New Character Theme: Black Powder Barrister

What does 5th edition Dungeon and Dragons need? BOOMSTICK! That’s what! But as I said in the previous post, I’m not waiting on 5e to make this a reality. Let’s bring this element in to the world of 4th edition D&D right now! Enjoy!

Black Powder Barrister Description

Over decades of delving deeper and deeper into the knowledge of mountain, earth, and fire, your ancestors fused their skills of metallurgy, alchemy, and mechanics to produce weapons that rivaled the powers of magic, yet could be wielded by any soldier with just a few weeks of training.

This potent skill is a closely-guarded secret of your kin, and you have been given the privilege of carrying on this great legacy of your ancestors. Take caution! Should these powers fall into the wrong hands, it could usher in a new age of military tactics that would change the balance of power throughout the realm. Better to let your skills remain shrouded in mystery, skepticism, and infamy. All the better to maintain an element of surprise, right up to the moment that your barrel is pointed squarely between the eyes of your enemy…

The Black Powder Barrister is an excellent character theme option for a campaign that needs a little “bombastic” flair. While this character theme is appropriate for any campaign world, it is especially well-suited to Eberron or Dark Sun campaigns.

Race Requirement

Gnome, Dwarf, Duergar, Kobold, Goblin, or Warforged.

Sorry folks– while there’s nothing to stop you from changing this yourselves, these races, particularly the Gnome, Kobold, Goblin and Duergar, are in need of some love. Thus, I limited the races to those who seem to have strong thematic ties to the origins of the black powder knowledge. And let’s be honest, when you read through these powers, don’t they just SCREAM goblin or kobold?

Starting Features

Bullet Power: Black Powder Barrister attacks score critical hits on rolls of 19-20. This critical hit range increases by 2 against adjacent targets. Adjacent targets of Black Powder Barrister ranged attack powers are not granted opportunity attacks. On a critical hit, double the amount of ongoing damage dealt by the Black Powder Barrister attack power. Following the normal rules for critical hits, an attack does not receive this ongoing damage bonus if the attack roll would not have normally been a hit.

An Expensive Hobby: Black Powder Barrister powers are not regained as normal during short or extended rests. You must purchase material components and consume them to regain powers. The component cost to restore each encounter power is equal to two times the power’s level in gold. The component cost to restore each daily power is equal to five times the power’s level in gold. During a short rest, you may consume components to regain encounter powers, and during an extended rest, you may consume components to regain encounter and/or daily powers.

And THIS is My BOOMSTICK! (Your First Gun): You gain a crude firearms implement (small hammer). You gain the Knuckle Duster power. Side note: I chose this intending that existing “hammer related feats”, such as weapon expertise, could be used in conjunction with this theme. Best to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Knuckle Duster (Thumb Hammer)

Level 1 Encounter Standard Action Attack Power

Knuckle Duster New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerA bit of ash, a small iron ball, what’s the worst it could do?
Requirement: You must have a hand free.
Keywords: Implement;
Attack: Range 5/10; (Dex or Str or Int) vs AC;
Hit: 2d6 + ability modifier untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 11: 4d6 + (ability modifier +5) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 21: 6d6 + (ability modifier +10) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).

 

Optional Black Powder Barrister Powers

Rapid Reload

Level 2 Encounter Minor Action Utility Power

Load the shot, pack the charge, and try to keep an eye on the battle.
Requirement: You must have a hand free.
Regain the use of one Black Powder Barrister encounter attack power. You grant combat advantage until the beginning of your next turn.

 

Shrapnel Blast

Level 3 Encounter Standard Action Attack Power

Shrapnel New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerA surprising explosion of fire and crude metal projectiles emerges from an unusual canister mounted to your arm.
Keywords: Implement, fire, thunder;
Attack: Blast 3 vs creatures; (Dex or Str or Int) vs Fortitude;
Hit: 2d8 fire and thunder + ability modifier untyped ongoing damage (save ends). The target takes a -2 penalty to defenses and attack rolls until the end of your next turn.
Level 11: 3d8 fire and thunder + (ability modifier +5) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 21: 4d8 fire and thunder + (ability modifier +10) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Effect: You are pushed one square away from the target, and you fall prone.

Level 5 Feature

Mad Mechanic: Your understanding of chemistry and physics allows you to solve problems in unique ways. You may use the Dungeoneering skill instead of Thievery or Arcana to disarm traps in any environment. Gain a +2 bonus to Dungeoneering.

 

The Back Breaker

Level 5 Daily Standard Action Attack Power

Back Breaker New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerYou flip open your pack to reveal a small cannon mounted to your back with a leather harness. “Oh, you thought this was just an adventuring kit? Well, SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!!!”
Requirement: You must have two hands free.
Keywords: Implement, force;
Effect: You fall prone (save ends). You may not take any additional actions this round.
Attack: Range 10; All creatures in a linear path; (Dex or Str or Int) +2 vs Reflex;
Hit: 3d12 force and thunder damage + (ability modifier +5) untyped ongoing damage (save ends) and Deafened until the end of your next turn..
Level 11: 4d12 force + (ability modifier +10) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 21: 5d12 force + (ability modifier +20) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Secondary attacks: Each additional target after the first suffers a -1 cumulative attack roll modifier.
Miss: Half-damage (thunder) and Deafened until the end of your next turn.

 

Goblin Grenade (Unexpected Ashikabi)

Level 6 Daily Immediate Automatic Reaction (free action) Utility Power

Goblin Grenade New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerA blow strikes your chest, and onlookers are treated to unexpected fireworks.
Trigger: You are hit by an attack. You may choose to roll a saving throw to attempt to avoid triggering this effect.
Special: With a free hand, you may choose to activate this effect on your turn as a move action.
Keywords: Implement, fire, thunder;
Attack: Burst 2 vs creatures; (Dex or Str or Int) vs Reflex;
Hit: 2d6 + (ability modifier) fire and thunder damage and Dazed (save ends)
Level 11: 3d6 and increase fly speed to your full movement.
Level 21: 4d6 and increase fly speed to double your full movement.
Miss: (ability modifier) fire and thunder damage
Effect: You take half-damage, and fly half your speed. You are concealed and dazed until the end of your next turn.

 

Hand Cannon

Level 7 Encounter Standard Action Attack Power

Hand Cannon New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerGo ahead, punk, make my day…
Requirement: You must have a hand free.
Keywords: Implement;
Attack: Range 10/20; (Dex or Str or Int) vs AC;
Hit 3d10 + (ability modifier +5) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 11: 4d10 + (ability modifier +10) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 21: 5d10 + (ability modifier +15) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Effect: You may ready this action against an adjacent creature to gain a +5 intimidate bonus to intimidate checks against that creature until the end of your next turn.

 

Dragonbane Rocket Launcher

Level 9 Daily Standard Action Attack Power

Dragonbane Rocket launcher New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerThis pillar-shaped explosive device features a smiling dragon head. It was designed for a singular purpose– to bring a flying dragon crashing to the ground.
Requirement: You must have two hands free.
Keywords: Implement;
Attack: Burst 2 within 30; (Dex or Str or Int) vs Reflex; (+3 attack per tier vs flying creatures)
Hit 2d12 + (ability modifier +5) untyped ongoing damage (save ends). The target is pushed 2 squares and knocked prone.
Level 11: 3d12 + (ability modifier +10) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).
Level 21: 4d12 + (ability modifier +15) untyped ongoing damage (save ends).

 

Clever Geologist

Level 10 Daily Standard Action Utility Power

Kobold New Character Theme: Black Powder BarristerMake a nature or dungeoneering check in a natural or cavernous environment to search for Black Powder Barrister material components. Based on your skill check, you are able to find material components according to the chart below. For each token you acquire, you may consume one token to regain the use of an encounter power, or three tokens to regain the use of a daily power instead of consuming material components (purchased with gold).

Skill Check | Tokens Obtained

  • 10 or less | None
  • 11 to 15 | One
  • 16 to 20 | Two
  • 21 to 25 | Three
  • 26 to 30 | Four
  • 31 to 35 | Five
  • 36 to 40 | Six
  • 41 to 45 | Seven
  • 46 to 50 | Eight

 

Level 10 Feature

Ballistics: You advance the arts of your ancestors. Gain a refined firearms implement (small hammer). Add +2 to Black Powder Barrister attack rolls. At level 20, you further improve your craft, and gain an exquisite firearms implement (bonus increases to +4).

Skilled Marksman: Increase the critical hit range of all Black Powder Barrister attacks by 1. At level 20, increase this critical hit range by 1 more.

 

Thoughts for Improvement?

I toyed around with a number of methods for balancing this theme appropriately for 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons. And yes, I realize I did not include a power called “boomstick” … but everything I could think of seemed too overpowered.

Also, a few questions I’ll preemptively answer. Why did I choose DEX/STR/INT? Well, arguably dexterity and strength are required in equal parts in order to shoot a firearm accurately… especially at a moving target. I also included intelligence because it supports the History skill, which is how you would “draw a line” on a moving target– using past movements to project the future location of the target.

Why the crazy critical hit range and ongoing damage? Well, when a bullet scores a solid hit on a watery meat bag, it tends to rip a big hole, and lots of water oozes out afterwards… that’s why.  (>.>)

Why the odd side effects with some of these powers? Well, because in reality, early firearms had all sorts of screwy side-effects. Using this early period of firearms also seemed like the best option to provide some ‘balance’ to the theme. The awesome power of modern firearms just wouldn’t be any fun in DnD.

Level 5 Backbreaker– Yes, you still take then -2 attack penalty as normal for being prone. That’s why I threw in the +2 to the attack. It was easier to add that “+2″ instead of a line that said “you ignore the -2 attack penalty for being prone”.

Level 6 Goblin Grenade– This is paying homage to an old favorite of mine from Magic the Gathering. Who in their right mind would choose this power, you ask? Well I would, because it’s crazy, and it makes life interesting. Sure, it might go off on your allies once and awhile, but come on! It lets you rocket-jump!

One last legal note– I offer this piece for “fair use” under the creative commons license. Players, and Dungeon Masters are free to use the content herein for their own personal characters and campaigns. Persons may not, however, republish this work, or derivative works for financial gain without the collaboration and/or written consent of the author. In other words, don’t try to add this content to a book you want to sell, and don’t try to publish this through any game publisher as your work without my involvement. icon wink New Character Theme: Black Powder Barrister I’m hungry for collaborations though. Just ask!

3 comments for “New Character Theme: Black Powder Barrister

  1. Alton
    February 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I was waiting for the article to come out and quite looking forward to it. It did not disappoint.

    Just a couple of questions.

    1. I would probably add a new weapons group to the mix. For example, Light Black Powder weapons group and Heavy Black Powder weapons and the Superior Black Powder weapons group. As the character goes up in levels, they could take feats to improve their weapon categories.

    2. Any particular restrictions when it comes to classes. I would assume that a character without the black powder implementation feat would suffer the same consequences as someone who is not proficient with it. Would the character who chooses this template be automatically given proficiency with these items.

    3. Lastly, I find the method of acquiring tokens to be too easy. The powers listed for this theme are nothing short of AWESOME, but to be able to get you powers back without much effort(or gold spending for that matter) just overpowers the character. For Example, let us say that an intelligent dwarf, trained in dungeoneering at level ten decides to roll. His base score before magic modifiers from items would be approximately 5(1/2 level)+5 trained in dungeoneering + 5 intelligence bonus = 15 and add a modifier of +5 makes 20. Using this power would allow the character to automatically acquire 2 tokens to possibly 6 tokens. Seems pretty powerful.

    I would probably bump the token DCs up by one or two notches. Give the PC a 50-50 chance of getting one token or more.

    Awesome article and just remember, this is only my opinion. I find the work you put into this one incredible. Thanks for the post.
    Alton recently posted..Today is 20ft Radius’ 1st Birthday

    • Sunyaku
      February 3, 2012 at 4:51 am

      @Alton Thanks for the feedback! As I started designing this, I really struggled with the possibilities. It is a rich enough theme that it could be an entire class, but I didn’t want to design quite that many powers, and I liked the idea of other classes (like Wizards) with guns. Part of the mantra of the gun is that it is simple to use, and does not require a lot of specialized training, so anyone should really be capable of shooting once they’re taught the secrets of gunpowder, ballistics, etc.

      I thought about weapon groups, and feats, and all kinds of craziness, but I opted to make this as simple and portable as possible.

      As far as getting powers back, don’t forget that resting is still a requirement. As you go up in level, the cost of “refilling” the powers doesn’t scale as well past the heroic tier. Upon further review, the token system is too much to manage. I look at the DCs again, but I might just give people powers back instead of tokens… e.g. on a DC 20, regain the use of a <> power level ## or lower.

      • Alton
        February 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

        It’s a great system. I agree that resting and a DC check would probably better than the token system.

        Simplicity is the key. I have trouble with that, so I think this is great. Nice and simple. I like it.

        Keep it up.
        Alton recently posted..Do RPGs Cater to Include Everyone?

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