X

5———5——2/3/2——–2————–1————Opportunist

6——–6/1—–2/4/3——–3————–2————Uncanny Dodge X

7——–7/2—–3/4/3——–3————–2————Bonus feat

8——–8/3—–3/5/3——–4————–2————Re-roll surprise by spending an AP

9——–9/4——4/5/4——-4————–3————Bonus feat

10——10/5—–4/6/4——-5————–3————Ignore concealment

Bonus Feats: Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot, Double Tap, Improved Combat Martial Arts, Advanced Combat Martial Arts, Defensive Martial Arts, Advanced Firearms Proficiency, Quick Draw, Quick Reload, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Advanced Two-Weapon Fighting, Burst Fire, Dodge, Mobility, Shot-On-The-Run, Gun Kata*, Improved Gun Kata*, Advanced Gun Kata*

*New feat described here

Gun Kata – (Personal Firearms Proficiency, Weapon Focus [any pistol], Combat Martial Arts) – By spending one action point and making a full attack action, you may make a single extra pistol attack (a shot or a pistol whip) at your highest bonus, against a single target within 30 feet. This benefit only applies when wielding the pistol(s) you selected for Weapon Focus.

Improved Gun Kata – (Personal Firearms Proficiency, Weapon Focus [any pistol], Combat Martial Arts, Gun Kata) – By spending one action point and making a full attack action, you may make a flurry of pistol attacks (shots or pistol whips). The first attack is at your highest bonus, and each additional attack is at a cumulative -2 penalty. The only limit to the number of attacks that can be made in this way is the number of enemies within range and the number of bullets in your pistol(s). This benefit only applies when wielding the pistol(s) you selected for Weapon Focus.

Advanced Gun Kata – (Personal Firearms Proficiency, Weapon Focus [any pistol], Combat Martial Arts, Gun Kata, Improved Gun Kata) – By spending one action point and making a full attack action, you may make a single pistol attack (a shot or a pistol whip) at your highest bonus, against each target within 30 feet. This benefit only applies when wielding the pistol(s) you selected for Weapon Focus.

Maybe you’re wondering why it is that the gun kata feats are not class abilities. Well, there’s a simple reason. In the movie, we get to meet only three Grammaton Clerics. Of those, only one is shown to be able to perform gun kata. In fact, we only see two people who actually use gun kata (aside from extras shown practicing in a gym); the protagonist (a Grammaton Cleric) and the films’ arch-villain (not a Grammaton Cleric; not even close).

-Hicks and Snout (seriously, go watch it. Great movie)

Way Of The Gun- Part 7

The Vitruvian gun – Maybe you’re one of those trash-talking internet badasses that knows all there is to know about guns and ballistics. Maybe you have years of service in the military and on SWAT teams, or an entire shelf threatening to buckle under the weight of marksmanship trophies. You may even be a columnist for Guns & Ammo magazine. If that’s the case, then don’t even bother reading this article; you already know more than I do about firearms, so you could easily do this yourself.

But if none of those conditions apply to you, you might be wondering things like, “what all gadgets can I stick on my gun?” or “can this rifle accept a scope?”

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t always clear. Modern firearms can be complicated and complex machines; many require special hardware to accept scopes and other attachments. Some require all their accessories to be very specific. Here, we will focus on those which are considered to be “normal,” “standard,” and/or “typical.” Those firearms which lie outside of this caveat, should be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis by a DM.

Revolvers can accept:

  • laser sights
  • match sights
  • small underslung lights or strobes
  • ballistic compensators
  • long barrels
  • improved firing pins
  • protective coatings
  • scopes

Automatic and machine pistols can accept all accessories that revolvers can, plus:

  • suppressors or silencers
  • high-capacity magazines (but not drums)
  • extending wire stocks (most, not all)
  • vertical fore-grips (most, not all)

SMGs, rifles, and carbines can accept all accessories that automatic pistols can, plus:

  • double-stacked, triple-stacked, drum and Beta-C magazines
  • LAMs
  • bayonets
  • underslung weapons (flare launcher, grenade launcher, or shotgun)
  • bipods
  • vertical fore-grips and grip-pods
  • any variety of shoulder stock

Shotguns can accept:

  • choke tubes and muzzle brakes of all types
  • scopes (mostly for rifled slug-throwers)
  • laser sights (including LAMs)
  • any variety of shoulder stock
  • vertical fore-grips (for pump-action shotguns)
  • bipods
  • bayonets and underslung weapons (for automatic shotguns)
  • high capacity, double-stacked or triple-stacked magazines (for shotguns that rely on magazines)

To provide further clarity, each of the following lists indicate accessories that are mutually exclusive of one another. That is to say, in most cases, a given gun can be equipped with only one accessory from each of the following lists.

  1. laser Sight, LAM, flashlight
  2. underslung weapon, bayonet, bipod, vertical fore-grip, grip-pod, flashlight
  3. heavy barrel, long barrel, fluted barrel, gauss barrel
  4. folding stock, extending wire stock, collapsible stock
  5. rod & spring, Improved bolt
  6. suppressor, silencer, muzzle brake, ballistic compensator, barrel extender
  7. high capacity magazine, Beta-C magazine, drum magazine
  8. double-stacked magazine, triple-stacked magazine, Beta-C magazine, drum magazine
  9. scope, reflex sight

When in doubt, it can be surprisingly easy to obtain (via internet) vast amounts of data on just about every gun ever. I mention this because, like life itself, this is an exercise in exemptions and exceptions; it will likely require discussion and compromise.

Note: Don’t spend too much time making sure things are “accurate.” Focus instead on the important stuff- having fun playing the game. It can be very easy to mire down a game in hair-splitting detail, and that is the pits. Keep it fun and keep it rolling (but do stay consistent, however you rule as DM).

Hicks and Snout (bang bang bang)

Way Of The Gun- Part 6

Laser sight/LAM – The effectiveness of the laser sight stops at 30 feet but with a stronger, more intense beam that is visible at greater distances, the laser aiming module grants that same bonus at much farther distances. Despite this, it is less noticeable enemy eyes (being green) than a conventional red-dot laser.

A LAM costs twice as much as a laser sight and weighs twice as much, but depletes batteries at the same rate. It grants only a +1 bonus to hit, but the range at which that bonus still applies is 100 feet. Regardless of how many lasers you attach to a weapon, they never grant more than a +1 bonus to hit.

Price estimate: DIY: $1,000 USD, Installed: $1,100 USD

Slings and lanyards – Ever meet a guy that just can’t keep track of his weapons? Of course not, those kinda guys always end up disarmed and dead. Don’t be the guy who drops his rifle during a river crossing, or who fumbles his pistol down a storm drain.

When a character uses a sling (for a rifle or other long gun) or a lanyard (for pistols and other handguns), he or she may “drop” the weapon (freeing up both hands without losing an action to stow your weapon) without actually dropping it. Additionally, a rifle with a sling receives a +2 bonus on any attempts made to resist being disarmed. Even if it is only dangling abut a PCs neck or shoulders, a weapon with a sling or lanyard is considered to be an attended object.

Price estimate:$50 USD and up

Vertical fore-grip and grip-pod – In addition to looking cool, a vertical fore-grip helps provide a more stable firing platform. This stability affords a +1 to hit. Note that a weapon with a vertical fore-grip cannot be fired from the prone position. A grip pod transforms from a vertical fore-grip into a bipod with the flick of a switch.

Price estimate: Fore-grip: $100 USD and up, Grip-pod: $250 USD and up

Barrels – Long Barrel: At the cost of a 25% increase in weight, long barrels provide a 25% increase in range increment.

Price estimate: $200 USD (and up)

-Short Barrel: This attachment sacrifices 25% range increment in exchange for a +1 on Sleight of Hand checks made to conceal such a weapon.

Price estimate: $200 USD (and up)

-Heavy Barrel: At the cost of a 50% increase in weight, this barrel affords a +1 bonus to hit, due to reduced recoil.

Price estimate: $200 USD (and up)

-Fluted Barrel: A weapon equipped with a fluted barrel is much quieter than one without. Such a weapon can equip no suppressor, compensator, silencer or other end-of-the-barrel attachment, but detecting such a weapon being fired requires a base DC 20 Listen check.

Price estimate: $500 USD (and up)

Match Sights, Reflex Sights, and Scopes – Seeing is believing, and when it comes to firearms, seeing is… well, everything. Those accessories which help the shooter visualize his or her target are arguably some of the most important. Simply put, you generally can’t shoot what you can’t see.

-Match Sights: These kind of high-quality, high-visibility sighting apertures are about all the better one can aim without adding a scope. Common among Olympic and other competition shooters, match sights replace the normal “iron sights” of  gun. They remain highly visible in darkened, shady, or other low-light conditions (even glowing in total darkness). A weapon equipped with match sights enjoys a +1 to hit. Note that this bonus disappears if the “iron sights” are not being used (this bonus does stack with laser sights, but not with scopes of any kind).

Price estimate: 25% the cost of the weapon to be affixed with match sights (or more).

-Reflex Sights: Like a conventional scope, reflex sights afford greater magnification of targets, as well as a targeting reticle to help zero in your shots. Like iron sights, reflex sights are more open and easier to use than a scope, not denying the shooter peripheral vision or slowing their rate of fire. True to their name-sake, reflex sights are ideal for “reflex shooting,” such as close-quarters with shotguns, SMGs and pistols. Reflex sights can be used without taking a full-round action to make a single attack; they provide a +2 bonus to hit and no penalty to the shooters’ awareness.

Some reflex sights have an electronic reticle, others have small internal lamps (meaning they can be used at night or in low-light conditions without penalty). Both of these variants are dependent upon expensive but long-lived batteries, which are ultimately more trivial of a detail than I care to bother with.

Price estimate: Reflex sights are comparable in price to comparable scopes; a reflex sight that works in the dark costs about as much as a scope that works in the dark.

-Scopes: Most varieties of sighting scopes are well-covered in the rules presented in the d20Modern core rulebook. I generally add the homebrew caveat that a scope eliminates distance penalties to Spot checks according to their magnification factor. Take it or leave it as you will.

Magazines that are doing too much – Reloading is a pain in the ass, even when you can do it in some ridiculous, over-the-top, action movie way. But shooting -and more specifically, “plinking,” just blowing through ammo for fun- is awesome. The simple solution is to strap a huge box full of bullets to your gun. It takes longer to reload with a big fat magazine like that, but you can go a good long while without needing to.

-Double-stacked/Triple-stacked magazines: Take 2 magazines for your gun. Tape ’em together, one upside-down. Done. Also known as “piggy-backing”, this configuration reduces your reload time by 1 action (since all you have to do is eject the mag, turn it over, and re-insert it). The same trick can be done with 3 magazines (but generally no more than that), and many shooters prefer to spend money on a polymer resin cradle that replaces the duct tape.

Generally speaking, reload time drops from 1 standard action to 1 swift action, and your gun is just a bit heavier. I’m sure that will be no problem for your burly PC.

Price estimate: $50 USD (and up, for the polymer resin cradle)

-Drum magazine: Generally coming in 50- and 75-round varieties, the drum magazine says “to hell with how heavy my gun is, I need all the bullets.” Some guns receive drum mags with no problem, others require special adapters or modifications, and for some guns it (sadly) just isn’t possible.

As a rule of thumb, a gun with a fully loaded drum mag weighs 50% more than that same gun with a fully loaded normal magazine.

Price estimate: $100 USD (and up)

-Beta-C magazine: Stick two 50-round drum magazines together with a motorized feed mechanism and you’ve got a Beta-C. It functions just like a drum mag, except that a weapon with such a massive ammo supply weighs 2x as much as a similar gun with a normal magazine.

Price estimate: $250 USD (and up- usually up).

NOTE: Loading a drum mag or a Beta-C mag takes 5 minutes for every 25 rounds.

-High-Capacity magazine: Costing (about) twice as much as normal magazines and holding (generally) any amount of rounds less than 50 and more than the normal capacity, the “hi-cap” mag is arguably the most practical solution to the “not enough bullets in my mag” problem.

NOTE: What exactly constitutes a “hi-cap mag” can vary wildly from gun to gun. Research (at least casual internet browsing) is recommended.

-DIY hi-caps: Craft (mechanical) DC 15, requiring the use of a modest machine shop (or better) and an hour of uninterrupted work. The raw materials cost about $25 USD.

Hicks and Snout (love they guns, love ’em like chillin)

Way Of The Gun- Part 5: Jagged Alliance Edition

Jagged Alliance 2 is a PC game recommended for anyone who loves squad-based tactics, guns, and strategy. It was a game that- for us- stroked our internal gun nerd. We have designs on introducing more material converted from Jagged Alliance 2 in later posts. For now, enjoy this teaser.

Rod & Spring
With the right type of aluminum rod, the right type of spring, and access to some basic machining tools, you can fabricate this device. Doing so takes a DC 18 Repair or Craft (Mechanical) check, and about 5 minutes of a PC’s time. When installed into an appropriate firearm (DC 15 Repair or Craft [Mechanical]), it grants an additional attack at your lowest bonus in a round where you use said weapon to make a full-round attack.

Barrel Extender
By slapping together a properly milled steel tube, duct tape, and a substantial amount of industrial-strength super glue (Repair DC 13) and then fixing that device to the end of a gun, you increase its range by 30%. The entire process of making and attaching a barrel extender takes no more than 20 minutes.

Duck Bill
Affixed to the end of a shotgun, this turns the weapon into an area of effect weapon, targeting a 5′ x 10′ area and forcing reflex saves for all those in the affected area. Attaching one requires a DC 13 Repair or Craft (Mechanical) check.

Price estimate: $200 USD (and up)

Rocket Rifle
This high tech killing machine fires self-propelled, fin-stabilized rockets, either high density armor piercing or high explosive. Occasionally, it will instead be the notorious HEAP round (high explosive, armor piercing)

Damage: 3d10 piercing + Ignore 5 Hardness (Armor piercing), or 4d8 slashing and fire (High explosive), or 4d8 slashing and fire + Ignore 5 Hardness (HEAP)

Range Increment: 100 feet, Critical: 19-20 x 2 (due to the computerized scope which is integrated into the weapon), Size: Large, Weight: 18 lbs., Rate of Fire: Single, Type: Exotic ranged weapon, Special: +2 to hit, due to Mastercraft quality and an integrated laser aiming module.

Where available, these weapons command a handsome price. $10,000 USD can be thought of as a bare minimum.

Auto Rocket Rifle
This version of the rocket rifle differs from the former in its ability to fire on automatic. Special rules govern this kind of attack, as follows.

Double Tap: AP damage – 3d10 + Ignore 7 Hardness, HE damage – 5d8, HEAP – 5d8 + Ignore 7 Hardness, Note: Even a “normal” rocket rifle is capable of a double tap.

Burst Fire: AP damage – 3d10 + Ignore 10 Hardness, HE damage – 6d8, HEAP – 5d8 + Ignore 10 Hardness

Auto Fire (to all within targeted 10′ x 10′ square): AP damage – 4d10 + Ignore 5 Hardness, HE damage – 6d8, HEAP – 5d8 + Ignore Hardness, Note: This attack can only be performed with a full magazine; the onboard computer will not allow it otherwise.

SPECIAL…

  • A Rocket Rifle has an electronic security measure that allows only one person to use it. Through fingerprint and palm recognition, as well as “smart” pressure sensors, rocket rifles identify and key themselves to a single individual. Simply pulling the trigger of a “clear” (not yet keyed) Rocket Rifle will immediately key the weapon for use by that person alone. Thereafter, the integrated computer will not activate if being handled by anybody else.
  • If you obtain a Rocket Rifle that has already been keyed, you need to  “repair” it in order to reset its ID before you can use it. Doing so takes 1d4 hours, during which time a technician with at least 4 ranks in Computer Use must succeed on 2 consecutive Craft (Electronics) checks at DC 20, and a Computer Use check at DC 25.

Hicks and Snout (know when to hold ’em and know when to shoot with extreme prejudice ’em)

Way Of The Gun- Part 4

C-4 bullet trap – So you’ve burst into the bad guy supply depot and discovered more ammo than you can possibly loot. You could destroy it, or, you could take a few (or a lot) of them, carefully empty out the gunpowder and replace it with C-4, and leave them there for other bad guys to come across. When a bullet has been “trapped” in this way, no amount of visual scrutiny can detect it; the round simply looks hand-loaded.

If you’ve had the misfortune of loading your weapon from an ammo cache with trapped bullets in it, bad things ensue. In this case, you take 4d6 points of ballistic damage. All remaining ammunition (and even the magazine holding it) is destroyed. The weapon must save (DC 15) or be destroyed outright; even on a successful save, it still takes a like amount of damage as the wielder (and may therefore still end up destroyed). How likely it is that this happens in a given round depends upon the percentage of trapped bullets in the cache from which the weapon was loaded, where

(percentage of ammo that is trapped)/2=(percentage chance per attack that a trapped bullet goes off)

For example…

If 10% of the ammo in the cache is trapped, there is a 5% (rounding down, if necessary) chance each time a weapon loaded from such a cache is fired that it blows up. Auto-fire (and any other attack which discharges more than one round at a time) doubles this chance.

Creating a C-4 bullet trap requires a DC 13 Repair or Demolitions check, a demolitions kit, and a half a pound of C-4, as well as the use of a reloading bench. One such check takes about an hour, and yields about 20 trapped bullets. Larger calibers make less, smaller calibers make more.

Note: An attack that triggers a trapped bullet is still resolved normally.

Perform (Rifle Drill) – Mostly, this skill is all about swinging and spinning your rifle in a visually impressive manner. However, a person particularly adept at rifle drill becomes intimately acquainted with the ergonomics of handling a rifle. Eventually, they may even learn to perform actions like reloading and clearing jammed rounds quicker than normal.

You can make a DC 20 Perform (Rifle Drill) check to perform any firearm-related task one action faster than normal. A full-round action reload becomes a move-equivalent action reload, and a standard action clearing of a jam instead becomes a swift action.

Sleight Of Hand (Cowboy Pistol) – Aside from being a good way to settle bar room contests without bloodshed, this skill can be used to confound and bewilder an opponent, leaving them off-balanced exactly as if they had fallen for a Bluff. Instead of being opposed by Sense Motive checks, however, this use of Sleight Of Hand is opposed by Spot checks.

Hicks and Snout (trust us, those bullet traps WORK)

Way of the Gun- Part 3

Rolling gun damage – This alternative rule is perhaps best reserved for a low or no magic setting. Or maybe for use by a gun-nut player. Here’s how it works; when rolling gun damage, pick a number on one of the die’s faces. Each time that value is indicated, roll again and add the new roll to the previous roll.

For example…

John shoots a goblin with his 9mm for 2d6 damage. He feels like 4 is his lucky number, so he declares it and then rolls. He gets a 3 and a 4, for a total of 7. Since he declared 4 to be his number, he rolls that die again, for a roll of 2. 7+2=9, so John deals 9 damage. There is no limit to the number of additional die that can be rolled and added to your damage in this way, but using this ability foregoes the additional damage (but not the automatic hit and other detrimental effects) of a critical hit.

The Gunblade! – Here’s a little treat for all you Final Fantasy VIII fans out there. Marrying revolver and long-sword, this versatile weapon blurs the lines between ranged and melee combat.

Used as a gun, it deals 2d6 ballistic damage (firing 9mm x 19 para bellum or .45 ACP), has a range of 40 feet, holds 6 rounds in an internal cylinder, threatens a critical on a 20, and may be fired 1- or 2- handed with no bonus or penalty. Reloading a gunblade is a full-round action, or a move-equivalent action if speed-loaders are used.

Used as a sword, it deals 1d8 slashing damage, threatens a critical hit on a roll of a 19 or a 20, and may be used 1-handed (+STR damage) or 2-handed (+STR and a half damage).

Rare and expensive in the extreme, the gunblade is by definition an Exotic weapon, requiring its own proficiency feat. It is also a double weapon, granting all the bonuses that double weapons do (provided that it is loaded).

Special: In a round where you hit an opponent in melee with a gunblade, you may make additional ranged attacks afterwards against that same opponent without drawing attacks of opportunity from that opponent (other adjacent opponents may still make attacks of opportunity, even in such a case.

Price estimate: $5,000 USD (and up. Also- good luck finding somebody to make you one.)

Hicks and Snout (yes, we know the gunblade in FFVIII doesn’t use ammunition. We had to make some concessions to get it to stat properly, however)