The Great Gunsmith Rework

A while back I posted my Gunsmith and Gunsmith Expansion homebrew on this blog. As I did so I discussed the brew itself, talking about what I liked about it, what I didn’t like, and some lessons I’d learned in making it.

In among this was the mention of one major issue I had with the class in retrospect. I didn’t like Quickdraw Actions. First of all, I’d called them ‘Actions’ when really they behaved more like a point resource that was expended to fuel class skills, like what Ki is to Monks. Secondly, everything cool about the class competed with the Bonus Action space and my workarounds to make some core features be able to work in conjunction was clunky to say the least.

I mentioned at the time that if I ever reworked the Gunsmith I’d make Quickdraw Actions an actual action, and have there be some resource expended to actually access those actions on your turn.

Well I’ve gone and done it.

The Rework

So obviously the first thing I did was I gutted the Quickdraw Action resource. It is now called Quickdraw Points. Additionally, Quickdraw Actions are now in fact an action, and they follow some very simple rules.

On your turn you have a Quickdraw Action in addition to your Action and Bonus Action. You can always use your Quickdraw Action to do one of two things:

  1. Load a firearm (which can be done between attacks)
  2. Draw and Stow weapons you are holding (literally quickdraw)

Additionally, anything you can do as a Bonus Action you may instead do as a Quickdraw Action. You can also take additional Quickdraw Actions on your turn, but for each additional one you must spend a Quickdraw Point.

Now we have a simple gameplay loop. On your turn you need to carefully plan out which features you want to use, and decide which will be your Bonus Action and which will be your Quickdraw Action. Before level 5 you’ll be freely using your Quickdraw Action, but once you get Extra Attack at 5th level you’re going to need that Quickdraw Action to reload most of the time. Now you’re in a position where if you want to do a bunch of stuff on your turn you’re going to have to burn through your Quickdraw Points.

The scaling on Quickdraw Points was dialed back too, so now it’s a slightly tighter resource than before. It still refreshes on a critical hit though, so if you’ve pushed yourself to the limit in a fight and drained yourself dry you’ll be trying to get as many weak attacks off as possible to fish for that crit.

A number of abilities that use your Bonus Action also require the spending of a Quickdraw Point, which means doing multiple of those as a Quickdraw Action will cost additional Quickdraw Points. If you really want you can do 2 Fastshots in a turn on top of your regular attacks, but it’ll cost you 3 whole Quickdraw Points, and at 5th level you only have 4 of them to spare.

How It Changes Things

So the core gameplay loop is the same. You can slow-burn and do a reasonable amount of damage per turn – comparable to a basic Fighter (sans subclass) – or you can burn through your resources quickly to do more on a turn. If you use them steadily, maybe at a rate of 1 Quickdraw Point every 2 turns, then you’ll be pretty effective on the battlefield. If you burn through them quickly then you’ll be an absolute beast in combat, but only for about 2-5 turns depending on your level.

The scaling of Quickdraw Points means you feel the greatest squeeze between levels 5 and 10. This is where you want to be conservative and spend most of your turns using Take Aim and the Reload Quickdraw Action, on top of using an Experimental Powder each turn. Your Quickdraw Points don’t refresh on a short rest until 10th level now. This marks an appreciable spike in your verisimilitude for each combat.

The next spike comes at 13th level, where you start scoring a critical hit on a 19 or 20. This essentially doubles your chance of getting a crit, and on any given attack you have a 10% chance of refreshing all your Quickdraw Actions. If you’re burning one or two every turn then you should refresh them before you fully run out.

Lastly there’s a spike at 18th level with a new ability: Deadly Momentum. Each time you score a critical hit, you get advantage on your next attack roll. Now when you crit, your chance of scoring subsequent crits increases.

This ability actually comes from the conversion I’m doing for this class to port it over to Pathfinder 2nd Edition. That version of the ability lowers your crit threshold after you score a critical hit, but the net effect is the same in that crits beget crits.

To-Do

There’s one major thing that stops working with this rework, and that’s the Expansion subclasses. The Shield Gunner should be an easy enough fix, but the Hinawaju is in trouble. Its whole thing was that it still had the Loading property (as a way to limit it to 1 attack per turn outside of special abilities like Fastshot). With the Reload Quickdraw Action existing, it’s no longer enough that the Hinawaju’s gun has the ‘Loading’ property. I don’t much like the idea of having a whole new property just to make this single weapon behave the way I want it to, so for now it deals 2d4 damage. It does keep the suite of abilities that allow it to spend additional dice when you spend a Quickdraw Point, and that die could be added to your damage to make for a 3d4 attack, so that may just have to be what I focus the subclass around.

At any rate, the Expansion will need some work. I feel much of that work will have to come after some playtesting.

Boomtown

I’ve been really productive with making Homebrew lately, mostly in the lead-up to launching a Patreon where I’ll make this stuff (as well as dungeons, don’t think I’ve forgotten about that!) available for public download.

For now the Gunsmith is in the playtesting phase. Given that very little has actually changed in the mechanics I’m going to be looking less at balance and more at play experience. If the experience is still positive and the gameplay loop is fun and satisfying then the class will be ready for full release very quickly.

So When Can I Play It?

Watch This Space…

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