The fact is that most players don’t actually see the full benefit of guns in Dungeons and Dragons.
However, although they are technically lore friendly to some extent, some Game Masters still don’t allow them. In this article, we will talk about the Gunner feat and see if it can change your playing style to your advantage.
What Is the Gunner Feat in Dungeons & Dragons 5E?
The Gunner feat offers multiple benefits. It slightly boosts your Dexterity, gives you proficiency with firearms, and allows you to ignore the loading property of firearms.
On top of that, if you are close to a hostile creature, you won’t get a disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
If you decide to play with firearms, taking a Gunner feat might seem like an excellent choice. However, like every feat, it comes with certain advantages and disadvantages that you should consider carefully. Let’s talk about them!
Advantages of the Gunner Feat
Obviously, the first benefit of this feat is that it increases your Dexterity by 1 point. Ranged attacks are based on Dexterity score, so a higher score has a big advantage on your attacks.
It will also give you a bit of recovery from giving up a full ability score for a feat.
Then, it gives you proficiency with firearms. It might not seem like a big deal, and sometimes it’s not, but it can still be useful.
Another very important advantage of the Gunner feat is that you ignore the loading property of firearms.
It is important because, without the feat, the loading times mean only one attack per turn. It doesn’t matter how many attacks your class usually has.
Now, many GMs won’t allow multiple shots from a musket, which is completely understandable.
However, it does allow a firearms proficient fighter to switch from musket to pistols, for example, which allows 2-3 attacks if you are a 4-attack-per-turn fighter.
Lastly, if you are within 5 feet from a hostile creature, you won’t be imposed to disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls.
Every fighter knows the struggle when a barbarian or a creature breaks through for a melee attack.
Technically speaking, the Gunner feat is very similar to what you get from feats like Crossbow Expert – but for firearms.
Drawbacks of Using the Gunner Feat
Like every feat, the Gunner feat also has some drawbacks.
The first thing we should mention is that firearms are not available in every campaign. For some hardcore fantasy games, the feat will only give you a slightly increased Dexterity.
Also, guns come with certain problems. For example, the range of a pistol and musket is quite short compared to crossbows.
Even if the GM allows guns, you can only be a short-ranged character.
Note also that taking a whole feat for a single weapon can make things quite difficult for you.
It might happen that you find only one pistol for the entire campaign, which would force you to spend money enchanting that weapon without getting a chance to try new weapon types.
Classes That Should Use the Gunner Feat
The Gunner feat can be slightly challenging because it doesn’t tie up too much for a certain class.
Instead, it aids in creating a specific character with firearms, which can work with different classes, depending on your playing style.
The first and the most obvious class that works well with this feat is Artificer. Its ability to multiple attacks in the long distance and the ability to create technological weapons makes this class an excellent fit.
Other good options would be a Dexterity-based Fighter and a Ranger. Both classes are based on combat, and both can attack from distance.
Especially if your Game Master is willing to replace archery points in the Ranger class for firearms, then you have some good build options available.
One class that really sticks out as being a potentially effective option with this feat is Rogue. It can perform sneak attacks from distance quite effectively, while pistols make an excellent backup option for when things go sideways.
It might seem kinda awkward that you can make a sneak attack with a gunpowder weapon, but since it works quite well with the game mechanics, there is no reason not to take the Gunner feat.
Rogues also get +1 more ability score improvement while still getting the full range of other feats and score boosts they are looking for.
The college of valor can also be used to create an interesting character who uses magic but is also able to wield multiple pistols.
Classes That Should NOT Use the Gunner Feat
If you are building a musketeer specialist, there is no special reason to use the Gunner feat.
Also, classes such as Barbarian, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Wizard, Warlock, and Paladin won’t benefit significantly from this feat.
Other Things To Consider
The lowest damage of any firearm is 1d10, but a one-handed pistol with its very short range won’t be much useful.
The lowest damage of firearms is already on par with all weapons, except the strongest melee weapons.
That’s probably why they keep ranged weapon damage slightly lower, considering the advantage that you can attack from afar.
Before talking about futuristic weapons – the least powerful of modern weapons is the automatic pistol, which does quite a bit of damage compared to most melee weapons.
However, if a GM forces players to take the Gunner feat if they use firearms, it can be properly counterbalanced – the players would have to make the big investment to use weapons, and apart from boosted Dexterity, there is nothing about the feat that makes firearms more powerful.
Obviously, the Artificer class states that if the game allows firearms, the class would be proficient with firearms.
However, since the Artificer doesn’t provide the damage that Fighter and Ranger provide, it shouldn’t be a problem if the Artificer uses firearms.
So, is the Gunner feat worth it? If you are completely set on building a character that strictly uses firearms, you should definitely take this feat. If you are not, you won’t need it.
However, due to the Dungeons and Dragons mechanics, it makes a bit more sense to use a bow or crossbow if you are aiming toward the maximal damage. The feat is good, but not spectacular.