Becoming a Gunslinger in 5e: Homebrew & RAW Options

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy game where we get to build incredible characters with magical abilities. While that normally means making a powerful mage or skilled swordsman, sometimes our wildest dreams are a lone ranger with a smoking pistol.

I grew up watching Clint Eastwood take on the role of a suave gunman, time and time again. He would always save the day with a single well-placed shot and he never failed to do so with a dry smirk. 

With the recent surge of steampunk, spellpunk, or whatever “punk” genre is in at the moment, there’s a big push for bringing this gunslinger archetype into our favorite fantasy TTRPG.

In this article we’ll try to go over every question you might have about bringing Josey Wales into your next D&D campaign. While the whole article should answer the question “What is a gunslinger?,” we’re also going to look at two overarching questions: “How do I play a homebrewed gunslinger?” and “How do I play a gunslinger in 5e RAW?

What is a Gunslinger in 5e?

Very simply, a gunslinger is a character who specializes in the use of firearms. That’s pretty obvious, but it’s the “in 5e” part that I want to discuss before we take the deep dive. 

There is no official gunslinger class for D&D 5e at the moment. The reason for this isn’t really because WotC hasn’t gotten around to it yet, but rather that guns aren’t a part of everyone’s idea of a fantasy world.

The DMG does a great job of talking about the different conditions a world can be in. You could have a low-magic world, where magic users are rare and considered highly powerful or dangerous. You could also have a high-magic setting, where magic is commonplace.

In a high magic setting, you get things like magical airships, high-tech warforged automatons, and maybe even magical firearms. Just as magic can greatly influence the world you live in, so too can the concept of gunpowder. 

Just look at the history of our planet. I won’t go all history buff here, but the introduction of gunpowder shaped the face of our world and literally built empires. It’s a big thing to factor into a world, and comes with some ingame politics that your DM might have to navigate and plan out. 

Fifth edition does have rules for firearms, but they’re not very fleshed out. They’re presented in the DMG as a baseline option for the world, and it’s up to a DM’s discretion whether or not they make their way into a campaign. It’s also from that baseline that most homebrew gunslinger classes come from.

Gunslingers of Waterdeep *SPOILER ALERT*

There are mentions of gunslingers in the Forgotten Realms, and therefore in official WotC content. The Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure does contain a stat block for Drow Gunslingers. 

I don’t want to spoil much more than that for anyone playing through the story that’s still reading, but it’s really important to know that they exist.

They have high dexterity and prefer to stalk adventurers from rooftops, using their poison pistols to deal massive amounts of damage, although they can attack from melee range with their shortswords. 

In a bustling city of the Forgotten Realms where heists and beholder crimelords are commonplace enough, it makes sense to have some forms of gunslingers, although that might not be an option you want to give to your players as a whole subclass. 

Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System

Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information.  In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:

  • RedC Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful, and might make for an interesting narrative choice, but are largely less effective than other tiers.
  • GreenB Tier. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.  
  • BlueA Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective. 
  • PurpleS Tier. the top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way.  No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly considering when you create your character.

While we will be reviewing a mix of homebrew and official content, we’ll still try to outline choices as best as we can.

Martial Archetype: Gunslinger (Critical Role)

This portion of the article is a guide and review of the UNOFFICIAL Gunslinger subclass of the Fighter class which was created by Matthew Mercer for the purposes of a Critical Role podcast. You can find the full rules to this class on dndbeyond.com for free, or in a pdf available on DMSGuild.com.

Most fighters focus on melee tactics or the subtleties of archery. These martial arts are ancient and anyone who has the patience can learn the skills required to become a master. 

There are fighters out there who understand that the wheel of progress stops for no one. Recent discoveries have made it possible to harness powerful energy and propel small missiles at great speeds.

These new weapons are called firearms, and those who seek to craft and utilize them are even more brave than they are rare.

A gunslinger seeks to learn all that they can about these weapons; crafting, repairing, and wielding them. Of course, these firearms are so new that they are still volatile. Launching a force as powerful as some spells from a small metal tube is no matter for the weak-willed. 

Class-Defining Abilities

  • Gunsmith
  • Marksman
  • Trick Shots

Since guns are at very least rare in whatever fantasy world you’re playing in, you can’t just easily walk up to any blacksmith and ask for a pistol. You also won’t find many ancient guns blessed by celestial beings hidden in some tomb that you raid. 

So one of the first things a gunslinger has to become is a gunsmith. At 3rd level you gain proficiency with tinkerer’s tools which you can use to craft ammunition, craft certain firearms, and repair your firearms if they become damaged.

We’ll cover more about which firearms you can and cannot craft in the next section. 

Another proficiency you gain when you take this subclass is firearms, because otherwise you’d be pretty poor at using them. They don’t count as normal simple or martial weapons, so this distinction is rather important.

Most of the features this subclass offers you make you better at using these firearms. At seventh level you can quickdraw your weapons, which mechanically allows you to swap a drawn firearm with a holstered one as part of a single object interaction. It’s also going to give you a nice initiative boost.

Fifteenth level lets you reload a firearm as a bonus action on your turn. Keeping track of ammo may be tough, but this skill will make it a lot easier. Then at eighteenth level you critically hit with firearms on a 19 or a 20.

Additionally, your critical hits deal even more extra damage at the end of your targets next turn.

The real highlight of the gunslinger class are their trick shots. 

Trick shots are very similar to maneuvers that the battlemaster class picks up as part of its repertoire. They utilize a system called grit points to make your shots do special things. You have an amount of grit points equal to your wisdom modifier, which makes wisdom very important for this fighter subclass.

There are eight different trick shots that we’ll go into more detail with further in this article. When you pick up this subclass you learn two of these trickshots, and you pick up an additional one at 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th levels, for a total of six.

The trick shots let you do some amazing things like shoot multiple targets or disarm your target, so you’ll want to make expert use of these. 

The really impressive part of this subclass is that you can regain grit points on critical hits. Normally, when a class runs out of a resource that’s it until a short or long rest. While these conditions can still refresh your pool of points, critical hits are a lot easier to come by, especially with a fighter attacking so often in one combat.

Firearms

Buckle up bud. This homebrew class comes with a whole slew of firearm content that replaces the rules for firearms in the DMG. 

First off, there are a few properties to get to know:

  • Reload You have to reload this weapon using either an action or an attack with at least one free hand. The score next to the reload property tells you how many times you can fire the weapon before you have to reload it.
  • Misfire – A weapon can misfire if your attack roll (the value on your dice before modifiers) is equal to or lower than the value next to the misfire property. Add one to that value if you are not proficient. The attack will automatically miss, and the weapon cannot be used until you spend an action repairing it. 

To repair a firearm you must make a successful check with your Tinker’s Tools (DC equal to 8 + misfire score). If your check fails, the weapon is broken and must be fixed outside of combat for a quarter of the cost of the firearm. 

  • Explosive – Explosive ammo forces everything within 5 ft of the target to make a Dexterity saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity modifier) or take 1d8 fire damage. The ammo does not detonate on a miss.
  • Ammunition – Each firearm requires a unique type of ammunition. The cost to purchase the ammo and the batches it is normally sold at are listed. If you can craft the ammunition with your Tinker’s Tools you do so at half the cost.

Firearms are still ranged weapons, so you’ll still be using dexterity as your main weapon bonus. Fortunately, this gets rid of the loading property which would normally nullify a fighter’s extra attacks.

The following is a table of the firearms made especially for this subclass. The damage isn’t insanely higher than other weapons present in RAW, and the misfire property is a great way to keep things balanced. 

NameCostAmmoDamageWeightRangeProperties
Palm Pistol50 gp2 gp (20)1d8 piercing1 lb.40/160Light, reload 1, misfire 1
Pistol150 gp4 gp (20)1d10 piercing3 lb.60/240Reload 4, misfire 1
Musket300 gp5 gp (20)1d12 piercing10 lb.120/480Two-handed, reload 1, misfire 2
Pepperbox250 gp4 gp (20)1d10 piercing5 lb.80/320reload 6, misfire 2
Blunderbuss300 gp5 gp (5)2d8 piercing10 lb.15/60reload 1, misfire 2
Bad NewsCrafted10 gp (5)2d12 piercing25 lb.200/800Two-handed, reload 1, misfire 3
Hand MortarCrafted10 gp (1)2d8 fire10 lb.30/600Reload 1, misfire 3, explosive

Race Choices

This version of the gunslinger should prioritize dexterity first, and then go for wisdom as their second-highest ability score instead of constitution so that they can get the most grip points possible. While this is a homebrew subclass, I’ll still be suggesting official races. 

All of the following races have +2 DEX and +1 WIS:

AarakocraA flying speed makes aarakocras an absolute terror on the battlefield, especially when we’re dealing with a ranged combatant like the gunslinger. 

Wood ElfAlong with the normal elf benefits like fey ancestry giving us advantage against being charmed and proficiency in perception, we’re also getting mask of the wild which will allow us to hide in a lot of interesting “lightly obscured” conditions.

KenkuKenkus have some fun abilities, but none of them directly translate to this subclass. This doesn’t change the fact that it has the perfect ability score bonuses. The expert forgery could help you make unique weapons if your DM puts a rival gunslinger into the game, but it’s very situational.

Dankwood GoblinThe dankwood goblin is rarely mentioned but is an official subrace of goblin introduced in the adorable Adventure with Muk publication. Their ability to speak with small beasts is a nice touch, but they also have nimble escape like other goblins so they can disengage or hide as a bonus action. This is a good way to get away from combat when you’re being cornered by a melee foe.

Skill Choices

Fighters get to choose two skills from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival. 

  • Acrobatics (DEX) – Great skill to be able to pull off exciting stunts to get out of the way. 
  • Animal Handling (WIS) – This isn’t an important skill and you’ll have a high enough wisdom to make most checks anyways.
  • Athletics (STR) – You probably won’t be doing a lot of up athletics, since this is a much more dexterity focused fighter build.
  • History (INT) – Probably not going to be very helpful.
  • Insight (WIS) – Definitely an option, but not a great one. If you want to do well on rare insight checks, pick up the Tactical Assessment battle maneuver.
  • Intimidation (CHA) – Not incredibly important to this class.
  • Perception (WIS) – With your already high wisdom, you should have eagle eye perception. It also might be something you use to spot very far off targets.
  • Survival (WIS) – Pass on this one, unless you have a specific build in mind.

Background Choices

The background for this class is going to be interesting. Picking up any relevant skills will be nice, and you should definitely get your hands on a set of Tinker’s Tools, since the subclass only gives you proficiency. 

As far as the theme of the background, it’s all going to depend on what role guns play in the world. Are guns available to normal soldiers or are they so experimental that only artisans would get their hands on them?

Maybe guns actually are an ancient magical weapon that belong to one religious order.

Talking with your DM about where your character could have gained firearm experience is a great place to start before you pick your background.

Here are a few backgrounds that give nice skill or tool proficiencies and useful equipment:

Clan Crafter 

  • Skill Proficiency – History, Insight
  • Tool Proficiency – One type of artisan’s tools
  • Language – Dwarvish, or another language of your choice if you already speak dwarvish
  • Equipment – A set of artisan’s tools with which you are proficient, a maker’s mark chisel used to mark your handiwork with the symbol of the clan of crafters you learned your skill from, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a pouch containing 5 gp and a gem worth 10 gp

Guild Artisan 

  • Skill Proficiency – Insight, Persuasion
  • Tool Proficiency – One type of artisan’s tools
  • Language -One of your choice
  • Equipment – A set of artisan’s tools with (your choice), a letter of introduction from your guild, a set of traveler’s clothes, and a belt pouch containing 15 gp

Feat Choices

Fighter’s get a lot of ASIs. They get seven opportunities to either take a feat or boost their ability scores, which is twice more than most other classes. This subclass is a bit MAD (multiple ability dependent) since we’re looking for high dexterity, wisdom, and then constitution score.

We’re probably going to use at least three ASIs to boost abilities, so I’ll suggest four good feats.

  • Sharpshooter – This is an excellent feat for any ranged combatant. We’re going to be able to ignore most cover and shoot without disadvantage at long range. There’s also an excellent ability that lets us deal 10 extra damage if we take a 5 point penalty on our attack roll.
  • Lucky – This is always a great feat. It will be especially useful when we throw a dice roll that will make our gun misfire. In fact, that’s probably the only time we’ll want to use this, so save your uses wisely.
  • Piercer – This is perfect for a gunslinger since firearms almost always deal piercing damage. You get to reroll that piercing damage once per turn. You also get to deal extra damage on criticals, which you’ll score on 19s or 20s thanks to your Vicious Intent feature at level 18.
  • Mobile – I’d say go with mobile to get that extra speed. Not provoking opportunity attacks is going to be nice as well when you need to get away from melee combatants.

Homebrew Gunslinger Fighter Progression / Build

In our ongoing series of class guides, we typically show the progression of the subclass separate from our version of an optimized build.

In this specific guide, we’re going to combine these so you don’t have to search through four different level progressions. 

Features that you automatically obtain through the Fighter class will appear in Orange and features that you gain through the Gunslinger subclass will appear in Pink

Filling out the Character Sheet (Level 0)

Hit Dice: 1d10 per Fighter level

Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per fighter level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: All armor, shields

Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons

Tools: None

Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution

Skills: Choose two skills from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival

Equipment:

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) chain mail or (b) leather, longbow, and 20 arrows
  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) two handaxes
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack

1st Level

Fighting Style:

You’re going to want to pick up archery as your fighting style for this class to get the +2 for attack rolls when using a ranged weapon (aka. all your firearms).

Second Wind:

Healing is always nice to have.

2nd Level

Action Surge:

Getting an extra action is great for any build, but especially with the gunslinger you’ll want all the chances you can get to repair a misfired weapon when it comes to that.

3rd Level

Firearm Proficiency

This is pretty straightforward. Do keep in mind that the firearms of this subclass are different from those found in the DMG.

Gunsmith

This is the ability that allows you to craft ammunition, repair your weapon, or even make new ones with access to Tinker’s Tools. You do still have to obtain a set of Tinker’s Tools.

Adept Marksman

*THIS IS THE BREAD AND BUTTER*

You get trick shots and grit points. Two trick shots now, and additional ones at 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th. If a trick shot requires a saving throw, the DC is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Dexterity modifier.

You have a number of grit points equal to your Wisdom modifier and you regain 1 point whenever you roll a critical hit or deal the finishing blow with a firearm to a “creature of significant threat,” which is up to your DMs discretion. 

You must declare your trick shot before you make an attack roll and you can only make one trick shot per attack. Unless otherwise specified, each trick shot expends one grit point. 

I’ve ranked the trick shots from best to worst (1-8) below:

  1. Deadeye Shot – You can gain advantage on the attack roll.
  1. Dazing Shot – On a hit, the target must succeed on a constitution saving throw or have disadvantage on attacks until the end of their next turn. 
  1. Piercing Shot – When you make a firearm attack against a creature, you can expend one grit point to attempt to fire through multiple opponents. The initial attack gains a +1 to the firearm’s misfire score. On a hit, the creature suffers normal damage and you make an attack roll with disadvantage against every creature in a line directly behind the target within your first range increment. Only the initial attack can misfire.
  1. Violent Shot – You can expend a number of grit points to increase the damage of an attack. If the attack hits, you can roll one additional weapon damage die per grit point spent when determining the damage. For each grit point expended, the attack gains a +2 to the firearm’s misfire score.
  1. Disarming Shot – On a hit, your target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or drop 1 held object of your choice and have that object be pushed 10 feet away from you.
  1. Forceful Shot – On a hit, your target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be pushed 15 feet away from you.
  1. Bullying Shot – You can gain advantage on an intimidation check made the same turn as your shot. 
  1. Winging Shot – On a hit, your target must make a Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

4th Level

ASI

You can either increase one ability by 2 points or two abilities by 1. Alternatively you can choose a feature, if you already have great stats this is a great choice. 

Prioritize getting your dexterity (for shooting) to 18 and your wisdom (for grit points) to 16. After that you can increase your constitution if you’re having a hard time staying alive, or you can take some feats and continue to increase dex and wis.

5th Level

Extra Attack:

We love fighter’s extra attacks. Just to remind you: 2 attacks per attack action now, 3 per attack action at 11th level, and 4 per attack action at 20th level. 

Keep in mind that you can repair your firearms on an action OR an attack. 

This means if you’re a 5th level fighter you can:

  1. Take the attack action.
  2. Make your first attack and misfire.
  3. Use your second attack to repair the firearm.
  4. Action surge and take another attack action for two (hopefully) successful attacks.

6th Level

ASI

7th Level

Quickdraw

Add your proficiency bonus to initiative and stow a firearm, then draw a different firearm as part of the same object interaction. Pretty nice feature that makes you fast and saves you time each turn.

8th Level

ASI

9th Level

Indomitable:

Rerolling saving throws doesn’t help you anymore than a normal fighter. Were this to keep you from misfiring I’d say this was good synergy, but it’s just meh.

10th Level

Rapid Repair

You can repair a misfired (but not broken) firearm on a bonus action if you spend one grit point.

12th Level

ASI

14th Level

ASI

15th Level

Lightning Reload

You can reload any firearm as part of a bonus action.

16th Level

ASI

18th Level

Vicious Intent

Your firearms crit on 19s and 20s.

Hemorrhaging Critical

When you crit with a firearm, the target takes an additional half of that damage at the end of their next turn. It’s unclear to me whether the half is after or before you’ve calculated critical hit damage.

19th Level

ASI

Making Your Own Gunslinger in 5e 

The above is just one interpretation of a gunslinger. Admittedly, it’s a very well-balanced interpretation that was made by a professional dungeon master and someone who has helped make official content for WotC before. Still, you might want to make your type of gunslinger.

Now, not every DM allows homebrewed classes at the table. There are a lot of reasons, from potential power imbalances to laziness, but the end result is that if your DM doesn’t allow it at the table, they don’t allow it at the table. 

Please don’t be the guy to start off a campaign with an argument. Instead, make a “gunslinger” within the RAW 5e subclasses and mechanics. You can have a badass shoot’em up character that abides by all the laws of the fantasy world you’re playing in. (Or you can always play a different RPG.)

While this portion of the article will mainly focus on a 5e legal gunslinger, you should stay tuned for the end where we talk about other exciting homebrew options.

Setting the Ground Rules

There are a few different ways to go about making guns work . Let’s talk about what we need to consider. 

First, does our DM allow firearms of any sort in the campaign? If the answer is yes we’re off to a good start, but a no isn’t the end of the world. We can still make a character that has all the same feel as a gunslinger with a little ingenuity (or just replacing “gun” with “crossbow”).

Second, what kind of gunslinger do we want? The subclass above is just one archetype for a gunslinger created based on the fighter class. That type of gunslinger is your “so anyways I started blasting” character that walks into a situation with guns blazing. 

There are plenty of archetypes for characters that wield guns, look at any military or sci fi movie. You could do a more stealthy sniper build, a heavy gunner build, a gunsmith build, or even flavor a warlock’s eldritch blast as a sort of magical gun and focus everything on that. 

That brings us to the third question, how much homebrew is allowed at your table. If your DM has a strict rule against using anything homebrew you’re going to have to be very crafty.

If your DM is willing to work with you then you might just have to do some tweaking of the above subclass or vice versa and tweak an existing subclass to get the results you want.

What You’ll Need

In order to make a traditional gunslinger or a character that uses actual guns, there are a few things we’ll want to have. You can think of this as your shopping list as you put together your character.

  • Guns. That’s right, we need guns. The DMG offers a lot of information and options for using firearms in your game on pages 266 and 267. More on that in a bit.
  • High Dexterity. Just about any form of gun is going to be a ranged weapon using dexterity as your ability for attack rolls. 
  • Feats. Feats are one of the best ways we can customize our characters while still using the classes 5e provides us with. They’re also a great way to show a specified training. Most of the feats I mentioned in the homebrew section of the article will serve you well, but you’ll also need to pick up the Gunner feat introduced in TCoE. 

This feat allows you to ignore the loading property of firearms and shoot without disadvantage at close range. It also boosts your DEX by +1 and gives you proficiency with firearms if you didn’t already have one.

Anything else is really a bonus. If you grab up all of these in any martial class you can have a character that’s really good at using guns, even if they’re not technically a “gunslinger” that’s really up to how you play them.

Fifth Edition Firearms

The homebrewed firearm mechanics are really interesting. I’m a huge fan of the misfire option as a way to keep the weapons balanced and unique, not just different bows in different shapes and sizes.

The semi-official rules in the DMG do still give us weapons that fit the bill. In fact, they give us different eras to work with. Their firearms are split into the Renaissance, Modern, and Futuristic eras.

They also have a few properties to work with. Ammunition and reload are pretty standard, and the burst fire property is a cool option that lets you fire ten pieces of ammo in a ten-foot cube.

Personally, I’d revise the burst fire to perform more like a normal buckshot that fires in a cone, but that can get pretty confusing. It would then require you to account for how much damage each piece of the shot does, how far it scatters, etc.

I’ve thrown a few example firearms in the table below, for more check out the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

NameCostDamageWeightRangeProperties
Pistol (Rennaissance)250 gp1d10 piercing3 lb.30/90Ammunition, Loading
Revolver (Modern)2d8 piercing3 lb.40/120Ammunition, Reload (6 shots)
Antimatter Rifle (Futuristic)6d8 radiant10lb120/360Ammunition (energy cell), Reload (2 Shots), Two-handed

Whether you can craft bullets or you have to buy them is going to be at your DMs discretion. They’ll also want to adjust prices to be appropriate to the world.

Note that the futuristic weapons rely on energy cells, so they probably only exist in very high-tech worlds.

Best Builds for a 5e Gunslinger

All of these builds should focus primarily on dexterity. Their secondary ability is likely constitution unless otherwise specified. 

Battlemaster Fighter

Of all the fighter classes this is probably the best in general. Whether or not that’s the case, the maneuvers allow us to do a lot of excellent things that are very similar to the trick shots. As long as we avoid close-range maneuvers and ones that require melee weapons we’re golden. 

  • Fighting Style: Archery
  • Maneuvers: Precision Attack, Disarming Attack, Evasive Footwork, Distracting Strike, Menacing Attack, anything that doesn’t need melee weapons or specify close range

Scout Rogue

Just about any rogue works perfectly with guns. Utilizing sneak attacks with our ranged weapons means that we deal a whole lot of damage when we meet the right conditions. The scout archetype just makes us better at moving around and ambushing our foes.

Artillerist Artificer

Artificers are excellent choices for gunslingers, including a good deal more of the gunsmith feel that the homebrew class has. TCoE even gives them an optional firearm proficiency if firearms are part of your game.

The artillerist subclass gets to do a lot of really impressive things, but mainly you get to make small cannons (one of which is a flamethrower) and you get to make arcane firearms which launch your destructive spells.

This class really is a gunsmith in just about every way that it counts. If you use the repeating shot artificer infusion you won’t even have to worry about loading properties which is a huge bonus.

Hunter Conclave Ranger 

Rangers are a great class for any form of ranged combat, I don’t think that should come as a surprise. Any subclass would do a good job at wielding a gun, the subclasses just have different focuses. 

The runner up subclass options would be Monster Slayer and Gloom Stalker. Monster Slayer gets to pick a specific target to focus their ire on and is great at spotting weaknesses.

If you have a collection of magical bullets this would be a really cool option; sort of a Van Helsing character that’s ready for any target. Gloom Stalker is great for a more stealthy gunslinger.

The hunter conclave gets some excellent features that really shine when you’re using a gun. The most exciting one comes at 11th level with the Multiattack feature.

You’ll want to choose the volley option which allows you to choose any number of creatures within 10 ft of a point in your firearms range and attack all of them as a part of a single attack action.

As long as you have the ammo you can do this every turn, absolutely terrifying.

  • Fighting Style: Archery
  • Hunter Choices (in level progression order): Horde Breaker, Multiattack Defense, Volley, Evasion

Multiclass

Any of the above options can be multiclassed together to make a really powerful character. I was originally going to take you through the level by level build, but there are too many different ways to go for me to show you just one.

When multiclassing a gunslinger, think about which of the above classes or features are most exciting to you. If you really want to get to the volley multiattack ability from the hunter conclave that only leaves you 9 levels to play around with.

Maybe all of those will be in scout rogue so you can get Superior Mobility and 5d6 for your sneak attack damage.

A few notes: I would avoid overlapping five levels of ranger and fighter, since the extra attack abilities won’t stack. Mixing artificer and ranger does become a bit MAD, as you’ll focus on dexterity but have both wisdom and intelligence as spellcasting abilities.

A 20th level build could include five levels of both artificer and rogue, three levels in fighter, and seven in ranger. This build would give you artificer infusions, arcane firearms, extra attack, action surge, sneak attack (3d6), horde breaker, multiattack defense, battle maneuvers, and more.

Additional Homebrew Options

If your DM does allow homebrew but the critical role class doesn’t quite feel like your style, there are a lot of other options out there. Not to mention, you can always make your own class, subclass, or weapons to capture the feeling of the character you want.

Luckily, I’ve done a bit of research into this topic so I figure while you’re here I’ll give you some of those options that I think are really worth it.

  • Firearms of the RealmsA great collection of firearm weapons and related magical items. The creator of this bit of homebrew compiled info from a bunch of different WotC sources from various editions and turned it into a wonderful piece for 5e.
  • Arcane ArtilleryWow. Just wow. This is an absolutely incredible document. The Gun Nut’s Guide is over 50 pages of beautifully written, well balanced, and well thought out homebrew content that doesn’t stop at just guns. Of course it has plenty of those, but it also has a whole gunslinger class with several “trails” (subclasses) that really diversify what it means to sling a gun.

There’s also plenty of spells and other exciting gun related content for 5e. I mean, I’m truly impressed and you should really check it out if you’re even considering guns in your campaign.

  • Gun MageAs someone who grew up with Outlaw Star, I love the idea of Gene Starwind’s caster gun. This gun mage subclass fires spells from an arcane firearm and gets some really righteous features to go along with it. It’s essentially the Arcane Arm feature of the artillerist inflated into an entire wizard subclass. Sign me up.

Conclusion

Incorporating guns into fifth edition dungeons and dragons can be a really exciting venture. Whether you’re using your own homebrew, someone else’s, or you’re just making it work within the rules of the game, you’re going to have a good time. Fantasy doesn’t need firearms to be exciting, but it certainly doesn’t take away.

If you do wish to play a gunslinger class, don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to the homebrew options listed on DNDBeyond. There is no such thing as official homebrew, and even though Matt Mercer made a wonderfully balanced fighter subclass, it might not be perfect for everyone.

I know that personally, I’d want to play some sort of wild magic gun mage.

If you can’t homebrew, or if your DM doesn’t think guns are right for your campaign, there are still some amazing builds with official 5e rules that will give you the experience you’re looking for. You might just be missing the smoking barrels.

Remember to reload often and save your ammo. And as always, happy adventuring.