Taking a shot at a custom class, part 2

In the previous article, I introduced you to my custom class under construction, the gunmage as well as the striker mechanic that is core to the class.
This time I want to discuss the other core elements of the gun mage and why I decided to make a gunmage of all things.
In the high adventure atmosphere of Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition, swashbuckling, pirates, and exotic magic are a natural fit.  In magic-rich settings such as Eberron, the Astral sea, the Iron Kingdoms and others pirate (or swashbuckling) adventures meld with the magic-rich setting and yield fantastic devices and set pieces; Floating ships amongst cloud piercing towers, ships sailing through the aether of the universe, mechanical servants (or companions, even) fighting alongside men, elves, dwarves, half-fiends and dragon-men alike, expeditions for lost treasure, magics, technologies or even civilizations.
Guns, specifically black powder firearms, are a classic element of swashbuckling and pirates from cannons blazing between ships on open-waters, musketeers fighting across the countryside for king and country, felling an incoming lackey with a thunderous pistol shot while dueling with the captain and so on.
With inspiration from gunmages in the Iron Kingdoms (from which the name is borrowed), adventures in the Chronicles of Amber, engineers in Final Fantasy Tactics, and many other sources that blend guns into high fantasy through magic, a magical gun-man was begging to be made. A gun-mage then is an arcane caster that channels their energy through the barrel of a gun, whether through charged crystals, mystic powders, rune-etched projectiles or even just raw magic funneled.  Gun-mages even harness elemental energy to put opponents between a rock and a hard place, to add a splash of variety, to blow through their enemies, and to literally dispense some impressive firepower.
Now let’s switch gears.
Although my image for the gunmage exists in a setting where guns are in their black powder infancy, I wanted to divorce the class from this niche of a niche and be pliable enough to be usable in other settings. So instead of the gunmage functioning like a martial/arcane class that uses the mechanics of mundane firearms and simply adds magic to bullets, I decided to pull the elements from the guns themselves and instill them into the class making it wholly arcane and allowing the class to function independently of mundane firearms.
As 4th edition functions on characters using implements, weapons, and “weapliments” (a weapon that also functions as an implement such as a dagger). If we were building this class as with a martial/arcane slant then the weapliment would be the most appropriate choice, but with the gun-mage functioning independently from mundane guns as an arcane element, a standard implement is ideal. As we are using a weapon that is not normally an implement as an implement we will need a class feature that specifically allows guns to be used as implements by a Gunmage. As the sword mage has a similar ability for swords, I re-purposed the sword mage class feature rather than make a new one from scratch.
So now that we have our implement, we need to know how it will function. I want to give our gun mage the ability to use several types of guns for variety and to cover other magic gun varieties. To help differentiate the gunmage from a sorcerer or a warlock, and to make the gun implements more modular, I want to keep damage on the implement much like a weapon. This way spells will deal [W] damage rather than a fixed die value.
How much damage is appropriate though? As we are aiming for decent damage through critical hits and not through straight damage bonuses (see Arcane Sights in part 1), I looked to the Avenger, who also uses accuracy/critical hits for bonus damage, for inspiration. Great weapons (2-handed weapons such as the greatsword, greataxe, or maul which deal 1d10, 1d12 and 2d6 respectively) are the tools most often employed by Avengers. That is decent damage without breaking the curve. 3 gun types: 1d10 long range, 1d12 mid-range, and 2d6 close range, with 20/40 for long range, 10/20 for mid range and 5/10 for close range. Giving us:
Musket/Rifle               1d10 damage              20/40 range
Dual Pistols                 1d12 damage              10/20 range
Blunderbuss/Shotgun    2d6 damage                5/10 range
The 3 gun types reminded me of the implements of the Wizard, so for a bit of icing on the cake I decided to toss in implement encounter powers for each type of gun and make that how we differentiate our Gunmages.
A bigger boom for the boomstick: Add 1 to the size of a burst or blast of a Gunmage attack power 1/encounter
A double tap for the double pistols: Add 1[W] damage to 1 target of a Gunmage attack power 1/encounter
A sure thing for the sure shot rifle: Don’t expend a Gunmage attack power that missed 1/encounter
So here’s what we have:
Magelock Weapon
Through arcane rituals taking one hour, you create a bond to a black powder weapon. The bound weapon becomes your magelock implement. The magelock implement reloads as a free action and does not expend ammo as the Gunmage is powering it with arcane energy.
You can create a bond with a new black powder weapon using the same ritual process (for instance, if you acquire a new weapon that has magical abilities). If you create a bond with a different black powder weapon, the old bond dissipates. If your bonded weapon is broken or damaged, you can spend 1 hour of meditation to recreate the weapon from a fragment. (This process automatically destroys any other fragments of the weapon in existence, so you can’t use it to create multiple copies of a broken weapon.)
Magelock Training
Gunmages undergo specialized training with their implement of choice. Choose one of the following forms of Magelock training. When wielding the Magelock weapon associated with your training, you gain the additional ability listed for that training.
Dragoon – Over powder: Add 1 to size of Gunmage attack’s blast or burst – 1/enc
Shotgun             2d6 damage      5/10 range
– Guns Akimbo: +1[W] dmg to 1 target of Gunmage attack – 1/enc
Dual Pistols        1d12 damage     10/20 range
Sniper –
Reliable Aim: Don’t expend missed Gunmage power – 1/enc
Rifle                 1d10 damage     20/40 range
Arcane Sights:
As a minor action, the Gunmage sets his sights on a target magically marking it. The gunmage may only have 1 target in his sights at any given time. When that target is defeated, a new target may be set in your sights.When wielding their magelock weapon the gunmage gains a power bonus to hit against his arcane sights target equal to his [secondary statistic] modifier. If the arcane sights target is within your short range and not adjacent to another creature (except the gunmage themselves), your attacks have a critical hit range of 19-20. This does not stack with other abilities that increase your critical range.This expands to 18-20 at lvl 11 and 17-20 at lvl 21.
With this we have the features for the Gunmage class and a rough idea of how they will function. Next we need to define the Stat block for the Gunmage, but we can save that for next time.
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2 Responses to Taking a shot at a custom class, part 2

  1. This is shaping up nicely. I could easily see a Gunmage fitting into Eberron (and honestly the setting seems strange without black powder), and it would make a kick-ass addition to any pirates game. When thinking about this character I keep seeing the cool ‘rune bullet’ from the movie Wanted flying through the air (as well as twisting your gun so it can fire around corners – that would make a great power).
    I only have one suggestion. Everything looks spot on except for the weapon damage. I know the blunderbuss should do the most damage, and that’s why you assigned 2d6 to it, but it just feels right to make the dual pistols 2d6 (and 1d12 for the blunderbuss is still good), after all there’s two of them. Also, that would make an individual pistol’s damage 1d6 which seems about right – its the same as a hand crossbow but with the added benefit of being able to dual wield).
    But honestly these are just the comments from the cheap seats, and I would totally play a blunderbuss toting Gunmage (so on second thought maybe it should keep the higher damage). Creating a whole class takes a tremendous effort and I am enjoying your efforts.

  2. 4649matt says:

    I haven’t seen Wanted, but I will check it out.
    A friend brought up that same point when we looked over the initial draft. The simple justification for the numbers is that 1d12 represents the potential for both shots to hit or even for one shot to hit; a 1 being a grazing shot from 1 bullet, a 12 being solid hits from both bullets.
    Mechanically, the 3 guns are balanced by trading range for damage. I can show you my numbers and that might clarify it some.
    Using the longbow as a baseline for the rifle @ 1d10 damage 20/40 range, with 1d10 averaging out to 5.5 damage I derived my weapon value at 75 = avg dmg*10+shortrange.
    From there I fiddled with the range and damage to settle on
    1d10 (5.5) 20/40 = 75
    1d12 (6.5) 10/20 = 75
    2d6 (7.0) 5/10 = 75
    Even with justifications for my numbers, I am still open to suggestions, so thank you for the feedback!

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