Wild West Firearms

I’m starting work on a Burning Deadlands kind of thing. Deadlands setting with BW rules. As part of that I need to make rules for 19th century firearms, which are obviously way ahead of the arquebuses in BWG. Here’s what I’ve got so far…

Note: light pistol refers to very small holdout weapons like the famous Derringer and other “pocket pistols.”

Firearm/Ranged Weapon Maneuver Mods

Weapon Optimal Extreme/OOR Max
melee - - 4 yds
light pistol 1d 1d 10 yds
thrown wpn 1d 1d 10 yds
pistol 3d 1d 30 yds
shotgun 2d 2d 40 yds
bow 1d 1d 80 yds
carbine 2d 3d 120 yds
rifle 2d 4d 200 yds
repeating rifle 3d 5d 200 yds

Range Table

Versus… melee lt. pistol thrown pistol shotgun bow carbine rifle
Extreme (1d) EXT EXT OPT OPT OPT
Optimal (2d) EXT OPT OPT OPT OPT
Extreme (2d) EXT OPT OPT OPT
Optimal (1d) EXT EXT OPT OPT OPT
Extreme (1d) EXT EXT OPT
Optimal (2d) EXT EXT OPT OPT
Extreme (3d) EXT OPT
OOR (3d) EXT
Optimal (2/3d) EXT OPT
Extreme (4/5d) EXT
OOR (4/5d)

I tried to take into consideration the ammunition capacity of each weapon in developing the maneuver mods. How hard would it be to advance or maneuver under fire from that weapon? Obviously it’s guesswork, as I’ve never been shot at directly. :slight_smile: Comments, criticisms, and resources would be very welcome! I did see the Wild West lifepaths on the wiki, and I like them a lot.

Purely a mechanical observation: you don’t have any 3D weapons in Extreme range. Thus you could probably reduce carbine to 3D (they’re not that great at range anyway), rifle to 4D and leave “repeating rifle” at 5D. If by repeater you mean gatling or maxim gun. And if that’s the case, they’re even worse at their optimal range.

I’d put Carbine at 3D, Rifle ad 5D and Repeater at 4D. I always found single shot rifles to choice over repeaters for long shots. My experience of older firearms is limited to a couple of early 20thC weapons though, so not sure about 19thC weaponry.

I was gonna mention the same thing, single shot are usually more accurate. And longer range aswell. I’d also increase Bow to atleast 1D - 2D, think of the indians! (also makes it different from throwing) The max ranges also feel a bit short to me.

My thoughts too. Happy with pistol.

Perhaps also a shotgun tweak so it’s more dangerous at optiminal. I feel that shotgun needs a bigger boost. It should be better than rifles and carbines because these are mid and long range weapons. I notice the extreme range for shotgun is greater than pistol, which is fine, and 2d is probably ok too, especially if carbine is changed to 3. What do you think about changing shotgun opt to 3? Or even changing it to 4!

Firearm/Ranged Weapon Maneuver Mods
Weapon Optimal Extreme
melee - -
light pistol 1d 1d
thrown wpn 1d 1d
pistol 3d 1d
shotgun 3d 2d
bow 2d 1d
carbine 2d 3d
rifle 2d 5d
repeating rifle 3d 4d

Shotgun vs pistol stats - at short range they are similar. This might seem odd because of the devastation that a shotgun could cause but this is offset by being single shot or maybe double barrel.

I mean “rifle” to indicate a breech-loading single shot rifle that fires cartridges, like the Sharps rifle. “Repeating rifle” doesn’t mean Gatling gun, which I plan to treat as an artillery piece, but a magazine-fed rifle like the Spencer repeater, or at least one you can push seven or so bullets into at once.

Luke, thanks for the observation. I’ll change carbine to 3d at extreme.

I figured repeating rifles would be better for maneuver because you don’t have to reload as often so you can keep pressure on your enemy to prevent him getting where he wants to be. If there’s an accuracy difference between repeating rifles and single-shot rifles I wouldn’t expect it to be noticeable at the level of graininess that BW provides. I’ll change it for now, but tell me if I was on the right track now that I’ve defined the weapons I’m on about.

I really can’t see bow at 2d for extreme range when compared against firearms. Heck, at extreme range you have the chance to dodge an arrow after he’s fired. Smart Indians use guns.

I suppose I could see changing the shotgun to 3d at optimal, making it better than a rifle. After all, you don’t have to aim a shotgun as precisely as a rifle and they’d have similar rates of fire. But I wanted pistols to have a better chance of suppression at close range because of their higher rate of fire. With the shotgun you know you can move after he fires one or two shots (I think pump-action shotguns didn’t come along until the 1890s).

I was going to give the shotgun a different DoF than the other weapons to reflect that precision is not as necessary. I’m not sure I understand the logic behind the different DoFs in BW, though. Why does the arquebus have such a disadvantageous DoF compared to the bow or crossbow?

How about pistols and rifles get 1-3 I 4-5 M 6 S and shotguns get 1-2 I, 3-5 M 6 S?

Edit: Oh, I just had a thought. What if I made reloading an action in Range and Cover and said you couldn’t reload and shoot in the same volley? You wouldn’t have to script reload, but on any volley where you were reloading you wouldn’t have the maneuver bonus of your weapon, so you’d be at a disadvantage against a man with a loaded gun and even ground against someone with a melee weapon. That would give another good reason for working in teams… as long as someone in the team had a loaded weapon you could maneuver with the bonus while you reload. If I did that, I wouldn’t have to reflect the differences in rate of fire on the maneuver chart. Maybe I could even do away with the maneuver chart and use a flat bonus for having a ready ranged weapon?

This is looking interesting. I think I would agree with rifles being 4D and repeaters being 5D at extreme range. These stats are used for R&C maneuvers, after all, not for firing off single shots.

I’m coming around to that view. The repeater is probably more valuable in R&C than a single shot gun.

That used to be how BWR worked but in BWG they changed it to lower optimal bonus dice to reflect the reload speed.

More details for Wild West firearms. I tried to keep to the spirit of Fight! with bullet-time levels of detail in reloading and charging weapons. I can’t wait to see some player exhaust his pistol and crack it open, shove one bullet in and snap it closed for the (hopefully) final shot!

Pocket Pistols include Derringers, knuckle dusters, and pepperboxes.
Pistols include single-action and double-action revolvers.
Shotguns are single-barreled or double-barreled.
Rifles and carbines are single-shot or repeater, and lever action, bolt action, or pump action.

Pocket Pistol
Actions: Fire Gun: 2
Capacity: 2 or 8
Actions: Fire Gun: 2
Capacity: 6
Actions: Fire Gun: 2
Capacity: 1 or 2

*at Optimal range the Shotgun gets +1 DoF

Rifle or Carbine
Actions: Fire Gun: 2
Capacity: 1 or 7

Guns in Fight!

Fire Gun: 2 actions, Ob 2. Guns do not give up advantage after they fire unless they are out of ammunition.

Snapshot: 1 action, Ob 4. Only single-action revolvers can script multiple snapshots in a row (fanning).

Fire Both Barrels: When using a double-barreled shotgun for the Fire Gun or Snapshot actions you may choose to Fire Both Barrels. If the shot hits, roll 2 DoF and apply each hit separately.

Charge Gun: 1 action. Cock the hammer, pump the handle, work the lever action, chamber a new round. Required between shots for all guns except double-action revolvers, pepperboxes, and shotguns.

Open Gun: 1 action. Expose the chamber for reloading. This gesture can also include dumping spent shells.

Ready Cartridges: 1 action. Take up to 6 pistol rounds or 4 rifle rounds into your hand from a belt or pocket.

Load Cartridges: 1 action. Insert 1 or 2 bullets (your choice) into an open gun.

Close Gun: 1 action. Snap the gun shut after reloading. If you’re using a bolt-action rifle this also counts as charging the gun.

I’m definitely going to be using these figures for an upcoming campaign, love the work! One question though: do you have any thoughts on how many resources these arms are going to cost relative to one another? Gun prices are not an area with which I’m terribly familiar. Thanks!

I’ve got a resources chart I made up with a few examples. It’s not hard to find some typical prices for stuff in a given decade, like this or this.

On my chart items under $10 are Ob 1, up to $30 are Ob 2, Up to $100 are Ob 3, up to $500 are Ob 4, up to $1000 are Ob 5. The only things above that would be properties or something crazy like warships. The kind of stuff companies and governments are more likely to buy than people.

The rate of inflation since 1870 is about 20 to 1. So $1 in 1870 is like having $20 now (although the prices of goods haven’t necessarily risen at the same rate). Wages are better now, too. A factory worker, soldier, or unskilled laborer would make about $1 a day, and a skilled person like a carpenter or saddler would be about $2.50 a day.

I found a listed example of a “used rifle,” which I think is probably a black powder muzzle loader used in the American Civil War, for $8 (Ob 1).
A pistol is $17 (Ob 2). This is a revolver.
A repeating rifle is $40-$50 (Ob 3).
A shotgun is $60 (Ob 3).

Based on that I’d probably put pocket pistols at Ob 2, and carbines and single-shot rifles at Ob 2 or 3.

I’ve been thinking a bit about Gatling guns. I figure the Gatling would be pretty unusable in Fight, since the enemy is already so damn close and the Gatling is difficult to move too much. I want to treat it as artillery more than a gun, so I think I’ll make it usable in R&C, not Fight, and it will use the Artillerist skill to fire. The body of the gun will provide 1 Ob of cover to the gunner, which can’t be improved by being in a forest or whatever - you need to be upright behind the gun to fire it.

From there on it gets a bit tougher to figure out. I think I’ll let the firer decide how many bullets to fire in each volley, from 10 to 20. Every 2 bullets fired will give him +1 to his Maneuver roll, so if he fires 20 bullets he can get +10 maneuver dice. It’s a huge bonus, especially if the firer also has a fortification, and will make it nearly impossible to advance against a Gatling gun, but enemies can still try to snipe the gunner by taking the Hold maneuver. If the Gatling gunner is in a team with other riflemen those riflemen will have plenty of time to take positions and aim while the Gatling keeps everyone’s heads down, but the gunner himself can’t use the maneuver successes for much. The Gatling can’t be aimed, so no aiming dice, and it can’t take a position, so no position dice, and the gunner can’t move away from the gun, so no physical actions.

The gun affects an area rather than shooting at particular targets, so targets have a moment as the rounds start landing to scramble for cover. I guess the firer can engage one entire team each time he fires. Any targets in the team must roll Speed vs. an Ob of half the gunner’s Artillerist skill (Ob 1 for an unskilled gunner) or be hit before they can scramble back into cover.

How’s that sound? I don’t think it’s quite perfect yet, but I’m not sure how. I do like how the Gatling is a defensive weapon in a skirmish that prevents enemies from advancing more than it actually kills them (although a really skilled artillerist would be pretty damn killy).

Edit: and it should jam sometimes, so a die of fate each time it fires?

Gattling guns are so big and heavy, I’d probably just make them plot points rather than actual weapons. Along the lines of "Roll Munitions to keep the gattling gun fed. Success means they’re shredded. Failure means you suffer an embarrassing jam.’

If you really want to use it in R&C, give it an ungodly number of maneuver dice, but require anyone using it to use the Hold maneuver. If you want to actually shift position with it, you need to take a Hold maneuver to limber the gun, during which it offers no dice, and then can maneuver normally at +2 obs, unless you abandon the gun. If you want to use it again, it takes a hold maneuver to unlimber it, during which it offers no dice, and then it goes back in action again. This is a machinegun with a 4 man crew… it don’t shift easily.

I like the idea that it suppresses groups rather than actually kills troops. I guess the main objection to my suggestion is that, with Hold maneuvers, the enemy will be able to advance at will. Perhaps the gattling gun triggers a steel test to advance into the hail of fire?

Why do Gatling guns matter to you? They were not fired in the West.

(They do seem to have been present in the West. At least, they are recorded to have been issued to units stationed in the West. Leaving aside the certainty that few of those units made it out West with their full TO&E strength, and the likelyhood that a new, expensive, rare, and oft-perceived-as-useless piece of kit like a Gatling gun could easily have been tossed, traded, or never supplied in the first place… There is apparently no record of any combat firing of a Gatling gun, anywhere in the West, after the end of the Civil War. So why not get on with rules for something useful, like a hot-air balloon?)

@Zabieru, there were no zombies in the West either (I think).

@Countercheck, thanks, man, great stuff! I agree completely. I do wish there was a way to stop people from advancing while defending a position with any weapon, not just a Gatling gun. But regarding the Gatling gun how about this: if you beat the Gatling on the maneuver roll you get your desired maneuver (close, for example), obviously. If the Gatling gun won the maneuver roll and it fires at your team then you must choose to take your maneuver anyway and forego the Speed roll (meaning you get hit) or you can take the Speed roll and dive back into cover without completing your maneuver.

Okay, but it’s Deadlands, not Gatlinglands. I mean, do you have a player character in the Field Artillery or something? It just seems like an awful lot of worry to be putting into Range and Cover rules for Gatling guns, when you’ll probably never need them. Likewise, if I started a thread about the Great War, and halfway through it got rerailed into a deep discussion of obstacles for safe handling and loading of gas shells… Wouldn’t you ask me if I had any artillerymen in the game? Mike’s first suggestion seem to me correct: most likely, you’ll never be in a situation that really warrants using full R&C with a Gatling.

I appreciate your advice, Zabieru, but I’m enjoying the puzzle of working out how a Gatling gun could function in BW mechanics. You seem to be very experienced… do you have any suggestions about how to do it (as opposed to whether to do it)? As for it being a waste of time, all I need to do to make it worthwhile is to say “and they’ve got a Gatling gun” when I’m describing the PC’s enemies and I’ll exonerate my efforts.

The PCs in my game will be railroad agents fighting and politicking for one railroad against the others in the struggle to dominate the West. There’s plenty of opportunity for well-funded and modern opponents even if I am turning the mad science down about six notches.

Okay. Gatling guns were just brutal, approximating the fire of a company of trained soldiers. Steel-based manuevers against Gatling fire result in death.* Speed-based maneuvers against Gatling fire are treated like Steel maneuvers against other weapons (i.e. the Gatling team gets a free shot even if you win the maneuver). Stealthy and Tactics maneuvers are as normal, with the added special rule that characters with reason to know better gain some advantage against unsupported Gatling teams.

(What I’m aiming at, there, is that characters with proper military training or canny old Jayhawkers or Josey Wales should be able to make a plan to flank or outwit a Gatling team that’s not properly supported. This wouldn’t apply if the gun’s in an improved defensive position or if the gunners are accompanied by at least a squad of other shooters. I’m not sure quite what advantage to assign, but it should probably apply only to non-BL Tactics or Stealthy tests.)

Ultimately, I have no experience using Range and Cover for the kinds of large battles where Gatling guns make sense. I can tell you how it should work in Firefight, but that’s quite a different beast. To really get into what’s needed for this kind of battle, you need stuff that doesn’t really exist in R&C, like covering fire.

*Okay, if you’re rushing them in company strength or better, test to see how bad your casualties are. But if it’s PCs plus allies, rather than PCs plus the 4th Cavalry? Death.