Pirates 5e – Gunpowder, Firearms and other Rules
Do you love pirates? Do you love Dungeons & Dragons? Why not combine both and play Pirate Campaign! Here are some additional rules for having a swashbuckling campaign that includes gunpowder, firearms and peg legs.
The Dungeon Master’s Guide already includes some good basic rules about firearms (page 268) and cannons (page 255). If you are looking for a quick and easy way to implement just those features, check out those pages.
If you are looking for some inspiration on adventure hooks, check out our other article. 50 Sea Adventure hooks for your Roleplaying Campaign.
Pirate Weapons for 5e D&D
|Simple Melee Weapons
|Martial Melee Weapons
|Light, thrown (range 20/60), special
|Thrown (range 20/60)
|Simple Ranged Weapons
|Ammunition (range 30/90), loading
|Ammunition (20′ cone), loading, two-handed, special
|Martial Ranged Weapons
|Ammunition (range 80/240), loading, two-handed
|Musket with Bayonet
|1d12 ranged piercing, or 1d6 melee piercing
|Ammunition (range 80/240), loading, special, two-handed
|Ammunition (range 20/60), loading, special
Peg Leg. When you have a peg leg, you can use your bonus action to attack with it. Having a peg leg means that you are missing a leg or a foot (see DMG Page 272).
Pirate Hook. You are missing a hand, but you can use your hook to attack with. Having a pirate hook means that you are missing a hand (see DMG Page 272).
Boarding Axe. Doubles your proficiency bonus when making a (Strength) Athletics check for climbing. (does not stack with the bonus from the grappling hook)
Blunderbuss. Using one attack, you can hit up to three targets within a 20′ cone. You roll one attack roll, and one damage roll that affects all three targets. Alternatively you can make a point blank shot.
Point Blank Shot: You make an against one target within 5 feet. The target must be a medium or smaller creature. On a successful hit, the target takes damage as normal but also must make a Strength saving throw, equal to the damage dealt. If target succeeds on the saving throw, the force of the shot causes the creature to be blown away 5 feet. If the target fails the saving throw, the target is also knocked prone. The Disadvantage caused by the ‘Ranged Attacks in Close Combat‘ rule, does not apply to this attack.
Musket with Bayonet. You can shoot the musket as a ranged weapon attack, or use the bayonet for a melee attack.
If you succesfully hit with your bayonet, you can attack with your musket as a bonus action. The attack with the musket has advantage. The Disadvantage caused by the ‘Ranged Attacks in Close Combat‘ rule, does not apply to this attack.
Pocket Pistol. This small pistol can be easilly concealed. You have advantage on a sleight of hand check when determining if the weapon is seen or found when concealed.
Pirate Items for 5e D&D
|Gunpowder, powder horn*
Bomb. As an action, a character can light this bomb and throw it at a point up to 40 feet away. Each creature within a 10 foot square takes 4d6 fire damage, or half on a succesful DC 12 Dexterity Saving throw. (*Changed some of the rules compared to the rules for the bomb on DMG page 267.)
Compass. You always know which direction is north.
Gunpowder. Setting fire to a container of gunpowder deals damage to creatures near it. Powder horn. 3d6 fire damage to creatures within 10 feet. Powder Keg. 7d6 fire damage to creatures within 15 feet. Powder Barrel. 15d6 to creatures within 20 feet. (*Changed some of the distanced and damages on the containers of gunpowder compared to the rules in DMG page 267.)
Grappling Hook. Doubles your proficiency modifier when making a (Strength) Athletics check to climb. A grappling hook uses two hands. This bonus does not stack with the climbing bonus from the boarding axe.
Spyglass. While using a spyglass you get advantage on (Wisdom) Perception checks to look for land, ships, objects, and creatures on the horizon. *(Because the spyglass is a more common item in a pirate campaign, the price is reduced from the price in the PHB.)
Stinkpot. You can throw a stinkpot up to 60 feet away. Upon landing the stinkpot creates a heavily obscured area in a 10-foot radius. The effect lasts for 4 rounds.
Pirate Armor for 5e D&D
Wearing heavy armor on a ship can be very impractical. Working on a ship requires you to be quite dexterious, and falling in the water with a heavy armor that is hard to don can be deadly.
With the coming of gunpowder, most armor became absolete. But some 5e character builds require armor to be effective. I have added some armor types that would not break immersion within a pirate fantasy world.
You might still be able to find antique armor pieces such as chainmail or full plate armor, but these are seen as archaic, they are hard to find, might cost more, and people will notice you since you are wearing things that are very out of place.
|11+ Dex Modifier
|12+ Dex Modifier
|Studded Leather Longcoat
|13+ Dex Modifier (max 2)
|Brigandine Plated Doublet
|14+ Dex Modifier (max 2)
|Brigandine + Iron Gorget
|15+ Dex Modifier (Max 2)
|16+ Dex modifier (Max 2)
Pirate Feats for 5e Dungeons and Dragons
Pistol Expert Feat
Thanks to extensive practice with the firearm, you gain the following benefits with one handed ranged firearm attacks.
- If you have multiple attacks, you can fire multiple pistols equal to the amount of attacks that you have. You need to have the pistols to use this ability.
- Being within 5 feet of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your pistol ranged attack rolls.
- When you use the Attack action and attack with a one handed melee weapon, you can use a bonus action to attack with a one handed firearm you are holding.
Musket Expert Feat
Prerequisites: Dexterity 13 or higher. You have mastered the art of taking a well aimed shot. You gain the following benefits using a two handed ranged firearm.
- Attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your two handed ranged firearm attack rolls.
- Your two handed ranged firearm attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover.
Critically Failing Firearms
Critical failure is not 5e rules as written, but it can be a fun addition to add to the game. If a player roles a natural 1, reroll the d20 and one of the following things will happen.
|The bullet is jammed within the weapon, causing the barrel to explode. It causes 3d6 fire damage, and the weapon is broken beyond repairs.
|You pull the trigger and hear a click, but the weapon did not fire. The spring mechanism within the firearm broke and needs to be repaired (10 gp), or a succesful DC10 check using tinker’s or blacksmith’s tools.
|The flint from the flintlock, shatters in to many tiny pieces. The flint needs to be replaced before the pistol can be used again.
|A piece of flint from the flintlock, chips of and gets in your eye. You are blinded until the end of your next turn.
|Either the powder in the gun’s pan has gotten wet, or the sparks did not reach the powder. The gun didn’t fire. You can try again next round.
Cannons for Dungeons and Dragons 5e
|+8 to hit
|16 (3d10) Bludgeoning
|Cannon – 6 Pounder
|+7 to hit
|22 (4d10) Bludgeoning
|Cannon – 24 Pounder
|+6 to hit
|44 (8d10) Bludgeoning
|Cannon – 32 Pounder
|+6 to hit
|55 (10d10) Bludgeoning
Cannons require gunpowder to propel balls of cast iron through the air. In a normal combat round, it takes one action to load the cannon, and one action to aim and fire the cannon*. (I have reduced the amound of rounds it takes to ready a cannon by one, to make the cannons a more interesting choice in a normal combat round).
Cannons can be used to destroy cover, creatures behind cover, and multiple creatures within a single line of fire. We will leave this up to the Dungeon Master to decide.
Cannons may have different rules when in ship-to-ship combat, depending on which ship-to-ship combat rules you apply.
Pirate Traps for D&D 5e
Flintlock Pistol Trap
Simple trap (level 1-4, moderate threat)
A loaded flintlock pistol is set beyond a wall. The wall has a slit, hole, or piece of canvas where the pistol can fire through. The pistols are aimed to fire down a hallway at anyone who triggers the tripwire.
Trigger. A creature that walks through the tripwire triggers the trap.
Effect. The trap makes one attack against the triggering creature. The attack has a +8 attack bonus and deals 5(1d10) piercing damage on a hit. This attack can’t gain advantage or disadvantage.
Countermeasures. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the tripwire. A DC 15 Dexterity check made with the thieves’ tools disables the tripwire, but a check result of 5 or less triggers the trap.
Exploding Treasure Chest
Simple trap (level 1-4, dangerous threat)
This chest holds ceramic jars filled with gunpowder. The flintlock mechanism of a pistol is set in front side of the chest, and when the lid of the chest is opened, a piece of string triggers the spring of the mechanism and the chest will explode.
Trigger. When the lid of the chest is opened for more than half of an inch, the string triggers the spring.
Effect. The explosion deals 7d6 fire damage to any creature within 15 feet of the chest.
Countermeasures. The trap is not visible from the outside of the chest, but a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) will reveal a smell of sulfur. If a player describes opening the chest gently, they will feel the pull of the string and the trap will not trigger if they do not open it any further. A DC 15 Dexterity check made with the thieves’ tools disables the string, but a check result of 5 or less triggers the trap.
Cannon (6 Pounder) Trap
Simple trap (level 1-4, deadly threat)
A cannon is set beyond a wall. Pieces of stone have been placed loosely in the hole in front of the cannon to camouflage it. A tripwire is connected to a flintlock mechanism next to the cannon.
Trigger. A creature that walks through the tripwire triggers the trap.
Effect. The trap makes one attack against the triggering creature. The attack has a +7 attack bonus and deals 22(4d10) bludgeoning damage on a hit. This attack can’t gain advantage or disadvantage.
Countermeasures. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the tripwire, and the loose pieces of stone in front of the cannon. A DC 15 Dexterity check made with the thieves’ tools disables the tripwire, but a check result of 5 or less triggers the trap.
Rolling Powder Keg Trap
Complex trap (level 5-10, dangerous threat)
When then a creature stands on top of a pressure plate, two things will happen. An oillamp hanging at the bottom of the stairs will fall down and break, creating a small fire. A gunpowder keg will roll down the stairs, the keg has a small opening which leaves a trail of gunpowder. When the keg meets the fire from the oillamp, the gunpowder keg will explode.
Trigger. A creature that steps on the pressure plate triggers this trap. Roll initiative, and add the powder keg as last in intiviative queue.
Effect. A creature that triggers the pressure plate is hit by the oillamp, dealing 1d6 fire damage. If the powder keg reaches the fire, or is triggered to explode in any other way, it deals 7d6 fire damage to all creatures within 15 feet of it.
Countermeasures. A DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the pressure plate. Each creature in Initiative queue may take one action, or use their movement (stairs are difficult terrain), before the powder keg reaches the fire of the oil lamp. If the players prevent the powder keg from reaching the fire, it does not explode.