DnD 5e Review – The Gunslinger Class

This review has been sponsored by the publisher. Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

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Designed by: Heavyarms

Few class concepts get DMs (or GMs) as riled up as the Gunslinger, for a variety of reasons. The Gunslinger Class by Heavyarms simplifies the concept of a pure ranged attacker by focusing on critical hits rather than trick shots.

The Gunslinger Class features full level 1-20 class progression, with three subclasses, and re-balanced firearms with lower weapon die and limited shots (though easier to reload).

The expanded Fully Loaded Edition features another two subclasses, three new gun-related feats, a dozen magic firearms, and optional firearm modifications with Heavyarms’ previous release, the excellent Complete Armorer’s Handbook (one of my top ten DMs Guild products I reviewed in 2020).

Understandably, many DMs or GMs may veto the Gunslinger on the basis of technology. Not every fantasy world has guns! A helpful sidebar suggests hand crossbows and heavy crossbows in place of pistols and rifles, allowing anyone to use this ranged martial class regardless of actual gun use.

The Gunslinger has a d8 hit die, and proficiency in simple weapons, light armor, and, obviously, firearms.

The Gunslinger’s defining feature at level one is Deadeye: whenever the Gunslinger successfully hits with a ranged weapon attack, the critical range on that weapon is reduced by one.

At default, every weapon in 5e lands a critical hit on a roll of 20. After one attack, the Gunslinger can then score a crit on a 19 or 20, then on an 18-20, and so on, capping at 16.

In layman’s terms, most 5e classes and subclasses have a 5% chance to critically hit, by rolling a natural 20. After each attack, the Gunslinger’s crit chance increases by 5%, up to to 25% after four rounds. However, the benefit is lost if they don’t attack, or miss with an attack, encouraging the Gunslinger to do what they do best – start blastin’!

The Gunslinger builds up synergy with critical hits throughout their progression. At level one, Bad Medicine allows them to roll an extra damage die on critical hits, exactly like a half-orc’s Savage Attacks (but for ranged attacks). The number of extra crit die from Bad Medicine increases as the Gunslinger levels up, bringing them up to par, damage-wise, with Battle Master Fighters and sneak attacking Rogues, which is demonstrated in the helpful Damage Per Round chart displayed in the appendix.

Starting at level two, the Gunslinger can use Grit Points, which work similarly to a Monk’s Ki Points. The Gunslinger gains a number of Grit Points that scales to their Wisdom modifier. Grit Points are expended to perform different abilities that are automatically gained as they level up.

At level two they can heal using Hit Dice during combat, impose disadvantage on attackers, or freely disengage from enemies. All very helpful abilities, though perhaps not the most tactically engaging or interesting.

I do love that Grit Points are resorted on a short rest, as well as regaining one Grit Point after a critical hit. The Gunslinger is all about those crits!

Later features include Extra Attack, advantage on initiative rolls, spending Grit Points to gain advantage on saving throws, and attacking anyone who moves within 10 feet of the Gunslinger (like Polearm Master). Solid, straightforward abilities that compliment the class, though still mostly pointing and shooting with the basic attack every round.

The subclasses, called trails, reach into familiar Western tropes, from the bar-fighting outlaw to the badass sheriff.

The Enforcer receives a temporary hit point shield whenever they’re healed in combat, synergizing nicely with the Gunslinger’s ability to self-heal using Grit. The Maverick can squeeze off quick snapshots when rolling for initiative (and at 17, target up to six creatures – “It’s High Noon!”).

The two bonus subclasses in the Fully Loaded Edition are the most interesting and exotic, adding two versions of the gunslinging preacher archetype. The Preacher is more defensive, able to cast Cleric cantrips and use the self-heal on others (including even reviving them at 17th level), while the Revelator is all offense, changing their gun damage to radiant as they hunt down fiends and undead.

The Fully Loaded Edition also includes a dozen magic firearms, the perfect lootable toys for any Gunslinger. We’ve got guns that can fireball or disintegrate, ghostbustin’ weapons that can find and blast enemies in the ethereal plane, and several guns that build nicely off the class’ superior critical hits, including a gun that can heal allies on a crit.

Unfortunately, the Fully Loaded Edition is the far more complete version. As someone who loves video games, I’m very used to seeing deluxe editions, collector’s editions, etc, but it’s a fine line between adding extra content, and feeling like there’s content missing from the standard edition.

Overall the Gunslinger class is well-designed, and appears painstakingly well-balanced, as evidenced in the page-long Damage Per Round comparison chart and FAQ. I respect the desire for fewer trick shots in favor of more rewarding critical hits, though I worry it makes the class a bit less interesting to play.

Pros:

  • Three (Five w/Fully Loaded edition) subclasses that embody familiar Western archetypes.
  • Provides (and re-balances) firearm weapons (and mod upgrades w/ Fully Loaded edition).
  • A dozen magic firearms (Fully Loaded edition only).
  • DPR analyses and comparisons, and FAQ help smooth any balance concerns.

Cons:

  • Using Grit Points rarely involves rolling dice to do something cool.
  • The Fully Loaded Edition is a far more complete product.

The Verdict: A worthy pass at redesigning the gunslinger that focuses on more frequent and powerful critical hits over trickshots, but lacks in exciting maneuvers and dice rolling.

This review has been sponsored by the publisher Find more reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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